Hasso von Manteuffel

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Hasso-Eccard Freiherr von Manteuffel
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1976-143-21, Hasso von Manteuffel.jpg
Freiherr von Manteuffel in May 1944
Born (1897-01-14)14 January 1897
Potsdam, Brandenburg
German Empire
Died 24 September 1978(1978-09-24) (aged 81)
Reith, Tyrol
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany (to 1945)
 West Germany
Years of service 1908–45
Rank General der Panzertruppe
Commands held Panzer-Grenadier-Division Großdeutschland
Battles/wars World War I

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds
Other work Politician

Hasso-Eccard Freiherr von Manteuffel (14 January 1897 – 24 September 1978) was a German soldier and classical liberal politician of the 20th century.

He served in both world wars, and during World War II was a distinguished general. He was a tank commander noted for his tactical skill and was one of only 27 holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds.

After the war, he was elected to the Bundestag (West German legislature) and was the spokesman for defense of the Liberal Party. A prominent proponent of rearmament, he was responsible for coining the new name for the post-World War II German armed forces, the Bundeswehr.

Military career

Helmholtz-Gymnasium Potsdam, formerly Viktoria-Gymnasium, which Manteuffel attended before joining the Cadet Corps.

Manteuffel was born in Potsdam to a respected Prussian aristocratic family. In 1908, he commenced his career at the Cadet Corps military school.

First World War

During the First World War Manteuffel joined the Imperial German Army on 22 February 1916 as an officer in the Hussars Regiment 'von Zieten' (Brandenburg) No. 3 at Rathenow. His service began in April 1916 with the 5th Squadron of the 3rd Hussar Regiment, attached to the 6th Prussian Infantry Division on the Western Front. Promoted to Lieutenant, he was wounded on 12 October fighting in France. After recuperating, he returned to active service in February 1917 and was posted to the Divisional General Staff.

Inter-war years

With the outbreak of the German Revolution in November 1918, Manteuffel was posted to guard the bridge over the Rhine at Cologne against the revolutionaries and thus to enable a safe withdrawal of the Imperial German army from France and Belgium to Germany. In January 1919, following the dissolution of the Imperial Army, he entered the Freikorps. After the establishment of the Weimar Republic, he joined the newly created Reichswehr and in May 1919 was posted to the 25th Cavalry Regiment at Rathenow. During the early 1920s, he was a squad leader with the 3rd Prussian Mounted Regiment, later becoming the Regimental Adjutant. On 1 February 1930, he became the commander of the Technical Squad.

On 1 October 1932, Manteuffel was transferred to the 17th Bavarian Mounted Regiment at Bamberg, serving as a squadron commander. Two years later, on 1 October 1934 he was transferred again, this time to the Mounted Regiment "Erfurt". On 15 October 1935 he was appointed commander of the 2nd Motorcycle Rifle Battalion of Heinz Guderian’s 2nd Panzer Division. From 1936 to 1937 he served as a major on the staff of the 2nd Panzer Division and as a training officer of cadets and cadet officers. On 25 February 1937 he became a consultant in the Panzer Troop Command of the OKH, and on February 1, 1939 a senior professor at Panzer Troop School II in Berlin-Krampnitz. He remained there until 1941, thus missing out on the campaigns in Poland, France and the Balkans.

Second World War

General der Panzertruppe Hasso von Manteuffel in August 1944

On May 1, 1941, Manteuffel was appointed to command the 1st Battalion the 7th Rifle Regiment of the 7th Panzer Division. With this unit, he served under Hermann Hoth’s Panzer Group 3 of the Army Group Centre in Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. On 25 August 1941, he took over the 6th Rifle Regiment of the 7th Panzer Division after its commander was killed in action. In May 1942, after having engaged in heavy fighting around Moscow in the winter of 1941–1942, the 7th Panzer Division was transferred to France for refitting. On 15 July 1942, while the division was still in France, Manteuffel was given command of the 7th Panzer Grenadier Brigade of the 7th Panzer Division.

In early 1943, Manteuffel was sent to Africa, where on 5 February he became the commander of the Division von Broich/von Manteuffel, serving in Hans-Jürgen von Arnim's 5th Panzer Army of Erwin Rommel's Army Group Afrika. Here Manteuffel took part in defensive operations during the Battle of Tunisia, conducting a series of successful counteroffensives that tied down Allied forces. In the midst of heavy fighting, he collapsed from exhaustion on March 31, and was evacuated back to Germany. On 1 May 1943, Manteuffel was promoted to the rank of Major General for his exploits in Africa.

After recuperating, Manteuffel was made the commander of the 7th Panzer Division on 22 August 1943 and was once again on the Eastern Front, which had by then collapsed following the Battle of Kursk and the resulting Soviet counteroffensive. Despite being wounded in the back in a Soviet air attack on 26 August 1943, he stayed on, battling in Ukraine. After ferocious fighting at Kharkov, Belgorod, and along the Dnieper River, he succeeded in bringing the Red Army offensive to a halt. In late November, he managed to recapture Zhitomir, thus saving the almost encircled 8th Panzer Division north of the city.

