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EK 2 is signed by General der Infanterie Joachim Witthoft c 26.08.1939.

* 23. September 1887, Marienwerder

† 7. Juli 1966, Dalheim-Rödgen, Kreis Erkelenz

RK (14.12.1941)

On foto 2 from left

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86. Infanterie-Division was formed 26 August 1939 as part of the 3. Welle (wave). It was disbanded in November 1943 after suffering heavy losses on the Eastern Front. The divisional staff, signals and supply units were used to form the 361. Infanterie-Division while other surviving elements formed Divisions-Gruppe 86 which was assigned to Korps-Abteilung E.


General der Infanterie Joachim Witthöft (1 Sep 1939 - 1 Jan 1942)

General der Artillerie Helmuth Weidling (1 Jan 1942 - 15 Oct 1943)

Area of operations

West Wall (Sep 1939 - May 1940)

France (May 1940 - June 1941)

Eastern Front, central sector (June 1941 - Nov 1943)

Order of battle

167. Infantry Regiment

184. Infantry Regiment

216. Infantry Regiment

186. Artillery Regiment

1. Battalion

2. Battalion

3. Battalion

4. Battalion

186. Panzerjäger Battalion

186. Reconnaissance Battalion

186. Signals Battalion

186. Pioneer Battalion

Supply Troops

Notable members

Rudolf-Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff (Active in the resistance against Hitler and also the one who in 1943 discovered the mass graves from the Soviet massacre of Polish officers in the Katyn forest)

Reference material on this unit

? - Der Ostfeldzug der 86. Rheinisch-Westfaelischen Inf.Division (28.VI.1941 - 4.XI. 1943)

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Signed by General der Artillerie Helmuth Weidling (CO. 86 Inf.Div.D from 01.01.1942 till IX.1943.

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Helmuth Otto Ludwig Weidling (2 November 1891 – 17 November 1955) was an officer in the German Army (Wehrmacht Heer) before and during World War II. Weidling was the last commander of the Berlin Defence Area during the Battle of Berlin, and led the defence of the city against Soviet forces, finally surrendering just before the end of World War II in Europe.

During Weidling's military career, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.

Poland, France, and Russia

In November 1938, Weidling became a Colonel (Oberst) of the 56th Artillery Regiment. He fought with this regiment in the Polish Campaign of 1939. In April 1940, Weidling was appointed Artillery Commander of the XL Tank Corps (XL Panzer Korps). He commanded this corps during the Battle of France and during the early stages of Operation Barbarossa.

On 1 January 1942, still on the Eastern Front, Weidling was appointed to command the 86th Infantry Division. One month later, he was promoted to the rank of Major-General (Generalmajor). On 1 January 1943, Weidling was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General (Generalleutnant).

XLI tank corps

LVI tank corps

Commander of the Berlin Defence Area

The defenders

Bendlerblock headquarters

Flooding of the Berlin underground

Flying courts-martial

The Führerbunker

Surrender to Chuikov




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Standort Posen

Die Stadt Posen an der Warthe heißt heute Poznan und liegt im westlichen Teil Polens. Die Stadt wurde am 11. September 1939 Teil des Militärbezirks Posen und am 26. Oktober 1939 dem Deutschen Reich angegliedert. Am 23. Februar 1945 wurde die Stadt von der Roten Armee nach schweren Kämpfen erobert.


