German Armed Forces Research 1918-1945
Formed in 1935 around the old 6.Infanterie-Regiment of the Reichswehr, this unit, composed mainly of Schleswig-Holstein recruits from the northern region of Germany was earmarked in 1938 to be an advance unit in the proposed invasion of Czechoslovakia.
In Sept.1939 as a part of Heeresgruppe Sud, 8.Armee, X.Armeekorps (General Ulex), the 30th, led by Generalmajor von Briesen, saw very heavy action against the cut-off Polish Army in the final stages of the short campaign. After action reports state that with his division stretched to the limits against the counter-attacking Poles, Generalmajor von Briesen personally led his last reserve battalion into the desperate fighting, halting the Poles, but losing his left forearm in the process. Vistied in Hospital by Keitel and Hitler, von Briesen was awarded the Knights Cross for his gallantry, and for maintaing the integrity of Blaskowitz's 8.Armee's lines; the first Divisional commander of the war to be thusly awarded. Hereafter, the 30.Infanterie was commonly known as the Briesen Division. (Von Briesen himself was promoted, and later became Military Commandant of Paris, 1940-42.)
The division fought in Belgium in the May 1940 Western campaign, and was sent East by June of 1941 to be part of X.Armeekorps, Heeresgruppe Nord - the higher formation with which it would stay until the end of the war. It fought at the Dvinsk in 1941, and was later encircled, under command of Generalleutnant Emil von Wiekede, for more than a year with II.Armeekorps at Demyansk in January 1942. Upon being freed from the pocket in Feburary of 1943, the Briesen Division fought in the Leningrad Salient, again as part of X.Armeekorps, falling back with the rest of Heeresgruppe Nord through the Baltic states in 1944, finally becoming one of the encircled formations of the now re-named Heeresgruppe Kurland of March 1945, fighting in the Kurland Kessel in a defensive role until its eventual surrender after May 9, 1945.
Knights Cross Holders
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