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The Panzer-Division Hermann Göring was formed May 1943 when Division Hermann Göring was reformed. It was sent to Sicily to fight the expected Allied landings. 

Following Operation Husky (the Allied landings on Sicily on 10 July) most of the Italians unit quickly surrendered and the division was one of the few reliable Axis formations that remained. It fought at Gela and Priolo but it was forces back due to the navy naval bombings thus it fought ferociously. It continued fighting a defensive battle while the German forces were evacuated from Sicily (Operation Lehrgang) and was among the last units to leave Sicily.

It was stationed near Naples when the Italian government surrendered to the Allies and it was used to disarm the Italian troops in the Salerno area. The Allies landed at Salerio on 9 September and the division was one of the German units that fought the Allies. It performed a fighting withdrawal from Salerno and later from Naples (1 October) and the Volturno-Termoli Line (16 October). It retreated with the rest of the German troops to the Gustav Line and was removed from the front lines where it was replaced by infantry troops.

Troops from the division, led by Oberstleutnant Julius Schlegel (initially without the knowledge of the commander of the division), moved the treasures of the Monte Cassino Monastery (including paintings (da Vinci, Titian, Raphael etc), the remains of St. Benedict, 70.000 volumes and 1.200 original documents) from the monastery to safety in the Vatican, thus saving them from destruction during the battle of Monte Cassino. Schlegel was to spend seven months in Allied prisons after the war as a suspected looter and war criminal before being freed by Field Marshal Alexander and the testimony of the Monte Cassino munks.

When the Allies landed at Anzio on 22 January 1944 the division was fighting at the Gustav Line but it was one of the units rushed in, with the parts of the division which had remained in Rome was among the first to arrive. It fought ferociously at Cisterna and the Germans managed to fight the Allies to a virtual standstill.

It was redesignated Fallschirm-Panzer-Division Hermann Göring in April 1944.


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Photographic Archives

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