profile is based on a copy of General der Panzertruppe Lemelsen’s microfilmed
service record housed at the United States National Archives and Records
Administration in Washington, D.C.
Supplemental sources are listed below.
NAME: General der Panzertruppe
Joachim Hermann August Lemelsen
PW NO: 209230
RANK: General der Panzertruppe
CAPTURED: Ghedi bei Brescia ,
DATE: 23rd May 1945
DATE OF BIRTH: 28th
PLACE OF BIRTH: Berlin/Prussia
DATE OF DEATH: 30 March 1954
PLACE OF DEATH: Göttingen/Lower
OCCUPATION: Regular Soldier
NEXT OF KIN: Luise
Lemelsen, (British Zone)
Parents: Major a.D. Max Lemelsen (mother’s Christian and maiden names are illegible
in service record). Major Lemelsen last served in Infanterie-Regiment
Keith (1. Ober-schlesisches) Nr.22 before retiring from the Army. Frau
Lemelsen died on 27 March 1910.
Wife: Apparently a
bachelor, it is unknown who Luise Lemelson (next of kin) was.
an artilleryman by trade, General der Panzertruppe Joachim Lemelsen
is perhaps best remembered for his series of army-level commands during
the Italian campaign. While a good corps commander and personally brave,
Lemelsen was merely an adequate army commander-in-chief, no doubt aided
by the largely static and defensive nature of the Italian theater of
operations. In Kesselring: German Master Strategist of the
Second World War, British author Kenneth Macksey described Lemelsen
as being “…of relatively limited intellectual capacity, of whom it had
been considered that the appointment of corps commander was about his
ceiling.” Indeed, at least one evaluation found in Lemelsen’s service
record supports this assessment.
his credit, an evaluation dated 1 April 1943 prepared by Generaloberst
Rudolf Schmidt, the Commander-in-Chief of the 2nd Panzer Army assessed
Lemelsen’s professional and personal qualifications as the Commanding
General of the XXXXVII Panzer Corps:
energetic personality. Clear certain views. A distinguished, open
character. Very lively. Fully proven before the enemy. Exemplarily
leads his corps in the most difficult situations. Mentally very
active and interesting. Physically particularly agile.
no negative observations to report, Schmidt characterized his subordinate
as an “above average” corps commander possessed with a clear head in
the most difficult situations. Schmidt recommended Lemelsen’s employment
as an army commander-in-chief, an opinion shared by Generalfeldmarschall
Günther von Kluge, the Commander-in-Chief of Army Group Center. Of note,
Lemelsen’s corps had been holding a generally inactive sector of the front
since the end of the Soviet 1941-1942 Winter Offensive. During the previous
15 months, the XXXXVII Panzer Corps had conducted primarily anti-partisan
and local defensive operations.
the other hand, an evaluation dated 10 November 1943 prepared by General
der Infanterie Otto Wöhler, the Commander-in-Chief of the 8th Army, observed
Lemelsen proved not very steady in difficult situations and was easily
discouraged requiring repeated motivation. Wöhler described Lemelsen as
a good comrade and a “fair average” corps commander, but, based on his
personality and performance, he was not recommended for the next higher
rung of the command ladder, an army commander-in-chief. Wöhler opined
his erstwhile subordinate would best be employed by remaining a corps
commander. Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Lewenski genannt von Manstein, the Commander-in-Chief
of Army Group South, agreed that Lemelsen was not suitable for an army-level
command. Since his last evaluation, Lemelsen’s corps had taken part in
the Battle of Kursk and, while under Wöhler’s command, seen heavy defensive
combat during the German withdrawal to the Dnieper River.
this potentially career damaging assessment, Lemelsen had already received
temporary command of the 10th Army in Italy only five days before Wöhler’s
evaluation was finalized. Following his two-month-long temporary command
of the 10th Army (5 November 1943-31 December 1943), Lemelsen’s superior,
Generalfeldmarschall Albert Keßelring,
noted he adapted surprisingly fast into an army commander. The
Field Marshal observed Lemelsen showed a great understanding of the overall
situation and displayed personal daring. Keßelring closed the evaluation
of his youthful-looking subordinate with the assessment: “Due to his successful
leadership activity in the Italian theater, I can judge him fully suitable
as an army commander-in-chief.” It should be borne in mind that the 10th
Army stood in a purely defensive posture along the formidable Bernhard and Gustav Lines
during Lemelsen’s tenure of command.
to command of the 14th Army in Italy in June 1944, Lemelsen was faced
with a difficult withdrawal across central Italy to the Arno River. In
contrast to his earlier evaluation, Keßelring later wrote in his memoirs
that Lemelsen’s army required “special attention” during the withdrawal.
