Guderian, Heinz Wilhelm, born 17-06-1888 in Kulm, West Prussia,
the son of later Generalleutnant Friedrich and Clara (born Kirchhoff). His father and grandfathers were Prussian officers and he grew up in garrison towns surrounded by the military. In 1903, he left home and enrolled at a military cadet school. He was a capable student, although he performed poorly in his final exam. He entered the army as an officer cadet, together with his two years younger brother Fritz in February 1907 with the 10th Hanoverian Light Infantry Battalion,
under his father’s command. He became a second lieutenant in January 1908. His mother Clara Kirchhoff , born 26-02-1865 and who died age 66 in March 1931 and had one brother Fritz Guderian, born 02-10-1890. Here his family on 1910
He on 01-10-1913 married Margarete Goerne who was the daughter of Generalarzt Ernst Goerne, who died age 65, had two sons, Heinz Günther
(born 23-08-1914 and who died age 90 on 25-09-2004) Kurt
(born 17-09-1918) (. Both sons became highly decorated Wehrmacht officers during World War II, Heinz Günter became a Panzer Peneral in the Bundeswehr after the war. In 1911 Guderian joined the 3rd
Telegraphen-Battalion of the Prussian Army Signal Corps. During World War I his father served as a Signals and General Staff officer. From 1914 to 1917, Heinz Guderian also served in Flanders and would have experienced the lack of mobility first hand that existed on the Western Front. 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. After the war, Guderian stayed in the reduced 100,000-man German Army, Reichswehr as a company commander in the 10th
Jäger-Battalion. Heinz wrote many papers on mechanized warfare,
which were seen in the German Army as authoritative. These papers were based on extensive war gaming without troops, with paper tanks and finally with armored vehicles. In the Second World War, Guderian first served as the commander of the XIX Corps in the invasion of Poland. Generalfeldmarschall der Panzertruppe, Paul Ewald von Kleist
began the offensive on 09-05-1940. Following the Generalfeldmarschall der Infanterie, Erich von Manstein
, Kleist’s troops attacked through the wooded hills of the Ardennes. Kleist wanted to move cautiously but General Heinz Guderian, who commanded the 1st
, moved at great speed and crossed the Meuse near Sedan on 14th
May. Kleist now ordered Guderian to halt until the arrival of Generalfeldmarschall der Infanterie, Wilhelm Sigimund List
and his 12th
Army. Guderian disagreed with Kleist’s view that the panzers needed the support of the infantry. After a heated argument with Kleist, who had the support of his superiors, Generalfeldmarschall der Panzertruppe, Kommandeur Battle of the Bulge
, Gerd von Rundstedt
and Generalfeldmarschall der Artillerie, Walther von Brauchitsch
on 17-05-1940, Guderian threatened to resign. Kleist responded by sacking Guderian. In 1941 he commanded Panzergruppe 2, also known as Panzergruppe Guderian, in Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, receiving the 24th
award of the Oak Leaves to his Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, together with Generaloberst der Infanterie, Franz Halde
and SS Oberstgruppenführer der Waffen SS Hermann Hoth
Guderian here with General der Luftwaffe Werner “Vati” Mölders
protested against one of Hitler’s (see Alois Hitler
decision and as a result lost the Führer’s confidence. In September 1942, when Erwin Rommel
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 of Hitler came in the same night: “Guderian is not accepted”. He lost the command of the 2nd
Panzer Army to Generaloberst Rudolf Schmidt.
Only after the German defeat at Stalingrad of Paulus’s Sixth Army
was Guderian given a new position. On 21-07-1944, after the failure of the July 20 Plot in which Guderian had no involvement, Guderian here with Generalfeldmarschall der Panzertruppe Walter Model
was appointed Chief of Staff of the army, where he succeeded Kurt Zeitzler
who had departed on 1 July after multiple conflicts with Adolf Hitler. As Generaloberst Erwin Jaenecke
was made a scapegoat and retired as a from 30-01-1944. He was held responsible for the loss of the Crimea, arrested in Romania and court-martialed. Heinz Guderian was appointed as a special investigator in the case. Guderian proceeded slowly and eventually Jaenecke was quietly acquitted in June 1944. However, Guderian had a long series of violent rows with Adolf Hitler
over the way in which Germany should handle the war on both fronts. Hitler (see Hitler Paula
, finally dismissed Guderian on 28-03-1945 after a shouting-match over the failed counterattack of General der Infanterie, Chef des Generalstabes Heeresgruppe Süd
, Theodor Busse’s
Army and youngest General der Panzertruppe, who commanded the German Twelfth Army, Walter Wenck’s
Guderian here with his top tank Hauptsturmführer der Waffen SS Michael Wittmann
, ace remained loyal to Hitler and accepted his dismissal from the positions he held on 28-03-1945, when it was clear that he was incapable of preventing the Russians from occupying Berlin.
Death and burial ground of Guderian, Heinz Wilhelm.
Together with his Panzer Staff, Guderian surrendered to American troops on 10-05-1945 and remained in U.S. custody as a prisoner of war until his release on 17-06-1948.
Former Luftflotte Commander Hugo Sperrle
former Chief of General Staff Heinz Guderian, former Air Force General Hans Jurgen Stumpff
and former Air Force Field Marshall Erhard Milch
play cards until they are called to be witnesses at the International Military Tribunal trial of war criminals at Nuremberg.
Guderian died on 14-05-1954 at the age of 65, in Schwangau near Füssen, Bavaria and is buried with his wife Margarete,
who died age 78 on 02-03-1972, in a family grave at the Friedhof Hildesheimer Strasse in Goslar. Next to their grave is the grave of SS Obergruppenführer, Reichsminister of Food and Agriculture, Richard Darré
Further away are the graves of WWII Generalmajor der Infanterie, Kommandeur Ersatz Division in Brünn, Gustav Wagner
General der Infanterie, Kommandeur von Dniepropetrovsk, Ernst Adolph
and Generalleutnant der Infanterie, Chef Heeresgruppe “Kurland”, Friedrich Foertsch.