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The 2. Panzer-Division was formed in October 1935 at Wurzburg. It was one of the units that marched into Austria during the annexation of Austria (Anschluss) on 12 March 1938. It took part in the occupation of the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia in October 1938.
After the invasion of Poland it was sent to the Eifel area to prepare for the invasion of France. It supplied Panzer Regiment 4 to the forming 13. Panzer-Division on 28 September and was once again sent to Poland, this time for occupation duty.
Following the campaign in the Balkans the tracked vehicles of the division were lost when the transports Kybfels and Marburg were sunk on 21 May 1941 on their way from Patras in Greece to Italy together with the Italian destroyer Carlo Mirabello in a minefield laid by HMS Abdiel the previous day.

It was sent to the central sector of the Eastern front following a brief stay in France. It took part in the fighting at Moscow, Smolensk, Orel and Kiev. It later fought at Kursk and the Dnieper suffering heavy losses and it was sent to France for refitting early 1944. It fought in Normandy following the allied landings and was almost completely destroyed during the fighting withdrawal through France.

It was reformed in September 1944 at Willich and later fought in the Ardennes and along the Rhine. It ended the war at Plauen.

Commanders

Generalleutnant Heinz Guderian (15 Oct 1935 - Feb 1938)
Generalleutnant Rudolf Veiel (01 Mar 1938 - 16 Feb 1942)
Generalleutnant Hans-Karl Freiherr von Esebeck (17 Feb 1942 - 31 May 1942)
Generalmajor Arno von Lenski (01 June 1942 - ?? June 1942) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalleutnant Hans-Karl Freiherr von Esebeck (?? June 1942 - 09 Aug. 1942
Oberst Vollrath Lübbe (10 Aug. 1942 - 28 Aug. 1942) m.d.st.F.b.
Oberst Karl Fabiunke (29 Aug. 1942 - 04 Sept. 1942) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalmajor Vollrath Lübbe (05 Sep 1942 - 19 Oct. 1942) m.d.F.b.
Generalleutnant Vollrath Lübbe (20 Oct. 1942 - 01 Feb 1944)
Generalleutnant Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz (01 Feb 1944 - 05 May 1944)
Generalleutnant Franz Westhoven (05 May 1944 - 26 May 1944)
Generalleutnant Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz (27 May 1944 - 31 Aug 1944)
Oberst Eberhard von Nostitz (01 Sept 1944 - 20 Sept 1944) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalmajor Henning Schönfeld (21 Sept 1944 - 14 Dec 1944)
Oberst Meinrad von Lauchert (15 Dec 1944 - 28 Feb 1945) m.d.F.b.
Generalmajor Meinrad von Lauchert (01 Mar 1945 - 19 Mar 1945)
Generalmajor Oskar Munzel (20 Mar 1945 - 03 Apr 1945)
Oberst Carl Stollbrock (04 Apr 1945 - 08 May 1945)

Area of operations

Poland (Sep 1939 - Jan 1940)
West wall & France (Jan 1940 - Sep 1940)
Poland (Sep 1940 - Apr 1941)
Balkans (Apr 1941 - Sep 1941)
Eastern front, central sector (Sep 1941 - Feb 1944)
France & Normandy (Feb 1944 - Dec 1944)
Ardennes & Rhine defense line (Dec 1944 - May 1945)

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (8)
- Dannenberg, Rolf, 05.02.1945 (5313), Oberleutnant, I./Pz.Art.Rgt. 74
- Heinlein, Walter, 01.11.1941 (493), Leutnant, 5./Art.Rgt. 74
- Maurer, Willi, 17.03.1944 (3005), Leutnant, Kp.Fhr. im Pz.Pi.Btl. 38
- Oppel von, Joachim, 16.10.1942 (1303), Leutnant, Zugführer i. d. 7./Pz.Rgt. 3
- Pörschmann, Johannes, 16.10.1942 (1302), Leutnant, Kp.Fhr. 3./Pz.Pi.Btl. 38
- Siebenhöfer, [first name not listed], 28.03.1942 (865), Leutnant, Zugführer i. d. 9./Schtz.Rgt. 304
- Thamm, Willy, 07.11.1943 (2433), Oberfeldwebel, Zugführer i. d. 6./Pz.Rgt. 3
- Zimmermann, Karl-Viktor, 16.02.1942 (730), Oberleutnant, Chef 1./Pz.Pi.Btl. 38
Holders of the German Cross in Gold (92)
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Heer (32)
Holders of the Knight's Cross (33, including two unofficial/unconfirmed)
Holders of the Knight’s Cross of the War Merit Cross with Swords (1)
- Reuschel, Kurt, 08.12.1944, Oberfeldwebel, Werkstattleiter im Pz.Rgt. 3

Order of battle (1 September 1939)

HQ
- 82. Mapping Detachment (mot)
- 82. Motorcycle Messenger Platoon
2. Schützen Brigade
- Schützen Regiment
- Light Infantry Column (mot)
2. Motorcycle Battalion
- 3 x Motorcycle Company
- Motorcycle Heavy Machine Gun Company
- Heavy Company (mot)
2. Panzer Brigade
- 2 x Panzer Regiment
5. Reconnaissance Battalion (mot)
- Signals Platoon (mot)
- 2 x Armored Car Platoon
- Motorcycle Company
- Heavy Company (mot)
- Light Reconnaissance Supply Column (mot)
38. Panzerabwehr Battalion
- Signals Platoon (mot)
- 3 x Battery (mot)
1/74. Artillery Regiment
1/110. Artillery Regiment
38. Panzer Signals Battalion
- Panzer Signals Company
- Panzer Radio Company
- Panzer Signals Supply Column
38. Pioneer Battalion
- 3 x Pioneer Company (mot)
- Brüko K (mot)
- Light Pioneer Supply Column (mot)
Supply & Support Units

