8th Division (German Empire)
The 8th Division was a unit of the Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

German Army (German Empire)
The German Army was the name given the combined land forces of the German Empire, also known as the National Army , Imperial Army or Imperial German Army. The term "Deutsches Heer" is also used for the modern German Army, the land component of the German Bundeswehr...

. It was formed in Erfurt
Erfurt is the capital city of Thuringia and the main city nearest to the geographical centre of Germany, located 100 km SW of Leipzig, 150 km N of Nuremberg and 180 km SE of Hannover. Erfurt Airport can be reached by plane via Munich. It lies in the southern part of the Thuringian...

 in November 1816 as a brigade and became a division on September 5, 1818. The division was subordinated in peacetime to the IV Army Corps
IV Corps (German Empire)
The IV Army Corps was a formation of the Imperial German Army. It was established on October 3, 1815 as the General Command in the Duchy of Saxony and became the IV Army Corps on August 30, 1818...

 (IV. Armeekorps). The division was disbanded in 1919 during the demobilization of the German Army after World War I. The division was recruited primarily in the Province of Saxony
Province of Saxony
The Province of Saxony was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia and later the Free State of Prussia from 1816 until 1945. Its capital was Magdeburg.-History:The province was created in 1816 out of the following territories:...

, also known as Prussian Saxony and the smaller states of the German Empire around Prussian Saxony.

Combat chronicle

The division fought in the Austro-Prussian War
Austro-Prussian War
The Austro-Prussian War was a war fought in 1866 between the German Confederation under the leadership of the Austrian Empire and its German allies on one side and the Kingdom of Prussia with its German allies and Italy on the...

 in 1866, including the Battle of Königgrätz
Battle of Königgrätz
The Battle of Königgrätz , also known as the Battle of Sadowa, Sadová, or Hradec Králové, was the decisive battle of the Austro-Prussian War, in which the Kingdom of Prussia defeated the Austrian Empire...

. In the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 of 1870-71, the division saw action in the battles of Beaumont
Battle of Beaumont
The Battle of Beaumont on August 30, 1870 was won by Prussia during the Franco-Prussian War.It was fought between Fifth French Corps d'Armee under General Pierre Louis Charles de Failly, and the IV and XII Army Corps under Prince George of Saxony The Battle of Beaumont on August 30, 1870 was won...

 and Sedan
Battle of Sedan
The Battle of Sedan was fought during the Franco-Prussian War on 1 September 1870. It resulted in the capture of Emperor Napoleon III and large numbers of his troops and for all intents and purposes decided the war in favour of Prussia and its allies, though fighting continued under a new French...

, and in the Siege of Paris
Siege of Paris
The Siege of Paris, lasting from September 19, 1870 – January 28, 1871, and the consequent capture of the city by Prussian forces led to French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War and the establishment of the German Empire as well as the Paris Commune....


The division was mobilized as the 8th Infantry Division in August 1914 and sent to the west
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

 for the opening campaigns of the war. It fought in the Battle of the Marne
First Battle of the Marne
The Battle of the Marne was a First World War battle fought between 5 and 12 September 1914. It resulted in an Allied victory against the German Army under Chief of Staff Helmuth von Moltke the Younger. The battle effectively ended the month long German offensive that opened the war and had...

 and then participated in the Race to the Sea
Race to the Sea
The Race to the Sea is a name given to the period early in the First World War when the two sides were still engaged in mobile warfare on the Western Front. With the German advance stalled at the First Battle of the Marne, the opponents continually attempted to outflank each other through...

. The division then spent time in the trenches, and fought in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. During the German Spring Offensive
Spring Offensive
The 1918 Spring Offensive or Kaiserschlacht , also known as the Ludendorff Offensive, was a series of German attacks along the Western Front during World War I, beginning on 21 March 1918, which marked the deepest advances by either side since 1914...

 of 1918, the division fought in the Battle of the Lys. The division was rated a first-class division with high morale by Allied intelligence.

