Heinz Wilhelm Guderian (17 June 1888 – 14 May 1954) was a military theorist and innovative General of the German Army during the Second World War. Germany's panzer forces were raised and fought according to his works, best-known among them Achtung— Panzer! He held posts as Panzer Corps commander, Panzer Army commander, Inspector-General of Armoured Troops, and Chief of Staff of the Army (Chef des Generalstabs des Heeres). He rose to the rank of full general (General der Panzertruppe) in July 1940 and was later promoted to Generaloberst. He never became a field marshal, but he is recognized as one of the most prominent generals of the Second World War.
Guderian was born in Kulm (Chełmno-now Poland), West Prussia. From 1901 to 1907 Guderian attended various military schools. He entered the Army in 1907 as an ensign-cadet in the (Hanoverian) Jäger Bataillon No. 10, commanded at that point by his father, Friedrich Guderian. After attending the war academy in Metz he was made a Leutnant (full Lieutenant) in 1908. In 1911 Guderian joined the 3rd Telegraphen-Battalion (Wireless-Battalion), Prussian Army Signal Corps. In October 1913 he married Margarete Goerne with whom he had two sons, Heinz Günter (1914-2004) and Kurt (born 1918) who would both become highly decorated Wehrmacht officers during World War II (and in the case of his older son, a Panzer general in the German Bundeswehr after the war).
During the First World War he served as a Signals and General Staff officer. This allowed him to get an overall view of battlefield conditions. He often disagreed with his superiors and ended up being transferred to the army intelligence department where he remained until the end of the war. This second assignment, while removed from the battlefield, sharpened his strategic skills.