Heinz Guderian
Overview
 
Heinz Wilhelm Guderian (17 June 1888 – 14 May 1954) was a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 general during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. He was a pioneer in the development of armored warfare
Armoured warfare
Armoured warfare or tank warfare is the use of armoured fighting vehicles in modern warfare. It is a major component of modern methods of war....

, and was the leading proponent of tank
Tank
A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

s and mechanization in the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 (German Armed Forces). Germany's panzer (armored) forces were raised and organized under his direction as Chief of Mobile Forces. During the war, he was a highly successful commander of panzer forces in several campaigns, became Inspector-General of Armored Troops, rose to the rank of Generaloberst, and was Chief of the General Staff
German General Staff
The German General Staff was an institution whose rise and development gave the German armed forces a decided advantage over its adversaries. The Staff amounted to its best "weapon" for nearly a century and a half....

 of the Heer in the last year of the war.
Guderian was born in Kulm, West Prussia
West Prussia
West Prussia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773–1824 and 1878–1919/20 which was created out of the earlier Polish province of Royal Prussia...

, (now Chełmno, Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

).
Quotations

Klotzen, nicht Kleckern! (Boot'em, don't spatter'em!)

This is Guderian's most famous quote, which has become a stock phrase. It is said that Adolf Hitler was so impressed by the quote that he often used it. It roughly means "Don't do things by half." Quoted in "How Great Generals Win" - Page 227 - by Bevin Alexander - History - 1993

Es gibt keine verzweifelten Lagen, es gibt nur verzweifelte Menschen. (There are no desperate situations, there are only desperate people.)

Quoted in "Die Deutschen gepanzerten Truppen bis 1945" by Oskar Munzel - Tanks (Military science) - 1965

Der Motor des Panzers ist ebenso seine Waffe wie die Kanone. (The engine of the Panzer is a weapon just as the main-gun.)

Quoted in "Die Deutschen gepanzerten Truppen bis 1945" - Page 159 - by Oskar Munzel - Tanks (Military science) - 1965

Fahrkarte bis zur Endstation. (Ticket to the last station.)

Shouting to his Panzertroops when they were roaring past him, meaning that they should go as far as they could. Quoted in "Panzerkrieg: The Rise and Fall of Hitler's Tank Divisions" - Page 83 - by Peter McCarthy, Mike Syron - Technology - 2003

We have severely underestimated the Russians, the extent of the country and the treachery of the climate. This is the revenge of reality.

Quoted in "Images of Kursk: History's Greatest Tank Battle, July 1943" - Page 7 - by Nikolas Cornish - History - 2002

If the tanks succeed, then victory follows.

Quoted in "Panzerkrieg: The Rise and Fall of Hitler's Tank Divisions" - Page 33 - by Peter McCarthy, Mike Syron - Technology - 2003

Logistics is the ball and chain of armored warfare.

Quoted in "Sword Point" - Page 141 - by Harold Coyle - 1988

It's simply our duty to save these people, and we still have time to remove them! But it's useless to sacrifice men in this senseless way. It's high time! We must evacuate those soldiers at once!

To Adolf Hitler, about the German army being cut off in Courland. Quoted in "Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs" - Page 534 - by Albert Speer - National socialists - 1971

Man schlägt jemanden mit der Faust und nicht mit gespreizten Fingern. (You hit somebody with your fist and not with your fingers spread.)

Meaning that you should concentrate your Panzers for one mighty push in one direction and not distribute them over a large area. Quoted in "Die Deutschen gepanzerten Truppen bis 1945" - Page 209 - by Oskar Munzel - Tanks (Military science) - 1965

Encyclopedia
Heinz Wilhelm Guderian (17 June 1888 – 14 May 1954) was a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 general during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. He was a pioneer in the development of armored warfare
Armoured warfare
Armoured warfare or tank warfare is the use of armoured fighting vehicles in modern warfare. It is a major component of modern methods of war....

, and was the leading proponent of tank
Tank
A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

s and mechanization in the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 (German Armed Forces). Germany's panzer (armored) forces were raised and organized under his direction as Chief of Mobile Forces. During the war, he was a highly successful commander of panzer forces in several campaigns, became Inspector-General of Armored Troops, rose to the rank of Generaloberst, and was Chief of the General Staff
German General Staff
The German General Staff was an institution whose rise and development gave the German armed forces a decided advantage over its adversaries. The Staff amounted to its best "weapon" for nearly a century and a half....

 of the Heer in the last year of the war.

