Hans-Valentin Hube

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Hans Hube
Generaloberst Hans-Valentin Hube
Nickname(s) "The Humane One"
Born (1890-10-29)29 October 1890
Naumburg an der Saale
Died 21 April 1944(1944-04-21) (aged 53)
near Obersalzberg
Buried at Invalidenfriedhof Berlin
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer
Years of service 1909–44
Rank Generaloberst
Unit 7. Division
Commands held 16th Infantry Division, XIV Panzer Corps, Russia/Italy 1st Panzer Army
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds

Hans-Valentin Hube (29 October 1890 – 21 April 1944) was a German general who served in the German Army during the First and Second World Wars. He was one of 27 people to be awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillanten). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade the Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. At the time of its presentation to Hube it was Germany's highest military decoration.[Note 1] He died in an airplane crash in April 1944. Hube was nicknamed der Mensch ("The Humane One") by his troops during the Second World War.

Early life and World War I

Hube was born on 29 October 1890 in Naumburg an der Saale in the Prussian Province of Saxony within the German Empire, the son of a Oberst (colonel).[2] After graduation with his Abitur from the Domgymnasium Naumburg, a secondary school, he volunteered for military service in the Imperial German Army on 27 February 1909. As a Fahnenjunker (officer cadet), he was assigned to Infantry-Regiment Nr. 26 "Fürst Leopold von Anhalt-Dessau", a regiment of the 7. Division (7th Division) based at Magdeburg. After 18 months of service, he was promoted to Leutnant (second lieutenant) on 22 August 1910.[3]

Domgymnasium in Naumburg

Following the outbreak of World War I on 28 July 1914, which was triggered by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo, Hube was sent to the Western Front as a Zugführer (platoon leader) in the 7. Kompanie (7th company) of Infanterie-Regiment 26.[3] On 24 August 1914, he was appointed adjutant of II. Bataillon (2nd battalion) of Infanterie-Regiment 26 and fought in the Race to the Sea.[4] On 20 September 1914, he was severely wounded by artillery in the First Battle of the Aisne near Fontenoy, and as a result had his left arm amputated.[3] In 1915, Hube was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class (Eisernes Kreuz zweiter Klasse) and promoted to Oberleutnant (first lieutenant) on 22 February 1915.[5] After a year convalescing, he returned to the front in December later that year. On 29 January 1916, he was appointed company commander of the 7. Kompanie (7th company) of Infanterie-Regiment 26. From 29 February to 3 March 1916, he attended a training course on counter measures against gas warfare.[Tr 1] Hube was appointed leader of Infanterie-Pionier-Kompanie 26 (26th Infantry Pioneer Company) on 1 June 1916.[4]

On 6 July 1916, Hube became an Ordonnanzoffizier (batman) with Abteilung IIa (department 2a responsible for personnel) of the IV. Armee-Korps (4th Army Corps). Later that year, on 3 November, he was appointed adjutant of Infanterie-Regiment 26. Before the year ended, Hube had been awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class (Eisernes Kreuz erster Klasse).[6] On 25 June 1917, he became a deputy battalion leader in Infanterie-Regiment 26. In December 1917, he attended a communication course (3–12 December 1917).[4][Tr 2] Hube was promoted to Hauptmann (captain) on 27 January 1918 and appointed deputy brigadier adjutant on 20 January 1918.[6] On 24 March 1918, he was acting as a standing General Staff officer with the 7. Division.[4] In 1918, Hube defended an English tank attack and received severe gas poisoning and was hospitalized.[7] That year, he was also awarded the Knight's Cross of the House Order of Hohenzollern with Swords (Ritterkreuz des Königlichen Hausordens von Hohenzollern mit Schwertern) and was nominated for the Pour le Mérite. World War I ended before the presentation of the Pour le Mérite was approved.[3][5]

