4th Army (Germany)
The 4th Army ( _de. 4. Armee Oberkommando) was a field army that fought in
World War II.
Invasion of Poland
The 4th Army was activated on
December 1, 1938with Field Marshal Günther von Klugein command. It first went into action during the Polish Campaign of September 1939as part of Army Group North, which was under Field Marshal Feodor von Bock. The 4th Army contained the II Corps and III Corps, each with two infantry divisions, the XIX Corps with two motorized and one panzer divisions, the I Frontier Guard Corps with one infantry division, and two infantry divisions in reserve. It was tasked with capturing the Polish Corridorand thus re-linking mainland Germanywith East Prussia. Under the brilliant Kluge, the Fourth Army completed its task without much difficulty. Part of the Fourth Army attacked south into Pomorzeand joined other German forces at Warsaw.
Invasion of France
During the attack on the
Low Countriesand France, the 4th Army, as part of Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt's Army Group A, went into Belgiumfrom the Rhineland. Along with other German armies, the 4th Army penetrated the Dyle Lineand completed the trapping of the Alliedforces in France. Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who was under Kluge, contributed immensely to his victories. Kluge, who had been general of artillery, was promoted to field marshalalong with many others on July 19, 1940.
Invasion of the Soviet Union
The 4th Army took part in
Operation Barbarossain 1941as part of von Bock's Army Group Center. Its initial aim was to trap as many Soviettroops as possible around Minsk. The 4th Army performed well and took part in the capture of Smolensk. However, the poor road network contributed to the stalling of the army group and the 4th Army. On December 19, 1941, Kluge resigned along with von Bock and Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch. Kluge was replaced by General Ludwig Kübler.
After the launching of
Operation Blue, the 4th Army and the entire Army Group Centerdid not see much action, as troops were concentrated to the south. However, from 1943 on, as Army Group Centerwas in full retreat, the Fourth Army also had to move its troops backwards. The Red Army's campaign of autumn 1943, Operation Suvorov(also known as the "battle of the highways") saw the 4th Army pushed back towards Orshaand Vitebsk.
1944saw the 4th Army still holding defensive positions east of Orshaand Mogilevin the Belorussian SSR. The first Soviet summer offensive of that year, Operation Bagration, proved disastrous for the "Wehrmacht", and especially so for the Fourth Army. Commencing on June 22, an overwhelming Soviet assault saw nearly the entire army trapped in a pocket east of Minskand destroyed during the first week of July. Very few units were able to escape westwards; those that did so were involved in desperate attempts to stabilise the German lines for the remainder of the summer, after which the Fourth Army required complete rebuilding.
During late 1944-5 the 4th Army, now under the command of
Friedrich Hoßbach, was tasked with holding the borders of East Prussia. The Soviet East Prussian Offensive, commencing on January 13, saw the 4th Army driven steadily backwards towards the Baltic coast over a period of two weeks and threatened with encirclement. Hoßbach and Army Group Centre's commander, Georg-Hans Reinhardt, attempted to break out of East Prussia (defying their orders, for which they were relieved of command) by attacking towards Elbing; but the attack was driven back, and the 4th Army was again encircled in what became known as the Heiligenbeil pocket.
The army held its positions along the coast of the
Vistula lagoonuntil overwhelmed by Soviet attacks in late March. The few remaining forces in the area were incorporated in the East Prussian Army Group commanded by Dietrich von Saucken, which surrendered to the Soviets at the end of the war in May.
* Field Marshal
Günther von Kluge( December 1, 1938- December 19, 1941)
* General of Mountain Troops
Ludwig Kübler( December 19, 1941- January 20, 1942)
Gotthard Heinrici( January 20, 1942- June 6, 1942)
Hans von Salmuth( June 6, 1942- July 15, 1942)
Gotthard Heinrici( July 15, 1942- June ?, 1943
Hans von Salmuth(June ?, 1943- July 31, 1943)
Gotthard Heinrici( July 31, 1943- June 4, 1944)
* General of Infantry
Kurt von Tippelskirch( June 4, 1944- June 30, 1944)
Vincenz Müller( June 30, 1944- July 7, 1944)
* General of Infantry
Kurt von Tippelskirch( July 7, 1944- July 18, 1944)
* General of Infantry
Friedrich Hoßbach( July 18, 1944- January 29, 1945)
* General of Infantry
Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller( January 29, 1945- April 27, 1945)
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