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The 46. Infanterie-Division was formed in Karlsbad in the recovered Sudetenland on 24 November 1938. It was the last active (Welle I) infantry division created for the peacetime army.
It was mobilized in August 1939 as part of the 1. Welle (wave) and took part in the invasion of Poland.

A battle report 5 June 1940 during the invasion of France reported:

During the rapid advance of our infantry south of the Somme, it became distressingly obvious that we were often threatened from the side or rear because the colonial troops let our attack roll over them but afterward reappeared and fought tenaciously. (1)


During the winter of 1941/42 the division held the Kerch peninsula and defended the eastern approaches to the Crimea and when it was attacked by far larger Soviet forces Generalleutnant Kurt Himer and the XXXXII Armeekorps commander Generalleutnant Hans Graf von Sponeck decided to retreat to better defensive position against orders rather than be destroyed. The retreat saved the division and it was able to halt the Soviet advance until reinforcements arrived but both Himer and Graf von Sponeck was relieved of their commands. Himer was reinstated soon after but Graf von Sponeck was put on trial and given a death sentence, this was commuted to six years in prison but he was shot in prison after the 20 July 1944 attempt on Hitlers life.

It was redesignated 46. Volksgrenadier-Division in March 1945.

Known war crimes

On 4 September 1939 soldiers from Infanterie-Regiment 42 killed a large number of civilians, mainly Jews, in Częstochowa (Tschenstochau). The official Wehrmacht report states that 96 men and 3 women were killed but an exhumation in 1940 unearthed a total of 227 bodies. The killings were done in response to a shooting of German soldiers in the town but it is unclear who the shooters were or if it was a case of friendly fire. (5)

On 5 June 1940  soldiers from the division shot an unknown number of prisoners from the 44th RICMS (Régiment d'Infanterie Coloniale Mixte Sénégalais), a mixed colonial unit recruited from Senegal, in the forest near St. Pierre à Gouy. (6)

During the fighting at the Adzhimushkay quarry near the city of Kerch in May to October 1942 it has been alledged that Pionier-Bataillon 88 used toxic gas against the several thousand defenders and refugees who led by Colonel P.M. Yagunov had taken refuge into the catacombs. (3)

Commanders

Generalleutnant Paul von Hase (26 Aug 1939 - 24 July 1940)
General der Infanterie Karl Kriebel (24 July 1940 - 17 Sep 1941)
Generalleutnant Kurt Himer (17 Sep 1941 - 26 Mar 1942) (4)
Generalleutnant Ernst Haccius (5 Apr 1942 - 7 Feb 1943)
General der Infanterie Arthur Hauffe (7 Feb 1943 - 13 Feb 1943)
General der Gebirgstruppen Karl von le Suire (13 Feb 1943 - 27 Feb 1943)
General der Infanterie Arthur Hauffe (27 Feb 1943 - 20 Aug 1943)
General der Infanterie Kurt Röpke (20 Aug 1943 - 10 July 1944)
Oberst Curt Ewrigmann (10 July 1944 - 26 Aug 1944)
Generalleutnant Erich Reuter (26 Aug 1944 - ? Mar 1945)

Operations Officers (Ia)

Oberstleutnant Ottomar Babel (15 June 1939 - 17 June 1940)
Hauptmann Walter Reissinger (17 June 1940 - 30 Sep 1940)
Oberstleutnant Reinhard Petri (30 Sep 1940 - 11 Dec 1941)
Unknown (11 Dec 1941 - 6 Jan 1942)
Oberstleutnant Reinhard Petri (6 Jan 1942 - 20 May 1942)
Oberstleutnant Harry Pinski (20 May 1942 - 1 Dec 1942)
Oberstleutnant Günther Oetjen (1 Dec 1942 - 15 Apr 1944)
Oberstleutnant Hans Tümpling (15 Apr 1944 - 10 Jan 1945)
Major Wernher Freiherr von Schönau-Wehr (10 Jan 1945 - 10 Feb 1945)
Major Ludwig Wierz (10 Feb 1945 - ? Mar 1945)

Area of operations

Poland (Sep 1939 - May 1940)
France (May 1940 - June 1941)
Eastern front, southern sector (June 1941 - Sep 1944)
Hungary & Czechoslovakia (Sep 1944 - Mar 1945)

Combat rating

On 30 March 1942, it was rated "Zur Abwehr voll geeignet" (fully suited for defensive missions). It had 9 weak batallions, and roughly half its required heavy weapons and divisional artillery. It had IR 122 and IR 105 attached, with 3 batallions each and also roughly 50% of their heavy weapons establishment. Not considered suited for offensive missions due to the heavy defensive fighting of the previous weeks.

