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Hasso-Eccard Freiherr von Manteuffel
Hasso-Eccard Freiherr von Manteuffel
Born (1897-01-14)14 January 1897
Died 24 September 1978(1978-09-24) (aged 81)
Place of birth Potsdam, German Empire
Place of death Reith im Alpbachtal, Austria
Allegiance German Empire German Empire (to 1918)
Germany Weimar Republic (to 1933)
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany (to 1945)
West Germany West Germany
Years of service 1908–1945
Rank General der Panzertruppe
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillanten
Other work Politician

Hasso-Eccard Freiherr von Manteuffel (14 January 1897 – 24 September 1978) was a German soldier and classical liberal politician of the 20th century.

He served in both world wars, and during World War II was a distinguished general. He was a tank commander noted for his tactical skill and was one of only 27 holders of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds.

After the war, he was elected to the Bundestag (West German legislature) and was the spokesman for defense of the Liberal Party. A prominent proponent of rearmament, he was responsible for coining the new name for the post-World War II German armed forces, the Bundeswehr.

Military career

Von Manteuffel was born in Potsdam to a respected Prussian aristocratic family. In 1908, he became a cadet in a military school.

World War I

He joined the Imperial German Army on 22 February 1916 as an officer in a Hussar regiment. His World War I service began in April 1916 with the 5th Squadron of 3rd Hussar Regiment, attached to the 6th Prussian Infantry Division on the Western Front. He was wounded on 12 October fighting in France. After recuperating, he returned to active service in February 1917 and was posted to the Divisional General Staff.

Inter-war years

With the outbreak of the German Revolution in November 1918, he was assigned to guard the bridge over the Rhine at Köln against the revolutionaries and thus enable a safe withdrawal of the army from France and Belgium to Germany. Following the dissolution of the Imperial Army, he entered the Freikorps in January 1919. After the establishment of the Weimar Republic, he joined the newly created Reichswehr and was assigned to the 25th Cavalry Regiment at Rathenow in May 1919. During the early 1920s, he was a squad leader with the 3rd Prussian Mounted Regiment, later becoming the Regimental Adjutant. On 1 February 1930, he became the commander of the Technical Squad.

On 1 October 1932, von Manteuffel was transferred to the 17th Bavarian Mounted Regiment at Bamberg, serving as a squadron commander. Two years later, on 1 October 1934 he was transferred again, this time to the Mounted Regiment "Erfurt". On 15 October 1935 he was appointed commander of the 2nd Motorcycle Rifle Battalion of Heinz Guderian’s 2nd Panzer Division. From 1936 to 1937 he served as a major on the staff of the 2nd Panzer Division and as a training officer of cadets and cadet officers. On 25 February 1937 he became a consultant in the Panzer Troop Command of the OKH, and on February 1, 1939, a senior professor at Panzer Troop School II in Berlin-Krampnitz. He remained there until 1941, thus missing out on the campaigns in Poland and France.

World War II

General der Panzertruppe Hasso von Manteuffel in August 1944

On May 1, 1941, von Manteuffel was appointed commander of the 1st Battalion, 7th Rifle Regiment of the 7th Panzer Division. With this unit, he served under Hermann Hoth’s Panzer Group 3 of the Army Group Centre in Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. On 25 August 1941, he took over the 6th Rifle Regiment of the 7th Panzer Division after its commander was killed in action. In May 1942, after having engaged in heavy fighting around Moscow in the winter of 1941–1942, the 7th Panzer Division was transferred to France for refitting. On 15 July 1942, while the division was still in France, von Manteuffel was made the commander of the 7th Panzer Grenadier Brigade of the 7th Panzer Division.

In early 1943, von Manteuffel was sent to Africa, where on 5 February he became the commander of the Division von Broich/von Manteuffel, serving in Hans-Jürgen von Arnim's 5th Panzer Army of Erwin Rommel's Army Group Afrika. Here von Manteuffel took part in defensive operations during the Battle of Tunisia, conducting a series of successful counteroffensives that tied down Allied forces. In the midst of heavy fighting, he collapsed from exhaustion on March 31, and was evacuated back to Germany. On 1 May 1943, von Manteuffel was promoted to the rank of Major General for his exploits in Africa.

