Otto Fretter-Pico

Otto Fretter-Pico (2 February 1893 – 30 July 1966) was a German general in the Wehrmacht during World War II.[1] A veteran of WWI and the younger brother of General Maximilian Fretter-Pico, he took part in operations from Poland to France, and from the Soviet Union to Italy. Fretter-Pico commanded artillery units before commanding the 57th Infantry Division and the 148th Infantry Division. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross of Nazi Germany.[1]

Otto Fretter-Pico
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1992-044-36A, Otto Fretter-Pico.jpg
Born2 February 1893
Karlsruhe, Württemberg, German Empire
Died30 July 1966(1966-07-30) (aged 73)
Flims, Grisons, Switzerland
Allegiance Kingdom of Württemberg
 German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
RankWMacht H OF7 GenLt01 h 1945.pngGeneralleutnant
Commands held57th Infantry Division
148th Reserve Division
Battles/warsWorld War I

World War II

AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross
RelationsMaximilian Fretter-Pico (brother)

Ahead of his 148th Infantry Division, he was blocked and surrounded by Brazilian forces in Collecchio when trying to retreat to Germany. He surrendered to the Brazilian division in 29 April 1945.

First World WarEdit

Otto Fretter-Pico was born on 2 February 1893, in Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg,[1] in the German Empire, joining the Württemberg Army on July 14, 1914 as a Fahnenjunker (officer cadet).[1] Like his older brother, who later became General of the Artillery Maximilian Fretter-Pico, he joined the 1st Baden Field Artillery Regiment No. 14 (1. Badisches Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 14).[1] They both were sent to the front, where Otto was wounded after a few days. In autumn 1914 he came back to the front. There he was promoted to Leutnant (lieutenant) on January 27, 1915.[1] Otto would serve the whole war on the Western Front, interruptions were only made by being assigned to the staff of the 28th Division from February to May 1916 and then again briefly in October of the same year. In addition, Fretter-Pico completed a two-month course at the artillery school in late 1916. From September 1917 he took over as chief of the 6th battery of his regiment and kept this position until the end of the war. On October 18, 1918, he was promoted to Oberleutnant (first lieutenant). During World War I he was given both Iron Crosses and other awards.[1]

Interwar yearsEdit

After the First World War, Fretter-Pico was accepted into the Reichsheer. He was first used in the Reichswehr 13th Artillery Regiment (Reichswehr-Artillerie-Regiment 13). With the formation of the 100,000-man army, he then joined the staff of the 2nd battalion of the 5th Artillery Regiment; where he served until 1924 as a battalion adjutant. In autumn 1924 he was transferred to the 6th battery of the 5th (Hesse-Württemberg) Artillery Regiment (5. (Hess.-Württ.) Artillerie-Regiment) in Fulda. In this unit he was promoted to Hauptmann (captain) on February 1, 1928. On October 1, 1928, he was transferred back to the staff of the 2nd battalion of the 5th Artillery Regiment. From there, Otto was then ordered to the Army Department (T 1) in the Ministry of the Reichswehr in Berlin. In the spring of 1930 he was then assigned to the regimental staff of the 5th Artillery Regiment.

On October 1, 1930 Fretter-Pico was transferred to the 7th (Bavarian) Medical Battalion (7. (Bayer.) Sanitäts-Abteilung); being appointed adjutant in said unit on May 1, 1933. On October 1, 1933, he was appointed chief of the 2nd squadron of the 7th (Bavarian) Driving Battalion (7. (Bayer.) Fahr-Abteilung). On September 13, 1934 he was recalled and briefly commanded the 3rd Battalion of the Munster Artillery Regiment until October 1, 1934, when he was transferred back to the Ministry of the Reichswehr, as inspector of the Artillery (Department In 4). On January 1, 1935, he was promoted to Major.[1] He remained in service there when it was renamed the Reich Ministry of War (Reichskriegsministerium) in the spring of 1935.

On October 1, 1937, he was promoted to Oberstleutnant (lieutenant colonel). As such, he was appointed commander of the 7th Observation Battalion (Beobachtungs-Abteilung 7) in Ingolstadt, back in Bavaria on November 10, 1938.[1] While there, Fretter-Pico completed a course in Jüterbog at the artillery school in January 1939.

World War IIEdit

Then-Lieutenant Colonel Fretter-Pico led this battalion in the Polish campaign in September 1939, receiving the clasp for his Iron Cross 2nd class on 28 September 1939.[2] In early February 1940 he was appointed commander of the 297th Artillery Regiment (Artillerie-Regiment 297),[1] which he led into battle during the invasion of France. On September 1, 1940, he was promoted to Oberst (colonel).[1]

Next he led his artillery regiment at the beginning of the invasion of the Soviet Union, in Army Group South. On December 11, 1941, Fretter-Pico was awarded the German Cross in Gold.[1] In March 1942 he gave up command of his regiment. He was then appointed Artillery Commander 102 (Arko 102). At the end of 1942 he was then transferred to the Führerreserve. He was assigned to lead a division and was sent to Army Group B for this purpose. At the end of February 1943 he was then assigned to lead the 57th Infantry Division.[1] On March 1, 1943, he was promoted to Generalmajor (major general). On September 1, 1943 Fretter-Pico was reassigned to the Führerreserve. On 18 September 1943 he was appointed commander of the 148th Reserve Division (148. Reserve-Division) in Toulouse.[1] Redesignated the 148th Infantry Division (148. Infanterie-Division) in September 1944 to fight the allied invasion during Operation Dragoon, the unit was used in the counter-attacks against the Americans in the beaches at Le Muy, being slowed down by French guerrillas and British paratroopers.[3] A retreat was ordered and the 148th crossed into Italy through the Alps.

