Hermann Balck

Hermann Balck : Nazi Germany

Hermann Balck, the son of a general, was born in Danzig-Langfuhr, Germany on 7th December, 1893. Balck entered the Hanover Military College in February 1914 and during the First World War served in the German Army on the Western Front.

He remained in the army and became one of Germany's leading advocates of motorized warfare. On the outbreak of the Second World War Balck was placed in charge of the Rifle Regiment in the 1st Panzer Division. Balck served under Heinz Guderian in France and was awarded the Knight's Cross for seizing and holding a bridge north of Sedan on 13th May 1940.

Promoted to colonel he was sent to Greece on 5th March 1942 and his 3rd Panzer Unit took Salonika on 9th April. Given command of the 11th Panzer Division he fought in the Soviet Union and on 20th December 1942 received the Oakleaves for action in the Caucasus and in November 1943 was promoted to head of the 48th Panzer Corps.

Moved to the Western Front he fought General George Patton in France before being sent to command the 6th Army in Hungary in December 1944.Balck failed in his attempt to recapture Budapest and was forced to retreat to Austria where he surrendered on 8th May 1945.

After being released from captivity in 1947 he retired to Stuttgart. Hermann Balck, described by one military historian, as Germany's greatest field commander, died in 1982.