This unit was formed in October 1934 in Allenstein. It was originally known as Wehrgauleitung Allenstein*.
Shortly after the unit was established it was given the cover name Infanterieführer I**.
It was formed mainly of Prussian and Rhineland personnel.
With the formal announcement of the creation of the Wehrmacht (which had covertly been in place for over a year) on October 15th, 1935, the cover name Infanterieführer I was dropped and this unit became officially known as the 11.Infanterie-Division.
The 11.Infanterie-Division took part in the Polish campaign in 1939 as part of 3.Armee, Heeresgruppe Nord.
It played a minor role in the French campaign of 1940, and was also part of the initial invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 under 1.Armeekorps, XVIII.Armee, Heeresgruppe Nord. Notably, the division took part in the rapid sweep of the Baltic states, and later in the harsh battles around Zoltsy. A staple unit of the siege elements around Leningrad for the next year, the division was instrumental in holding the Soviet offensive of 1943 south of Lake Ladoga, in which it took heavy casualties.
Pulled from the line for rest and refitting in Greece in late 1943, the fresh 11.Infanterie-Division was posted once again to the Leningrad sector where it fought in the Battle of Narva, and was subsequently involved in the general withdrawal from this salient to western Latvia. It became one of the encircled units of Heeresgruppe Nord in the Kurland Pocket when the Soviets penetrated to the Baltic sea in late autumn of 1944, cutting them off. It remained a staple”fire-brigade” of the Kurland front until April 30, 1945 when it was evacuated from the Kurland pocket to what was left of the Reich, along with the 14.Panzer Division.
* In 1934 the German armed forces were still known as the Reichswehr and the restrictions of the treaty of Versailles were technically still in place. These restrictions limited the number of German divisions to 7 but almost from the start in 1921 there were plans to expand that number. Shortly after the NSDAP came to power in 1933 the number of divisions was indeed expanded from 7 to 21. The Reichswehr divisions didn’t transition over during the reforming and expansion period, they were used instead to help provide a basis for the newly forming units. The commanders of the 7 divisions of the Reichswehr also served as the head of a regional Wehrkreiskommando of the same number as the division, thus serving a dual role. During the transition period the Reichswehr Wehrkreiskommandos were upgraded into Korp formations and the commanders were transferred to serve as their new commanding officers. Through this move the staff of each of the Reichswehr divisional units was lost making it unwieldy to transfer entire divisions into the newly forming Wehrmacht. From here the first step in the expansion from 7 to 21 divisions was the formation of 3 Wehrgauleitung in each region previously controlled by the Reichswehr divisions,creating 21 Wehrgauleitungen (7×3=21). Each Wehrgauleitung was named according to the city it was housed in. The 21 Wehrgauleitungen were the true foundation for the first divisions of the Wehrmacht. The regimental units of the former 7 divisions were shifted about and used to form the organic units of the new divisions.
** The german armed forces expanded from 7 divisions to 21 in 1934.In an effort to hide the expansion for as long as possible, all new divisions were given cover names. The cover names given to each of the 21 new divisions corresponded to the title of the commander placed in charge of the unit in most cases. As there was an Infantry and Artillery commander in each of the 7 divisions of the Reichswehr (known as Infanteriefüher I-VII and Artilleriefüher I-VII, depending on the number of the division in question) they took command of 14 of the newly formed divisions (2×7=14). When the various Infantry and Artillery commanders took command, their new divisions existence was hidden by the use his previous title as the cover name for the unit. The remaining 7 new divisions not commanded by one of the previous Infantry or Artillery commanders were taken over by newly appointed commanders and given cover names such as Kommandant von Ulm, or Kommandant von Regensburg.
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