1941-1943: The Russian Campaign
The 2. Panzer Division was transferred to Russia in October 1941. Coming from France, the wheeled elements were detrained in the Grodno area while the tracked elements were detrained near Smolensk.
Location of 2. Panzer Division 10/08/41:
The division was heavily engaged during the fighting against the Russian armies entrapped in the Vyazma – Bryansk pocket, whereby the Germans suffered crippling losses too. When the fighting in this area had come to an end, the 2. Panzer Division share the German advance eastward forming part of the Heeresgruppe Centre. Severely hampered by bad weather and terrible road conditions the division had advanced to within 25 kilometers of the Moscow defense perimeter, when on December 5 and 6, 1941 retreating orders had to be given for the first time in this war.
Location of 2. Panzer Division 12/06/41:
With the onset of the Russian winter, for which the Wehrmacht was in now way prepared the Russians gained the upper hand and the German offensive was stopped before the very gates of Moscow. The winter of 1941/42 was spent in defensive actions.
Location of 2. Panzer Division 04/09/42:
In spring 1942 the division was redeployed and used against Russian forces which had broken into the Smolensk area during the previous winter. As the Russians concentrated their offensive efforts in the Rshew bend the 2nd Panzer Division spent the rest of 1942 in continuous defensive battles there and finally fell back to Vyazma when the Rshew bend was given up by the German High Command in March 1943.
Location of 2. Panzer Division 03/31/43:
After a short period of rest and training in the Smolensk and Witebsk areas the division was brought up to full strength again and moved to an assembly area south of Orel.
Location of 2. Panzer Division 06/01/43:
After having been equipped with a full complement of new heavy panzers, APCs, and armoured artillery the division formed part of the German attacking forces in operations “ZITADELLE” which started on July 7, 1943. The operation was a costly failure: the German offensive did not push through and both sides suffered paralyzing losses from which the German panzer forces were never to recover again. Weakened and decimated as it was the division carried on as a sort of “fire brigade” in a series of defensive actions for the rest of 1943. In mid-December 1943 the division was finally entrained and moved to Northern France for rest and refitting.
Location of 2. Panzer Division 12/17/43:
2. Panzer Divisional Map Showing Route Into and Out of Russia: