Gerd von Rundstedt

Gerd von Rundstedt

Gerd von Rundstedt

This article is about a Nazi German officer during World War II. He participated in Battle of France, East Front, Operation Overlord and so on.

Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt (born on December 12,1875 inAschersleben, died on 24 February1953 inHannover) was a German officer who was field marshal during World War II and led throughout the war, major military units (army groups) on several fronts. His main position was that of Commander in Chief West, which he – held during the period of 1940-1945 – with several interruptions. He led as commander of the Ardennes offensive of the castle Dalbenden near Kall in theEifel. Rundstedt was indicted for war crimes after the war. Because of his poor health, the process was never completed.

The son of the former captain and Eskadronschefs stationed in Aschersleben Magdeburg Hussars 10 and later major general of the Prussian army moved in December 1882 on the occasion of the transfer of the father to Hussar Regiment “King Humbert of Italy” (1 Kurhessisches) No 13 to Hesse. He went to school inMainz(1884-86) andFrankfurt(last secondary school) in 1890, the military academy and joined Oranienstein 1890 the Prussian cadet school principal large light field, where he became in 1892 the primary production.

On 22 March 1892 Gerd von Rundstedt was as an ensign in the infantry regiment “from Wittich” (3rd Kurhessisches) #83 inKassel. After commanding theWarCollegeHanover, he was on 17 June 1893 appointed as lieutenant. After ten years of military service, including as battalion and regimental adjutant, he attended since 1902, lieutenant from 1903 to 1906, the Prussian War Academy in Berlin and was ordered to a successful conclusion in 1907 on trial in the Great General Staff, to the man him 1909 final as captain took over. In 1912 he became the company commander in the 2nd Upper-Alsace Infantry Regiment No. 171 for the first time a military command.

During World War Rundstedt was used as a general staff officer inTurkeyandFrance. Shortly after the beginning of the war he was promoted to Major.


At the end, the empire was taken over by Gerd von Rundstedt in the reorganized Reichswehr of theWeimarRepublic. He was in 1920 as a Lieutenant Colonel Chief of Staff of the 3rd Cavalry Division inWeimarand in 1923 promoted to colonel. From 1925 he was commander of the 18th Infantry Regiment inMunster. In 1927 he was appointed major general. In 1928 von Rundstedt was the commander of the 2nd Cavalry Division inWroclaw, 1929, a further promotion to lieutenant general. In 1932 he was promoted to General of Infantry von Rundstedt, while commander of the command group I inBerlin.

Period of National Socialism pre-war period

While the Nazis seized power, the dissolution of theWeimarRepublicand the conversion of the Reichswehr into the Wehrmacht worked continuously von Rundstedt as commander of the command group I inBerlin. On 1 March 1938 he was promoted to Colonel General. During theMunichcrisis in 1938, he assisted at the General Meeting of 4 August, the general opinion of the generals in that army and country were not yet ready for war. After the occupation of theSudetenlandin October 1938, at his own request of Rundstedt 31st Adopted in October from the army. On 4 November 1938 he was appointed commander of Infantry Regiment18 inBielefeld, which was appointed on 25 April 1939 with a grand parade complete.


Already in April 1939 his reactivation was as head of the secret “team to Rundstedt,” which in the planned invasion ofPolandused (code name “Case White”) as an army group commander of Army Group South and design for deployment and operational plans should be. At his side was initially only Lieutenant General Erich von Manstein as Chief of Staff, Colonel Günther Blumentritt as operations officer. On 23 August 1939, the expanded “task force Rundstedt”, now known as AOK 12, moved to Neisse in Upper Silesia, and took over on 25 August command of the three subordinate armies.

World War II

Attack onPoland

At the beginning of the attack onPolandon 1st September 1939 he was appointed by Rundstedt as commander of Army Group South. This comprehensive 886 000 soldiers marched Association of Silesia and Slovakia into Poland and defeated completely together with Army Group North, the Polish armed forces in a month.

Already on 9 September he had locked out by the troops of theWarsawlargely Rundstedt. After initial attacks on the densely built-up urban area were unsuccessful, he left the city for 19 days by air and artillery bombing, to the remaining defenders on 28 September capitulated. This bombardment fell victim to some 26,000 civilians, much of the historic city were destroyed.

