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Franz Mattenklott
November 19, 1884(1884-11-19) – June 28, 1954 (aged 69)
Franz Mattenklott.jpg
Picture of General der Infanterie Franz Mattenklott from the Christmas card handed to the soldiers of 72nd Infantry Division. Note that Mattenklott is wearing his Knights Cross.
Place of birth Grünberg
Place of death Braunlage, Lower Saxony
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)

 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany (to 1945)

Service/branch Flag of Weimar Republic (war).svg Reichswehr

Balkenkreuz.svg Wehrmacht

Years of service 1903-1945
Rank General der Infanterie
Commands held 72. Infanterie Division, XXXXII. Armeekorps, Stellvertretendes Generalkommando VI. Armeekorps
Battles/wars World War I

World War II

Awards Knights Cross of the Iron Cross

Franz Mattenklott was a German General der Infanterie during World War II and recipient of the renowned Knights Cross of the Iron Cross.

Contents

Military career

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World War I

Franz Mattenklott was born in Grünberg in 1884. In 1903, at the age of 20, he was enlisted for service to the Königlich Preußische Armee as Ensign to the 4th Magdeburgian Infantry Regiment Nr. 67. He rose to the rank of Leutnant on May 18, 1905 and participated with his regiment in World War I as Oberstleutnant. During the war, he was promoted to Hauptmann (June 18, 1915) and was awarded both classes (2nd and 1st) of the Iron Cross, including some other decorations. [1]

Interwar Period

After the end of the war and the capitulation of the German Empire in 1918, Mattenklott remained in the – dramatically downsized in manpower, according to the Treaty of VersaillesReichswehr. In the spring of 1920, he was appointed chief of the Wehrkreis VI (7th Military District) headquarters. [1] [2] and soon after named Company commander of the 7th Prussian Infantry Regiment. In the spring of 1924, he was transferred to the Generalstab of the 6th Division of the Reichswehr in Münster. From 1925 to 1927 he belonged to the Generalstab of Artillerieführer VI in Münster (which was attached to the Wehrkreis VI). In this position, he received his promotion to Major on February 1, 1928. Following his promotion, he worked to the Infantry School in Dresden evidently until the spring of 1932. In this year, he rose to the rank of Oberstleutnant (October 1, 1932) and exactly two years later to Oberst. [1]

In the meanwhile, Adolf Hitler's rise to power resulted in major changes considering the Armed Forces of Germany (ultimately renamed to Wehrmacht). Aiming to restore Germany's military strength, Hitler ignored the terms of Versailles's Treaty and issued the expansion of the (approximately) 100.000-men Reichswehr, resuming compulsory conscription in the army.

Mattenklott, now ranked Oberst, was appointed commander of the newly formed Infanterie Regiment Stargard (Infantry Regiment Stargard). On October 15, 1935, the regiment was renamed to 25th Infantry Regiment. Mattenklott assumed his post on June 1, 1936 and two years later, he reached the rank of Generalmajor (March 1, 1938). Before the outbreak of World War II he was in command of the border security units in Trier, which formed the Grenz-Division Trier. [1]

World War II

France

The so-called Grenz-Division Trier formed the 72. Infanterie Division on September 19, 1939. Mattenklott was promoted to Generalleutnant on February 1, 1940. His division was stationed at Trier during the Phoney War and took part in the Invasion of France (May-June 1940). For his actions during the successful campaign, Mattenklott was awarded the Clasps on both classes of the Iron Cross. [1]

On July 25, 1940, he was temporarily detached as commander of Metz for five weeks, but returned to the 72nd Infantry Division on September 4, 1940, [1] although he was still de facto commander of Metz at that time. [3]

Balkans campaign and Soviet Union

With his division, Mattenklott participated in the Balkans Campaign (spring 1941). [1] After the decisive Axis victory in the Balkans, with its southern flank secured, Nazi Germany launched a massive offensive operation (Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union, though the peace treaty (Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) was still in effect. 72nd Infantry Division advanced into southern Russia and Ukraine while Mattenklott was promoted to General der Infanterie. On November 6, 1941, he was relieved from his command and was held in military reserve. He was awarded the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross, one of Nazi Germany's highest decorations for military gallantry, on November 23, 1941. [1]

