Heinrich von Vietinghoff

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Heinrich von Vietinghoff
Heinrich von Vietinghoff.jpg
Born (1887-12-06)6 December 1887
Mainz, German Empire
Died 23 February 1952(1952-02-23) (aged 64)
Pfronten, West Germany
Allegiance
Years of service 1903–45
Rank Generaloberst
Commands held XIII Corps
15th Army
10th Army
Army Group Courland
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Heinrich von Vietinghoff (6 December 1887 – 23 February 1952) was a German general (Generaloberst) of the Wehrmacht during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. Vietinghoff commanded the German troops German-occupied Italy in 1945.

Military career[edit]

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 Field Marshal Fedor von Bock. As all commanders of the German corps on the Eastern Front during the invasion, Vietinghoff implemented the criminal Commissar Order.[1] Vietinghoff also later served with General Heinz Guderian in the 2nd Panzer Army.

From December 1941 to August 1943 he was Commander-in-Chief of the German Fifteenth Army in France. In Italy from August 1943 onwards he commanded German Tenth Army, which was responsible for the 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, 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 29 April, his representative General Karl Wolff signed on his behalf at the Royal Palace in Caserta the instrument of surrender on 2 May 1945 at noon. Afterwards he spent two and a half years in British captivity at Bridgend Island Farm (Special Camp XI) among high-ranking German prisoners. 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 Himmerod memorandum, named after the Himmerod Abbey where it was written, on behalf of the Adenauer government, on West German contributions to European defence. He died on 23 February 1952 in Pfronten.

Military awards[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Stahel 2009, p. 28.
  2. ^ Blaxland 1979, p. 226.
  3. ^ Blaxland 1979, p. 246.
  4. ^ a b Thomas 1998, p. 400.
  5. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 759.
  6. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 486.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Blaxland, Gregory (1979). Alexander's Generals (the Italian Campaign 1944-1945). London: William Kimber & Co. ISBN 0-7183-0386-5. 
  • 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 Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Stahel, David (2009). Operation Barbarossa and Germany's Defeat in the East. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-76847-4. 
  • 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. 
Military offices
Preceded by
none
Commander of 5th Panzer Division
2 September 1939 – 8 October 1939
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Max von Hartlieb-Walsporn
Preceded by
General Walter von Reichenau
Commander of 10. Armee
15 August 1943 – 14 February 1945
Succeeded by
General Traugott Herr
Preceded by
General Lothar Rendulic
Commander of Army Group Courland
27 January 1945 – 10 March 1945
Succeeded by
General Lothar Rendulic
Preceded by
Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring
Oberbefehlshaber Süd
11 March 1945 – 2 May 1945
Succeeded by
none