Hermann Foertsch

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Hermann Foertsch
Hermann Foertsch.jpg
Major Foertsch, 1935
Birth name Hermann Otto Eduard Foertsch
Birth date 4 April 1895
Place of birth Gut Drahnow, Kreis Deutsch-Krone, West Prussia, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Death date 27 December 1961 (aged 66)
Place of death Munich, Bavaria, West Germany
Allegiance  German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 National Socialist Germany
Service/branch War and service flag of Prussia (1895–1918).png Prussian Army
Iron Cross of the Luftstreitkräfte.png Imperial German Army
Freikorps Flag.jpg Freikorps
War Ensign of the Reichswehr, 1919 - 1935.png Reichswehr
Balkenkreuz.jpg Heer
Years of service 1913–1945
Rank General of the Infantry
Commands held Chief of General Staff of Army Group F
21. Infanterie-Division
X. Armeekorps
19th Army
1st Army
Battles/wars World War I

World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Relations ∞ 1924 Hildegard Marx

Hermann Otto Eduard Foertsch (4 April 1895 – 27 December 1961) 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 during World War II. He was also military historian and officer of the Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst; BND) of the FRG.


From left to right: Generalfeldmarschall Maximilian Reichsfreiherr von und zu Weichs an der Glon, his personal adjutant Major d. R. Dr. Friedrich Carl Graf von Westphalen zu Fürstenberg (1898–1992) and General Hermann Foertsch. Through bold operations and superior tactics, Generalfeldmarschall von Weichs succeeded in the fall of 1944 in protecting the units of the German Wehrmacht in Greece and Yugoslavia from being encircled.
Foertsch capitulated – also on behalf of General of the Infantry Friedrich Schulz and Army Group G – on 5 May 1945 near Munich to US troops under the command of General Jacob L. Devers. The surrender of the 1st Army took place in the Thorak building in Baldham, about 10 km from the eastern city limits of Munich. Some other sources indicate that the place of the capitulation was Haar near Munich, a few kilometers away, which is also mentioned in the capitulation document. The capitulation came into effect on 6 May 1945.
Brother Friedrich Albert Foertsch;[1] Hauptmann of the Reichswehr, Generalleutnant of the Wehrmacht and General of the Bundeswehr; He succeeded Adolf Heusinger as the second Inspector General of the Bundeswehr on 1 April 1961. Under his command the compulsory military service in the Bundeswehr was extended from 12 to 18 months.
Hermann Foertsch's son Volker Foertsch (1934-2018) also served with the Organisation Gehlen and the BND. At a young age, he was head of the security/counter-intelligence department (Abteilung 5), later Direktor. He retired in 1998.

Military career (chronology)

  • Fahnenjunker in the 8. Westpreußisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 175 (20 Mar 1913-02 Aug 1914)
  • In the Field with the 175th Infantry-Regiment (02 Aug 1914-10 Dec 1914)
  • Wounded, in Hospital (10 Dec 1914-28 Feb 1915)
  • Leader (Führer) of the 4th Company of the 175th Infantry-Regiment (28 Feb 1915-22 Mar 1915)
  • Temporary Adjutant of the I. Battalion of the 175th Infantry-Regiment (22 Mar 1915-15 Jun 1915)
  • Leader of the 7th Company of the 175th Infantry-Regiment (15 Jun 1915-17 Jul 1915)
  • Leader of the 5th Company of the 175th Infantry-Regiment (17 Jul 1915-16 Aug 1916)
  • Detached to Company-Leader-Training-Course (05 Apr 1916-19 Apr 1916)
  • Detached to Assault-Battalion (Sturm-Bataillon Nr. 5) "Rohr" (16 Aug 1916-04 Sep 1916)
  • Leader of the 1st Assault-Company of the Assault-Battalion of the 2nd Army (04 Sep 1916-04 Dec 1916)
  • Leader of the 1st Assault-Company of the 7th Assault-Battalion (04 Dec 1916-26 Sep 1918)
  • At the same time, also Court-Officer of the 7th Assault-Battalion (10 Feb 1917-29 Jan 1918)
  • Taken Ill, Hospital (26 Sep 1918-16 Dec 1918)

