Gotthard Heinrici was born in Gumbinnen, Germany, on December 25, 1886. He joined the German Army in 1906 and during the First World War served on both the Western Front and the Eastern Front.
After the war, Heinrici remained in the army and, in 1936, was promoted to the rank of Major General. During the Western Offensive, Heinrici commanded the 12th Corps and managed to break through the Maginot Line on June 14, 1940.
Promoted to the rank of General in January 1942, Heinrici was given command of the 4th Army. Over the next two years he developed successful defensive strategies against the Red Army. This included withdrawing and then counterattacking advancing forces.
In August 1944, Heinrici was appointed commander of the 1st Panzer Army. In March 1945, Heinrici succeeded Heinrich Himmler as Army Group Vistula. When Heinrici rejected Hitler's command to hold Berlin at all costs, he was relieved of his command on April 28, 1945.
Gotthard Heinrici died on December 13, 1971.