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Theodor Busse (standing, far right) in a meeting with Hitler, March 1945
|Born||15 December 1897|
Frankfurt an der Oder
|Died||21 October 1986 (aged 88)|
|Allegiance|| German Empire (to 1918)|
Weimar Republic (to 1933)
|Rank||General der Infanterie|
|Battles/wars||World War I
World War II
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross|
Federal Cross of Merit
Busse, a native of Frankfurt (Oder), joined the Imperial German Army as an officer cadet in 1915, and was commissioned in February 1917. He also won the Knight's Cross with Swords of the Hohenzollern Order. After the armistice he was accepted as one of 2,000 officers into the new Reichswehr where he steadily rose in rank.
Busse was a General Staff officer in April 1939, and prepared a training program which was approved by the Chief of the General Staff in August. The program covered a period from 1 October 1939 to 30 September 1940. Between 1940 and 1942 he served as the Chief of Operations to General (later Field Marshal) Erich von Manstein in the 11th Army on the Eastern Front. He remained serving on von Manstein's staff from 1942 until 1943 as Chief of Operations of Army Group Don and then from 1943 until 1944 he was Chief of Staff of Army Group South, both Army Groups on the Eastern Front. While serving with Army Group South he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 30 January 1944. He spent a short time in reserve and was then appointed General Officer Commanding German 121st Infantry Division. In July 1944 he commanded I Army Corps.
While Busse took command of the 9th Army on 21 January 1945, his appointment was never confirmed. It would appear that it was customary for commanders of formations of the status of an Army and higher to be on six months probation before their final appointments as Commanders-in-Chief. Germany surrendered unconditionally before Busse's probationary period expired.
During the last five months of the war, Busse commanded the 9th Army which was by then part of Army Group Vistula. As the Soviets continued to advance into Germany, he fought to protect the German capital city. Specifically, Busse commanded the 9th Army during the Battle of Seelow Heights and the Battle of the Oder-Neisse. In April 1945 during the Battle of Berlin, Busse's Ninth Army was cut off from the armies on its flanks and almost encircled by Soviet Forces. General Gotthard Heinrici tried to convince Busse to withdraw several times but Busse refused even to consider withdrawal unless a specific command arrived from the Fuhrer. Eventually Busse's 9th Army was driven into a pocket in the Spree Forest south of the Seelow Heights and west of Frankfurt, where it became fully encircled by two prongs of the massive Soviet assault on Berlin. In the ever shrinking pocket Busse's forces were all but annihilated in what is known as the Battle of Halbe, but remnants ultimately managed to break through to the west to link up with General Walther Wenck’s 12th Army south of Beelitz and then withdraw west to the Elbe and cross the partially destroyed bridge at Tangermünde and surrender to American forces between May 4 and May 7, 1945.
Between 1945 and 1948, Busse was a prisoner of war. After the war Busse was West Germany's director of civil defense, and wrote and edited a number of works on the military history of World War II.
Awards and decorations
- German Cross in Gold on 24 May 1942 as Oberst im Generalstab in AOK 11
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 30 January 1944 as Generalleutnant and Chief of the Generalstab of Heeresgruppe Süd
- Knight Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (25 January 1966)
Books by Busse
- "Kursk: The German View" by Steven H. Newton. The first part of the book goes to a new translation of a study of Operation Citadel (the great tank battle of Kursk) edited by General Theodor Busse, which offers the perspectives of key tank, infantry, and air commanders.
- Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Volume 42. See Bibliography
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 71.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 151.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 256.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) . 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.
- 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.
General der Infanterie Helmuth Prieß
| Commander of 121. Infanterie-Division
10 July 1944 – 1 August 1944
Generalleutnant Werner Ranck
Generaloberst Carl Hilpert
| Commander of I. Armeekorps
1 August 1944 – 9 January 1945
General der Infanterie Friedrich Fangohr
General Smilo Freiherr von Lüttwitz
| Commander of 9. Armee
20 January 1945 – 2 May 1945