Pre-1939 to 1941
The 3.Infanterie-Division was formed in October 1934 in Frankfurt/Oder. It was originally known as Wehrgauleitung Frankfurt*. Shortly after the unit was established it was given the cover name Kommandant von Frankfurt**. The organic regimental units of this division were formed by the expansion of the 8.(Preußisches) Infanterie-Regiment and 9.(Preußisches) Infanterie-Regiment of the 3.Division of the Reichswehr.
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 Kommandant von Frankfurt was dropped and this unit became officially known as the 3.Infanterie-Division.
The 3.Infanterie-Division was mobilized on August 1st, 1939 for operations in Poland. When the attack on Poland was launched on September 1st, 1939, the 3.Infanterie-Division was a part of II.Armee-Korps under 4.Armee, Heeresgruppe Nord. The 4.Armee was to attack into the Polish Corridor from the region of Pomerania in Germany in attempt to link up with the 3.Armee in East Prussia and to isolate the Polish coastal forces in the region of Danzig from the rest of the battle to the south. The 3.Infanterie-Division crossed into Poland in the van of the 4.Armee attack against the Polish Corridor. The region of its attack was known as the Tuchola Forest, an area defended only lightly by the Polish 9th Infantry Division and Pomorska Cavalry Brigade. It broke through the Polish defenses at Seenkette between Nandsburg and Mrotschen, and fought across the Brda (Braha) River west of Crone, where it pursued through the Tucheler Heide to the Vistula (Weichsel) River in the region of Topolno-Grabowko. The 3.Infanterie-Division then took part in pursuit combat over the Weichsel River in the direction of Modlin. It then took part in security operations against the Bzura Pocket between Woclawek and Wyscogrod, before fighting near Plock and advancing in the direction of Gostynin, ending its stint in Poland near Lowicz before being transferred to the Eifel region of Germany along the German-Luxembourg border.
When the attack on France and the Low Countries was launched in May, 1940 the 3.Infanterie-Division was under III.Armee-Korps, 12.Armee, Heeresgruppe A. It advanced though Luxembourg and Belgium to the Maas River at Nouzonville where it fought across. It then secured the area between Ewergnicourt and Balham before advancing over the Aisne to Asfeld, moving further on to the Canal du Centre in the region Digoin-Chalons, soon after ending the campaign in security operations along the demarcation-line.
In October 1940 after the Campaign in France had ended, the 3.Infanterie-Division was moved back into Germany and reorganized into the 3.Infanterie-Division (mot)
* 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 duel 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 (7x3=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 (2x7=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.
3rd Divisional Support Units
1941 to 1943
Redesignated the 3rd Motorized Infantry Division it took part in Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, advancing on Leningrad under Army Group North. In October the division was transferred to Army Group Center for Operation Typhoon and the Battle of Moscow and it then fought in defensive battles against the 1st Soviet Winter Counter-Offensive in the outskirts of Moscow.
In mid-1942 it was transferred to Army Group South to take part in the summer offensive Fall Blau ("Case Blue"), and was ultimately caught up in the Battle of Stalingrad.
Later, the 3rd was shifted south again, this time to the Southern Front to take part in the battles across the Ukraine and Don regions. The 3.Infanterie-Division (mot) then advanced into the Stalingrad region where it was encircled and destroyed by the Soviets in late 1942 and early 1943.
The division was reformed in the Spring of 1943 from the few remaining pieces of the 3.Infanterie-Division (mot) and from the 386.Infanterie-Division (mot) as the 3.Panzergrenadier-Division.
3.Infanterie (mot) when formed:
Infanterie-Regiment 8 (mot)
Infanterie-Regiment 29 (mot)
3rd Divisonal Support Units
3.Infanterie (mot) when reformed:
Infanterie-Regiment 8 (mot)
Infanterie-Regiment 29 (mot)
Artillerie-Regiment 3 (mot)
3rd Divsional Support Units
1943 to 1945
The 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division was formed in June of 1943 from the 386th Infantry Division (mot) and 3rd Infantry Division (mot) that was lost in the Stalingrad Pocket.
After formation, the 3.Panzergrenadier was sent to Italy in July, 1943 where it took part in the battles for Salerno, Cassino, the Bernhard Line, the Anzio beachhead, and then in the general retreat to Rome in May and June, 1944.
The 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division was transferred to Florence in late June, 1944, and then to the Western Front near Paris in August, 1944, where it was engaged in the general withdrawal from France, operations in and near Nancy, and then in the Battles for Metz.
The 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division saw action in Aachen in November, 1944 and what then rested behind the lines shortly before the Ardennes counter-offensive in December, 1944, and the operations for Eifel in January, 1945.
The 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division was in action defending near Cologne when it was trapped by the Allies in the Ruhr Pocket where it surrendered in April, 1945.
Artillery-Regiment 3 (mot)
Pioneer-Abteilung 3 (mot)
News-Abteilung 3 (mot)
3rd Divisional Support Units
3rd Infantry Division
Oberst Curt Haase, 4 April 1934 – 3 July 1936
Generalmajor Walter Petzel, 3 July 1936 – 11 October 1938
Generalleutnant Walter Lichel, 11 October 1938 – 1 October 1940
3rd Infantry Division (mot.)
General der Artillerie Paul Bader, 1 October 1940 – 25 May 1941
General der Artillerie Curt Jahn, 25 May 1941 – 1 April 1942
Generalleutnant Helmuth Schlömer, 1 April 1942 – 15 January 1943
Oberst i. G. Jobst Freiherr von Hanstein, 15 January 1943 – 28 January 1943
General der Panzertruppe Fritz-Hubert Gräser, 1 March 1943 – March 1944
Generalmajor Hans Hecker, March 1944 – 1 June 1944
Generalleutnant Hans-Günther von Rost, 1 June 1944 – 25 June 1944
Generalleutnant Walter Denkert, 25 June 1944 – April 1945