Divisional History of the 2nd Panzer Division
Formed on October 15, 1935 in Wehrkreis VIII as one of the original Panzer Divisions, the 2. Panzer Division initially included the 3rd and 4th Panzer Regiments and the 2. Panzer-Grenadier Regiment. In 1938 the Division was transferred to Vienna after the annexation of Austria and by the start of the war most of the men of the division were Austrians. The 2. Panzer Division suffered heavy losses in central Poland in 1939 and took part in the French campaign of 1940, where it formed part of Guderian’s XIX Motorized Corps. It was the first German troop formation to reach the coast when it captured Abbeville in May 1940. The 2. Panzer Division, after isolating the allied armies by reaching the coast, participated in the encirclement at Dunkirk.
In late 1940, the division gave up the 4th Panzer Regiment plus other cadres to the newly author-ized 13th Panzer Division and added the 304th Panzer Grenadier Regiment to its table of organi-zation. The reorganized 2. Panzer Division took part in the Balkan campaign and took Athens, Greece along with the 6th Mountain Division.
The 2. Panzer Division crossed into Russia in 1941 as part of the LXI Panzer Corps. Elements of the unit managed to reach as far as Khimki, a small river port five miles from Moscow. Elements of the 2. Panzer Division even reported being able to see the Kremilin itself, before they were thrown back by the start of the Soviet Winter Offensive of 1941-42. Remaining in the Russian central sector, the battered division took part in the defensive fighting of 1942, the Rzhev with-drawal, the battle of Kursk and the middle of the Dnieper battles of the winter of 1943-44, where it suffered heavy casualties.
Withdrawn to France for rest and refit, the 2. Panzer Division was thrown into the Battle of Normandy in June 1944. It took part in the unsuccessful counterattack at Mortain in August and, with only twenty-five tanks left, was surrounded at Falaise in August. Breaking out with loss-es, it was reformed at Wittlich in the Eifel area of western Germany, where it temporarily absorbed the remnants of the 352. Infantry Division. It was sent back into combat in the Ardennes winter offensive where it was the the lead advancing element, where it again suffered heavy cas-ualties. In the last campaign the 2. Panzer Division was fighting against the Americans in 1945 and was down to a strength of only four tanks, three assault guns and two hundred men. The survivors of the old division were grouped with Panzer Brigade Thuringen and ended the war defending Fulda in April 1945.
Divisional Commanders of 2. Panzer Division:
Generalleutnant Heinz Guderian: Formation – 28. February 1938
Generalleutnant Rudolf Veiel: 1. March 1938 – 17. February 1942
Generalleutnant Hans-Karl von Esebeck: 17. February 1942 – 31. May 1942 (Leave)
Generalmajor Arno von Lenski: 1. June 1942 – 30. June 1942 m.st.F.b.
Generalleutnant Hans-Karl von Esebeck: 1. July 1942 – 10. August 1942 (Wounded)
Oberst Vollrath Lübbe: 10. August 1944 – 28. August 1944 m.st.F.b.(Sick)
Generalmajor Arno von Lenski: 29. August 1944 – 4. September 1944 m.st.F.b.
Oberst Karl Fabiunke: 5. September 1942 – 30. September 1942
Generalleutnant Vollrath Lübbe: 1. October 1942 – 31. January 1944
Generalleutnant Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz: 1. February 1944 – 4. May 1944 (Leave)
Generalleutnant Franz Westhoven: 5. May 1944 – 26. May 1944 m.st.F.b.
Generalleutnant Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz: 27. May 1944 – 31. August 1944
Oberst Eberhard von Nostitz: 1. September 1944 – 4. September 1944 m.st.F.b.
Generalmajor Henning Schönfeld: 5. September 1944 – 14. December 1944
Generalmajor Meinrad von Lauchert: 15. December 1944 – 19. March 1945
Generalmajor Oskar Munzel: 20. March 1945 – 3. April 1945
Major i.G. Waldemar von Gazen: 3. April 1945 – 4. April 1945
Oberst Karl Stollbrock: 4. April 1945 – Until the end of the war m.F.b