After recuperating, von Manteuffel was made the commander of the 7th Panzer Division on 22 August 1943 and was once again on the Eastern Front, which had by then collapsed following the Battle of Kursk and the resulting Soviet counteroffensive. Despite being wounded in the back in a Soviet air attack on 26 August 1943 he stayed on, battling in Ukraine. After ferocious fighting at Kharkov, Belgorod, and along the Dnieper River, he succeeded in bringing the Red Army offensive to a halt. In late November, he managed to recapture Zhitomir, thus saving the almost encircled 8th Panzer Division north of the city.

As a result, von Manteuffel was made the commander of the élite Grenadier Division Großdeutschland on 1 February 1944. His command engaged in a series of intense defensive battles west of Kirovograd, then withdrew across Ukraine, and reorganized in Romania in late March 1944. It engaged in a series of successful defenses in northern Romania through June, when the exhausted Großdeutschland was moved into reserve for a refit. In late July Großdeutschland was ordered to East Prussia, which was being threatened after the Red Army crushed Army Group Centre in Operation Bagration. Here he launched a successful but costly counterattack into Lithuania, managing to stabilize the front, but failing to break through to the Courland Pocket, where Army Group North was trapped after the decimation of Army Group Centre.

File:Manteuffel coat.jpg

Manteuffel's leather coat on display at the Bastogne Historical Center

On 1 September 1944, von Manteuffel was promoted to General of Panzer Troops (General der Panzertruppen_US equivalent Lieutenant General) and given command of the Fifth Panzer Army, fighting on the Western Front. After engaging in heavy combat in Lorraine against George S. Patton’s Third Army, the unit was withdrawn to reserve and began refitting for the upcoming Ardennes Offensive. Although he was assigned a support role, von Manteuffel's 5th Panzer Army achieved one of the deepest penetrations of Allied lines during the offensive, almost reaching the Meuse River. This penetration included the Battle of Bastogne.

On 10 March 1945 von Manteuffel was made the commander of the Third Panzer Army on the Eastern Front. Von Manteuffel's army was part of Army Group Vistula, commanded by General Gotthard Heinrici.

The Third Panzer Army was assigned to defend the banks of the Oder River north of the Seelow Heights. This position, if held, would prevent a Soviet thrust into Western Pomerania and then into Berlin. But von Manteuffel was faced with an overwhelming attack launched by General Konstantin Rokossovsky's 2nd Belorussian Front during the Battle of Seelow Heights, the prelude to the Battle of Berlin. At one point in the battle, six Soviet soldiers entered his headquarters, killing four of his staff, and wounding four more, including Manteuffel himself. Despite his injuries, he shot one Soviet soldier and used his trench knife to kill another Soviet soldier.[1]

On 25 April the 2nd Belorussian Front broke through Third Panzer Army's line around the bridgehead south of Stettin. The Soviets crossed the swampy Randow river valley. Von Manteuffel was forced to retreat to Mecklenburg. Around April 28, he was offered Heinrici's command of Army Group Vistula but turned down the promotion out of protest for Heinrici being wrongly punished by OKW. On 3 May 1945 von Manteuffel surrendered his troops to the western Allies and thus escaped capture by the Soviets.


Manteuffel was held in an Allied POW camp until September 1947. After his release, he entered politics and was a representative of the Free Democratic Party of Germany (FDP) in the German Bundestag from 1953 to 1957. In 1957 he joined the German Party. In the early 1950s Manteuffel advised on the redevelopment of the Bundeswehr (see: Searle's Wehrmacht Generals).

Manteuffel was not charged with war crimes by the Allies although in 1959 he was brought to trial for having a deserter shot in 1944. He was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. This trial was highly controversial however. Supporters argued that these actions did not constitute a violation of the "laws or customs of war" clause in the Nuremberg Principles, the rules governing what constituted war crimes that occurred during the war, since it was legal in the German military and that Allied armies had similar provisions in their military codes at the time. German political leaders lobbied for an overturn of the conviction and he was eventually released after serving four months.