The Field Marshal recalled that, with the terrain and enemy forces encountered
by his 10th and 14th Armies more or less equal, Lemelsen carried out his
orders with more hesitancy and decidedly less energy than that displayed
by his counterpart commanding the 10th Army, Generaloberst
Heinrich-Gottfried von Vietinghoff genannt Scheel. Although Keßelring
later blocked his promotion to Generaloberst, Lemelsen was obviously competent
enough to retain an army-level command in Italy for the rest of the war.
- Fahnenjunker: 1 July 1907
- Fähnrich: 21 January 1908
- Leutnant: 19 November 1908 (Patent 18 November 1906)
- Oberleutnant: 24 December 1914
- Hauptmann: 18 August 1916 (5)
- Major: 1 June 1927 (2a)
- Oberstleutnant: 1 November 1931 (2)
- Oberst: 1 April 1934 (7)
- Generalmajor: 1 April 1937 (10)
1 April 1939 (2)
der Artillerie: 1 August 1940 (2)
General der Panzertruppe: 4 June 1941
Commands & Assignments:
1898-Easter 1900: Attended the Royal Gymnasium (High School) at Gleiwitz.
1900-Easter 1907: Attended the Ducal Gymnasium at Blankenburg; attained
his certificate of graduation from that institution.
July 1907: Entered the Army as a Fahnenjunker in the Altmärkisches
October 1911-21 November 1912: Detached to the Artillery Firing School
October 1912-29 July 1913: Detached to the Military Physical Institute
March 1914: Adjutant of the II. Battalion of Field Artillery Regiment
March 1915: Transferred to Field Artillery Regiment 104 and appointed
the Regimental Adjutant.
September 1916: Detached to the staff of the 52nd Infantry Division
as an Ordonnanzoffizier.
September 1916: Transferred to the staff of the 52nd Infantry Division.
February 1917: Transferred to a General Staff position in the Oberkommando
der Küstenverteidigung or
Coastal Defense High Command (Generaloberst Josias von Heeringen).
May 1917: While retaining his previous duty position, transferred
to a General Staff position in the 21st Infantry Division.
July 1917-26 August 1917: Detached to the 1. Nassauisches Infanterie-Regiment
Nr.87 to serve as a Battalion Leader.
October 1917-19 November 1917: Detached to the 4th General Staff Course
November 1917: Transferred to a General Staff position in the VI Reserve
January 1918: Transferred into the Army General Staff.
September 1918: Transferred into the Officer of the Army and allocated
for special employment to the General Command for Special Employment
December 1918: Returned to Field Artillery Regiment 40 and delegated
with the leadership of the 6th Battery.
February 1919: Appointed Leader of the 3rd Volunteer Battery of Field
Artillery Regiment 40.
May 1919: Transferred with the 3rd Volunteer Battery of Field Artillery
Regiment 40 to Halberstadt.
October 1919: Transferred to Reichswehr Schützen [Rifle]-Regiment
7 of Reichswehr-Brigade 4 and delegated with the leadership of the
Machinegun Company of the II. Battalion.
October 1919: Delegated with the leadership of the 7th Infantry Gun
Battery of Reichswehr Artillery Regiment 4 of Reichswehr-Brigade 4.
[Took part in suppressing the Communist uprisings at Quedlinburg,
20 March 1920, and Halle, 22 March 1920-2 April 1920.]
April 1920: Transferred into a General Staff position in Reichswehr-Brigade
4. [Took part in the occupation of Tangermünde, 7-9 April 1920.]
January 1921: Transferred to the 4th Artillery Regiment as a Battery
Officer in the 3rd Battery upon the formation of the new Reichsheer
from the Übergangsheer or Transitional Army.
May 1921-12 July 1921: Detached to the Artillery Firing Course.
August 1921: Transferred to the staff of the II. Battalion of the
4th Artillery Regiment.
April 1922: Transferred to the General Staff of the 1st Division.
