Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz

Diepold Georg Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz (6 December 1896 – 9 October 1969) was a Prussian Junker, Olympic equestrian, and German officer who served in both World Wars, retiring as a General der Panzertruppe. Lüttwitz's team competed at the 1936 Summer games in Berlin but they came away without a medal. This failure was viewed as a disgrace by the Nazi regime and, as a consequence, he was left in professional obscurity for the next few years. He eventually went on to command two Panzer Divisions and the XLVII. Panzerkorps (47th Panzer Corps), where he earned infamy for his demand of the surrender of the American 101st Airborne Division.

Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz
Born(1896-12-06)6 December 1896
Krumpach, Province of Silesia, Kingdom of Prussia in the German Empire
Died9 October 1969(1969-10-09) (aged 72)
Neuburg an der Donau, West Germany
Allegiance German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
Service/branchArmy (Wehrmacht)
Years of service1914-1945
RankGeneral (Wehrmacht) 1.svg General der Panzertruppe
Commands heldXLVII Panzer Corps
2nd Panzer Division
13th Panzer Division
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
Spouse(s)Jutta (née von Engelmann) 1920-27
Jutta (née von Stein zu Kochburg) 1927-69

Early and Interwar yearsEdit

Lüttwitz excelled in school and, like many Prussian aristocrats, took up riding at an early age, becoming an accomplished equestrian. He was pursuing professional equestrianism when the First World War broke out. Despite the family tracing their military ancestry back to the 14th century and his father being a former Army officer, Lüttwitz was unable to get his father's permission to seek a military commission. In defiance, he enlisted as a Private in the Army in August 1914, at the age of seventeen. His mother, from the prominent von Uruh(de) Junker military family, used her influence to have him brevetted to Leutnant in December.

After graduating from officer training, he was posted to the 48th (5th Brandenburg) Infantry Regiment, of the 5th Division. Thereafter began a tug of war between himself and his father, an influential veteran of the Franco-Prussian War. The elder Lüttwitz likely used his influence to have his son posted to the rear area of the unit, away from the front lines. The younger Lüttwitz then began a letter-writing campaign to his superiors, appealing for a transfer to the front. This was granted in 1917 when he was given command of an infantry platoon. He won the Iron Cross Second and First Class before being wounded and sent back to Germany to convalesce. After recovering in May 1918, his family again used their connections and influence, this time to have him posted to the 1st Ulan Schützen Regiment, a crack unit of dismounted cavalry, trained in exploiting breakthroughs in enemy lines created by Stosstuppe. This tactic, successful early in 1918, was no longer viable by the time Lüttwitz arrived at the unit and so he spent most of the remainder of the war on maneuvers. After the Armistice, he returned with his regiment to Silesia. Unlike most units in the rapidly disbanding Army, his regiment was retained in the new Reichswehr as the 8th Cavalry Regiment of the 2nd Cavalry Division, enabling Lüttwitz to remain in active military service.

World War IIEdit

He was kept from the frontlines of the Invasion of Poland until the outcome was already decided and then, three days later, was badly wounded by a Polish sniper.

In 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge, Lüttwitz's XLVII Panzer Corps had surrounded the US 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne. US forces were commanded by Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe.

Before launching an assault by the 26th Volksgrenadier Division against the town, Lüttwitz sent an ultimatum to the American forces. His demand for US troops to surrender was as follows:

To the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne. There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note. If this proposal should be rejected one German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two hours term. All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well-known American humanity.

He received the following reply from McAuliffe: "To the German Commander. NUTS!" The reply, "Nuts!", was explained to the German negotiators as the equivalent of "go to hell!"



  1. ^ Heinrich von Lüttwitz's nomination by the troop was received by the Heerespersonalamt (HPA—Army Personnel Office) on 28 April 1945. Major Joachim Domaschk decided on 30 April: "Heeresgruppe B, postpone!" General Von Lüttwiz together with the remaining forces of the Heeresgruppe B was either taken prisoner of war or missing in action in the Ruhr Pocket on 15 April. The nomination was thus not further processed in accordance with AHA 44 Ziff. 572. The nomination list for the higher grades of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross also contains a note from 28 April 1945: "postponed". A bestowal thus didn't occur.[5]




  • Berger, Florian (1999). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges [With Oak Leaves and Swords. The Highest Decorated Soldiers of the Second World War] (in German). Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 978-3-9501307-0-6.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Mitcham, Samuel W. (2008). Panzer Commanders of the Western Front: German Tank Generals in World War II. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books. ISBN 9780811749220.
  • Mitcham, Samuel W. (2007). Retreat to the Reich: The German Defeat in France. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books. ISBN 9781461751557.
  • 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.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Reichswehrministerium, ed. (1924). Rangliste des Deutschen Reichsheeres (in German). Berlin, Germany: Mittler & Sohn Verlag. OCLC 10573418.
  • 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.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

Further readingEdit

  • R. V. Cassill (1955), The General Said "Nuts": Exciting Moments of Our History—As Recalled by Our Favorite American Slogans, New York: Birk.
Military offices
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Vollrath Lübbe
Commander of 2. Panzer-Division
1 February 1944 – 4 May 1944
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Franz Westhoven
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Franz Westhoven
Commander of 2. Panzer-Division
27 May 1944 – 31 August 1944
Succeeded by
Oberst Eberhard von Nostitz
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppe Hans Freiherr von Funck
Commander of XLVII. Panzerkorps
4 September 1944 – April 1945
Succeeded by