Theodor von Sponeck

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Karl Anton Theodor Graf von Sponeck (born January 24, 1896 in Offenburg , † June 13, 1982 in Heidenheim an der Brenz ) was a German lieutenant general in World War II and commander of the 90th Africa Division , with which he participated in the second battle of El Alamein attended.


Sponeck came from an old noble family in Baden . He was the son of the major and district officer of Mosbach Anton von Sponeck (1848–1905) and his wife Therese, née Freiin von Cornberg (1854–1940).

After attending high school in Mosbach, he embarked on a military career and in 1912 went to the main cadet institute in Groß-Lichterfelde . Appointed lieutenant at the age of 18 , he fought on the western and eastern fronts during the First World War . For his achievements, in addition to both classes of the Iron Cross, he received the Knight's Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern with Swords, the Knight's Cross II Class of the Order of the Zähringer Lion with Swords and the Wound Badge in black.

After the war Sponeck took place in January 1920 with the character as a lieutenant in his resignation and stepped over to the security police. In May of the same year he joined the Reichswehr transitional army and was initially used in the Reichswehr Rifle Regiment 113. When the armed forces were further reduced, Sponeck was assigned to the 14th Infantry Regiment in Constance as an intelligence officer . Sponeck stayed there for almost ten years and, depending on the circumstances, was promoted to company commander in 1925 and to captain on April 1, 1929 . His good performance resulted in his successful training as a general staff officer, which opened the door to the Reichswehr Ministry for him.

Sponeck experienced the beginning of the Second World War during the attack on Poland as First General Staff Officer (Ia) of the XV. (mot.) Army corps under Hermann Hoth . In March 1940 he was promoted to colonel and appointed commander of the 11th Rifle Regiment, which belonged to the 9th Panzer Division . With this he took part in the Western and Balkan campaigns. Due to his successful service in the campaign against the Soviet Union , he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on September 12, 1941 . On November 1, 1941, he was shot through the knee in the attack on Kursk , which resulted in several months of convalescence. In September 1942 he was transferred to North Africa, where he took over the leadership of the 90th light Africa division in place of the wounded Ulrich Kleemann and was promoted to major general on November 1st.

During the second battle near El Alamein in October / November 1942, Sponeck and his division were repeatedly deployed successfully at the focal points, but also directed the retreat into the Fuuka position with care and concerned about the welfare of his soldiers. Even the opposing generals, including Montgomery , repeatedly praised Sponeck's strikingly caring dealings with his men. On May 11, 1943, he was named in the Wehrmacht report:

In the African theater of war , the light Africa division under the leadership of Lieutenant General Graf Sponeck and the 15th Panzer Division under the leadership of Major General Borowietz have distinguished themselves in particular. «

On May 12, 1943, Sponeck and the remnants of his division had to surrender in Tunisia and was taken prisoner by the British . Shortly before, he had been promoted to lieutenant general.

After his return in 1947 he worked for some time as sales manager of a machine factory in Württemberg and lived at Bächingen Castle on the Brenz until the end of his life . He died at the age of 86 in Heidenheim hospital.


Sponeck's first marriage was from 1927 to 1947 with Agnes (1908-1981), the daughter of the Prussian infantry general Richard von Süsskind-Schwendi (1854-1946). The marriage resulted in two daughters and a son. After the divorce he married Barbara von Payr zu Enn and Caldiff (1923-2003) in 1962.


  • With fast troops on 6 fronts. Hase & Koehler Verlag, Leipzig 1943.


  • Manfred Kehrig: Karl Anton Theodor Graf von Sponeck. In: Baden-Württembergische Biographien I. 1994, pp. 354–355.
  • Eberhard Einbeck: The example of Count Sponeck. A contribution on the subject of Hitler and the Generals. Carl Schünemann Verlag , Bremen 1970, ISBN 978-3-7961-4278-9 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Reichswehr Ministry (Ed.): Ranking list of the German Reichsheeres. ES Mittler & Sohn , Berlin 1930, p. 151.
  2. Veit Scherzer : Knight's Cross bearers 1939-1945. The holders of the Iron Cross of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and armed forces allied with Germany according to the documents of the Federal Archives. 2nd Edition. Scherzers Militaer-Verlag, Ranis / Jena 2007, ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2 , p. 714.