On October 20, 1944, Fretter-Pico was promoted to Generalleutenant (lieutenant general).[1][2] As such, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on December 12, 1944.[1][2] The 148th would at first be used in anti-partisan warfare on the border between Tuscany and Liguria, including cooperation with other troops in some larger anti-partisan operations under the command of the 14th Army/LI. Gebirgs-Armeekorps and in cooperation with RSI units.[4] Between the end of November and the beginning of December 1944 in the Apennines, between La Spezia and Massa-Carrara, 148th men took part in the killings of numerous Italian civilians during rastrellamento operations. During operation Catilina (27 November–2 December 1944), men of the 148th, operating together with the RSI XXXIII Brigata Nera Tullio Bertoni, operated in Fosdinovo, Sarzana and Aulla claiming 365 enemy dead and taking 20 prisoners.[4] In operation Barbara (29 November–2 December 1944, in Carrara-Massa) men of the 148th together with other German units of the navy and special anti-partisan units claimed 110 enemy dead and took 9 prisoners.[4] Between 20–25 January 1945, the 148th Infantry Division took part in operation Bergkönig, a large search and destroy operation in the areas of Varese Ligure, Monte Gottero, Zeri and Zignago, in the La Spezia region. The fighting would become known as La battaglia del Gottero.[5]

Operation Bergkönig comprised German, Ost and RSI units:[4]

Generalleutnant Otto Fretter-Pico (left) surrendering to General Olímpio Falconière da Cunha (center) of the Brazilian 1st Infantry Division.

At the end of April 1945, during the retreat of German forces from northern Italy during the Allied Spring Offensive, Fretter-Pico's 148th Infantry Division was blocked by the Brazilian Expeditionary Force in the area of Collecchio-Fornovo di Taro while trying to gain the Po Valley. The 148th had remnants of the destroyed 90th Panzergrenadier Division and the RSI "Italia" Division tagging along but despite breakout attempts from 26–28 April,[6] the Axis forces were surrounded and forced to surrender on 29 April 1945 in the Battle of Collecchio[6] before General Heinrich von Vietinghoff's overall Axis surrender in Italy on 2 May.[6] Generals Mario Carloni and Otto Fretter-Pico followed their 14,779 men into captivity,[7] passing from Brazilian custody to a US POW camp some time later. He was released by US forces on July 7, 1948.

The old general then moved to Switzerland and retired there.

Fretter-Pico died at the age of 73 on July 30, 1966 in Flims, Canton of Graubünden in Switzerland.[1]

The ceremony of Fretter-Pico's surrender to the Brazilians is still reenacted in Italy every 25 April in Fornovo and Collecchio.[8][9]

Awards and decorationsEdit



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Otto Fretter-Pico". Lexikon der Wehrmacht. Retrieved 30 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Wegmann 2010, p. 172.
  3. ^ Clarke, Jeffrey J. (1993). Riviera to the Rhine. Robert Ross Smith. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, United States Army. pp. 128, 134–137. ISBN 978-0-7948-3771-6. OCLC 23464248.
  4. ^ a b c d "Azioni tedesche contro i civili in Toscana". (in Italian). p. 51-52. Retrieved 30 March 2021.
  5. ^ "20 GENNAIO – LA BATTAGLIA DEL GOTTERO". Istituto spezzino per la Storia della Resistenza e dell'Età Contemporanea "Pietro M. Beghi" (in Italian). Retrieved 30 March 2021.
  6. ^ a b c Scheina, Robert L. (2003). Latin America's Wars Volume II : the Age of the Professional Soldier, 1900-2001. Dulles: Potomac Books Inc. p. 257. ISBN 978-1-59797-478-3. OCLC 784885673.
  7. ^ Edwards, Paul M. (2010). Between the lines of World War II : twenty-one remarkable people and events. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. p. 90. ISBN 978-0-7864-5583-6. OCLC 667274358.
  8. ^ "Fornovo Taro un 25 aprile 2019 di tutti la colonna della Libertà". Youtube (in Italian). Retrieved 31 March 2021.
  9. ^ "Reenactment in Collecchio". Youtube (in Italian). Retrieved 31 March 2021.
  10. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 122.
  11. ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 318.


  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
  • Wegmann, Günter (2010). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Teil III: Infanterie Band 7: Fl–Fu [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the German Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Part III: Infantry Volume 7: Fl–Fu] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2380-1.
Military offices
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Friedrich Siebert
Commander of 57th Infantry Division
20 February 1943 – 1 September 1943
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Vincenz Müller
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Friedrich-Wilhelm von Rothkirch und Panthen
Commander of 148th Reserve Division
25 September 1943 – 20 March 1944
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Otto Schönherr
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Otto Schönherr
Commander of 148th Infantry Division
18 September 1944 – 28 April 1945
Succeeded by