The German 212th Infantry Division was raised in August 1939 and remained on garrison duty in Germany until March 1941, when it spent three months as a coastal defence unit along the English channel. In November 1941 it was transferred to the Eastern front where it joined Army Group North near Leningrad and along the Volkhov front. It continued with Army Group North until the summer of 1944, when it had been pushed back to Lithuania and was transferred to the control of Army Group Centre. The division was destroyed there in August or September, and the survivors were immediately reconstituted as the 578th Volksgrenadier Division, which was renamed as 212th Volksgrenadier Division almost as soon as it had been formed in October 1944 from the partially formed from the 578 Volksgrenadier-Division It fought on the Western Front suffering heavy losses during the Battle of the Bulge and at the Siegfried Line, it surrendered to the US forces at the end of the war. In November 1944 the 212th Volksgrenadier Division was moved west and joined the Seventh Army across the Sauer from Echternach. It was commanded by Generalleutnant Franz Sensfuss. It was at full-strength and its morale was high. However, like many of the other Volksgrenadier division is only had a portion of it armoured vehicle allocation. Just five StuG assault guns were available. It also only had two of its three infantry regiments available at the start of the Ardennes offensive as the third had been put in the Seventh Army reserve. The initial attacks on 16 December 1944 went well from Echternach towards Berdorf, Dickweiler and Osweiler. The Volksgrenadiers were well behind the American lines before the command of the US 4th Infantry Division were able to react. Echternach was finally taken on 17 December after Sensfuss personally led an assault by the 212. Füsilier Bataillon. The division also took Berdorf the same day, forcing a task force of the US 10th Armoured Division out of the village after bitter fighting. As more units of Patton’s US Third Army began to arrive the Volksgrenadiers were forced over to the defence. They hung on to their gains, but were eventually forced to retire and were back on their start positions by the end of January 1945.
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