118th Jäger Division (Wehrmacht)
The 118th Jäger Division was a light infantry division of the German Army in World War II. It was formed in April 1943, by the redesignation of the 718th Infantry Division which had itself been formed in April 1941, it was transferred to Yugoslavia in May 1941, to conduct anti partisan and Internal security operations. It took part in the Battle of the Sutjeska in June 1943, fought partisans in Bosnia before being sent to the Dalmatian coast to guard against Allied landings in the summer of 1944, it fought on the Eastern Front in the Vienna offensive during the final months of the war before surrendering to the British in Austria in May 1945. The main purpose of the German jäger divisions was to fight in adverse terrain where smaller, coordinated formations were more facilely combat capable than the brute force offered by the standard infantry divisions; the jäger divisions were more equipped than mountain division, but not as well armed as a larger infantry formation. In the early stages of the war, they were the interface divisions fighting in rough terrain and foothills as well as urban areas, between the mountains and the plains.
The jägers, relied on a high degree of training and superior communications, as well as their not inconsiderable artillery support. In the middle stages of the war, as the standard infantry divisions were downsized, the Jäger structure of divisions with two infantry regiments, became the standard table of organization Austria Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia and the Independent State of Croatia Balkans Dalmatia Yugoslavia Balkans and Yugoslavia Generalleutnant Johann Fortner Generalleutnant Josef Kübler Generalmajor Hubertus Lamey Jäger Regiment 738 Jäger Regiment 750 Artillerie Regiment 668 Aufklärungs Bataillon 118 Panzerjäger Bataillon 118 Pionier Bataillon 118 Funk Bataillon 118 Shepherd, Ben. Terror in the Balkans: German Armies and Partisan Warfare. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-04891-1
25th Panzergrenadier Division (Wehrmacht)
The 25th Panzergrenadier Division fought in the central sector of the Eastern front from June 1943 to July 1944. It was destroyed in the encirclement east of Minsk and reformed in October 1944, it fought in Western Europe between October 1944 and January 1945 and in eastern Germany January to May 1945. Most of the survivors of the division surrendered to the western Allies; the 25th started as an infantry division formed from Bavarians. It participated in the Battle of France. In late 1940, it was reorganized as a motorized infantry division and took part in Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, in June 1941, it was attached to Army Group Center and fought in the Soviet Union for two years before being reorganized as the 25th Panzergrenadier Division in June, 1943. After another year of heavy fighting, the division was destroyed near Minsk during the Soviet Operation Bagration in the summer of 1944. In September 1944, 107th Panzer Brigade participated in Operation Market Garden as part of LXXXVI Corps of the 1st Parachute Army.
The Brigade had been re-routed from Aachen to Holland and went immediately into combat at Nuenen against the American 506th PIR of the 101st Airborne Division and the British 15th/19th The King's Royal Hussars of the 11th Armoured Division. In November 1944, the brigade was upgraded back to divisional status at the Baumholder training area and re-numbered back as the 25th Panzergrenadier Division; the new division moved to France in the area of the German / Luxembourg / French border at Sierck-les-Bains, where it fought a delaying action against the US Third Army, until December. It was moved to Bitche. There it fought on the Maginot line fortifications at Forts Ouvrage Simserhof and Ouvrage Schiesseck, under the command of the XIII SS Corps and Obergruppenführer Max Simon. After the US Seventh Army's offensive operations were halted in December as a result of the German Ardennes Offensive, the 25th was pulled out of the line and re-organized near Zweibrücken, it took part in Operation Nordwind, along with the 21st Panzer Division.
Together, these divisions were to exploit the penetrations made by either the XIII SS Corps in the west, or the LXXXIX and XC Corps in the east, with the intention of cutting the US Seventh Army off from the 1st French Army. It was sent back to the eastern front to defend against the Soviet attack on the Oder north of Berlin, most of the survivors managed to escape to the west and surrendered to the British or Americans. General der Infanterie, Anton Graßer Generalleutnant Dr. Fritz Benicke Generalleutnant Paul Schürmann Generalleutnant Paul Schürmann Generalleutnant Arnold Burmeister Division Staff 25. Mapping Detachment 35. Panzergrenadier Regiment Staff Company Panzerjäger Platoon Motorcycle Platoon Signals Platoon Pioneer Platoon 3 x Battalions Battalion Staff 3 x Companies Machine Gun Company Infantry Gun Company 119. Panzergrenadier Regiment Staff Company Panzerjäger Platoon Motorcycle Platoon Signals Platoon Pioneer Platoon 3 x Battalions Battalion Staff 3 x Companies Machine Gun Company Infantry Gun Company 25.
Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion Battalion Staff Light Armored Car Company 3 x Motorcycle Companies Heavy Company Pioneer Platoon 2 x Panzerjäger Platoons Light Infantry Gun Section 125. Panzerjäger Battalion 3 x Panzerjäger Companies Flak Company 8. Panzer Battalion Staff Company Flak Platoon 3 x Sturmgeschütz Batteries Panzer Maintenance Platoon 25. Artillery Regiment Staff Battery 3 x Battalions Staff Battery 3 x Batteries 25. Pioneer Battalion Battalion Staff 3 x Companies Light Pioneer Column 25. Signals Battalion Battalion Staff Telephone Company Radio Company Signals Column Supply and Support Units The action at Nuenen by the 107th Panzer Brigade during Operation Market Garden is dramatized in episode 4 "Replacements" of the television series Band of Brothers. Comment: The 107th Pz Brigade was an independent unit, not associated in any way with the 25th Panzergrenadier Division, which arrived in the West in October of 1944, weeks after the Market Garden operation concluded. Mitchum, Samuel W. German Order of Battle: Panzer, Panzer Grenadier, Waffen SS divisions in World War II.
Stackpole Books. ISBN 0-8117-3438-2. Burkhard Müller-Hillebrand, Das Heer 1933-1945. Entwicklung des organisatorischen Aufbaues, Vol. III: Der Zweifrontenkrieg. Das Heer vom Beginn des Feldzuges gegen die Sowjetunion bis zum Kriegsende, Frankfurt am Main: Mittler, p. 286 Georg Tessin, Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg, 1939 - 1945, Vol. IV: Die Landstreitkräfte 15 -30, Frankfurt am Main: Mittler
Operation Uranus was the codename of the Soviet 19–23 November 1942 strategic operation in World War II which led to the encirclement of the German Sixth Army, the Third and Fourth Romanian armies, portions of the German Fourth Panzer Army. The operation was executed at the midpoint of the five month long Battle of Stalingrad, was aimed at destroying German forces in and around Stalingrad. Planning for Operation Uranus had commenced in September 1942, was developed with plans to envelop and destroy German Army Group Center and German forces in the Caucasus; the Red Army took advantage of the German army's poor preparation for winter, the fact that its forces in the southern Soviet Union were overstretched near Stalingrad, using weaker Romanian troops to guard their flanks. These Axis armies lacked heavy equipment to deal with Soviet armor. Due to the length of the front created by the German summer offensive, aimed at taking the Caucasus oil fields and the city of Stalingrad and other Axis forces were forced to guard sectors beyond the length they were meant to occupy.
The situation was exacerbated by the German decision to relocate several mechanized divisions from the Soviet Union to Western Europe. Furthermore, units in the area were depleted after months of fighting those which took part in the fighting in Stalingrad; the Germans could only count on the XXXXVIII Panzer Corps, which had the strength of a single panzer division, the 29th Panzergrenadier Division as reserves to bolster their Romanian allies on the German Sixth Army's flanks. In comparison, the Red Army deployed over one million personnel for the purpose of beginning the offensive in and around Stalingrad. Soviet troop movements were not without problems, due to the difficulties of concealing their build-up, to Soviet units arriving late due to logistical issues. Operation Uranus was first postponed from 8 to 17 November to 19 November. At 07:20 Moscow time on 19 November, Soviet forces on the northern flank of the Axis forces at Stalingrad began their offensive. Although Romanian units were able to repel the first attacks, by the end of 20 November the Third and Fourth Romanian armies were in headlong retreat, as the Red Army bypassed several German infantry divisions.
German mobile reserves were not strong enough to parry the Soviet mechanized spearheads, while the Sixth Army did not react enough nor decisively enough to disengage German armored forces in Stalingrad and reorient them to defeat the impending threat. By late 22 November Soviet forces linked up at the town of Kalach, encircling some 290,000 men east of the Don River. Instead of attempting to break out of the encirclement, German leader Adolf Hitler decided to keep Axis forces in Stalingrad and resupply them by air. In the meantime and German commanders began to plan their next movements. On 28 June 1942, the Wehrmacht began its offensive against Soviet forces opposite of Army Group South, codenamed Case Blue. After breaking through Red Army forces by 13 July, German forces encircled and captured the city of Rostov. Following the fall of Rostov, Hitler split German forces operating in the southern extremity of the southern Russian SFSR in an effort to capture the city of Stalingrad and the Caucasus oil fields.
