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The 4. Panzer-Division was formed in November 1938 at Würzburg.
It took part in the invasion of Poland and the below description of panzers from the division attacking Warsaw in 1939 is translated from an article written by Colonel E. M. G. Montfort, in Revue Militaire Suisse, January 1941.

Attack ! We, the men of the armored divisions, knows what that means. It is the purpose of our existence. Several times already we have attacked successfully over open ground. “But today there is something new. Eight days after the outbreak of hostilities, we are before a city of 1,300,000 inhabitants into which a penetration must be attempted. “Air reconnaissance has disclosed that strong barricades have been erected to bar our entrance into the city.
Also we are naturally expecting the necessity of having to hight from street to street. “Our Panzer troops spend the night before the attack under the Walls of the city, in well-protected bivouac, with firing positions organized on all sides. The guard, is relieved frequently, for we do not want to be surprised. From time to time we send a greeting to the city in the form of a shell which bursts afar.
Five o’clock ! A disagreeable night has finally passed. The company commander returns from the group commander’s headquarters, where orders have been distributed. He calls the section leaders together to acquaint them briefly with the situation, and to give them orders for the attack.
1‘ am ( Sergeant-major Ziegler) chief of the company command group, and I make up a combat crew, in my tank, with the driver and the radio telegrapher. My mission, with two other tanks, is to protect the company commander and, if necessary, establish liaison with the sections, or reconnoiter.
Six o’clock ! Moving into place near the line of departure. A faint feeling of apprehension: no unnecessary words are exchanged; only a few brief orders to the driver and the telegrapher interrupt the silence. 1 look out from the interior of the turret, Behind me my good motor throbs and high in the air a few shells whistle. The plan of combat for the company and the order of attack arrive by radio. Our’ nick.name is ‘Buzzard’; and the last words of the order are:
Buzzard’ to the combat. March!’

The tanks roll along. In front of me the company commander. We cross a high barricade to the left. Our sections are visible in the gardens in front of the houses to the left and right. Rifle and machine.gun fire burst forth:
but that hardly disturbs us, accustomed as me are to the sharp sound of bullets which ricochet off the turret We search carefully for the spots from which this firing comes, and we respond to it, suddenly the section leader of the first echelon reports:
Two tanks disabled!, Immediately the company commander orders the following section to push forward. This one in its turn is stopped shortly afterward. why? I do not know, I shall learn much later that It passed over mines.
Everything vibrates in me; apprehension has disappeared, and the good Stimmung’of attack is created. I ask the company commander for permission to take command of the rest of the sections of the first echelon, because the tank of the Second Section leader, which also hit a mine, has over turned.
Authorizationt to push forward is granted to me, and I roll forward, Ordering the other tanks to follow me rapidly, Trees, little houses, and barricades are crushed, and the first street has been crossed. As we draw near we see everywhere sharpshooters, trenches and breastworks; but they have been inmediately abandoned by the Poles, so great is their fear of our tanks. Perhaps they didn’t expect to see us arrive from across a mine field. During all this time the fusillade which is mining down on us from the houses has not ceased. I have my eye at the observation slit and, aided by the driver, I seek the proper road to follow.
We begin to feel the heat in the tank. Sweat rolls down our faces, and we breath in lungs-full of powder smoke from cannon and machine-gun fire. That hardly bothers us; our nerves are, too taut. Unfailingly the radiotelegrapher maintains liaison with the company commander who is following. The advance continues steadily between houses and across courts into other gardens. Here too, they shoot at us from all sides. A short halt is maded; to orient our selves and to permit liaison with the tanks which.are following.
Two hundred meters in front of me appears the angle of a wooden barricade which could be used for cover. I shout to the driver: ‘Hannes, full speed ahead!’ and point out the direction to him. The motor gives its maximum; I keep up a steady fire during the rush; the barrier is reached.
A glance through the rear observation slit shows me, thirty yards behind, the company commander. The other tanks are not following. ‘They will come,’ I think; and I order my Driver to press on.
Another 200 yards and we find a street which leads to the center of the city. We want to take it because I envision the swift effect the mass of tanks would produce by attaining this objective. ‘Hit in the openingr cries my driver. An antitank shell has shattered the observation slit of the driver and broken the protective glass. The driver can no longer see I call to him to change the glass, while I feverishly turn the turret and open fire on a wooden shed from which the shell must have come.
We reach the street. I look quickly behind. Now it is the company commander who is no longer there. In 300 yards three tanks have stopped! Why don’t they come? The radio telegrapher continues uninterruptedly to give the order to advance. Dripping with sweat, seated down below in his corner, he telegraphs and hands me up drums of ammunition.
My machine-gun Jams, I withdraw the lock; the socket is broken. Quickly I change the gun. I glance through the observation slit and see a civilian running toward us. A sudden movement of his arm—a grenade flies over and bursts on us without doing any damage He doesn’t have time to throw a second one because my gun cuts him to bits.
Two hundred yards further along, on a railway embankment, about fifty Poles scatter, running. My machine gun fires again. A hail of bullets” mows down the enemy. “During this time my radio telegrapher has been ceaselessly calling the tanks which remained behind. Suddenly tuned on the group frequency, he receives the following order: ‘Take command of the company and push forward!’.
What has happened to the company commander? Has he advanced too far without protection?.

