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General Feldmarshal Ferdinand Schorner

Ferdinand Schorner was born in Munich in 1892. By the age of 18, Schorner dropped out of school and volunteered for the Bavarian Army. After his service period was complete, he returned to Munich and finished his primary schooling. When World War I broke out in 1914, Schorner had reserved an officer's commission. During World War I Schorner was a part of the German Alpine Corps. Schorner and the Alpine Corps saw some of the bloodiest battles of the war like the Verdun Battles in 1916. Schorner commanded a platoon for most of the war. On October 1917, when the German 14th Army attacked the Italian Defense line near the Isonzo River, Schorner and his company captured hill 1114 on the infamous Kolovrat Ridge. For this deed he was awarded the Pour Le Merite (Blue Max). After World War I, Schorner like many Germans got involved into Right-Winged Politics. He was a member of Ritter Von Epps Paramilitary group. This group spent most of there time battling communism. In 1920, Schorner reserved a spot in the German Reichswehr. While in the Reichswehr, Schorner was attached to the 19th Gebirgs. Regiment in Munich. During 1923, Schorner helped surpress Adolf Hitler's Munich Putsch. When Adolf Hitler was released from prison, Schorner joined the NSDAP. Schorner remained a Company Commander all through Hitler's rise to power. By 1934, Schorner was promoted to Major and served in the German General Staff. Then in 1937 Schorner was appointed command of the 98th Gebirgs. Regiment and held the rank of Oberstleutnant. On September 13, 1939,Schorner and his Regiment showed great courage during the Polish campaign bycapturing Hill 374 and Zbolska Heights. In 1940 Schorner still commanded the 98th Gebirgs. Regiment and now held the rank of Oberst. Schorner and the 98th saw action in both France and Belgium. After the French campaign, Schorner was given command of the 6th Gebirgs. Division. In 1941 Schorner and his Division was sent to the Balkans. On April 6, 1941, the Division played an important role in the Invasion of Greece. Schorner and his men crossed the 7,000 foot mountain range. This action cut off the Greeks supply route to Salonika. The 6th Mounted Division along with the 2nd SS Panzer Division 'Das Reich' captured Athens only weeks later. Because of this feat, Schorner was given the Knight's Cross. Schorner with his Division stayed in Greece for rest and re-fitting. When the German Invasion of the Soviet Union began (Operation Barbarossa), the 6th Gebirgs. Division was assigned to the Artic sectors in the Eastern Front. The 6th Gebirgs. Division saw many casualties during this campaign. Schorner's primary job was to keep the Pechenga Nickel Works in German hands. When the Soviets opened an offensive against the Artic sector,the 6th Gebirgs. Division took part in the Defensive; it is said that during these battles,Schorner took part in hand to hand combat with his men. In January 1942,Schorner was promoted to the rank of Generalmajor and he now commanded the Mounted Corps Norway. While commanding the Mounted Corps Norway, Schorner held off Soviet Offensives. In 1943 Schorner was given command of the 40th Panzer Corps in the Ukraine. His Corps were stationed in the Nikopol bridgehead east of Dnepr River. On January 30, the 40th Panzer Corps was attacked by the entire fourth Ukrainian Front. Soon after that, Vasily Chuikov's Eighth Guards struck just south of Nikopol. On February 2, the Russians were advancing to the rail link that linked Nikopol to Axis territory. On February 4, Schorner ordered 'Operation Ladies Excuse Me'. This operation helped Schorner's men to escape the oncoming Soviet onslaught. The Germans now only had one bridgehead in Dnepr. During 'Operation Ladies Excuse Me', it is known that Schorner actually took control of a Flak Anti-Aircraft gun. Then on February 15 the rear guard of the 40th Panzer Corps escaped annihilated. After this daring exploit on February 18, Schorner was placed in charge of the National Socialist Leadership Corps. After Schorner had a brief command of the NS Corps, he was then put in charge of Army Group A (later renamed Army Group South Ukraine). Army Group South Ukraine was made up of the following armies: 2 German and Romanian armies and one army that was a mix of Germans and Romanians (the 17th Army). On April 7, 1944, Schorner went to the Fortress Crimea to inspect it's defenses. When he made his report about Fortress Crimea, he stated that everything was sufficient. This was not true. The 17th was ill prepared and unequipped. After Schorner's inspection one day later the Soviets attacked wiping out most of the 17th, the rest of the 17th retreated back to Sevastopol. Schorner actually attempted to have the soldiers in Sevastopol evacuated but Hitler firmly refused. Schorner now gave these orders: any troops that deserted were to be shot. Then on May 5 the Soviets launched an attack on Sevastopol, some 43,000 Axis soldiers surrendered. On July 23, Schorner was given command of Army Group North which was was defending the Baltic States. Schorner's Army Group was outnumbered by the Soviets and Army Group Center was 30 some miles away. Because of this, it is said that Schorner actually asked Hitler to let Estonia go. Of course the Führer refused. Then on September 14, the Soviet attacked with 130 Divisions. Schorner begged Hitler for a retreat. This time Hitler allowed a retreat. After Schorner conducted a stunning retreat from Estonia, the Army Group was to be trapped in the Courland Pocket for the rest of the war. Schorners next command would come in January 1945 when he was ordered to take control Army Group Center. Schorner and his Army Group were to hold Silesia at all costs. When the Soviets launched there offensive, Army Group Center was driven back to Czechoslovakia. In March, Schorner along with the Führer predicted a Soviet advancement into Prague. Hitler then ordered Army Group Center to be reinforced by 600,000 soldiers. Then on April 5, Schorner was promoted to the rank of General Feldmarshal. Schorner was the next to last Heer soldier to attain the rank of General Feldmarshal. On April 24, Berlin was trapped by Soviet forces. On April 27 Hitler went so far to announce, "On the occasion of my death Ferdinand Schorner will take command of the German Army." Berlin fell hours later to the Soviet hordes. Schorner then deserted and took a plane and tried to escape to Bavaria. This never happened. Schorner crashed landed in Austria and remained there until he was detained by the Americans. The Allies then gave him to the Soviets. A Soviet Court sentenced Schorner to 25 years imprisonment. Schorner only served 10 years. He then returned to Germany (West Germany). On his arrival to West Germany, Schorner was convicted of the manslaughter of Wehrmact soldiers. He served 4 ½ years in prison. When Schorner was released from jail in 1963, he stayed in Germany and lived the rest of his life in poverty. Ferdinand Schorner died on July 6, 1973 from a heart attack.

 

Written By Chad Crompton