The North Rhineland-Westphalian 69th Infantry Division was made up of Ruhr area reservists mustered in upon mobilization on August 26, 1939. Its headquarters was the former Staff, Artillery Commander 16 in Münster. In April 1940, the division landed in Norway and captured the cities of Stavanger and Bergen. Later that (100 miles north of Bergen) to Egersund. In 1941, its 193rd Infantry Regiment went to northern Finland on temporary assignment to the 210th Infantry Division and did not rejoin the 69th until 1943. The parent unit, meanwhile, was transferred to the Eastern Front in the spring of 1943. At first lightly engaged on the northern sector near Leningrad, the 69th was later involved in the retreats on the northern sector in 1944, before being sent to Army Group Center in autumn 1944. After the retreat through Poland, the division fought in East Prussia and was part of the 3rd Panzer Army in the Battle of Tilsit on January 19–21, 1945. Here, near where Napoleon made his famous pact with Czar Alexander, the 69th Infantry Division was virtually wiped out. The divisional commander, Lieutenant General Siegfried Rein, died with his men. The remnants of the unit retreated into the fortress of Königsberg, where they also were destroyed on April 12, 1945.
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Formed on August 17, 1939, this East Prussian unit initially consisted of a high portion of older (Landwehr) personnel. Later, an infusion of younger troops gave the division’s soldiery a normal age distribution. It served in Poland in 1939, remained…