Two light tanks and one medium tank rejoin me. The order is given them to advance with me, and to push along this street toward the center of the city. At my right is the medium tank; behind me the two light tanks. While spraying suspicious points with lead, I suddenly see, halfway to my left in a garden, a burst of flame and I hear the explosion of a shell. The munition depot of a75-mm gun, which was in position ready to fire on us, has been accidentally hit. The entire gun crew has disappeared.
And now, directly in front of us, an antitank obstacle looms up. There is no way to avoid it; we must cross it. Carefully, the tank on my right aproaches it and crosses. I concentrate my fire on the obstacle. All hell breaks loose ! In front of us several shells burst in quick succession. The 75-mm gun must now be in position somewhere else. I look for it and fire as hard as I can. While changing a magazine I glance around me. The two light tanks are in flames. Is there another gun behind us? May be it’s an enemy tank or an antitank; .qun ! I haven’t time to think very long. An order is given to the tank beside me to return along the road by which we came; and I fire again at the gun in front of me.
Before turning, the medium tank received a 37.mm shell in its motor, but the shell did not burst. I grit my teeth and press my head against the gunsight, contracted by my search for the enemy. Incredible luck ! One of the tanks in flames gives forth a smoke which protects me in the rear, while the fire of the enemy in front of me continues to fall short. A shell whistles under the tank, tears out part of the motor chassis, and by its explosion lifts us a trifle off our springs.
My accompanying tank has disappeared, Now is the difficult moment for us. ‘Turn around and go back !’ The driver turns the tank sharply, and plunges down the street passing burning tanks through clouds of smoke, Another 50 yards to cover before we reach the garden. I shoot continuously, raking the street with fire, From one moment to the next I expect to receive the fatal hit, It does not come.
We reach the gardens and roll onto the principal street. Back of us we hear only a few gun shots and several bursts of machine-gun fire.
From behind a bush a comrade, driver of one of the flaming tanks, rises suddenly. I open the turret cover, calls to him, and quickly he jumps to safety in to the tank onto the knees of the radio telegrapher.
A burning doorway bars our path. My driver stops just in front of it; aims directly for it; and at one rush the door flies to pieces. Finally we reach the main road. Several tanks of our group are already assembled here. From the town comes a steady artillery fire which has put several tanks of our regiment out of action by direct hits.
My turret no longer turns, Perhaps it is owing to the shock of hitting the doorway, or the result of the quantity of bricks which fell on us during the trip between the houses. Upon lifting the turret cover to see better, I observe nearby my company commander leaning against the corner of the house. Impassively, he is defending himself, pistol in hand, against enemy riflemen who are occupying the windows. He, too, jumps into my tank, and we are even more crowded than before, The turret damaged, five men in the tank—battle is hardly an easy matter for us!.
During the return trip, the company commander told me that his tank was put out of action and his radio telegrapher wounded. He sent the wounded man to the rear, accompanied by the driver, while he remained forward and continued to fight with his pistol,.
Finally we reach our original line of departure, Some comrades are already there. Their tanks were destroyed by guns or mines, and they returned on foot, They inform me that one of my men is dead, burned in one of the tanks which took fire behind me. His wounded driver was picked up.
Several tanks of the group come up from behind in perfect order.
The attack lasted five hours. It failed on account of the city’s powerful defense.