Between wars

  • Leader of the 1st Assault-Company of the 7th Assault-Battalion (16 Dec 1918-05 Feb 1919)
  • Transferred to the 5th Assault-Battalion, Assigned as a Guard of the Supreme Army Command (05 Feb 1919-07 Apr 1919)
  • Leader of the 2nd Company in Freikorps Hindenburg (07 Apr 1919-23 Oct 1919)
  • Transferred into the 110th Reichswehr-Infantry-Regiment (23 Oct 1919-01 Jan 1921)
  • Detached to Officers-Training-Course for Radio Telegraphy with the 10th Signals-Battalion (25 Oct 1919-13 Nov 1919)
  • Transferred into the 17th Infantry-Regiment (01 Jan 1921-03 Jan 1921)
  • Detached to the Staff of the 6th Division (03 Jan 1921-01 Oct 1921)
  • Detached to II. Battalion of the 2nd Artillery-Regiment (06 Jun 1921-01 Oct 1921)
  • Transferred into the 8th Mounted-Regiment and Detached to the Staff of the 6th Division (01 Oct 1921-01 Oct 1922)
  • Transferred back into the 17th Infantry-Regiment (01 Oct 1922-01 Jan 1923)
  • Adjutant of the Training-Battalion of the 17th Infantry-Regiment (01 Jan 1923-09 Jul 1923)
  • Detached to the 4th (MG) Company of the 17th Infantry-Regiment (09 Jul 1923-01 Oct 1923)
  • Transferred into the 5th Artillery-Regiment and Detached to the RWM (01 Oct 1923-01 Oct 1924)
  • Detached to Attendance at the College for Politics, Berlin, at the same time 2nd Adjutant with the Chief of the Troop Office (General Otto Hasse) (01 Oct 1924-01 Oct 1925)
  • Detached as Press-Advisor in the RWM (01 Oct 1925-01 Apr 1928)
  • Transferred to the Regiment-Staff of the 9th Mounted-Regiment (01 Apr 1928-01 Oct 1928)
  • Transferred into the RWM (01 Oct 1928-01 Apr 1930)
  • Chief of the 6th Company of the 17th Infantry-Regiment (01 Apr 1930-17 Aug 1932)
  • Press-Chief and Leader of the Inland Department in the RWM, on 21 May 1935 in the RKM – hat die Uniform der Führerstabsoffiziere zu tragen (17 Aug 1932-15 Oct 1935)
  • Commander of the IV. Battalion of the 4th Infantry-Regiment (15 Oct 1935-24 Oct 1936)
  • Detached to the War Academy (24 Oct 1936-01 Feb 1937)
  • Transferred into the Army General Staff and Tactics-Instructor at the War Academy (01 Feb 1937-26 Aug 1939)


  • Chief of the General Staff of the Replacement VIII. Army-Corps (26 Aug 1939-15 Oct 1939)
  • Chief of the General Staff of XXVI. Army-Corps (15 Oct 1939-20 Sep 1940)
  • Führer-Reserve OKH (20 Sep 1940-08 Oct 1940)
  • Commander of the General-Staff-Courses in Berlin (08 Oct 1940-10 May 1941)
  • Chief of the General Staff of the 12th Army (10 May 1941-31 Dec 1942)
  • Chief of the General Staff of Army-Group E (at the same time Commander-in-Chief South-East) (01 Jan 1943-23 Aug 1943)
  • Chief of the General Staff of Army-Group F (from 25 Aug 1943 at the same time Commander-in-Chief South-East) (23 Aug 1943-15 Mar 1944)
  • Führer-Reserve OKH, Director of a Special Tasks Staff in Hungary (15 Mar 1944-28 Mar 1944)
  • Commander of the 21st Infantry-Division (28 Mar 1944-22 Aug 1944)
  • Delegated with the Leadership of X. Army-Corps (22 Sep 1944-09 Nov 1944)
  • Commanding General of X. Army-Corps (09 Nov 1944-20 Dec 1944)
  • Führer-Reserve OKH (20 Dec 1944-17 Feb 1945)
  • Detached to Commander-in-Chief West (Oberbefehlshaber West) for use as an Army Leader (17 Feb 1945-26 Feb 1945)
  • Delegated with the Temporary-Leadership of the 19th Army (26 Feb 1945-28 Feb 1945)
  • Delegated with the Leadership of the 1st Army (28 Feb 1945-06 May 1945)
  • In US Captivity (06 May 1945-19 Feb 1948)[2]


After his acquittal in the so-called "hostages trial" (Bandenbekämpfung ) and his release as a prisoner of war on 19 February 1948, Foertsch collaborated with Hans Speidel (Amt „Blank“) in the development of concepts for Germany's rearmament (Expertenausschuß) many years before the official foundation of the Bundeswehr, the German army, in 1955. In 1950, Foertsch was the leading member of the select group of former Wehrmacht high-ranking officers invited by German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer to take part in the conference to discuss West Germany's rearmament (Wiederbewaffnung). The conference resulted in the Himmerod memorandum.

