Field marshal Erich von Manstein (1887 - 1973)
Original name ERICH VON LEWINSKI Born Nov. 24, 1887,
Died June 11, 1973, Irschenhausen, near Munich. German Field-
marshal who was perhaps the most talented German field commander
in World War II.
The son of an artillery general, he was adopted by General Georg von
Manstein after the untimely death of his parents.
Manstein began his active career as an officer in 1906 and served in
World War I on both the Western and Russian fronts. Rising through the
ranks, he was promoted to major general in 1936 and to lieutenant
general in 1938. At the start of World War II, he served as chief of
staff to General Gerd von Rundstedt in the invasion of Poland (1939).
Manstein had in the meantime devised a daring plan to invade France by
means of a concentrated armoured thrust through the Ardennes Forest.
Though this plan was rejected by the German High Command,Manstein
managed to bring it to the personal attention of Adolf Hitler,
who enthusiastically adopted it.
After leading an infantry corps in the assault on France in June 1940,
Manstein was promoted to field marshal and general that month. He
commanded the 56th Panzer Corps in the invasion of the Soviet Union
(1941), and nearly captured Leningrad. Promoted to command of the
11th Army on the southern front (September 1941),Manstein managed
to take 430,000 Soviet prisoners, after which he withstood the Soviet
counteroffensive that winter and went on to capture Sevastopol in July
1942. He almost succeeded in relieving the beleaguered 6th Army in
Stalingrad in December 1942-January 1943, and in February 1943 his
forces succeeded in recapturing Kharkov, in the most successful German
counteroffensive of the war. Thereafter he was driven into retreat, and in
March 1944 he was dismissed by Hitler.
Manstein spent the rest of the war on his estate and was captured by
the British in 1945. He was tried for war crimes,and, though acquitted of
the most serious charges, was imprisoned until his release in 1953
because of ill health. He subsequently advised theWest German
government on the organization of its army. His memoirs were published
as Verlorene Siege (1955; Lost Victories).
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