It then fought in France, remaining in France until November 1940 on occupation duty. Following a brief return to France it was transferred to East Prussia and taking part in the invasion of the USSR, fighting on the central sector of the Eastern front. It was pushed back by the Red Army and fought in Lativa and Kurland from the summer of 1944 until January 1945 when it was transferred to West Prussia where it surrendered to the Red Army in April 1945.

Known war crimes

Soldiers from the divisions were involved in killings of civilians and POWs during the invasion of Poland 1939. (3)

Commanders

Generalleutnant Georg-Hans Reinhardt (10 Nov 1938 - 05 Feb 1940)
Generalmajor Ludwig Ritter von Radlmeier (05 Feb 1940 - 03 Apr 1940)
Generalmajor Johann Joachim Stever (04 Apr 1940 - 14 May 1940)
Oberst Hans Freiherr von Boineburg-Lengsfeld (15 May 1940 - 18 May 1940) m.d.F.b.
Generalmajor Johann Joachim Stever (19 May 1940 - 23 Jul 1940)
Oberst Hans Freiherr von Boineburg-Lengsfeld (24 Jul 1940 - 06 Sep 1940) m.d.F.b.
Generalmajor Willibald Freiherr von Langermann und Erlencamp (08 Sep 1940 - 27 Dec 1941)
Generalmajor Dietrich von Saucken (28 Dec 1941 - 02 Jan 1942) m.d.F.b. (WIA) (1)
Oberst Heinrich Eberbach (06 Jan 1942 - 01 Mar 1942) m.d.F.b.
Oberstleutnant Otto Heidkämper (02 Mar 1942 - 31 Mar 1942) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalmajor Heinrich Eberbach (01 Apr 1942 - 22 Jun 1942)
Generalleutnant z.V. Paul Hielscher (23 Jun 1942 - 03 Jul 1942) m.d.F.b.
Generalmajor Heinrich Eberbach (04 Jul 1942 - 23 Jun 1942)
Oberst Dr. Karl Mauss (24 Nov 1942 - 27 Nov 1942) m.d.st.F.b.
Oberst Erich Schneider Dipl. Ing. (28 Nov 1942 - 31 Dec 1942) m.d.F.b.
Generalmajor Erich Schneider Dipl. Ing. (01 Jan 1943 - 06 Jan 1943)
Oberst Dr. Karl Mauss (07 Jan 1943 - 28 Jan 1943) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalmajor Erich Schneider Dipl. Ing. (28 Jan 1943 - 30 May 1943)
Generalleutnant Dietrich von Saucken (31 May 1943 - 22 Oct 1943)
Oberst Dr. Karl Mauss (23 Oct 1943 - 20 Jan 1944) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalmajor Hans Junck Dipl. Ing. (21 Jan 1944 - 06 Feb 1944) m.d.F.b.
Oberst Clemens Betzel (07 Feb 1944 - 03 Mar 1944) m.d.F.b.
Generalleutnant Dietrich von Saucken (04 Mar 1944 - 30 Apr 1944)
Oberst Clemens Betzel (01 May 1944 - 30 Jun 1944) m.d.F.b.
Generalmajor Clemens Betzel (01 Jul 1944 - 20 Dec 1944)
Oberst Hans Christern (21 Dec 1944 - 28 Dec 1944) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalleutnant Clemens Betzel (28 Dec 1944 - 27 Mar 1945) (KIA) (2)
Oberst Ernst Hoffmann (27 Mar 1945 - 31 Mar 1945) m.d.F.b.
Generalmajor Hans Hecker (01 Apr 1945 - 08 May 1945)

