Walter Model

From Metapedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Walter Model
Walter Model I.jpg
Model c. 1940s
Birth name Otto Moritz Walter Model
Birth date 24 January 1891(1891-01-24)
Place of birth Genthin, Province of Saxony, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Death date 21 April 1945 (aged 54)
Place of death Near Duisburg, German Reich
Resting place Hürtgenwald (reinterred)
Allegiance  German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 National Socialist Germany
Service/branch War and service flag of Prussia (1895–1918).png Prussian Army
Iron Cross of the Luftstreitkräfte.png Imperial German Army
Freikorps Flag.jpg Freikorps
War Ensign of the Reichswehr, 1919 - 1935.png Reichswehr
Balkenkreuz.jpg Heer
Years of service 1909–1945
Rank Generalfeldmarschall
Commands held
  • 3rd Panzer Division
  • XLI Panzer Corps
  • Ninth Army
  • Army Group North
  • Army Group North Ukraine
  • Army Group Centre
  • Army Group B
  • Oberbefehlshaber West
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds

Otto Moritz Walter Model (24 January 1891 – 21 April 1945) was a German officer of the Imperial German Army, the Freikorps, the Reichswehr and the Wehrmacht, and the youngest Generalfeldmarschall during World War II. He is noted for his defensive battles in the latter half of the war, mostly on the Eastern Front but also in the west, and for his close association with Adolf Hitler, who held him in high regard. Model has been called the Wehrmacht's best defensive tactician.


Model (left) and Heinz Guderian on the front
Death certificate

Early Life

Born in Genthin, 80 km west of Berlin, he was the son of a girls' school music teacher, Otto Paul Moritz Model, and his wife Maria Wilhelmine Pauline, née Demmer, a middle class, non-military family. Walther Model was raised in the German Evangelical Church, and initially attended the village school in Genthin, an agricultural town. In 1900, Model's father became a music director in Erfurt, and Walther attended the Gymnasium there for the next six years. At school, Walther took no interest in sports, but joined a literary society and showed an aptitude for Latin, Greek, history and poetry. His family finally settled in Naumburg, a garrison town.

Walter, whose family expected him to enter law school, opted to join the army. On 24 February 1909, Walther was one of 19 students in his Gymnasium who passed the examinations and received their Abitur. He was a good student, joined the army on 27 February 1909, was commanded to the war school (Kriegsschule) in Neisse in the same year and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant (Leutnant) of the Infanterie-Regiment "von Alvensleben" (6. Brandenburgisches) Nr. 52 in August 1910.[1] It is said, he made few friends among his fellow officers, and soon became known for his ambition, drive and blunt outspokenness. These were characteristics that would mark his entire career.

World War I

In World War I, the Infanterie-Regiment "von Alvensleben" (6. Brandenburgisches) Nr. 52 formed part of the 5th Division within the German Army, fighting on the Western Front. Model served as the adjutant of his regiment's 1st Battalion. In May 1915 he was severely wounded near Arras, and in October he won the Iron Cross, First Class. His deeds brought him to the attention of his divisional commander, who despite misgivings about his "uncomfortable subordinate", recommended him for a posting to the General Staff. Among other things, this meant that Model took part in only the initial stages of the Battle of Verdun, and escaped the carnage of the Somme, to which his division was committed in his absence.

Service history

  • 1909: Officer cadet training (Kriegsschule Neisse)
  • 1910:Commissioned in the 52nd Infantry Regiment von Alvensleben
  • 1917: Staff assignments
  • 1919: General staff officer at the XVII. Corps in Danzig, assigned to the East Border Guard (Grenzschutz Ost), he is said to have been a member of the Hacketau Freikorps, was a general staff officer in the Reichswehr Brigade 7 in Münster, Westphalia, and a company commander in the 2nd Battalion of the Reichswehr Rifle and Infantry Regiment 14
  • 1920: General staff officer at Section Commander II of the Security Troops, company commander at the 1st Battalion of the 14th Infantry Regiment and company commander of the Machine Gun Company in the 18th Infantry Regiment
  • 1921: General staff officer with Artillery Commander VI in Münster
  • 1 October 1925: Commander of 9th Company/II. Bataillon/Infanterie-Regiment 8 in Görlitz
  • 1 October 1928: Staff officer, 3rd Division, Berlin
  • 1930: Staff officer, Section 4 (Training), Truppenamt, Berlin
  • 1932: Chief of Staff, Reich Kuratorium for Youth Fitness
  • 1933: Battalion commander, 2nd Infantry Regiment
  • 1935: Head of Section 8, General Staff, Berlin
  • 1938: Chief of Staff, IV Corps
  • 1939: Chief of Staff, Sixteenth Army
  • 1940: Commander, 3rd Panzer Division
  • 1941: Commander, XLI Panzer Corps
  • 1942: Commander, Ninth Army
  • January–March 1944: Commander, Army Group North
  • March–June 1944: Commander, Army Group North Ukraine
  • June–August 1944: Commander, Army Group Centre
  • August–September 1944: Commander-in-Chief, OB West
  • August 1944 – April 1945: Commander, Army Group B (e.g. Battle of the Bulge)