Foertsch was a member of the Gehlen organization (Organisation „Gehlen“), where he used the service name "Hermann Viersen" (member of the CIA led ZIPPER staff). In October 1952, he took over from August Winter the management of the Office for Psychological Warfare (code number "60") and in early 1956 from Horst von Mellenthin to deputize for the head, Reinhard Gehlen, "in the event of a longer absence". On 1 April 1956, Foertsch was officially taken over by the Federal Intelligence Service. Gehlen wrote about his character:

"One of the smartest, politically and militarily most experienced personalities. Wide experiences in organizational as well as command work. His brain is seldom equalled."

The CIA also evaluated him:[3]

"Officer with Kriegschulausbildurig. Comprehensive education and high military knowledge and ability. Striking personality. Intellectually superior, enthusiastic, warm-hearted. Independent mind which draws from rich knowledge. Great power for work. Good knowledge of human nature. Excellent leader and teacher. Very special ability in the written and spoken word."

In 1951 and 1952, he was a research associate at the Institute for Contemporary History (Institut für Zeitgeschichte), where he headed the "Military and War History Department" on a fee basis (as of 1952 a principal employee). Foertsch was involved in the establishment of the European anti-communist organisation "Interdoc".


Hermann was the son of estate manager (Gutsverwalter) Major der Landwehr a. D. Friedrich Foertsch (d. 26 April 1939) and his wife Bertha, née Landt (d. 28 October 1918). On 28 March 1924, Oberleutnant Foertsch married his fiancée Hildegard Marx in Kolberg. They had three sons: Joachim (b. 1928), Volker (b. 1934) and Hans Jürgen (b. 1935).


7 editions between 1936 and 1942; The book deals about the duties of being an officer in the new German Wehrmacht, which replaced the Reichswehr a year before in 1935.
  • Fahnenjunker (20 March 1913)
  • Fahnenjunker-Unteroffizier (27 August 1913)
  • Fähnrich (20 November 1913)
  • Leutnant (5 August 1914)
  • Oberleutnant (18 December 1917)


  • Rittmeister (1 February 1926)
    • renamed Hauptmann on 1 October 1928
  • Charakter als Major (17 August 1932)
  • Major (1 May 1933)


  • Oberstleutnant (1 January 1936)
  • Oberst (1 June 1938)
  • Generalmajor (1 February 1942)
  • Generalleutnant (1 January 1943)
  • General der Infanterie (9 November 1944)

Awards and decorations



  • York. Das Leben eines altpreußischen Generals, Verlag: Coleman, Lübeck, 1932
  • Wehrmacht und öffentliche Meinung, Verlag nicht ermittelbar, 1933
  • Der deutsche Soldat - Leipzig: Seemann, 1934
  • Im gleichen Schritt und Tritt! Das tönende Buch vom deutschen Heer, Verlag: Knorr & Hirth, München, 1934
  • Die Wehrmacht im nationalsozialistischen Staat Broschek, 1935
  • Unsere deutsche Wehrmacht - Berlin: Zeitgeschichte-Verl., 1935
  • Der Offizier der neuen Wehrmacht - Eine Pflichtenlehre - Berlin: Eisenschmidt, 1936.
  • Wehrpflicht-Fibel, Verlag "Offene Worte", 1937 (PDF)
  • Schuld und Verhängnis – Die Fritsch-Krise im Frühjahr 1938 als Wendepunkt in der nationalsozialistischen Zeit. DVA, 1951
  • Grundzüge der Wehrpolitik, Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt, 1938
  • Kriegskunst heute und morgen - Berlin: Zeitgeschichte-Verl., 1939
  • Der Offizier der deutschen Wehrmacht - Berlin: Eisenschmidt, 1940
  • Psychologische Kriegführung: Vortrag, Evang. Akademie, 1953


  • The Art of Modern Warfare, Veritas Press, 1940
  • My Opinions with Regard to Reports 1, Historical Division, Headquarters United States Army, 1947
  • Basic Concepts and Organization for the Conduct of War Prior to World War II, United States, Department of the Army, 1948


  • L'arte della guerra di oggi e di domani, Nicola Zanichelli Editore, Bologna, 1940


  1. General Friedrich Foertsch
  2. General der Infanterie Hermann Foertsch, Axis Biographical Research (ABR)
  3. CIA file
  4. Awarded for his leadership of the 21. Infanterie-Division during the summer of 1944. In response to a Soviet breakthrough he launched a counterattack that succeeded in closing a frontline gap east of Lake Hino (in turn west of Pskov).