Eberhard Kinzel

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Eberhard Kinzel
Generalleutnant Eberhard Kinzel.jpg
Birth name Hans(-)Eberhard Kinzel
Birth date 18 October 1897(1897-10-18)
Place of birth Berlin, Province of Brandenburg, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Death date 25 June 1945 (aged 47)
Place of death Near Idstedt, Allied-occupied Germany
Allegiance  German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 National Socialist Germany
Service/branch Iron Cross of the Luftstreitkräfte.png Imperial German Army
Freikorps Flag.jpg Freikorps
War Ensign of Germany (1921–1933).png Reichswehr
Balkenkreuz.jpg Heer
Years of service 1914–1945
Rank General der Infanterie
Commands held 337. Volksgrenadier-Division
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Iron Cross
House Order of Hohenzollern
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Relations ∞ 1921 Karola John

Hans Eberhard Kinzel (1897–1945) was a German officer of the Prussian Army, the Imperial German Army, the Freikorps, the Reichswehr and the Wehrmacht, finally General der Infanterie and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross in World War II.

Career (chronology)

Father Geheimer Studienrat Prof. Dr. phil. Karl Wilhelm Julius Kinzel
Hauptmann Eberhard Kinzel
"An impressive and important document, the seating arrangement for the first significant German surrender of the war, drawn by the chief German emissary, Kriegsmarine Commander in Chief Hans-Georg von Friedeburg and signed by him as well. On May 3, 1945, and under intense pressure from Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, German president Grossadmiral Karl Donitz had agreed to surrender all German forces in northern Germany, Denmark and Holland which included three German armies. Before the surrender ceremony at Luneburg Heath the next day, von Friedeburg prepared this 12 x 8 inch sketch, undoubtedly at Montgomery's behest, indicating where each signatory to the surrender was to be seated. Of course, the victorious Montgomery was seated at the head of the table, with von Friedeburg placing himself at Montgomery's right. Lieut. General Eberhard Kinzel, chief of staff to Field Marshal Ernst Busch, the Commander of German Armies in the Northwest, is to be seated to Montgomery's left. The other three seats are to be occupied by Rear Admiral Gerhard Wagner, Director of Donitz's military cabinet to the right of von Friedeburg, with Kinzel's staff officer Col. Fritz [Friedel][1] Pollek to Kinzel's left, and OKW representative Major Hans Friedl to Wagner's right. This layout was graciously accepted by Montgomery, and the surrender ensued a few hours later."[2][3]
Rear Admiral Gerhard Wagner (1898–1987) and General Kinzel (right) at the arrest of the Dönitz government (Regierung Dönitz) on 23 May 1945
It could not be confirmed if Colonel Eberhard Kinzel (1930-2020) was a relative.
  • War Volunteer in the Infanterie-Regiment „Graf Tauentzien von Wittenberg“ (3. Brandenburgisches) Nr. 20 (16 Oct 1914-25 Jan 1915)
  • Fahnenjunker in the 20th Infantry-Regiment (25 Jan 1915-09 May 1915)
  • Leader of the Mortar-Detachment of the 6th Infantry-Division (09 May 1915-22 May 1915)
  • Wounded, in Field-Hospital 7 (22 May 1915-12 Jul 1915)
  • Back in the Field with the 20th Infantry-Regiment (12 Jul 1915-19 Apr 1917)
  • Company-Leader in the 20th Infantry-Regiment (19 Apr 1917-06 Aug 1917)
  • Ordinance-Officer with the Staff of II. Battalion of the 20th Infantry-Regiment (06 Aug 1917-03 Mar 1918)
  • Ordinance-Officer with the Staff of III. Battalion of the 20th Infantry-Regiment (03 Mar 1918-01 Mar 1919)
  • Member of the Freiwilligen-Regiment „von Oven“ (under Georg von Oven) of the Freikorps „von Hülsen“ (01 Mar 1919-01 Oct 1919)