The responsibility to take Stalingrad was given to the Sixth Army, which turned towards the Volga River and began its advance with heavy air support from the Luftwaffe's Luftflotte 4. On 7 August, two German panzer corps were able to flank and encircle a Soviet force of 50,000 personnel and 1,000 tanks, on 22 August German forces began to cross the Don River to complete the advance towards the Volga; the following day, the Battle of Stalingrad began when vanguards of the Sixth Army penetrated the suburbs of the city. By November the Sixth Army had occupied most of Stalingrad, pushing the defending Red Army to the banks of the Volga River. By this stage, there were indications of an impending Soviet offensive which would target Wehrmacht forces around the city, including increased Soviet activity opposite the Sixth Army's flanks, information gained through the interrogation of Soviet prisoners. However, the German command was intent upon finalizing its capture of Stalingrad. In fact, head of Army General Staff General Franz Halder had been dismissed in September after his efforts to warn about the danger, developing along the over-extended flanks of the Sixth Army and the Fourth Panzer Army.
As early as September the Soviet Stavka began planning a series of counteroffensives to encompass the destruction of German forces in the south, fighting in Stalingrad and in the Caucasus, against Army Group Center. Command of Soviet efforts to relieve Stalingrad was put under the leadership of General Aleksandr Vasilevsky; the Stavka developed two major operations to be conducted against Axis forces near Stalingrad and Saturn, planned for Operation Mars, designed to engage German Army Group Center in an effort to distract reinforcements and to inflict as much damage as possible. Operation Uranus involved the use of large Soviet mechanized and infantry forces to encircle German and other Axis forces directly around Stalingrad; as preparations for the offensive commenced, the attack's starting points were positioned on stretches of front to the rear of the German Sixth Army preventing the Germans from reinforcing those sectors where Axis units were too overstretched to occupy effectively. The offensive was a double envel
Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process; the official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire and the German Empire; the Nazi regime ended. Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by the President of the Weimar Republic, Paul von Hindenburg, on 30 January 1933; the NSDAP began to eliminate all political opposition and consolidate its power. Hindenburg died on 2 August 1934 and Hitler became dictator of Germany by merging the offices and powers of the Chancellery and Presidency. A national referendum held 19 August 1934 confirmed Hitler as sole Führer of Germany.
All power was centralised in Hitler's person and his word became the highest law. The government was not a coordinated, co-operating body, but a collection of factions struggling for power and Hitler's favour. In the midst of the Great Depression, the Nazis restored economic stability and ended mass unemployment using heavy military spending and a mixed economy. Extensive public works were undertaken, including the construction of Autobahnen; the return to economic stability boosted the regime's popularity. Racism antisemitism, was a central feature of the regime; the Germanic peoples were considered by the Nazis to be the master race, the purest branch of the Aryan race. Discrimination and persecution against Jews and Romani people began in earnest after the seizure of power; the first concentration camps were established in March 1933. Jews and others deemed undesirable were imprisoned, liberals and communists were killed, imprisoned, or exiled. Christian churches and citizens that opposed Hitler's rule were oppressed, many leaders imprisoned.
Education focused on racial biology, population policy, fitness for military service. Career and educational opportunities for women were curtailed. Recreation and tourism were organised via the Strength Through Joy program, the 1936 Summer Olympics showcased Germany on the international stage. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels made effective use of film, mass rallies, Hitler's hypnotic oratory to influence public opinion; the government controlled artistic expression, promoting specific art forms and banning or discouraging others. The Nazi regime dominated neighbours through military threats in the years leading up to war. Nazi Germany made aggressive territorial demands, threatening war if these were not met, it seized Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939. Germany signed a non-aggression pact with the USSR, invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, launching World War II in Europe. By early 1941, Germany controlled much of Europe. Reichskommissariats took control of conquered areas and a German administration was established in the remainder of Poland.
