The Info List - Gotthard Heinrici

World War I

German invasion of Belgium First Battle of the Masurian Lakes Battle of Łódź Battle of Verdun

World War II

Battle of France Operation Barbarossa

Battle of Białystok–Minsk Battle of Smolensk (1941) Battle of Moscow

Battle of the Orsha Operation Bagration Battle of the Dukla Pass Battle of Berlin

Battle of the Seelow Heights

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Iron Cross
with Oak Leaves and Swords

Relations Georg Heinrici (uncle) Gerd von Rundstedt
Gerd von Rundstedt

Gotthard Heinrici
Gotthard Heinrici
(25 December 1886 – 10 December 1971)[1] was a German general during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Iron Cross
with Oak Leaves and Swords of Nazi Germany. Heinrici was the commander-in-chief of the Army Group Vistula, remnants of Army Group Centre, in front of Berlin
in April 1945.


1 Early life and career 2 World War II

2.1 Retreat from the Oder 2.2 Dismissal

3 Post-war 4 Assessment 5 Awards 6 References

6.1 Citations 6.2 Bibliography

7 External links

Early life and career[edit] Heinrici was born in 1886 in East Prussia, the son of a minister of the (Protestant) Evangelical Church in Germany. Following graduation from secondary school in 1905, he joined the army on 8 March 1905 as a cadet in an infantry division. From 1905 to 1906, Heinrici attended a war school. During World War I, Heinrici fought in the German invasion of Belgium and earned the Iron Cross
Iron Cross
2nd Class in September 1914. Heinrici's division was then transferred to the Eastern Front. There, he fought in the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes
First Battle of the Masurian Lakes
and the Battle of Łódź, receiving the Iron Cross
Iron Cross
1st Class in July 1915.[2] In May 1916, Heinrici took part in the Battle of Verdun. Beginning in September 1916, he served in General Staff
General Staff
positions with the XXIV Reserve Corps and the 115th Infantry Division.[3] In March 1917, Heinrici was posted to the German General Staff. In September, he attended a General Staffs officer training course, and later served as a staff officer with VII Corps and the VIII Corps. In February 1918, Heinrici was posted to an infantry division, serving as a staff officer responsible for operations. In this position, he was awarded the Prussian Knight's Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern with Swords in August 1918.[3] Heinrici had two children, Hartmut and Gisela, with his wife Gertrude.[4] Because Heinrici's wife Gertrude had a Jewish parent, their children were labelled Mischlinge (partly Jewish) under Nazi racial law. However, Heinrici received a "German Blood Certificate" from Hitler himself, which validated their supposed "Aryan" status and protected them from discrimination. World War II[edit] During the Battle of France, Heinrici's command was part of General Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb's Army Group C. He commanded the XII Army Corps which was part of the 1st Army. Heinrici's forces succeeded in breaking through the Maginot Line
Maginot Line
on 14 June 1940. In 1941, during Operation Barbarossa, Heinrici served in the 4th Army under Günther von Kluge
Günther von Kluge
as the commanding general of the XXXXIII Army Corps. He received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Iron Cross
in 1941. Late in January 1942, Heinrici was given command of the 4th Army. Heinrici was awarded the Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross on 24 November 1943. Later in 1943 he refused to obey an order to destroy the city of Smolensk by fire before the German army’s retreat, and he was temporarily dismissed from his post as commander In the summer of 1944, after eight months of enforced retirement, Heinrici was sent to Hungary
and placed in command of the 1st Panzer Army; as well as the Hungarian First Army
Hungarian First Army
which was attached to it. He was able to keep the First Panzer Army relatively intact as it retreated into Slovakia. Heinrici was awarded the Swords to the Oak Leaves of his Knight's Cross on 3 March 1945. Retreat from the Oder[edit]

