Heinrich von Vietinghoff

Heinrich von Vietinghoff
Heinrich von Vietinghoff.jpg
Born (1887-12-06)6 December 1887
Mainz, Grand Duchy of Hesse, German Empire
Died 23 February 1952(1952-02-23) (aged 64)
Pfronten, Bavaria, West Germany
Allegiance  German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
 West Germany
Years of service 1903–45
Rank Generaloberst
Commands held XIII Corps
XXXXVI Panzer Corps
15th Army
10th Army
Army Group Courland
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Heinrich Gottfried Otto Richard von[1] Vietinghoff genannt Scheel (6 December 1887[2] – 23 February 1952[3]) was a German general (Generaloberst) of the Wehrmacht during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. Vietinghoff commanded the German troops in German-occupied Italy in 1945.[4]

Military career

On 24 November 1938, Vietinghoff was appointed commander of the 5th Panzer Division[5] and took part in the invasion of Poland under Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb. He was promoted to General in June 1940 after which he led the German XLVI Panzer Corps in the invasion of Yugoslavia.[6]

During Operation Barbarossa, his Corps was part of Army Group Centre under Field Marshal Fedor von Bock. As all commanders of the German corps on the Eastern Front during the invasion, Vietinghoff implemented the criminal Commissar Order.[7] Vietinghoff also later served with General Heinz Guderian in the 2nd Panzer Army.[8]

From December 1941 to August 1943, he was Commander-in-Chief of the German Fifteenth Army in France.[9] In Italy from August 1943 he commanded German Tenth Army,[10] which was responsible for the delaying actions through the successive defensive lines built across Italy. Notable in this context were the defences on the Winter Line from November 1943 to May 1944 and the fighting in the autumn of 1944 on the Gothic Line.

In October 1944, he was temporarily raised to overall command in Italy (Army Group C) when Field Marshal Albert Kesselring was seriously injured in a car crash.[11] In January 1945, on Kesselring's return, he left Italy to command Army Group Courland in East Prussia. When Kesselring was moved in March 1945 to command German Army Command West (OB West) in France, Vietinghoff returned as the supreme German commander in Italy.[12]

At the end of April 1945, he made contact with the Allied forces and on 29 April, his representative General Karl Wolff signed on his behalf at the Royal Palace in Caserta the instrument of surrender on 2 May 1945 at noon. Afterwards he spent two and a half years in British captivity at Bridgend Island Farm (Special Camp XI) among high-ranking German prisoners. He was released in September 1947.[citation needed]

After the war Vietinghoff was a member of the expert group dealing with the question of German rearmament. In October 1950 he wrote the Himmerod memorandum, named after the Himmerod Abbey where it was written, on behalf of the Adenauer government, on West German contributions to European defence. He died on 23 February 1952 in Pfronten.

Military awards



  1. ^ In German personal names, von is a preposition which approximately means of or from and usually denotes some sort of nobility. While von (always lower case) is part of the family name or territorial designation, not a first or middle name, if the noble is referred to by surname alone in English, use Schiller or Clausewitz or Goethe, not von Schiller, etc.
  2. ^ "Vietinghoff genannt Scheel, Heinrich Gottfried von". WW2 Gravestone. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  3. ^ "Heinrich Vietinghoff". Spartacus Educational. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  4. ^ "BBC - WW2 People's War - Timeline". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  5. ^ "Hobby". www.flamesofwar.com. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  6. ^ "Vietinghoff gen. Scheel, von, Heinrich-Gottfried - TracesOfWar.com". www.tracesofwar.com. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  7. ^ Stahel 2009, p. 28.
  8. ^ Williamson, Mitch (2015-06-10). "The War in Italy 1943-45 and Environs…: Heinrich Gottfried von Vietinghoff genannt Scheel, (1887–1952)". The War in Italy 1943-45 and Environs…. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  9. ^ "In the Shadow of Sunrise: The Secret Surrender of Italy". warfarehistorynetwork.com. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  10. ^ "German Forces - Heinrich von Vietinghoff". www.ww2incolor.com. Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  11. ^ Blaxland 1979, p. 226.
  12. ^ Blaxland 1979, p. 246.
  13. ^ a b Thomas 1998, p. 400.
  14. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 759.
  15. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 486.


  • Blaxland, Gregory (1979). Alexander's Generals (the Italian Campaign 1944-1945). London: William Kimber & Co. ISBN 0-7183-0386-5.
  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). 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] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
  • Stahel, David (2009). Operation Barbarossa and Germany's Defeat in the East. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-76847-4.
  • Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9.
Military offices
Preceded by
Commander of 5th Panzer Division
2 September 1939 – 8 October 1939
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Max von Hartlieb-Walsporn
Preceded by
General Walter von Reichenau
Commander of 10. Armee
15 August 1943 – 14 February 1945
Succeeded by
General Traugott Herr
Preceded by
General Lothar Rendulic
Commander of Army Group Courland
27 January 1945 – 10 March 1945
Succeeded by
General Lothar Rendulic
Preceded by
Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring
Oberbefehlshaber Süd
11 March 1945 – 2 May 1945
Succeeded by