Created as 22.Infanterie-Division in 1935, one regiment participated in the invasion of Poland; the rest of the division stayed in garrison on the West Wall in case of a preemptive French attack. The division retrained as 22.Luftlande-Infanterie-Division (Air Landing Infantry Division) for rapid tactical deployment to captured enemy airbases and performed in that role during the invasion of the Netherlands suffering heavy losses, and afterward advanced into France operating as ordinary ground infantry. Though planned for use in its air-landing role for the Battle of Crete, it was replaced by another division at the last minute. It joined Army Group South in Operation Barbarossa (1941), attacking from Romania and, operating exclusively as ordinary ground infantry, helped storm Sevastopol in the Crimea (1942).
The unit was thereafter transferred to Crete for garrison duty and mop-up operations in the Aegean, playing a major role in the Battle of Leros. On 26 April 1944 the divisional commander, Generalmajor Heinrich Kreipe, was abducted by a British Special Operations Executive team led by Major Patrick Leigh Fermor. Kreipe's car was ambushed on the way from Knossos to the divisional headquarters at Ano Arkhanais and he was taken cross-country over the mountains to the south coast where they were picked up by a British vessel near Rodakino 14 May. This operation was later portrayed in the novel and the film Ill Met by Moonlight (1957).
Withdrawn to the mainland in 1944, the 22.Luftlande-Infanterie-Division spent the rest of the war in anti-partisan operations in southeastern Europe. Renamed 22.Volksgrenadier-Division in March 1945, and was captured by Yugoslav forces in May.
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