Area of operations

Poland (Sep 1939 - May 1940)
France (May 1940 - Nov 1940)
Germany (Nov 1940 - Feb 1941)
France (Feb 1941 - Apr 1941)
East Prussia (Apr 1941 - June 1941)
Eastern front, central sector (June 1941 - June 1944)
Latvia (June 1944 - Jan 1945)
West Prussia (Jan 1945 - May 1945)

Holders of high awards

(This was the most decorated Heer division)
Holders of the Close Combat Clasp in Gold (38)
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (14)
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army for Shooting Down Aircraft (2)
- Fuchs, [first name not listed], 29.07.1944 [Date of Action] (o.Nr.), Unteroffizier, 2./Feld-Ers.Btl. 103
- Wurm, Hans, 29.07.1944 [Date of Action] (566), Wachtmeister, 7./Pz.Art.Rgt. 103
Holders of the German Cross in Gold (167)
Holders of the German Cross in Silver (8)
- Goetz und Schwanenfließ von, Jörg, 25.10.1943, Hauptmann d.R., Stab 4. Pz.Div.
- Küfner, Konrad, 21.04.1944, Oberfeldwebel, Werkst.Kp./Pz.Rgt. 35
- Langenfaß, Dr. Rolf, 10.10.1944, Oberstabsarzt, San.Kp. 2/84
- Rosenfelder, Walter, 27.09.1944, Leutnant (Ing.), I./Pz.Rgt. 35
- Schäfer, Karl, 22.10.1944, Oberschirrmeister, Stb.Kp./Pz.Gren.Rgt. 33
- Schlembach, Anton, 31.01.1945, Heeres-Oberwerkmeister, Pz.Jäg.Abt. 49
- Schnizlein, Dr. Gustav, 12.07.1944, Stabsarzt d.R., San.Kp. 2/84
- Trautvetter, Willy, 22.10.1944, Hauptfeldwebel, 1./Pz.Gren.Rgt. 12
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Heer (78)
Holders of the Knight's Cross (84, including one unofficial/unconfirmed)
Holders of the Knight's Cross to the War Merit Cross (1)
- Sextel, Anton, 13.09.1943, Heeres-Hauptwerkmeister, Inst.Kp/Pz.Rgt 35)
Unit-Level Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army for Shooting Down Aircraft (2)
- 3./Schützen-Regiment 12
--  Date/Place of Downing: 04.10.1941 bei Orel
--  Award Date: 10.12.1941 (54)
- 9./Panzer-Artillerie-Regiment 103
--  Date/Place of Downing: 13.01.1944 bei Krotoff
--  Award Date: 01.05.1944 (488)

Order of battle (September 1939)

HQ
- 84. Mapping Detachment (mot)
- 84. Motorcycle Messenger Platoon
12. Schützen Regiment
- Signals Platoon (mot)
- Motorcycle Messenger Platoon
- 2 x Battalion
- Light Infantry Column (mot)
5. Panzer Brigade
- 2 x Panzer Regiment
7. Reconnaissance Battalion (mot)
- Signals Platoon (mot)
- 2 x Armroed Car Platoon
- Motorcycle Company
- Heavy Company (mot)
- Light Reconnaissance Supply Column (mot)
49. Panzerabwehr Battalion
- Signals Platoon (mot)
- 3 x Battery (mot)
103. Artillery Regiment
- Signals Platoon (mot)
- Weather Detachment (mot)
- 2 x Battalion (mot)
79. Panzer Signals Battalion
- Panzer Signals Company
- Panzer Radio Company
- Panzer Signals Supply Column
Engineer Units
- 3/79. Pioneer Battalion
- Brüko K (mot)
- Light Pioneer Supply Column (mot)
Support & Supply Units

Order of battle (Summer 1943)