Order of battle in the Franco-Prussian War

During wartime, the 8th Division, like other regular German divisions, was redesignated an infantry division. The organization of the 8th Infantry Division in 1870 at the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War was as follows:
  • 15. Infanterie Brigade
    • Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 31
    • Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 71
  • 16. Infanterie Brigade
    • Füsilier-Regiment Nr. 86
    • Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 96
  • Husaren-Regiment Nr. 12

Pre-World War I organization

German divisions underwent various organizational changes after the Franco-Prussian War. The 8th Division lost all of its original infantry regiments to other divisions and received replacement regiments. The organization of the division in 1914, shortly before the outbreak of World War I, was as follows:
  • 15.Infanterie-Brigade:
    • Füsilier-Regiment General-Feldmarschall Graf Blumenthal (1. Magdeburgisches) Nr. 36
    • Anhaltisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 93
  • 16.Infanterie-Brigade:
    • 4. Thüringisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 72
    • 8. Thüringisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 153
  • 8. Kavallerie-Brigade
    • Kürassier-Regiment von Seydlitz (Magdeburgisches) Nr. 7
    • Thüringisches Husaren-Regiment Nr. 12
  • 8. Feldartillerie-Brigade
    • Torgauer Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 74
    • Mansfelder Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 75
  • Landwehr-Inspektion Haale an der Saale

The 36th Fusilier Regiment and the 72nd Thuringian Infantry Regiment were recruited in Prussian Saxony. The 93rd Infantry was the regiment of the Duchy of Anhalt. The 153rd Thuringian Infantry Regiment was the regiment of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg, but also included a battalion from Prussian Saxony.

Order of battle on mobilization

On mobilization in August 1914 at the beginning of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, most divisional cavalry, including brigade headquarters, was withdrawn to form cavalry divisions or split up among divisions as reconnaissance units. Divisions received engineer companies and other support units from their higher headquarters. The 8th Division was again renamed the 8th Infantry Division. Its initial wartime organization was as follows:
  • 15.Infanterie-Brigade:
    • Füsilier-Regiment General-Feldmarschall Graf Blumenthal (1. Magdeburgisches) Nr. 36
    • Anhaltisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 93
    • Magdeburgisches Jäger-Bataillon Nr. 4
  • 16.Infanterie-Brigade:
    • 4. Thüringisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 72
    • 8. Thüringisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 153
  • "1/2" Magdeburgisches Husaren-Regiment Nr. 10
  • 8. Feldartillerie-Brigade:
    • Torgauer Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 74
    • Mansfelder Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 75
  • 2./Magdeburgisches Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 4
  • 3./Magdeburgisches Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 4

During the Battle of the Somme, the division was commanded by General der Infanterie Ernst II. Herzog von Sachsen-Altenburg.

Late World War I organization

Divisions underwent many changes during the war, with regiments moving from division to division, and some being destroyed and rebuilt. During the war, most divisions became triangular
Triangular division
A triangular division is a designation given to the way divisions are organized. In a triangular organization, the division's main body is composed of three regimental maneuver elements. These regiments may be controlled by a brigade headquarters or directly subordinated to the division commander...

 - one infantry brigade with three infantry regiments rather than two infantry brigades of two regiments (a "square division
Square division
A square division is a designation given to the way military divisions are organized. In a square organization, the division's main body is composed of four regimental elements. Since a regiment could be split into separate battalions for tactical purposes, the natural division within a division...

"). An artillery commander replaced the artillery brigade headquarters, the cavalry was further reduced, the engineer contingent was increased, and a divisional signals command was created. The 8th Infantry Division's order of battle on October 31, 1918 was as follows:
  • 16.Infanterie-Brigade:
    • 4. Thüringisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 72
    • Anhaltisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 93
    • 8. Thüringisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 153
  • 5.Eskadron/Magdeburgisches Husaren-Regiment Nr. 10
  • Artillerie-Kommandeur 8:
    • Torgauer Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 74
    • I.Bataillon/Reserve-Fußartillerie-Regiment Nr. 1
  • Stab Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 118:
    • 2./Magdeburgisches Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 4
    • 5./Magdeburgisches Pionier-Bataillon Nr. 4
    • Minenwerfer-Kompanie Nr. 8
  • Divisions-Nachrichten-Kommandeur 8

In Fiction

The German troops in the film Joyeux Noël, about the 1914 Christmas Truce
Christmas truce
Christmas truce was a series of widespread unofficial ceasefires that took place along the Western Front around Christmas of 1914, during the First World War...

, are depicted as the 93rd Regiment, belonging to 8th Division.
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