24 November 2012

Generaloberst Hoepner With Officers of 6. Panzer-Division in Leningrad

Image size: 1600 x 1108 pixel. 363 KB
Date: August 1941
Place: Leningrad, Russia
Photographer: Artur Zell (Kriegsberichter in Propaganda-Kompanie 694)

Generaloberst Hoepner (former commander of 1. leichte-Division, before it changed to 6. Panzer-Division, and in spring 1941 the commanding general of 4. Panzergruppe) visits his old unit, and discussing the recent battle situation in front of a log cabin. From left to right: Major im Generalstab Johann-Adolf Graf von Kielmansegg (Ia Erster Generalstabsoffizier 6. Panzer-Division); Generaloberst Erich Hoepner (Oberbefehlshaber 4.Panzergruppe); Hauptmann Strack; and Generalmajor Franz Landgraf (Kommandeur 6. Panzer-Division). As Operation Barbarossa was launched in June 1941, 6. Panzer-Division was part of the 4. Panzergruppe on the Northern Front. The 6. Panzer-Division saw action around Leningrad until October of 1941 when it was transferred to the 3. Panzergruppe (Generaloberst Georg-Hans Reinhardt) in the central sector. It lost almost every vehicle in its command on the central front, where after it was transferred to France in May 1942 for complete refitting and rest under he command of Generalmajor Erhard Raus. During ‘Operation Barbarossa’, Erich Hoepner was given command of the 4. Panzergruppe. This unit played a major part in the initial successes of the German attack, which led to the German Army getting to within 20 miles of the centre of Moscow. When the Germans failed to capture Moscow, Hoepner wanted to start a tactical withdrawal of his men who were clearly suffering from the onset of the Russian winter. Once they had recuperated, Hoepner believed that they would have been in a far better position to attack Moscow once again. Hitler could not begin to contemplate such a move especially as he had stated to his generals that Moscow was “merely a geographical concept”. Hitler dishonourably discharged Hoepner from the army. Freed from his command, Hoepner, who got involved in anti-Hitler plots before, continued with his work against his Führer. He was involved in the July Bomb Plot. The Gestapo discovered his part and Hoepner was arrested. He was tried, found guilty and sentenced to death. Erich Hoepner was hanged on August 8th 1944.

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-210-0142-13A
Helmut Ritgen photo collection
Book "The 6th Panzer Division: 1937-45" by Oberst a.D. Helmut Ritgen 

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