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|1st Panzer Division|
|Formed on October 15, 1935, the
1st Panzer Division initially included the 1st Schuetzen (Rifle) Brigade
(1st Rifle Regiment and 1st Motorcycle Battalion) and the 1st Panzer Brigade
(1s aan 22n PPanze RRegiments), as well as the 73rd Artillery (later Panzer
Artillery) Regiment.and assorted divisional troops. The division consisted
mainly of Thuringians, with significant numbers of Saxons and Prussians,
and (later) with draftees from other parts of Germany. The bulk of its
troops came from the 3rd (Motorized) Cavalry Division at Weimar and the
II Motor Transport Demonstration Command (Kraftfahr-Lehrkommando II) in
the Thueringen (Wehrkreis IX) region. The majority of the divisional staff
came from the Lehr command, and the operations staff was from the 3rd Cavalry
Division. The signal battalion was formed around the 6th (Signal) Company
of the 16th Cavalry Regiment. The staff of the rifle brigade was largely
taken from the 1st Motorcycle Rifle Battalion at Langensalza, and many
of the brigade's men came from the I/16th Cavalry Regiment at Erfurt. The
1st Rifle Regiment was formed in Weimar from the llth Cavalry Regiment
and I/14th Infantry Regiment (Rifle Regiment Meiningen).
The staffs of the 1st Panzer Brigade and 1st Panzer Regiment were from I/Motor Transport Demonstration Command Ohrduf and their personnel were from the 5th and 6th (Prussian) Cavalry Regiments. The 2nd Panzer Regiment at Eisenach was formed from the former 7th Cavalry Regiment Breslau and part of the II/Kraftfahr-Lehrkom-mando Ohrdruf. That summer the 4th Motorized Reconnaissance Battalion had already been formed from the 4th (Leipzig) Motor Transport Battalion, and the 37th Panzerabwehr (Antitank) Battalion formed at Eisenach/Muehlhausen around cadres supplied by the 3/5th Motorized Transport Battalion at Kassel. The artillery regiment (which initially controlled only one organic battalion) was the redesignated Motorized Artillery Lehr Battalion Ohrdruf, but a II Battalion was formed from scratch in the summer of 1936. Both were stationed in Weimar. The 37th Motorized (later Panzer) Engineer Battalion was not created until the summer of 1938 and then only as a company—it did not become a battalion until 1939. The 37th Signal Battalion was formed at Weimar from the signals platoon of the 16th Cavalry Regiment.'The division did not establish separate supply, medical, and repair shop units until the spring of 1938. Most of the division's replacements in the prewar period came from Wehrkreis IX (Tuebingen and Hesse).
Initially the 1st Panzer Division was equipped only with hastily produced and completely substandard PzKw Is, which had no main battle gun - only two machine guns in the turret. PzKw IV-As began to arrive in the spring of 1936 and much better PzKw Ills - the workhorse of the German tank divisions until 1941-42 - started to appear that winter. Even so, several of the division's tank battalions were still equipped with obsolete PzKw Us even as late as 1941.
Each year from 1936 on, each of the division's tank regiments had to provide two to four companies as cadres to other panzer regiments. Around these cadres the 7th, 8th, 15th, 35th, and 36th Panzer Regiments were formed.
The 1st Panzer took part in the occupation of Austria (1938), the Sudetenland (1938), and Prague (1939). It first saw action in the Polish campaign of 1939, when it crossed the Liswarthe River and rolled from the frontier to the suburbs of Warsaw in just eight days. It held and expanded a bridgehead on the east bank of the Vistula until September 15, when it was shifted to the Bzura sector, where it supported the 18th Infantry Division. After Poland surrendered, the division returned to its home bases and then was sent to Dortmund in western Germany at the end of November. It was transferred to the southern Eifel in March and attacked across Luxembourg and southern Belgium in May 1940. It fought in the decisive Battle of Sedan, formed part of the "panzer wedge" in the drive across France, and took part in the early phases of the Battle of Dunkirk, before turning south to help finish off the doomed French Republic. Jumping off on June 10, the 1st Panzer quickly broke through the Weygand Line, despite a fierce tank battle with French B 2s, during which both sides suffered heavy casualties.
