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Friedrich von Mellenthin

Friedrich von Mellenthin

German general
The basics
Quick Facts
Occupations Non-fiction writer
Countries Germany
A.K.A. Friedrich von Mellenthin
Gender male
Birth August 30, 1904 (Wrocław)
Death June 28, 1997 (Johannesburg)
The details

Friedrich von Mellenthin (30 August 1904 – 28 June 1997) was a German general during World War II. A participant in most of the major campaigns of the war, he became known afterwards for his memoirs Panzer Battles, first published in 1956 and reprinted several times since then.

Mellenthin's works were part of the exculpatory memoirs genre that fed the post-war revisionist narrative, put forth by former Wehrmacht generals. Panzer Battles was instrumental in forming the misconceptions that influenced the U.S. view of Eastern Front military operations up to 1995, when Soviet archival sources became available to Western and Russian historians.


Mellenthin was born in Breslau; his brother Horst von Mellenthin was also a World War II general. In 1924, Friedrich von Mellenthin enlisted in the Reichsheer; in 1932 he married Ingeborg von Aulock. He was assigned to the Prussian Military Academy in 1935. Between 1937 and June 1941, Mellenthin held several general staff positions in the Army; in June 1941, Mellenthin was posted to North Africa, where he served as a staff officer in the Afrika Corps until September 1942.

Until May 1944, Mellenthin served as chief of staff of the XXXXVIII Panzer Corps in the occupied Soviet Union, under General Hermann Balck, including the Battle of Kursk, the Battle of Kiev, and the spring 1944 retreat through the western Ukraine. In September 1944, Mellenthin followed Balck to the 4th Panzer Army and then to Army Group G in eastern France. On 28 December, Mellenthin was given command of 9th Panzer Division, which was then engaged in the Battle of the Bulge. From March to May 1945 he was chief of staff of the 5th Panzer Army.

Mellenthin was captured by the British Army on 3 May 1945 and spent two and a half years in a POW camp. He professed ignorance of Nazi activities, writing in his memoirs: "not until we were behind barbed wire did we learn of the misdeeds of the Supreme Authority, deeds which shook us to the core and made our cheeks burn with shame". After his release, Mellenthin emigrated to South Africa. He died in Johannesburg in 1997.


  • Panzer Battles: A Study of the Employment of Armor in the Second World War. First Ballantine Books Edition (1971). New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-24440-0
  • German Generals of World War II: As I Saw Them (1977). Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
  • R. H. S. Stolfi, E. Sobik: NATO Under Attack: Why the Western Alliance Can Fight Outnumbered and Win in Central Europe Without Nuclear Weapons. Duke Press Policy Studies, 1984.
  • Schach dem Schicksal. Ein deutscher Generalstabsoffizier berichtet von seiner Herkunft, seinem Einsatz im 2. Weltkrieg und seinem beruflichen Neubeginn nach dem Kriege. In: Soldatenschicksale des 20. Jahrhunderts als Geschichtsquelle. Bd. 11, Osnabrück 1988, ISBN 3-7648-1729-1.
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