Field Marshall Günther von Kluge
Günther von Kluge
(left) and Heinrici, mid 1943

On 20 March 1945, Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
replaced Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
with Heinrici as Commander-in-Chief of Army Group Vistula
Army Group Vistula
on the Eastern Front. Indicating that he was ill, Himmler had abandoned his post on 13 March and retired to a sanatorium at Hohenlychen.[5] At this time, Army Group Vistula's front was less than 50 miles from Berlin. Army Group Vistula
Army Group Vistula
consisted of two armies: the 3rd Panzer Army
3rd Panzer Army
led by General Hasso von Manteuffel
Hasso von Manteuffel
and the 9th Army led by General Theodor Busse. Heinrici was tasked with preventing a Soviet attack across the Oder River
Oder River
amid shortages of manpower and material. Only the terrain itself favoured Heinrici; he dug the 9th Army into three defensive lines atop Seelow Heights, overlooking the sandy, swampy banks of the Oder. Manteuffel's 3rd Panzer Army, which had fewer panzers than the 9th, was similarly positioned in the north to delay a possible flanking strike by Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky's 2nd Byelorussian Front. On 16 April the Battle of the Oder-Neisse
Battle of the Oder-Neisse
began. The Soviets attacked with about 1,500,000 men for what they called the " Berlin
Offensive Operation".[6] During the Battle of Berlin, Heinrici withdrew his troops westward and made no attempt to defend the city. By late April, Heinrici ordered the retreat of his army group across the Oder River. Hitler only became aware of the retreat of Army Group Vistula
Army Group Vistula
around 21 April, after a puzzling request by Heinrici, who sought permission to move his headquarters to a new site, which was further west than Berlin. Dismissal[edit] On 28 April Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, commander-in-chief of the Wehrmacht, was riding along the roads north of Berlin
when he noticed that troops of the 7th Panzer Division and of the 25th Panzergrenadier Division were marching north, away from Berlin. These troops were part of General Hasso von Manteuffel's 3rd Panzer Army. As one of the two armies which made up Heinrici's Army Group Vistula, it was supposed to be on its way to Berlin. Instead, Heinrici was moving it northward in an attempt to halt the Soviet breakthrough at Neubrandenburg, contrary to orders of Keitel and his deputy, General Alfred Jodl. Keitel located Heinrici on a road near Neubrandenburg, accompanied by Manteuffel. The encounter resulted in a heated confrontation that lead to Heinrici's dismissal by 29 April for disobeying orders.[7] Heinrici was replaced by General Kurt Student.[8] General Kurt von Tippelskirch was named as Heinrici's interim replacement until Student could arrive and assume control of Army Group Vistula. Student was captured by the British before he could take command.[9] The rapidly deteriorating situation that the Germans faced meant that Army Group Vistula coordination of the armies under its nominal command during the last few days of the war was of little significance.[10] Heinrici was dismissed by Keitel for refusing to save Hitler. He was summoned to Berlin
and would have decided to do so had Captain Hellmuth Lang not persuaded him to "drive as slowly as you can" to Plön
instead, informing him that he would be murdered in Berlin
like Rommel (who had been Heinrici's adjutant, and later Lang's commander).[11][12] Heinrici then gave himself up to British forces on 28 May. Post-war[edit] After his capture, Heinrici was held at Island Farm, a British prisoner of war camp at Bridgend, South Wales, where he remained, except for a three-week transfer to a camp in the United States in October 1947, until his release on 19 May 1948.[13] After the war, Heinrici's diary entries and letters were collected into a book entitled Morals and behaviour here are like those in the Thirty Years’ War. The First Year of the German-Soviet War as Shown in the Papers of Gen. Gotthard Heinrici. He was also featured prominently in Cornelius Ryan's 1966 book, The Last Battle. Heinrici died in 1971 and was buried with full military honors at the Bergäcker cemetery in Freiburg im Breisgau. Assessment[edit] Married to a half-Jewish (Mischling) himself,[14] Heinrici supported many Nazi policies including the Lebensraum concept.[15][16]. On the eve of Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Heinrici, on receiving the Commissar Order, justified it as easing pressure on the front lines through the exercise of "preventive terror" in the rear.[17] As a military commander, historians described him as the premier defensive expert of the Wehrmacht
and a genius admired by his peers, although little-known today because he was, in the words of Samuel W. Mitcham, "as charismatic as a 20-pound sack of fertilizer".[18][19][20] Awards[edit]

Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Iron Cross
with Oak Leaves and Swords

Knight's Cross on 18 September 1941 as General der Infanterie and commanding General of XXXXIII Army Corps[21] Oak Leaves on 24 November 1943 as Generaloberst
and Commander-in-Chief of the 4th Army[21] Swords on 3 March 1945 as Generaloberst
and Commander-in-Chief of the 1st Panzer Army[21]

Prussian Royal House Order of Hohenzollern, Knight's Cross with Swords (9 August 1918) Prussian Iron Cross
Iron Cross
of 1914: 2nd Class (27 September 1914) & 1st Class (24 July 1915)[22] 1939 Clasp to the Iron Cross: 2nd Class (13 May 1940) & 1st Class (16 June 1940)[22]

References[edit] Citations[edit]

^ Hürter 2014, p. 10. ^ Stockert 1998, p. 151, 152. ^ a b Stockert 1998, p. 152. ^ Rigg 2002, p. 433. ^ Duffy 1991, p. 241. ^ Beevor 2002, p. 287. ^ Dollinger 1967, p. 171. ^ Beevor 2002, p. 338. ^ Dollinger 1967, p. 228. ^ Ziemke 1969, p. 128. ^ Mitcham, Samuel (2012). Hitler's Commanders: Officers of the Wehrmacht, the Luftwaffe, the Kriegsmarine, and the Waffen-SS. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 69. ISBN 9781442211544.  ^ Ryan, Cornelius (1966). The last battle. Simon and Schuster. pp. 507–508. ISBN 9781473620087.  ^ www.specialcamp11.co.uk ^ Rigg, Bryan Mark (2002). Hitler's Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military. University Press of Kansas. p. 171. ISBN 9780700611782.  ^ Hürter, Johannes (Jan 1, 2007). Hitlers Heerführer: Die deutschen Oberbefehlshaber im Krieg gegen die Sowjetunion 1941/42. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 154–155. ISBN 9783486707441.  ^ Steber, Martina; Gotto, Bernhard (May 8, 2014). Visions of Community in Nazi Germany: Social Engineering and Private Lives. OUP Oxford. pp. 261–262. ISBN 9780191003738.  ^ Stargardt, Nicholas (2015). The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939-45. London: Random House. p. 171. ISBN 1473523737.  ^ Mitcham 2012, pp. 66--67. ^ Papadopoulos, Randy; Zabecki, David T. (2015). World War II
World War II
in Europe: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. p. 338. ISBN 9781135812423.  ^ WWII: Time-Life History of the Second World War. Barnes & Noble Books. 1989. p. 414. ISBN 9781566199841.  ^ a b c Scherzer 2007, p. 377. ^ a b Thomas 1997, p. 263.


Beevor, Antony (2002). Berlin
– The Downfall 1945. Viking-Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-670-03041-5.  Dollinger, Hans (1967) [1965]. The Decline and Fall of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. New York: Bonanza Books. ISBN 978-0-517-01313-7.  Duffy, Christopher (1991). Red Storm on the Reich: The Soviet March On Germany, 1945. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-80505-9.  Evans, Richard J. (2008). The Third Reich at War. New York: Penguin Group. ISBN 978-0-14-311671-4.  Frieser, Karl-Heinz; Schmider, Klaus; Schönherr, Klaus; Schreiber, Gerhard; Ungváry, Kristián; Wegner, Bernd (2007). Die Ostfront 1943/44 – Der Krieg im Osten und an den Nebenfronten [The Eastern Front 1943–1944: The War in the East and on the Neighbouring Fronts]. Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg
Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg
[Germany and the Second World War] (in German). VIII. München: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt. ISBN 978-3-421-06235-2.  Hürter, Johannes (2014). A German General on the Eastern Front. The Letters and Diaries of Gotthard Heinrici
Gotthard Heinrici
1941–1942. Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Military. ISBN 978-1-78159-396-7.  Rigg, Bryan Mark (2002). Hitler's Jewish soldiers: the untold story of Nazi racial laws and men of Jewish descent in the German military. Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1178-9.  Ryan, Cornelius (1995). Slutstriden. Slaget om Berlin
16 april - 2 maj 1945. Stockholm, Sweden: Albert Bonniers Förlag. ISBN 978-91-0-056032-4.  Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Iron Cross
1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.  Stockert, Peter (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 4 [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 4] (in German). Bad Friedrichshall, Germany: Friedrichshaller Rundblick. ISBN 978-3-932915-03-1.  Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6.  Ziemke, Earl F. (1969). Battle for Berlin
End of the Third Reich Ballantine's Illustrated History of World War II
World War II
(Battle Book #6). Ballantine Books. 

