Unit History

The 352.Infanterie-Division was an infantry division in the German Wehrmacht during World War II serving on the Western Front.  The unit, best known for its defense of what would become Omaha Beach during the D-Day Invasion on 6 June 1944, fought in Normandy, Holland, in the Ardennes Offensive and to the end of the War in Germany.  In our reenacting unit, we portray 5.Kompanie, II.Battaillon of the 916.Grenadier Regiment.


The 352.Infanterie-Division had no unit symbol like many of the other "elite" German army and SS divisions (e.g. Großdeutschland and Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler).  Sometime after the war, some (most likely war gamers) tried to attribute a symbol to the Division - typically a pegasus jumping over a bridge.  However, during the war, the 352nd did not have an official symbol.  

A soldier from the Division put it best: 

"We had no special insignia, just the white color of the infantry...Oberfeldwebel Winter told us many times: 'Fight well, fight smart and survive.'  this is very true and you know that all those 'fire eaters' with the special patches lost a lot of men, but they did make better looking corpses than those of us with the plain uniforms."

 - Obergrenadier Martin Eichenseer

GR 916 / 352. Inf-Div

For reenacting purposes, we will use the following symbols to identify our unit:

Infanterie Litzen

Tactical Map Symbol




The 352.Infanterie-Division (352nd Infantry Division, 352.Inf. Div., 352.ID) was formed on 5 November 1943 at St. Lô under the command of Generalleutnant Dietrich Kraiß, as part of the Wehrkreis XI (Military District XI), headquartered in Hannover.  A majority of the Division's soldiers came from decimated Divisions from the Ost Front, especially those in the battle at Kursk.  Originally slated to be sent to the East Front (Ostfront), the Division was trained to fight defensively and was armed appropriately.  However, when the threat of a cross-chanel invasion by the Western Allies became imminent, the 352nd was placed in Armeegruppe B under the command of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel to serve on the Atlantikwall.  Rommel was in charge of protecting the Atlantic coast from and Allied Invasion.  Despite the fact that much of the German leadership believed that the main Allied invasion would take place at the Pas-de-Calais, Rommel was convinced that Normandy would be the location of the invasion.  Rommel placed the 352nd at Normandy to push any invading force back into the sea. 

The cadre of the Division were Ost Front survivors.  The Division was initially filled out with approximately 2,000 recruits - most of them coming from Infantrie Ersatz und Ausbildungs Bataillon 480 based in Schlann.  The rest of the Division was filled out when it was assigned to Wehrkreis XI in Hanover.  Initially, Officers and NCOs of the Division prepared for the East Front, so training was planned accordingly - they were trained to be outnumbered, out gunned, surrounded, to never give up ground and to never surrender.  However, in January 1944, the Division was placed on defensive action in the area around St. Lô.

Unlike the Division's neighboring units - the 709th and 716th Infantry Divisions - the 352nd was considered a combat unit.  The 709th and 716th were defensive "fortress" units, and were considered immobile.  The 352.ID was responsible for an unreasonably large area of territory.  It's primary missions were:

Because most  of Germany's resources and support went to the Ost Front, the 352nd had to deal with ration and supply problems from its conception, but it did enjoy the higher quality food and leisure time in France that their counterparts in the East never saw. 


The Division cadre were formed from the remnants of the following units serving on the Ost Front, namely:





546.Grenadier Regiment


The survivors from the 546.Grenadier-Regiment formed the cadre for the 1st and 2nd battalions of the 916.Grenadier-Regiment of the 352.Infanterie-Division.

Because most of the members of the 352nd were Ost Front veterans, they were hardened soldiers - from the officers down to the Obergrenadiers.  A large number of Volksdeutsch recruits were also a part of the Division.  These Volksdeutsch recruits included Polish and Czech Germans, Alsatians (French Germans), and Russians (White-Russians, or POA). 


The makeup of the 352 Infanterie-Division (shown to the right) was as follows:

At the time of the Division's formation, it had 12,021 men.  Of that, only 6,800 men were combat troops.  The 352.ID was a large Division, by German standards at the time, but it was by no means a "crack" division.  Cadre from the Ost Front formed the leadership of the Division and the bulk of the Landsers were young conscripts and foreign volunteers from the East.  The Division had approximately 29% Russian volunteers, to include Ukranians, Georgians and Belarusians.  Much of the rest of the Division's Landsers were young boys just out of high school, who suffered from malnourishment from food rationing for the War effort. 



