An outstanding panzer leader, Reinhardt won promotion to major general in October 1939. He then commanded XLI Panzer Corps (6th and 8th Panzer Divisions) and led it in the 1940 French Campaign as part of General Günther von Kluge's Fourth Army. His panzers pushed through the Ardennes and deep into Flanders.
In June, Reinhardt was promoted to lieutenant general. He then led XLI Panzer Corps in the Yugoslavia Campaign and in the invasion of the Soviet Union. In the latter effort, XLI Panzer Corps was part of General Erich Hoepner's 4th Panzer Group in Army Group North. Reinhardt's corps participated in the drive on Leningrad, penetrating the city's outer defenses.
In October 1941, Reinhardt succeeded General Hermann Hoth as commander of Third Panzer Army and led it to Kalinin and to the Volga-Moscow Canal. In February 1942, he was promoted to full general. Third Panzer Army participated in fighting at Vitebsk, the counterattack through Vyasma, and actions in the Moscow sector of the Eastern Front. Still in command of Third Panzer Army, Reinhardt took over Army Group Center on 15 August 1944 from Field Marshal Walther Model. Soviet attacks pushed the front back into East Prussia near Königsberg, where Reinhardt denounced the local Gauleiter (area commander), for not evacuating women and children. His forces were hopelessly outnumbered by the Soviets in terms of manpower and equipment.
Both the 3rd Belorussian Front and the 2nd Belorussian Front attacked in January 1945. Because Reinhardt's troops initially held their ground, Adolf Hitler transferred the Panzer Corps Grossdeutschland from Reinhardt's command to Army Group A. That move, along with clear weather that worked to the Soviets' advantage, doomed Army Group Center. With the Soviets advancing on both flanks, Reinhardt informed Hitler by phone that he intended to withdraw farther west. Hitler refused permission and dismissed Reinhardt on 25 January 1945.
Reinhardt then retired from the army. He was taken prisoner at the end of the war and brought to trial on war crimes charges. Convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison, he was released in 1952. He died in Munich on 22 November 1963.
Carell, Paul. Hitler Moves East, 1941–1943. Boston: Little, Brown, 1965.; Erickson, John. The Road to Berlin: Stalin's War with Germany. Vol. 2. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1983.; Ziemke, Earl F. Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1984.