Military Wiki
Friedrich Hossbach
Major Hossbach (centre) in 1934
Born (1894-11-22)22 November 1894
Died 10 September 1980(1980-09-10) (aged 85)
Place of birth Unna, German Empire
Place of death Göttingen, West Germany
Allegiance German Empire German Empire (to 1918)
Germany Weimar Republic (to 1933)
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer
Years of service 1913-1945
Rank General der Infanterie
Commands held 82 Infanterie-Division
LVI Panzer Corps
4. Armee
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Hossbach (22 November 1894 – 10 September 1980) was a German staff officer who in 1937 was the military adjutant to the Fuehrer of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

Early career

The son of a secondary-school teacher, he joined the Imperial German Army (Reichsheer) in 1913 as a Fähnrich (Ensign) and quickly rose to the rank of a Lieutenant. Hossbach served on the Eastern Front during World War I as adjutant of his infantry regiment. On 2 March 1918 he became staff member of the XVIII Corps, from September 2 as Oberleutnant (First Lieutenant).

His services were retained in the post-war Reichswehr of the Weimar Republic, where he was assigned to the General Staff in the rank of a Hauptmann (Captain) on 1 March 1927. After the Nazi Machtergreifung he was promoted to a Major on 4 August 1934, and appointed as Hitler's adjutant, though retaining his staff position, from 1935 within the Wehrmacht.

The Hossbach Memorandum

His most important contribution to history is his creation of the Hossbach Memorandum. This was a report of a meeting held on November 5, 1937 between Hitler and Feldmarschall von Blomberg, General von Fritsch, Admiral Dr. Raeder, Generaloberst Hermann Göring, Baron von Neurath and Hossbach. His account was found among the Nuremberg papers, where it was an important piece of evidence.[1]

In early 1938, Hossbach was present when Hitler was presented by Goering with a file purporting to show that General von Fritsch, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, was guilty of homosexual practices. In defiance of Hitler's orders, Hossbach took the file to von Fritsch to warn him of the accusations he was about to face. Fritsch gave his word as an officer that the charges were untrue, and Hossbach passed this message back to Hitler. This did not, as it might have, cost Hossbach his life, though he was dismissed from his post as Hitler's adjutant two days later.[2]

World War II

General Hossbach (4th from left) in Russia, with Field Marshal Ernst Busch, General Hans Krebs, General Rudolf von Roman, Colonel General Walter Weiß and General Hans Speth, May 1944

Hossbach rose to the rank of General of Infantry, commanding the 82nd Infantry Division, the LVI Panzer Corps, and latterly Fourth Army on the Russian front, until being dismissed on January 28, 1945 for attempting to break out of East Prussia in defiance of Hitler's orders.

War crimes

Hossbach was responsible for planning and executing the operation at Ozarichi to set up typhus camps in the path of the advancing Russian army so as to cause a typhus epidemic amongst the soldiers.[3] The population was rounded up into camps with no shelter and patients suffering from typhus were deliberately brought into the camps. The Russian army managed to avoid an epidemic by deploying a recently developed typhus vaccine. The civilian deaths have been estimated at over 10,000.

At the end of the war, Hossbach was being treated for a minor illness in Göttingen when US troops approached the town. As a traditionalist conservative largely opposed to the Nazi regime, Hossbach had been warned by friends to expect a visit from the Gestapo – who arrived at his house an hour before the Americans. Hossbach, armed with his pistol, proceeded to engage the visitors in a firefight until they fled, and was taken into American custody.


Three different commanding officers recommended Hoßbach for the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords during the course of 1944, nevertheless the request was turned down each time.[4]

Reference in the Wehrmachtbericht

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording English translation
6 April 1944 Verbände des Heeres und der Waffen-SS haben unter dem Oberbefehl des Generalobersten Weiss und unter der Führung der Generale der Infanterie Hoßbach und Mattenklott nach tagelangen harten Angriffskämpfen durch die Pripjetsümpfe bei ungewöhnlichen Geländeschwierigkeiten den feindlichen Ring um Kowel gesprengt und damit ihre Kameraden aus der Umklammerung befreit.[5] Units of the Army and the Waffen-SS have, under the High Command of Generaloberst Walter Weiss and under the leadership of Generals of the Infantry Hoßbach and Mattenklott, after days of harsh fighting through the Pripyat Marshes at rough terrain, broken the enemy ring at Kowel and by that our comrades were freed from the clutch.


  1. Documents of German Foreign Policy, I, pp29-39
  2. William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich p.315
  3. Michael Jones. Total War from Stalingrad to Berlin
  4. Berger 2000, p. 393
  5. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, p. 74.
  • Florian Berger (2000), Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges. Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 3-9501307-0-5.
  • Jones, Michael (2011) "Total War. From Stalingrad to Berlin". John Murray, London. ISBN 978 1 8485 4231 0
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) (in German). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches]. Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2003) (in German). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe I Abraham – Huppertz [Oak Leaves Bearers 1940 – 1945 Contemporary History in Color I Abraham – Huppertz]. Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 978-3-932381-20-1. 
  • (in German) Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, 1. Januar 1944 bis 9. Mai 1945 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 3, 1 January 1944 to 9 May 1945]. München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Generalmajor Gerhard Berthold
Commander of 31. Infanterie-Division
20 January 1942 – 24 February 1942
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Kurt Pflieger
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Josef Lehmann
Commander of 82. Infanterie-Division
1 April 1942 – 6 July 1942
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Alfred Bäntsch
Preceded by
Oberst Hermann Flörke
Commander of 31. Infanterie-Division
15 May 1943 – 2 August 1943
Succeeded by
Oberst Kurt Moehring
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppen Ferdinand Schaal
Commander of LVI Panzer Corps
1 August 1943 – 14 November 1943
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Anton Grasser
Preceded by
General der Infanterie Anton Grasser
Commander of LVI Panzer Corps
9 December 1943 – 14 June 1944
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Johannes Block
Preceded by
General der Infantrie Kurt von Tippelskirch
Commander of 4. Armee
18 July 1944 – 29 January 1945
Succeeded by
General der Infantrie Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller

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