|216th Infantry Division|
|Active||26 August 1939 - 17 November 1943|
|Branch||Army (das deutsche Heer)|
|Type||3rd Mobilization Wave Infantry Division (Infanterie-Division "Alter Art")|
|Size||9 Battalions, 17,200 men total|
|Engagements||Defense of the Westwall 1939 - 1940
Invasion of Holland June 1940
Defense Along French Channel Coast July 1940 - December 1941
Eastern Front December 1941 - November 1943: Briansk, Yuchnov, Rshev, Orel, Spas-Demensk, Battle of Kursk, Gomel, Retreat to the Dnieper River Line
The 216th Infantry Division was created on 26 August 1939 by reorganizing several Border Defense and Army Reserve units from Lower Saxony, primarily in the area surrounding the city of Hannover. Organized under the pre-war infantry division "alter Art," structure, it consisted of three 3-battalion infantry regiments, an artillery regiment of four battalions, a combat engineer battalion, a signal battalion, and an antitank defense battalion, as well as division services. Total strength was approximately 17,200 men.
The 216th Infantry Division did not participate in the Invasion of Poland, since it was occupying defensive positions in the Ardennes Forest along the Westwall. It did take part in the invasion of the Low Countries and France in May and June 1940. When Operation Barbarossa, the Invasion of the Soviet Union, began on June 22, 1941, the Division was performing occupation duties in France along the Channel Coast.
Following the success of the Soviet winter counteroffensive of December 1941, the Division was rushed to the Eastern Front as reinforcement and was soon split into several smaller battlegroups urgently needed for defending key localities. One of these battlegroups, formed from the 348th Infantry Regiment, was surrounded by the Soviet 10th Army in January 1942, outside of the town of Sukhinitchi. Against all odds, the regiment managed to hold out for months until relief forces arrived.
Thereafter followed over a year of positional warfare in Army Group Center, where the division took part in battles at Rshev, Briansk, Orel, Spass Demensk, and Gomel. In July 1943, the 216th Infantry Division participated in the Battle of Kursk, where it sustained heavy casualties while fighting on the northern shoulder of the Kursk salient as part of Generalfeldmarschall Model's Ninth Army.
The division was disbanded on 17 November 1943 after suffering heavy casualties during the retreat to the Dnieper River Defensive Line. The division staff, most of Grenadier Regiment 348, the Artillery Regiment, Combat Engineer Battalion and supply units were moved to Belgium, where they were used to form the framework for the new 272nd Infantry Division. Most of the combat troops remained behind in the Soviet Union and were grouped into Divisions-Group 216, formed on 12 November 1943 and assigned to the 102nd Infantry Division.
Infantry Regiment 348
Infantry Regiment 396
Infantry Regiment 398
Artillery Regiment 216
Panzerabwehr/Schnelle Abteilung 216
Pionier (Combat Engineer) Battalion 216
Infantry-Nachrichten Abteilung 216
Infantry-Division Nachschubfuehrer 216
Feldersatz Battalion 216