Inter-War period

Upon his release from hospital and after the Armistice in November 1918, Hube briefly served with a Freikorps, a paramilitary organization, as a company commander with a Landesschützen-Korps (10 April – 1 October 1919). As a result of the Treaty of Versailles which was signed on 28 June 1919, the former Imperial German Army was downsized to 100,000 men while being renamed the Reichswehr in the era of the Weimar Republic. Hube was retained by the Reichswehr on 1 October 1919 where he served as a company chief in Reichswehr-Infanterie-Regiment 17.[4] On 16 May 1920 he served with Reichswehr-Schützen-Regiment 8 and on 1 October 1920 with Reichswehr-Infanterie-Regiment 12.[8] On 1 January 1921, he was appointed chief of the 11. Kompanie of Infanterie-Regiment 12 in Halberstadt, which was subordinated to the 4. Division (4th Division). On 1 April 1925, Hube served on the staff of Infanterie-Regiment 10 which was based in Magdeburg and at the Infanterieschule Dresden (Infantry School Dresden), to serve as an instructor to officer candidates. On 1 April 1928, he was transferred to Gruppenkommando 2 (2nd Group Command) and as a part of this posting was sent on a business travel to the United States. After his return from the United States, Hube resumed his position as tactics instructor at Dresden on 1 October 1928.[7] In this posting, he was promoted to Major (major) on 1 February 1931[5]

Hube was given command of III. Bataillon of the East Prussian Infantrie-Regiment 3 on 1 October 1932. From 3 to 10 October 1933, he attended Schießlehrgang A, a heavy weapons training course, in Döberitz.[7] During this posting, Hube was promoted to Oberstleutnant (lieutenant colonel) on 1 June 1934.[5] He was placed in command of III. Bataillon of the Infantrie-Regiment at Deutsch Eylau on 1 October 1934. On 1 January 1935, Hube was transferred to the Infantry Training Staff at Döberitz. During this time he continued his work of the 2-volume manual Der Infanterist [The Infantryman].[8][Note 2] During this period, Hube was promoted to Oberst (colonel) on 1 August 1936.[11]

World War II

The German invasion of Poland began on 1 September 1939, and marked the beginning of World War II in Europe. On 18 October 1939, Hube returned to his former unit and was given command of Infanterie-Regiment 3.[8]

The regiment was then transferred west and took part in Fall Gelb, the invasion of France and the Low Countries.

On 1 June 1940, Hube was promoted to Generalmajor and given command of 16th Infantry Division. In early August, the 16th was split into two divisions, one motorised infantry, one Panzer. Hube oversaw the formation of the 16.Panzer Division, and then led the division as a part of Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt's Army Group South during Operation Barbarossa.

23 August 1942: Hans Hube to the command of 16th Panzer-Division

On 7 July, near Starokonstantinov, Hube's 16th halted an enemy counterattack. For this action, Hube got the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. On 16 January 1942, he was awarded the Oakleaves to the Knight's Cross for his actions near Nikolajew during the Battles around Kiev. Hube then led the 16th during Fall Blau, the attack to capture Stalingrad. The 16th Panzer Division was to form one of the armoured divisions to assault the city itself. In September 1942, Hube was given command of XIV Panzerkorps, the parent formation of the 16th Panzer. Hube commanded the XIVth during the disaster at Stalingrad. He was promoted to Generalleutnant and received the Swords to the Knight's Cross from Adolf Hitler personally on 21 December 1942. During his time at the Führer-Headquarters in Rastenburg, Hube argued strongly, but to no avail, for Hitler to allow 6th Army to attempt a breakout. Hube continued in command of the XIVth during the encirclement. On 18 January, Hitler ordered him to be flown out of the pocket. Despite his protests, Hube was flown out from the snow-covered Gumrak Airfield on the 19th in a Focke-Wulf 200C transport flown by the ace Leutnant Hans Gilbert. Hube was promoted to General der Panzertruppe.

After the destruction of Generalfeldmarschall Friedrich Paulus' Sixth Army, and with it the XIVth Panzerkorps, Hube was given the task of reforming the XIVth from scratch. After the completion of this task, Hube was sent to the Mediterranean front. In Sicily, he was charged with setting up its defence. He created Gruppe Hube, an army-sized formation whose task it was to defend the island. With the advent of Operation Husky on 10 July, Hube commanded the overall German defence. To make this task easier, on 17 July 1943 Hube was given command of all army and Flak troops on the island. Hube commanded the German forces' fighting retreat, and organised the evacuation to the Italian peninsula. Hube had prepared a strong defensive line, the 'Etna Line' around Messina, that would enable Germans to make a progressive retreat while evacuating large parts of his army to the mainland. Patton began his assault on the line at Troina, but it was a linchpin of the defense and stubbornly held. Despite three 'end run' amphibious landings the Germans managed to keep the bulk of their forces beyond reach of capture, and maintain their evacuation plans. Rescuing such a large number of troops from the threat of capture on Sicily represented a major success for the Axis. Hube was later involved in the battles defending Salerno from the Allied invasion.