Nicknames and Honor titles

Springender Hirsch (Jumping Deer)

Infanterie-Regiment 42 was given the title Infanterie-Regiment Bayreuth 1 October 1934 but was redesignated 15 October 1935.

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Close Combat Clasp in Gold (1)
- Winkelmann, Walter, 30.01.1945, Oberleutnant d.R., Chef 8./Gren.Rgt. 42
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (10)
- Bauer, Friedrich, 25.11.1944 (4603), Unteroffizier, Kp.Trupp-Fhr. 2./Gren.Rgt. 72
- Bodendörfer, Kurt, 14.08.1942 (1162), Hauptmann, Kdr. I./Inf.Rgt. 97 [Tat bei Sewastopol 17.06.42]
- Bodendörfer, Kurt, 08.11.1942 (1400), Hauptmann, Kdr. I./Inf.Rgt. 97 [Tat im Kaukasus 25.- 28.10.42]
- Domarus von, Horst, 18.04.1942 (900), Hauptmann, Chef 1./Pz.Jäg.Abt. 52
- Entian, [first name not listed], 21.06.1942 (1042), Obergefreiter, 2./Pi.Btl. 88
- Müller, Adam, 28.03.1942 (883), Gefreiter, 4./Inf.Rgt. 42
- Schäfer, Eduard, 14.08.1942 (1164), Hauptmann, Btl.Fhr. im Inf.Rgt. 72
- Schott, Otto, 28.03.1942 (882), Unteroffizier, 4./Inf.Rgt. 42
- Struck, [first name not listed], 05.01.1942 (632), Kp.Fhr. 1./Pz.Jäg.Abt. 52
- Trambauer, Theodor, 07.01.1943 (1456), Oberleutnant, 8./Gren.Rgt. 97
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army for Shooting Down Aircraft (5)
- Leib, Josef, 24.09.1942 (238), Obergefreiter, 3./Art.Rgt. 114
- Möschl, [first name not listed], 16.05.1942 (142), Unteroffizier, 9. Fahrkol./Inf.Div.Kol. 46
- Ortmann, Adolf, 01.11.1943 (417), Obergefreiter, Stab III./Gren.Rgt. 42
- Pöllmann, August, 01.02.1944 (461), Obergefreiter, Nachsch.Kp. 46
- Schüler, [first name not listed], 28.11.1942 (259), Oberwachtmeister, 5./Art.Rgt. 114
Holders of the German Cross in Gold (130)
Holders of the German Cross in Silver (2)
- Czech, Josef, 28.02.1944, Major, Stab/46. Inf.Div.
- Steinberg, Dr. Heinrich, 03.12.1943, Oberfeldarzt, Div.Arzt 46. Inf.Div.
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Heer (36)
Holders of the Knight's Cross (33) (30 RK + 3 EL)
Holders of the Romanian Order of Michael the Brave, 3rd Class (Orden “Michael der Tapfere” III. Klasse) (2)
- Haccius, Ernst, Königlichen Dekrets Nr. 2172 / 29.07.1942, Generalmajor, Kdr. 46. Inf.Div.
- Höhl, R., Königlichen Dekrets Nr. 1362 / 08.05.1942, Oberleutnant, Inf.Rgt. 97
Unit-Level Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army for Shooting Down Aircraft (5)
- 8./Infanterie-Regiment 97
-- Date/Place of Downing: 01.02.1942 bei Koj-Assan
-- Award Date: 16.05.1942 (121)
- III./Infanterie-Regiment 42
-- Date/Place of Downing: 28.12.1941 bei Eltigen
-- Award Date: 16.05.1942 (122)
- Stab III./Infanterie-Regiment 42
-- Date/Place of Downing: 29.12.1941 bei Eltigen
-- Award Date: 16.05.1942 (123)
- 8./Infanterie-Regiment 97
-- Date/Place of Downing: 31.12.1941 bei Arma-Eli
-- Award Date: 16.05.1942 (125)
- 4./Artillerie-Regiment 114
-- Date/Place of Downing: 20.05.1942 bei Kertsch
-- Award Date: 24.09.1942 (229)

Order of battle (1939)