Festungs-Infanterie-Abteilung 500

Festungs-MG-Bataillon 82 und 83

Standort-Bataillon z.b.V. Posen

Division z.b.V. 429

verstärktes Infanterie-Bataillon Posen

Alarm-Einheit Posen

Kampfgruppe z.b.V. Posen

Sonderführer-Einheit Posen

Dolmetscher-Kompanie XXI

Transport-Begleit-Regiment Posen

Landesschützen-Bataillon 312

Landesschützen-Bataillon 475

Landesschützen-Bataillon 642

Landesschützen-Bataillon 814

Luftwaffen-Bau-Bataillon Posen

Luftwaffen-Sanitäts-Abteilung Posen

Luftwaffen-Sanitäts-Abteilung 3/I

Luftwaffen-Sanitäts-Abteilung 5/VIII




Ergänzungs-Gr.S. (L.L.)2

Flakgruppe Posen

Flakuntergruppe Posen

Heimat-Flak-Abteilung 25/I

leichte Heimat-Flak-Batterie 1/II

leichte Heimat-Flak-Batterie 12/I

leichte Heimat-Flak-Batterie 17/I

leichte Heimat-Flak-Batterie 23/I

schwere Heimat-Flak-Batterie 203/I

schwere Heimat-Flak-Batterie 209/I

schwere Heimat-Flak-Batterie 210/I

schwere Heimat-Flak-Batterie 211/I

schwere Heimat-Flak-Batterie 213/I

schwere Heimat-Flak-Batterie 216/I

schwere Heimat-Flak-Batterie 230/I

schwere Heimat-Flak-Batterie 234/I


Infanterie-Ersatz-Regiment 33

Infanterie-Ersatz-Bataillon 104

Infanterie-Ersatz-Bataillon 110

Infanterie-Ersatz-Bataillon 115

Infanterie-Ersatz-Bataillon 169

Artillerie-Ersatz-Regiment 33

Artillerie-Ersatz-Regiment 168

Artillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung 33

Festungs-Pak-Ersatz-Abteilung 102

Artillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung 105

Artillerie-Ersatz-Abteilung 257

Panzer-Pionier-Bataillon Posen

Pionier-Ersatz-Bataillon 33

Nachrichten-Ersatz-Abteilung 33

Kraftfahr-Park-Ersatz-Kompanie 21

Landesschützen-Ersatz- und Ausbildungs-Bataillon 21

Schule V für Fahnenjunker der Infanterie

Luftwaffen-Jäger-Ersatz- u. Ausbildungs-Bataillon Posen

Luftwaffen-Ersatz- u. Ausbildungs-Bataillon Posen

Kraftfahr-Ausbildungs-Abteilung 2 der Luftwaffe

Ersatz-Kompanie "Freikorps Danmark"

Flieger-Ersatz-Bataillon I


Festung Posen

Unterstab I der Festung Posen

Kommandant Festung Posen

Militärbefehlshaber Posen

stellv. Generalkommando XXI. A.K

Wehrersatzinspektion (WK XXI. Zuständig für die Wehrbezirke Posen, Lissa, Hohensalza, Leslau, Kalisch und Litzmannstadt.)

Wehrbezirkskommando (WK XXI, Wehrersatzbezirk Posen. Zuständig für die Wehrmeldebezirke (Wehrmeldeämter) Posen, Samter, Kolmar / W und Grätz.)

Wehrmeldeamt (WK XXI, Wehrbezirk Posen. Zuständig für den Stadtkreis und den Landkreis Posen.)

Kommandeur der Landesbautruppen 6

Landesschützen-Pionier-Oberbaustab VIII,

Wehrmachts-Nachrichten-Kommandantur Posen

Kommandeur der Kraftfahrparktruppen XXI

Feldzeug-Kommando XXI

Heeres-Zeugamt Posen

Wehrkreisarzt XXI mit Sanitäts-Abteilung (Regiment)

Kommandeur der Kriegsgefangenen XXI

Kommandeur des Streifendienstes XXI

Kommandeur (Brigade-Stab) Ost der Heeres-Unteroffiziers-Schulen der Infanterie


Rüstungsinspektion XXI

Wehrwirtschaftsoffizier XXI

Flughafen-Bereichs-Kommando 3/I

Kommando Flughafenbereich 5/VIII

Fliegerhorst-Kommandantur 12/VIII

Fliegerhorst-Kommandantur 13/I

Luftgau-Kommando II

Außenstelle des Luftgaues VIII

Fluko Posen


Stalag XXI A

Stalag XXI A/Z

Stalag XXI D

Edited by DDD777

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Festung Posen

BackgroundThe city of Poznań (called Posen in German) lay in the western part of Poland which had been annexed by Nazi Germany following their invasion of Poland in 1939, and was the chief city of Reichsgau Wartheland.

By 1945, the Red Army advances on the Eastern Front had driven the Germans out of eastern Poland as far as the Vistula River. The Red Army launched the Vistula-Oder Offensive on 12 January 1945, inflicted a huge defeat on the defending German forces, and advanced rapidly into western Poland and eastern Germany.

Certain cities which lay on the path of the Soviet advance were declared by Hitler to be Festungen (strongholds), where the garrisons were ordered to mount last-ditch stands. Hitler hoped the Festung cities could hold out behind Soviet lines and interfere with the movement of supplies and lines of communication. Poznań was declared a Festung in January 1945. The city was defended by 40,000 German troops from a great variety of units including Volkssturm, Luftwaffe ground forces, police, and highly motivated officer candidates.[1] Facing them would be experienced Guards Rifle troops of General V. I Chuikov's 8th Guards Army – the victors of Stalingrad.

The defenders made use of some of the surviving Festung Posen fortifications that had been built during Prussian rule in the 19th century. The Fort Winiary citadel stood on a hill to the north of the city centre. Around the perimeter of the city were 18 massively-built forts, spaced at intervals of about 2 kilometres in a ring with a radius of about 5 kilometres. General Chuikov described the forts as

. . . underground structures each with several storeys, the whole projecting above the surrounding terrain. Only a mound was visible above ground -- the layer of earth covering the rest. Each fort was ringed by a ditch ten metres wide and eight metres deep, with walls revetted with brickwork. Across the ditch was a bridge, leading to one of the upper storeys. Among the forts, to the rear, there were one-storey brick bunkers. These were clad in concrete almost a full metre thick, and were used as stores. The upper works of the forts were sufficiently strong to provide reliable protection against heavy artillery fire. . . . the enemy would be able to direct fire of all kinds against us both on the approaches to the forts and within them, on the rampart. The
were such that flanking fire from rifles and machine-guns could be directed from them.