In April 1945 under intense pressure, Model's staff tried to persuade him to open surrender talks with the Allies, but he would have none of it. By April 11th Essen had fallen to the US Army and German morale in the West was collapsing. On April 15th American Major-general Matthew Ridgeway sent Model a personal request under a flag of truce to surrender. Model refused to consider the offer. The Ruhr pocket (Heeresgruppe B) fell to the Americans and Model and his squad were now on the run. He had hoped to slip through American lines to reach the Harz Mountains, but this proved impossible. He told his men to go home, that for them the war was over.[2] He had little desire to witness the aftermath of defeat and said to his staffers before dissolving his command:

"Has everything been done to justify our actions in the light of history? What can there be left for a commander in defeat? In antiquity they took poison".

On the morning of April 21 he was alone with Oberstleutnant Roger Michael in the woods near Wedau and told him to "bury me here". He walked alone into the woods, drew his pistol and ended his remarkable 36 year military career with a single shot to the head.[3] The location, between Duisburg and the village of Lintorf, is today part of the city of Ratingen.


On 11 May 1921, Captain Walter Model married in Frankfurt-am-Main his fiancée, Herta Huyssen (1892–1985). They had three children: Hella, Christa and Hansgeorg (b. 1 March 1927 in Görlitz; d. 16 April 2016) who would later become an officer and Brigadegeneral of the Bundeswehr in the Federal Republic of Germany.


  • 27.2.1909 Fahnenjunker (Officer Candidate)
  • 19.11.1909 Fähnrich (Officer Cadet)
  • 22.8.1910 Leutnant (2nd Lieutenant)
  • 25.2.1915 Oberleutnant (1st Lieutenant)
  • 18.12.1917 Hauptmann (Captain)
  • 1.10.1929 Major
  • 1.11.1932 Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel)
  • 1.10.1934 Oberst (Colonel)
  • 1.3.1938 Generalmajor (Major General)
  • 1.4.1940 Generalleutnant (Lieutenant General)
  • 26.10.1941 General der Panzertruppe
  • 28.2.1942 Generaloberst
  • 30.3.1944 Generalfeldmarschall

Awards and decorations

  • Iron Cross (1914)
    • 2nd Class: 20 September 1914
    • 1st Class: 19 October 1915
  • Military Merit Order, 4th class with Swords (Bavaria, 29 March 1915)
  • Knight's Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern with Swords (26 February 1917)
  • Military Merit Cross, 2nd class (Mecklenburg-Schwerin, 22 November 1917)
  • Military Merit Cross, 3rd class with War Decoration (Austria-Hungary, 22 November 1917)
  • Ottoman War Medal (Turkish: Harp Madalyası), better known as the "Gallipoli Star" or the "Iron Crescent" (22 November 1917)
  • Wound Badge (1918) Mattweiß (Silver) on 27 August 1918
  • Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918 with Swords (26 January 1935)
  • Wehrmacht Long Service Award, 4th to 1st Class
  • Spanish Cross or Spanienkreuz in Bronze (31 May 1939)
  • Repetition Clasp 1939 to the Iron Cross 1914, 2nd and 1st Class
    • 2nd Class: 22 September 1939
    • 1st Class: 2 October 1939
  • Panzer Badge in Silver (29 August 1941)
  • Wound Badge (1939) in Gold (25 May 1942)
  • Eastern Front Medal (15 July 1942)
  • Namentliche Nennung im Wehrmachtbericht (reference in the Wehrmachtbericht) on 21 February 1942, 3 September 1943, 5 August 1944 and 19. April 1945
  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds
    • Knight's Cross on 9 July 1941 as Generalleutnant and commander of the 3. Panzer-Division
    • 74th Oak Leaves on 17 February 1942 as General der Panzertruppe and commanding general of the XXXXI. Panzerkorps
    • 28th Swords on 2 April 1943 as Generaloberst and commander-in-chief of 9. Armee
    • 17th Diamonds on 17 August 1944 as Generalfeldmarschall and commander-in-chief of Heeresgruppe Mitte


  1. Forczyk, Robert, Walther Model, Osprey Publishing, Oxford, U.K., 2011, p.6-7. ISBN: 978-1-84908-357-7
  2. Forczyk, 2011, p.56.
  3. Forczyk, 2011, p.56.