Infanterie-Regiment 42
Infanterie-Regiment 72
Infanterie-Regiment 97
Aufklärungs-Abteilung 46
Artillerie-Regiment 115 (2)
- I./Artillerie-Regiment 114
- II./Artillerie-Regiment 114
- III./Artillerie-Regiment 114
- I./Artillerie-Regiment 115
Pionier-Bataillon 88
Panzerabwehr-Abteilung 52
Nachrichten-Abteilung 76
Feldersatz-Bataillon 46
Versorgungseinheiten 46

Order of battle (1942)

Grenadier-Regiment 42
Grenadier-Regiment 72
Grenadier-Regiment 97
Radfahr-Abteilung 46
Artillerie-Regiment 114
- I. Abteilung
- II. Abteilung
- III. Abteilung
- I./Artillerie-Regiment 115
Pionier-Bataillon 88
Panzerjäger-Abteilung 52
Nachrichten-Abteilung 76
Feldersatz-Bataillon 46
Versorgungseinheiten 46

Order of battle (1944-1945)

Grenadier-Regiment 42
Grenadier-Regiment 72
Grenadier-Regiment 97
Füsilier-Bataillon 46
Artillerie-Regiment 114
- I. Abteilung
- II. Abteilung
- III. Abteilung
- I./Artillerie-Regiment 115
Pionier-Bataillon 88
Panzerjäger-Abteilung 52
Nachrichten-Abteilung 76
Feldersatz-Bataillon 46
Versorgungseinheiten 46

Notable members

Paul von Hase (Active in the resistance against Hitler and executed after the failure of the July 20 Plot)

German soldiers near Częstochowa (Tschenstochau) in September 1939
inf-div-46-czestochowa
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Footnotes

1. Raffael Scheck - "“They Are Just Savages”: German Massacres of Black Soldiers from the French Army in 1940", Journal Modern History 77, Nr. 2 (2005), page 341.
2. The staff of Artillerie-Regiment 115 was redesignated the staff of Artillerie-Regiment 114 on 4 February 1941. The I.-III. Abteilung had originally been components of the pre-war Artillerie-Regiment 114 which lacked a regiment staff. The regiment retained I./Artillerie-Regiment 115 which had been assigned as the schwere Abteilung upon mobilization.
3. "Kertjenskaja katastrofa" by Vsevolod Abramov and "On the battlefields of the cold war: A Soviet ambassador's confession" by Victor Israelyan.
4. Himer was wounded on 26 March 1942 and died in hospital on 4 April.
5. Yad Vashem Studies 35.1, page 196, "The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945: Ghettos in German-occupied Eastern Europe v. 2" by Geoffrey P. Megargee & Martin Dean, "Hitler strikes Poland: Blitzkrieg, Ideology and atrocity" by Alexander B. Rossino, page 144-152 and "Blitzkrieg Unleashed: The German Invasion of Poland, 1939" by Richard Hargreaves.
6. "Hitler's African Victims: The German Army Massacres of Black French Soldiers in 1940" by Raffael Scheck, page 54.

Sources used

BA-MA RH2/429
Vsevolod Abramov - Kertjenskaja katastrofa
Richard Hargreaves - Blitzkrieg Unleashed: The German Invasion of Poland, 1939
Victor Israelyan - On the battlefields of the Cold War: A Soviet ambassador's confession
Geoffrey P. Megargee & Martin Dean - The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945: Ghettos in German-occupied Eastern Europe v. 2
Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr - German order of battle, Vol 1
Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr. - The Men of Barbarossa: Commanders of the German Invasion of Russia, 1941
Alexander B. Rossino - Hitler strikes Poland: Blitzkrieg, Ideology and atrocity
Raffael Scheck - “They Are Just Savages”: German Massacres of Black Soldiers from the French Army in 1940, Journal Modern History 77, Nr. 2 (2005), pp. 325-344
Georg Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht 1933-1945
Charles Winchester - Hitler's War on Russia

Reference material on this unit

Michael Atzesberger - Marsch und Einsatz von AR 114/ I./AR 115 (Kameradschaften des früheren AR 114, Berching und Deizisau)
Alexander von Bentheim - Der Weg der 46. Infanterie Division
Veit Scherzer - 46. Infanterie-Division: Krim-Kaukasus-Kubanbrückenkopf-Isjum-Jassy (Scherzers Militär-Verlag; Auflage: 1. Auflage, 2009)
Hans Stahlmann & Michael Atzesberger - Marsch und Einsatz des Infanterie-Regiments 42 (1935-1945) (Selbstverlag Stahlmann und Atzesberger, Bayreuth, 1985)

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