Early career

Guderian was born in Kulm, West Prussia
West Prussia
West Prussia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773–1824 and 1878–1919/20 which was created out of the earlier Polish province of Royal Prussia...

, (now Chełmno, Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

). From 1901 to 1907 Guderian attended various military schools. He entered the Army in 1907 as an ensign-cadet in the (Hanoverian) Jäger Bataillon No. 10, commanded at that point by his father, Friedrich Guderian. After attending the war academy in Metz
Metz
Metz is a city in the northeast of France located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers.Metz is the capital of the Lorraine region and prefecture of the Moselle department. Located near the tripoint along the junction of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, Metz forms a central place...

 he was made a Leutnant (full Lieutenant) in 1908. In 1911 Guderian joined the 3rd Telegraphen-Battalion of the Prussian Army Signal Corps. In October 1913 he married Margarete Goerne with whom he had two sons, Heinz
Heinz Günther Guderian
Heinz Günther Guderian was a German officer in the Wehrmacht and later a Major General and Inspector of Panzer Troops in the West German Bundeswehr and NATO. He was the son of World War II General Heinz Guderian....

 (1914–2004) and Kurt (1918-1984). Both sons became highly decorated Wehrmacht officers during World War II; Heinz Günter became a Panzer general in the Bundeswehr
Bundeswehr
The Bundeswehr consists of the unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities...

 after the war.

During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 he served as a Signals and General Staff officer. This allowed him to get an overall view of battlefield conditions. He often disagreed with his superiors and was transferred to the army intelligence department, where he remained until the end of the war. This second assignment, while removed from the battlefield, sharpened his strategic skills. He disagreed with German surrender at the end of World War I, believing German Empire should continue the fight writing "the most the Allies can do is to destroy us"

After the war, Guderian stayed in the reduced 100,000-man German Army (Reichswehr
Reichswehr
The Reichswehr formed the military organisation of Germany from 1919 until 1935, when it was renamed the Wehrmacht ....

) as a company commander in the 10th Jäger-Battalion. Later he joined the Truppenamt
Truppenamt
The Truppenamt or 'Troop Office' was the cover organisation for the German General Staff from 1919 through until 1933 when the General Staff was re-created. This subterfuge was deemed necessary in order for Germany to be seen to meet the requirements of the Versailles Treaty...

("Troop Office"), which was actually the Army's "General-Staff-in-waiting" (an official General Staff was forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

). In 1927 Guderian was promoted to major and transferred to the Truppenamt group for Army transport and motorized tactics in Berlin. This put him at the center of German development of armored forces. Guderian, who was fluent in both English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 studied the works of British maneuver warfare
Maneuver warfare
Maneuver warfare, or manoeuvre warfare , is the term used by military theorists for a concept of warfare that advocates attempting to defeat an adversary by incapacitating their decision-making through shock and disruption brought about by movement...

 theorists J. F. C. Fuller and, debatably, B. H. Liddell Hart; also the writings, interestingly enough, of the then-obscure Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle
Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French general and statesman who led the Free French Forces during World War II. He later founded the French Fifth Republic in 1958 and served as its first President from 1959 to 1969....

. He translated these works into German.

In 1931 he was promoted to Oberstleutnant
Oberstleutnant
Oberstleutnant is a German Army and Air Force rank equal to Lieutenant Colonel, above Major, and below Oberst.There are two paygrade associated to the rank of Oberstleutnant...

 (Lieutenant-Colonel) and became chief of staff to the Inspectorate of Motorized Troops under Generalleutnant (Major-General) Oswald Lutz
Oswald Lutz
General Oswald Lutz was a German General who oversaw the motorization of the German Army in the late 1920s and early 1930s and was appointed as the first General der Panzertruppe of the Wehrmacht in 1935....

. In 1933 he was promoted to Oberst
Oberst
Oberst is a military rank in several German-speaking and Scandinavian countries, equivalent to Colonel. It is currently used by both the ground and air forces of Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and Norway. The Swedish rank överste is a direct translation, as are the Finnish rank eversti...

 (Colonel).

