General der Panzertruppe
* 24. November 1895, Stuttgart
† 12. Juli 1992, Notzingen
Awarded Knights Cross: 4. Juli 1940
As:Oberstleutnant Pz.Rgt. 35
Eichenlaub: as the 42nd recipient Obst.,Kdr.5.Pz.Brig. 31.12.1941
Postwar signed photo measuring 4” x 5 ¾”
Heinrich Eberbach was born on 24 November 1895 in Stuttgart, in the German Empire. Eberbach graduated with his Abitur (university-preparatory high school diploma) on 30 June 1914. On 1 July 1914, Eberbach joined the Army of Württemberg. With the outbreak of World War I, Eberbach's unit was deployed on the Western Front. On 16 October 1914, Eberbach was wounded in his thigh by artillery shrapnel. In September 1915, Eberbach was severely wounded, losing his nose, and was taken prisoner of war by French forces. During the 1920s Eberbach was a police officer; in 1935 he joined the Wehrmacht. In 1938 Eberbach became commander of a Panzer regiment, in the newly formed 4th Panzer Division under General Georg-Hans Reinhardt.
Eberbach participated in the German Invasion of Poland in September 1939 and then in 1940 in the Battle of France. His unit supported General Hasso von Manteuffel's offensive across the Meuse River in May. Shortly after the start of Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, he was assigned as commander of the 5th Panzer Brigade in Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg's XXIV Panzer Corps.
During the Battle of Moscow, Eberbach spearheaded Panzer Group 2's offensive towards Moscow as the commander of a combined-arms kampfgruppe within the 4th Panzer Division. The attack began on September 30 and in only two days of fighting Kampfgruppe Eberbach had achieved a clean breakthrough, advanced over 120 kilometers, and put the entire Soviet Bryansk Front in a disastrous position while suffering negligible losses of its own. Eberbach demonstrated his flexibility as a troop leader by detaching two battalions to assist the 3rd Panzer Division's efforts in the same area of operations near Bryansk, despite serving under a different division. Soviet air attacks and a fuel shortage early on 2 October failed to prevent the kampfgruppe's aggressive combat leaders from advancing on the city of Orel, ending the Soviet industrial relocation efforts there and capturing a key communications hub of the Bryansk Front, on 3 October. Kampfgruppe Eberbach's losses had been light: 6 tanks knocked out, 34 men killed and 121 wounded. This was a small price to pay for the complete rupturing of the Soviet lines and the capture of a city of such strategic value. 4th Panzer division had also captured 1,600 Soviet troops, mostly Kampfgruppe Eberbach's work.
In March 1942 he was made commander of the 4th Panzer Division, in the German lines opposite the Russian town of Sukhinichi, roughly 120 miles west of Tula. In late November 1942 Eberbach was appointed commander of the XLVIII Panzer Corps that had just been overrun in the initial days of Operation Uranus, near the midpoint of the Battle of Stalingrad. Eberbach was soon wounded and evacuated, remaining hospitalized until February. He then became Inspector of the Armored Troops in the Home Army, was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and promoted to lieutenant general.
In November 1943, Eberbach became commander of troops around Nikopol and fought in battles around Zhitomir in the Soviet Union. In early 1944 Eberbach was promoted to the rank of General der Panzertruppe. During the Allied invasion of Normandy, he fought against the British landings along the 'Juno' and 'Sword' beaches. On 2 July he took command of "Panzer Group West" (5th Panzer Army) when Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg was wounded. On 9 August, this force was divided, with 5th Panzer Army retreating with the most damaged units; the effective units were reorganized as Panzergruppe Eberbach.
Eberbach was directed to lead this force in the counterattack through Mortain toward Avranches that was intended to cut off the Allied forces which had broken out of Normandy. According to Eberbach's post-war memoirs, he had no confidence in the attack. When General Warlimont of OKW arrived at his HQ on 1 August to "get a closer look at the situation", Eberbach told him that "the only possible solution was an immediate retreat to the Seine-Yonne line." However, Warlimont denied Eberbach's request to withdraw, and instead confirmed the order to attack.
The attack failed, and most of Panzergruppe Eberbach and 7th Army was surrounded and destroyed in the Falaise Pocket. Eberbach escaped and was given command of the remnants of 7th Army on 21 August. On 31 August while out on a reconnaissance patrol, Eberbach was captured by British troops at Amiens.
Postwar signed photo
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