Heinrich Eberbach

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Heinrich Eberbach
Eberbach in 1941
Born(1895-11-24)24 November 1895
Stuttgart, Kingdom of Württemberg, German Empire
Died13 July 1992(1992-07-13) (aged 96)
Notzingen, Germany
Allegiance German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
Years of service1914–20
Rank General der Panzertruppe
Commands held4th Panzer Division
5th Panzer Army
7th Army
Battles/warsWorld War I

World War II

AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Heinrich Eberbach (24 November 1895 – 13 July 1992) was a German general during World War II who commanded the 5th Panzer Army during the Allied invasion of Normandy. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves of Nazi Germany.

World War I and interwar years[edit]

Heinrich Eberbach was born on 24 November 1895 in Stuttgart, in the German Empire. Eberbach graduated with his Abitur (university-preparatory high school diploma) on 30 June 1914. On 1 July 1914, Eberbach joined the Army of Württemberg.[1] With the outbreak of World War I, Eberbach's unit was deployed on the Western Front.[2] On 16 October 1914, Eberbach was wounded in his thigh by artillery shrapnel.[3] In September 1915, Eberbach was severely wounded, losing part of his nose, and was taken prisoner of war by French forces.[3] During the 1920s Eberbach was a police officer; in 1935 he joined the Wehrmacht. In 1938 Eberbach became commander of a Panzer regiment, in the newly formed 4th Panzer Division under General Georg-Hans Reinhardt.

World War II[edit]

Eberbach participated in the German Invasion of Poland in September 1939 and then in 1940 in the Battle of France. His unit supported General Hasso von Manteuffel's offensive across the Meuse River in May. Shortly after the start of Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, he was assigned as commander of the 5th Panzer Brigade in Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg's XXIV Panzer Corps.

During the Battle of Moscow, Eberbach spearheaded Panzer Group 2's offensive towards Moscow as the commander of a combined-arms kampfgruppe within the 4th Panzer Division.[4] The attack began on September 30 and in only two days of fighting Kampfgruppe Eberbach had achieved a clean breakthrough, advanced over 120 kilometers, and put the entire Soviet Bryansk Front in a disastrous position while suffering negligible losses of its own.[5] Eberbach demonstrated his flexibility as a troop leader by detaching two battalions to assist the 3rd Panzer Division's efforts in the same area of operations near Bryansk, despite serving under a different division.[6] Soviet air attacks and a fuel shortage early on 2 October failed to prevent the kampfgruppe's aggressive combat leaders from advancing on the city of Orel, ending the Soviet industrial relocation efforts there and capturing a key communications hub of the Bryansk Front, on 3 October.[7] Kampfgruppe Eberbach's losses had been light: 6 tanks knocked out, 34 men killed and 121 wounded. This was a small price to pay for the complete rupturing of the Soviet lines and the capture of a city of such strategic value. 4th Panzer division had also captured 1,600 Soviet troops, mostly Kampfgruppe Eberbach's work.[8]

In March 1942 he was made commander of the 4th Panzer Division, in the German lines opposite the Russian town of Sukhinichi, roughly 120 miles west of Tula. In late November 1942 Eberbach was appointed commander of the XLVIII Panzer Corps that had just been overrun in the initial days of Operation Uranus, near the midpoint of the Battle of Stalingrad. 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 early 1944 Eberbach was promoted to the rank of General der Panzertruppe. During the Allied invasion of Normandy, he fought against the British landings along the 'Juno' and 'Sword' beaches. On 4 July he took command of "Panzer Group West" (later, 5th Panzer Army) after Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg was relieved (two days before). 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. According to Eberbach's post-war memoirs, he had no confidence in the attack. When General Warlimont of OKW arrived at his HQ on 1 August to "get a closer look at the situation", Eberbach told him that "the only possible solution was an immediate retreat to the Seine-Yonne line."[9] However, Warlimont denied Eberbach's request to withdraw, and instead confirmed the order to attack.

The attack failed, and most of Panzergruppe Eberbach and 7th Army was surrounded and destroyed in the Falaise Pocket. Eberbach escaped and was given command of the remnants of 7th Army on 21 August. On 31 August Eberbach was surprised in his bed and captured by British troops at Amiens.[10]He was later presented to Lieutenant General Brian Horrocks.

Post World War II[edit]

At Trent Park POW camp

Eberbach was held in a prisoner-of-war camp until 1948. He participated in the work of the U.S. Army Historical Division, where, under the guidance of Franz Halder, German generals wrote World War II operational studies for the U.S. Army, first as POWs and then as employees.[11] Eberbach was the father of the naval officer Heinz-Eugen Eberbach, commander of U-967 and U-230 during World War II.[12]


  • 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.




  1. ^ Stockert 1996, p. 232.
  2. ^ Wegmann 2004, p. 339.
  3. ^ a b Wegmann 2004, p. 337.
  4. ^ Zetterling & Frankson 2012, p. 50.
  5. ^ Zetterling & Frankson 2012, pp. 50–54.
  6. ^ Zetterling & Frankson 2012, p. 53.
  7. ^ Zetterling & Frankson 2012, p. 54.
  8. ^ Zetterling & Frankson 2012, pp. 67–70.
  9. ^ Eberbach 1945–1954, pp. 9–10.
  10. ^ Arnhem, Antony Beevor, p3
  11. ^ Kienle 2005.
  12. ^ Mitcham 2009, p. 181.
  13. ^ Wegmann 2004, p. 340.
  14. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 285.


  • Kienle, Polly (2005). "Still Fighting for the Myth: German Wehrmacht Officers' Reports for the U.S. Historical Division". H-net.com. Archived from the original on 31 January 2016.
  • Mitcham, Samuel W. (2009). Panzers in Normandy: General Hans Eberbach and the German Defense of France, 1944. Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-4447-8.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
  • Searle, Alaric (2003). Wehrmacht Generals, West German Society, and the Debate on Rearmament, 1949–1959. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. ISBN 978-0-275-97968-3.
  • Stockert, Peter (1996). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1 [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1] (in German). Bad Friedrichshall, Germany: Friedrichshaller Rundblick. ISBN 978-3-9802222-7-3.
  • Wegmann, Günter (2004). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Teil VIIIa: Panzertruppe Band 1: A–E [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the German Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Part VIIIa: Panzer Force Volume 1: A–E] (in German). Bissendorf, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2322-1.
  • Zetterling, Niklas; Frankson, Anders (2012). The Drive on Moscow, 1941: Operation Taifun and Germany's First Great Crisis of World War II. Havertown: Casemate Publishers. ISBN 978-1-61200-120-3.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by 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 Panzertruppe Hans Cramer
Commander of XLVIII Panzer Corps
26 November 1942 – 30 November 1942
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppe 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 Panzertruppe Hermann Balck
Preceded by
Waffen SS General Paul Hausser
Commander of 7. Armee
21 August 1944 – 30 August 1944
Succeeded by