Otto von Knobelsdorff

Otto von Knobelsdorff (31 March 1886 – 21 October 1966) was a German general during World War II who led the 19th Panzer Division and then held a series of higher commands. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.

Otto von Knobelsdorff
Born(1886-03-31)31 March 1886
Berlin, German Empire
Died21 October 1966(1966-10-21) (aged 80)
Hannover, West Germany
Allegiance German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
Service/branchArmy (Wehrmacht)
Years of service1905–45
RankGeneral (Wehrmacht) 1.svg General der Panzertruppe
Commands held19th Panzer Division
X Army Corps
XXXX Panzer Corps
Battles/warsWorld War I
World War II
AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords


Born in Berlin in 1886, Knobelsdorff joined the army of Imperial Germany in 1905 as a Fahnen-junker (officer cadet) and served in the infantry.[1] Twice awarded the Iron Cross during World War I,[2] he later served in the Heer (Army) branch of the Wehrmacht. He was chief of staff of Corps Command XXXIII at the time of the outbreak of World War II. A generalmajor,[Note 1] he was given command of the 19th Infantry Division on 1 February 1940[1] and led it through the Battle of France and during subsequent occupation duty. In October, the division was withdrawn to Germany for conversion to armour. It was re-designated the 19th Panzer Division[4] and Knobelsdorff, promoted to generalleutnant[Note 2] in late 1940, oversaw his command's transition from infantry to tanks.[1]

With Knobelsdorff still in command, the division was sent to Russia as part of Operation Barbarossa and fought through to the outskirts of Moscow. In early 1942, he was acting commander of X Army Corps and fulfilled the same role for II Army Corps in mid-1942, when it was involved in the Demyansk Salient. He then commanded XXIV Panzer Corps, still as acting commander, before being given a permanent role leading XXXXVIII Panzer Corps[1] from late 1942 to late 1943, although he spent three months out of the lines during this time.[6] Now a General der Panzertruppe (General of Panzer Troops), during this period he was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross that he had been awarded in 1941 while leading the 19th Panzer Division[7] and the German Cross in gold.[8]

Competent as a leader of armoured formations, Knobelsdorff was given command of 1st Army in September 1944, serving in France at the time.[1] Although awarded the Swords to his Knight's Cross the same month,[7] he proved less adept at this level and was ultimately relieved in November 1944 for resisting Adolf Hitler's efforts to transfer 1st Army's tanks away in support of the Ardennes offensive. He ended the war without another command.[1] In later life, he wrote Geschichte der niedersaechsischen 19. Panzer-Division, a history of the 19th Panzer Division which was published in 1958.[9] He died in Hannover in 1966.[1]




  1. ^ In the Wehrmacht, this was equivalent to the rank of brigadier general in the United States Army.[3]
  2. ^ A generalleutnant was equivalent to a major general in the United States Army.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Mitcham 2007, pp. 150–151.
  2. ^ a b c Thomas 1997, p. 382.
  3. ^ Mitcham 2007, p. 257.
  4. ^ Mitcham 2007, p. 149.
  5. ^ Mitcham, Jr 2007, p. 257.
  6. ^ Mitcham 2007, p. 266.
  7. ^ a b c d e Scherzer 2007, p. 453.
  8. ^ a b Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 238.
  9. ^ Mitcham 2007, p. 152.


  • Mitcham, Samuel W. (2007). Panzer Legions: A Guide to the German Army Tank Divisions of WWII and Their Commanders. Mechanicsburg, PA, United States: Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-3353-3.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6.
Military offices
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Günther Schwantes
Commander of 19th Infantry Division
1 February 1940 – 1 November 1940
Succeeded by
redesignated 19th Panzer Division
Preceded by
19th Infantry Division
Commander of 19th Panzer Division
1 November 1940 – 5 January 1942
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Gustav Schmidt
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppe Heinrich Eberbach
Commander of XXXXVIII Panzerkorps
30 November 1942 – 6 May 1943
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Dietrich von Choltitz
Preceded by
General der Infanterie Dietrich von Choltitz
Commander of XXXXVIII Panzerkorps
30 August 1943 – 30 September 1943
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Dietrich von Choltitz
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppen Ferdinand Schörner
Commander of XXXX Panzer Corps
1 February 1944 – 31 August 1944
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppen Siegfried Henrici
Preceded by
General Kurt von der Chevallerie
Commander of 1st Army
6 September 1944 – 29 November 1944
Succeeded by
General Hans von Obstfelder