It quickly crossed the Aisne and the Marne, raced behind the Maginot Line, took Besancon, reached the Swiss frontier on June 17, and stormed Belfort the following day. The division lost only 495 men killed during the Western campaign of 1940. After the French surrendered on June 25, the 1 st Panzer Division remained in France (in training areas along the Loire) until September, when it was sent to the Zinten-Sensburg-Allenstein area of East Prussia to reorganize. The 2nd Panzer Regiment was transferred to the newly formed 16th Panzer Division; three companies of the 1st Panzer Regiment were transferred out as cadres for the 18th Panzer Division; the staff of the 1st Panzer Brigade was disbanded; and the newly formed 113th Rifle (Motorized Infantry) Regiment was incorporated into the 1st Panzer Division. During this process, the 1st Panzer Division absorbed the III/69th Motorized Infantry (Schuetzen) Regiment (the new III/lst Rifle Regiment) and the II/56th Motorized Artillery Regiment (a heavy artillery unit), which became III/73rd Panzer Artillery Regiment. The division also added the independent 702nd Motorized Heavy Infantry Howitzer Company, which it assigned to the rifle brigade. Meanwhile, the tank units were largely reequipped with the modern PzKw III tanks, and the tank destroyer and reconnaissance battalions also received the most modern equipment. By the end of the year the division had 155 tanks, of which 85 were PzKw Ills and 30 were PzKw IVs.
Generalleutnant Rudolf Schmidt
Rudolf Schmidt (12 May 1886 – 7 April 1957) was a Panzer General in the German army during World War II who served as the Commander of the 2nd Panzer Army on the Eastern Front. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Legally it was Germany's highest military decoration at the time of its presentation to Rudolf Schmidt
He joined Infantry Regiment 83 of the German Imperial Army in 1906 as an officer cadet and in World War I he served on the eastern and western fronts and by the end of the war he was a Hauptmann on the General Staff. He was then retained in the Reichswehr where he served as a staff officer and was promoted to Major in 1927 and Oberstleutnant in 1931. On 1 October 1934 he was promoted to Oberst as commander of the 13th Infantry Regiment in Ludwigsburg.
In October 1937 he was he was promoted to Generalmajor and appointed commander of the 1st Panzer Division in Weimar as the successor to Maximilian von Weichs. On 1 June 1938 he was promoted to Generalleutnant and led the unit through the invasion of Poland. On 1 February 1940 he was appointed commanding general of the XXXIX Panzer Corps. He led the Corps in France and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for his role in that campaign on 3 June 1940. He was also promoted to General der Panzertruppe and appointed acting commander of the 2nd Army which was involved in the Battle of Moscow. On 25 December 1941 he was appointed the Supreme Commander of the 2nd Panzer Army (replacing the sacked General Guderian). In January 1942 he was promoted to Generaloberst.
Adolf Hitler held him in high regard, but on 10 April 1943 he was relieved of his command after the Gestapo arrested his brother on an unrelated matter and found letters that General Schmidt had written in which he was highly critical of Hitler’s conduct of the war and the Nazi Party. He appeared before a court martial but was acquitted and transferred to the leadership reserve on 30 September 1943. He was never re-employed and in 1945 he was taken into Soviet captivity from his home in Weimar and in common with other Generals captured by the Russians he was not released until 1955.
Iron Cross (1914)
Knight's Cross Second Class of the Order of the Zähringer Lion with Swords
Cross of Honor
Sudetenland Medal with Prague Castle Bar
Iron Cross (1939)
2nd Class (22 September 1939)
1st Class (2 October 1939)
Eastern Front Medal
Panzer Badge in Silver
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
Knight's Cross on 3 June 1940 as Generalleutnant and commanding general of the XXXIX. Armeekorps (mot.)
19th Oak Leaves on 10 July 1941 as General der Panzertruppe and commanding general of the XXXIX. Armeekorps (mot.)
1st Panzer Division 2
Generalleutnant Rudolf Schmidt 18
Friedrich Kirchner 20
Eugen Walter Krüger 23
Werner Marcks 24
Eberhard Thunert 25
Invasion of Poland 26
Battle of France 49
Dyle Plan 59
Allied intelligence 61
Allied forces and dispositions 66
Fall Gelb 71
Central front 74
Weygand Plan 82
BEF and the Channel ports 84
Battle of Calais 85
Operation Dynamo 86
Fall Rot 87
Collapse of the Maginot line 89
Surrender and armistice 91
Panzer action in Poland, 1939 94
Campaing in France 96
Operation Barbarossa 98
Last cauldron: Army and SS in Hungary, 1945 100
Panzer Division 102
Organizational History of the German Armored Formations 108
The Creation of the German Armoured Forces 113
Ranks in German Army 145
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