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12th Panzer Division (Wehrmacht)

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Country  Nazi Germany
Type  Panzer
Size  Division
Branch  Army
Role  Armoured warfare
12th Panzer Division (Wehrmacht)
Active  10 January 1941 – 8 May 1945

The 12th Panzer Division (English: 12th Tank Division) was an armoured division in the German Army, the Wehrmacht, during World War II, established in 1940.


In October 1940 the 2nd Motorised Infantry Division was reorganized as the 12th Panzer Division, and in June 1941 it joined Operation Barbarossa, fighting in the battles of Minsk and Smolensk. It fought the rest of the war on the Eastern Front and surrendered to the Red Army in the Courland Pocket in May 1945.


The division was formed from the 2nd Infantry Division, itself formed in 1921. The division was motorised in 1936–37 and participated in the invasions of Poland and France. It was reorganised as a Panzer Division in October 1940.

The 12th Panzer Division participated in Operation Barbarossa, taking part in the drive towards Leningrad. Suffering heavy casualties during the Soviet counter offensive in the winter of 1941–42 the division was withdrawn to Estonia for a refit. It remained with Army Group North for the most part of the war except for a brief spell south while participating in the battle of Kursk in July 1943 ad the following defensive operations and retreat after the German failure. The division returned to the northern sector in January 1944 but came to late play any role in the unsuccessful German efforts to prevent the Siege of Leningrad from being broken by the Red Army. It was eventually entrapped in the Courland Pocket after the successful Soviet offensive in July 1944, Operation Bagration. It remained in Courland where it surrendered to Soviet forces in May 1945.

Commanding officers

The commanders of the division:

  • Generaloberst Josef Harpe, 5 October 1940
  • Generalleutnant Walter Wessel, 15 January 1942
  • Generalleutnant Erpo Freiherr von Bodenhausen, 1 March 1943
  • Generalmajor Gerhard Müller, 28 May 1944
  • Generalleutnant Erpo Freiherr von Bodenhausen, 16 July 1944
  • Oberst Horst von Usedom, 12 April 1945
  • References

    12th Panzer Division (Wehrmacht) Wikipedia

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