During this period, he wrote many papers on mechanized warfare, which were seen in the German Army as authoritative. These papers were based on extensive wargaming without troops, with paper tanks and finally with armored vehicles. Britain at this time was experimenting with tanks under General Hobart
Percy Hobart
Major-General Sir Percy Cleghorn Stanley Hobart KBE CB DSO MC , also known as "Hobo", was a British military engineer, noted for his command of the 79th Armoured Division during World War II...

, and Guderian kept abreast of Hobart's writings using, at his own expense, someone to translate all the articles being published in Britain.

In October 1935 he was made commander of the newly created 2nd Panzer Division (one of three). On 1 August 1936 he was promoted to Generalmajor, and on 4 February 1938 he was promoted to Generalleutnant and given command of the XVI Army Corps.

During this period (1936–1937), Guderian produced his most important written work, his book Achtung - Panzer!
Achtung - Panzer!
Achtung – Panzer! by Heinz Guderian is a seminal work on the application of motorized warfare. First published in 1937, it argues for the use of tanks and motorized support vehicles in mobile warfare, later known as Blitzkrieg tactics. The ideas presented in the book heavily influenced the military...

It was a highly persuasive compilation of Guderian's own theories and the armored warfare and combined-arms warfare ideas of other General Staff officers, expounding the use of airpower as well as tanks in future ground combat.

The German panzer forces were created largely on the lines laid down by Guderian in Achtung - Panzer!

Guderian's theory

The British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 was the first to conceive and attempt armoured warfare, and though British theorists were the first to propose the concept of "Blitzkrieg
Blitzkrieg
For other uses of the word, see: Blitzkrieg Blitzkrieg is an anglicized word describing all-motorised force concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery, combat engineers and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the lines are broken,...

" (lightning warfare), the British did not fully develop it. During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, the German army had developed the idea of breaking through a static front by concentration of combined arms, which they applied in their 1918 Spring Offensive
Spring Offensive
The 1918 Spring Offensive or Kaiserschlacht , also known as the Ludendorff Offensive, was a series of German attacks along the Western Front during World War I, beginning on 21 March 1918, which marked the deepest advances by either side since 1914...

. But they failed to gain decisive results because the breakthrough elements were on foot and could not sustain the impetus of the initial attack.

Motorized infantry was the key to sustaining a breakthrough, and until the 1930s that was not possible. Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky
Mikhail Tukhachevsky
Mikhail Nikolayevich Tukhachevsky was a Marshal of the Soviet Union, commander in chief of the Red Army , and one of the most prominent victims of Joseph Stalin's Great Purge.-Early life:...

 pursued the idea, but his doctrine was repudiated as contrary to Communist
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 principles, and Tukhachevsky was executed in 1937.

Guderian was the first who fully developed and advocated the strategy of blitzkrieg and put it into its final shape. He summarized the tactics of blitzkrieg as the way to get the mobile and motorized armoured divisions to work together and support each other in order to achieve decisive success. In his book Panzer Leader he wrote:

"In this year (1929) I became convinced that tanks working on their own or in conjunction with infantry could never achieve decisive importance. My historical studies; the exercises carried out in England and our own experience with mock-ups had persuaded me that the tanks would never be able to produce their full effect until weapons on whose support they must inevitably rely were brought up to their standard of speed and of cross-country performance. In such formation of all arms, the tanks must play primary role, the other weapons being subordinated to the requirements of the armour. It would be wrong to include tanks in infantry divisions: what was needed were armoured divisions which would include all the supporting arms needed to fight with full effect."


Guderian believed that certain developments in technology needed to take place in conjunction with blitzkrieg in order to support the entire theory, especially in communication and special visual equipment with which the armored divisions in general, and tanks specifically, should be equipped. Guderian insisted in 1933, within the high command, that every tank in the German armoured force must be equipped with radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 and visual equipment in order to enable the tank commander to communicate and perform a decisive role in blitzkrieg.

World War II

In the Second World War, Guderian first served as the commander of the XIX Corps in the invasion of Poland
Invasion of Poland (1939)
The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War in Poland and the Poland Campaign in Germany, was an invasion of Poland by Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small Slovak contingent that marked the start of World War II in Europe...