  • Adjutant of I. Battalion of Regiment Oven, renamed 91st then 103rd Infantry-Regiment (01 Oct 1919-15 May 1920)
  • Ordinance-Officer with the Staff of III. Battalion of the 6th Reichswehr-Infantry-Regiment (15 May 1920-01 Oct 1920)
  • Ordinance-Officer with the Staff of E-Battalion of the 5th Reichswehr-Infantry-Regiment (01 Oct 1920-01 Jan 1921)
  • Company-Officer in the 14th Company of the 5th Infantry-Regiment (01 Jan 1921-01 Apr 1923)
  • Adjutant of the Training-Battalion of the 5th Infantry-Regiment (01 Apr 1923-01 Oct 1928)
  • Detached to the 7th Artillery-Regiment (01 Jul 1926-15 Sep 1926)
  • Detached for Subsidiary-Leadership-Training to the Staff of 2nd Division (01 Oct 1926-01 Jun 1927)
  • Detached to the 7th Motor-Transport-Battalion (01 Jun 1927-31 Jul 1927)
  • Detached to the 3rd Signals-Battalion (01 Aug 1927-20 Sep 1927)
  • Detached to the 5th Signals-Battalion (01 Jul 1928-31 Jul 1928)
  • Detached to the 3rd Motor-Transport-Battalion (01 Aug 1928-25 Sep 1928)
  • Detached to Command-Office Berlin (01 Oct 1928-06 Jun 1929)
  • Detached to Escort Russian Officers (06 Jun 1929-01 Oct 1929)
  • Detached to the RWM (01 Oct 1929-01 Oct 1930)
  • Transferred into the RWM (01 Oct 1930-01 Oct 1933)
  • Assistant of the Military Attaché in Warsaw (01 Oct 1933-01 Apr 1936)
  • Transferred into the 66th Infantry-Regiment (01 Apr 1936-01 Apr 1937)
  • Chief of Operations (Ia) in the General-Staff of the 19th Division (01 Apr 1937-10 Nov 1938)
  • Chief of Department Foreign Armies East (Fremde Heere Ost) in the Army General Staff (10 Nov 1938-01 Mar 1939)
  • Chief of Department OKH/Army General Staff/Oqu IV/Department Foreign Armies East (II) (Fremde Heere Ost (II)) (01 Mar 1939-01 May 1942)
  • Führer-Reserve OKH (01 May 1942-23 May 1942)
  • Chief of the General Staff of XXIX. Army-Corps (23 May 1942-12 Nov 1942)
  • Führer-Reserve OKH (12 Nov 1942-22 Jan 1943)
  • Chief of the General Staff of Army-Group North (22 Jan 1943-18 Jul 1944)
  • Führer-Reserve OKH (23 Jul 1944-01 Sep 1944)
  • Commander of the 570th Volksgrenadier-Division (01 Sep 1944-15 Sep 1944)
  • Commander of the 337th Volksgrenadier-Division (15 Sep 1944-02 Mar 1945)
  • Chief of the General Staff of Army-Group Vistula (03 Mar 1945-22 Apr 1945)
  • Chief of the General Staff of (Operations-Staff North) OKW-Operations-Staff A (under Großadmiral Dönitz) (22 Apr 1945-03 May 1945)
    • As Chef des Generalstabes des OKW-Führungsstabes Nord member of a German Delegation under the Leadership of the Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine, Generaladmiral von Friedeburg, for the Absorption of Surrender Negotiations opposite the Commander-in-Chief of the English 21st Army-Group, Field-Marshall Montgomery (03 May 1945-04 May 1945); Signing at 18:30 Hours near Lüneburg: 'Cessation of Hostilities starting 8:00 Hours on May 5th' (Holland, North West Germany between the Ems Delta and Kieler Förde as well as Denmark including her Islands. Cessation of Air & Sea Operations in these Areas). Kinzel then went afterwards with Generalarmiral von Friedeburg to Negotiations in the Allied Headquarters at Reims (04 May 1945-05 May 1945)
  • German Liaison Officer with Montgomery (05 May 1945-06 May 1945)
  • Back in Flensburg in the Morning for Reporting (06 May 1945-08 May 1945)[4]
  • Dönitz government (Regierung Dönitz)
    • Chief of Liaison Staff to the British 21st Army Group (10 May 1945-23 May 1945)


General Kinzel and his deeply beloved mistress Erika von Aschoff (divorced/widowed Seldner and mother of son Ullrich) committed suicide on 25 June 1945 near Idstedt in Holstein. As Kinzel wrote, they could not bear the thought of becoming separated, as his arrest by the Allied authorities was scheduled for the next day. He also feared, he would be handed over to the Red Army.