-  2 x 15 cm sIG 33

-  6 x 7.5 cm leIG

-  3 x 7.5 cm PaK 40


-  2 x 15 cm sIG 33

-  6 x 7.5 cm leIG

-  3 x 7.5 cm PaK 40


-  2 x 15 cm sIG 33

-  6 x 7.5 cm leIG

-  3 x 7.5 cm PaK 40

The 352.ID had three Infanterieregimenter (infantry regiments), each with three Infanteriebataillone  (infantry battalions).  A Regiment in a German Division was known as an Infanterie-Regiement, or more commonly at this time in the War as a Grenadier-Regiment.  The 352.ID was considered a large Division because it retained the standard nine battalions, while a majority of all other German Divisions at the time had been reduced to six battalions.  All infantry battalions had 60 light machine guns, three heavy machine guns and twelve 8 cm mortars.  Each infantry regiment had one infantry gun (IG).  The 914th and 915th Regiment’s IG company had two 15 cm and six 7,5 cm infantry howitzers.  The 916th Regiment’s IG company had two 15 cm and two 7,5 cm infantry howitzers.  Each Regiment had a PaK (Anti-Tank) company with three 7,5 cm PaK 40 Anti-Tank guns.

916.Infanterie Regiment was formed primarily by the survivors of Grenadier-Regiment 546 from the Ost Front.  The rest of the Regiment was filled out with recruits coming from Grenadier Ersatz Bataillon 396, stationed in Nordheim.  

Auf dem Wacht. MG 42 with Lafette 42
Model 34 8 cm mortar and crew in action
Grossdeutschland artillerymen with a sIG 33
7,5 cm PaK 40 Anti-Tank Gun


52. Artillerie Regiment

-  1-9.Batterie - 36 x 10,5 cm leFH 16

-  10-12.Batterie - 12 x 15 cm sFH 18

Batteries 1-9 of the Artillerie Regiment (artillery regiment) had four 10,5 cm leFH 16 howitzers each.  Batteries 10-12 had four 15 cm sFH 18 howitzers each.  None of these batteries were motorized.  The artillery all had one basic load of ammunition.  The 10,5 cm guns had 225 rounds per gun, and the 15 cm guns had 150 rounds each. 

10.5 cm leichte Feldhaubitze 16
15 cm sFH 18 on the Ost Front


The Panzerjäger Abteilung (tank destroyers/tank hunter battalion) had 14 Marder II and III (Marder on a Panzer II and 38(t) chassis, respectively), 10 StuG III and 9 motorized 3,7 cm FlaK guns.

352. Panzerjäger Abteilung

-  14 x Marder II and Marder III variant Panzerjäger

-  10 x StuG III Ausf. G assault guns

-  9 x FlaK Panzer 38 Self-Propelled Flak

Marder III Ausf.M
StuG III Ausf G
Motorized FlaK 3,7


352. Pioniere Battaillon

-  20 x Flammenwerfer

-  6 x 8 cm Granatwerfer

The Pioniere Battaillon (combat engineer battalion) had three companies, with 37 machine guns, 20 flame throwers and six mortars.

Flammenwerfer Pioniere in training in Northern France, 1944


352. Füsilier Battaillon

-  1. Kompanie bicycle mounted

The Füsilier Battaillon was light  infantry and recon.  The 1. Company of the Füs.Btl was bicycle mounted.   This battalion was located in the rear, away from the beaches and was more mobile than a regular infantry battalion.  They were equipped  the same as a regular infantry battalion, with 60 light machine guns, 3 heavy machine guns and twelve 8 cm mortars.  In a defensive position, like the 352.ID was, the Füsilier Battaillon would most likely protect the Division's most vulnerable flanks, serving as recon and as quick reinforcement. 

Bicycle mounted Waffen-SS ride towards Arnhem, Sep 1944


352. Feldersatz Battaillon

-  6 x 8 cm Granatwerfer 34

-  1 x 5 cm PaK 38

-  1 x 7,5 cm PaK 40

-  1 x 10,5 cm Feldhaubitze

-  1 x Infanterie Geschütz

-  2 x Flammenwerfer

The Feldersatz Battaillon (field replacement battalion) had five companies with 62 machine guns, six 8 cm mortars, one 5 cm PaK 38 AT gun, one 7,5 cm PaK 40 AT gun, one 10,5 cm howitzer, one infantry howitzer and two flame throwers. 

