Gerd von Rundstedt
Born on December 12th, 1875 close to Halberstadt, originating in a family of the purest Prussian artistocratie, he enlists in the army at the 18 years age. He is incorporated in the Infantry Regiment the 83 on June 17th, 1893, like Sekonde-Leutnant . He enters to the Kriegsakademie in 1902 and fate Oberleutnant . Hauptmann on March 24th, 1907. The First World War quickly sees it climbing the levels of the hierarchy: Major on November 28th, 1914, it is affected as chief of staff of his division (86. Infantry Division).
After war, it remains in the Reichswehr and becomes Oberstleutnant on October 1st, 1920 then Oberst on February 1st, 1923; it takes finally the command of a great unit, on May 1st, 1925, while becoming chief of the Infantry Regiment 18 of Paderborn. Its career in times of peace continues in the most traditional way: chief of staff of Gruppenkommando 2 on October 1st, 1926, Generalmajor on November 1st, 1927, it ends finally up reaching the post of commander of a great unit, more precisely that of the 2. Kavallery Division of Breslau on October 1st, 1928. Generalleutnant on March 1st, 1929, it perceives the command of the 3. Division on February 1st, 1932, ordering of Gruppenkommando 1 the same day.
At this point in time Von Rundstedt starts to make speak about him. It mistakes already the Nazis: Right Prussian in his boots, it does not like at all the side undisciplined, bawler and proud of SA and their supreme leader, Hitler. Dissatisfied to see the Nazis with the capacity, he threatens to resign when Franz von Papen issues the martial law. Thereafter, in agreement with Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb, it succeeds in preventing Hitler from naming the pro-Nazi Reichenau with the head of OKW. Generaloberst on March 1st, 1938, it is put at the retirement on its request because it cannot agree to have, in the long term, to obey the orders of the " Corporal of Opérette" , its was Führer, Hitler. Moreover, it already starts to foresee the duplicity of Hitler after Munich and the Czechoslovakia.
But the war bursts and he is recalled to the active service in August 1939, in particular to take the command of Southern Heeresgruppe (Group of Southern armies) at the time of the Countryside of Poland. Oberbefehlshaber Ost (commander-in-chief in the East) 1st at October 20th, 1939. At the time of the preparations for the countryside of France, as a commander of Heeresgruppe has from October 25th, 1939 to October 1st, 1940, it supports a general whom it has under his orders, some Erich von Manstein, which proposes a plan of invasion proposing the crossing of the the Ardennes by armor-plated columns. This plan will be accepted by Führer.
At the time of the battle of France, it has under its orders not less than 45 divisions including 7 armor-plated and three motorized. It would seem that he is at the origin of the order which made stop the troops of the Wehrmacht before those do not launch out to the attack of Dunkirk. Indeed, its Panzer Divisionen, ordered by Heinz Guderian, had advanced too much in the allied lines and its lack of support in infantry made him fear an insulation of these troops. Hitler having the same apprehensions, agreed to give this order. That made it possible tens of thousands of Anglo-French soldiers to avoid the capture.
Named Generalfeldmarschall on July 19th, 1940, it takes part in the preparations of the Opération Seelöwe, the invasion of the United Kingdom. Following the cancellation of this operation, because of the defeat of the Luftwaffe, it deals with the whole of the occupying forces in the west of Germany (Oberbefehlshaber West of October 1st, 1940 in June 1941). It must begin the installation from a coastal defense ready to push back a possible unloading on the Western coasts.
But Hitler turns to the East and places the old Prussian at the head of Southern Heeresgruppe on June 10th, 1941. This one does not include/understand less than 42 divisions, including 5 Panzer, that it must lead to the conquest of the Ukraine. Its advance is initially slower than for the other groups of armies, because the main part of the mechanized and armor-plated forces Red Army is in this border region. But it ends up taking Kiev and made there 665 000 prisoners (the 5th, 21e, 26e and 37e armed Soviet). It sinks then on Kharkov and Rostov. The end of the autumn arrives and he advises in Hitler to benefit from it to stop the troops in order to make them prepare a line of defense to face the rigors of the Russian winter. But Hitler is opposed to it firmly and wanted to benefit from it to take Moscow. In November, it is victim of an heart attack, but it refuses to be made hospitalize. It reaches finally Rostov on November 21st, where it is pushed back by the Soviet counter-attack of winter . He then asks for once again Hitler the authorization of fold up himself towards a prepared line of defense. Hitler refuses categorically and, ulcerated by this marshal defaitist, the fact of replacing by Walther von Reichenau on December 1st, 1941.
But Hitler, which mistakes this Prussian officer more and more, aristocratic and critical, can only recognize qualities of strategist of Von Rundtedt. It is thus obliged to recall it to the active service. He entrusts Oberbefehlshaber West to him on March 15th, 1942. During the two years which follow, Von Rundstedt spine to consolidate the Atlantic Wall, in collaboration with Erwin Rommel.
After June 6th, whereas the allied unloading is consumed, Von Rundstedt, lucid on the chances of victory of III° Reich, advises in Hitler to negotiate as soon as possible peace. Furious, Hitler dislocates it its functions on July 2nd, 1944.
But the attack of July 20th against Führer sees it taking again service: it is, with Guderian and Keitel, member of the main courtyard of the army which rules on the cases of the officers opposed to Hitler. Indeed, Von Rundstedt scorns the Nazi chief in vain, he does not remain about it less one disciplined officer and Petri of the direction of the Prussian honor: he cannot accept that one makes an attempt on the life of the leader of Germany. Then, Von Kluge being committed suicide, it takes again its station in Oberbefehlshaber West of September 5th, 1944, which it again leaves for defeatism on March 9th, 1945.
It is finally captured on May 1st, 1945 by the 36e American division. Maintained in detention in Great Britain until July 1948, where he is shown of War crimes, without never being judged. It finishes its life with the Hanover on February 24th, 1953.
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