The Suicide of General Kinzel

Born in Berlin-Friedenau on October 18, 1897, the son of Professor Karl Kinzel, he had entered Army service on October 16, 1914, two days before his 17th birthday. Joining Infanterie-Regiment 20, he had fought with them throughout the First World War, being wounded in May 1915, promoted to Leutnant in July that year, and finishing up as a battalion staff officer. After the war, he had stayed on in the military, first in the Freikorps von Oven, then in the Reichswehr of the Weimar Republic, and then in Hitler’s Wehrmacht. Under the new regime he had enjoyed a slow but steady career. From October 1933 to April 1936 he had served as Assistant Military Attaché in Warsaw. Then in November 1938, he was appointed section chief within the quartermaster branch of the Fremde Heere Ost (Foreign Armies East) department within the Oberkommando des Heeres (Army High Command, OKH), a position he held until May 1942. Thereafter he became Chief-of-Staff of the XXIX. Armeekorps in the southern sector of the Eastern Front, his corps taking part in the summer offensive towards the Caucasus but luckily missing out on being trapped at Stalingrad. In January 1943, he had been made Chief-of-of-Staff of Heeresgruppe Nord (a position that brought with it promotion from Oberst to Generalmajor), which he remained until July 1944. In this position he oversaw the army group’s battles at and final withdrawal from the Leningrad front. In September 1944, by then a Generalleutnant, he was given command of the 570. Volksgrenadier-Division, transferring to command of the 337. Volksgrenadier-Division the following month. After heavy battles in Poland and East Prussia his division was destroyed in January 1945, its remnants and the divisional staff, known as Gruppe Kinzel, carrying on for a while with the 35. Infanterie-Division. On March 2, Kinzel was again appointed Chief-of-Staff of an army group, this time Heeresgruppe Weichsel, the successor of Heeresgruppe Nord, which was defending the sector east of Berlin. Although nominally the army group’s Chief-of-Staff, his job was really to take over the reins from its commander, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, who was totally incompetent in military matters. Kinzel led the army group until March 20, when Himmler was finally relieved by Generaloberst Gotthard Heinrici and Kinzel could revert to the role of Chief-of-Staff. The following month, on April 15, with the Reich on the verge of being cut into two, Hitler nominated Kinzel as head of a soon-to-be-established Army General Staff for northern Germany. His appointment came into effect on April 22, when the OKW organisation in Berlin was split up into a Führungsstab Süd and a smaller Führungs stab Nord, the former going south to Bavaria and the latter moving north towards Schleswig-Holstein. His transfer to Führungs stab Nord also brought an immediate promotion from Generalleutnant to General der Infanterie. Although officially with the OKW, Kinzel actually spent most of his time at the headquarters of Generalfeldmarschall Ernst Busch, the OB Nordwest, who commanded the Wehrmacht forces in the northern zone of Germany. [...]
For the next three weeks Kinzel collaborated with the British helping to control, concentrate and disarm German troops and disband German units in the army group sector. Most of his dealings were with No. 104 Controlling Section, a sub-unit of 21st Army Group HQ. His own staff, named the ‘German Liaison Staff at British Headquarters’, grew to comprise 22 officers and 47 NCOs and men. All this time Kinzel was weighed down with a personal heartache. A married man, many years previously he had fallen in love with another woman, Erika von Aschoff. The affair had turned into a firm relationship and the couple had been living together for quite a while, although the war had brought long periods of separation. Though he had never divorced his legal spouse, from whom he had two sons and a daughter, Kinzel had long since taken to generally presenting Frau von Aschoff as his officially married wife, a situation that was accepted and upheld by his family. Four years younger than he was, she had a son from an earlier marriage, a teenager named Ullrich. At 42, she was still as lively and beautiful as someone half her age. A secretary by training, by April 1945 Erika von Aschoff was working as a female auxiliary at the headquarters of Generalfeldmarschall Busch — so Kinzel had been able to see her on a daily basis. When Kinzel was detached to 21st Army Group headquarters he soon missed her so greatly that he attempted to pull a few strings. As Major-General De Guingand recalled: ‘Some of our liaison officers who had visited Busch’s headquarters had reported seeing a beautiful blonde who worked in the German field-marshal’s office. One day Kinzel asked whether he could have a PA (Personal Assistant) on his establishment, as he found the work rather heavy. I agreed to this, but shortly afterwards had to cancel the permission when I received information which showed that the beautiful blonde was the PA concerned. By the end of May, with most of its tasks done, the German Liaison Staff was wound up. Kinzel was released and, having been given permission to stay at Glücksburg, he moved in with Erika von Aschoff at lodgings at No. 1 Dethleffsenweg. His driver of many years, Oberfeldwebel Kurt Breitbarth, found accommodation in the nearby Hotel Ruhetal. For three weeks the General and his lady lived quietly, although perhaps not peacefully and without worries. Most of Kinzel’s wartime service had been on the Eastern Front and his great fear was that the Soviets might demand his extradition. He had no doubts about the treatment the Russians would have in store for him and presumed that he would eventually be executed. Kinzel and Aschoff worried about it daily and even discussed their anxieties with their landlady, Frau Claussen.