Order of battle (April 1941)

HQ
- Divisional Staff
- 82. Mapping Detachment (mot)
- 82. Motorcycle Messenger Platoon
3. Panzer Regiment
- Panzer Signals Platoon
- Light Panzer Platoon
- 2 x Battalion
- Panzer Maintenance Company
2. Schützen Brigade
- 2 x Schützen Regiment
2. Motorcycle Battalion
- 3 x Motorcycle Company
- Heavy Machine Gun Company (mot)
- Reconnaissance Company (mot)
38. Panzerjäger Battalion
- Signals Platoon (mot)
- 3 x Panzerjäger Company
- 2/47. Heavy Machine Gun Battalion (self-propelled)
5. Reconnaissance Battalion
- Signals Platoon (mot)
- Armored Car Company
- Motorcycle Company
- Heavy Reconnaissance Company (mot)
74. Artillery Regiment
- Support Detachment
- 3 x Battalion
- Panzer Observation Company
38. Signals Battalion
- Panzer Telephone Company
- Panzer Radio Company
- Light Signals Company
38. Pioneer Battalion (mot)
- Panzer Pioneer Company
- 2 x Pioneer Company (mot)
- Brüko B (mot)
- Brüko K (mot)
- Light Pioneer Supply Column (mot)
76. Flak Battalion
1 / 14. Panzer Observation Squadron
Supply & Support Units

Order of battle (February 1944)

HQ
- Divisional Staff
- 82. Mapping Detachment (mot)
- 82. Divisional Escort Company (mot)
3. Panzer Regiment
- 2 x Battalion
2. Panzergrenader Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- Regimental Staff Company (half-track)
- Battalion (half-track)
- Battalion (mot)
- Pioneer Company (mot)
- Infantry Gun Company (self-propelled)
304. Panzergrenader Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- Regimental Staff Company (half-track)
- Battalion (half-track)
- Battalion (mot)
- Pioneer Company (mot)
- Infantry Gun Company (self-propelled)
2. Reconnaissance Battalion
- Armored Car Company
- Armored Car Company (half-track)
- 2 x Reconnaissance Company (half-track)
- Heavy Reconnaissance Company (half-track)
- Light Reconnaissance Supply Column (mot)
38. Panzerjäger Battalion
- Staff Battery (self-propelled)
- 3 x Panzerjäger Company (self-propelled)
74. Panzer Artillery Regimen
- Regimental Staff
- Battalion
- 2 x Battalion (mot)
273. Army Flak Battalion
- Staff & Staff Battery (mot)
- 2 x Heavy Flak Battery (mot)
- Light Flak Battery
- Self-propelled Battery
- Light Flak Supply Column (mot)
38. Panzer Pioneer Battalion
- Staff
- Pioneer Company (half-track)
- 2 x Pioneer Company (mot)
38. Panzer Signals Battalion
- Panzer Telephone Company (half-track)
- Panzer Radio Company (half-track)
- Light Signals Supply Column (mot)
82. Feldersatz Battalion
- 4 x Company
Supply & Support Units

Notable members

Hermann Balck (Holder of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds)
Hans-Karl Freiherr von Esebeck (Active in the resistance against Hitler)
Hasso von Manteuffel (Holder of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, post-war a member of the Bundestag 1953-1957 for the liberal Freie Demokratische Partei, FDP)
Otto Raum (usually credited with 45+ destroyed tanks but the exact number is unknown)
Herbert Vahl (Served in Panzer-Regiment 4, later division-commander in the Waffen-SS)

SdKfz. 250/1, formerly of 2. Panzer-Division, used by the Red Army on the Bryansk Front, 1943
ussr-foreign-sdkfz250
(Courtesy of Marcin Tyranski)

Panzer III with captured New Zealand soldier in Greece 1940
pzdiv-2-greece-nz-soldier
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Panzer III of Panzer-Regiment 3 on the Eastern Front, fall 1943
pzdiv-2-panzer3
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Sources used

Microfilm Publication A-3356, German Officer Personnel files, NARA
RKT & DKiGT karteikarten, BA/MA
Dermot Bradley, Karl-Friedrich Hildebrand, Markus Rövekamp - Die Generale des Heeres 1921-1945
David Brown - The Royal Navy and the Mediterranean: November 1940-December 1941
Thomas L Jentz - Panzertruppen
Wolf Keilig - Die Generale des Heeres
Andris Kursietis - Die Wehrmacht at War 1939-1945
François de Lannoy & Josef Charita - Panzertruppen: German armored troops 1935-1945
Kurt Mehner - Die Deutsche Wehrmacht 1939-1945: Führung und Truppe
Samuel W. Mitcham Jr - The Panzer Legions: A guide to the German Army Tank Divisions of WWII and Their Commanders
Peter Schmitz, Klaus-Jürgen Thies, Günter Wegmann & Christian Zweng - Die deutschen Divisionen 1939-1945 (4 Vol)
Georg Tessin- Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht 1933-1945
Günter Wegmann & Christian Zweng - Formationsgeschichte u. Stellenbesetzung der deutschen Streitkräfte, 1815-1990, Teile IV, Abt. 1:  Die Dienststellen, Kommandobehörden u. Truppenteile des Heeres, Oct.35-May.45
Mark C. Yerger - Waffen-SS Commanders: The army, corps and divisional leaders of a legend (2 vol)

Reference material on this unit

Franz Steinzer - Die 2. Panzer-Division 1935-1945
F. J. Strauss - Die Geschichte der 2. Panzer Division
F.J Strauss - Friedens und Kriegserlebnisse Einer Generation: Pz.Abt.38 (SF) 2. (Wiener) Panzerdivision

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