Soldbuch 12. VGD Demjansk Ardennes 1944

Soldbuch Obergefreiter Erwin Tank.

12. VGD Demjansk Ardennes EK 2

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Soldbuch to Obergefreiter Erwin Tank, a junior constructionpainter “Malergeselle” from from Stettin. (nowadays Szczecin, Poland)
He was called up for military service in 1940 and started his military career on 16 April 1940 with 2./I. Artillerie ersatz Abteilung 258.

After his basictrainings he was send to an fieldunit;

4. Batterie of Artillerie Regiment 12 wich was part of the 12. Infanterie Division.


In June 1941 the division joined Operation Barbarossa under  Army Group North as an element of the 16. Army.

It took part in Army Group North's capture of the Latvian city of Daugavpils, sweeping north-eastward to Leningrad where it was finally stopped in its tracks during the siege effort. During the early months of 1942, the II Army Corps was subject to a Soviet counteroffensive to relieve Leningrad, resulting in five army divisions (the 12th, included) and the SS Totenkopf division being encircled along with several other elements of the 16th Army in the Demjansk pocket. With support from Hermann Goering planes containing supplies were flown in to aid the divisions while they were in the pocket for some 81 days between 8 February and 20 March.

Göring would later gloat about his success in freeing the pocket during the Battle of Stalingrad later that year when a similar airlift concept was applied. While liberated, the 12. Infantrie Division had left the pocket in a much-weakened state.

In 1943, with the German Army on the retreat, the division fought in the Belarusian city of Vitebsk. This resulting deterioration of effectiveness led to its capitulation during the Soviets' Summer Offensive in June 1944, soon after Army Group Centre collapse in Operation Bagration.

Some of the division's men escaped capture; its commanding officer Lieutenant General Rudolf Bamler, who had been in command for only a few weeks, was also captured, but later chose to work for the Soviets.

Two groups were able to break out and return to German lines before the destruction of the division. Remnants of the Grenadier Regiment 48 commanded by Hauptmann Siegfried Moldenhauser would escape through a corridor east and evade Soviet forces until they reached Polykowischi where Major Osterhold formed a Kampfgruppe which broke out to German lines west.

The second group, 1st Battalion, Fusilier Regiment 27. commanded by Major Hans-Georg Lemm would break through Russian lines 3 kilometers west of Mogilev and from there they would move north of Berezino where they would cross the Berezina river.


The division was re-activated in September 1944, where it was sent to the newly created Western Front. Again placed under the command of Colonel Gerhard Engel,  the division – at some point being redesignated the "12th Volksgrenadier Division" was at a strength of some 12,800 men.

In December 1944 the division saw action in the Western Front in the Ardennes as part of the 6. Panzer Army’s I SS-Panzer Corps.

12. Volksgrenadier division’s battle began a 0700 hours on 16 December, following a heavy artillery bombardment of the US lines. They were halted at Dom Bütgenbach on 21 December and that night supporting 12. SS-Panzerdivision troops withdrew from the line, leaving 12. Volksgrenadierdivision to hold.

After the Ardennes 12. Volksgrenadierdivision remained fighting in the west, taking part in the fighting for the Rur River line against the US Ninth Army. They ended the war just a remnant of the unit it had been, holding out to the last in the Ruhr Pocket in mid-April 1945.

Erwin Tank stayed with the Division throughout the whole war and was  awarded;

- Ostmedaille, 11-7-1942

- Demjanskshield, 1-12-1943

- KvK 2, with Swords

- EK 2, 30-1-1945 for bravery shown during actions in the Ardennes!

- Wounded Badge in Black, 4-2-1945 = Westfront / Ardennes

- Fuhrergeschenk, 6-1-1943

The Soldbuch has no photo, never had one but there’s a picture of him in the Kennkarte.

Heavy used condition, some pages are loose but complete.

It has been denazified.

It comes with:

- Deutsches Kennkarte of Erwin Tank

- Kennkarte of Hildegard …. (maybe his wife?)

- Personalausweis for “Hilfskranketrager”

- Paper wich allows him to travel in occupied Germany dated 13 June 1945