Mattenklott, Franz, born 19-11-1884, in Grünberg, Silesia to Dietrich Mattenklott and his wife Elfriede, born Duttenhöfer. His father was director of a sugar factory in Ober Pritschen in Silesia, estate owner and a retired captain of the Prussian Army. After completing his high–school studies, Franz Mattenklott applied to enter an infantry regiment in Metz, Alsace-Loraine, then part of the German Empire. After successfully taking a written examination, Franz was enlisted for service to the Königlich Preußische Armee as Cadet (Fahnenjunker) to the 4th Magdeburgian Infantry Regiment Nr. 67. He rose to the rank of Leutnant on 18-05-1905 and participated with his regiment in World War I as Oberleutnant. During the war, he was promoted to Hauptmann and was awarded both classes of the Iron Cross , including some other decorations. He remained in the new 100.000 men Reichswehr and ranked Oberst, was appointed commander of the newly formed Infantry Regiment Stargard. On 15-10-1935, the regiment was renamed to 25th Infantry Regiment. Mattenklott assumed his post on 01-06-1936 and two years later, he reached the rank of Generalmajor on 01-03-1938. Before the outbreak of World War II he was in command of the border security units in Trier, which formed the Grenz-Division Trier. The so-called Grenz-Division Trier formed the 72nd Infantry Division, nickname “Gelbkreuz” on 19-09-1939. Mattenklott was promoted to Generalleutnant on 01-02-1940. His division was stationed at Trier during the Phoney War and took part in the Invasion of France, May–June 1940. On 25-07-1940, he was temporarily detached as commander of Metz for five weeks, succeeded by General Helge Auleb , but returned to the 72nd Infantry Division on 04-09-1940. General Auleb survived the war and died 14-04-1964, aged 77, in Düsseldorf. The 72nd Division was later refitted in Poland in March 1944 as part of the 24th wave (Aufstellungswelle). The division surrendered to the Red Army in May 1945, after which Generalmajor Eduard Friedrich Karl Arning was convicted of war crimes in the Soviet Union. Arning was held until 1955.
Mattenklott’s units had a limited participation in the Battle of France in May–June 1940. One of the division’s veterans claimed after the war that his unit was ordered to attack French positions in a forest, allegedly manned by inferior units. Mattenklott supposedly forbade air support, resulting in operational failure, prompting the veteran to bluntly call Mattenklott “an idiot”. It is generally accepted that Mattenklott’s division performed mediocrely, even though it faced only light resistance. By June 1940, France capitulated, and the 72nd Infantry Division was posted in France as an occupational unit, while Mattenklott was named commander of Metz, Alsace-Lorraine, in July of that year.
With his division, Mattenklott participated in the Balkans Campaign. After the decisive Axis victory in the Balkans, with its southern flank secured, Nazi Germany launched a massive offensive Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union, though the peace treaty Molotow-Ribbentrop Pact Viacheslaw Molotow
and Joachim von Ribbentrop was still in effect. 72nd Infantry Division, advanced into southern Russia and Ukraine while Mattenklott was promoted to General der Infanterie. The 72nd Infantry Division was created on 19-09-1939 in Trier from Grenz-Division Trier, which was a border security unit. It was destroyed on the Eastern front 25-03-1944 and reformed June 1944. On 06-11-1941, he put into the infamous Führer Reserve. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, one of Nazi Germany’s highest decorations for military gallantry, on 23-11-1941. Mattenklott was named commander of the XXXXII. Armeekorps, succeeding General der Infanterie Bruno Bieler. The XXXXII. A. K. Corps was destroyed by the end of January 1945 and the then commander, General Hermann Recknagel , age 52, was shot by partisans between Petrikau and Tomaszów Mazowiecki on 23-01-1945. The remainder served to refresh the 88th Infantry Division. under command of General der Infanterie Friedrich Gollwitzer . Gollwitzer survived the war and died 25-03-1977, aged 87.
Meanwhile, Mattenklott here with the Hongarian General Geza Lakatos, served as commander of Crimea from 19-08-1942 until April 1943. Generaloberst Lakatos died 21-05-1967 aged 77 in Adelaide, South Australia. A year later, Mattenklott took a one-month leave of absence. Between 14 and 24-11-1943 he was the commanding officer of the Army Detachment Mattenklott, a large part of which was encircled and destroyed in the Cherkassy Pocket. The General Staff of the detachment’s remnants was transferred back to the XXXXII Army Corps and Mattenklott resumed his post as chief of the General Command. On 14-06-1944, Mattenklott was transferred back in Germany and named Commander-in-Chief of the Deputy Command of VI. Armeekorps in Münster, simultaneously serving in the Command of Wehrkreis VI, position which he held until April 1945, soon followed by the end of the war and the unconditional surrender of Germany. Mattenklott was arrested by Allied troops on 21-04-1945 and was released from captivity on 04-07-1947. As a subordinate of Generaloberst der Infanterie, Kommandeur der 15th Division, D-Day, Hans von Salmuth , Mattenklott testified in the High Command Trial as a defense witness for his former superior. Mattenklott, during his interrogation on 19-05-1947, claimed that such measures were “necessary and justified”, but explained that he considered them to be of deterrentive nature rather than retaliatory. He also stated that such incident, i.e. immediate execution of an armed civilian, never came to his attention.
Death and burial ground of Mattenklott, Franz.
Commanding General of the 2nd Army, Mattenklott died in Braunlage in a health resort in the Harz Mountains, Lower Saxony on 28-06-1954, age 69 and is buried with his wife Hertha, who died old age 95, in 1988, on the village cemetery of Braunlage. Only steps away the grave of Generaloberst der Infanterie, Kommandeur 1st Division Königsberg, August Wilhelm Heye.