|Active||October 13, 1939 – May 7, 1945|
|Engagements||World War II|
The 12th Army was activated on October 13, 1939 with General Wilhelm List in command. First seeing defensive action along the Siegfried Line, the army was involved in the invasion and occupation of France. The army was then relocated to Romania as part of the Axis offensive in the Balkans. In February 1941, an agreement between Field Marshal List and the Bulgarian General Staff allowed the passage of German troops. On the night of February 28, German Army units crossed the Danube from Romania and took up strategic positions in Bulgaria. On 6 April, units of the 12th army advanced into Yugoslavia and Greece. The Yugoslavians crumbled first. But, after six months of humiliating the Italians, the Greeks could not stand up to the 12th Army's fifteen divisions, four of which were armored. The British subsequently rushed four divisions from Libya to aid the Greeks but they, like the Greeks, were overwhelmed by the German panzers and by Luftwaffe strikes. The northern Greek armies surrendered to the Germans on April 23. Four days later Nazi tanks entered Athens and hoisted the swastika over the Acropolis.
The 12th Army became Army Group E (Heeresgruppe E) on January 1, 1943. The 12th Army was reconstituted on the Eastern Front near the Elbe River on April 10, 1945. Under General Walther Wenck, the 12th Army made the last attempt by a German Army (Wehrmacht Heer) to relieve German dictator Adolf Hitler in the besieged German capital during the Battle of Berlin. Although successfully reaching Potsdam, the 12th Army was stopped by superior Soviet Red Army forces and forced to abandon the effort to relieve Berlin. The 12th Army then linked up with the remnants of the 9th Army and, in the confusion of the Soviet breakthrough, provided a corridor to the west for soldiers and refugees alike.
- General Wilhelm List (October 13, 1939 - October 29, 1941)
- General Walter Kuntze (October 29, 1941 - July 2, 1942)
- Generaloberst Alexander Löhr (July 2, 1942 - December 31, 1942)
- General Walther Wenck (April 10, 1945 - May 7, 1945)
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