Heinrich Eberbach

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Heinrich Eberbach
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1976-096-08, Heinrich Eberbach.jpg
Eberbach as an Oberst in the Panzerwaffe.
Born (1895-11-24)24 November 1895
Stuttgart, Kingdom of Württemberg, German Empire
Died 13 July 1992(1992-07-13) (aged 96)
Notzingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer
Years of service 1914–20, 1935–45
Rank General der Panzertruppe
Commands held Panzer-Regiment 35
5. Panzer-Brigade
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
Other work Polizei (1920–35)

Heinrich Kurt Alfons Willy Eberbach (24 November 1895 – 13 July 1992) was a German General der Panzertruppen in the German Army of World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

Early life and career

Eberbach was born on 24 November 1895 in Stuttgart, at the time the capital of the Kingdom of Württemberg in the German Empire. His father, a merchant, died when he was six years old. Subsequently his mother raised him and the other four children by herself. From Easter 1911 onwards, Eberbach attended the Oberrealschule, a secondary school, in Stuttgart and graduated with his Abitur (diploma) on 30 June 1914.[1] During late 1914 Eberbach fought in France as a corporal, and by February 1915 he was promoted to Lieutenant. During 1915 he was wounded twice in France, lost his nose due to a French bullet (a rubber replacement was made) and was captured by the French. In December 1916 he was exchanged for a French prisoner and by 1918 he was posted to Palestine. As he spoke the Turkish language, he served on the staff of the Turkish Eighth Army.

Interwar period

During the 1920s Eberbach was an officer in the civilian police in Württemberg and in 1935 joined the German army (Heer). In 1937 he was promoted to Oberstleutnant and in 1938 be became commander of Panzer-Regiment 35, part of the newly formed 4.Panzer-Division under Generalmajor Georg-Hans Reinhardt in Bamberg.

World War II

Eberbach participated in the German Invasion of Poland in September 1939 by leading his Panzer-Regiment 35 into battles near Łódź and into Warsaw.

In 1940, he commanded Panzer-Regiment 35 in the Battle of France. His force supported General Manteuffel's offensive across the Meuse River in May; in June they swept across France to Lyon.

Eberbach was still in command of Panzer-Regiment 35 at the start of the June 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union, being promoted six weeks later to commander of the 5.Panzer-Brigade in Generaloberst Guderian's XXIV.Panzer-Korps. By March 1942 he had been promoted to Major General and made commander of the 4.Panzer-Division, in the German lines opposite the Russian town of Sukhinichi, roughly 120 miles west of Tula.

Heinrich Eberbach's uniform (Deutsches Panzermuseum Munster)

In late November 1942 Eberbach was appointed commander of the XLVIII.Panzer-Korps, the battered armored formation that had just been overrun and pushed aside in the initial days of Operation Uranus. Eberbach was soon wounded and evacuated, remaining hospitalized until February. He then became Inspector of the Armored Troops in the Home Army, was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and promoted to Lieutenant General.

In November 1943 Eberbach became commander of troops around Nikopol and fought in battles around Zhitomir in the Soviet Union. In December he incurred a kidney illness and was later made Inspector of Panzer Troops.

In early 1944 Eberbach was promoted to the rank of General der Panzertruppen. During the Normandy invasion, he fought against the British landings along the 'Juno' and 'Sword' beaches. On 2 July he took command of "Panzer Group West" (5th Panzer Army) when Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg was wounded. On 9 August, this force was divided, with 5th Panzer Army retreating with the most damaged units; the effective units were reorganized as Panzergruppe Eberbach.

Eberbach was directed to lead this force in the counterattack through Mortain toward Avranches that was intended to cut off the Allied forces which had broken out of Normandy. He had no confidence in this attack.

"On or about 1 Aug 44, Gen Warlimont, of OKW, arrived at my headquarters to get a closer view of the situation ... I told him I considered it [the Mortain attack] hopeless because enemy air forces would soon stop the attack ... I further said that in my opinion the only possible solution was an immediate retreat to the Seine-Yonne line."[2] However, Warlimont denied Eberbach's request to withdraw, and instead confirmed the order to attack.

