The 86. Infanterie-Division was formed on 26 August 1939 as part of the 3. Welle (wave). It was disbanded in November 1943 after suffering heavy losses on the Eastern Front. The divisional staff, signals and supply units were used to form the 361. Infanterie-Division while other surviving elements formed Divisions-Gruppe 86 which was assigned to Korps-Abteilung E.

Known war crimes

On 19 June 1940 soldiers from Infanterie-Regiment 167 and Infanterie-Regiment 41 shot an unknown number of prisoners from the 14th RTS (Régiment de Tirailleurs Sénégalais), a colonial unit recruited from Senegal, near Bourmont. (1)


General der Infanterie Joachim Witthöft (1 Sep 1939 - 1 Jan 1942)
General der Artillerie Helmuth Weidling (1 Jan 1942 - 15 Oct 1943)

Area of operations

West Wall (Sep 1939 - May 1940)
France (May 1940 - June 1941)
Eastern Front, central sector (June 1941 - Nov 1943)

Order of battle

Infanterie-Regiment 167
Infanterie-Regiment 184
Infanterie-Regiment 216
Artillerie-Regiment 186
Divisionseinheiten 186

Notable members

Rudolf-Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff (Active in the resistance against Hitler and also the one who in 1943 discovered the mass graves from the Soviet massacre of Polish officers in the Katyn forest)


1. "Hitler's African Victims: The German Army Massacres of Black French Soldiers in 1940" by Raffael Scheck, page 56.

Sources used

Georg Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht 1933-1945

Reference material on this unit

? - Der Ostfeldzug der 86. Rheinisch-Westfaelischen Inf.Division (28.VI.1941 - 4.XI. 1943)