A first indication that things might change came on June 18, when No. 104 Controlling Section told Kinzel via OB Nord to remain at Glücksburg and await further orders from 21st Army Group. His anxiety grew further a day later when British VIII Corps, the occupying force in Schleswig-Holstein, ordered all German soldiers living within its district to report before the 20th. Complying with the order, Kinzel wrote a short note on the 19th giving his details and explaining that he had special authorisation from Field-Marshal Montgomery, 21st Army Group and No. 104 Controlling Section to stay at Glücksburg with his wife. Then, on June 24, Kinzel received an order from VIII Corps District instructing him to report to an Allied internment camp within two days. All his fears appeared about to come true. On June 26, Oberfeldwebel Breitbarth went to Kinzel’s house intending to drive the General to the internment camp. To his surprise the General was not in. Frau Claussen, the landlady, told Breitbarth that Kinzel and Aschoff had driven off in the General’s BMW car at 11 a.m. and handed him an envelope, which the General had asked her to give to him. It contained a letter from Kinzel written on the 24th from which it appeared that he and his partner intended to commit suicide. The letter left no doubt about Kinzel’s motives: ‘Being an old soldier you will understand that I cannot admit now being separated from my wife, to go into endless British captivity and afterwards, when it really should, to face a hopeless future. You know how I have tried by all means to prevent this fate and to live on in peace at Glücksburg.’ The letter also included instructions on where Breitbarth could find the car taken by Kinzel and Aschoff: along the road from Idstedt to Süderfahrenstedt, about 15 miles south of Flensburg.
The General had also left a letter to his landlady, dated June 24, which said: ‘We made all endeavours in order to avoid you to remark anything. As a result of what we have been speaking about you will understand that I am not willing to take part in an indefinite long captivity and again a separation from my wife and the prospect of nothing in the future.’ There were also poignant farewell letters to Kinzel’s elder brother, retired Vizeadmiral Walther Kinzel, and to Generalfeldmarschall Busch, his last superior. The letter to his brother contained detailed instructions for the disposal of Kinzel’s private possessions. Breitbarth immediately reported the letters and their contents to the British authorities. They instructed a German Army judge and Army medical officer, Oberfeldrichter Dr Held and Oberarzt Dr Stöck, to drive down with Breitbarth to the location indicated in the letter and conduct an investigation. The three men motored down to Idstedt and turned east following the narrow country road that winds along the north bank of the Langsee lake to Süderfahrenstedt. After searching the region for some considerable time, they finally found the car in the evening in a nursery for young trees on the right-hand side of the road coming from Idstedt, close to the lake. At the vehicle were two dead bodies. Kinzel, in his General’s uniform, lay near the open left-hand door of the car. Von Aschoff sat leaning against the right front wheel, her legs stretched forward. Both bodies showed gunshot wounds in the head. Breitbarth confirmed the identity of the corpses. Examination at the spot showed that von Aschoff had been shot in the base of the skull, the bullet exiting above the right eye. Kinzel had been shot through the right temple. In both cases death must have been instantaneous. Time of death was estimated at between 24-30 hours before and had most likely occurred towards noon on June 25. The circumstances left no doubt that Kinzel had killed von Aschoff in a sitting position by a shot in the neck from behind and that afterwards he had shot himself when sitting in the driver’s seat.
In the car another letter by Kinzel was found, dated June 25, evidently written just a short time before his death. It read: ‘I have committed suicide together with my wife by my own will. I am not afraid of any punishment, though being even one of the General Staff officers so abused by the English. I consider it to be useless to take upon me a captivity for long years, as well as a long separation from my wife and later on a hopeless future.’ The three men loaded the two corpses in their vehicle and drove back to Flensburg, Breitbarth driving the General’s car. The corpses were delivered to the mortuary of the St Franciscus Hospital on Waldstrasse in Flensburg, and the car placed at the nearby military barracks on Junkerhohlweg. The personal belongings of both dead were given to Vizeadmiral Kinzel for handing over to the heirs. On June 29, three days after they had been found, General Kinzel was buried at Adelby Municipal Cemetery in south-eastern Flensburg in a military manner allowed by the British occupying forces. That same day, Erika von Aschoff was interred at the Friedenshügel Cemetery in southern Flensburg, two miles away, her funeral having been arranged by Vizeadmiral Kinzel to whom her body had been handed over. On January 14, 1961, Kinzel’s remains were exhumed and transferred 30 miles south to the Ehrenfriedhof Karberg, the newly established German war cemetery outside Fahrdorf, two miles south of Schleswig town, where he now rests in Plot West, Row B-39A, Grave 1030. Erika von Aschoff’s grave at the Friedenshügel Cemetery (Plot 32, Grave 419) was cleared in the 1970s and the area where she rests is now just an empty plot.[5]



