The 10th Panzer Division was a formation of the German Army during World War II.
It was formed in Prague in March 1939, and served in the Army Group North reserve during the invasion of Poland of the same year. The division participated in the Battle of France in 1940, including the Siege of Calais, and in Operation Barbarossa attached to Army Group Center in 1941. After taking heavy casualties on the Eastern Front it was sent back to France for rehabilitation and to serve as a strategic reserve against potential Allied invasion. The division was rushed to Tunisia after Operation Torch (1942) and spent six months in that theatre, where it engaged both British and American forces. It caused severe losses to the "green" US Army in some of their first encounters with the Germans under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel at the Battle of Kasserine Pass (1943). It was later lost in the general Axis surrender in North Africa in May 1943 and officially disbanded in June 1943. The division was never rebuilt.
In honour of notable members of the 10th Panzer Division being part of the German Resistance and the failed 20 July Plot to kill Adolf Hitler in 1944, a new armoured division was named 10th Armoured Division in 1959 upon the formation of the West German army as a part of the Bundeswehr.
For most of its history, the division was organized into three regiments: 7th Panzer, and 69th and 86th Panzergrenadier (mechanized infantry). Other units included an artillery regiment and one each of motorcycle, reconnaissance, tank destroyer, engineer, and signal battalions.
The 10th Panzer Division was first formed on 1 April 1939 in Prague, as a composite formation made-up of previously established units throughout Germany. Many of these units were transferred from the 20th Motorized Division, the 29th Motorized Division, and the 3rd Light Division. By the fall of 1939, the division was still forming, but was nonetheless committed to the 1939 Invasion of Poland before the process was complete. For that reason, the 10th Panzer Division remained in reserve for most of that campaign. It was moved from Pomerania in August into Poland, where it was hastily given control of the 7th Panzer Regiment, the 4th Panzer Brigade and several SS units.
The division completed its formation by the start of 1940. It consisted of the 10th Rifle Brigade with the 69th and 86th Rifle Regiments, the 4th Panzer Brigade with the 7th and 8th Panzer Regiments, and the 90th Artillery Regiment.
Once complete, the division was sent to France to participate in the invasion of that country. Committed to the XIX Motorized Corps, the 10th Panzer Division was deployed to the southern axis of the fight, with the 1st and 2nd Panzer Divisions as well as Infantry Regiment Großdeutschland. It moved through Luxembourg and broke through the French lines at the Meuse River near Sedan, advancing all the way to the English Channel in its first engagement. At Sedan, the division remained briefly in reserve to protect the German bridgehead across the river from French counterattack. From there, the division pushed Allied forces from the ports in the Flanders region, before engaged in mopping-up operations in western areas of France after the French surrender. Following this, the division engaged in occupation duties and training in France.
In March 1941, the division was recalled to Germany, and moved to the border with the Soviet Union in June of that year in preparation for Operation Barbarossa. Once the invasion was launched, the division participated in the Battle of Białystok–Minsk, in engagements at Smolensk and Vyasma, and in the Battle of Moscow. During the Soviet winter offensive of 1941-1942, it held positions at Yukhnov, near Rzhev, against repeated Soviet counterattacks from January to April 1942. Afterwards, the depleted division was withdrawn to Amiens, France to be reformed.
In 1942, the division was transferred to Dieppe, where it played a minor role in countering the Dieppe Raid by Allied forces. Once the Allies landed in North Africa, the 10th Panzer Division was placed on occupation duty in Vichy France, and rushed to the African Theater in late 1942 as soon as transport became available. In December 1942, the division, now a part of Fifth Panzer Army, landed in Tunisia. Here they participated in the Battle of Kasserine Pass and several of the other early battles with units of the US Army, newly committed to the war. They also took part in the failed Axis offensive of Operation Ochsenkopf in late February 1943. When the Axis line collapsed in May 1943, the division was trapped. It surrendered on 12 May and was never rebuilt.
The division was commanded by six men during its existence, including twice when acting commanders filled Wolfgang Fischer's command.
Several Wehrmacht officers who had served in the 10th Panzer Division were active in the German resistance against Adolf Hitler and were imprisoned or executed after their unsuccessful attempt to assassinate him in the 20 July Plot of 1944:General der Panzertruppe Ferdinand Schaal, active in the resistance and imprisoned until the end of the war.
Syndikus Albrecht von Hagen, active in the resistance and executed after the failure of the 20 July Plot.
Oberst Claus von Stauffenberg, who placed the bomb that was intended to kill Hitler at the Wolfsschanze. He was executed and later became a symbolic figure of the German resistance in post-war Germany. The Graf-Stauffenberg-Kaserne in Sigmaringen is the HQ garrison of the newly formed post-war 10th Panzer Division of the Bundeswehr. Both were named in remembrance.
Unteroffizier Erich Peter (officer), who later became Generaloberst and Deputy Minister for National Defense and Chief of the Border Police Troops of the German Democratic Republic.