Germany exploited labour of both its occupied territories and its allies. In the Holocaust, millions of Jews and other peoples deemed undesirable by the state were imprisoned, murdered in Nazi concentration camps and extermination camps, or shot. While the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 was successful, the Soviet resurgence and entry of the US into the war meant the Wehrmacht lost the initiative on the Eastern Front in 1943 and by late 1944 had been pushed back to the pre-1939 border. Large-scale aerial bombing of Germany escalated in 1944 and the Axis powers were driven back in Eastern and Southern Europe. After the Allied invasion of France, Germany was conquered by the Soviet Union from the east and the other Allies from the west, capitulated in May 1945. Hitler's refusal to admit defeat led to massive destruction of German infrastructure and additional war-related deaths in the closing months of the war; the victorious Allies initiated a policy of denazification and put many of the surviving Nazi leadership on trial for war crimes at the Nuremberg trials.
The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945, while common English terms are "Nazi Germany" and "Third Reich". The latter, adopted by Nazi propaganda as Drittes Reich, was first used in Das Dritte Reich, a 1923 book by Arthur Moeller van den Bruck; the book counted the Holy Roman Empire as the German Empire as the second. Germany was known as the Weimar Republic during the years 1919 to 1933, it was a republic with a semi-presidential system. The Weimar Republic faced numerous problems, including hyperinflation, political extremism, contentious relationships with the Allied victors of World War I, a series of failed attempts at coalition government by divided political parties. Severe setbacks to the German economy began after World War I ended because of reparations payments required under the 1919 Treaty of Versailles; the government printed money to make the payments and to repay the country's war debt, but the resulting hyperinflation led to inflated prices for consumer goods, economic chaos, food riots.
When the government defaulted on their reparations payments in January 1923, French troops occupied German industrial areas along the Ruhr and widespread civil unrest followed. The National Socialist German Workers' Party (National
44th Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)
The 44th Infantry Division was formed on 1 April 1938 in Vienna, about two weeks after the Anschluss of Austria. It first saw combat at the start of the war in the Invasion of Poland, took part in the Battle of France in 1940. After a 9-month period of coastal defence the division was transferred East. On 22 June 1941, the division took part in the invasion of the Soviet Union, attached to Army Group South, it remained in the east after the failure of "Operation Barbarossa", taking part in defensive actions for the winter against the Soviet Army offensives near Izum and Karkov. Refurbished, the division participated in the German summer offensive, was subsequently destroyed with the 6th Army at Stalingrad in January 1943; the division was rebuilt as Reichsgrenadier-Division Hoch- und Deutschmeister in Belgium when Hitler ordered the Stalingrad divisions should be reconstructed. By the summer of 1943 it was back up to strength and sent to fight in Italy, where it was engaged at Monte Cassino, it withdrew up the Italian peninsula during 1944 and clashed with American forces attacking the Gothic line.
Withdrawn to refit, it was instead sent to oppose the Soviet breakthrough in Hungary. The division joined the efforts to recapture Budapest with the 6th SS Panzer Army, was subsequently nearly destroyed near Lake Balaton; the remnants of the division retreated into Austria, until the final days of the war, when it marched west and surrendered to the American forces near Linz. The unit was established on 1 April 1938 shortly after the annexation of Austria from elements of the Austrian army; the organisation followed the typical structure of a pre-war infantry division, with 3 infantry regiments of 3 battalions each, an artillery regiment of 3 battalions, antitank, pioneer, signals battalions and division services. The usual establishment called for around 15.000 men. In January 1940 the Feldersatz Battalion was detached and became the 3rd battalion, 443rd infantry regiment, 164th infantry division, part of the 7th Wave of 14 divisions; the German Army continued to expand, in February 1940. The 44th gave up 2nd battalion 143 Infantry Regiment which became 1st battalion 523rd Infantry Regiment, 297 Infantry Division.
The battalion was replaced. In September 1940, one third of the division was detached to form the 137th Infantry Division; the German Army formed new divisions by detaching one-third of two existing divisions raising the remaining parts from new recruits. In this manner only one-third of the two old and one newly created divisions were new recruits. Like all the divisions lost in the Battle of Stalingrad, it was reformed using other formations and a cadre of specialists, evacuated by air before the 6th Army's surrender. On 17 February 1943, the division was reformed with the 887th and 888th Grenadier Regiments in Belgium. On 1 June 1943, the 134th Grenadier Regiment was added, the division renamed Reichsgrenadier-Division Hoch- und Deutschmeister, along with the 80th Panzerjager, 46th Pioneer, 64th Signals, 44th Divisional support units. From August to November 1943, schwere Panzer-Kompanie/Tigergruppe Meyer, equipped with eight Tiger I tanks, was attached to the division for the disarmament of Italian formations in northern Italy.
