Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Erich Hoepner

Erich Hoepner


Branch: Kaiserliche Heer / Reichsheer / Heer
Born: 14 September 1886 in Frankfurt (Oder), Brandenburg, Germany.
Died: 8 August 1944 in Berlin, Plötzensee Prison, Berlin, Germany.

General der Infanterie

Iron Cross 1914
2nd Class
1st Class
Knight's Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern with Swords
Cross of Honor
Wehrmacht-Dienstauszeichnung 1st class
Iron Cross 1939
2nd Class
1st Class
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Knight's Cross 27 October 1939


Personal Information:

Erich Hoepner was born on 14 September 1886 and became a German general in Second World War. A victorious panzer leader, Erich Hoepner was put to death after the failed 20 July Plot in 1944. Erich Hoepner was born in Frankfurt an der Oder, Brandenburg. He joined the Kaiserliche Heer as an officer cadet in 1905, was commissioned as a Lieutenant in 1906 and served as a cavalry officer during First World War, attaining the rank of Rittmeister.

He continued to serve in Reichsheer and attained the rank of General in 1936. Erich Hoepner was an former advocator of armoured warfare and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general and given command of the XVI Panzer Corps in 1938.

Erich Hoepner commanded forces in the invasions of Poland in 1939 and later France in 1940, obtaining the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Erich Hoepner was promoted to the rank of colonel-general in 1941 and given command of the Fourth Panzer Group for the invasion of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Erich Hoepner withdrew his forces in the face of the huge Russian counteroffensive at Moscow in January 1942 and was removed from his command by Adolf Hitler, and dismissed from the Wehrmacht and stripped of his medals and pension rights. Erich Hoepner then set in motion a successful legal action against the government for the restitution of his pension.

Though Erich Hoepner was opposed to the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, Erich Hoepner was also an early adversary of Adolf Hitler's rise to power, and Erich Hoepner took part in several conspiracies to bring down Adolf Hitler. In the September 1938, an attempt, at the time of the Munich Conference, Erich Hoepner's forces were appointed the task of suppressing the Schutzstaffel (SS) following the planned capture and intended shooting of Adolf Hitler in the act of resisting arrest, the plot foundered, due to the capitulation by Chamberlain which entirely undercut the basis for the coup, and Erich Hoepner's part went undetected.

Erich Hoepner took on an active part in the earliest conspiracies against Adolf Hitler. Like other conservative resisters, Erich Hoepner believed Adolf Hitler's strategic decisions would directly lead to the downfall of Germany, which was the motivation in the September 1938 plot, in which Erich Hoepner was supposed to use his armored division to enforce the surrendering of Adolf Hitler's personal bodyguards, the SS Leibstandarte, and another in October November 1939, after war had already started both involving the very top levels of the Abwehr and the High Command, the Oberkommando des Heeres, (OKH). Following the Fall of France, the fears that Adolf Hitler's expansionist policies would bestow ruin upon Germany seemed to have been incorrect, and Erich Hoepner, like most opposition generals, even the OKH, became more noncritical of Adolf Hitler. It was just after Operation Barbarossa had stalled at the gates of Moscow and his demeaning dismissal by Adolf Hitler, that Erich Hoepner became active again. During his command on the Eastern Front, Erich Hoepner followed a policy of scorched earth, necessitating ruthless and complete devastation of the enemy from his soldiers. As a commander of the Fourth Panzer Army, Erich Hoepner wrote on May 2, 1941: The war against the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is the age-old struggle of the Germans versus the Slavs, the fending off of the Jewish Bolshevism. No more mercy should be shown towards the carriers of the present Russian Bolshevik system The commander of the Einsatzgruppe A, Dr Stehlecker, spoke highly of Erich Hoepner and described his relations with him as very close, almost genial. Erich Hoepner also wrote that Operation Barbarossa symbolised the defence of European culture versus Moscovite-Asiatic torrent, and the push back of Jewish Bolshevism, adding that destruction of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics must be carried on with unprecedented severity. On 5 December 1941, Erich Hoepner refused to follow Adolf Hitler's unconditional 'Halt Order' and ordered a withdrawal of his forces as they were just outside Moscow. In January 1942, Erich Hoepner was terminated from service with the loss of all pension rights. Erich Hoepner later on brought a lawsuit against the Wehrmacht over his pension rights and won.

Erich Hoepner was a participant in the 20 July Plot in 1944 and was present at the Bendlerblock (Headquarters of the Army) with General Friedrich Olbricht, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, Colonel Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim and Lieutenant Werner von Haeften. After the unsuccessful coup, Erich Hoepner had a confidential conversation with General Friedrich Fromm and was not shot by firing squad with the other people in the courtyard.

Having already been sacked from the Wehrmacht in 1942, Erich Hoepner was arrested that night and then tortured by the Gestapo, given a summary trial by the Volksgerichtshof and condemned to death. Like other suspects including Erwin von Witzleben, Erich Hoepner was made to wear badly fitting garments as continual way to cause humiliation during his trial. Although judge Roland Freisler carried on to viciously verbally attack Erich Hoepner, even Freisler objected to Erich Hoepner being made to dress in such a way. Erich Hoepner was hanged on 8 August, in Berlin's Plötzensee Prison, Berlin, Germany.

After the war, a school in Berlin was named after him, but after his actions in occupied Soviet Union came to light, its name was changed.


Other: Personnel


For a complete list of sources