Axel Erik Heinrichs (21 July 1890 – 16 November 1965) was a Finnish military general. He was Finland's Chief of the General Staff during the Interim Peace and Continuation War (1940–1941 and 1942–1944) and commander-in-chief for a short time after the war (1944–1945).

Erik Heinrichs
Erik Heinrichs (1945).jpg
Army's commander-in-chief Axel Erik Heinrichs
Born(1890-07-21)21 July 1890
Helsinki, Grand Duchy of Finland, Russian Empire
Died16 November 1965(1965-11-16) (aged 75)
Helsinki, Finland
Allegiance German Empire (1915–1918)
White Finland (1918)
 Finland (1918–1945)
Service/branchImperial German Army
White Guard
Finnish Army
Years of service1915–1945
RankLieutenant General
Commands heldIII Corps
Army of the Isthmus
Army of Karelia
Chief of Defence
Battles/warsFirst World War
Finnish Civil War
Winter War
Continuation War
AwardsMannerheim Cross 1st class
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross


Heinrichs was one of the Finnish Jaeger troops trained in the volunteer Royal Prussian 27th Jäger Battalion between 1915 and 1918. During the Finnish Civil War he served as a battalion commander in the battles of Tampere and Viipuri. He commanded the III Corps in the Winter War and from February 19, 1940 the Army of the Isthmus. He was made Chief of the General Staff in June 1940 and promoted to General of Infantry in 1941.

During the Continuation War he commanded the Army of Karelia until January 1942, after which he was again appointed the Chief of the General Staff. After the war he served as the Army's commander-in-chief but was forced to resign because of the Weapons Cache Case. In 1944 Heinrichs became the second person to receive the Mannerheim Cross, First Class. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross of Nazi Germany.

Heinrichs was one of the military experts of the delegation sent by president Paasikivi to Moscow for the Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance in 1948.


  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6.
  • Tapola, Päivi: Kenraalien kirjeet, Tammi, 2007. ISBN 978-951-31-4012-0.
  • "Hitler's Arctic War. The German Campaigns in Norway, Finland and the U.S.S.R. 1940- 1945." (2002) Chris Mann & Christer Jorgensen.