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Heinrich von Vietinghoff

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Title: Heinrich von Vietinghoff  
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Subject: Battle of Rzhev, Summer 1942, Allied invasion of Italy, Albert Kesselring, Heinz Guderian, Bernhardt Line
Collection: 1887 Births, 1952 Deaths, German Military Personnel of World War I, Knights 1St Class of the Albert Order, Knights of the House Order of Hohenzollern, Officers of the Order of Military Merit (Bulgaria), People from Mainz, People from Rhenish Hesse, Prussian Army Personnel, Recipients of the Clasp to the Iron Cross, 1St Class, Recipients of the Cross for Merit in War, Recipients of the Gallipoli Star (Ottoman Empire), Recipients of the Gold German Cross, Recipients of the Hanseatic Cross (Lübeck), Recipients of the Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918, Recipients of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Recipients of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Recipients of the Military Merit Cross (Austria-Hungary), 3Rd Class, Recipients of the Military Merit Cross (Mecklenburg-Schwerin), 2Nd Class, Recipients of the Order of the Iron Crown (Austria), 3Rd Class, Recipients of the Order of the Iron Crown, 3Rd Class, Wehrmacht Generals, World War II Prisoners of War Held by the United Kingdom
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Heinrich von Vietinghoff

Heinrich von Vietinghoff
Born (1887-12-06)6 December 1887
Mainz, Grand Duchy of Hesse, German Empire
Died 23 February 1952(1952-02-23) (aged 64)
Pfronten-Ried, Bavaria, West Germany
Years of service 1903–45
Rank Generaloberst
Commands held XIII Corps
15th Army
10th Army
Army Group Courland
Battles/wars First World War
Second World War
Awards See "Military awards" section
Relations Hans Hahn (son-in-law)

Heinrich Gottfried Otto Richard von Vietinghoff, otherwise (de: genannt) Scheel (6 December 1887 – 23 February 1952) was a German Colonel-General (Generaloberst) of the German Army (Heer) during the Second World War. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). He is best known for commanding the German and Italian troops in German-occupied Italy in 1945.


  • Early life and family 1
  • Military career 2
  • Military promotions 3
  • Military awards 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
    • Citations 6.1
    • Bibliography 6.2

Early life and family

Vietinghoff was born in Mainz, Grand Duchy of Hesse into a family of Westphalian Uradel.[1] His military career was strongly supported by his parents, Artillery Lt. Gen. Heinrich Otto Konrad von Vietinghoff, otherwise Scheel (1857–1917) and Leona von Vietinghoff, otherwise Scheel (formerly Leona von Schmettow) (1861–1942). He joined the army at the age of fifteen, exaggerating his age in the first few years.

Military career

Italy: Vietinghoff inspects a Pantherturm emplacement.

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 Generalfeldmarschall Fedor von Bock. In this time, he had an accident after which he got his nickname "Panzerknacker" ("Tank breaker"). Vietinghoff also later served with General Heinz Guderian in the German Second Panzer Army.

From December 1941 to August 1943 he was Commander-in-Chief of the German Fifteenth Army in France (The HQ of the 15th Army is today a museum in Tourcoing, near Lille in northern France, Musée du 5 Juin 1944). In Italy from August 1943 onwards he commanded German Tenth Army, which was responsible for the telling 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 April 29, 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 numerous other German prisoners of war. 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 Himmeroder memorandum on behalf of the Adenauer government, on West German contributions to European defence. He died on 23 February 1952 in Pfronten.[1]

Military promotions

  1. Fähnrich: 6 March 1906
  2. Leutnant: 27 January 1907 (Patent 14 June 1905)
  3. Hauptmann: 24 June 1915
  4. Major: 1 March 1926
  5. Oberstleutnant: 1 February 1931
  6. Oberst: 1 April 1933
  7. Generalmajor: 1 April 1936
  8. Generalleutnant: 1 March 1938
  9. General der Panzertruppe: 1 June 1940
  10. Generaloberst: 1 September 1943 [1]

Military awards

See also



  1. ^ a b c d Exton, Brett; Bohannon, Shawn (February 2005). "Prisoners held at Special Camp 11: Generaloberst Heinrich-Gottfried von Vietinghoff gen. Scheel". Island Farm Prisoner of War Camp: 198 / Special Camp: XI Bridgend, South Wales (website). Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  2. ^ Blaxland 1979, p. 226.
  3. ^ Blaxland 1979, p. 246.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Miller, Michael D. "Generaloberst Heinrich Gottfried von Vietinghoff, gen. Scheel". Axis Biographical Research. Retrieved 29 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 486.
  6. ^ a b c d Thomas 1998, p. 400.


  • Blaxland, Gregory (1979). Alexander's Generals (the Italian Campaign 1944-1945). London: William Kimber & Co.  
  • 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.  
  • 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.  
  • 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.  
Military offices
Preceded by
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
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