Fritz Bayerlein

Fritz Bayerlein

Infobox Military Person
name=Fritz Bayerlein
lived=birth date|1899|1|14|df=ydeath date and age|1970|1|30|1899|1|14|df=y

caption=Fritz Bayerlein
allegiance=flagicon|German Empire German Empire (to 1918)
flagicon|Germany Weimar Republic (to 1933)
flagicon|Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
commands=Panzer Lehr Division
battles=World War I
World War II
*Invasion of Poland
*battle of Alam Halfa
*Ardennes Offensive
awards="Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords"

Fritz Bayerlein (14 January 189930 January 1970) was a German panzer general during the Second World War.

Fritz Bayerlein was born in Würzburg, Bavaria, Germany. During the First World War, Bayerlein was drafted into the 9th Bavarian Infantry in 1917 and fought on the Western front. He was wounded and received an Iron Cross when he was in the 4th infantry regiment. After the war Bayerlein was briefly a member of a volunteer battalion but was transferred to Regiment 45 in May 1919. He went through officer training in 1921 and was one of the officers who remained in the diminished army. He had reached the rank of major.

At the beginning of the World War Two, Bayerlein served in the Invasion of Poland as the First General Staff Officer of general Heinz Guderian. He continued in this position during the offensive in the west and invasion of France. His troops crossed the Meuse River near Sedan on May 14 and advanced until General Ewald von Kleist ordered Guderian to halt.

Bayerlein's next assignment was in North Africa, in the Afrika Korps. In the battle of Alam Halfa Bayerlein took command when General Walther Nehring was incapacitated on 30 August 1942. Later he served under Erwin Rommel and Wilhelm von Thoma. He again assumed command when British troops captured von Thoma at El Alamein on 4 November. When Rommel left Tunisia in March 1943, after the failed attack at Medenine (Operation Capri), Bayerlein was appointed German liaison officer under the new commander, Giovanni Messe: in practice, Bayerlein acted as he saw fit, disregarding the Italian's orders. During the fighting Bayerlein developed muscular rheumatism and hepatitis. He was sent to Italy on sick leave before the German troops in Tunisia surrendered on 12 May 1943.

Bayerlein was sent to the Eastern Front in October 1943 to lead the Berlin-Brandenburg 3rd Panzer Division. He broke out of a Soviet encirclement at Kirovograd against Hitler's orders. He was later assigned to command the Panzer Lehr Division. They moved to Budapest, Hungary to train in March 1944. After the Normandy Invasion Bayerlein's troops were dispatched to France to fight in Caen and suffered heavy losses from carpet bombing around St. Lo during Operation Cobra). Later he served under General Hasso von Manteuffel in the Ardennes Offensive.

Later still Bayerlein took command of the 53rd corps. On 15 April 1945 Lieutenant-General Bayerlein and his troops surrendered to the U.S. Army 7th Armored Division in the Ruhr. He also admitted to his captors that he was technically part Jewish.

Bayerlein was released from captivity on 2 April 1947. After the war he wrote about military subjects and was involved in the first historical studies of World War Two. He was also a technical advisor to the Carl Foreman production of "The Guns of Navarone". He died in his hometown Würzburg in 1970.


* Verwundetenabzeichen in Black
* Panzer Badge in Silver
* "Afrika" Cuffband
* German Cross in Gold (23 October 1942)
* Eisernes Kreuz 2. and 1. Class
* Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern
** Ritterkreuz (26 December 1941)
** 258. Eichenlaub (6 July 1943)
** 81. Schwerter (20 July 1944)
* Mentioned two times in the Wehrmachtbericht


* Berger, Florian, "Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges". Selbstverlag Florian Berger, 2006. ISBN 3-9501307-0-5.
* Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer. "Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945". Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas, 2000. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
* Patzwall, Klaus D. and Scherzer, Veit. "Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 - 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II". Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall, 2001. ISBN 3-931533-45-X.

External links

* [ Bayerlein biography project]

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