Kinzel was born the son as well as fourth and last child of Geheimer Studienrat Prof. Dr. phil. Karl Wilhelm Julius Kinzel (b. 17 March 1849 in Berlin, d. 24 February 1940 in Bad Salzuflen; literary historian, Gymnasium teacher, philologist) and his first wife Eva Marie Emilie Mathilde, née Seiler (b. June 1854), who died on 2 November 1897 only two weeks after the birth of Hans Eberhard. He had three siblings:[6]

Father and widower Karl married on 28 December 1899 in Berlin Charlotte Henriette Antonie Karges (b. 29 April 1847 in Cottbus), who would become a loving step-mother for all four children.


Leutnant Kinzel married his fiancée Karola John on 19 May 1921, and the marriage resulted in three children: two sons (born 1922 and 1924) and a daughter (born 1927).


  • 16.12.1914 Gefreiter
  • 25.1.1915 Fahnenjunker (Cadet Candidate)
  • 8.5.1915 Fähnrich (Cadet Officer)
  • 30.7.1915 Leutnant (2nd Lieutenant)
    • 1.7.1922 received new rank seniority (RDA) from 1.11.1915[7]
  • 31.7.1925 Oberleutnant (1st Lieutenant) with rank seniority (RDA) from 1.4.1925
  • 1.2.1932 Hauptmann (Captain)
  • 18.1.1936 Major with rank seniority (RDA) from 1.1.1936
  • 1.2.1939 Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) with rank seniority (RDA) from 1.3.1938[8]
  • 1.2.1941 Oberst (Colonel)
  • 1.1.1943 Generalmajor
  • 1.9.1943 Generalleutnant
  • 20.4.1945 General der Infanterie

Awards and decorations

Eberhard Kinzel II.jpg

Foreign awards

  • Hungarian World War Commemorative Medal (Ungarische Kriegs-Erinnerungs-Medaille) with Swords
  • Bulgarian Military Order for Bravery, 3rd Class, ??? Grade with Swords (Bulgarischer Militärorden für Tapferkeit, III. Klasse, ??? Stufe mit Schwertern)
  • Finnish Order of the Cross of Liberty (Finnisches Freiheitskreuz), 2nd Class with Oakleaves and Swords on 25 February 1942/25 March 1942[10]
  • Order of the White Rose of Finland, Commander
  • Order of the Star of Romania, Commander
  • Hungarian Order of Merit, Commander


  1. Die Kapitulation auf dem Timeloberg
  3. Der Untergang der deutschen Wehrmacht, NZZ, 9 May 2015
  4. General der Infanterie Eberhard Kinzel
  5. Karel Margry: The Flensburg Government (THE SUICIDE OF GENERAL KINZEL), in: "After the Battle", Nr. 128, 2005
  6. Carl Wilhelm Julius KINZEL
  7. General der Infanterie Eberhard Kinzel (1897-1945)
  8. Kinzel, Eberhard
  9. Dave Danner states: "He lists the Silesian Eagle among his decorations in his Personal-Fragebogen, though it is not listed in his Personalakte. His "mitgemachte Gefechte" for 1919-20 has Grenzschutz Ost (Memel-Tilsit) and unrest in various parts of Germany (Berlin, Spandau, Leipzig, Ruhrgebiet), but not Silesia. I haven't seen a photo wherein he wears a Feldspange, so I don't know if he wore the award. His file photo below appears to only have one set of loops below the EK1, which should be for the wound badge, so it doesn't appear that he wore the Silesian Eagle 1st Class. Maybe an error in the Fragebogen."
  10. Dave Danner states: "None of the foreign decorations are dated in his Personal-Fragebogen. A January 1941 Genehmigung zur Annahme indicates that the Hungarian order was awarded in 1940. The two different dates for the Cross of Liberty are found in various on-line sources; I assume one is correct and the other is just a typo, but I don't know which. If the Romanian order was awarded before the war in Russia started, it was likely without swords like the Hungarian order. If it was awarded after June 1941 as a general staff officer, it was likely with swords. If it was awarded as a front officer, it was likely on the ribbon of the Cross of Military Virtue. I haven't found it in the Monitor Oficial, so it may have been in one of the 1943 lists not available on-line."