Manteuffel transferred to the armored forces in 1934 and then taught at the Panzer Training School at Wünsdorff; thereafter, he served in the Inspectorate of Panzer Troops, helping to carry out the motorization of four infantry divisions. In February 1939, Manteuffel became head of the staff of the Panzer Troops Training School II in Berlin-Kramprintz. He was a regimental commander in the 7th Panzer Division during the Battle for France in 1940 under Generalmajor (U.S. equiv. brigadier general) Erwin Rommel and during Operation barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. On 27 November 1941, his unit captured a key bridge across the Volga-Moscow Canal north of Moscow, about 20 miles from the capital. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for this exploit.
Ordered to North Africa in July 1942, Manteuffel commanded a collection of units known as Division Manteuffel. In the final days of the North African Campaign, he collapsed from exhaustion and was evacuated. Promoted to Generalmajor in May 1943, Manteuffel assumed command of his old unit, the 7th Panzer Division, in August 1943.
His division distinguished itself in the recapture of Zhitomir that November, an action for which Manteuffel became known as the "Lion of Zhitomir"; he was promoted to Generalleutnant (U.S. equiv. major general) in February 1944. That same month, he took command of the elite Panzergrenadier Grossdeutschland Division. At one point, Soviet forces surrounded the division, but Manteuffel extricated his entire force and later inflicted heavy losses on the Soviets near Jassy, Romania. The Grossdeutschland Division was transferred to East Prussia in August 1944.
Adolf Hitler promoted Manteuffel to General der Panzertruppen (U.S. equiv. lieutenant general) in September 1944 and placed him in command of the Fifth Panzer Army, which was engaged against U.S. forces in eastern France and Lorraine. Manteuffel was one of the few general officers who went directly from division to army command and completely bypassed corps command.
As commander of the Fifth Panzer Army, Manteuffel was assigned to support Josef "Sepp" Dietrich's Sixth Panzer Army in the Ardennes Offensive. He agreed with Field Marshal Walther Model that Hitler's plan was too ambitious for the forces available and instead advocated Model's proposed "small solution." Hitler refused to enact Model's plan. During the Battle of the Bulge (Ardennes Offensive), Manteuffel's forces were active at Saint Vith, Clervaux, and Bastogne.
Despite the failure of the offensive, Manteuffel retained Hitler's confidence and was awarded the Diamonds to the Knight's Cross. In March 1945, he took command of the battered Third Panzer Army, which was assigned the defense of the Oder River below Stettin. Although continually pushed back by superior Soviet forces, Manteuffel maintained unit cohesion and was able to retreat and surrender to the Western Allies on 3 May.
Manteuffel spent two years as a prisoner of war. After being released in December 1947, he engaged in business and joined the Free Democratic Party (FDP) in 1949. From 1953 to 1957, he was an FDP deputy in the Bundestag from Neuss (North Rhine Westphalia). He served on the Committee for Questions of European Security and was an advocate for former soldiers, refugees, and returnees. Manteuffel was a popular guest lecturer for American and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) groups and at Battle of the Bulge commemorations. He also wrote about the war, especially the 7th Panzer Division and the Battle of the Bulge. Manteuffel retired in Diessen am Ammersee, Germany, where he died on 28 September 1978.
Jon D. Berlin
Brownlow, Donald Grey. Panzer Baron: The Military Exploits of General Hasso von Manteuffel. North Quincy, MA: Christopher Publishing House, 1975.; Jarymowycz, Roman Johann. Tank Tactics: From Normandy to Lorraine. London: Lynne Rienner, 2001.; Kurowski, Franz. "Dietricht and Manteuffel." In Correlli Barnett, ed., Hitler's Generals, 411–440. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1989.; Liddell Hart, B. H. The German Generals Talk. New York: William Morrow, 1948.; Mellenthin, Friedrich Wilhelm von. German Generals of World War II as I Saw Them. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1977.