(German panzer, “armoured”) Self-contained military unit of the German army, built around the capabilities of armoured vehicles. In World War II, it consisted of a tank brigade with four battalions; a motorized infantry brigade with four rifle battalions; an artillery regiment; and reconnaissance, antitank, and military-engineering battalions and service units. Germany had six panzer divisions in 1939 and 20 by 1941. It remains the principal offensive element of the German army.
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The 5th Panzer Division (5. Panzer-Division) was created in 1938. It fought in Poland (1939), France (1940), the Balkans (1941), and the Russian Front, first with Army Group Center (1941 – 1944) and later with Army Group North. It surrendered to the Soviets near Danzig at war's end.
The 5th Panzer Division was a West German armored unit. Subordinate to the United States V Corps, it played a major role in the defense of West Germany from the Soviet Union during the Cold War; after the Soviet Union's fall, the division remained under American military control (administratively), and sent troops to Yugoslavia.
This unit was technically under NATO control, in case of a foreign power's attack on a NATO country (this unit might get involved in an attack of Germany, Belgium, France, or other nearby NATO countries). It was the largest foreign military unit subordinate to an American military unit.
As part of continuing reductions of the Bundesheer, the division was disbanded on 30 June 2001.