pz-6-logo


The 6. Panzer-Division was formed in October 1939 in Wuppertal from 1. Leichte-Division. It took part in the campaign in the west before being transferred to East Prussia in July 1940 and took part in Operation Barbarossa fighting on the northern sector. It was transferred to the central sector in October 1940 suffering heavy losses and it was sent to France in May 1942 for refitting.

It returned to the Eastern front in December and took part in the failed attempt to relieve the surrounded troops at Stalingrad. It later took part in the fighting at Kharkov and Kursk, before suffering heavy losses during the retreat through the Ukraine. It was refitted and transferred to the central sector where it remained until December 1944 when it was transferred to Hungary where it took part in the defense of Budapest. It withdrew to Austria in March 1945 fighting near Vienna and finally surrendered to the Red Army near Brünn.

Known war crimes

On the night 15-16 June 1940 soldiers from the division shot an unknown number of prisoners from the 12th RTS (Régiment de Tirailleurs Sénégalais), a colonial unit recruited from Senegal, in a forest near Brillon. (2)

Commanders

Generalleutnant Werner Kempf (18 Oct 1939 - 06 Jan 1941)
Generalmajor Franz Landgraf (06 Jan 1941 - 01 Sep 1941)
Oberst Erhard Raus (01 Sep 1941 - 15 Sep 1941) m.d.F.b.
Generalmajor Franz Landgraf (16 Sep 1941 - 23 Nov 1941)
Generalmajor Erhard Raus (23 Nov 1941 - 26 Apr 1942) m.d.F.b.
Generalleutnant Erhard Raus (27 Apr 1942 - 07 Feb 1943)
Oberst Walther von Hünersdorff (07 Feb 1943 - 01 May 1943) m.d.F.b.
Generalmajor Walther von Hünersdorff (01 May 1943 - 14 July 1943) (1)
Oberst Martin Unrein (14 Jul 1943 - 24 Jul 1943) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalmajor Wilhelm Crisolli (25 July 1943 - 21 Aug 1943) m.d.F.b.
Oberst Rudolf Freiherr von Waldenfels (22 Aug 1943 - 30 Oct 1943) m.d.F.b.
Generalmajor Rudolf Freiherr von Waldenfels (01 Nov 1943 - 08 Feb 1944)
Oberst Werner Marcks (09 Feb 1944 - 19 Feb 1944) m.d.F.b.
Generalmajor Rudolf Freiherr von Waldenfels (20 Feb 1944 - 11 Mar 1944)
Oberst Walter Denkert (12 Mar 1944 - 27 Mar 1944) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalleutnant Rudolf Freiherr von Waldenfels (28 Mar 1944 - 22 Nov 1944)
Oberst Friedrich-Wilhelm Jürgens (23 Nov 1944 - 17 Jan 1945) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalleutnant Rudolf Freiherr von Waldenfels (18 Jan 1945 - 08 May 1945)

Area of operations

Poland & Germany (Oct 1939 - May 1940)
France (May 1940 - July 1940)
East Prussia (July 1940 - June 1941)
Eastern front, northern sector (June 1941 - May 1942)
France (May 1942 - Dec 1942)
Eastern front, southern sector (Dec 1942 - Mar 1944)
Eastern front, central sector (Mar 1944 - Dec 1944)
Hungary (Dec 1944 - Mar 1945)
Austria (Mar 1945 - May 1945)

Manpower strength (7 April 1945)

44 Officers
229 NCO
962 Soldiers
8 Operational tanks

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Close Combat Clasp in Gold (1)
- Richter, Franz 20.08.1944 Obergefreiter MG-Schütze i. d. 1./Pz.Gren.Rgt. 114
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (15)
Holders of the German Cross in Gold (124)
Holders of the German Cross in Silver (3)
- Dreibholz, Alfred 23.03.1945 Oberzahlmeister I./Pz.Gren.Rgt. 4
- Scholz, Dr. Wolfgang 22.07.1944 Oberfeldarzt Div.Arzt 6. Pz.Div.
- Wynen, Dr. Walter 02.12.1943 Stabsarzt z.V. San.Kp. 1/57
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Heer (28)
Holders of the Knight's Cross (50, including one unofficial/unconfirmed)

Order of battle (1940)

Panzer-Regiment 11
Panzer-Abteilung 65
Schützen-Brigade 6
Schützen-Regiment 4
Kradschützen-Bataillon 6
Artillerie-Regiment 76
Aufklärungs-Abteilung 57
Panzerjäger-Abteilung 41
Pionier-Bataillon 57
Nachrichten-Abteilung 82
Versorgungstruppen 57

