Otto Wöhler

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Otto Wöhler
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-2007-0313-500, Rumänien, Otto Wöhler bei Lagebesprechung.jpg
Otto Wöhler
Born (1894-07-12)12 July 1894
Groß Burgwedel
Died 5 February 1987(1987-02-05) (aged 92)
Groß Burgwedel
Allegiance
Service/branch Heer
Years of service 1913–1945
Rank General der Infanterie
Commands held I. Armeekorps
8. Armee
Heeresgruppe Süd
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves

Otto Wöhler (12 July 1894 in Burgwedel – 5 February 1987 in Burgwedel) was a German General der Infanterie, serving during World War I and World War II and recipient of the Knight's 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.

Career[edit]

Wöhler fought in World War I as a lieutenant and served in the post-war Reichsheer. A seasoned general staff officer, he had caught the attention of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, who made him his chief of staff when Manstein was appointed to command 11th Army. Wöhler served with Manstein until April 1942 when he was assigned as chief of staff for Army Group Center under Field Marshal Günther von Kluge. Wöhler’s first combat command was I. Armeekorps which he led from April to August 1943, before being given command of 8th Army on 22 August 1943. Field Marshal von Manstein, whose Army Group South included 8th Army, was very pleased with this appointment as Wöhler had fought with distinction and skill during the summer and fall of 1943. His cool-headedness was considered a crucial asset at that stage and later on the Eastern Front. According to Heinz Guderian's memories, when Heeresgruppe Süd, which he commanded, destroyed the Russian bridge-head over the Hron river on 22 February 1945, Hitler said "Wöhler may not be National-Socialist, but at least he is a man."[1]

As with every other German senior officer, Wöhler was investigated by the Allies after the war and was then implicated in Einsatzgruppe activities while serving as Chief of Staff of 11th Army in early 1942. He was tried by a U.S. Military Tribunal at Nuremberg ("OKW Case" No. XII) and then sentenced to 8 years imprisonment in October 1948. He was released in autumn 1950.

Until his death Otto Wöhler participated in many functions and as patron of civic organizations in his home community of Burgwedel. He also created a charitable foundation that inherited his estate. He is buried next to his only child, a son, who died in the Baltic during World War II as a naval cadet.

Awards[edit]

Wehrmachtbericht references[edit]

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
12 August 1943 In der dritten Schlacht südlich des Ladogasees haben die unter Führung des Generalfeldmarschalls Küchler, des Generalobersten Lindemann und des Generals der Infanterie Wöhler stehenden deutschen Truppen, unterstützt von den durch General der Flieger Korten geführten Luftwaffenverbänden, in der Zeit vom 22. Juli bis 6. August den Ansturm der 8. und 67. sowjetischen Armee in heldenmütigen Kämpfen abgeschlagen und damit die Durchbruchsabsichten des Feindes vereitelt.[6] In the third battle south of Lake Ladoga have German troops standing under the command of Field Marshal Küchler, Colonel General Lindemann and General of Infantry Wöhler, supported by Air Force organizations led by the Luftwaffe General Korten, in the period of 22 July to 6 August heroically thwarted the assault of the 8th and 67th Soviet army and prevented the breakthrough intentions of the enemy.
8 May 1944 Der mit 20 Schützen- und mehreren Panzerdivisionen angestrebte Durchbruchsversuch der Bolschewisten scheiterte an der zähen und verbissenen Abwehr der unter Führung des Generals der Infanterie Wöhler stehenden deutschen und rumänischen Truppen, die von Verbänden der deutschen und rumänischen Luftwaffe in vorbildlicher Waffenkameradschaft hervorragend unterstützt wurden.[7] The break through attempt of 20 infantry and several armored Bolsheviks divisions failed due to the tenacious and fierce defense of the under the command of General of the Infantry Wöhler subordinated German and Romanian troops, who were well assisted in exemplary weapons camaraderie by units of the German and Romanian Air Force.
30 October 1944 Im Raum von Debrecen haben deutsche und ungarische Truppen unter dem Oberbefehl des Generals der Infanterie Wöhler und des Generals der Artillerie Fretter-Pico in dreiwöchigen Kämpfen starke feindliche Kräfte vernichtend geschlagen und damit die vom Gegner angestrebte Umfassung der im Südostteil Ungarns stehenden deutschen und ungarischen Verbände vereitelt.[8] In the area of Debrecen, German and Hungarian troops under the command of General of Infantry Wöhler and the General of Artillery Fretter-Pico in three weeks of fighting defeated strong enemy forces and hindered the enemy intended encirclement of the in South Eastern part of Hungary standing German and Hungarian units.

References[edit]

Citations

  1. ^ Nash 2002, p. 21.
  2. ^ a b c d Thomas 1998, p. 455.
  3. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 793.
  4. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 450.
  5. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 93.
  6. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 538.
  7. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, p. 97.
  8. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, p. 313.

Bibliography

  • 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. 
  • Nash, Douglas E. (2002). Hell's Gate. The Battle of the Cherkassy Pocket, January–February 1944. Southbury, Connecticut: RZM Publishing. ISBN 0-9657584-3-5. 
  • 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. 
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, 1. Januar 1942 bis 31. Dezember 1943 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 2, 1 January 1942 to 31 December 1943] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, 1. Januar 1944 bis 9. Mai 1945 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 3, 1 January 1944 to 9 May 1945] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
General der Kavallerie Philipp Kleffel
Commander of I. Armeekorps
1 April 1943 – 15 August 1943
Succeeded by
General der Kavallerie Philipp Kleffel
Preceded by
General Johannes Blaskowitz
Commander of 8. Armee
22 August 1943 – 27 December 1944
Succeeded by
General Hans Kreysing
Preceded by
Generaloberst Johannes Frießner
Commander of Heeresgruppe Süd
28 December 1944 – 25 March 1945
Succeeded by
Generaloberst Dr. Lothar Rendulic