Formed in 1935 around the old 6.Infanterie-Regiment of theReichswehr, this unit, composed mainly of Schleswig-Holstein recruits fromthe northern region of Germany was earmarked in 1938 to be an advance unitin the proposed invasion of Czechoslovakia.
In Sept.1939 as a part of Heeresgruppe Sud, 8.Armee, X.Armeekorps (GeneralUlex), the 30th, led by Generalmajor von Briesen, saw very heavy actionagainst the cut-off Polish Army in the final stages of the short campaign.After action reports state that with his division stretched to the limitsagainst the counter-attacking Poles, Generalmajor von Briesen personallyled his last reserve battalion into the desperate fighting, halting thePoles, but losing his left forearm in the process. Vistied in Hospital byKeitel and Hitler, von Briesen was awarded the Knights Cross for hisgallantry, 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 ofParis, 1940-42.)
The division fought in Belgium in the May 1940 Western campaign, and wassent 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. Itfought at the Dvinsk in 1941, and was later encircled, under command ofGeneralleutnant Emil von Wiekede, for more than a year with II.Armeekorpsat Demyansk in January 1942. Upon being freed from the pocket in Feburaryof 1943, the Briesen Division fought in the Leningrad Salient, again aspart of X.Armeekorps, falling back with the rest of Heeresgruppe Nordthrough the Baltic states in 1944, finally becoming one of the encircledformations of the now re-named Heeresgruppe Kurland of March 1945,fighting in the Kurland Kessel in a defensive role until its eventualsurrender after May 9, 1945.
Knights Cross Holders