External links[edit]

Gotthard Heinrici
Gotthard Heinrici
in the German National Library
German National Library
catalogue Ullrich, Volker (7 September 2013). "Orgien der Gewalt" [Orgies of Violence: The records of General Gotthard Heinrici
Gotthard Heinrici
shed new light on the role of the German military elite in the war of annihilation against the Soviet Union]. Die Zeit
Die Zeit
(in German). ISSN 0044-2070. Retrieved 15 February 2016.  "Die deutschen Heeresgruppen Teil 2, Zweiter Weltkrieg". German Federal Archives - Freiburg im Breisgau. Retrieved 15 February 2016. 

Military offices

Preceded by Generalleutnant Gerhard Glokke Commander of 16. Infanterie-Division 12 October 1937 – 31 January 1940 Succeeded by Generalleutnant Heinrich Krampf

Preceded by General der Gebirgstruppe Ludwig Kübler Commander of 4. Armee 20 January 1942 – 6 June 1942 Succeeded by Generaloberst
Hans von Salmuth

Preceded by Generaloberst
Hans von Salmuth Commander of 4. Armee 15 July 1942 – June 1943 Succeeded by Generaloberst
Hans von Salmuth

Preceded by Generaloberst
Hans von Salmuth Commander of 4. Armee 31 July 1943 – 4 June 1944 Succeeded by General der Infantrie Kurt von Tippelskirch

Preceded by Generaloberst
Erhard Raus Commander of 1. Panzerarmee 15 August 1944 – 19 March 1945 Succeeded by Generaloberst
Walther Nehring

Preceded by Reichsführer-SS
Heinrich Himmler Commander of Army Group Vistula 20 March 1945 – 28 April 1945 Succeeded by General der Infantrie Kurt von Tippelskirch

v t e

German Colonel Generals and General Admirals of Nazi Germany

Colonel General (Generaloberst) of the Army

Wilhelm Adam Hans-Jürgen von Arnim Ludwig Beck Johannes Blaskowitz Eduard Dietl Friedrich Dollmann Nikolaus von Falkenhorst Johannes Frießner Werner von Fritsch Friedrich Fromm Heinz Guderian Curt Haase Franz Halder Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord Josef Harpe Gotthard Heinrici Walter Heitz Carl Hilpert Erich Hoepner Karl-Adolf Hollidt Hermann Hoth Hans-Valentin Hube Erwin Jaenecke Alfred Jodl Georg Lindemann Eberhard von Mackensen Erhard Raus Georg-Hans Reinhardt Lothar Rendulic Richard Ruoff Hans von Salmuth Rudolf Schmidt Eugen Ritter von Schobert Adolf Strauss Karl Strecker Heinrich von Vietinghoff Walter Weiß Kurt Zeitzler

Colonel General (Generaloberst) of the Luftwaffe

Otto Deßloch Ulrich Grauert Hans Jeschonnek Alfred Keller Günther Korten Bruno Loerzer Alexander Löhr Günther Rüdel Kurt Student Hans-Jürgen Stumpff Ernst Udet Hubert Weise

General Admiral (Generaladmiral) of the Kriegsmarine

Conrad Albrecht Hermann Boehm Rolf Carls Hans-Georg von Friedeburg Oskar Kummetz Wilhelm Marschall Alfred Saalwächter Otto Schniewind Otto Schultze Walter Warzecha Karl Witzell

Oberst-Gruppenführer of the SS

Kurt Daluege Sepp Dietrich Paul Hausser Franz Xaver Schwarz

Authority control

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