Soldaten with their PaK 38 in Tunisia


Field Marshal Erwin Rommel believed that the Atlantikwall (Atlantic Wall) did not have enough defensive capability to withstand an Allied invasion.  Rommel, believing that any chance of success of an Allied invasion would be decided on the beaches, made great strives to increase the defenses of the Atlantikwall by increasing physical barriers and bunkers, placing millions of mines, and increasing the manpower on the Wall.

The 352nd began its coastal duty improving the defenses of the Atlantikwall, as directed by Rommel.  They placed beach obstacles, to include mined stakes and anti-landing craft timbers.  They cut the timber from the woods, transported it to the beach, and drove it deep into the sand.

Rommel wanted over 10 million mines to  cover the length of the Atlantikwall, but only 10,000 were available and laid before the Invasion.  Of the 10,000 mines placed, many were not waterproofed, so by the time the D-Day invasion occurred, many of those mines had rusted and corroded because of the salt water, and no longer worked.

The first row of beach obstacles were Belgian Gates and were about 250 yards from the high tide water line.  Belgian Gates (or C-Elements) are heavy steel fences about three meters wide and two meters high used as anti-tank obstacles. 

The second row of obstacles was a band of mined stakes and log ramps, meant to tip or tear out the bottom of landing craft.

Finally, the third row of defenses were Czech Hedgehogs– static anti-tank obstacle defenses constructed of angled iron.

Further up the beachhead, the 352nd occupied slit trenches, eight large concrete bunkers, 35 pillboxes, six mortar pits, 35 Nebelwerfer launch sites and 85 machine gun nests.  The main defenses were clustered into strong points.

Parts of the 916.Grenadier-Regiment was located near Omaha Beach.  One battalion from the 716.Infanterie-Division was subordinated to the 916th.  The 915.Grenadier-Regiment was in reserve southeast of Bayeux, and the 914.Grenadier-Regiment was deployed around Isigny-sur-Mer.

Because most of the Wehrmacht’s supplies were being sent to the fight on the Ost Front, by March 1944, the Divison's Landsers only got to execute three live fire events and each Grenadier was only able to throw two live grenades in practice.  Many of the vehicles the Division used were foreign, so when they broke down, there were little, if any, spare parts.  There was little driver training because of a shortage of available fuel. 

Northern France

German Divisional Dispositions, June 1944

D-Day 06 June 1944 - the Allied Invasion of Europe

German Regimental Dispositions, June 1944

D-Day Invasion - Omaha Beach

Omaha Beach Zones and German Wiederstandsnest (Strong Point) Locations


Aerial reconnaissance photos of the Normandy coastline on 3 June, days before the invasion, indicate that elements of an unidentified infantry unit have relocated to positions along the Calvados coast, just east of the Vire estuary.  Allied Intelligence suspects it to be the veteran 352nd Infantry Division, although the 352nd had thought to have been located further south.  No reports have been received from resistance groups in France as to the 352nd relocating to the coastline. 

In fact, a French resistance group did try to notify the Allies of the 352nd weeks before via carrier pigeons.  Two pigeons were sent with the same message (to increase the chances of delivery), but the Germans manning the Atlantikwall along the coast, aware that resistance groups used carrier pigeons, managed that day to shoot both birds carrying the message as they were flying out to the English Channel.  

Allied Intelligence determined that major commands should be notified of the unaccounted German strength in the area.  Unfortunately, notification takes more than 48 hours to be delivered to the pertinent commands.  By the time General Bradley, commander of the U.S. First Army, receives this intelligence, he and his command have already put out to sea - just four hours before the naval bombardment is to begin.  The troops under Bradley's command that are storming the beach code named Omaha, the U.S. 1st and 29th Infantry Division, will not know until it's too late that the beach has been fortified and reinforced by the veteran German 352nd Infantry Division.

