The division was cut off by the Soviet winter offensive of January 1945 and isolated on the Hela peninsula at the mouth of the Vistula near Stutthof, north of Tiegenhof, outside of Danzig. It surrendered there on May 8th, 1945.
The 7.Infanterie-Division was formed in October 1934 in München. It was originally known as Wehrgauleitung München*. Shortly after the unit was established it was given the cover name Artillerieführer VII**.
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 Artillerieführer VII was dropped and this unit became officially known as the 7.Infanterie-Division.
The 7.Infanterie-Division took part in the occupation of Austria on March 12, 1938.
The 7.Infanterie-Division saw service in the 1939 Polish Campaign as part of General Kienitz’s XVII.Armee-Korps beneath General List’s 14.Armee, under von Rundstedt’s Heeresgruppe Süd. Crossing the Polish border from Slovakia through the Jablunka Pass, the 7.Infanterie-Division was heavily engaged against units of the Polish Army Krakow. It remained south of the Vistula River and fought with the 14.Armee eastwards against stiff Polish resistance, eventually crossing the San River near Przemysl and ending the campaign in the region of Lvov.
In the French campaign of 1940 the 7.Infanterie-Division first crossed through the narrow strip of Dutch land between Germany and Belgium known as the Maastricht appendix before moving westward towards the coast. Fighting under the 6.Armee of Armeegruppe B, the 7.Infanterie-Division was apart of the German force used as a diversion against the French and British. They were duped into believing that the attack of 6.Armee was the main thrust of their attack, when in fact it was only meant to draw the Allies forward to allow for the real main thrust to occur farther south, throughout the vaunted and seemingly impassable Ardennes region. The 7.Infanterie-Division fought against the British Expeditionary Force up to and during the pocket at Dunkirk where it took up positions on the eastern section of the German lines, near Lille which it would thereafter help in taking once the pocket was eliminated. The 7.Infanterie-Division was placed in reserve for the remainder of the Campaign in France after the Dunkirk Pocket had been reduced and Lille had fallen.
During the Russian campaign the 7.Infanterie-Division was part of VII.Armee-korps, 4.Armee, Heeresgruppe Mitte, fighting notably in the siege of Mogilev on the upper Dnieper. It participated in the unsuccessful thrust toward Moscow in December 1941 (Unternehmen Taifun), suffering heavy losses. The division spent 1942 in the relatively quiet central sector of the Russian front, being pulled back into the fray during the Kursk offensive of July 1943 as part of XLVI Panzerkorps. During the Soviet summer offensive of 1944, it managed to escape destruction during the disintegration of Heeresgruppe Mitte, conducting a fighting retreat through Poland to the Vistula line. The division found itself cut off by the Soviet winter offensive of January 1945, isolated on the Hela peninsula at the mouth of the Vistula near Stutthof north of Tiegenhof, outside of Danzig It surrendered there on May 8th,1945.
* 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 x 7 = 14). When the various Infantry and Artillery commanders took command, their new division’s existence was hidden by the use of 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.
In 1944, Grenadier-Regiment 19 took the name “List” becoming Grenadier-Regiment 19 List.
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