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Panzer Leader – Gen. Heinz Guderian

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The author was born in Kulm (West Prussia) on June 17, 1888. Commissioned into the 10th Hanoverian Jager Regiment of the Imperial German Army, Guderian attended the War Academy in Berlin and then saw service in the First World War. After Germany’s defeat, he was one of only four thousand offic ...Read more


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The author was born in Kulm (West Prussia) on June 17, 1888. Commissioned into the 10th Hanoverian Jager Regiment of the Imperial German Army, Guderian attended the War Academy in Berlin and then saw service in the First World War. After Germany’s defeat, he was one of only four thousand officers retained in the Reich's drastically reduced Reichswehr (armed forces). Posted to the Inspectorate of Motorized Troops, the young officer immersed himself in Panzer tactics, becoming an instructor and then chief of staff to the Inspectorate of Motorized Troops in 1931.

In 1934 Guderian became chief of staff of Panzer Troops, and took command of the 2nd Panzer division while still a colonel the following year. Promoted to brigadier general in 1936, he was named Inspector of Panzer Troops in 1938 and promoted to major general. General Guderian commanded a Panzer division in the Polish campaign, after which he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. For his crucial role in the Battle of France, during which he led his Panzer corps to the English Channel, in July 1941 he was awarded the Oak Leaves of the Knight’s Cross. After leading a Panzer Group against Moscow on the Eastern Front, Guderian was dismissed by Hitler for violating the Fuhrer’s orders in the terrible winter of 1941. His expertise proved indispensable, however, and he was recalled as Inspector General of Panzer Troops in 1943 and then named Chief of Staff of the German Army. Relieved of command once more by Hitler in the final weeks of the war, Guderian was captured by the Americans at the war’s end. He died in Schwangau, Bavaria, on May 15, 1954.

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