Birthday: November 24, 1887
Died At Age: 85
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Also Known As: Fritz Erich Georg Eduard von Lewinski
Born Country: Germany
Born in: Berlin, Germany
Famous as: Military Leader
Height: 5'11" (180 cm), 5'11" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Jutta Sibylle von Loesch (m. 1920–1966)
father: Eduard von Lewinski (1829–1906)
mother: Helene von Sperling (1847–1910)
Died on: June 9, 1973
place of death: Icking
Cause of Death: Stroke
education: Prussian Military Academy
awards: Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
Erich von Manstein was a German military officer who commanded the Wehrmacht, Nazi Germany's armed forces, in World War II. Born in Berlin, German Empire, he was the biological son of an artillery general. As a small child, he was adopted by General Georg von Manstein. He eventually joined the army and during World War I, he served on the western and Russian fronts. Due to his skills and experience, he rose through the ranks and was promoted to major general in 1936, and to lieutenant general after two years. At the start of World War II, during the invasion of Poland, he was the chief of staff to Gerd von Rundstedt’s Army Group South. His plan was chosen by Hitler for the invasion of France, though later refined by Franz Halder and other members of the OKH. He was also one of the primary commanders at the Battle of Kursk. However, due to his ongoing disagreements with Hitler over the conduct of the war, he was eventually dismissed in March 1944. The next year, in August, he was taken prisoner by the British. During his trial, he faced seventeen charges and was found guilty of nine. He was sentenced to eighteen years in prison. He breathed his last after a stroke in June 1973, at the age of 85.
Childhood & Early Life
Erich von Manstein was born as Fritz Erich Georg Eduard von Lewinski in Berlin, German Empire, on 24 November 1887. He was the tenth son of Eduard von Lewinski, a Prussian aristocrat and artillery general, and Helene von Sperling. He was adopted by his childless aunt Hedwig von Sperling and her husband Lieutenant General Georg von Manstein.
He completed his primary education at Strasbourg. As both his biological father and adoptive fathers were army generals, Manstein also attended military cadet training at Ploen and Berlin.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
Erich von Manstein was commissioned into the Third Foot Guards Regiment. He was later promoted to lieutenant in January 1907. He began his three-year officer training program at the Prussian War Academy in October 1913. However, he could only complete his first year.
In August 1914, the First World War began, and all students of the academy were ordered to report for active service. He could not complete the rest of his training.
During the war, he served on the German Western as well as Eastern Fronts. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and he participated in the invasion of Belgium, with the 2nd Guard Reserve Infantry Regiment.
He suffered injuries to the left shoulder and left knee on 16th November 1914, during a Russian counterattack. This left him in the hospital for six months.
Manstein was eventually reassigned as general staff officer and soon promoted to captain. He also learned to plan and conduct operations as the Tenth Army undertook successful attacks on Poland, Lithuania, Montenegro, and Albania.
Even after the war ended, his skills and experience ensured that he continued to rise through the ranks. He was eventually promoted to major general in 1936, and later to lieutenant general in 1938.
During the beginning of the Second World War, Manstein was appointed the chief of staff to Gerd von Rundstedt’s Army Group South, for the invasion of Poland. The conquest of Poland was completed in October 1939.
While planning for the strategy for invading France, Manstein got into arguments with other officials. Eventually, he was summoned to brief Adolf Hitler on the plans. He was able to convince the Fuhrer with his strategy that eventually led to the fall of France. He next took part in the invasion of Russia.
He developed a strategy for capturing the city of Sevastopol, whose defenses had held off the Germans for months. Therefore, instead of focusing on the city, Manstein decided to fight around it. After the surrounding Russian forces were defeated, massive siege guns were brought to attack the city, leading to the fall of Sevastopol. For his success, he was promoted to field marshal.
Hitler felt Manstein was the right man to command the forces at Leningrad, which was under siege by the Soviets for quite some time. Since Manstein lacked the proper forces to storm the city, he planned Operation Nordlicht, which was a plan to cut off Leningrad’s supply line at Lake Ladoga. The Soviet army launched their counterattack. After a series of heavy battles, the Soviets were eventually forced to lift the siege in January 1944.
Manstein next joined the action around Stalingrad. The German troops were reeling under pressure due to the superior capability of the Russian forces and lack of supplies. Though he asked Hitler to retreat and launch another offensive, Hitler refused. Manstein didn’t contradict the Fuhrer’s orders, and refused to give the order to break out.
During the winter, when the Soviets launched a new offensive, Manstein again found his views contradicting Hitler’s. Hitler, however, let Manstein fight in his own way. His tactics eventually forced the Russian offensive to come to a halt.
His forces recaptured Kharkov, marking the most successful German counteroffensive of the war. However, he was forced to retreat after that and was eventually dismissed by Hitler in March 1944.
Erich von Manstein was captured by the British in 1945. Due to pressure from the Soviet Union, the British cabinet decided to prosecute him for war crimes. He faced seventeen charges and was found guilty of nine. He was sentenced to eighteen years in prison, though he was released early due to his poor health.
Family & Personal Life
Erich von Manstein married Jutta Sibylle von Loesch, the daughter of a Silesian landowner, in 1920. They had three children named Gisela, Gero and Rudiger. His wife passed away in 1966.
At the age of 85, Erich von Manstein died due to a stroke on the night of 9th June 1973. He was buried with full military honors.