Mattenklott, in a somehow unusual movement, ordered that special cards be handed to the soldiers of 72nd Infantry Division for Christmas on December 24, 1941. These cards included a photo of General Mattenklott and the following text: [4]

Zur Erinnerung an die Kämpfe am Westwall, im Frankreich, in Griechenland und Rußland.
Ich danke Euch allen für Eure Tapferkeit und Treue!
Mattenklott
Generalleutnant u.[nd]
ehem.[alige] Kde.(?)[Kommandeur] der 72. I.[nfanterie] D.[ivision]

roughly translated as

In remembrance of the struggle on Westwall, in France, in Greece and Russia.
I thank you all for your braveness and loyalty!
Mattenklott
Generalleutnant and
former Commander of the 72nd Infantry Division

On January 1, 1942, he was named commander of the XXXXII. Armeekorps (or XLII Army Corps). Meanwhile, he served as commander of Crimea (August 19, 1942 – April 1943). [1] On Setember 22, 1942, he was awarded the German Cross in Gold. A year later, he took a one-month leave of absence (June 22, 1943 to July 1943). [1]

Between November 14, 1943 and November 24, 1943 he was the commanding officer of the Army Detachment Mattenklott (Ameeabteilung Mattenklott), a large part of which was encircled and destroyed in the Cherkassy Pocket. The general staff of the detachment's remnants was transferred back to the XXXXII Army Corps and Mattenklott resumed his post as chief of the General Command. [1]

Late war

On June 14, 1944, Mattenklott was transferred back in Germany and named commander of the Deputy Command of VI. Armeekorps in Münster, simultaneously serving in the Command of Wehrkreis VI, position which he held until April 1945, soon followed by the end of the war and the unconditional surrender of Germany. [1]

Franz Mattenklott died in Braunlage, Lower Saxony, on June 28, 1954. [1]

Reference in the Wehrmachtbericht

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording[1] English translation
April 6, 1944 Verbände des Heeres und der Waffen-SS haben unter dem Oberbefehl des Generalobersten Weiß und unter der Führung der Generale der Infanterie Hoßbach und Mattenklott nach tagelangen harten Angriffskämpfen durch die Pripjetsümpfe bei ungewöhnlichen Geländeschwierigkeiten den feindlichen Ring um Kowel gesprengt und damit ihre Kameraden aus der Umklammerung befreit. Units of the Army and the Waffen-SS have, under the High Command of Generaloberst Weiß and under the leadership of Generals of the Infantry Hoßbach and Mattenklott, after days of harsh fighting through the Pripyat Marshes at rough terrain, broken the enemy ring at Kowel and by that our comrades were freed from the clutch.

Awards

References

Sources

Military offices
Preceded by
none
Commander of 72. Infanterie Division
September 1, 1939 – July 25, 1940
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Helge Auleb
Preceded by
General der Infanterie Helge Auleb
Commander of 72. Infanterie Division
September 4, 1940–November 6, 1940
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Friedrich Müller-Gebhard
Preceded by
none
Befehlshaber Krim
August 19, 1942 – April 1943
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Helge Auleb
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Hans Graf von Sponeck
Commander of XXXXII. Armeekorps
January 1, 1942–June 22, 1943
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Anton Dostler
Preceded by
General der Infanterie Anton Dostler
Commander of XXXXII. Armeekorps
July 1943–June 14, 1944
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Hermann Recknagel
Preceded by
none
Commander of Armeeabteilung Mattenklott
November 14 1943–November 24, 1943
Succeeded by
none
merged into XXXXII. Armeekorps
Preceded by
General der Infanterie Gerhard Glokke
Stellvertretendes Generalkommando VI. Armeekorps
June 14, 1944–April 1944
Succeeded by
dissolved

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