Theodor Busse

Ernst Hermann August Theodor Busse (15 December 1897 – 21 October 1986)[1] was a German officer during World War I and World War II.[2]

Theodor Busse
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1971-033-33, Lagebesprechung im Hauptquartier der Heeresgruppe Weichsel (cropped).jpg
Theodor Busse in March 1945.
Born15 December 1897
Frankfurt an der Oder
Died21 October 1986(1986-10-21) (aged 88)
Allegiance German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
RankGeneral der Infanterie
UnitHeeresgruppe Süd
Battles/warsWorld War I
World War II
AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Federal Cross of Merit

Early life and careerEdit

Busse, a native of Frankfurt (Oder), joined the Imperial German Army as an officer cadet in 1915 and was commissioned in February 1917. He also won the Knight's Cross with Swords of the Hohenzollern Order. After the armistice, he was accepted as one of 2,000 officers into the new Reichswehr in which he steadily rose in rank.

World War IIEdit

Busse was a General Staff officer in April 1939 and prepared a training program that was approved by the Chief of the General Staff in August and covered a period from 1 October 1939 to 30 September 1940. Between 1940 and 1942, he served as the Chief of Operations to General (later Field Marshal) Erich von Manstein in the 11th Army on the Eastern Front. He remained serving on von Manstein's staff from 1942 to 1943 as Chief of Operations of Army Group Don and then from 1943 to 1944 he was Chief of Staff of Army Group South, both on the Eastern Front. Serving with Army Group South, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 30 January 1944. He spent a short time in reserve and was then appointed General Officer Commanding German 121st Infantry Division. In July 1944, he commanded I Army Corps.

While Busse took command of the 9th Army on 21 January 1945, his appointment was never confirmed. It would appear that it was customary for commanders of formations of the status of an Army and higher to be on six months probation before their final appointments as Commanders-in-Chief. Germany surrendered unconditionally before Busse's probationary period had expired.[3]

During the last five months of the war, Busse commanded the 9th Army, which had become part of Army Group Vistula. As the Soviets continued to advance into Germany, he fought to protect the German capital. Specifically, Busse commanded the 9th Army during the Battle of Seelow Heights and the Battle of the Oder-Neisse. In April 1945, during the Battle of Berlin, Busse's Ninth Army was cut off from the armies on its flanks and almost encircled by Soviet Forces. General Gotthard Heinrici tried to convince Busse to withdraw several times, but Busse refused even to consider withdrawal unless a specific command arrived from the Führer. Eventually Busse's Ninth Army was driven into a pocket in the Spree Forest south of the Seelow Heights and west of Frankfurt, where it became fully encircled by two prongs of the massive Soviet assault on Berlin. In the ever-shrinking pocket, Busse's forces were all but annihilated in what is known as the Battle of Halbe, but remnants ultimately managed to break through to the west to link up with General Walther Wenck’s 12th Army south of Beelitz and then to withdraw west to the Elbe, cross the partially-destroyed bridge at Tangermünde and surrender to American forces between May 4 and 7.


Between 1945 and 1948, Busse was a prisoner-of-war.[3] After the war Busse was West Germany's director of civil defense, and he wrote and edited a number of works on the military history of World War II.

Awards and decorationsEdit

Books by BusseEdit

  • "Kursk: The German View" by Steven H. Newton. The first part of the book goes to a new translation of a study of Operation Citadel (the great tank battle of Kursk) edited by General Theodor Busse, which offers the perspectives of key tank, infantry, and air commanders.



  1. ^ "0131786 - THEODOR BUSSE (1897-1986). Ernst Hermann August Theodor Busse. German officer during World War I and World War II. Photographed wearing the Knight's Cross, 1944". Granger. Retrieved 2021-02-02.
  2. ^ "World War 2 Generals – A thru B / Weltkrieg 2 Generäle – A durch B". Historical Society of German Military History - Historische Gesellschaft der deutschen Militärgeschichte. 2016-12-31. Retrieved 2021-02-02.
  3. ^ a b Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Volume 42. See Bibliography
  4. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 71.
  5. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 151.
  6. ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 256.


  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6.
  • 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.

Military offices
Preceded by
General der Infanterie Helmuth Prieß
Commander of 121. Infanterie-Division
10 July 1944 – 1 August 1944
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Werner Ranck
Preceded by
Generaloberst Carl Hilpert
Commander of I. Armeekorps
1 August 1944 – 9 January 1945
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Friedrich Fangohr
Preceded by Commander of 9. Armee
20 January 1945 – 2 May 1945
Succeeded by