He spoke fluent, even sophisticated, English, and was an honored guest in the United States, visiting the Pentagon and, by the invitation of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the White House. In 1968 he lectured at the United States Military Academy at West Point, speaking about combat in deep snow winter conditions (from personal experience) and worked as a technical adviser on war films and was featured in Cornelius Ryan's The Last Battle. He also featured in the acclaimed documentary, The World at War.

Hasso von Manteuffel died while on a trip to Reith im Alpbachtal, Tyrol, Austria on 24 September 1978.

Personal life

He married Armgard von Kleist, the niece of Ewald von Kleist, on 23 June 1921. They had two children.


Wehrmachtbericht references

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
8 October 1943 Die 7. Panzerdivision unter dem Kommando des Generalmajors v. Manteuffel hat sich in den Kämpfen am mittleren Dnjepr in schneidigen Angriffen und zähem Aushalten ruhmvoll bewährt.[8] The 7th Armoured Division under the command of Major-General von Manteuffel has proved itself gloriously in battle on the middle Dnieper in dashing attacks and tough enduring.
16 November 1943 In den schweren Kämpfen der letzten Wochen haben sich im Kampfgebiet von Kiew die thüringische 7. Panzerdivision unter Führung von Generalmajor v. Manteuffel und auf der Krim die fränkisch-sudetendeutsche 98. Infanteriedivision unter Führung von Generalleutnant Gareis besonders ausgezeichnet.[9] In the heavy fighting of recent weeks in the combat zone of Kiev, the Thuringian 7th Armored Division, led by Major-General von Manteuffel and on the Crimea, the Franco-Sudeten 98th Infantry Division under the command of Lieutenant-General Gareis have particularly excelled.
14 March 1944 So haben sich in den letzten Tagen die Panzergrenadierdivision "Großdeutschland" unter Führung des Generalleutnants v. Manteuffel und die Truppen des LIX. Armeekorps unter Führung des Generalleutnant Friedrich Wilhelm Schulz besonders hervorgetan.[10] Thus in the last days, the Panzer Grenadier Division "Großdeutschland" under the leadership of Lieutenant-General von Manteuffel and the troops of the LIX. Army Corps under the command of Lieutenant-General Friedrich Wilhelm Schulz have particularly excelled.
8 May 1944 In diesen Kämpfen hat sich die Panzerdivision "Großdeutschland" unter Generalleutnant v. Manteuffel besonders ausgezeichnet.[11] In these battles, the Panzer Division "Großdeutschland" under command of Lieutenant-General von Manteuffel has especially excelled.


  1. "In the war's final days, the Soviets were determined to take the last natural barrier east of Berlin", by Colin D. Heaton
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Thomas 1998, p. 57.
  3. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 302.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Scherzer 2007, p. 526.
  5. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 74.
  6. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 42.
  7. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 38.
  8. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 577.
  9. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 607.
  10. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, p. 57.
  11. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, p. 97.
  • Grey Brownlow, Donald (1975). Panzer Baron: the military exploits of General Hasso von Manteuffel. North Quincy: The Christopher Publishing House. ISBN 0-8158-0325-7. 
  • von Manteuffel, Hasso (January 2000). The 7th Panzer Division: An Illustrated History of Rommel's "Ghost Division" 1938–1945. Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 0-7643-1208-1. 
  • Berger, Florian (1999) (in German). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges [With Oak Leaves and Swords. The Highest Decorated Soldiers of the Second World War]. Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 978-3-9501307-0-6. 
  • 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. 
  • Fraschka, Günther (1994). Knights of the Reich. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Military/Aviation History. ISBN 978-0-88740-580-8. 
  • Searle, Alaric (2003). Wehrmacht Generals, West German Society, and the Debate on Rearmament, 1949–1959. Westport, CT: Praeger Pub.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007) (in German). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives]. Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • von Schaulen, Joachim (1983). Hasso von Manteuffel: Panzerkampf in Zweiten Weltkrig. Berg am See.
  • Thomas, Franz (1998) (in German). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z]. Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9. 
  • Williamson, Gordon (2006). Knight's Cross with Diamonds Recipients 1941–45. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-644-7. 
  • (in German) Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, 1. Januar 1942 bis 31. Dezember 1943 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 2, 1 January 1942 to 31 December 1943]. München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 
  • (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. 

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