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Georg-Hans Reinhardt
Born (1887-03-01)1 March 1887
Died 22 November 1963(1963-11-22) (aged 76)
Place of birth Bautzen, Saxony
Place of death Tegernsee, Bavaria
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer
Rank Generaloberst
Commands held 4th Panzer Division
XLI Panzer Corps
Third Panzer Army
Army Group Centre
Battles/wars
Awards Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords

Georg-Hans Reinhardt (1 March 1887 – 23 November 1963) was a German general of World War II. He commanded Third Panzer Army from 1941 to 1944, and Army Group Centre in 1944 and 1945. His highest rank was Generaloberst (Colonel General). He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (German language: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern). 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.

After the war, he was successfully prosecuted for war crimes in the High Command trial, and served several years in prison for those crimes.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Reinhardt was born in Bautzen, Saxony, and fought during World War I in an infantry regiment.

In February 1934 Reinhardt was promoted to Colonel and soon after to Major General in the German army.

He commanded the 4th Panzer Division during the Polish campaign of September 1939. 4th Panzer was initially repulsed in the two-day battle of Mokra and Ostrowy on 1–2 September, but broke through Polish defenses near Częstochowa. 4th Panzer then advanced to the outskirts of Warsaw by September 8, the first German force to reach the city. 4th Panzer's initial unsupported attack on the city failed, and the division was redeployed to assist in the Battle of the Bzura to the west.

After the Polish campaign, Reinhardt was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and promoted to Lieutenant General.

In the 1940 Battle of France, Reinhardt commanded the XXXXI Panzer Corps, which was one of the three Panzerkorps that broke through the Ardennes and drove west to the sea in May. For this success, he was promoted to General der Panzertruppe on 1 June 1940.

In late 1940, Reinhardt and XXXXI Panzer Corps were designated to participate in Operation Sea Lion, the proposed invasion of Great Britain. Reinhardt's force was to be in the first landing wave. However, the operation never occurred.

Georg-Hans Reinhardt (2nd from left) and Walter Krüger, 1941

In 1941, Reinhardt and XXXXI Panzer Corps were deployed on the Eastern Front for Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union in June. His force led the advance of Army Group North to the outskirts of Leningrad in October.

On October 5 he was given command of Third Panzer Army in Army Group Centre. Third Panzer Army then joined in the German attack on Moscow. After great initial success, the attack bogged down in mud, and was halted in December by severe cold and Soviet reserves just outside the city. Third Panzer Army was driven back by Soviet counter-attacks during the winter of 1941/42, but Reinhardt was awarded Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross for his expert defensive operations.

From early 1942 until June 1944, Third Panzer Army held its ground around Vitebsk and Smolensk, defeating most Soviet attacks and withdrawing only a short distance in 1943. On 26 May 1944, Reinhardt was awarded Swords to his Knight's Cross for this relative success.

But in June 1944, Third Panzer and the rest of Army Group Centre were shattered by a huge Soviet attack and driven back into Poland and East Prussia.

On 16 August 1944, Reinhardt was given command of Army Group Centre. In December, renewed Soviet attacks drove Army Group Centre out of Poland and back into northern Prussia. Reinhardt's shattered forces could not stem these overwhelming attacks, and this caused disputes with Hitler. Reinhardt retired from active duty in January 1945.

War crimes[edit | edit source]

In June 1945, Reinhardt was arrested by the United States Army as a war criminal. In 1947, he and thirteen other top German commanders were tried before a U.S. military court in Nuremberg. Reinhardt was found guilty of murder and ill-treatment of prisoners of war, and of murder, deportation, and hostage-taking of civilians in occupied countries. He was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, but was released in 1952. He served as president of the Gesellschaft für Wehrkunde (Society for Military Science), present-day Gesellschaft für Wehr- und Sicherheitspolitik e.V., since 1954 and wrote numerous memoranda. For these services he received the Great Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany on 24 November 1962.

Promotions[edit | edit source]

Awards[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Citations
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Thomas 1998, p. 193.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Scherzer 2007, p. 620.
  3. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 353.
  4. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 58.
  5. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 43.
Bibliography
  • Berger, Florian, Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges (in German). Selbstverlag Florian Berger, 2006. ISBN 3-9501307-0-5.
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 (in German). Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas, 2000. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007) (in German). 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]. Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1998) (in German). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z]. Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9. 
  • (in German) Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, 1. September 1939 bis 31. Dezember 1941 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 1, 1 September 1939 to 31 December 1941]. München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 
  • (in German) 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]. München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 

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