Formed on April 1st 1938, the division were based in Innsbruck, drawing most of its
recruits from the Tyrol region of Austria.
Serving under the Army Group South, the division first saw action during the invasion of Poland before being deployed to Norway in 1940. During Operation Weserübung, the 2nd Gebirgsjäger Division carried out a cross-country march to support the 3rd Division, who were under-siege from British forces during the Battle of Narvik.
Following the operation, the division was amalgamated into the Gebirgskorps Norwegen, beofre being transported to Lapland for Operation Silberfuchs (Silver Fox) in the Soviet Arctic. Despite numerous attacks pushing towards Murmansk, the unit was unsuccesseful against superior Soviet numbers. The division remained serving in the Arctic region until late 1944, when Finland negotiated an armistice with the Soviet Union known as the Moscow Armistice.
The 2nd Gebirsjäger division was forced to withdraw back to Norway, facing fierce Soviet resistance during the retreat. Once returning to mainland Europe, its strength was depleted with recruitment replenishing its original strength.
In 1945, the division was redeployed to the Western Front, seeing action in Saar-Moselle against US forces. Generalleutnant Hans Degen, the division commander was wounded in action during this period, bringing about his replacement, Generalleutnant Willibald Utz. Although considered an elite unit during the early war phases, by 1945 the division was below strength and lacked combat effectiveness, finishing the war in Württemberg after surrendering to the Western Allies.
Original footage of Gebirgsjäger during WWII. (Video credited to German History Archive).