16th Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)

The 16th Infantry Division of the German Army was formed in 1934. On 26 August 1939 the division was mobilized for the invasion of Poland (1939). It participated in the Battle of France in August 1940. The division was then split, resulting in two independent units: The 16th Panzer Division and the 16th Motorized Infantry Division. The latter, from 1944 onward, combined with other non 16th elements, was known as the 116th Panzer Division.

16th Infantry Division
16th Motorized Infantry Division
16th Panzergrenadier-Division
116th Panzer Division, 1944–45
ActiveOctober 1934 – 8 May 1945
Country Nazi Germany
RoleArmoured warfare
EngagementsWorld War II
Gotthard Heinrici
Gerhard von Schwerin
16th Panzer Division

16th Panzer Division

The 16th Panzer Division served as a reserve in Romania during the Balkans campaign in 1941. It then participated in Operation Barbarossa with Army Group South, also in 1941. A kampfgruppe of 16th Panzer Division, led by Count Strachwitz, reached the outskirts of Stalingrad on 23 August 1942, brushing aside the sole Soviet defences, anti-aircraft guns manned by female factory workers[1] (possibly the 1077th Anti-Aircraft Regiment). The 16th Panzer Division was encircled and ultimately destroyed at Stalingrad during the winter of 1942–43.[2]

It was rebuilt for a campaign in the west, fought in Sicily and southern Italy during the Italian Campaign in 1943 and returned to the Russian Front later in the year. Severely mauled near Kiev, it was withdrawn to Poland for rehabilitation in 1944. The 16th Panzer Division returned to the east in 1945, where it surrendered to the Soviets and Americans in Czechoslovakia.[3]

Motorized Division

The 16th Motorized Infantry Division, nicknamed Windhund ("Greyhound"), participated in the Balkans campaign in 1941 along with the 16th Panzer Division (see above). It took part in Operation Barbarossa with Army Group South later in the year. It advanced on the Caucasus with elements coming to within 20 miles of Astrakhan in 1942 – the most easterly point reached by any German unit during the war.

It also participated in the Battle of Stalingrad.[4] The 16th Motorized Infantry Division participated in defensive operations after the Soviets broke up the front of the southern sector.

In June 1943, it was upgraded to 16th Panzergrenadier Division. This upgraded formation was depleted in the continuous retreats and was transferred to France for rest and refitting.

116th Panzer Division

In March 1944, it was reorganized as the 116th Panzer Division (with the number changed since the 16th Panzer Division was already taken by its sibling), absorbing the 179th Reserve Panzer Division in the process. This new formation fought in the Battle of Normandy and was almost destroyed in the Falaise Gap.

It subsequently defended the Siegfried Line at Aachen in an understrength condition. The 116th Panzer Division was withdrawn for refitting and then recommitted, but was unable to hold the city of Aachen. It later participated in the Battle of Hurtgen Forest then in the Battle of the Bulge, again sustaining heavy casualties. It was caught in the Wesel Pocket, but got across the Rhine, ultimately surrendering within the Ruhr Pocket in April, 1945.

16th Volksgrenadier Division

In parallel, a 16th Volksgrenadier Division was created in October 1944, which defended the Upper Rhine until March 1945, when it was forced to retreat deeper into Germany.

War crimes

The 16th Motorized Infantry Division has been implicated in the San Clemente di Caserta massacre, Campania, on 4 October 1943, when 25 civilians were murdered.[5][6]


Structure of the division:[7]

  • Headquarters
  • 16th Reconnaissance Battalion
  • 60th Infantry Regiment
  • 64th Infantry Regiment
  • 79th Infantry Regiment
  • 16th Field Replacement Battalion
  • 16th Engineer Battalion
  • 16th Artillery Regiment
  • 16th Anti-Tank Battalion
  • 16th Signal Battalion
  • 16th Divisional Supply Group

Commanding officers

16th Infantry Division

16th Motorized Infantry Division

16th Panzergrenadier Division

  • General der Panzertruppen Gerhard Graf von Schwerin (27 June 1943 – January 1944)
  • Generalmajor Günther von Manteuffel (January 1944 – March 1944)
  • Generalmajor Karl Stingl (March 1944)


  1. Glantz, Stalingrad: Vol. 2, p.1
  2. Mitcham, p. 131
  3. Mitcham, p. 132
  4. Adam, Wilhelm; Ruhle, Otto (2015). With Paulus at Stalingrad. Translated by Tony Le Tissier. Pen and Sword Books Ltd. p. 87. ISBN 9781473833869.
  5. "San Clemente di Caserta, Caserta, 4/10/1943" (in Italian). Atlas of Nazi and Fascist Massacres in Italy. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  6. "16. Panzer-Division" (in Italian). Atlas of Nazi and Fascist Massacres in Italy. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  7. German Order of Battle, 1st–290th Infantry Divisions in WWII. p. 45.


  • Mitcham, Samuel W. (2000). The Panzer Legions. Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-3353-3.
  • Burkhard Müller-Hillebrand: Das Heer 1933-1945. Entwicklung des organisatorischen Aufbaues. Vol.III: Der Zweifrontenkrieg. Das Heer vom Beginn des Feldzuges gegen die Sowjetunion bis zum Kriegsende. Mittler: Frankfurt am Main 1969, p. 286.
  • Georg Tessin: Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg, 1939 – 1945. Vol. Iv: Die Landstreitkräfte 15 – 30. Mittler: Frankfurt am Main 1970.