As a result, Manteuffel was made the commander of the élite Grenadier Großdeutschland Division on 1 February 1944. His command engaged in a series of intense defensive battles west of Kirovograd, then withdrew across Ukraine, and reorganized in Romania in late March 1944. It engaged in a series of successful defenses in northern Romania through June, when the exhausted Großdeutschland was moved into reserve for a refit. In late July Großdeutschland was ordered to East Prussia, which was at threat after the Red Army had crushed Army Group Centre in Operation Bagration. Here he launched a successful but costly counterattack into Lithuania, managing to stabilize the front, but failing to break through to the Courland Pocket, where Army Group North was trapped after the decimation of Army Group Centre.

File:Manteuffel coat.jpg
Manteuffel's leather coat on display at the Bastogne Historical Center

On 1 September 1944, Manteuffel was promoted to General of Panzer Troops (General der Panzertruppen, equivalent of a U.S. Lieutenant General) and given command of the Fifth Panzer Army, fighting on the Western Front. After engaging in heavy combat in Lorraine against George S. Patton’s Third Army, his unit was withdrawn to reserve and began refitting for the upcoming Ardennes Offensive. Although he was assigned to a support role, Manteuffel’s 5th Panzer Army achieved one of the deepest penetrations of Allied lines during the offensive, almost reaching the Meuse River. This penetration included the Battle of Bastogne.

On 10 March 1945 Manteuffel was made the commander of the Third Panzer Army on the Eastern Front. His army was part of Army Group Vistula, commanded by General Gotthard Heinrici.

The Third Panzer Army was assigned to defend the banks of the Oder River north of the Seelow Heights. This position, if held, would prevent a Soviet thrust into Western Pomerania and then into Berlin. But Manteuffel was faced with an overwhelming attack launched by General Konstantin Rokossovsky's 2nd Belorussian Front during the Battle of Seelow Heights, the prelude to the Battle of Berlin. At one point in the battle, six Soviet soldiers entered his headquarters, killing four of his staff, and wounding four more, including Manteuffel himself. Despite his injuries, he shot one Soviet soldier and used his trench knife to kill another Soviet soldier.[1][unreliable source?]

On 25 April the 2nd Belorussian Front broke through Third Panzer Army's line around the bridgehead south of Stettin. The Soviets crossed the swampy Randow river valley. Manteuffel was forced to retreat to Mecklenburg. Around April 28, he was offered Heinrici's command of Army Group Vistula but turned down the promotion as a protest against Heinrici being wrongly punished by the OKW. On 3 May 1945 Manteuffel surrendered his troops to the British at Hagenow, Germany, and thus escaped capture by the Soviets.


At first Manteuffel was a Prisoner of war of the British - being held at various prisoner of war camps in Great Britain, including Island Farm Special Camp 11. In 1946 he was handed over to the Americans and imprisoned at Nürnberg-Langwasser and Marburg in Germany. While held at the later camp, he took part in the U.S. Army Historical Division project to record as much useful military information as possible by writing a monograph on the mobile warfare aspect of the Ardennes Offensive.

After his release in December 1946, he entered politics and was a representative of the Free Democratic Party of Germany (FDP) in the German Bundestag from 1953 to 1957. In 1957 he joined the German Party. In the early 1950s Manteuffel advised on the redevelopment of the Bundeswehr (see: Searle's Wehrmacht Generals).

Manteuffel was not charged with war crimes by the Allies although in 1959 he was brought to trial for having a deserter shot in 1944. He was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. This trial was highly controversial however. Supporters argued that these actions did not constitute a violation of the "laws or customs of war" clause in the Nuremberg Principles, the rules governing what constituted war crimes that occurred during the war, since it was legal in the German military and that Allied armies had similar provisions in their military codes at the time. German political leaders lobbied for an overturn of the conviction and he was eventually released after serving four months.

He spoke fluent, even sophisticated, English, and was an honored guest in the United States, visiting the Pentagon and, by the invitation of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the White House. In 1968 he lectured at the United States Military Academy at West Point, speaking about combat in deep snow winter conditions (from personal experience) and worked as a technical adviser on war films and was featured in Cornelius Ryan's The Last Battle. He also featured in the acclaimed documentary, The World at War.

Hasso von Manteuffel died while on a vacation in Reith im Alpbachtal, Austria on 24 September 1978.

Personal life

He married Armgard von Kleist, the niece of Ewald von Kleist, on 23 June 1921. They had two children.


