Gerd von Rundstedt
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, finally 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.
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).
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.
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).
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).
- 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
- Prussian Centenary Medal 1897 (Zentenarmedaille)
- Order of the Crown, 4th Class (Prussia)
- Order of the Red Eagle, 4th Class (Prussia)
- Order of the White Falcon (Hausorden vom Weißen Falken), Knight's Cross
- Iron Cross (1914), 2nd and 1st Class
- Military Merit Cross (Bavaria), 1st Class
- Bavarian Military Merit Order, 4th Class with Swords and Crown on 9 August 1915
- Saxe-Ernestine House Order, Knight's Cross
- Prussian Royal House Order of Hohenzollern, Knight's Cross with Swords (1917)
- Waldeck Merit Cross, 4th class
- Schwarzburg Honor Cross, 3rd Class
- Albert Order, Knight 1st Class with Swords (Saxony)
- Lippe War Merit Cross
- Turkish War Medal ("Iron Crescent" or "Gallipoli Star")
- Military Merit Cross, 3rd class (Austria-Hungary) with War Decoration
- Prussian Service Award Cross for 25 years
- Ehrenkreuz für Frontkämpfer
- Wehrmacht Long Service Award, 4th to 1st Class
- Hungarian Order of Merit, Grand Cross on 11 August 1937
- Order of the Crown of Italy, Grand Cross on 7 June 1938
- Sudetenland Medal (1938)
- Repetition Clasp 1939 to the Iron Cross 1914, 2nd and 1st Class
- Order of Michael the Brave 3rd, 2nd and 1st Class (Romania)
- 3rd and 2nd Class on 19 September 1941
- 1st Class on 1 September 1942
- Mentioned six times in the Wehrmachtbericht (6 and 8 August 1941, 19 September 1941, 11 and 12 October 1941, 10 September 1943)
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
- Knight's Cross on 30 September 1939 as Generaloberst and commander in chief of Heeresgruppe Süd
- 519th Oak Leaves on 1 July 1944 as Generalfeldmarschall and Oberbefehlshaber West (commander in chief west)
- 133rd Swords on 18 February 1945 as Generalfeldmarschall and Oberbefehlshaber West (commander in chief west)
- 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
- Thomas 1998, p. 234.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 645.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 368.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 85.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 45.