Gerd von Rundstedt

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Gerd von Rundstedt II.jpg

Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt (b. 12 December 1875 in Aschersleben near Magdeburg, Province of Saxony; d. 24 February 1953 in Hannover) was a German officer of the Prussian Army, the Imperial German Army, the Reichswehr and the Wehrmacht, at last Generalfeldmarschall during World War II and Recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. Leftist Wikipedia dislikes von Rundstedt for his Clean Wehrmacht views and for being released, among other attacks alleging supposed guilt by association with Erich von Manstein, a German officer with similar postwar circumstances.

Life

Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt.jpg
Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt II.jpg
Gerd von Rundstedt.jpg

Born in 1875, in Saxony to a well to due Prussian family, after cadet school he joined the Prussian Army on 22 March 1892 and served in the Infanterie-Regiment „von Wittich“ (3. Kurhessisches) Nr. 83 in Kassel. Von Rundstedt served in the First World War and by wars end had obtained the rank of Major and Chief of Staff, commanding his division. The following 20 years, he stayed involved in the military and in September 1939, he was enlisted to command Army Group South (Heeresgruppe Süd) during the Invasion of Poland and afterwards, the Invasion of France.

By early 1940, von Rundstedt was in command of roughly 7 Panzer Divisions, 3 motorized infantry divisions and 35 General Infantry units. It was around late 1940, he was promoted to Generalfeldmarschall and was given the tasks of building up coastal fortifications in the Netherlands, Belgium and France. During Operation Barbarossa, he led Army Group South with its 52 Infantry Divisions and 5 Panzer Divisions in the Soviet Union and was instrumental in the overtaking of Kiev, which during this time Army Group South captured 695,000 Russian POW's. In late 1941 he suffered a heart attack and refused to be relieved of command, an action which prompted Hitler to replace him with General Walter von Reichenau.

After being relieved in the Eastern Front he was once again sent to the West as commander-in-chief (Oberbefehlshabers West), where he remained until the invasion of Normandy in 1944 being succeded by Generalfeldmarschall Hans Günther von Kluge. After the July 20 Plot to assassinate Hitler, in which von Rundstedt became furious, he joined the Army Court of Honour (Ehrengericht or Ehrenhof des Deutschen Reiches), which was responsable in expelling hundreds of officers deemed to be opposed to Hitler. Some of those expelled were executed.

In May 1945, he was captured by the Americans in Bad Tölz, transfered to the British and charged with alleged war crimes, but was never tried due to his innocence. He was a witness during the "High Command Trial" in the Nuremberg show trials. On 5 May 1949 he was released by the British. It hurt him deeply, that he wasn't there, as his son died from throat cancer (Kehlkopfkrebs) 1948. He spent his last years with his wife, his daughter in law Diplom-Volkswirtin Dr. rer. pol. Editha „Ditha“, née von Oppens (1901–1982), and his five grandchildren: Barbara (b. 1936), Gerd Alexander Gustav Hermann (b. 1938), Eberhard (b. 1940), Editha (b. 1942) and Paul (b. 1945).

Death

Generalfeldmarschall von Rundstedt returned to Germany, where he died in Hanover in 1953. He was laid out in full uniform at the wake, over 2,000 mourners arrived from at home and abroad. He was buried in the grave of his beloved wife "Bila" on the city ​​cemetery in Stöcken near Hannover.

Family

Gerd was the son of Generalmajor Gerd Arnold Konrad von Rundstedt (b. 19 February 1848 in Berlin; d. 4 January 1916 in Heikendorf) and his wife Adelheid Eleonore, née Fischer (1856–1925).

Marriage

On 22 January 1902 Leutnant von Rundstedt married his fiancée from Colmar (Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen) Luise „Bila“ Agathe Marie von Götz (1878–1952), daughter of Major Georg Friedrich Christoph von Götz and Luise Marie, née Freiin von Schlotheim. They had one son, Leutnant Dr. phil. Georg Günther Eberhard Hans-Gerd von Rundstedt (1903–1948).

Promotions

  • Fähnrich: 22 March 1892
  • Leutnant (Sekondeleutnant): 17 June 1893
  • Oberleutnant: 12 September 1902
  • Hauptmann: 24 March 1909
  • Major: 28 November 1914
  • Oberstleutnant: 1 October 1920
  • Oberst: 1 February 1923
  • Generalmajor: 1 November 1927
  • Generalleutnant: 1 March 1929
  • General der Infanterie: 1 October 1932
  • Generaloberst: 1 March 1938
  • Generalfeldmarschall: 19 July 1940

Awards and decorations

Further reading

  • Franz Thomas: Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945, Band 1: A–K (in German), Biblio-Verlag, Osnabrück 1998, ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6
  • Walther-Peer Fellgiebel: Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile (in German), Podzun-Pallas, Wölfersheim 2000, ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6
    • English: 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, expanded edition, 2000
  • Klaus D. Patzwall/ Veit Scherzer: Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941–1945 Geschichte und Inhaber, Band II (in German), Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall, Norderstedt 2001, ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8
  • Veit Scherzer: 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 (in German), Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag, Jena 2007, ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Thomas 1998, p. 234.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Scherzer 2007, p. 645.
  3. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 368.
  4. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 85.
  5. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 45.