. He personally led the German forces during the Battle of Wizna
Battle of Wizna
The Battle of Wizna was fought between September 7 and September 10, 1939, between the forces of Poland and Germany during the initial stages of Invasion of Poland. It was arguably the most heroic battle in the campaign, in which 720 Poles defended a fortified line for three days against more than...

 and Battle of Kobryn
Battle of Kobryn
The Battle of Kobryń was one of the battles of the Invasion of Poland. It was fought between September 14 and September 18, 1939, between the German XIX Panzer Corps of General Heinz Guderian and the improvised Polish "Kobryń" Infantry Division of Colonel Adam Epler...

 testing his theory against the reality of war for the first time. After the invasion he took property in the Warthegau area of occupied Poland, evicting the Polish estate owners. In the Invasion of France, he personally led the attack that traversed the Ardennes Forest, crossed the Meuse River and broke through the French lines at Sedan
Sedan, France
Sedan is a commune in France, a sub-prefecture of the Ardennes department in northern France.-Geography:The historic centre is built on a peninsula formed by an arc of the Meuse River. It is around from the Belgian border.-History:...

. During the French campaign, he led his panzer forces in rapid blitzkrieg-style advances and earned the nickname "Der schnelle Heinz" (Fast Heinz) among his troops. Guderian's panzer group led the "race to the sea" that split the Allied armies in two, depriving the French armies and the BEF
British Expeditionary Force (World War II)
The British Expeditionary Force was the British force in Europe from 1939–1940 during the Second World War. Commanded by General Lord Gort, the BEF constituted one-tenth of the defending Allied force....

 in Northern France and Belgium of their fuel, food, spare parts and ammunition. Faced with orders from nervous superiors to halt on one occasion, he managed to continue his advance by stating he was performing a 'reconnaissance in force'. Guderian's column was famously denied the chance to destroy the Allied beachhead at Dunkirk by an order coming from high command.

In 1941 he commanded Panzergruppe 2, also known as Panzergruppe Guderian, in Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

, the German invasion of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, receiving the 24th award of the Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was a grade of the 1939 version of the 1813 created Iron Cross . The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was the highest award of Germany to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership during World War II...

 on 17 July of that year. From 5 October 1941 he led the redesignated Second Panzer Army. His armored spearhead captured Smolensk in a remarkably short time and was poised to launch the final assault on Moscow when he was ordered to turn south towards Kiev
Battle of Kiev (1941)
The Battle of Kiev was the German name for the operation that resulted in a very large encirclement of Soviet troops in the vicinity of Kiev during World War II. It is considered the largest encirclement of troops in history. The operation ran from 23 August – 26 September 1941 as part of Operation...

 (see Lötzen decision).

He protested against Hitler's
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 decision and as a result lost the Führer's confidence. He was relieved of his command on 25 December 1941 after Fieldmarshal Günther von Kluge, not noted for his ability to face up to Hitler, claimed that Guderian had ordered a withdrawal in contradiction of Hitler's "stand fast" order. Guderian was transferred to the Oberkommando des Heeres
Oberkommando des Heeres
The Oberkommando des Heeres was Nazi Germany's High Command of the Army from 1936 to 1945. The Oberkommando der Wehrmacht commanded OKH only in theory...

(OKH) reserve pool, his chances of being promoted to fieldmarshal, which depended on Hitler's personal decision, possibly ruined forever. Guderian would deny that he ordered any kind of withdrawal. Ironically this act of apparent insubordination is cited by his admirers as further proof of his independence of spirit when dealing with Hitler. Guderian's own view on the matter was that he had been victimized by von Kluge who was the commanding officer when German troops came to a standstill at the Moscow front in late autumn/winter 1941. At some point he so provoked von Kluge with accusations related to his dismissal that the field marshal challenged him to a duel, which Hitler forbade.

After his dismissal Guderian and his wife retired to a 2000 acres (8.1 km²) sequestered country estate at Deipenhof in the Reichsgau Wartheland
Reichsgau Wartheland
Reichsgau Wartheland was a Nazi German Reichsgau formed from Polish territory annexed in 1939. It comprised the Greater Poland and adjacent areas, and only in part matched the area of the similarly named pre-Versailles Prussian province of Posen...

.

