The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man… Thomas Robert MALTHUS


20th Panzer Division (Germany)

The 20th Panzer Division was formed on October 15, 1940 in Erfurt, Germany. As part of Hitler’s plans to double the number of Panzer Divisions the 19th Infantry Division and a number of other units were cannibalized for men and material, and then restructured into the 20th Panzer Division. Their home station was in Gotha, and was primarily made up of Hessians. It fought exclusively against the Soviet Union between June 1941 and May 1945.

The division’s first combat action was in Army Group Center where it participated in the opening stages of Operation Barbarossa and remained in the front echelon of attack during the series of advances on Minsk, Smolensk, and up until Operation Typhoon and the failed attack on Moscow. From there, it remained on the central front until July, 1943. As part of the northern spearhead commanded by Walter Model during the battle of Kursk, men from the 20th were involved with clearing anti-tank mines on the night of July 4–5, as well as being part of the first wave of attack the following morning. The rest of 1943 was spent in a long retreat between Orel, Gomel, Orsha, and Vitebsk.

At the beginning of 1944, along with the entirety of forces on the Eastern front, the 20th Panzer Division spent a hard winter of defensive fighting in the Polotsk, Vitebsk, and Bobrusik areas. In May of that year, it was rushed to the southern sector of the front to participate in operations inside the area around Cholm. Having suffered heavy losses during the Soviet’sOperation Bagration, the division was sent to Romania for refitting in August, 1944. In October, the division was sent to East Prussia, and then Hungary the following December. It then made a fighting withdrawal through Breslau, Schweinitz and Neisse in Silesia (Poland). The division was transferred to Görlitz (east of Dresden on the German frontier with Poland). On the 19th of April 1945 the division was involved in a counteroffensive west of Görlitz in the direction of Niesky, but disengaged 3 days later and retreated west. It counterattacked again in the Bautzen area, succeeding in relieving the local garrison at heavy cost to Soviet forces. By the 26th of April 1945 the division was situated northwest of Dresden, however by the 6th of May it was forced to retreat south across the Czechoslovakian border. Some elements of the division surrendered to the Soviets near Teplice-Sanov (northwest of Prague), whilst the rest including elements of Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 20. managed to surrender to the Americans at Rokycany, (between Prague and Plzeň), but were soon handed over to the Soviets. 27 soldiers of the 20th Panzer Division were awarded the Knight’s Cross.

Major Combat Units…

Panzer Regiment 21; Panzer Grenadier Regiments 59, 112; Panzer Flak Battalion 20; Panzer Artillery Regiment 92


  • Schützen-Brigade 20
    • Schützen-Regiment 59
      • Schützen-Battalion I
      • Schützen-Battalion II
    • Schützen-Regiment 112
      • Schützen-Battalion I
      • Schützen-Battalion II
    • Kradschützen-Battalion 20
  • Panzer-Regiment 21
    • Panzer-Abteilung I
    • Panzer-Abteilung II
    • Panzer-Abteilung III
  • Artillerie-Regiment 92
    • Artillerie-Abteilung I
    • Artillerie-Abteilung II
    • Artillerie-Abteilung III
  • Aufklürungs-Abteilung 20
  • Panzerjüger-Abteilung 92
  • Pionier-Bataillon 92
  • Nachrichten-Abteilung 92


  • Panzergrenadier-Regiment 59
    • Panzergrenadier-Battalion I
    • Panzergrenadier-Battalion II
  • Panzergrenadier-Regiment 112
    • Panzergrenadier-Battalion I
    • Panzergrenadier-Battalion II
  • Panzer-Regiment 21
    • Panzer-Abteilung I
    • Panzer-Abteilung II
  • Panzer-Artillerie-Regiment 92
    • Panzer-Artillerie-Abteilung I
    • Panzer-Artillerie-Abteilung II
    • Panzer-Artillerie-Abteilung III
  • Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 20
  • Heeres-Flak-Artillerie-Abteilung 295
  • Panzerjäger-Abteilung 92
  • Panzer-Pionier-Battalion 92
  • Panzer-Nachrichten-Abteilung 92

Commanding officers…

  • Generalleutnant Horst Stumpff, 13 November 1940 – 10 September 1941
  • Oberst Georg von Bismarck, 10 September 1941 – 13 Oct 1941 (acting)
  • Generalmajor Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma, 14 October 1941 – 30 June 1942
  • Generalmajor Walter Düvert, 1 July 1942 – 10 October 1942
  • Oberst Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz, 10 October 1942 – 30 November 1942 (acting)
  • Generalmajor Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz, 1 December 1942 – 11 May 1943
  • Generalleutnant Mortimer von Kessel, 12 May 1943 – 1 January 1944
  • Oberst Werner Marcks, 1 January 1944 – 1 February 1944 (acting)
  • Generalleutnant Mortimer von Kessel, 2 February 1944 – 5 November 1944
  • Oberst Hermann von Oppeln-Bronikowski, 6 November 1944 – 31 December 1944 (acting)
  • Generalmajor Hermann von Oppeln-Bronikowski, 1 January 1945 – 8 May 1945

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