Vietinghoff remained in the Reichswehr after the war and served on the staff of army commander General Hans Seekt and later at the War Ministry. He also held various troop assignments. In November 1938, as a Generalleutnant (U.S. equiv. major general), Vietinghoff assumed command of the 5th Panzer Division, and from October 1939, he commanded XIII Army Corps. He served ably in these positions, and in June 1940, he was promoted to General der Panzertruppen (U.S. equiv. lieutenant general) and given command of the XLVI Panzer Corps under General Heinz Guderian on the Russian Front until June 1942. After briefly leading Ninth Army in the Soviet Union on an interim basis, he took charge of the Fifteenth Army on the Channel coast.
In August 1943, Vietinghoff assumed command of Tenth Army in Italy and the next month was promoted to Generaloberst (U.S. equiv. full general). He temporarily replaced the wounded Field Marshal Albert Kesselring as commander of Army Group C and the Southwest Front and, following a month in command of Army Group Kurland from the end of January to early March 1945, he returned to Italy to be named commander of German forces in that country, on 10 March. That same month, he and Schutzstaffel (SS) General Karl Wolff met in Switzerland in secret talks with the Allies regarding a separate surrender of German forces in Italy. Following discussions at his headquarters at Recoaro and pressed by his chief of staff, General Hans Röttiger, Vietinghoff dispatched the special envoys who signed the surrender on the Italian Front that went into effect on 2 May 1945. Taken prisoner by the Allies, Vietinghoff was held until 1948. He died at Pronten on 25 February 1952.
Graham, Dominick, and Shelford Bidwell. Tug of War: The Battle for Italy, 1943–45. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1986.; Morris, Eric. Circles of Hell: The War in Italy, 1943–1945. New York: Crown Publishers, 1993.; Vietinghoff Sheel, Heinrich von. La fine della guerra in Italia: Appunti dell'ultimo comandante in capo tedesco in Italia. Ed. Peter Hattenkofer, Alessandro Massignani, and Maurizio Dal Lago. Valdagno, Italy: Lions' Club, 1997.