In September 1942, when Erwin Rommel
Erwin Rommel
Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel , popularly known as the Desert Fox , was a German Field Marshal of World War II. He won the respect of both his own troops and the enemies he fought....

 was recuperating in Germany from health problems, he suggested Guderian to OKW as the only one who could replace him temporarily in Africa, the response came in the same night: "Guderian is not accepted". Only after the German defeat at Stalingrad
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

 was Guderian given a new position. On 1 March 1943 he was appointed Inspector-General of the Armoured Troops. Here his responsibilities were to determine armoured strategy and to oversee tank design and production and the training of Germany's panzer forces. He reported to Hitler directly. In Panzer Leader, he conceded that he was fully aware of the brutal occupation policies of the German administration of Ukraine, claiming that this was wholly the responsibility of civilians, about whom he could do nothing.

According to Guderian, Hitler was easily persuaded to field too many new tank designs, and this resulted in supply, logistical, and repair problems for German forces in Russia. Guderian preferred large numbers of Panzer III
Panzer III
Panzer III was the common name of a medium tank that was developed in the 1930s by Germany and was used extensively in World War II. The official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen III translating as "armoured battle vehicle". It was intended to fight other armoured fighting vehicles and...

s and Panzer IV
Panzer IV
The Panzerkampfwagen IV , commonly known as the Panzer IV, was a medium tank developed in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and used extensively during the Second World War. Its ordnance inventory designation was Sd.Kfz...

s over smaller numbers of heavier tanks like the Tiger
Tiger I
Tiger I is the common name of a German heavy tank developed in 1942 and used in World War II. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. E, often shortened to Tiger. It was an answer to the unexpectedly formidable Soviet armour encountered in the initial months of...

, which had limited range and could rarely go off-road without getting stuck in the Russian mud.

On 21 July 1944, after the failure of the July 20 Plot
July 20 Plot
On 20 July 1944, an attempt was made to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Führer of the Third Reich, inside his Wolf's Lair field headquarters near Rastenburg, East Prussia. The plot was the culmination of the efforts of several groups in the German Resistance to overthrow the Nazi-led German government...

 in which Guderian had no involvement, Guderian was appointed chief of staff of the army (Chef des Generalstabs des Heeres) as a successor to Kurt Zeitzler
Kurt Zeitzler
Kurt Zeitzler was an officer in the German Reichswehr and its successor the Wehrmacht, most prominent for being the Chief of the Army General Staff from 1942 to 1944.- World War I and after :...

, who had departed July 1 after a nervous breakdown. During his tenure as chief of staff, he let it be known that any General Staff officer who was not prepared to be "a National Socialist officer" was not welcome on that body. He also served on the "Court of Military Honour," a drumhead court-martial
Drumhead court-martial
A drumhead court-martial is a court-martial held in the field to hear urgent charges of offences committed in action. The term is said to originate from the use of a drumhead as an improvised writing table, altar for religious services, and a traditional gathering point for a regiment for orders...

 that expelled many of the officers involved in the July 20 Plot from the Army before handing them over to the People's Court.

However, he had a long series of violent rows with Hitler over the way in which Germany should handle the war on both fronts. Hitler finally dismissed Guderian on 28 March 1945 after a shouting-match over the failed counterattack of General Theodor Busse
Theodor Busse
Ernst Hermann August Theodor Busse was a German officer during World War I and World War II.- Career :...

's 9th Army to break through to units encircled at Küstrin
Kostrzyn nad Odra
Kostrzyn nad Odrą is a town in western Poland, at the confluence of the Oder and Warta rivers, on the border with Germany. Located in the Lubusz Voivodeship, in Gorzów County, it had 19,952 inhabitants as of 2007.- History :...

; he stated to Guderian that "your physical health requires that you immediately take six weeks convalescent leave," ("Health problems" were commonly used as a facade in the Third Reich to remove executives who for some reason could not simply be sacked, but from episodes Guderian describes in his memoirs it is evident that he actually did suffer from congestive heart failure.) He was replaced by General Hans Krebs
Hans Krebs (general)
Hans Krebs was a German Army general of infantry who served during World War II.-Early life:Krebs was born in Helmstedt. He volunteered for service in the Imperial German Army in 1914, was promoted to lieutenant in 1915, and to first lieutenant in 1925...

.

Life after the war

Together with his Panzer staff, Guderian surrendered to American troops
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 on 10 May 1945 and remained in U.S. custody as a prisoner of war until his release on 17 June 1948. Despite Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and Polish
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 government protests, he was not charged with any war crime
War crime
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

s during the Nuremberg Trials
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

, as his actions and behaviour were thought to be consistent with those of a professional soldier.

