||This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2012)|
6 June 1891|
|Died||12 June 1944
|Allegiance|| German Empire (to 1918)
Weimar Republic (to 1933)
|Years of service||1910 – 1944|
|Rank||General der Artillerie|
|Unit||German LXXXIV Army Corps|
|Battles/wars||World War I
World War II
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Erich Marcks (June 6, 1891 – June 12, 1944) was a German general of artillery in World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Early life and career 
Born in Schöneberg, Marcks was the son of the famous German historian Erich Marcks and his wife Friederike, née von Sellin. He began advanced studies in philosophy in Freiburg in 1909 and excelled in all subjects, especially with Professor Heinrich Rickert, a Neo- Kantian, who chose him as his Teaching Assistant. Against his professor's recommendation, Marcks broke off his studies after only three semesters and became a career officer of the Imperial German Army in October 1910. In the early 1930s, he was assigned as the chief of public affairs for the armed forces minister.
First World War 
On October 1, 1910, Erich Marcks joined the Army of what was back then the Kingdom of Wurtemberg as an Officer Cadet and served with No 3 Battery, 5. Badischen Feld-Artillerie-Regiment No 76. On December 11, 1911 he was promoted to Sublieutenant of Artillery and transferred to Schleswigsches Feldartillerie-Regiment „Generalfeldmarschall Graf Waldersee“ No 9. After the begin of the Great War, he was deployed to the Western Front as Battalion Aide de Camp (Abteilungs-Adjutant) of Reserve-Feldartillerie-Regiment 17. During the battles in the west, he was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class. Badly wounded on September 3, 1914, he spent the next year in military hospitals. He was selected for General Staff Officer's Training and after completion of the necessary courses, was transferred to the Imperial General Staff Corps (Grosser Generalstab) in 1917. Efficient and hard working, he was awarded The Iron Cross First Class and was posted to the German Supreme Command (Oberste Heeresleitung). On October 18, 1918, he was promoted to Captain in the General Staff Corps (Hauptmann im Generalstab). After the Armistice, he fought with the Freikorps "Epp" against communist insurgents and was selected or the Army of the German Republic (Reichsheer). The new Reichsheer was limited to a 100.000 soldiers and was denied a General Staff, therefore in spring 1920, Marcks was transferred to Counter Intelligence and served with Reichswehr-Gruppenkommando 1, the Army High Command in Berlin. In October 1921, he was transferred to the Ministry of Defense (Reichswehrministerium) and served with Heeresabteilung (T 1) beim Truppenamt (TA) during 1924 and 1925. On October 1, 1925 he was transferred to the staff of 3rd Reichswehr Division as Executive Officer. 1927/28 he served as Battery Commander of 14th (mounted) Battery of 3rd (prussian) Artillery Regiment. On October 1, 1929 he was transferred back to the Reichswehrministerium in Berlin, where he served as head of the new founded press group of the Wehrmachtsabteilung (W). On December 1, 1929, he was promoted to Major. Having served in the inner cercles of power due to his work as the public affairs officer for chancellors Franz von Papen and former fellow officer and close friend Kurt von Schleicher, he was very pessimistic about Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. On April 1, 1933, after Hitler had come to power, he was transferred from the Ministry as having been too close to adversaries of the Nazis and took command of 1st Battalion, Artillery Regiment 6 (1. Abteilung vom Artillerie-Regiment 6). Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on October 1, 1933, his apartment was searched during the Night of the Long Knives due to his friendship with Kurt von Schleicher who was murdered together with his wife by the SS. Marcks, who had avoided arrest by temporarily moving to a friend's summer house called the event a water shed to tyranny. Nonetheless promoted to Full Colonel on September 1, 1935, he from October 1, 1935 on, served as Chief of Staff of VIII Corps. On April 1, 1939 he was promoted to Brigadier General (Generalmajor). He was very pessimistic about the prospect of a war and privately called Hitler's politics irresponsible, dangerous and criminal.
