Hans von Luck
German Army officer
Hans von Luck
Hans-Ulrich Freiherr von Luck und Witten, usually shortened to Hans von Luck, was a Colonel in the German Armored Forces during World War II. He served with the 7th Panzer Division and 21st Panzer Division, seeing action in Poland, France, North Africa, Italy and Russia. He was a close associate of Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel. He is author of the book Panzer Commander.
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    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1997
    Age 85
    Hans von Luck died in Hamburg on 1 August 1997 at the age of 86.
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  • THIRTIES
  • 1950
    Age 38
    After the war Luck was interned at a GUPVI forced labor camp in Georgia, a camp for POWs and internees, similar to a GULAG camp. He was released in 1950 and returned to West Germany.
    More Details Hide Details He became involved in veterans' associations, and was frequently asked to lecture at military schools. He spoke annually for the British Staff college during their summer tours of the Normandy battlefields, and subsequently was asked to speak at a number of other military seminars. He was a participant in the UK's Ministry of Defense Army Department film presentation on Operation Goodwood Lectures. Through his involvement as a speaker at military lectures he came to be good friends with several of his former adversaries, including Brigadier David Stileman and Major John Howard of the British 6th Airborne Division. After the war, Luck and Howard would have coffee together in Bénouville at probably the first building in France to be liberated from German occupation, the Café Gondrée. Because the owners were severely anti-German, Howard convinced them that Luck was a Swede. He also formed a friendship with popular historian Stephen Ambrose, who encouraged him to write his memoirs, which was titled Panzer Commander.
  • 1942
    Age 30
    On 23 October 1942 the British launched the attack of the Second Battle of El Alamein.
    More Details Hide Details The Axis position deteriorated and the Axis forces were compelled to withdraw. Luck was one of Rommel's most experienced commanders, and he called upon Luck's reconnaissance battalion to screen his withdrawal. By December the Germans had retreated to Tripoli. With the situation in Tunisia becoming more desperate for the Axis forces in March, Luck describes how von Arnim chose him to travel to Germany with an evacuation plan to make an appeal directly to Hitler. He states he met with and had the plan signed off on by Kesselring and Guderian, but was refused a meeting with Hitler and was not allowed to return to Africa. On 6 May the forces in Africa surrendered, with more than 130,000 Germans taken prisoner. Luck was assigned to the 21st Panzer Division, stationed in Brittany and commanded by Edgar Feuchtinger. In early May, Luck was placed in command of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment. Luck's regiment was stationed at Vimont, northeast of Caen, with two companies of assault guns in support.
    Reporting back for duty on 1 April 1942, he reached Africa on 8 April and assumed command over the 3rd Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion of the 21st Panzer Division.
    More Details Hide Details On 24 May the Axis forces launched an offensive towards Tobruk, in which Luck was wounded. He was evacuated to Germany for treatment. He returned to Africa in mid-September and resumed command of the 3rd reconnaissance battalion, garrisoned at near Siwa Oasis on the edge of the Qattara Depression. Luck describes his interactions with the Royal Dragoons, with whom certain "agreements" in conduct were made. Luck states a regular 5 pm cease fire was established, and the two sides swapped information about men missing, lost or captured, and their condition.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1941
    Age 29
    In February 1941 Rommel was replaced by General Freiherr von Funk, and in June Luck moved with his division to East Prussia in preparation for the invasion of the Soviet Union.
    More Details Hide Details Luck was made Hauptmann and attached to 7th Panzer Division's headquarters staff. His division was a part of the 3rd Panzer Group of Army Group Center. In this capacity he participated in the Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. The 7th Panzer Division spearheaded the 3rd Panzer Group as it drove east and the capture of Vilnius in Lithuania, before driving on Minsk to form the northern inner encirclement arm of the Bialystok-Minsk pocket. Following the capture of Minsk the armored group continued east towards Vitebsk. At Vitebsk, Luck was assigned as commander of the division's reconnaissance battalion. Luck and his unit participated in creating the large pocket around Smolensk, cutting the Smolensk-Moscow road. Luck and his unit continued on towards Moscow. In his memoirs he describes the stiffening Soviet resistance and problems the German forces faced relating to weather and road conditions. On 2 January 1942 Luck was awarded the German Cross in Gold. Since November Rommel had requested Luck be transferred to Africa to take over command of one of his reconnaissance battalions. The transfer was approved in late January once the crisis of the Soviet winter offensive had passed.
  • 1940
    Age 28
    The 7th Panzer Division was a part of the XV Army Corps under General Hermann Hoth in Army Group A. On 10 May 1940 the division participated in the invasion of France.
    More Details Hide Details Luck's reconnaissance battalion led the division's advance into Belgium, reaching the Meuse river in three days. In his memoir Luck describes the division's crossing of the Meuse and Rommel's active role in gaining the crossing. On 28 May, Luck was appointed commander of the reconnaissance battalion.
    The division was reorganized and reequipped to form the 7th Panzer Division, with Rommel assuming command on 6 February 1940.
    More Details Hide Details The division's single panzer regiment was equipped with the Panzer 38(t) obtained from Czechoslovakia, supplemented with German Panzer III and Panzer IV medium tanks. Luck served as a company commander in an armoured reconnaissance battalion.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1911
    Born
    Born on July 15, 1911.
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