He was born in Neuruppin, the son of an army medical officer. He joined the German Army in 1904 and served in World War I. He remained in the army during the Weimar period, and in 1935 was appointed to command the 18th Division of the reorganized army.
In Operation Barbarossa in 1941, Hoth commanded Panzer Group 3, capturing Minsk and Vitebsk, then in a shakeup in October, replaced von Stuelpnagel as commander of 17th Army in the Ukraine. His army was driven back by a Russian offensive in January 1942.
In the autumn of 1943 the Soviet army mounted a series of successful offensives that pushed the Germans back, and despite a distinguished record, Hoth, now Colonel-General, was blamed by Hitler for part of the losses, was reassigned to the reserves in November, and did not see further active service.
After the war, he was put on trial at Nuremburg, found guilty of war crimes, and on 27 October 1948 sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was released in 1954 and spent his retirement writing. He died at Goslar, where he is buried.