After the war he was often invited to attend meetings of British veterans' groups, where he analyzed past battles with his old foes. During the early 1950s he was active in advising on the redevelopment of the West German army: Bundeswehr (see Searle's Wehrmacht Generals).

Guderian died on 14 May 1954 at the age of 65, in Schwangau
Schwangau
Schwangau is a municipality in the district of Ostallgäu in Bavaria, Germany. The village lies 4 km from the larger town of Füssen and just 1.5 km from Hohenschwangau, a collection of tourist-oriented facilities adjacent to the major tourist attractions of Schloss Neuschwanstein and Schloss...

 near Füssen
Füssen
Füssen is a town in Bavaria, Germany, in the district of Ostallgäu situated from the Austrian border. It is located on the banks of the Lech river. The River Lech flows into the Forggensee...

 (Southern Bavaria
Allgäu
The Allgäu is a southern German region in Swabia. It covers the south of Bavarian Swabia and southeastern Baden-Württemberg. The region stretches from the prealpine lands up to the Alps...

) and is buried at the Friedhof Hildesheimer Strasse in Goslar
Goslar
Goslar is a historic town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the administrative centre of the district of Goslar and located on the northwestern slopes of the Harz mountain range. The Old Town of Goslar and the Mines of Rammelsberg are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.-Geography:Goslar is situated at the...

.

In 2000, a documentary titled Guderian, directed by Anton Vassil
Anton Vassil
Anton Vassil is a screenwriter/film director who worked on various feature films, music videos, commercials and documentaries. With a Master's degree from Loyola Marymount University film school, Vassil directed his first feature Marching out of Time and went on to direct a series of films and...

, was aired on French television. It featured Guderian's son, Heinz Günther Guderian
Heinz Günther Guderian
Heinz Günther Guderian was a German officer in the Wehrmacht and later a Major General and Inspector of Panzer Troops in the West German Bundeswehr and NATO. He was the son of World War II General Heinz Guderian....

, (who became a prominent General in the post-war German Bundeswehr and NATO) along with other notables such as Field Marshal Lord Carver
Michael Carver, Baron Carver
Field Marshal Richard Michael Power Carver, Baron Carver GCB, CBE, DSO & Bar, MC was a British soldier. He served as the Chief of the Defence Staff of the United Kingdom and thus the professional head of the British Armed Forces.-Army career:Educated at Winchester College, Michael Carver was...

 (129th British Field Marshal), expert historians Kenneth Macksey
Kenneth Macksey
Kenneth John Macksey was a British author and historian who specialized in military history and military biography, particularly of World War II. Macksey was commissioned in the Royal Armoured Corps and served in World War II under the command of Percy Hobart, later writing the biography of...

 and Heinz Wilhelm. Using rarely seen photographs from Guderian's private collection, the documentary provides an inside view into the life and career of Guderian and draws a profile of Guderian's character and the moral responsibility of the German general staff under Hitler.

The Enigma machine
Enigma machine
An Enigma machine is any of a family of related electro-mechanical rotor cipher machines used for the encryption and decryption of secret messages. Enigma was invented by German engineer Arthur Scherbius at the end of World War I...

 belonging to Guderian
Guderian
Guderian may refer to:People with the surname Guderian:*Heinz Guderian, a military theorist and innovative General of the German Army during the Second World War....

 is on display at the Intelligence Corps museum in Chicksands
Chicksands
Chicksands is a village in the Central Bedfordshire district of Bedfordshire, England and part of the civil parish of Campton and Chicksands . It is on the River Flit. Nearby places are Shefford and Campton....

, Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire is a ceremonial county of historic origin in England that forms part of the East of England region.It borders Cambridgeshire to the north-east, Northamptonshire to the north, Buckinghamshire to the west and Hertfordshire to the south-east....

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

.

Awards and decorations

  • Iron Cross
    Iron Cross
    The Iron Cross is a cross symbol typically in black with a white or silver outline that originated after 1219 when the Kingdom of Jerusalem granted the Teutonic Order the right to combine the Teutonic Black Cross placed above a silver Cross of Jerusalem....