The attack failed, and most of Panzergruppe Eberbach and 7.Armee was surrounded and destroyed in the Falaise Pocket. Eberbach escaped and was given command of the remnants of 7.Armee on 21 August. On 31 August while out on a reconnaissance patrol, Eberbach was captured by British troops at Amiens.

Post World War II

At Trent Park POW camp.

Eberbach was held in a prisoner-of-war camp until 1948 and shortly thereafter he became the director of a Protestant charity. During the early 1950s he was active in advising on the redevelopment of the German army: Bundeswehr (see Searle's Wehrmacht Generals).



9 October 1914: Fahnenjunker-Gefreiter[5]
17 October 1914: Fahnenjunker-Unteroffizier[5]
17 October 1914: Fähnrich[5]
25 February 1915: Leutnant (Second Lieutenant) with patent dated 23 June 1913[5]
18 October 1918: Oberleutnant (First Lieutenant)[5]
13 December 1919: Polizei-Oberleutnant (First Lieutenant)[5]
30 January 1920: Polizeiwehr-Oberleutnant (First Lieutenant)[5]
18 February 1921: Polizei-Oberleutnant (First Lieutenant)[5]
1 March 1921: Polizei-Hauptmann (Captain)[5]
1 June 1933: Polizei-Major (Major)[5]
1 August 1935: Major (Major) effective as of 1 January 1935[5]
30 September 1937: Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) effective as of 1 October 1937[5]
14 August 1940: Oberst (Colonel) effective as of 1 August 1940[5]
28 February 1942: Generalmajor (Brigadier General) effective as of 1 March 1942[5]
8 April 1942: Generalmajor (Brigadier General) rank age of 1 April 1942[5]
18 December 1943: Generalleutnant (Major General) effective as of 1 January 1943[5]
8 August 1943: General der Panzertruppe (Lieutenant General) effective as of 1 August 1943[5]


  1. According to Alman on 4 October 1917.[6]
  2. According to Alman Friedrich Order 2nd Class with Swords on 10 May 1917.[6]




  • Alman, Karl (2008). Panzer vor - Die dramatische Geschichte der deutschen Panzerwaffe und ihre tapferen Soldaten (in German). Würzburg, Germany: Flechsig Verlag. ISBN 978-3-88189-638-2. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Eberbach, Heinrich (1945–1954). Panzer Group Eberbach and the Falaise Encirclement. Karlsruhe, Germany: Historical Division, Headquarters United States Army, Europe, Foreign Military Studies Branch. OCLC 33089881.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). 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)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Battle of the Falaise Gap, G. Florenton, Hawthron Books, 1967.
  • Battle Group! German Kampfgruppen Action of WWII, James Lucas, Arms & Armour Press, 1993.
  • Bravery in Battle, D. Eshel, ppg. 47-48.
  • Hitler's Commanders, James Lucas, 2000.
  • Panzers in Normandy: General Hans Eberbach and the German Defense of France, 1944, Samuel Mitchem, 2009.
  • Panzer: A Revolution In Warfare, Roger Edwards.
  • 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)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Searle, Alaric (2003). Wehrmacht Generals, West German Society, and the Debate on Rearmament, 1949-1959, Praeger Pub.
  • Stockert, Peter (1996). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1 (in German). Bad Friedrichshall, Germany: Friedrichshaller Rundblick. ISBN 978-3-9802222-7-3. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Wegmann, Günter (2004). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Teil VIIIa: Panzertruppe Band 1: A–E (in German). Bissendorf, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2322-1. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link) CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppen Willibald Freiherr von Langermann und Erlencamp
Commander of 4. Panzer-Division
6 January 1942 – 2 March 1942
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Otto Heidkämper
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Otto Heidkämper
Commander of 4. Panzer-Division
4 April 1942 – 14 November 1942
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Erich Schneider
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppen Hans Cramer
Commander of XLVIII Panzer Corps
26 November 1942 – 30 November 1942
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppen Otto von Knobelsdorff
Preceded by
General der Infanterie Dietrich von Choltitz
Commander of XLVIII Panzer Corps
22 October 1943 – 14 November 1943
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppen Hermann Balck
Preceded by
Waffen SS General Paul Hausser
Commander of 7. Armee
21 August 1944 – 30 August 1944
Succeeded by
General Erich Brandenberger