After a brief rest it was transferred to Hungary and fought the Red Army while retreating into Austria. It managed to avoid capture by the Red Army and surrendered to US forces at Hohenfurth on 10 May 1945. In late August 1939 the 44th Infantry Division was transferred to Moravia part of Czechoslovakia, assembled opposite the Polish border and attached to XVII Corps, a component of 14th Army. Nine days in the early hours of 1 September 1939, after a short artillery preparation, infantry waded the Olsa River into Polish territory. Soon the first prisoners were taken and the first casualties suffered; the Second World War in Europe, for the 44th Infantry Division would last from its first day in September 1939, to its last in May 1945, had started. The ethnic Germans, Volksdeutsche, in the border regions greeted the invading troops with some enthusiasm, with gifts of milk and fruit which were picked up by the soldiers along the roadside; the 14th Army pushed its forces towards Kraków and Tarnow against light resistance from the Polish'Army of Kraków' By 6 September the division entered Kraków and captured undamaged bridges across the Weichsel.
The division continued its advance, crossing the San River and pushing into eastern Poland towards Lviv. The last Polish troops surrendered on 6 October 1939; the territory in eastern Poland, as had been agreed between Hitler and Stalin, in a secret annex to the German Soviet Non Aggression Pact, would fall under the Soviet sphere of interest, so the 44th Division was withdrawn across the demarcation line and deployed along the River San. The 44th Infantry Division had lost 270 wounded and 44 missing. After the end of the Polish campaign, the division returned to its home station until it was moved to central Germany as OKH reserve, shifted west for the start of the Campaign against France. In May 1940, at the start of the German attack on France, the 44th Infantry Division was in OKH reserve near Hameln. Assigned to 6th Army on May 15, it moved forward behind the main spearheads, on 29 May was inserted into a defensive sector on the Somme near Peronne, protecting the southern flank of the German breakthrough.
Here it remained as the Allied armies evacuated. Realigning their forces to the south, the German High Command instigated plan red
German Army (1935–1945)
The German Army was the land forces component of the Wehrmacht, the regular German Armed Forces, from 1935 until it was demobilized and dissolved in August 1946. During World War II, a total of about 13 million soldiers served in the German Army. Germany's army personnel were made up of conscripts. Only 17 months after Adolf Hitler announced publicly the rearmament program, the Army reached its projected goal of 36 divisions. During the autumn of 1937 two more corps were formed. In 1938 four additional corps were formed with the inclusion of the five divisions of the Austrian Army after the Anschluss in March. During the period of its expansion under Hitler, the German Army continued to develop concepts pioneered during World War I, combining ground and air assets into combined arms forces. Coupled with operational and tactical methods such as encirclements and the "battle of annihilation", the German military managed quick victories in the two initial years of World War II, a new style of warfare described as Blitzkrieg for its speed and destructive power.
The infantry remained foot soldiers throughout the war. The motorized formations received much attention in the world press in the opening years of the war, were cited as the main reason for the success of the German invasions of Poland and Denmark, Belgium and Netherlands, Yugoslavia and the initial stages of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union; however their motorized and tank formations accounted for only 20% of the Heer's capacity at their peak strength. The army's lack of trucks limited infantry movement during and after the Normandy invasion when Allied air-power devastated the French rail network north of the Loire. Panzer movements depended on rail, since driving a tank long distances wore out its tracks; the Oberkommando des Heeres was Germany's Army High Command from 1936 to 1945. In theory the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht served as the military General Staff for the German Reich's armed forces, coordinating the Wehrmacht operations. In practice OKW acted in a subordinate role as Hitler's personal military staff, translating his ideas into military plans and orders, issuing them to the three services.