Wehrmachtbericht references

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
8 October 1943 Die 7. Panzerdivision unter dem Kommando des Generalmajors v. Manteuffel hat sich in den Kämpfen am mittleren Dnjepr in schneidigen Angriffen und zähem Aushalten ruhmvoll bewährt.[10] The 7th Armoured Division under the command of Major-General von Manteuffel has proved itself gloriously in battle on the middle Dnieper in dashing attacks and tough enduring.
16 November 1943 In den schweren Kämpfen der letzten Wochen haben sich im Kampfgebiet von Kiew die thüringische 7. Panzerdivision unter Führung von Generalmajor v. Manteuffel und auf der Krim die fränkisch-sudetendeutsche 98. Infanteriedivision unter Führung von Generalleutnant Gareis besonders ausgezeichnet.[11] In the heavy fighting of recent weeks in the combat zone of Kiev, the Thuringian 7th Armored Division, led by Major-General von Manteuffel and on the Crimea, the Franco-Sudeten 98th Infantry Division under the command of Lieutenant-General Gareis have particularly excelled.
14 March 1944 So haben sich in den letzten Tagen die Panzergrenadierdivision "Großdeutschland" unter Führung des Generalleutnants v. Manteuffel und die Truppen des LIX. Armeekorps unter Führung des Generalleutnant Friedrich Wilhelm Schulz besonders hervorgetan.[12] Thus in the last days, the Panzer Grenadier Division "Großdeutschland" under the leadership of Lieutenant-General von Manteuffel and the troops of the LIX. Army Corps under the command of Lieutenant-General Friedrich Wilhelm Schulz have particularly excelled.
8 May 1944 In diesen Kämpfen hat sich die Panzerdivision "Großdeutschland" unter Generalleutnant v. Manteuffel besonders ausgezeichnet.[13] In these battles, the Panzer Division "Großdeutschland" under command of Lieutenant-General von Manteuffel has especially excelled.




  • Berger, Florian (1999). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges (in German). Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 978-3-9501307-0-6. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Brownlow, Donald Grey (1975). Panzer Baron: the military exploits of General Hasso von Manteuffel. North Quincy: The Christopher Publishing House. ISBN 0-8158-0325-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Fraschka, Günther (1994). Knights of the Reich. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Military/Aviation History. ISBN 978-0-88740-580-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Manteuffel, Hasso von (January 2000). The 7th Panzer Division: An Illustrated History of Rommel's "Ghost Division" 1938–1945. Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 0-7643-1208-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).
  • Searle, Alaric (2003). Wehrmacht Generals, West German Society, and the Debate on Rearmament, 1949–1959. Westport, CT: Praeger Pub.
  • 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 (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • von Schaulen, Joachim (1983). Hasso von Manteuffel: Panzerkampf in Zweiten Weltkrig. Berg am See.
  • Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Williamson, Gordon (2006). Knight's Cross with Diamonds Recipients 1941–45. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-644-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, 1. Januar 1942 bis 31. Dezember 1943 (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, 1. Januar 1944 bis 9. Mai 1945 (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

  • Hasso von Manteuffel in the German National Library catalogue
  • Meyer, Georg (1990), "Manteuffel, Hasso von", Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB) (in Deutsch), 16, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, p. 92<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; (full text online)
  • "Hasso von Manteuffel". Lexikon der Wehrmacht (in German). Retrieved 3 April 2013. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Ergebenster v. Manteuffel". Der Spiegel (in German). 9. 1950. Retrieved 3 April 2013. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Hasso von Manteuffel". Der Spiegel (in German). 47. 1955. Retrieved 3 April 2013. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Hasso von Manteuffel". Der Spiegel (in German). 13. 1956. Retrieved 3 April 2013. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Hasso von Manteuffel". Der Spiegel (in German). 30. 1957. Retrieved 3 April 2013. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Hasso von Manteuffel". Der Spiegel (in German). 32. 1960. Retrieved 3 April 2013. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Hasso von Manteuffel". Der Spiegel (in German). 37. 1964. Retrieved 3 April 2013. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • "Hasso von Manteuffel". Der Spiegel (in German). 40. 1978. Retrieved 3 April 2013. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Military offices
Preceded by
Generalmajor Friedrich Freiherr von Broich
Commander of Division von Manteuffel
7 February 1943 – 31 March 1943
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Karl Bülowius
Preceded by
Oberst Wolfgang Gläsemer
Commander of 7th Panzer Division
20 August 1943 – January 1944
Succeeded by
Generalmajor Adelbert Schulz
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Walter Hörnlein
Commander of Panzergrenadier-Division Großdeutschland
27 January 1944 – 1 September 1944
Succeeded by
Oberst Karl Lorenz
Preceded by
SS-Oberstgruppenführer Sepp Dietrich
Commander of 5th Panzer Army
9 September 1944 – 8 March 1945
Succeeded by
Generaloberst Josef Harpe
Preceded by
Generaloberst Erhard Raus
Commander of 3rd Panzer Army
10 March 1945 – 8 May 1945
Succeeded by