551st Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)

Article

January 24, 2022

The 551st Infantry Division (German: 551. Grenadier-Division) is a tactical formation of the ground forces of the armed forces of Nazi Germany during the Second World War.

History

The 551st Infantry Division was formed on July 11, 1944 on the territory of the Thorn military training ground as a "barrage division" during the 29th wave of Wehrmacht mobilization. On August 13, 1944, the Reichsführer SS and commander of the reserve army, Heinrich Himmler, visited the division. The division was stationed west of Schaulen. On the night of August 26, the division replaced the 14th Panzer Division in positions in the Venta area. To strengthen the division, the 609th Security Regiment was subordinated to it. On September 1, 1944, the division received a battery of heavy field howitzers and a mortar battery from the 816th heavy artillery battalion. On October 5, a major offensive of Soviet troops began on Memel and the coast of the Baltic Sea. The main forces of the Red Army reached the front line, occupied by the 551st Infantry Division. The front was broken everywhere, the division suffered heavy losses in men and equipment. On October 9, 1944, the division was renamed the 551st People's Militia Infantry Division. At the end of October, the division with battles withdrew to East Prussia, where it defended itself from the advancing Soviet troops for six months. The 551st infantry division of the people's militia was destroyed by Soviet troops during the East Prussian offensive operation in April 1945. According to General of the 43rd Soviet Army Afanasy Beloborodov, on the night before the start of the Memel operation, the reconnaissance group discovered the headquarters of the 551st division, the commander of which was drinking and celebrating the promotion to the rank of general. Beloborodov and the head of the intelligence department of the 43rd Army, Colonel Panteleimon Shioshvili, ironically remarked that “it won’t take long to drink away the division,” and after the start of the operation and the defeat of the division, Shioshvili provided Beloborodov with the protocols of interrogation of the prisoners of the 551st division with the words “He drank the division away.”

Location

from July to October 1944 (Lithuania) from October 1944 to April 1945 (East Prussia)

Submission

40th Tank Corps of the 3rd Tank Army of Army Group Center (August 1944 - January 1945) 9th Army Corps of the 3rd Panzer Army of the Vistula Army Group (January - April 1945)

Commanders

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