Once the D-Day invasion began on 6 June 1944, and the 352nd realized it was facing the brunt of the Invasion, it immediately absorbed all troops within is sector, to include Luftwaffe  Flak troops and RAD (Labor Service) personnel.  Once it became clear that the main Allied invasion force was coming ashore at Normandy, all available units were rushed to the front.  Hardened bunkers (Winderstandsnest) on or near the beach opened fire and continued to fire until they depleted their ammunition or all the men inside were dead.  Artillery Regiment 352 and 1275 had pre-sighted every inch of the landing areas on the beach and rained shells down upon the landing Allied forces.  They, too, continued to fire until they had run out of ammo or were in danger from being encircled.

The following excerpts are from U.S. soldiers fighting the 352nd in Normandy:

"...We had a bad break tactically because the German 352nd Infantry Division was on a counter-attack training exercise at Omaha [Beach].  So instead of a fortress battalion -- you know, with kind of second-rate troops -- we had a whole damned infantry division in front of us.  We hit the sand...behind the bodies of the amphibious engineers...and tried to advance a bit, but there was a large German bunker in front of us, and its machine gun fire hit us every time we tried to move.  We didn’t have any comm with the American destroyer behind us because...the naval officer had been killed, his driver too, and the radio set destroyed...so we planned an assault.  But before we could get organized, there were huge demolitions around the bunker.  Thank God we hadn’t moved out yet: an American destroyer had moved in and was firing direct with 4-inch guns into the bunker." 

-Capt Edward McGregor, US 1st Infantry Div

"Assault units disintegrating. Very heavy losses.  Enemy fire prevents crossing of the beach line.  Landing units bunching up in a very confined area.  Engineers unable to clear paths through minefields and cannot destroy beach obstacles.  Elements of the...352nd Infantry Division identified." 

-Battle Report, US 5th Corps,

08:30a.m. June 6, 1944

"...The Regiment started to engage the enemy immediately behind the beach line defenses and identified units of the 726th Infantry Regiment of the 716th Infantry Division and members of the #17 Pioneer Battalion fighting as infantry.  Also, members of the #7 Company 915th Infantry Regiment of the 352nd Infantry Division and the labor battalion (Russian and Italian) attached to the 352nd Infantry were identified...From beach defenses to the Inundated Area the enemy action consisted mainly of small delaying groups and snipers from the 1714th Artillery Battalion, #17 Pioneer Battalion, 12th Battery #IV Battalion, 352nd Infantry Division Artillery...Crossing of inundated area was strongly opposed by German defense at eastern end, at COLOMBIERES and at BOIS de CALET at south of causeway by units of 914th, 915th and 916th Grenadier-Regiments.  Snipers and small delaying units were identified as Schnelle Brigade #30. 2nd Battalion was attacked at Le CARRETOUR by units of the 352nd Division Artillery...The approach to, and the crossing of the Elle River was opposed by units of three (3) battalions of the Schnelle Brigade #30, units of the 352nd Grenadier Division and an unknown SP gun unit.  Documents indicated that parts of the 5th Paratroop Regiment were in these defensive positions...The following units were identified from the Elle River to July 1st 1944.

914 Gr. Regts, 915 Gr. Regts and 916 Gr. Regts of the 352nd Infantry Division.

II Bn 943 Gr Regt 353 Inf Div

Eng Bn 353 of 353 Inf Div

9th Regt of 3rd Parachute Div

513, 517, 518 Bns of Schnelle Brigade #30

353 Fu Bn" 

-ALFRED V. EDNIE, Colonel,

115th Infantry Division

After Action Report June 1944

Oberst Ernst Goth,Commander, 916.Inf Reg 

The 352nd Infantry Division took heavy losses, both in causalities and by being captured, from the oncoming ground attack as well as from enemy Jabos (Fighter-Bombers).  American and British Jabos would attack any daytime ground movement, even individual men unfortunate enough to be out in the open.   It became nearly impossible to move in the daylight, which meant front-line units quickly ran out of food, ammunition and other supplies.  The front-line troops became exhausted from constant fighting and having no reinforcemets.  

The 916.Grenadier-Regiment saw action on D-Day opposing the 1st and 29th U.S. Divisions at Omaha Beach.  The 352nd fought for several hours, inflicting many casualties, before being overwhelmed and overrun.  The 916th retreated on the morning of 7 June after Regiment Commander Oberst Ernst Goth couldn’t hold the positions that they had just taken back on the previous night.  The rest of the Division saw heavy fighting in the bocage (hedgerow) country while defending the area around St. Lô.

