Captured by Yugoslav units in early May 1945 in northwestern Yugoslavia.
The 22.Infanterie-Division was formed in October 1935 in Bremen.
During the Polish Campaign the 22.Infanterie-Division took part in securing the Westwall along the French border in the region of Eifel and Saarpfalz. During the same time, Infanterie-Regiment 16 took part in the fighting in Poland along the Bzura. After the Polish Campaign in late October 1939, the 22.Infanterie-Division was transferred to troop training ground Sennelager where it was trained as an air landing unit, the only one of its kind in the entire German military. Its role was to be air transported into battle well ahead of any advancing ground units. It was trained to be airlifted shortly after German paratroopers has secured an airfield or landing zone appropriate for transport aircraft to land in. With this training, the term Luftlande was added to the unit’s name.
The 22.Infanterie-Division (Luftlande) took part in the Western Campaign in 1940 in its intended air landing role when the division was flown into Holland in the early hours of May 10th in the van of the attack on the low countries following the airborne assault of the 7.Flieger-Division. Infanterie-Regiment 47 and Infanterie-Regiment 65 were flown in Ju52 transport aircraft to three landing zones north of Rotterdam in the Hague region, while Infanterie-Regiment 16 was flown south into the Rotterdam region. Attempts were made to land portions of Infanterie-Regiment 47 and Infanterie-Regiment 65 in or around Valkenburg, Ockenburg, and Ypenburg with varying degrees of success. At each location, a combination of factors led to very heavy losses, including terrible coordination, Dutch resistance, and horrible landing zones. This in turn led to a failure to reach the objectives of the first day, the securing of the airfields around the Hague, and the capture of the Dutch high command and Royal family who managed to escape to England.
To the south, Infanterie-Regiment 16 had a much better time of the landings managing to secure the airfield at Waalhaven rather soon after landing, although Dutch resistance made the landing zone dangerous for some time. Once landed, the bulk of Infanterie-Regiment 16 was directed to march north and capture Rotterdam itself. To facilitate such a bold attack, an even bolder one was planned – the capture of the bridges over the Maas River in the very center of Rotterdam. Four bridges in the center of town connected the northern and southern portions of the city between the Maas and the island of Noordereiland. Their importance was that they were vital if Infanterie-Regiment 16 was to take Rotterdam at all. To capture them, 120 men of Pionier-Bataillon 22 and 11.Kompanie/Infanterie-Regiment 16 were formed into Kampfgruppe Schrader and flown to the base of the four bridges in He59 floatplanes. Their bold assault was a stunning success and they managed to seize the bridges without any losses. Their small numbers meant they would be under severe pressure from any Dutch counterattacks. Soon after the Kampfgruppe occupied the bridges they linked up with Fallschrimjäger that had dropped to assist. Dutch attacks began thereafter and constricted the German perimeter to the base of the bridges, prohibiting them from expanding their hold farther to the north. The 120 men of the Kampfgruppe and the 50 Fallschirmjäger held out until those landed at Waalhaven could link up. In the meantime, the Dutch responded by attacking the bridges from the air and water, including an attack by Dutch naval vessels at point-blank range. Dutch gunboat Z-5 and torpedo boat TM-51 were sent in to rake the Germans with 75mm and 20mm fire. In the end, the landings in the north proved to be a failure, and the scattered and uncoordinated troops were ordered to head south once it was clear the Hague would not be taken. In the south, the Dutch withdrew on May 13th once it was clear that the Germans could not be defeated.
During the second phase of the Western Campaign in June of 1940, the 22.Infanterie-Division (Luftlande), now regrouped and refreshed, took part in the advance into France fighting in the region of Dinant and Recroi to Saint Quentin.
The 22.Infanterie-Division (Luftlande) next took part in the Invasion of the Soviet Union as a part of Armeegrupp Süd, fighting in southern Russia with the 11.Armee. Moving through Romania it crossed the Pruth River and fought to the Dnestr River and Stalin Line, which it fought through. Moving on to cross the Bug and Dneiper Rivers, the division eventually fought into the Crimea where it took part in fierce and bloody fighting for Sevastopol. The 22.Infanterie-Division led the assault against the heavily defended fortress city in its sector and stormed numerous Soviet positions, notably taking the Stalin Werke and Wolga Werke.
After fighting in the Crimea, the 22.Infanterie-Division (Luftlande) was transferred to Crete where it took part in security and occupation operations in the region of Rethymon and Iraklion until 1944. During its occupation of Crete, the 22.Infanterie-Division was also used as the main assault force in various amphibious assault operations in the Aegean Sea in 1943 and 1944, most notably against the Islands of Kos, Kalymnos, Leros, and Samos. The unit is well known for its role in the occupation of Leros against fierce British and Italian resistance in November of 1944.
With German prospects in the Med fading, the 22.Infanterie-Division (Luftlande) was transferred from Crete and the Aegean in 1944 to Greece where it would take part in anti-partisan operations against Tito’s forces before surrendering in May of 1945.
Knights Cross Holders