     (1914) 2nd Class on 17 September 1914
  • Iron Cross
    Iron Cross
    The Iron Cross is a cross symbol typically in black with a white or silver outline that originated after 1219 when the Kingdom of Jerusalem granted the Teutonic Order the right to combine the Teutonic Black Cross placed above a silver Cross of Jerusalem....

     (1914) 1st Class on 8 November 1916
  • Cross of Honor
    Cross of Honor
    The Cross of Honor, also known as the Honor Cross or, popularly, the Hindenburg Cross, was a commemorative medal inaugurated on July 13, 1934 by Reichspräsident Paul von Hindenburg for those soldiers of Imperial Germany who fought in World War I...

     in 1934
  • Anschluss Medal
    Anschluss Medal
    The Anschluss Commemorative Medal was a decoration of Nazi Germany awarded in the interwar period.-Description:Instituted on May 1, 1938, the medal commemorated the return of Austria to the German Reich...

     (13 March 1938)
  • Sudetenland Medal
    Sudetenland Medal
    The The Sudetenland Commemorative Medal was a decoration of Nazi Germany awarded in the interwar period.-Description:...

     with Prague Castle Bar (1 October 1938)
  • Iron Cross
    Iron Cross
    The Iron Cross is a cross symbol typically in black with a white or silver outline that originated after 1219 when the Kingdom of Jerusalem granted the Teutonic Order the right to combine the Teutonic Black Cross placed above a silver Cross of Jerusalem....

     (1939) 2nd Class on 5 September 1939

  • Iron Cross
    Iron Cross
    The Iron Cross is a cross symbol typically in black with a white or silver outline that originated after 1219 when the Kingdom of Jerusalem granted the Teutonic Order the right to combine the Teutonic Black Cross placed above a silver Cross of Jerusalem....

     (1939) 1st Class on 13 September 1939
  • Panzer Badge in Silver
    Panzer Badge
    The Panzer Badge was a German medal awarded to armour troops during World War II. It was introduced during World War II in December 1939 .- History :The Tank Combat Badge, or Panzer Badge, first existed in the German Army during World War I, and was later...

  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
    Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
    The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was a grade of the 1939 version of the 1813 created Iron Cross . The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was the highest award of Germany to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership during World War II...

     with Oak Leaves
    • Knight's Cross on 27 October 1939 as General der Panzertruppe
      General der Panzertruppe
      General der Panzertruppe was a rank of German Army General introduced by the Wehrmacht in 1935. As the commander of a Panzer Corp this rank corresponds to a US Army Lieutenant-General...

      and commander of the XIX Army Corps
    • 24th Oak Leaves on 17 July 1941 as Generaloberst and commander of Panzer Gruppe 2
  • Mentioned 5 times in the Wehrmachtbericht
    Wehrmachtbericht
    The Wehrmachtbericht was a daily radio report on the Großdeutscher Rundfunk of Nazi Germany, published by the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht regarding the military situation on all fronts of World War II....

     (6 August 1941, 7 August 1941, 21 September 1941, 18 October 1941 and 19 October 1941)


Books by Heinz Guderian

Guderian describes what he would do if he were in charge of German tank forces. Guderian describes what he did when he was in charge of German tank forces. It was originally published with the German title Erinnerungen eines Soldaten (Memories of a Soldier) (Kurt Vowinckel Verlag, Heidelberg 1950; 10th edition 1977).

Further reading

  • Corum, James, The Roots of Bltzkrieg (1992)
  • Macksey, Kenneth
    Kenneth Macksey
    Kenneth John Macksey was a British author and historian who specialized in military history and military biography, particularly of World War II. Macksey was commissioned in the Royal Armoured Corps and served in World War II under the command of Percy Hobart, later writing the biography of...

    , Guderian: Panzer General (1992, revision of Guderian, Creator of the Blitzkrieg, 1976)
  • Kershaw, Ian
    Ian Kershaw
    Sir Ian Kershaw is a British historian of 20th-century Germany whose work has chiefly focused on the period of the Third Reich...

    , Hitler 1936–1945: Nemesis (2001)
  • Searle, Alaric, Wehrmacht Generals, West German Society, and the Debate on Rearmament, 1949-1959, Praeger Pub., (2003).
  • Walde, Karl J., Guderian (1978)
  • Antony Beevor, "Berlin: The Downfall"(2002)

External links

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