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The city encircledPoznań lay on the main route between Warsaw and Berlin, and in German hands, was a serious obstacle to Soviet resupply efforts between Poznań and Berlin. Thus, the Red Army would have to clear the city of German troops before the final assaults designed to capture Berlin and end the war could begin.

On 21 January 1945 the Soviet 1st Guards Tank Army forced a crossing of the Warta River north of the city, but by 24 January these bridgeheads had been abandoned in favor of better bridgeheads south of Poznań. Meanwhile, Red Army tank units had swept north and south of the city, capturing hundreds of German aircraft in the process. Moving further west, the Soviet tank units left the capture of the city to other Red Army forces.

By 25 January, the Soviet 8th Guards Army had arrived and began a systematic reduction of the fortress. The following day, two of Poznań's forts in the south fell to a hasty assault conducted by the 27th and 74th Guards Rifle Divisions. This initial success allowed Chuikov's troops to penetrate the ring of forts and attack other forts from inside the city.

On 28 January, the German high command relieved Generalmajor Ernst Mattern as the fortress commander and replaced him with a dedicated Nazi, Generalmajor Ernst Gonell. Gonell imposed draconian discipline on the German garrison. In some instances, German troops attempting to surrender were shot by their own side.

Ultimately, the reduction of Festung Posen would consume the efforts of four divisions from Chuikov's army and two divisions of Colonel-General V. Ia. Kolpakchi's 69th Army. The 117th and 312th Rifle Divisions of the 91st Rifle Corps (69th Army) were deployed on the east side of the city. To the north, the 39th Guards Rifle Division of Chuikov's 28th Guards Rifle Corps, and to the south, Chuikov's 29th Guards Rifle Corps composed of the 27th, 74th, and 82nd Guards Rifle Divisions were arrayed against the Festung. By the southwestern suburb of Junikowo, the 11th Guards Tank Corps took up positions to block any German attempt at retreat.

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The liberation of PoznańIn bitter combat that saw the outlying forts reduced and city blocks seized, the Soviets succeeded in pushing the German defenders towards the city center and the citadel. By the beginning of February 1945, most of the city had been liberated, and by 12 February, the Germans held only the imposing citadel.

Generalmajor Gonell had previously believed that other German forces would attack and relieve his besieged forces, but by 15 February came to the realization that this was not going to happen. Incensed, he ordered his troops that were east of the Warta River to attempt to break out, and some 2,000 German troops managed to infiltrate through Red Army lines and head west on the following night.

Arrayed against the citadel was the 29th Guards Rifle Corps, with the 27th Guards Rifle Division on the north, the 82nd Guards Rifle Division on the southwest, and the 74th Guards Rifle Division on the southeast. The final Soviet assault on the citadel started on 18 February. Before the Red Army troops lay a deep ditch matched by a steep rampart on the far side. In an odd echo of medieval warfare, the Soviet forces used ladders to cross this obstacle, but found themselves swept by fire from the citadel's redoubts. These redoubts took the better part of three days to neutralize; one silenced by flamethrowers and explosives, the other's line of fire blocked by debris thrown in front of the firing ports by exasperated Soviet troops.

Having built an assault bridge, Red Army tanks and assault guns crossed into the main grounds of the citadel early on 22 February, commencing the final struggle for the old fortress. At this point, Generalmajor Gonell gave his troops permission to attempt to escape, but it was too late. Gonell refused to be captured and committed suicide by lying down on a flag and shooting himself in the head.

That evening, Generalmajor Mattern, once again in charge of the German forces, surrendered the remaining 12,000 German troops to General Chuikov.

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AftermathThe Germans held out in Poznań for almost a month. Doubtlessly, their possession of the city complicated Soviet resupply efforts, but other influences had also convinced the Stavka to pause the Red Army advance at the Oder River instead of attempting to push on to Berlin in February 1945.

The battle left over half (90% in the city center) of Poznań severely damaged by artillery fire and the effects of infantry combat in the city blocks. The battle definitively reduced the old Prussian fortress system which today stands mostly as monuments to an earlier military era. Finally, the outcome of the battle simplified Soviet resupply efforts between Warsaw and the Oder River.

Over 5,000 German troops who fell in the battle are buried at Milostowo cemetery. The Soviets are estimated to have lost over 12,000 men by the battle's midpoint around 3 February 1945.

Today, the Poznań Citadel site is a large park, in which are situated the remains of some of the fortifications, a memorial to the Red Army, military cemeteries, and a military museum containing exhibits relating to the 1945 battle.

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Generalmajor Ernst Mattern:

10.12.1944 - 20.01.1945 Führer Festungsaufbaustab Posen und Kommandant Posen

20.01.1945 - 17.02.1945 Festungsskommandant Posen und Kommandant Posen

23.02.1945 he surrended in the morning against Tschuikow after the suicide of Gonell

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From 30.01.1945 Festungskommandant appointed : Ernst Gonell

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Ernst Gonell:

10.06.1943 Kommandeur der Fahnenjunkerschule V, Posen

15.02.1945 Führerreserve OKH

17.02.1945 Kommandant der Festung Posen

23.02.1945 suicide before surrendering

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