According to wartime documents, the losses suffered by the Division on 6 June were 200 killed, 500 wounded and 500 missing.  The Division retreated to and remained in the area southeast of Isigny.

Because of constant fighting, most of the Division wasn’t able to eat or sleep until 10 June.  A total absence of motorized transport meant that all movement was by foot or bicycle.  By the time the Allies had put armor on the beaches and started their advance, there wasn’t much the 352nd could do to stop it.  By this time, most of the fighting ability of the Division was either killed or captured.  A few isolated units continued to fight, or were absorbed into other neighboring units. 

On 16 June, the Division suffered 3,000 casualties.  From 6 – 24 June, casualties were 5,407 officers and men.  Despite these heavy losses, the Division kept fighting, but continued to be beaten back and they continued to lose men - The Allies' complete control of the air and their material superiority were just too great.  By 11 July, the 352nd incurred 2,479 more casualties, and from 1 – 25 July, the Division had 123 officers and men killed, 464 wounded, and 110 missing. 

By 30 July, the Division was in very poor shape.  The Wehrmacht declared all battalions of the 352nd abgekämpft (no longer combat worthy) on that date, which means that each battalion had less than 100 combat-ready men.  By the time the Division had been disbanded, it had subordinated the following units, all of which ended up worse off than the Division’s original units:

Some members of the Division ended up being caught in the Falaise Pocket at the end of July and the beginning of August.  They, along with members of the 2.SS-Panzer Division inflicted heavy casualties on the Polish 1st Armored Division while in the pocket, but were eventually beaten back.  The Pocket ultimately was sealed off.  Approximately 15,000 Germans were killed in the fighting and about 50,000 were taken prisoner.  The collapse of the Falaise Pocket was a major turning point in the battle on the West Front - two major German Armies were captured and destroyed in the pocket, severely depleting German strength in the West.

After the first of August, the 352nd Infantry Division was withdrawn to refit in the area southeast of Alençon.  The 352nd was only there for a little over a week before American forces closed in.  Elements of the Division engaged in rear guard action along the axis of Le Mans and Dreux.  Generalleutnant Dietrich Kraiß, the 352.ID commander, was injured in an attack on 4 August 1944.  He died of his injuries two days later.  Oberst Heyna was the interim commander of the Division as they pulled out of the front-line in France.

The link provides an account of the 352nd from its Chief of Staff, Oberstleutnant Fritz Ziegalmann.  Oberstleutnant Ziegalmann wrote a history of the 352nd in Normandy for the United States War Department’s Foreign Military Studies after the conflict as a Prisoner of War.  Special thanks to Stewart Bryant for his work translating Oberstleutnant Ziegalmann's writing's and providing them on the internet.


Soldaten moving near Arnhem

Despite their condition and circumstances, the 352nd fought well in France against much larger and much better supplied Allied Troops.  Soldier for soldier, the German army was equal or stronger than Allied armies, but the Allies' overwhelming air power, naval firepower along the coast and vast material superiority is what played a major role in defeating the Germans in Normandy.  The 352nd Infantry Division was sent to southern Denmark for refitting after being pulled out of the front lines in France.

While refitting, the 352nd was called back into action when the Allies launched Market Garden.  The Division was attached to the 10.SS and the 363.Infanterie-Division.  They helped prevent the Allied XXX Corps from linking up with the British 1st Airborne Division, which landed at Arnhem, Holland. Elements of the 352nd engaged the U.S. 101st Airborne at Nijmegen.

The 352.ID was not a completely refitted division while in Holland, and was withdrawn to Germany to be refitted and reformed once again.

Operation Market Garden: Nijmegen 1944

Nijmegen after the Battle, 28 September 1944


The remnants of the 352nd Infantry Division were merged with the remnants of the 581.Volkgrenadier-Division and a few Marine detachments (formerly coastal artillery) to form the 352.Volksgrenadier-Division on 4 September 1944, under the command of Oberst Erich Schmidt.  

