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Josef Harpe
Josef Harpe
Born (1887-09-21)21 September 1887
Died 14 March 1968(1968-03-14) (aged 80)
Place of birth Buer
Place of death Nuremberg
Allegiance German Empire German Empire (to 1918)
Germany Weimar Republic (to 1933)
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer
Years of service 1909–1945
Rank Generaloberst
Commands held 9. Armee
12. Panzer-Division
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 | edit source]

Herr Harpe joined the Prussian Army on 28 September 1909 as Fahnenjunker and was transferred to the Infantry Regiment 56 in 1911. Here he was promoted to Leutnant on 20 March and participated with this regiment in World War I. By the end of World War I he held the position of company commander.

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 (Organisation Kama) 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]

Awards[edit | edit source]

Wehrmachtbericht reference[edit | edit source]

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht entry English translation
1 January 1944 Nordwestlich Retschiza haben Truppen des Heeres unter Führung des Generals der Panzertruppe Harpe in siebentägigen schweren Kämpfen eine seit Wochen bestehende Frontlücke geschlossen und dabei starke feindliche Kräfte vernichtet.[7] Northwest of Rechitsa, troops of the army under the command of General of Panzer Troops Harpe closed a weeks-long gap in the front in seven days of heavy fighting, while destroying powerful enemy forces.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. [1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 Thomas 1997, p. 248.
  3. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 214.
  4. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 57.
  5. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 41.
  6. Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 165.
  7. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, p. 1.
  • Berger, Florian (1999) (in German). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges [With Oak Leaves and Swords. The Highest Decorated Soldiers of the Second World War]. Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 978-3-9501307-0-6. 
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) (in German). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [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]. Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001) (in German). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2]. Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8. 
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2003) (in German). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe I Abraham – Huppertz [Oak Leaves Bearers 1940 – 1945 Contemporary History in Color I Abraham – Huppertz]. Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 978-3-932381-20-1. 
  • 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 (1997) (in German). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K]. Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6. 
  • (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. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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 Panzertruppen 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 Panzertruppen Hasso von Manteuffel
Commander of 5. Panzer-Armee
8 March 1945 – 17 April 1945
Succeeded by

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