Günther von Kluge, Heinrich Himmler, Karl Dönitz and Wilhelm Keitel (front row from left to right) at Hube's state funeral

Hube was moved back to Germany to take command of the Führer-Reserve OKH. On 23 October 1943, Hube was delegated as commander of the 200,000 man 1.Panzer Army, then serving with Army Group South under Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein. In February 1944, Hube was officially confirmed as commander of 1.Panzer Army. Shortly after, III. Panzerkorps, one of Hube's units, was required to assist German forces breaking out of the Korsun-Cherkassy Pocket. Soon after this, Hube's entire force was trapped in a pocket near Kamenets-Podolsky. Hube and Manstein managed to extricate the formation and avoid disaster. The breakout lasted from 27 March 1944 until 15 April 1944, during which time Hube's forces destroyed 350 Russian tanks and 40 assault guns.

Hans-Valentin Hube's grave on the Invalidenfriedhof Berlin

On 20 April 1944, Hube returned to Germany where Adolf Hitler personally awarded him the Diamonds to the Knight's Cross and promoted him to Generaloberst for his actions in Sicily, Salerno and in the Kamenets-Podolsky pocket. Hans-Valentin Hube was killed when the Heinkel He 111 that was shuttling him to Berlin crashed shortly after takeoff in Salzburg at Ainring on 21 April 1944. Only his black metal hand was recovered from the wreckage.

Hube was given a state funeral in Berlin on 26 April 1944. His coffin was laid out in the New Reich Chancellery and the eulogy was delivered by Generaloberst Heinz Guderian. The guard of honour consisted of the generals Walther Nehring, Hermann Breith, Heinrich Eberbach and Hans Gollnick. Hube was buried not far from Ernst Udet and Werner Mölders at the Invalidenfriedhof in Berlin.[12]