October 1923: Chief of the 8th Battery of the 1st (Prussian) Artillery
April 1927: Transferred to the staff of the I. Battalion of the 1st
(Prussian) Artillery Regiment and detached to the Artillery School
October 1929: Chief of the 1st Battery of the 1st (Prussian) Artillery
October 1930: Detached to the staff of Group Command 1 in the Uniform of
a Leadership Staff Officer.
- 1 October 1931: Commander of the III. Battalion of the
5th Artillery Regiment.
October 1933: Course Leader at the Artillery School at Jüterbog.
October 1934: Commander of Artillery Regiment “Jüterbog.”
April 1935: Commandant of the Infantry School; renamed the Dresden
War School on 1 May 1935.
March 1938: Commander of the 29th Infantry Division (Motorized).
[Succeeding General der Infanterie Gustav von Wietersheim as commander,
Lemelsen led his division in the occupation of the Czech Sudetenland
seven months later. Crossing the Austrian-Czech border on 8 October
1938, the division bivouacked in the area of Lundenburg (Břeclav) and Nikolsburg (Mikulov) before receiving
orders to return to home garrison a week later. In March 1939, after
deploying to Silesia, Lemelsen’s division also assisted in the occupation
of Bohemia-Moravia where, after crossing the region, it bivouacked
for a time at Deutsch-Brod (Havlíčkův Brod). In September
1939, the division took
part in the invasion of Poland during which it helped encircle and
defeat seven Polish divisions in the Radom Pocket. After transferring
to the west, the division was assigned to Panzer Group “Kleist” and participated
in the invasion of France in May 1940. Following in the wake of the
rapidly advancing armored spearheads, elements of Lemelsen’s division
reached the Somme on May 20th and began establishing a defensive line
on the river. Eight days later, Lemelsen relinquished his division
to Generalmajor Willibald Freiherr von Langermann und Erlencamp when
he was tapped to command the 5th Panzer Division.]
May 1940: Commander of the 5th Panzer Division. [Upon succeeding Generalleutnant
Max von Hartlieb genannt Walsporn, Lemelsen found his new command
engaged against the Franco-British armies encircled in a fluid pocket
along the Channel coast at Dunkirk (the Belgian Army had surrendered
the day Lemelsen took command). After participating in the separate
encirclement and capture of about 50,000 troops of the French 1st
Army between Armentières and Lille on 31 May 1940, the 5th Panzer
Division, along with the bulk of the German armored forces, was withdrawn
from the area of Dunkirk to rest and reorganize for the second phase
of the Battle of France. As a component of General der Infanterie
Hermann Hoth’s XV Army Corps (Motorized), the 5th Panzer Division
jumped off on 5 June 1940. Crossing the Somme, Lemelsen’s division
captured Rouen and advanced to Brest by the time the Franco-German
ceasefire took effect on 25 June 1940. Lemelsen relinquished the 5th
Panzer Division to Generalmajor Gustav Fehn to take command of a newly
activated motorized corps.]
November 1940: Commanding General of the XXXXVII Army Corps (Motorized);
redesignated the XXXXVII Panzer Corps on 21 June 1942. [On 22 June
1941, Lemelsen’s corps participated in the invasion of the Soviet
Union as a component of Generaloberst Heinz Guderian’s Panzer
Group 2 under Army Group Center.
Lemelsen quickly proved himself to be a capable corps commander. During
the summer of 1941, he led his troops in the crossing of the Dnieper
River, the capture of Smolensk and in the giant encirclement battles
of Kiev and Bryansk. During Operation “Taifun” (Typhoon), the final
drive on Moscow, Guderian’s forces advanced from the south in an attempt
to close the pinchers around the Russian capital. Lemelsen’s corps
captured Michailov on the east bank of the Don River, but ground to
halt in the face of extreme cold and the tough Siberian troops that
began arriving at the front. On 6 December 1941, the Russians launched
the first of a series of major counteroffensives that forced the Germans
back from Moscow to the Rzhev-Gzhatsk-Orel-Kursk line (Königsberg
Line). From 6 June-4 July 1942, the XXXXVII
Panzer Corps conducted Operations “Vogelsang” (Bird Song) I and II
against the partisan strongholds between the Bolva and Desna Rivers.