However, as the war progressed the OKW found itself exercising increasing amounts of direct command authority over military units in the west. This created a situation where by 1943 the OKW was the de facto command of Western Theatre forces while the Army High Command was the same on the Eastern Front; the Abwehr was the Army intelligence organization from 1921 to 1944. The term Abwehr had been created just after World War I as an ostensible concession to Allied demands that Germany's intelligence activities be for defensive purposes only. After 4 February 1938, the Abwehr's name was changed to the Overseas Department/Office in Defence of the Armed Forces High Command. Nazi Germany used the system of military districts to relieve field commanders of as much administrative work as possible, to provide a regular flow of trained recruits and supplies to the field forces; the method OKW adopted was to separate the Field Army from the Home Command, to entrust the responsibilities of training, conscription and equipment to Home Command.
The German Army was structured in Army groups consisting of several armies that were relocated, restructured or renamed in the course of the war. Forces or allied states as well as units made up of non-Germans were assigned to German units. For Operation Barbarossa in 1941, the Army forces were assigned to three strategic campaign groupings: Army Group North with Leningrad as its campaign objective Army Group Centre with Smolensk as its campaign objective Army Group South with Kiev as its campaign objectiveBelow the army group level forces included Field armies –, panzer groups, which became army level formations themselves and divisions; the army used the German term Kampfgruppe which equates to the English'combat group' or battle group. These provisional combat groupings ranged from an Army Corps size such as Army Detachment Kempf to commands composed of several companies and platoons, they were named for their commanding officers. German operational doctrine emphasized sweeping pincer and lateral movements meant to destroy the enemy forces as as possible.
This approach, referred to as Blitzkrieg, was an operational doctrine instrumental in the success of the offensives in Poland and France. Blitzkrieg has been considered by many historians as having its roots in precepts developed by Fuller, Liddel-Hart and von Seeckt, having ancient prototypes practiced by Alexander, Genghis Khan and Napoleon. Recent studies of the Battle of France suggest that the actions of either Rommel or Guderian or both of them, ignoring orders of superiors who had never foreseen such spectacular successes and thus prepared much more prudent plans, were conflated into a purposeful doctrine and created the first archetype of blitzkrieg, which gained a fearsome reputati
78th Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)
The 78th Infantry Division the 78th Sturm Division, was a German infantry formation which fought during World War II. The 78th Infantry Division was raised in August 1939 in Stuttgart, incorporating reservists from Baden-Württemberg, it was stationed in France for occupation duties from the summer of 1940 through the spring of 1941, transferred east to participate in Operation Barbarossa with Army Group Centre. The division advanced from the Polish border to the gates of Moscow, being halted on 3 December 1941 by the Soviet defence as well as the bitter winter. By January 7, 1942, the division had been pushed back from Ruza to Gzhatsk where the Soviet winter offensive was halted; the division formed the South East flank of the Rzhev-Vyazma Salient. Late in 1942 it suffered heavy losses in the Rzhev battles. At the beginning of 1943 it was reorganised as the 78th Sturm Division with additional adjustments to its strength and organisation over the next several months; each of its three infantry regiments was redesignated as a Sturm-Regiment.
The designation Sturm reflected the division's increased strength, which included subordinate Sturmgeschutz Heavy Mortar and Nebelwerfer battalions and a tank destroyer unit equipped with Marder IIs, as well as extra regimental artillery support. With its new organisation, the division took part in Operation Citadel as part of the XXIII Corps of the Ninth Army, being involved in the fighting at Ponyri. During the following Soviet Counteroffensive the division was first transferred from the Ninth Army to the Second Panzer Army in July again to the Fourth Army in September where the division was forced back to the Panther-Wotan line East of Orsha. During the June - July 1944 Soviet offensive against Army Group Centre, Operation Bagration, the division was assigned to defend the main Moscow - Minsk road and the town of Orsha. During the fighting the division was destroyed, having failed to break out of an encirclement east of Minsk on the night of 5/6 July. Surviving elements were taken over by the 565th Volksgrenadier Division.
That month, the division was reconstituted as the 78th Grenadier Division, by renaming the 543rd Volksgrenadier Division in the process of forming. In October 1944 it was renamed as 78th Volksgrenadier Division, in early 1945 renamed again to 78th Volks-Sturm Division, being assigned to Army Group Centre, it was among the forces of the First Panzer Army pushed from Upper Silesia into Czechoslovakia, where its troops surrendered to the Soviets near Olomouc at the end of the war in May. Gudmundsson, Bruce I.. On Artillery. Praeger. Gudmundsson, Bruce I. On Armour