Summary of career


Wehrmachtbericht references

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
17 August 1943 (addendum) Seit fünf Wochen stehen auf Sizilien deutsche Truppen und Teile einiger italienischer Divisionen gegen eine vier- bis fünffache feindliche Übermacht in hartem, erbittertem Kampf. Durch den heldenhaften Widerstand unserer Truppen, die in schwierigstem Gelände und bei tropischer Hitze Übermenschliches geleistet haben, wurde der Feind gezwungen, immer neue Verbände in den Kampf zu werfen, um seine großen Verluste an Menschen und Material aufzufüllen. Seit 14 Tagen ist die planmäßige Räumung der Insel im Gange. Den nachdrängenden Feind wurden in der Abwehr und durch wuchtige Gegenangriffe schwerste Verluste zugefügt. Alle Versuche des Gegners, durch rollende Luftangriffe gegen den Übersetzverkehr oder durch Vorstöße mit Seestreitkräften in die Messinastraße unsere Truppen auf Sizilien abzuschneiden, scheiterten. Feindliche Landungskräfte im Rücken unserer Front wurden vernichtet. Trotz stärkster feindlicher Luftüberlegenheit gelang es, die gewaltige Übersetzbewegung nach Kalabrien planmäßig durchzuführen, so dass bis 17. August, 6 Uhr früh, alle deutschen und italienischen Truppen, einschließlich ihrer schweren Waffen, Panzer, Geschütze, Kraftfahrzeuge und des Geräts über die Straße von Messina auf das Festland übergeführt waren. Als einer der letzten verließ General der Panzertruppe Hube, der die Kämpfe auf Sizilien geleitet hatte, die Insel.
Diese ungeheure militärische und organisatorische Leistung wurde ermöglicht durch die Tapferkeit der Truppen, die zu Lande jeden Durchbruch verhinderten, durch den unermüdlichen heldenhaften Einsatz der Kriegsmarine, die nur mit Kleinfahrzeugen den Verkehr bewältigte und mit leichten Seestreitkräften in den Flanken schützte, und durch den starken Schirm, den die Luftwaffe mit Jägern und Flakartillerie über der Straße von Messina spannte. Führung und Truppe haben eine Leistung vollbracht, die in die Kriegsgeschichte ebenso eingehen wird wie eine siegreiche Angriffsschlacht.
Over the past five weeks in Sicily, German troops and elements of some Italian divisions have fought in hard, bitter struggle against an enemy four to five times more powerful. Through the heroic resistance of our troops, who have made a superhuman effort in difficult terrain and in tropical heat, the enemy was forced to commit new additional forces into combat to compensate for the huge losses in men and material. For 14 days the scheduled evacuation of the island is under way. The pursuing enemy suffered heavy losses by our defenses and by massive counterattacks. All enemy attempts, by rolling airstrikes against ferrying traffic or enemy advances with naval forces in the Strait of Messina to cut off our troops in Sicily, failed. Hostile forces which had landed in the back of our front were destroyed. Despite strongest enemy air superiority, the formidable withdrawal movement to Calabria succeeded and was carried out as planned, so that by 17 August, 6 clock in the morning, all German and Italian troops, including their heavy weapons, tanks, guns, motor vehicles and the equipment were transferred over the Straits of Messina to the mainland. As one of the last left General of Panzer Forces Hube, who had led the fighting in Sicily, the island.
This immense military and organizational performance was made possible by the bravery of the troops, who prevented any breakthrough on land, through the tireless heroic efforts of the navy, who handled the traffic only with small vehicles and protected with light naval forces in the flanks, and by the strong shield which the Air Force spanned with fighters and anti-aircraft artillery over the Strait of Messina. Commanders and troops have accomplished a feat that will go down in military history just as if this was a victorious offensive battle.
31 January 1944 Bei den Angriffskämpfen im Raum südlich Pogrebischtsche vom 24 bis 30 Januar 1944 zerschlugen Truppen des Heeres und der Waffen-SS unter Führung des Generals der Panzertruppe Hube, wirksam unterstützt von Verbänden der Luftwaffe, über zehn sowjetische Schützendivisionen und mehrere Panzerkorps.[20] In the attacking battles in the area south of Pogrebischtsche from 24 to 30 January 1944 forces of the army and the Waffen SS under General of Panzer Troops Hube, effective support by units of the Air Force, annihilated over ten Soviet rifle divisions and several tank corps.
9 April 1944 Im Raum von Kamenez-Podolsk hat eine stärkere deutsche Kräftegruppe aus Verbänden des Heeres und der Waffen-SS unter dem Oberbefehl des Generals der Panzertruppe Hube in vierzehntägigen Kämpfen gegen zahlenmäßig weit überlegenem Feind den Versuch ihrer Einschließung vereitelt.[21] In the vicinity of Kamenetz-Podolsk, a stronger group of German forces made up of units of the Army and Waffen-SS under the command of General of the Panzer Troops Hube, has prevented the attempt of their encirclement in two weeks of combat against a numerically far superior enemy.


22 August 1910: Leutnant (Second Lieutenant)[5]
25 February 1915: Oberleutnant (First Lieutenant)[5]
27 January 1918: Hauptmann (Captain)[5]
1 February 1931: Major (Major)[5]
1 June 1934: Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel)[5]
1 August 1936: Oberst (Colonel)[11]
1 June 1940: Generalmajor (Brigadier General)[11]
20 April 1942: Generalleutnant (Major General) effective as of 1 January 1942[11]
1 October 1942: General der Panzertruppe (Lieutenant General)[11]
20 April 1944: Generaloberst (Colonel General) effective as of 1 April 1944[11]

Translation notes

  1. training course on counter measures against gas warfare—Gasschutzkurs
  2. communication course—Lehrgang B an der Nachrichtenschule


  1. In 1944, the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds was second only to the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross (Großkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes), which was awarded only to senior commanders for winning a major battle or campaign, in the military order of the Third Reich. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds as the highest military order was surpassed on 29 December 1944 by the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Goldenem Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillanten).[1]
  2. Der Infanterist was published in 1925.[9] The 1935/36 edition is titled Der Infanterist Band 1—Für Kasernenstube und Unterrichtsraum.[10]




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External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Heinrich Krampf
Commander of 16. Infanterie-Division
1 June 1940 – 1 November 1940
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Friedrich-Wilhelm von Chappuis
Preceded by
Generaloberst Eberhard von Mackensen
Commander of 1. Panzerarmee
29 October 1943 – 21 April 1944
Succeeded by
Generaloberst Erhard Raus