Western campaign

Gerd von Rundstedt’s troops after the surrender ofPolandrenamed Army Group A and moved for the planned expedition to the West German western frontier. After eight months with no major fighting in the so-called phony war, the German Army attacked on 10 May 1940, theNetherlands,Belgium,Luxembourgand northern France (Fall Gelb) in accordance with the sickle cutting plan. It stated that, in essence, a surprisingly penetrating through the impassable by French and Belgian soldiers held and therefore weakly defended Ardennes to the Channel coast and include large Allied forces inBelgium. This was achieved by Rundstedt’s troops within two weeks. Gerd von Rundstedt was then to disputes among the German generals famously holding command that allowed the Allies to evacuate the trapped Operation Dynamo 370,000 soldiers fromDunkirktoBritain, which later formed the core of the Allied invasion force.

After conquering the German troops in a short time, the northern half of France (Case Red), the French government to the 17th Solicited for a ceasefire in June. The quick victory was hailed by the German propaganda as a breakthrough to a new, revolutionary tactics, which they gave the name Blitzkrieg. For his achievements at the same time, von Rundstedt and eleven other officers of 19th July 1940 were promoted the highest in military rank of Field Marshal.

Gerd von Rundstedt as commander in chief was planned as a result of the invasion ofBritain(Operation Sealion) is provided. After the German defeat at the Battle of Britain, this plan was postponed several times and finally dropped, added to the field marshal in 1941, the German Eastern Front.

War against theSoviet Union

It was launched in June 1941 by the German side, the war against the Soviet Union stood at the head of conquering of Rundstedt’s Army Group South, theUkraineand theCaucasus. Proved for its armed forces, however, the planned attack on the Volga and the Caspian Sea because of the human and material inferiority as illusory, at the height of the Crimean stagnant offensive southeast wing of the German Eastern Army, because they had to strike, two tank battles of Uman and Kiev. On 24 September 1941 he was given the murders of the Einsatzgruppe C belonging to Sonderkommando4afollowing command to his army of soldiers:

“Unauthorized practice of individual members of the Wehrmacht [...] against the Jews is forbidden, as is watching or photographing in the implementation of the measures of the details.”

Contrary to Hitler’s instructions, he did not pull a retreat into consideration, thought von Rundstedt to a tactical withdrawal of its logistics and physically strained associations, soon afterRostovhad been conquered by him.

Gerd von Rundstedt was so straight to the generals who were replaced during the 1941 winter crisis on the Eastern Front because of strategic and tactical differences with Hitler from their posts. Nevertheless, he was honored with an endowment in 1941 of 250,000 Reichsmarks.

Defense inFrance

A few months later, he returned as Commander in Chief West, with headquarters inParis, unlike some of his colleagues, however, a new command, which was docked at the same time in one person the command of the Army Group D. In this capacity, he beat the British commando raid onDieppe, Operation Jubilee, back successfully. The British prisoners of war he had opposed the applicable international humanitarian law to deliver to the Gestapo.

As head of the mainly stationed in northern and southwestern France, western army, he was responsible for the leadership of Hitler’s Blitzkrieg was now a strictly defensive role. Along with the construction unit of Nazi Organisation Todt (OT), he tried to ward off the leadership of the armed forces already anticipated Allied invasion of the establishment and development organization of the fortifications of the Atlantic Wall. Gerd von Rundstedt made about the chances of success of the German defensive measures, no illusions and counted for months before the actual invasion with a victory of Allied forces in the event of renewed conflict on French soil. His tactical game plan aimed at the destruction of the landing forces after landing in heavy armored units, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, however asserted himself with Hitler, and drove the expansion of the Atlantic Wall is continuing.

Gerd von Rundstedt was responsible as the highest military authority for the maintenance of order in the occupied territories in November 1942VichyFrance. The initiative for the destruction of large parts of the old city ofMarseillein January 1943 and deportation and resettlement of parts of its inhabitants, however, is primarily attributed to Heinrich Himmler. This led to cooperation between Himmler’s SS and the local army commanders.

As on 6 June 1944 the Allied forces as part of the Amphibious Operation Overlord landings in Normandy were of Rundstedt’s response options severely limited, since the mobile main reserves are used only with Hitler’s explicit approval for a concentrated counter-attack in the Paris area were allowed, which was issued too late to successfully carry out the retaliation to.

After the liquidation of the Allied bridgehead due to the massive human and material inferiority of the Wehrmacht and the lack of air superiority failed, von Rundstedt saw no hope of turning the military. (“… Stop the war, you idiots!”) After open criticism of the top officials in a meeting with the High Command chief General Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, Hitler had him on 2 July 1944 General Field Marshal Günther von Kluge as commander in chief supersede West, whereby the position of the western front was not better.