Lemelsen’s corps continued to serve under the 2nd Panzer Army on defensive
operations in the area of Bryansk for the remainder of 1942 and into
the following year. In
July 1943, Lemelsen’s command—one of three panzer corps assigned to
Generaloberst Water Model’s 9th Army—took part in Operation “Zitadelle”
(Citadel), the ill-fated German offensive aimed at destroying the
Russian-held salient around Kursk. After withdrawing in the face of
the Russian counteroffensive, the XXXXVII Panzer Corps
transferred to Army Group South in September 1943. Serving under General
der Infanterie Otto Wöhler’s 8th Army, Lemelsen’s command saw heavy
combat during the German withdrawal to the Dnieper River. After retiring
to the west bank of the Dnieper near Kremenchug, Lemelsen relinquished
his corps command to General der Panzertruppe Erhard Raus on 5 November
with SS-Brigadeführer und Generalmajor der Waffen-SS August
October 1943: General der Panzertruppe Heinrich Eberbach was delegated
with the temporary leadership of the XXXXVII
Panzer Corps during this period.
November 1943: Transferred to Army High Command Leader Reserve and,
at the same time, delegated with the deputy leadership of the 10th
Army in Italy. [Lemelsen received his first army-level
command when Generaloberst
Heinrich-Gottfried von Vietinghoff genannt Scheel, the permanent
commander-in-chief of the
10th Army, went on sick leave. (Generalfeldmarschall Albert
Keßelring, the Commander-in-Chief South, took personal command of
the 10th Army for 44 hours pending Lemelsen’s arrival.)
Under von Vietinghoff’s command, the 10th Army had already completed
its withdrawal to the formidable Bernhard
and Gustav Lines
anchored on the Garigliano and Rapido Rivers. Although forced to cede
ground in December to the British Eighth Army on the Adriatic coast
and to the U.S. Fifth Army at San Pietro, Lemelsen successfully defended
the breadth of the Italian peninsula during his tenure of command.
The immediate Allied objective of capturing Rome had been thwarted
for the time being.]
- 31 December 1943: Deputy leadership of the 10th
Army terminated and returned to Army High
Command Leader Reserve (Generaloberst von Vietinghoff genannt Scheel resumed command of the 10th Army) – allocated to the General Staff of the Deputy Commanding of
the IX Army Corps and Commander of Wehrkreis IX, Kassel.
- 5 March 1944: Delegated with the deputy leadership
of the 8th Army on the Eastern Front for the duration of the absence
of the commander-in-chief. NOTE: While this entry appears
in Lemelsen’s Dienstlaufbahn or service record, it seems unlikely
the posting ever took effect. In Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat
in the East, author Earl F. Ziemke describes General
der Infanterie Otto Wöhler, the permanent commander-in-chief of the
8th Army, in command during the Soviet Spring Offensive of March 1944.
If, in fact, Lemelsen deployed for the Eastern Front, then it seems
likely he was there for only a brief period.
May 1944: Delegated with the deputy leadership of the 1st Army in
France. [Headquartered at Bordeaux,
the 1st Army occupied the French Atlantic coast from south of the
Loire River to the Spanish border. After succeeding Generaloberst
Johannes Blaskowitz, Lemelsen briefly led the army until relinquishing
command to General der Infanterie Kurt von der Chevallerie shortly
before the Allied invasion of Normandy.]
June 1944: Delegated with the leadership of the 14th Army in Italy.
[Displeased with Generaloberst Eberhard von Mackensen’s
handling of the 14th Army at Anzio, Generalfeldmarschall Keßelring
relieved him of his command. When Lemelsen
replaced von Mackensen he found the battered 14th Army in a precarious
position. After cracking the Gustav
Line at Cassino and breaking out of the Anzio bridgehead, the Allies captured Rome on 4 June 1944. Lemelsen’s
14th Army, in conjunction with von Vietinghoff’s adjacent 10th Army,
executed a difficult withdrawal through central Italy. By August 1944,
both armies were ensconced in the Arno
and Gothic Line defensive
positions in the North Apennines.]
September 1944: Commander-in-Chief of the 14th Army in Italy.
September 1944: Generalfeldmarschall Keßelring struck down Lemelsen’s
consideration for promotion to the rank of Generaloberst.
