Heinrich von Vietinghoff

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Heinrich von Vietinghoff
Heinrich von Vietinghoff.jpg
Born (1887-12-06)6 December 1887
Mainz
Died 23 February 1952(1952-02-23) (aged 64)
Pfronten-Ried
Allegiance
Years of service 1903 – 1945
Rank Generaloberst
Commands held XIII Corps
15th Army
10th Army
Army Group Courland
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards See "Military awards" section

Heinrich Gottfried Otto Richard von Vietinghoff genannt (de: known as) Scheel (December 6, 1887 – February 23, 1952) was a German Colonel-General (Generaloberst) of the German Army (Wehrmacht Heer) during the Second World War. 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. He is best known for commanding the German and Italian troops in German-occupied Italy in 1945.

Early life and family[edit]

Vietinghoff was born in Mainz, Grand Duchy of Hesse into a family of Westphalian Uradel.[1] His military career was strongly supported by his parents, Artillery Lt. Gen. Heinrich Otto Konrad von Vietinghoff gen. Scheel (1857–1917) and Leona von Vietinghoff gen. Scheel (nee von Schmettow) (1861–1942). He joined the army at the age of 15, lying about his age in the first few years.[citation needed]

Military career[edit]

Italy: von Vietinghoff inspects camouflaged tanks

On 24 November 1938, Vietinghoff was appointed commander of the 5th Panzer Division and took part in the invasion of Poland under Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb. He was promoted to General in June 1940 after which he led the German XLVI Panzer Corps in the invasion of Yugoslavia. During Operation Barbarossa his Corps was part of Army Group Centre under Generalfeldmarschall Fedor von Bock. In this time, he had an accident after which he got his nickname "Panzerknacker" ("Tank breaker").[citation needed] Von Vietinghoff also later served with General Heinz Guderian in the German Second Panzer Army.

From December 1941 to August 1943 he was Commander-in-Chief of the German Fifteenth Army in France (The HQ of the 15th Army is today a museum in Tourcoing, near Lille in northern France, Musée du 5 Juin 1944). In Italy from August 1943 onwards he commanded German Tenth Army, which was responsible for the telling delaying actions through the successive defensive lines built across Italy. Notable in this context were the defences on the Winter Line from November 1943 to May 1944 and the fighting in the autumn of 1944 on the Gothic Line. In October 1944 he was temporarily raised to overall command in Italy (Army Group C) when Field Marshal Albert Kesselring was seriously injured in a car crash.[2] In January 1945, on Kesselring's return, he left Italy to command Army Group Courland in East Prussia. When Kesselring was moved in March 1945 to command German Army Command West (OB West) in France, von Vietinghoff returned as the supreme German commander in Italy.[3]

At the end of April 1945, he made contact with the Allied forces and on April 29, his representative General Karl Wolff signed on his behalf at the Royal Palace in Caserta, that he agreed to surrender his troops on May 2, 1945 at noon. Afterwards he spent two and a half years in British captivity at Bridgend Island Farm (Special Camp XI) among numerous other German prisoners of war. He was released in September 1947.

After the war Vietinghoff was a member of the expert group dealing with the question of German rearmament. In October 1950 he wrote the Himmeroder memorandum on behalf of the Adenauer government, on West German contributions to European defence. He died on February 23, 1952 in Pfronten.[1]

Military promotions[edit]

  1. Fähnrich: 6 March 1906
  2. Leutnant: 27 January 1907 (Patent 14 June 1905)
  3. Hauptmann: 24 June 1915
  4. Major: 1 March 1926
  5. Oberstleutnant: 1 February 1931
  6. Oberst: 1 April 1933
  7. Generalmajor: 1 April 1936
  8. Generalleutnant: 1 March 1938
  9. General der Panzertruppe: 1 June 1940
  10. Generaloberst: 1 September 1943 [1]

Military awards[edit]

See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Blaxland, Gregory (1979). Alexander's Generals (the Italian Campaign 1944-1945). London: William Kimber & Co. ISBN 0-7183-0386-5. 
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8. 
  • 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 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 Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Exton, Brett; Bohannon, Shawn (February 2005). "Prisoners held at Special Camp 11: Generaloberst Heinrich-Gottfried von Vietinghoff gen. Scheel". Island Farm Prisoner of War Camp: 198 / Special Camp: XI Bridgend, South Wales (website). Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  2. ^ Blaxland, p226
  3. ^ Blaxland, p246
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Miller, Michael D. "Generaloberst Heinrich Gottfried von Vietinghoff, gen. Scheel". Axis Biographical Research. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d Thomas 1998, p. 400.
Military offices
Preceded by
none
Commander of 5th Panzer Division
September 2, 1939 - October 8, 1939
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Max von Hartlieb-Walsporn
Preceded by
General Walter von Reichenau
Commander of 10. Armee
August 15, 1943-February 14, 1945
Succeeded by
General Traugott Herr
Preceded by
General Lothar Rendulic
Commander of Army Group Courland
January 27, 1945-March 10, 1945
Succeeded by
General Lothar Rendulic
Preceded by
Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring
Oberbefehlshaber Süd
March 11, 1945 - May 2, 1945
Succeeded by
none