Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
Teaser Image

Mackensen, Eberhard von (1889–1969)

German army general who was given command of the First Panzer Army in November 1942 and then the Fourteenth Army one year later. Born in Bromberg (in today's Poland) on 24 September 1889 into a distinguished military family (his father, August von Mackensen, was a well-respected field marshal during World War I), Eberhard von Mackensen entered the army in October 1908 as an officer candidate. He was commissioned as a lieutenant two years later but with the retroactive date of rank of March 1908. His first assignment was with the lst Hussar Regiment, his father's old unit. During World War I, he earned the Iron Cross First and Second Class and other awards for valor.

Mackensen remained with the army after the war and was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1932. The next year, he became chief of staff of the cavalry corps. He was promoted to colonel in September 1934, Generalmajor (U.S. equiv. brigadier general) in January 1939, and Generalleutnant (U.S. equiv. major general) in January 1940. He briefly served as chief of staff of Fourteenth Army (from September to November 1939) and then as chief of staff of Generaloberst (U.S. equiv. full general) Siegmund Wilhelm List's Twelfth Army (from November 1939 to January 1941). He participated in the invasion of France and received promotion to General der Kavallerie (U.S. equiv. lieutenant general) in August 1940.

In January 1941, Mackensen took command of the III Corps (Motorized). His seizure of bridgeheads at Dnepropetrovsk during the invasion of the Soviet Union assisted Generaloberst Ewald von Kleist's breakthrough. Units of his corps captured and briefly held Rostov in late 1941. In January 1942, the III Corps was redesignated the III Panzer Corps. It remained engaged in the Ukraine and Caucasus areas. Mackensen's forces crossed the Terek River in late 1942 before having to withdraw in consequence of the Soviet offensive at Stalingrad.

Mackensen assumed command of the First Panzer Army in November 1942 and was promoted to Generaloberst in July 1943. His army took part in Field Marshal Erich von Manstein's counteroffensive and recapture of Kharkov in February and March 1943, and his forces pushed to the Donets River in the area east of Petrovskoye. Over the summer, the First Panzer Army was gradually forced out of the Donets Basin and back toward the Dnieper River at Zaporozhye and Dnepropetrovsk. Mackensen was compelled to give up the German bridgehead on the Dnieper at Zaporozhye by mid-October 1943.

That November, Mackensen assumed command of the reconstituted Fourteenth Army in Italy. His forces engaged the Allied landing at Anzio on 22 January 1944 and contained the Allies there for several months. Mackensen did not get along well with Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, commander of German forces in Italy, who thought him at times too parochial in his operational conduct. Hitler blamed Mackensen for the loss of Rome and relieved him of command in June 1944. He did not again have a command in the war.

Following the war, Mackensen was tried for the Ardeatine Caves Massacre and was sentenced to death on 30 November 1945; the sentence was then commuted to life imprisonment. He was released from Werl Prison in October 1952. He contributed two articles to the postwar German Military History Series and, in 1967, published a book on the 1941–1942 Eastern Front Campaign of the III Panzer Corps. Mackensen died in Altmühlendorf near Nortorf, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, on 19 May 1969.

Jon D. Berlin

Further Reading
Brett-Smith, Richard. Hitler's Generals. San Rafael, CA: Presidio, 1977.; Carell, Paul. Hitler Moves East. Trans. Ewald Osers. Boston: Little, Brown, 1965.; Mackensen, Eberhard von. Vom Bug zum Kaukasus: Das III. Panzerkorps im Feldzug gegen Sowjetrussland 1941/42. Neckargemünd, Germany: Vowinckel, 1967.; Ziemke, Earl F. Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1984.

©2011 ABC-CLIO. All rights reserved.

  About the Author/Editor
  Documents Prior to 1938
  1939 Documents
  1940 Documents
  1941 Documents
  1942 Documents
  1943 Documents
  1944 Documents
  1945 Documents
ABC-cLIO Footer