Ferdinand von Senger and Etterlin

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Ferdinand Maria von Senger and Etterlin (born June 8, 1923 in Tübingen , † January 10, 1987 in Koblenz ) was a general in the Bundeswehr .


The von Senger and Etterlin family belong to the Upper Franconian imperial nobility and can look back on a soldier tradition of over 250 years. Ferdinand's father was later the general of the armored forces Fridolin von Senger and Etterlin . His mother Hilda Margarethe was the daughter of the Prussian general von Kracht . Like most of his ancestors, Ferdinand aspired to a career as a professional soldier . In 1946 he married Ebba von Keudell .

Wehrmacht 1940–1945

He started his career on October 1, 1940 in the replacement division of the Göttingen Cavalry Regiment 3, which was commanded by his father. With the Russian campaign on June 22, 1941, his front use began in the 1st Cavalry Division , which was reclassified to the 24th Panzer Division on November 28, 1941 . From August 23, 1942, he fought with his units as a squadron leader on the Volga and witnessed the downfall of the 6th Army . Shortly before the end of the Battle of Stalingrad, he was seriously wounded and flown out. After the reorganization of the 24th Panzer Division, the first lieutenant and regimental adjutant von Senger and Etterlin was first relocated to northern Italy and then deployed again on the Eastern Front from October 1943. In August 1944 he lost his right arm during the defensive battles near Jasy in Romania . The then 21-year-old Rittmeister was appointed personal adjutant to the tank troop inspector, General Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg , and transferred to the Army High Command (OKH) in autumn 1944 . He dealt with armaments issues, agreements with the armaments industry, with personnel replacement issues and reclassifications of the armored forces. At the end of the Second World War he was taken prisoner with some staff members.

Post-war period 1945 - 1956

After their captivity , von Senger and Etterlin began studying law in Göttingen and continued this in Zurich and Oxford . In 1951 he received his doctorate with his doctoral thesis The Party State: A Comparison between the Weimar Constitution and the Bonn Basic Law.

He was then as officials of the higher service to the newly created Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution called and was advised by his staff represented in the advisory committee's father.

Bundeswehr 1956–1979

After his reactivation in March 1956, von Senger and Etterlin were deployed in the department "Basic Issues of Military Intelligence and Foreign Armed Forces East", where his war experience in the Soviet Union and his work in the OKH were very beneficial. After his general staff training, he worked as a G 3 in Panzerlehrbrigade 9 ( Munster ). Here he was involved in testing the "Leopard" battle tank. His next task was to collaborate with the Army Study Group on issues of nuclear tactics and army planning. In 1964 he returned to Munster as commander of the 94th Panzer Training Battalion.

First NATO use

After successfully completing training at the NATO Defense College in Rome, he was employed in the integrated NATO area for the first time. In this two-year assignment he was entrusted with the operational planning of the NATO headquarters NORTHAG in Mönchengladbach and had to coordinate the deployment of Dutch, British, Belgian and German army troops.

The general

After serving in the Armored Brigade 20 in Hemer from October 1969 to March 1970, he was appointed to the command staff of the Army in Bonn and promoted to Brigadier General on September 30, 1970 . In Stuttgart he later took over as major general in the position of commander in defense area V. In this territorial command , he experienced the different approaches in cooperation with civil authorities , state ministries and the Federal Armed Forces administration . In particular, he turned to the connections to the large Allied units and the German army and pushed the plans for a quick mobilization of reservists . On July 1, 1974, he returned to the field army and took command of the 7th Panzer Division in Unna . Here he was especially entrusted with the amalgamation of different units and associations in order to implement the demands of the new " Army Structure 4 ". He then led his division through several successful large-scale exercises. In the spring of 1978, Dr. von Senger and Etterlin, now lieutenant general , commanding general of the 1st Corps in Munster .

NATO commander in chief

On October 1, 1979, the General succeeded General Franz-Joseph Schulze , who was retiring, and Commander-in-Chief of the NATO Forces Central Europe AFCENT in Brunssum (NL). The military-political events of these years led to the planning of the "Long-Term-Defense-Program" in 1980 and included the creation of additional European reserve troops. Despite this more political than military use, General Senger von Etterlin did not forget the contact with the troops and regularly visited associations and large units of the Bundeswehr in order to monitor tactical and war-related training and, if necessary, to take corrective action.


After four years of moving and decisive defense discussions in Central Europe with the NATO double resolution , the general retired on September 30, 1983 with the big tattoo and moved with his wife to Riedern am Wald in the southern Baden district of Waldshut, in a house in the 18th century, which they had renovated in accordance with listed buildings.

Since his studies, during his active service and also afterwards, he has written numerous books on military tactics and history, tanks, artillery pieces and military vehicles, as well as around 1000 articles for military- technical magazines, especially in the magazine Soldat und Technik . His personal interests were in art history (baroque, modern) and classical music. On January 10, 1987, the father of four children died in the German Army Hospital in Koblenz.


Works (selection)

  • The 24th Panzer Division 1939–1945. Formerly 1st Cavalry Division , Nebel Verlag, ISBN 3-89555-186-4 .
  • The German tanks 1926–1945 , Bernard & Graefe, ISBN 3-7637-0185-0
  • The German guns 1939–1945 , Bernard & Graefe, ISBN 3-7637-5989-1 .
  • Tanks of the German Armed Forces and their allies , Athenäum-Verlag 1958.
  • Soldiers between Rhine and Weser , Verlag Wehr u. Knowledge, ISBN 3-8033-0287-0 .
  • The counterstrike , Vowinckel-Verlag .
  • The main battle tanks from 1916–1966 , Bernard & Graefe, ISBN 3-7637-6221-3 .
  • Pocket book of tanks . Born January 1, 1943-1954; Pocket book of tanks . Born 2, 1943-1957; Pocket book of tanks . Born 3rd 1960; Pocket book of tanks . Born 4th 1969.
  • The little armored book , Lehmann.
  • The Soviet medium battle tank of the T-34 to T-62 series [1] . In: General Swiss military magazine. Volume 133, No. 9, Lehmann 1967
  • Pionierpanzer , Bernard & Graefe, ISBN 3-7637-0575-9 .
  • The Panzer Grenadiers , JF Lehmanns Verlag, 1961


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Biography of Fridolin Rudolf Theodor von Senger and Etterlin at Axis Biographical Research
predecessor Office successor
Franz-Joseph Schulze Commander in Chief, Allied Forces Central Europe
Leopold Chalupa