Leo Dietrich Franz Freiherr von
Geyr von Schweppenburg, Leo Dietrich Franz Freiherr von
Geyr von Schweppenburg, born 02-03-1886 in Potsdam, joined the Army on 29-06-1904 as a Fahnenjunker in the 26th Dragoon Regiment, age 18. He was a German cavalry officer in World War I and ended the war in hospital with an illness. Geyr remained in the Reichswehr, was from 1933-37, a military attaché to the United Kingdom, Belgium and the Netherlands (see About), residing in London. He was commander of the 3rd Panzer Division with the outbreak of World War II, until 15-02-1940. Geyr’s panzer corps was part of General Heinz Guderian’s (see Guderian) Second Panzer Army, which spearheaded the advance of Army Group Centre in the drive toward Moscow. Commander of the XXIV Army Corps and landed in the Führer Reserve (see Hitler) (did you know), from 01-04-1942 until 09-07-1942. Commanding General of the XXXX Panzer Corps, he succeeded Friedrich Wilhelm von Chappuis (see Chappuis), until 01-10-1942. Geyr remained in service on the Eastern Front until October 1943, when he was transferred to northern France as the commanding general of Panzer Group West. This group of armoured divisions near Paris constituted the Germans’ main force of tanks in northern France. In the event of an Allied landing on the northern French coast, Panzer Group West was expected to counterattack northward and halt the invasion force. The commander of army forces in northern France, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel (see Rommel), wanted to station Geyr’s tank divisions as close to the coast as possible, in order to defeat the Allies before they could move inland from the landing beaches. Geyr and Rommel’s own commander, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt (see Rundstedt), disagreed with this strategy: they wanted to station Panzer Group West well inland, where it could outmaneuver and encircle the Allied army as it advanced eastward toward Paris. He was particularly noted for his expertise in armoure warfare and his command of Panzer Group West during the Invasion of Normandy. On 10-06-1944, Geyr was wounded when Royal Air Force aircraft attacked his newly established headquarters of the Panzer Group West, at La Caine in Normandy. Eighteen members of the HQ staff were known to have died in the raid, including the Chief of Staff General Major Sigismund-Helmut von Dawans (see Dawans) the most senior officer to be killed in the raid. Geyr’s reinforced tank units managed to prevent the British advance for another month, but he was nevertheless relieved of his command on July 2, after seconding Rundstedt’s request that Adolf Hitler authorize a strategic withdrawal from Caen. Geyr was succeeded by Heinrich Eberbach (see Eberbach) and then served as an Inspector General of armoured troops until the closing phase of the war.
As Inspector of Panzer Troop with the Replacement Army, he on 08-05-1945 landed in American captivity until his release in July 1947. During the early 1950s Geyr was instrumental in advising how to restructure the newly built German Army, Bundeswehr of West Germany. Geyr von Schweppenburg died in Irschenhausen near Munich, at the old age of 87 on 27-01-1974. He is buried with his wife Gabrielle, on the very small cemetery of Irschenhausen behind the little church.