Josef Harpe

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Josef Harpe
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1981-104-30, Josef Harpe.jpg
Josef Harpe
Born (1887-09-21)21 September 1887
Died 14 March 1968(1968-03-14) (aged 80)
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer
Years of service 1909–45
Rank Generaloberst
Commands held 9. Armee
12. Panzerdivision
XXXXI. Panzerkorps
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords

Josef Harpe (21 September 1887 – 14 March 1968) was a German Generaloberst who served during World War I and World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

Harpe was born in Buer which is part of Gelsenkirchen, Province of Westphalia, and died in Nuremberg, Bavaria.

Military career[edit]

Herr Harpe joined the Prussian Army on 28 September 1909 and fought in World War I. After the war Harpe remained in the Reichswehr military service. In 1931, under the pseudonym Direktor Hacker, he held a leading position in the secret German-Russian Tank-School (Kama tank school) in Kazan, Soviet Union. He was promoted to Oberstleutnant on 1 August 1934 and became commander of Panzer-Regiment 3 on 15 October 1935. He was again promoted on 1 January 1937, he was put in charge of the 1st Panzerbrigade holding the rank of Oberst. In 1940 he took over as Commandant of the Panzer Troops School Wünsdorf. He served on the Eastern Front, where he commanded July 1942 until October 1943 XXXXI. Panzerkorps and from September 1944 to January 1945 Army Group A, when he was relieved of his command due to the inability of German forces to stop the Soviet Vistula–Oder Offensive. He ended the war as the General Officer Commanding 5th Panzer Army, Western Front, with the rank of Generaloberst and was held as a prisoner of war by the United States until 1948.[1]




  1. ^ "Biography of Colonel-General Josef Harpe (1887 – 1968), Germany". 
  2. ^ a b Thomas 1997, p. 248.
  3. ^ a b c d Wegmann 2009, p. 238.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Miller, Michael D. "Generaloberst Josef Harpe". Axis Biographical Research. Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Scherzer 2007, p. 367.
  6. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 165.


  • 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 Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Paul Bader
Commander of 2. Infanterie-Division
5 October 1940 – 10 January 1941
Succeeded by
12. Panzerdivision
Preceded by
2. Infanterie-Division
Commander of 12. Panzerdivision
10 January 1941 – 15 January 1942
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Walter Wessel
Preceded by
Commander of XXXXI Panzerkorps
10 July 1942 – 15 October 1943
Succeeded by
General of Artillery Helmuth Weidling
Preceded by
Generaloberst Erhard Raus
Commander of 4. Panzer-Armee
18 May 1944 – 28 June 1944
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppe Walther Nehring
Preceded by
Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model
Commander of 9. Armee
4 November 1943 – 19 May 1944
Succeeded by
General Hans Jordan
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppe Hasso von Manteuffel
Commander of 5. Panzer-Armee
8 March 1945 – 17 April 1945
Succeeded by