Order of battle (1943)

HQ
- Divisional Staff
- 57. Mapping Detachment (mot)
11. Panzer Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- Signals Platoon
- Regimental Band
4. Panzergrenadier Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- Regimental Band
- Regimental Staff Company (mot)
- 2 x Battalion (mot)
114. Panzergrenadier Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- Regimental Band
- Regimental Staff Company (mot)
- Battalion (mot)
- Battalion (half-track)
- Infantry Gun Company (self-propelled)
6. Reconnaissance Battalion
- Armored Car Company
- Armroed Car Platoon
- 2 x Motorcycle Company
- Heavy Reconnaissance Company (mot)
- Light Reconnaissance Supply Column (mot)
76. Panzer Artillery Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- 2 x Battery
- Battery (mot)
- Observation Battery (mot)
41. Panzerjäger Battalion
- Panzerjäger Company (mot)
- Panzerjäger Company (self-propelled)
298. Army Flak Battalion
- Staff & Staff Battery (mot)
- 2 x Heavy Flak Battery
- Light Flak Battery
- Flak Battery (self-propelled)
- Light Flak Supply Column (mot)
57. Panzer Pioneer Battalion
- Staff
- 2 x Pioneer Company (half-track)
- Pioneer Company (mot)
- Brüko K Bridging Column
- Light Pioneer Supply Column (mot)
82. Panzer Signals Battalion
- Panzer Telephone Company
- Panzer Radio Company
- Light Signals Supply Column (mot)
57. Feldersatz Battalion
- 4 x Company
Supply & Support Units

Notable members

Hermann von Oppeln-Bronikowski (Gold medal winner in the team dressage event in the 1936 Olympics)
Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (Active in the resistance against Hitler and the one who placed the bomb that were to kill Hitler 20 July 1944, he was executed after the failure of the July 20 Plot, the Bundeswehr barracks Graf-Stauffenberg-Kaserne in Sigmaringen was named in his honour 1961)

Panzer IV D of 6. Panzer-Division
panzer4d-6pzdiv
(Courtesy of David Vercruysse)

PzKpfw. T-34 747(r) (conversion of a Soviet T-34), 7. Kompanie, 11. Panzer Regiment, 6. Panzer Division, 1943
foreign-t34-747
(Courtesy of Thorleif Olsson)

Major Schenk, commander of Panzer-Abteilung 65, discussing in front of a Panzer 35t during the campaign in France 1940
pzdiv-6-schenk-pz35t
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Motorcycle of 6. Panzer-Division with the special insignia used during the Kursk offensive
pzdiv-6-motorcycle-kursk
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Panzer IV crossing a stream on the Eastern Front in 1943
pzdiv-6-panzer4
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Footnotes

1. Generalmajor Walther von Hünersdorff was shot in the head by a Soviet sniper on 14 July 1943 during the Battle of Kursk and died in the hospital in Kharkov on 17 July 1943.
2. "Hitler's African Victims: The German Army Massacres of Black French Soldiers in 1940" by Raffael Scheck, page 33-34.

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
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
Dr. K-G Klietmann - Die Waffen-SS: eine Dokumentation
French Maclean - Quiet Flows the Rhine: German General Officer Casualties in World War II
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
Raffael Scheck - Hitler's African Victims: The German Army Massacres of Black French Soldiers in 1940
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
Günther Wegmann - Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht, Teil VIII a: Panzertruppe, Band 1
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

Reference material on this unit

K.H.Grams - Panzer Artillerie Regiment 76 1936-1945
Wolfgang Paul - Brennpunkte: Die Geschicte der 6. Pz Div
Helmut Ritgen - The 6th Panzer Division 1937-45
Michael Schadewitz - Panzerregiment 11/Panzerabteilung 65, 1937-1945. Panzerersatz- und Ausbildungsabteilung 11 (1939-1945)
Horst Scheibert - Bildband der 6. Panzer-Division
Horst Scheibert - Nach Stalingrad: 48 Kilometer! Der Entsatzvorstoß der 6. Panzerdivision Dezember 1942
Horst Scheibert - Panzer zwischen Don und Donez: Die Winterkämpfe 1942 – 1943
Hans Wijers - Storm Over the Steppe: The Actions of 6 Panzer-Division during the attempt by LVII Panzerkorps to relieve the Stalingrad Cauldron 1942

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