Hermann Foertsch, (1885-1961)

General der Infanterie Hermann Foertsch

German general of infantry and military theorist Hermann Foertsch was born in Munich, joined the army, and rose rapidly through the ranks. He was best known as a military pedagogue and theorist, the author of a number of books on the special role of the interwar Wehrmacht and, most famously, on modern warfare. Kriegskunst Heute und Morgen, published in 1939, was translated into English the following year as The Art of Modern Warfare. Appearing as these books did at the outbreak of World War II, they provided Allied military leaders with valuable insight into the German military mind.

From 1937 to 1939, Foertsch was an instructor at the War Academy, then was made chief of staff Military District VIII (1939) and chief of staff XXVI Corps. He was temporarily retired to reserve duty in 1940 but was recalled during 1940-41 as commander of the General Staff Course, serving in Berlin. Foertsch was assigned to a field staff post during 1941-42, as chief of staff of the Twelfth German Army in Greece. He became chief of staff to Siegmund List, commander in chief Southeast, in the Balkans, serving in this capacity from 1942 to 1944 while also serving (during 1942-43) as chief of staff Army Group E, in Greece, then as chief of staff Army Group F, in Yugoslavia (1943-44).

In 1944, Foertsch was again returned to reserve duty for a time but was soon elevated to commanding officer of the 21st Division, then acting commander and commander of X Corps, all before the end of 1944. After another period in reserve, he was named acting general officer commanding the Nineteenth German Army in 1945 and held the same post in the First German Army, from which he became a prisoner of war.

Foertsch was held by the Allies from 1945 to 1948, when he faced trial for war crimes committed mainly in the Balkans. Acquitted, Foertsch lived out the rest of his life in quiet retirement.

Further reading: Foertsch, Hermann. The Art of Modern Warfare. New York: Veritas, 1940.



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