October 1944: Suffering from acute catarrh, an inflammation of the
nose and throat, Lemelsen was briefly evacuated from the front for
medical treatment. During his absence, General der Panzertruppe Fridolin von Senger und Etterlin, the Commanding
General of the XIV Panzer Corps, assumed temporary leadership of the
October 1944: Delegated with the deputy leadership of the 10th Army
in Italy. [On the night of 23 October 1944, Generalfeldmarschall Keßelring
suffered a fractured skull when his staff car collided with a towed
artillery piece. In the wake of the accident, the senior German command
structure in Italy underwent a complete change. Generaloberst von Vietinghoff genannt Scheel assumed duties as
the acting Commander-in-Chief Southwest and Army Group C during Keßelring’s
Vietinghoff, in turn, relinquished
command of his 10th Army to Lemelsen while General der Artillerie
Heinz Ziegler received temporary leadership of the 14th Army.]
February 1945-2 May 1945: Commander-in-Chief of the 14th Army in Italy.
[After succeeding General der Infanterie Kurt von Tippelskirch, Lemelsen
commanded the 14th Army for the remainder of the war. In April 1945,
the Allies launched their spring offensive in Italy. With the LI Mountain
Army Corps (General der Artillerie
Friedrich-Wilhelm Hauck) and the XIV Panzer Corps (von Senger
und Etterlin) under his command, Lemelsen’s army defended the line
from Bologna to the Serchio Valley opposite the U.S. Fifth Army commanded
by Lieutenant General Lucian K. Truscott, Jr. Piercing Lemelsen’s
front, U.S. forces broke through into the Po Valley and captured Bologna.
With the Axis forces in Italy routed, representatives of Generaloberst
von Vietinghoff genannt Scheel and SS-Obergruppenführer
und General der Waffen-SS Karl Wolff signed the instrument of local
surrender at Caserta on 29 April 1945.
At noon on 2 May 1945, all Axis forces under the control of Army Group
C surrendered to the Allies thus ending the long and costly Italian
March 1945: Delegated with the deputy leadership of Army Group C in
Italy pending the arrival of the newly appointed commander-in-chief,
Generaloberst von Vietinghoff genannt Scheel, from Courland.
May 1945-October 1947: Prisoner of war in American and, later, British
captivity. [After being held in prisoner of
war camps in Italy, including the officers’ camp at Rimini, Generals
Lemelsen and von Vietinghoff were transferred to the camp at Afragola
in February 1946. One day after arriving, both officers, along with
General der Panzertruppe von Senger und Etterlin, were flown to London
for interrogation at the Central District Cage in Kennsington. Following
their interrogations, the three generals were transferred to Island
Farm Special Camp 11 at Bridgend. In 1947, Lemelsen returned to Italy
where he testified on behalf of his former commander-in-chief, Generalfeldmarschall
Keßelring, during his war crimes trial before a British military court
- 2nd March 1946 transferred Island Farm Special Camp 11 from
LDC (London District Cage)
- 13th March 1947 transferred to LDC from Island Farm Special
- 17th May 1947 transferred Island Farm Special Camp 11 from
- 27th May 1947 transferred to LDC from Island Farm Special Camp
- 14th June 1947 transferred to Island Farm Special Camp 11 from
- 5th October 1947 transferred via Camp No 43 to Camp No 2 WC
Holding Centre Fishheck
The divisional history 29. Division,
29. Infanterie-Division (mot.), 29. Panzergrenadier-Division was
published in Germany under the authorship of Lemelsen (posthumously)
and Julius Schmidt.
Decorations & Awards:
Cross of the Iron Cross: 27 July 1941, General der Panzertruppe, Commanding
General of the XXXXVII Army Corps (Motorized).
(No. 294): 7 September 1943, General der Panzertruppe, Commanding
General of the XXXXVII Panzer Corps.
Cross in Gold: 15 July 1942, General der Panzertruppe, Commanding
General of the XXXXVII Panzer Corps.
Royal Hohenzollern House Order, Knight’s Cross with Swords: 30 October
Iron Cross, 1st Class (1914): 5 December 1916.
Iron Cross, 2nd Class (1914): 21 September 1914.
Bar to the Prussian Iron Cross, 1st Class: 30 September 1939.
Bar to the Prussian Iron Cross, 2nd Class: 21 September 1939.
for the Winter Campaign in Russia 1941/1942 (“East Medal”): 1 August
Hanseatic Cross: 14 April 1917.
of Honor for Combatants 1914-1918
Forces Long Service Award, 1st Class (25-year Service Cross): 2 October
Forces Long Service Award, 3rd Class (12-year Service Medal): 2 October
Medal of 1 October 1938 with Prague Castle Bar
Assault Badge in Silver: 13 January 1942.
Badge in Black – World War II award: 14 June 1942.