The 65th Infantry Division during World War II

In 1985, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the US Army's Center of Military History began a program to honor US Army divisions that took part in the liberation of Nazi camps. To date, 36 divisions, including the 65th Infantry Division, have been recognized as liberating units.

65th Infantry Division Campaigns during World War II

Established in 1943, the 65th Infantry Division landed at the French port of Le Havre in late January 1945. The "Battle Axe" division was subsequently deployed to the German border in March, when it crossed both the Saar and Rhine rivers. In April, the unit turned southward, advancing into Bavaria, where it took the city of Regensburg and the town of Passau in early May. Shortly thereafter, it drove into Austria and captured the city of Linz on May 5. When the war ended in Europe, the "Battle Axe" division had made contact with Soviet armed forces.

The 65th Infantry Division and the Liberation of Flossenbürg

While advancing through Bavaria, the 65th overran a subcamp of the Flossenbürg concentration camp on April 20–21, 1945.

Recognition as a Liberating Unit

The 65th Infantry Division was recognized as a liberating unit by the US Army's Center of Military History and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1994.

65th Infantry Casualty Figures

Casualty figures for the 65th Infantry Division, European theater of operations:

  • Total battle casualties: 1,230
  • Total deaths in battle: 260

65th Infantry Division Nickname

The 65th Infantry Division was nicknamed the "Battle Axe" after the divisional insignia, a halbert (an axe on a pole), used to cut through the enemy during medieval times.

Insignia of the 65th Infantry Division

Critical Thinking Questions

  • What challenges did Allied forces face when they encountered the camps and sites of other atrocities?
  • What challenges faced survivors of the Holocaust upon liberation?

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