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NAME: Generaloberst Gotthard Heinrici


PW NO:          560270

RANK:            Generaloberst

CAPTURED:   Huerna bei Flensburg

DATE:             28 May 1945


DATE OF BIRTH:       21 December 1886

PLACE OF BIRTH:     Gumbinnen / Ostpreußen

DATE OF DEATH:     13 December 1971

PLACE OF DEATH:   Waiblingen / Württemberg

NATIONALITY:         German

RELIGION:                 Evangelical

OCCUPATION:          Regular Soldier

HEIGHT:                     5' 7"

WEIGHT:                    161 lbs

HAIR COLOUR:         Grey

EYE COLOYR:           Blue

NEXT OF KIN:           Gertrud Heinrici, Muenster Westfalen, (British Zone)



The Heinrici family had been soldiers since the 12th century, so it was not surprising that he should continue the tradition by joining the 95th Infantry Regiment in 1905.

Heinrici played an important part in the fighting on the Eastern Front, being appointed to command the 4th Army in January 1942.

He was a very professional military man who had a reputation for being a master of defensive tactics.  On 20 March 1945, Heinrici succeeded Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler as Commander-in-Chief of Army Group Weichsel [Vistula] on the Eastern Front.  On the 17 April 1945, Heinrici was made responsible for the defence of Berlin, but Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel, the Chief of the Armed Forces High Command, personally relieved him of his command on 29th April because he ordered a withdrawal despite Hitler’s wishes to the contrary. Keitel later recalled the incident in his memoirs:


“…Colonel-General Heinrici telephoned me…announcing that in view of the continued worsening of the situation…he had ordered his Army Group to resume its retreat. I told him that his attitude—for which there was no valid justification whatsoever—was flagrant disobedience. He countered that in that case he would no longer accept responsibility for the command of his troops, for whom he claimed he alone was responsible. I replied that in my view he was no longer suitable to command an Army Group, and that he was to consider himself dismissed: he was to relinquish his command to the senior army commander [21st Army], General [Kurt] von Tippelskirch.”

Heinrici was related to Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt and spent much time with him at Island Farm.  (See picture of Heinrici returning from the Nuremburg War Trials with Generalfeldmarschall von Rundstedt and General der Infanterie Günther Blumentritt. Click here for link.)


 Commands & Assignments:

 Decorations & Awards:

NOTE: Heinrici's two awards from the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha were very rare awards indeed! The Carl Eduard War Cross (a pin-back award worn on the breast like the Iron Cross 1st Class) was awarded only 97 times during World War I. The Duke Carl Eduard Medal, 2nd Class with Swords and Date (worn on the ribbon bar) was awarded only 344 times during World War I.