Joachim von Kortzfleisch (3 January 1890 – 20 April 1945) was a German general in the Wehrmacht during World War II. He was the commander of the defense group III (Berlin) and had a role in ensuring the failure of the attempted coup after the 20 July Plot attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
Joachim von Kortzfleisch was born into an aristocratic Westphalian family in Braunschweig, Duchy of Brunswick, the son of the Prussian Major General Gustav von Kortzfleisch (1854 – 1910) and Elsbeth Oppermann (1862 – 1937). He joined the army in 1907 and after service in World War I in a machine gun battalion he was an officer in the Reichswehr, reaching the rank of Generalmajor by 1937. He was a generalleutnant and commander of the 1st Infantry Division at the outbreak of World War II and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 1 September 1940 as commander of the XI Army Corps of the Wehrmacht.
On 20 July 1944 as the commander of the defense group III (Berlin) he was summoned to the Bendlerstrasse where he angrily refused to obey Operation Valkyrie orders issued by one of the leading conspirators General Friedrich Olbricht and kept shouting ‘the Führer is not dead’ and referring to the oath of loyalty to Hitler. He was arrested and put under guard by the plotters and said that he was not willing to take part in a coup as he was just a soldier interested only in going home and pulling weeds in his garden. He was replaced in his command by General Karl Freiherr von Thüngen and was later allowed to leave the Bendlerblock. He subsequently interrogated Major Hans-Ulrich von Oertzen who was a supporter of the plot.
In March 1945 he was the commander of the Rhine Bridgehead in Army Group B under Field Marshal Walter Model. He was shot dead by soldiers of the 737th Tank Battalion of the United States Army on 20 April 1945. Kortzfleisch and a handful of soldiers had tried to get to Berleburg, moving behind the enemy lines. A US patrol encountered them at Schmallenberg-Wulwesort, Sauerland. The general defended himself with a machine pistol, as he was surrounded by US soldiers and was told "Hands up" he answered "no" and a US soldier shot him in the left chest.
Awards and decorations
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 4 September 1940 as General der Infanterie and commander of XI. Armeekorps
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 270.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 467.