logo-inf-21


The 21. Infanterie-Division was formed in Elbing on 15 October 1935 from the cover name Kommandant von Elbing. The infantry regiments were formed from 3. (Preußisches) Infanterie-Regiment of 1. Division of the Reichwehr. It was mobilized in August 1939 as part of the 1. Welle (wave).

The divisional commander Generalleutnant Kuno-Hans von Both held a speech on the night of the attack on Poland:

Soldiers of the Twenty-First Division! This is for the honor and existence of the Fatherland! Prove to your fathers that you are worthy! East Prussia is in danger. […] we will be marching into ancient German land that was ripped away by the treason of 1919. In these former areas of the Reich our blood brothers have suffered frightful persecution! This is the living space of the German people. Our struggle and our lives belong to this people and its leader, our supreme commander - Adolf Hitler! (2)

Commanders

Generalleutnant Albert Wodrig (15 Oct 1935 - 10 Nov 1938)
Generalleutnant Kuno-Hans von Both (10 Nov 1938 - 20 Oct 1939)
General der Infanterie Otto Sponheimer (26 Oct 1939 - 10 Jan 1943)
General der Infanterie Gerhard Matzky (10 Jan 1943 - 1 Nov 1943)
Generalmajor Hubert Lamey (1 Nov 1943 - 1 Dec 1943)
General der Infanterie Gerhard Matzky (1 Dec 1943 - 1 Mar 1944)
Generalleutnant Franz Sensfuß (1 Mar 1944 - 28 Mar 1944)
General der Infanterie Hermann Förtsch (28 Mar 1944 - 22 Aug 1944)
Generalleutnant Heinrich Götz (22 Aug 1944 - 1 Apr 1945)
Generalmajor Karl Kötz (1 Apr 1945 - 8 May 1945)

Area of operations

Poland (Sep 1939 - May 1940)
France (May 1940 - June 1941)
Eastern front, northern sector (June 1941 - Sep 1944)
Eastern front, central sector (Sep 1944 - May 1945)

Nicknames and Honor titles

Infanterie-Regiment 3 was given the title Infanterie-Regiment Deutsch-Eylau 1 October 1934 but was redesignated 15 October 1935.
Infanterie-Regiment 45 was given the title Infanterie-Regiment Marienburg 1 October 1934 but was redesignated 15 October 1935.

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Close Combat Clasp in Gold (19)
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (12)
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army for Shooting Down Aircraft (2)
- Engelskirchen, Wilhelm, 16.08.1943 (373), Obergefreiter, Stab/21. Inf.Div.
- Pokorra, [first name not listed], 16.05.1942 (63), Gefreiter, 2./Pz.Jäg.Abt. 21
Holders of the German Cross in Gold (188)
Holders of the German Cross in Silver (2)
- Hollenberg, Gerhard, 13.12.1944, Oberschirrmeister, 14./Gren.Rgt. 3
- Kosel, Gerhard, 14.01.1945, Stabsfeldwebel, Stab I./Gren.Rgt. 45
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Heer (50)
Holders of the Knight's Cross (49, including one unofficial/unconfirmed)
Unit-Level Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army for Shooting Down Aircraft (4)
- Infanterie-Regiment 24
-- Date/Place of Downing: 17.09.1942 bei Pertetschno
-- Award Date: 07.11.1941 (21)
- 1./Aufklärungs-Abteilung 21
-- Date/Place of Downing: 30.10.1941 bei Motochowo
-- Award Date: 16.05.1942 (56)
- I./Infanterie-Regiment 3
-- Date/Place of Downing: 18.02.1942 bei Kirischi
-- Award Date: 16.05.1942 (107)
- 8./Grenadier-Regiment 45
-- Date/Place of Downing: 14.01.1943 bei Menjewscha
-- Award Date: 16.08.1943 (357)

Order of battle (1939)

Infanterie-Regiment 3
Infanterie-Regiment 24
Infanterie-Regiment 45
Radfahr-Schwadron 21
Artillerie-Regiment 21
Beobachtungs-Abteilung 21 (1)
Pionier-Bataillon 21
Panzerabwehr-Abteilung 21
Nachrichten-Abteilung 21
Feldersatz-Bataillon 21
Versorgungseinheiten 21

Order of battle (1942)

Grenadier-Regiment 3
Grenadier-Regiment 24
Grenadier-Regiment 45
Radfahr-Bataillon 21
Artillerie-Regiment 21
Pionier-Bataillon 21
Panzerjäger-Abteilung 21
Nachrichten-Abteilung 21
Versorgungseinheiten 21

Order of battle (1944-1945)

Grenadier-Regiment 3
Grenadier-Regiment 24
Grenadier-Regiment 45
Füsilier-Bataillon 21
Artillerie-Regiment 21
Pionier-Bataillon 21
Panzerjäger-Abteilung 21
Nachrichten-Abteilung 21
Feldersatz-Bataillon 21
Versorgungseinheiten 21

Notable members

Fritz Streletz (Generaloberst and Deputy Minister for National Defense and Chief of the Main Staff (10 Jan 1979-31 Dec 1989) of the German Democratic Republic; served as an Unteroffizier in the division from 1944-1945)
Henning von Tresckow (Active in the resistance against Hitler and committed suicide after the failure of the July 20 Plot, the Bundeswehr barracks Henning-von-Tresckow-Kaserne in Oldenburg was named in his honour 1961 and the Henning-von-Tresckow-Kaserne in Geltow in 1992)

Footnotes

1. Released from the division in December 1939 and designated Heerestruppe.
2. "Hitler strikes Poland: Blitzkrieg, Ideology and atrocity" by Alexander B. Rossino, page 27.

Sources used

Alexander B. Rossino - Hitler strikes Poland: Blitzkrieg, Ideology and atrocity
Georg Tessin - Deutsche Verbände und Truppen 1918-1939

Reference material on this unit

Christoph Freiherr von Allmayer-Beck - Die Geschichte der 21. (ostpr./westpr.) Infanterie-Division
Hans Henning Podzun - Weg und Schicksal der 21. Infanterie Division
Traditionsverband - Die 21. Infanterie Division. Rußlandfeldzug 1941

Do you have any corrections or additions to the material presented on the site?
Please help us improve the site by sending them to us.