HQ
- 84. Mapping Detachment (mot)
- Divisional Staff
35. Panzer Regiment
- Battalion
12. Panzergrenadier Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- Reigmental Staff Company
- Battalion (half-track)
- Battalion (mot)
- Infantry Gun Company (self-propelled)
33. Panzergrenadier Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- Regimental Staff Company
- 2 x Battalion (mot)
- Infantry Gun Company (self-propelled)
4. Reconnaissance Battalion
- 3 x Motorcycle Company
- Armored Car Company
- Heavy Reconnaissance Company (half-track)
- Light Reconnaissance Supply Column (mot)
49. Panzerjäger Battalion
- Panzerjäger Company (mot)
- 2 x Panzerjäger Company (self-propelled)
103. Panzer Artillery Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- 3 x Battalion (mot)
- Observation Battery (mot)
290. Army Flak Battalion
- Staff & Staff Battery (mot)
- 2 x Heavy Flak Battery (mot)
- Light Flak Battery (mot)
- Flak Battery (self-propelled)
- Light Flak Supply Column
79. Panzer Pioneer Battalion
- Staff
- Pioneer Company (half-track)
- 2 x Pioneer Company (mot)
- Brüko K Bridging Column
- Light Pioneer Supply Column (mot)
79. Panzer Signals Battalion
- Panzer Telephone Company
- Panzer Radio Company
- Light Signals Supply Column (mot)
84. Feldersatz Battalion
- 2 x Company
Supply & Support Units

Notable members

Hermann Bix (usually credited with 75+ destroyed tanks but the exact number is unknown)
Hermann von Oppeln-Bronikowski (Gold medal winner in the team dressage event in the 1936 Olympics)
Dietrich von Saucken (Holder of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds)

Vehicles from Panzer-Regiment 35 deploying to attack Slutsk on 26 June 1941
pzdiv-4-pzreg-35-slutsk
(Courtesy of Olof)

Panzers crossing the Albert Canal in Belgium on 11 May 1940
pzdiv-4-albert-canal
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Panzer III in Maastricht 1940
pzdiv-4-maastricht
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Panzer IV on the Eastern Front 1944
pzdiv-4-panzer4
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Panzer IV named "Grislybär" on the Eastern Front in August/September 1943
pzdiv-3-panzer4
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Footnotes

1. Generalmajor von Saucken badly wounded by shell fragments to the head on 2 January, 1942.
2. Generalleutnant Clemens Betzel was killed 27 March 1945 by Soviet artillery fire in Danzig.
3. "Zbrodnie Wehrmachtu na jeńcach wojennych w II Wojnie światowej" by Szymon Datnera and "Hitler Strikes Poland: Blitzkreig, Ideology & Atrocity" by Alexander Rossino.

Sources used

Microfilm Publication A-3356, German Officer Personnel files, NARA
RKT & DKiGT karteikarten, BA/MA
Pier Paolo Battistelli - Panzer Divisions: The Eastern Front 1941-43
Antony Beevor - Berlin: The Downfall 1945
Dermot Bradley, Karl-Friedrich Hildebrand, Markus Rövekamp - Die Generale des Heeres 1921-1945
R W Byrd - Once I had a Comrade: Karl Roth and the Combat History of the 36th Panzer Regiment 1939-45
Szymon Datner - Zbrodnie Wehrmachtu na jeńcach wojennych w II Wojnie światowej
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
Alexander Rossino - Hitler Strikes Poland: Blitzkreig, Ideology & Atrocity
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

R W Byrd - Once I had a Comrade: Karl Roth and the Combat History of the 36th Panzer Regiment 1939-45
Kameradschaft der ehem. angehörigen - Geschichte der Artillerieregiments 103- Panzerartillerieregiments 103
Andrzej Kinski, Tomasz Nowakowski, Robert Sawicki & Mariusz Skotnicki - 4 Dywizja Pancerna Kursk 1943
Andrzej Kinski, Tomasz Nowakowski, Robert Sawicki & Mariusz Skotnicki - 4 Panzer Division 1943-1944
Robert Michulec - 4. Panzer-Division on the Eastern Front (2 vol)
J. Neumann - Die 4. Panzer-Division (2 vol)
Dietrich von Saucken - 4. Panzer Division
Robert Sawicki - 4. Panzer Division (5 vol)
Oskar Schaub - 12. Panzergrenadierregiment
Hans Schäufler - Knight's Cross Panzers: The German 35th Tank Regiment in World War II (So Lebten und Starben Sie)
Mariusz Skotnicki & Robert Sawicki - 4 Panzer Division 1941-1945

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