World War II 
As Chief of Staff VIII Corps, he took part in the attack on Poland. His excellent work, calm under stress and duress resulted in his promotion to Chief of Staff 18th Army (18. Armee). On this post, he took part in the Battle of France (Westfeldzug). During the 1940 Campaign in France, while serving as chief of staff of the 18th Army, Marcks altered German plans so as to prevent the bombardment of the city of Bruges and bombardment of bridges in Paris. He believed that the historical significance of these sites required their preservation, even in time of war. After the successful end of the campaign in France, Marcks was assigned to the working groups for the initial invasion plans of the Soviet Union. Very pessimistic about the Russian potential with his warnings unheard, he requested transfer to a combat leadership position and on December 10, 1940 received command of 101. Light Infantry Division (101. leichte Infanterie-Division ernannt). Promoted to Lieutenant General on March 1, he successfully led his Division during the Balkans Campaign. Known as a commander who led from the very front line, he was well liked by his troops and gave orders to respect the needs of the civilian population as well as avoid collateral damages to infrastructure and sites of historical significance as much as possible. In summer 1941, his Division was transferred to the build up for Operation Barbarossa, the Invasion of Russia. Two of his three sons would subsequently lose their lives during the Russo-German War. Taking part in Operation Barbarossa as the commander of the 101st Jäger Division, he was badly wounded during the battles of Medyka in Ukraine on June 26, 1941, resulting in the loss of a leg. In hospital, he was awarded the Wound Badge, gold class (Verwundetenabzeichen in Gold) and the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes). After almost a year of convalescence, his leg replaced with a wooden prothesis, he was placed in the reserves (Führerreserve) and could have avoided front line service for the rest of the war. Still, against the wishes of his wife, Marcks lobbied heavily for a posting on the front and returned to active duty despite his disability, commanding the 337th Infantry Division in Paris, from March 25, 1942 until September 20, 1942, when he was made Commanding General of LXVI Army Corps at Clermont-Ferrand. Promoted to General of the Artillery (General der Artillerie) on October 1, 1942 he was appointed Commanding General of LXXXVII Army Corps in northern Brittany. When his Corps was transferred to Italy on August 1, 1943 he was appointed to his final assignment, LXXXIV Army Corps. From June 6, 1944 on, he led his Corps during the battles for the Contentin Peninsula against the Allies' Normandy Invasion. He was one of the few Wehrmacht generals who believed an invasion in Normandy was a serious possibility and who tried to raise awareness concerning this possible theater of operations. The D-Day invasion took place on his 53rd birthday during the worst storms in years. His suspicions of the true intention of the Allies to land at Normandy, and his birthday, are dramatized in the film The Longest Day. While on a daily round of troop unit inspections, he was mortally wounded on 12 June 1944 by an Allied fighter-bomber attack near Hébécrevon (near Marigny), several kilometers northwest of Saint-Lô. A projectile of 20mm attained General Marcks to the upright groin dividing thus an artery. His driver, who remained unharmed couldn't do anything to help, but carry him to a nearby ditch to protect him from further strafing. Erich Marcks died of the hemorrhage around 09.45hrs. General Marcks is buried in the Marigny War Cemetery, Block 2, Grave 1478. He shares a headstone with Gefreiter Gebhart Eberhard, his longtime batman, who was killed in an air raid on the very same day. Posthumously, he was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (June 24, 1944) and mentioned in the dispatches (Nennung im Wehrmachtsbericht).
'He was of Spartan-like, old Prussian simplicity', wrote one of his admiring officers. On one occasion, when whipped cream was served at dinner, he said, 'I do not wish to see this again as long as our country is starving'.
- Iron Cross (1914)
- 2nd Class
- 1st Class
- Wound Badge (1914)
- in Black
- Hanseatic Cross of Hamburg
- Cross of Honor
- Wehrmacht Long Service Award 4th to 2nd Classes
- Clasp to the Iron Cross
- 2nd Class (21 September 1939)
- 1st Class (29 September 1939)
- Wound Badge (1939)
- in Gold
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht on 13 June 1944
Reference in the Wehrmachtbericht 
|Date||Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording||Direct English translation|
|14 June 1944||Der kommandierende General eines Armeekorps, General der Artillerie Marcks, der tapferer Verteidiger der Halbinsel Cherbourg, fand bei den schweren Kämpfen in vorderster Linie der Heldentod.||The commanding general of an Army Corps, General der Artillerie Marcks, the brave defender of the Cherbourg Peninsula, found a hero's death in the heavy fighting at the front line.|
In popular culture 
Footnotes and References 
Article Sources 
- Das Deutsche Heer 1939-1945, Wolf Keilig, Part 211, Page 211. Bad Nauheim: Podzun Verlag, 1957.
- Biography of Marcks (in French)
- This article incorporates information from the revision as of May 23, 2007 of the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.
Generalleutnant Kurt Pflieger
|Commander of 337. Infanterie-Division
15 March 1942 – 5 October 1942
Generalleutnant Otto Schünemann
|Commander of LXXXVII. Armeekorps
5 November 1942 – 1 August 1943
General der Infanterie Gustav-Adolf von Zangen
General der Infanterie Gustav-Adolf von Zangen
|Commander of LXXXIV. Armeekorps
1 August 1943 – 12 June 1944
General der Artillerie Wilhelm Fahrmbacher