Erich Hoepner ( Frankfurt Oder , 14 of September of 1886 – Berlin , 8 of August of 1944 ) was a German general who participated in the Second World War , highlighting as head of armored units . He was executed for participating in the failed attempt against Hitler on July 20, 1944 .
He enlisted in the German Army in 1905 as an officer cadet, he was promoted to lieutenant in 1906 and served as a cavalry officer in the First World War , achieving the rank of captain ( Rittmeister ).
It remained in the Reichswehr during the Republic of Weimar and ascended to general in 1936. Hoepner was one of the first supporters of the armored war; Was promoted to lieutenant general and put to the front of the XVI Corps in 1938.
Called ” Der Alte Reiter ” (The Old Knight), he participated in the invasion of Poland and France at the head of the Sixteenth Corps, obtaining for his performance the Cross of Knight of the Iron Cross . Appointed General Colonel in 1941 he commanded the IV Panzer Group within the Army Group North in the invasion of Russia , whose aim was to occupy the Baltic States and Leningrad .
Following the defeat at the Battle of Moscow in 1942, he was relieved by Hitler , furthermore expelled from the Wehrmacht and losing all his decorations and his rights by the retreat. He then began a legal struggle to restore these rights.
Although opposed to the Treaty of Versailles , he was an early opponent of Hitler, participating in several conspiracies to eliminate it, as the plots of 1938 and 1939. After a period of relative calm returned to the opposition after his dismissal.
He participated in the plot of July 20 , being also present in the Bendlerblock with Friedrich Olbricht , Claus von Stauffenberg , Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim and Werner von Haeften.
After the failed attempt, he had discussions with General Friedrich Fromm not to be shot with the others.
He was arrested and tortured by the Gestapo , tried in the Volksgerichtshof and Judge Roland Freisler condemned him to the gallows.
He was hanged 8 of August of 1944 in the prison of Plötzensee of Berlin.
- Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class
- Order of Hohenzollern
- Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross (October 27, 1939)
- Walther-Peer Fellgiebel. 2000. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945 . Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5
- Geralf Gemser. Darf eine Schule diesen Namen tragen? Zur Vorbildwirkung des Wehrmachtsgenerals Erich Hoepner Marburg 2005, ISBN 3-8288-8927-1