The German 4th Panzer Division was established in 1938. It participated in the 1939 invasion of Poland, the 1940 invasion of France, and the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union. It remained on the Eastern Front, mainly under Army Group Centre, until it was trapped on the coast at Courland in the summer of 1944. It was evacuated by sea and returned to the main front in West Prussia in January 1945. It surrendered to the Soviets there at the end of the war. During the Polish campaign the division engaged in a series of massacres against the civilian population and POW's.