Ferdinand Heim

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Ferdinand Heim
Ferdinand Heim.jpg
Born (1895-02-27)27 February 1895
Reutlingen, German Empire
Died 14 November 1971(1971-11-14) (aged 76)
Ulm, West Germany
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer
Years of service 1914–45
Rank Generalleutnant
Commands held 14th Panzer Division
48th Panzer Corps
Boulogne fortress garrison

World War I

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Ferdinand Heim (27 February 1895 – 14 November 1971) was a World War II German general.

War service[edit]

Heim served as a junior artillery officer in the XIII Corps during the whole of the First World War[1] After 1918 he remained in the much smaller army as a career officer, reaching the rank of Oberst in June 1939, just before the start of the Second World War.

On September 3, 1940, Heim was appointed Chief of Staff to General Walther von Reichenau while the Sixth Army was concentrated on the Cotentin Peninsula awaiting the Invasion of Britain. He was subsequently prominent in the planning of the German invasion of the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa).[2]

On 1 July 1942, he was Commander of the 14th Panzer Division with distinction at Kharkov and at Rostov. As a consequence, he was given, on November 1, 1942, command of 48th Panzer Corps which was then part of the German 6th Army, at the Battle of Stalingrad.

Heim's XXXXVIIIth Panzer Corps was placed behind the Romanian 3rd Army at the beginning of the Soviet Operation Uranus "to check the enemy attack" along Paulus's left flank. Heim's 48th Panzer Corps, consisting of "two badly weakened divisions", was surrounded and barely broke out to the west. "Hitler made him a scapegoat and relieved him of his position...despite the obvious lack of fighting experience, equipment and strength in Heim's Rumanian and German divisions.."[3][4]

After this, in January 1943, Heim was, at Hitler's order, dismissed from the Army, arrested and placed in solitary confinement at Moabit, finally being released in April 1943, when he was transferred to a military hospital at Ulm.[2]

In a post-war interview, Heim asserted that the only documentation for his arrest was Hitler's order – no indictment, sentence or explanation. He learned, unofficially, that Hitler had been unwilling to cast blame on the Romanians for the poor quality of their troops so a German scapegoat was needed. German army and army group commanders were too valuable, so the "... only person left was the corps commander, and that was me."[2]

Heim was informed in May 1943 that his dismissal from the German army had been revoked, and that he had been classified as retired. In August 1944, Heim returned to command German forces at the "fortress" of Boulogne, a "defend to the last" assignment. He was instructed to prepare significant defences but he arrived to find that nothing had been prepared and there were no suitable specialists to do the work. The ill-prepared and ill-suited garrison endured heavy bombardment and full-scale assaults and Heim surrendered to the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division on 23 September 1944 (see Operation Wellhit).[5]


Heim was sent to a series of POW camps (including Island Farm) in Britain and subsequently repatriated to Germany on 12 May 1948.[6] He died at Ulm on 14 November 1971.[7]



"We must uphold the principle of only having carried out orders [...] We must stick to that principle if we are to create a more or less effective defence" - spoken in secret while prisoner to his fellow inmates regarding German atrocities in World War II[11]



  1. ^ http://www.specialcamp11.fsnet.co.uk/Generalleutnant%20Ferdinand%20Heim.htm
  2. ^ a b c Shulman, Milton (1995). Defeat in the West. Chailey, East Sussex: Masquerade. pp. 216–217. ISBN 1-872947-03-4. 
  3. ^ Adam, Wilhelm; Ruhle, Otto (2015). With Paulus at Stalingrad. Translated by Tony Le Tissier. Pen and Sword Books Ltd. p. 97,100,114. ISBN 9781473833869. 
  4. ^ Beevor 1998, p. 244.
  5. ^ Chant, Christopher (1986). The Encyclopedia of Code Names of World War II. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. pp. 330–331. ISBN 0-7102-0718-2. 
  6. ^ "Generalleutnant Ferdinand Heim". Some of the Prisoners held at Special Camp 11. Island Farm. Retrieved 15 June 2009. 
  7. ^ LEO-BW
  8. ^ a b c d e Wegmann 2009, p. 294.
  9. ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 375.
  10. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 218.
  11. ^ Roberts, Andrew (21 July 2007). "The Genocide Generals: secret recordings explode the myth they knew nothing about the Holocaust". Daily Mail. Retrieved June 15, 2009. 


  • Beevor, Antony (1998). Stalingrad. Viking, London. ISBN 978-0-14-103240-5. 
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [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. 
  • 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 Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • The German Army 1939-45 (5) by Nigel Thomas and Stephen Andrew.
  • Wegmann, Günter (2009). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Teil VIIIa: Panzertruppe Band 2: F–H [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the German Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Part VIIIa: Panzer Force Volume 2: F–H] (in German). Bissendorf, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2389-4. 
Military offices
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppe Rudolf Veiel
Commander of XLVIII Panzer Corps
1 November 1942 – 19 November 1942
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppe Hans Cramer