Heinrici, Colonel General Gotthard, 1889-

Heinrici was a German General who built up a reputation as a brilliant defensive fighter. After Field Marshal von KLUGE was promoted to command Army Group Center, Heinrici became Commander of the Fourth Army which held a line from Orsha to Rogachev. Between October and December 1943 the Russians mounted several offensives against this line but did not break through. Heinrici achieved this by concentrating his forces at Orsha and also by bringing in, daily, a fresh battalion to man the sector under greatest pressure. He only had ten depleted divisions but by putting three and a half of them at Orsha and by moving them round, battalion by battalion, so they all experienced frontline fighting, Heinrici was able to withstand forces six times greater than his own. However HITLER’s orders not to retreat did not make this easy. Heinrici was then transferred to Slovakia in 1944 and fought a retreating battle in command of the First Panzer Army. In March 1945 General GUDERIAN prevailed on Hitler to replace HIMMLER with Heinrici as Commander of Army Group Vistula but it was too late. Heinrici could do little more than delay the obvious. He was captured by the Russians who jailed him until 1955.

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