Ghost Division

Together with ’40:1′ this might just be Sabaton’s most praised track. ‘Ghost Division’ has been their concert opener for quite some time now, probably because the impact of the drums is live even more gripping than on the album. Everyone who has seen them live should be able to recall the opening moment where vocalist Joakim Bróden yells: “We are Sabaton! And here is Ghost Divisiooooooon!”.

A group of Panzer V German tanks

A group of Panzer V, German tanks

But what part of history has been tackled by Joakim this time? From the lyrics we can clearly hear words like “Wehrmacht”, “Panzer Elite”and “Nazi Pride”. Some words that can only be linked to the German forces during WWII. But you probably figured that out already, didn’t you?

So now for a short summary on the 7th Panzer Division, also called the “Wehrmacht”. This was an elite formation of German armored forces. One of the Divisions that contributed to the invasion of France, the Soviet Union and the final counterattacks on the Eastern Front at the end of WWII.

General Erwin Rommel of the 7th Panzer Division.

General Erwin Rommel of the 7th Panzer Division.

After the successful invasion of Poland the lighter equipped divisions were criticized for having “Limited Effectiveness”. Therefore, in October 1939 the 2nd Light Division became the 7th Panzer Division. A division containing, among others, two panzer battalions, an artillery regiment and an anti-tank battalion.

The division was very fast and effective, because of the innovative German tanks, the ‘Panzers’. One of the reasons why this division was so very strong was the general: Erwin Rommel. A highly decorated officer who, at first, led the personal guards of Adolf Hitler. After hearing of the new Panzer Division he personally asked Hitler to be placed as commander of this unit. In February 1940 he was promoted to the commanding position.

Rommel drove to whatever point would be crucial to the division and the war to lead his men into victory. He believed that the most important place for a commander was “at the point of action”. Here a commander could do a better job than while holed up in a command center.

The creation of the "Wehrmacht". The 7th Panzer Division

The creation of the “Wehrmacht”. The 7th Panzer Division

Once the 7th Panzer Division was deeply involved in the Battle Of France, they earned a new name: ‘Ghost Division’. Another element was caused by their very fast movement. It made sure that very little people knew where they were at.

After the Battle Of France, the 7th Panzer Division was aimed at the Eastern Front and a new general was appointed, Hans von Funck. Under his command the ‘Ghost Division’ conquered a great deal of Russia, but were driven back after the battle of Stalingrad. While constantly being driven back, the Panzer Division just kept counterattacking.

A US poster making fun of Hitler, but showing the importance of his Panzers.

A US poster making fun of Hitler, but showing the importance of his Panzers.

In March 1945 they were pushed into a very nasty situation, but were evacuated oversees, leaving their equipment behind. Very little members of the “Ghost Division” made it out of the “Hel Peninsula”. The small group that made it were forced to surrender on their way back to Berlin in May 1945.

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