The division was formed on 26 August 1939 as part of the 3rd Welle (Wave) by the land military commander in Hanau; (Inf.Rgt.355 in Büdingen by Ausbildungsleiter Wetzlar, Inf.Rgt.367 in Bad Orb by Ausbildungsleiter Hanau, Inf.Rgt.388 in Aschaffenburg by Ausbildungsleiter Aschaffenburg). It consisted mainly from older personnel from Frankfurt on Main.
In autumn operations of 1939 the unit served on the Saar Front as part of the XXX Korps, 1. Armee. During the French Sarre offensive in 1939 the 214. Infanterie Division served as a central unit in the Korps lines with 79. Infanterie Division on it’s right and 34. Infanterie Division on it’s left flank opposing the 2eme D.I.N.A of the French 3rd Army.
On 8 February 1940 all regiments formed their M.G. companies from their own ranks. At the same time II./355. IR and all Pionier companies had to be given to the 556. Infanterie Division at the upper Rhine.
In the beginning of April 1940 the division was transferred to Norway where it pushed northwards from landing areas in Kristiansand and Arendal towards the 163. Infanterie Division which pushed southwards from Stavanger. The 214th remained in Norway, while it had to give up units to form new divisions in Finland (On 5 November 1940 Stab A.R.214, I./A.R.214, I./355, I./367 were sent to Norway to form 199. Infanterie Division. On 22 August 1941 Inf.Rgt.388, I./A.R.214, 2./Pi.Btl.214 leave the division for Finnland to form Grenadier Brigade 388 and Artillerie Abteilung 930.).
After being on occupation duties until 2 February 1944 the division was ordered to transfer to East Prussia (at that time still a two regiment unit) where it was reorganised. In March 1944 the 214th arrived at the Narwa front where it was to replace the 227. Infantrie Division (the Stern Division). In April 1944 the division was transferred again, this time to the XLII Korps, Heeresgruppe Nordukraine, where it participated in battles at Kowel. After hard battles they were withdrawn to the Weichsel-bridgehead until January 1945, when the 214. Infanterie Division was destroyed and only small parts managed to retreat to Silesia.
Known war crimes
On 20 November 1942 the soldiers of the III./355 IR under the command of Oberst Petri were ordered to execute 14 British commando soldiers which were captured while landing far from their target area (the commando mission was codenamed Operation Freshman).
Memorial tablet on the site of the execution
(Courtesy of Erik Ettrup)
Generalleutnant Theodor Groppe (1 Sep 1939 - 30 Jan 1940)
Generalleutnant Max Horn (30 Jan 1940 - 31 Dec 1943)
Generalmajor Carl Wahle (31 Dec 1943 - 15 Feb 1944)
Generalleutnant Max Horn (15 Feb 1944 - 28 Mar 1944)
Generalleutnant Harry von Kirchbach (28 Mar 1944 - ? Jan 1945)
Operations Officers (Ia)
Major Hans Fromberger (1939-Mar 1941)
Oberstleutnant Hans-Wilhelm Tilgner (10 Mar 1941-20 Apr 1944)
Oberstleutnant Heinrich Gehm (20 Apr 1944-Jan 1945) (MIA)
Area of operations
West Wall (Sep 1939 - Apr 1940)
Norway (Apr 1940 - Sep 1941)
Finland (Sep 1941 - Feb 1944)
Eastern front, northern sector (Feb 1944 - Apr 1944)
Poland & Silesia (Apr 1944 - Jan 1945)
Reserve, 1st Army (Sep 1939)
XXX Korps, 1st Army (Oct 1939 – Jan 1940)
XXI Korps (Apr 1940 – Aug 1940)
XXXVI Korps (Sep 1940 – May 1941)
LXX Korps (June 1941 – Aug 1943)
Reserve (Sep 1943 – Mar 1944)
XLII Korps (Apr 1944 – Jul 1944)
LVI Korps (Aug 1944 – Jan 1945)
Order of battle (1939)
Infanterie-Regiment 355 (from Ausbildungsleiter Wetzlar)
Infanterie-Regiment 367 (from Ausbildungsleiter Hanau)
Infanterie-Regiment 388 (from Ausbildungsleiter Aschaffenburg)
Order of battle (1944)
Edmund Kiss (Archeologist best known for his work on the Tiwanaku in Bolivia, he was later involved in the SS sponsored Ahnenerbe)
Jostein Berglyd - Operation Freshman: Jakten på Hitlers tunga vatten
Georg Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht 1933-1945
Reference material on this unit
Kameradschaft der ehem. Angehörigen - Geschichte der Infanterieregiments 355