Chairmanship of the main courtyard of the Armed Forces

To rehabilitate karrieristisch among other things around, then took over the chairmanship of the von Rundstedt on 2 August 1944 established main courtyard of the Wehrmacht. In this role, he came on behalf of the Nazi regime, many with the assassination of 20 July 1944 from the compromised members of the Wehrmacht Heer from, thereby inhibiting the Reich Military Court for their trial and was responsible from the People’s Court, chaired by Roland Freisler could be tried in show trials.

Retreat on the Western Front

In early September 1944, Hitler him again as Commander in Chief West, in this capacity led Gerd von Rundstedt of Koblenz from the rapid disengagement of the West German armed forces into Belgium and Alsace-Lorraine. In this role, he succeeded, and the commander of Army Group B, Field Marshal Walter Model, one of the last German victory on the Western Front inArnhemwhere the Allied paratroopers units underOperationGardenfree market another part of theNetherlandswanted.

Once allowed to stabilize for a short time due to the slow Allied thrust the plight of German troops on the Western Front, led by Rundstedt on Hitler’s orders in December 1944, the last major German offensive in World War II. The 250,000 soldiers and 600 tanks out attack on the Ardennes, but failed in the initial phase, as it had been interpreted too extensively by Hitler and caused damage of the last German troops and engages in a substantial depletion of the western army. Rundstedt had been for a little more offensive, but could not prevail, and led by the over-sized operation after Hitler’s plan. Then resumed the march of the Allies and the gradual destruction of his remaining troops weakened by supply problems could prevent the commander in chief no longer West, because they had suffered heavy losses on the offensive.

On 18 February 1945 gave Hitler the von Rundstedt Swords to the Knight’s Cross. Following the successful Rhine crossing byU.S.troops at theLudendorffBridgeat Remagen, Hitler continued the Marshal from early March 1945 and finally replaced him with General Field Marshal Albert Kesselring. His long service was von Rundstedt’s oldest soldiers of the Wehrmacht in World War II.

Post-war period

Since May 1945, British prisoner of war, Rundstedt was charged with war crimes. He was accused among other things, mass murder in the occupied Soviet territories. The accusation was based on the so-called Reichenau order that was issued by the von Rundstedt to this point below Field Marshal Walter von Reichenau. The command is openly for the destruction of the “Jewish sub-humanity” is called. Proven Rundstedt knew that command, has endorsed him and with him “full agreement” says.

Due to his poor health and his advanced age, there was no conviction. His heart disease prompted the British to dismiss him in May 1949 from captivity as a prisoner of war already Marshals Walther von Brauchitsch, Werner von Blomberg, Wolfram von Richthofen and Ernst Busch had died and it was feared that his death in captivityWest Germany, which you can now run as an ally considered to anti-British riots.

Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt died in1953 inHanoverand was buried at the city cemetery sticks.


Crown class IV

Iron Cross (1914) First and Second Class

Knight’s Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern with Swords

Bavarian Military Merit Fourth Class with Swords and Crown

Knight’s Cross of the Order, First Class with Swords Albrecht

Knight’s Cross of the Order of the House White Falcon

Knight’s Cross of the Ducal Saxe-Ernestine House Order

Lippe War Merit Cross

Esche Waldeck Merit Class IV

Austrian Military Merit III. Class with War Decoration

Iron Crescent

Medal to commemorate the first October 1938

Armed Forces Long Service Award to IV-Class I.

Clasp to the Iron Cross First and Second Class

Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown ofItaly

Military Order of Michael the Brave III. to Class I.

Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords

Knight’s Cross on 30 September 1939

Oak leaves on 1 July 1944 (519th ceremony)

Swords on 18 February 1945 (133 Awards)

Appointment as commander of Infantry Regiment18 inBielefeldon 4 November 1938

Mention in the Wehrmacht Report 6 and 8 August 1941, 19th September 1941, 11th and 12 October 1941; 10th September 1943


As head of his infantry regiment was von Rundstedt during the Second World War traditionally predominantly white officer’s insignia in the color white arms and the regimental number “18″ in addition to (not red) highlighted epaulets.

In the war film The Longest Day (The Longest Day, 1962) he was represented by Paul Hartmann. In the film A Bridge Too Far embodied Wolfgang Preiss von Rundstedt.

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