18 September 1900 – 1 May 1982
As his attempt to reach Berlin started to look impossible, Wenck developed a plan to move his army towards the Forest of Halbe. There he planned to link up with the remnants of the Ninth Army, Hellmuth Reymann’s "Army Group Spree," and the Potsdam garrison. Wenck also wanted to provide an escape route for as many citizens of Berlin as possible.
Arriving at the furthest point of his attack, Wenck radioed the message: "Hurry up, we are waiting for you." Despite the attacks on his escape path, Wenck brought his own army, remnants of the Ninth Army, and many civilian refugees safely across the Elbe and into territory occupied by the U.S. Army. Estimates vary, but it is likely the corridor his forces opened enabled up to 250,000 refugees, including up to 25,000 men of the Ninth Army, to escape towards the west just ahead of the advancing Soviets.
According to Antony Beevor, Wenck’s eastward attack toward Berlin was aimed specifically at providing the population and garrison of Berlin with an escape route to areas occupied by United States armed forces:
On 10 April 1945, as General of Panzer Troops, Wenck was made the commander of the German Twelfth Army located to the west of Berlin. The Twelfth Army was positioned to defend against the advancing American and British forces on the Western Front. But, as both the Western Front moved eastwards and the Eastern Front moved westwards, the German armies making up both fronts backed towards each other. As a result, the area of control of Wenck’s army to his rear and east of the Elbe River had become a vast refugee camp for German civilians fleeing the path of the approaching Soviet forces. Wenck took great pains to provide food and lodging for these refugees. At one stage, the Twelfth Army was estimated to be feeding more than a quarter million people every day.Ryan 1966: p. 443
World War II
From 1939 to 1942, Wenck was Chief of Operations for the 1st Panzer Division. In 1942, he was an instructor for the War Academy, Chief of Staff for the LVII Corps, and Chief of Staff for the Third Romanian Army on the Eastern Front.
Wenck stayed on the Eastern Front and, from 1942 to 1943, he was Chief of Staff of "Army Detachment Hollidt" which was subordinated to the Third Romanian Army. In 1943, he was Chief of Staff of the Sixth Army. From 1943 to 1944, Wenck was Chief of Staff of the First Panzer Army. In 1944, he was Chief of Staff of Army Group South Ukraine.
From 1944 to 1945, Wenck was Quartermaster General I.
From 15 February 1945, at the insistence of General Heinz Guderian, Wenck commanded the German forces involved in Operation Solstice (Unternehmen Sonnenwende) on the Eastern Front. This lasted only two days, as General Wenck was seriously injured in a car accident on February 17.
Captive, prisoner and death
Wenck was captured and put in a prisoner of war camp. He was released in 1947. In 1982, Wenck died in another car accident in Bad Rothenfelde.
Wenck was born in Wittenberg, Germany. Prior to joining the Army (Reichswehr) of the Weimar Republic in 1920, he was a member of the Free Corps (Freikorps) in 1919.
Another video - discussing about this act of Commander Wenck.
The Last German WWII Attack - Operation Potsdam 1945