Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz
|Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz|
6 December 1896|
Krumpach family estate, Province of East Prussia, Kingdom of Prussia in the German Empire
9 October 1969 (aged 72)|
Neuburg an der Donau, West Germany
|Years of service||1914-1945|
|Rank||General der Panzertruppe|
XLVII Panzer Corps|
2nd Panzer Division
13th Panzer Division
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Jutta (née von Engel-mann) 1920-27|
Jutta (née von Stein zu Kochburg) 1927-69
Diepold Georg Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz, Baron von Lüttwitz (6 December 1896 – 9 October 1969) was a Prussian Junker, Olympic equestrian, and German officer who served in both World Wars, retiring as a General der Panzertruppe. Lüttwitz's team competed at the 1936 Summer games in Berlin but they came away without a medal. This failure was viewed as a disgrace by the Nazi regime and, as a consequence, he was left in professional obscurity for the next few years. He eventually went on to command two Panzer Divisions and the XLVII. Panzerkorps (47th Panzer Corps), where he earned infamy for his demand of the surrender of the American 101st Airborne Division.
Early and Interwar years
Lüttwitz excelled in school and, like many Prussian aristocrats, took up riding at an early age, becoming an accomplished equestrian. He was pursuing professional equestrianism when the First World War broke out. Despite the family tracing their military ancestry back to the 14th century and his father being a former Army officer, Lüttwitz was unable to get his father's permission to seek a military commission. In defiance, he enlisted as a Private in the Army in August 1914, at the age of seventeen. His mother, from the prominent von Uruh(de) Junker military family, used her influence to have him brevetted to Leutnant in December.
After graduating from officer training, he was posted to the 48th (5th Brandenburg) Infantry Regiment, of the 5th Division. Thereafter began a tug of war between himself and his father, an influential veteran of the Franco-Prussian War. The elder Lüttwitz likely used his influence to have his son posted to the rear area of the unit, away from the front lines. The younger Lüttwitz then began a letter-writing campaign to his superiors, appealing for a transfer to the front. This was granted in 1917 when he was given command of an infantry platoon. He won the Iron Cross Second and First Class before being wounded and sent back to Germany to convalesce. After recovering in May 1918, his family again used their connections and influence, this time to have him posted to the 1st Ulan Schützen Regiment, a crack unit of dismounted cavalry, trained in exploiting breakthroughs in enemy lines created by Stosstuppe. This tactic, successful early in 1918, was no longer viable by the time Lüttwitz arrived at the unit and so he spent most of the remainder of the war on maneuvers. After the Armistice, he returned with his regiment to Silesia. Unlike most units in the rapidly disbanding Army, his regiment was retained in the new Reichswehr as the 8th Cavalry Regiment of the 2nd Cavalry Division, enabling Lüttwitz to remain in active military service.
World War II
He was kept from the frontlines of the Invasion of Poland until the outcome was already decided and then, three days later, was badly wounded by a Polish sniper.
Before launching an assault by the 26th Volksgrenadier Division against the town, Lüttwitz sent an ultimatum to the American forces. His demand for the US troops to surrender was as follows:
To the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne. There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note. If this proposal should be rejected one German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two hours term. All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well-known American humanity.
He received the following reply from McAuliffe: "To the German Commander. NUTS!" The reply, "Nuts!", was explained to the German negotiators as the equivalent of "go to hell!"
- Iron Cross (1914) 2nd Class (18 May 1915) & 1st Class (2 June 1918)
- Wound Badge (1918) in Black
- German Cross in Gold on 19 December 1941 as Oberstleutnant in the Schützen-Regiment 59
- Clasp to the Iron Cross (1939) 2nd Class (20 September 1939) & 1st Class (1 August 1941)
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
- Heinrich von Lüttwitz's nomination by the troop was received by the Heerespersonalamt (HPA—Army Personnel Office) on 28 April 1945. Major Joachim Domaschk decided on 30 April: "Heeresgruppe B, postpone!" General Von Lüttwiz together with the remaining forces of the Heeresgruppe B was either taken prisoner of war or missing in action in the Ruhr Pocket on 15 April. The nomination was thus not further processed in accordance with AHA 44 Ziff. 572. The nomination list for the higher grades of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross also contains a note from 28 April 1945: "postponed". A bestowal thus didn't occur.
- Berger, Florian (1999). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges [With Oak Leaves and Swords. The Highest Decorated Soldiers of the Second World War] (in German). Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 978-3-9501307-0-6.
- Mitcham, Samuel W. (2008). Panzer Commanders of the Western Front: German Tank Generals in World War II. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books. ISBN 9780811749220.
- Mitcham, Samuel W. (2007). Retreat to the Reich: The German Defeat in France. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books. ISBN 9781461751557.
- 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.
- Reichswehrministerium, ed. (1924). Rangliste des Deutschen Reichsheeres (in German). Berlin, Germany: Mittler & Sohn Verlag. OCLC 10573418.
- 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.
- 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.
- R. V. Cassill (1955), The General Said "Nuts": Exciting Moments of Our History—As Recalled by Our Favorite American Slogans, New York: Birk.
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1 February 1944 – 4 May 1944
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27 May 1944 – 31 August 1944
Oberst Eberhard von Nostitz
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| Commander of XLVII. Panzerkorps
4 September 1944 – April 1945