Detailed Pedia

Josef Harpe

Josef Harpe
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1981-104-30, Josef Harpe.jpg
Born(1887-09-21)21 September 1887
Buer, German Empire
Died14 March 1968(1968-03-14) (aged 80)
Nuremberg, West Germany
Allegiance German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
Service/branchArmy (Wehrmacht)
Years of service1909–45
RankGeneraloberst (Wehrmacht) 8.svg Generaloberst
Commands held12th Panzer Division
XXXXI Panzer Corps
9th Army
Army Group North Ukraine
Army Group A
4th Panzer Army
5th Panzer Army
Battles/warsWorld War I

World War II

Vistula–Oder Offensive
AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords

Josef Harpe (21 September 1887 – 14 March 1968) was a German general during World War II who commanded the 9th Army. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords of Nazi Germany.

Harpe served on the Eastern Front, where he commanded XXXXI Panzer Corps and the 9th Army. From September 1944 to January 1945 Army Group A, when he was relieved of his command due to the inability of German forces to stop the Soviet Vistula–Oder Offensive. He ended the war commanding the 5th Panzer Army on Western Front.

Military career

Harpe joined the Prussian Army on 28 September 1909 and fought in World War I. After the war, Harpe remained in the Reichswehr military service. In 1931, under the pseudonym Direktor Hacker, he held a position in the secret German-Russian Tank-School (Kama tank school) in Kazan, Soviet Union. He was promoted to Oberstleutnant on 1 August 1934 and became commander of Panzer-Regiment 3 on 15 October 1935. He was again promoted on 1 January 1937, and commanded the German 1st Panzer Brigade holding the rank of Oberst. In 1940 he took over as Commandant of the Armoured Troops School No.2 in Wünsdorf.

He served on the Eastern Front, where he commanded, from July 1942 until October 1943 the XXXXI. Panzerkorps and from September 1944 to January 1945 Army Group A. He was relieved of his command due to the inability of German forces to stop the Soviet Vistula–Oder Offensive, which resulted in the Soviet capture of most of Poland. He ended the war as the commander of the 5th Panzer Army on the Western Front. He was held as a prisoner of war by the United States until 1948.




  1. ^ Thomas 1997, p. 248.
  2. ^ a b c Wegmann 2009, p. 238.
  3. ^ a b c Scherzer 2007, p. 367.
  4. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 165.


  • 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.
  • Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6.
  • Wegmann, Günter (2009). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Teil VIIIa: Panzertruppe Band 2: F–H [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the German Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Part VIIIa: Panzer Force Volume 2: F–H] (in German). Bissendorf, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2389-4.
Military offices
Preceded by
Paul Bader
Commander of 2. Infanterie-Division
5 October 1940 – 10 January 1941
Succeeded by
12. Panzerdivision
Preceded by
2. Infanterie-Division
Commander of 12. Panzerdivision
10 January 1941 – 15 January 1942
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Walter Wessel
Preceded by
General of Panzer Troops Walther Model
Commander of XXXXI Army Corps
renamed July 1942 XXXXI Panzerkorps

15 January 1942 – 15 October 1943
Succeeded by
General of Artillery Helmuth Weidling
Preceded by
Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model
Commander of 9. Armee
4 November 1943 – 19 May 1944
Succeeded by
General Hans Jordan
Preceded by
Generaloberst Erhard Raus
Commander of 4. Panzer-Armee
18 May 1944 – 28 June 1944
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppe Walther Nehring
Preceded by
Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model
Commander of Army Group North Ukraine
renamed September 1944 Army Group A

16 August 1944 – 17 January 1945
Succeeded by
Generaloberst Ferdinand Schörner
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppe Hasso von Manteuffel
Commander of 5. Panzer-Armee
8 March 1945 – 17 April 1945
Succeeded by

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