Volksgrenadier-Divisions are slightly different than regular Infanterie-Divisions.  These Divisions had only six infantry battalions instead of the standard nine battalions of a full Infanterie-Division; this was already a common occurrence  in most other Infantry Divisions at the time.  Volksgrenadier-Divisions emphasized defensive strength rather than offensive strength.  Standard infantry weapons typically consisted of light machine guns, light automatic weapons, and the Panzerfaust (single shot anti-tank weapons).  The Züge (platoons) and Gruppen (groups) of Volksgrenadier-Divisions were formed around hardened veterans to inspire and properly lead whatever personel was used to fill out the Division.  The bulk of these Divisions were commonly filled out with "jobless" Wehrmacht personnel from the Kriegsmarine (Navy) and Luftwaffe (Air Force), wounded soldiers returning to duty, as well as men and boys considered too old or young for peacetime military service.

Oberst Erich Schmidt, Commander, 352.Volksgrenadier-Division

The 352.Volksgrenadier-Division itself was made up of several "jobless" Kriegsmarinemänner (Navy men).  Their morale was high, but their limited experience as infantry in ground operations showed in their poor fighting and maneuvering ability.  The newly reformed Division had the same three Infanterieregimenter - 914., 915., and 916. Grenadier-Regiements, but with only six Infanteriebataillone total. 


This newly reformed Volksgrenadier-Division was a part of LXXXV. Armeekorps, and fell in with the 7.Armee.  The 7.Armee was under the command of General der Panzertruppe Erich Brandenburger.  The 7.Armme makeup consisted of:


LXXXV. Armeekorps

5. Fallschirmjäger-Div.

352. Volksgrenadier-Div.

LXXX. Armeekorps

276. Volksgrenadier-Div.

212. Volksgrenadier-Div.

LIII. Armeekorps

Festungs Infanterie-Battaillon 999

Festungs MG Battaillon 44

Erich Brandenberger (left) with Erich von Manstein in North Russia, 1941

The 7.Armee made the southern most push during the Ardennes Offensive (the Battle of the Bulge) towards Luxembourg.  The main objective of the southern push was to reach Luxembourg and protect the flank from any Allied counterattacks.  The three Infantry Divisions of 7.Armee pushed west 4 miles before meeting stiff resistance from the U.S. VIII Corps.  The 5. Fallschirmjäger-Div. managed to get 12 miles west on the inner flank of the push.  There was no armored support for 7.Armee, so the initial advance was stopped fairly easily by American troops.  

7.Armee Movement in the Ardennes Offensive

The 352.Volksgrenadier-Division's major engagements in the Offensive occurred  in and around Diekirch and Ettelbruck. 

The push in the south, although stopped initially, managed to move again by the second week of the offensive and posed a threat to Allied lines.  On 23 December 1944, there was heavy fighting in Merzig and a large portion of the Division was captured or destroyed there.  Only when the U.S. 80th Infantry Divison was reinforced with armor from the U.S. 702nd Tank Battalion were the Germans defeated on the southern front of the Offensive.

Ultimately, the Ardennes Offensive as a whole failed, and again, the 352nd was decimated by losing men to casualties and being captured as prisoners.   

Grenadiere fighting in the Ardennes near Luxembourg

Grenadiere from the 914.Inf-Reg. of the 352.Volksgrenadier Div. surrender in Merzig after the Ardennes Offensive, 24 Dec 1944


After the defeat in the Ardennes, the 352.Volksgrenadier-Division was recalled to Germany to be refit and resupplied.  It was then placed under the command of General Bazing.  It was refitted with men from the 66.Volksgrenadier-Regiment, 99th Security Regiment and what was left of the 9th Infantry Division.  It's next deployment  was to defend the area around Trier (Germany) and Moselle (France).  Fighting and Allied bombing effectively destroyed what was left of the Division again by mid-March 1945.  Only a small remnant of the Division escaped across the Rhine at Worms as American forces advanced.

The 352nd was partially reconstructed one last time as a small battle group in mid-April and deployed to defend Darmstadt, south of Remagen.  It's last battles were during a part of the Rhineland Campaign, as the Allies pushed in the south to reach the Elbe.  The 352nd Infantry Division's career as a fighting unit ended in the Rhineland at the end of the War.  They surrendered to American forces near Nuremberg in May 1945. 

The Friedensplatz in Darmstadt, 1944

Amis cross a bridge in Trier, 1945