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As the number of German troops committed to the North African Campaign of World War II grew from the initial commitment of a small corps the Germans developed a more elaborate command structure and placed the enlarged Afrika Korps, with Italian units under this new German command and a succession of commands were created to manage Axis forces in Africa:

  • Panzer Group Africa, (Panzergruppe Afrika, Gruppo Corazzato Africa) August 1941 – January 1942; German-Italian force
  • Panzer Army Africa, (Panzerarmee Afrika, Armata Corazzata Africa) January–October 1942
  • German-Italian Panzer Army, (Deutsch-Italienische Panzerarmee, Armata Corazzata Italo-Tedesca) October 1942 – February 1943
  • Army Group Africa, (Heeresgruppe Afrika, Gruppo d'Armate Africa) February–May 1943

Panzer Group AfricaEdit

When the Afrika Korps was formed on 11 January 1941 it was officially subordinated to the Italian chain of command in Africa. In the middle of 1941 the German Armed Forces High Command (German acronym OKW) created a larger command structure in Africa, forming a new headquarters called Panzer Group Africa (Panzergruppe Afrika, Gruppo Corazzato Africa). On 15 August 1941, Panzer Group Africa was activated with newly promoted General der Panzertruppe Erwin Rommel in command. The Panzer Group controlled the Afrika Korps plus some additional units that were sent to Africa (notably the 90th Light Infantry Division), as well as two Italian corps, X and XX.

Panzer Army AfricaEdit

Panzer Group Africa was redesignated as Panzer Army Africa (Panzerarmee Afrika, Armata Corazzata Africa) on 30 January 1942.[1]

German-Italian Panzer ArmyEdit

Panzer Army Africa was redesignated as German-Italian Panzer Army (Deutsch-Italienische Panzerarmee, Armata Corazzata Italo-Tedesca) in October 1942 during the long retreat after the defeat at the Second Battle of El Alamein during the Western Desert Campaign.

Army Group AfricaEdit

In February 1943, the headquarters was upgraded to Army Group Africa (Heeresgruppe Afrika, Gruppo d'Armate Africa) to manage the defense of Tunisia during the final stages of the North African Campaign. Army Group Africa included the German Fifth Panzer Army (5. Panzerarmee) and the Italian 1st Army.

Command of the Army Group was turned over from Rommel to Hans-Jürgen von Arnim in March. He surrendered the Army Group on 13 May 1943, ending the Axis presence in Africa.

Order of battleEdit

Throughout its existence, this headquarters controlled the well-known Afrika Korps, and for most of its life it controlled a number of other German and Italian units as well.[2] The following overview of its assets is taken from, with dates corrected (see references).

Order of battle of Panzer Group AfricaEdit

Panzer Group Africa (Rommel)

Order of battle of Panzer Army AfricaEdit

Panzer Army Africa (Rommel)

Order of battle of the German-Italian Panzer ArmyEdit

German-Italian Panzer Army (Rommel)

Order of battle of Army Group AfricaEdit

From February 1943:


No. Commander Took office Left office Time in office
1Rommel, ErwinGeneraloberst
Erwin Rommel
1 September 19419 March 1942189 days
2Crüwell, LudwigGeneral der Panzertruppe
Ludwig Crüwell
9 March 194219 March 194210 days
(1)Rommel, ErwinGeneralfeldmarschall
Erwin Rommel
19 March 194222 September 1942187 days
3Stumme, GeorgGeneral der Panzertruppe
Georg Stumme
22 September 194224 October 1942 †32 days
-Thoma, WilhelmGeneralleutnant
Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma
24 October 194225 October 19421 day
(1)Rommel, ErwinGeneralfeldmarschall
Erwin Rommel
25 October 194226 November 194232 days
4Fehn, GustavGeneral der Panzertruppe
Gustav Fehn
26 November 19422 December 19426 days
(1)Rommel, ErwinGeneralfeldmarschall
Erwin Rommel
2 December 194222 February 194382 days
5Arnim, HansGeneraloberst
Hans-Jürgen von Arnim
10 March 194313 May 194364 days

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ A German Panzer group was an army-level headquarters. As the war progressed all of the Panzer groups were redesignated as Panzer armies.
  2. ^ Notice that at no time were all the German units in Africa subordinate to the Afrika Korps; some were reserves for the Panzer Army, and some were occasionally subordinated to Italian armies or corps.