Joachim von Kortzfleisch

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Joachim von Kortzfleisch
Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F016198-0039A, Rumänien, Brückenbau über den Pruth, Offiziere.jpg
General Kortzfleisch (right), 1941.
Born (1890-01-03)3 January 1890
Braunschweig, German Empire
Died 20 April 1945(1945-04-20) (aged 55)
Sauerland, Nazi Germany
Allegiance  German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Army
Rank General der Infanterie
Commands held 1st Infantry Division
Defense group III (Berlin)

World War I

World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Joachim von Kortzfleisch (3 January 1890 – 20 April 1945) was a German general in the Wehrmacht during World War II. He was the commander of the defense group III (Berlin) and had a role in ensuring the failure of the attempted coup after the 20 July Plot attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler.


Joachim von Kortzfleisch was born into an aristocratic Westphalian family in Braunschweig, Duchy of Brunswick, the son of the Prussian Major General Gustav von Kortzfleisch (1854 – 1910) and Elsbeth Oppermann (1862 – 1937). He joined the army in 1907 and after service in World War I in a machine gun battalion he was an officer in the Reichswehr, reaching the rank of Generalmajor by 1937. He was a generalleutnant and commander of the 1st Infantry Division at the outbreak of World War II and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 1 September 1940 as commander of the XI Army Corps of the Wehrmacht.

On 20 July 1944 as the commander of the defense group III (Berlin) he was summoned to the Bendlerstrasse where he angrily refused to obey Operation Valkyrie orders issued by one of the leading conspirators General Friedrich Olbricht and kept shouting ‘the Führer is not dead’ and referring to the oath of loyalty to Hitler.[1] He was arrested and put under guard by the plotters and said that he was not willing to take part in a coup as he was just a soldier interested only in going home and pulling weeds in his garden.[2] He was replaced in his command by General Karl Freiherr von Thüngen and was later allowed to leave the Bendlerblock. He subsequently interrogated Major Hans-Ulrich von Oertzen who was a supporter of the plot.

In March 1945 he was the commander of the Rhine Bridgehead in Army Group B under Field Marshal Walter Model. He was shot dead by soldiers of the 737th Tank Battalion of the United States Army on 20 April 1945. Kortzfleisch and a handful of soldiers had tried to get to Berleburg, moving behind the enemy lines. A US patrol encountered them at Schmallenberg-Wulwesort, Sauerland. The general defended himself with a machine pistol as he was surrounded by US soldiers, and was told to put his hands up. He refused and a US soldier shot him in the chest.

Awards and decorations[edit]



  1. ^ Michael C Thomsett (1997). The German Opposition to Hitler: The Resistance, the Underground, and Assassination Plots, 1938-1945. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0372-1. 
  2. ^ Joachim Fest (1994). Plotting Hitler's Death: The German Resistance to Hitler, 1933-1945. Weidenfield & Nicholson. ISBN 0-297-81774-4. 
  3. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 270.
  4. ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 467.


  • 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. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Walther Schroth
Commander of 1. Infanterie-Division
1 January 1938 – 14 April 1940
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Philipp Kleffel
Preceded by
General der Artillerie Emil Leeb
Commander of XI. Armeekorps
1 March 1940 – 6 October 1941
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Eugen Ott
Preceded by
General der Infanterie Eugen Ott
Commander of XI. Armeekorps
10 December 1941 – 1 June 1942
Succeeded by
Generaloberst Karl Strecker