Walter von Brauchitsch

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Walter von Brauchitsch

Commander-in-Chief of the Army (OKH)
In office
4 February 1938 – 19 December 1941
Chancellor Adolf Hitler
Preceded by Werner von Fritsch
Succeeded by Adolf Hitler

Born 4 October 1881(1881-10-04)
Berlin, Province of Brandenburg, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Died 18 October 1948 (aged 67)
Hamburg, Allied-occupied Germany
Resting place Salzgitter-Hohenrode
Birth name Walter Heinrich Alfred Hermann von Brauchitsch
Spouse(s) ∞ 1910 Elisabeth von Karstedt (o¦o 1938)
∞ 1938 Charlotte Rueffer
Children 3
Military service
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
War Ensign of the Reichswehr, 1919 - 1935.png Reichswehr
Balkenkreuz.jpg Heer
Years of service 1900–1941/45
Rank WMacht H OF10 GenFeldmarschall01 h 1942.png Generalfeldmarschall

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Walter Heinrich Alfred Hermann von Brauchitsch (often Walther;[1] 4 October 1881 – 18 October 1948) was a German officer of the Prussian Army, the Imperial German Army, the Reichswehr and the Wehrmacht, finally Generalfeldmarschall (Field Marshall) and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross in World War II.

Military career

Excerpt from the birth register
Von Brauchitsch as General of the Reichswehr
Son Bernd von Brauchitsch as Major of the Luftwaffe
Generaloberst von Brauchitsch at the parade in Berlin for the Führer's 50th birthday (Führergeburtstag) on 20 April 1939
Time Magazin (25 September 1939)
The Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Generalfeldmarschall Walter von Brauchitsch, arrived in Paris by air on 21 May 1941. He was welcomed at the airport by the military commander in France, General of the Infantry Otto von Stülpnagel.

After his elementary school education, von Brauchitsch joined the cadet corps (Hauptkadettenanstalt Groß-Lichterfelde) in Berlin in 1895 and served as page of Empress Auguste Viktoria. In March 1900, he was accepted as a 2nd lieutenant in the Charlottenburg Königin Elisabeth-Garde-Grenadier-Regiment Nr. 3[2] and transferred to the 3. Garde-Feldartillerie-Regiment the following year. From 10 February 1903 to 31 May 1903, he attended the 2nd course of the Field Artillery School. From 1 to 13 May 1905, he was assigned to the Spandau rifle factory.

From 5 February 1906 to 28 February 1909, he was adjutant of the 2nd Battalion of his regiment. During a maneuver, von Brauchitsch stood out for his more than accurate assessment of the situation and was transferred to the Great General Staff (Großer Generalstab) for six weeks without the otherwise necessary training at the War Academy. From 13 April 1909 to 31 March 1912 in his regular regiment as regimental adjutant. He was then assigned to the General Staff and, after being promoted to captain in December 1913, was finally transferred to it at the beginning of 1914.

During the First World War, von Brauchitsch served as a staff officer in various units. On 2 August 1914, he joined the staff of the XVI. Army Corps, on 17 October 1915, he was transferred to the staff of the 34th Division. On 19 March 1917, he was assigned to the General Staff of the German Crown Prince Army Group (Heeresgruppe Deutscher Kronprinz) for special assignment and a short time later transferred to Oberbaustab 7. On 23 August 1917, he was appointed First General Staff Officer (Ia) of the 11th Division. From 19 February 1918, he held the same position in the 1st Guards Reserve Division of the Guards Corps (1. Garde-Reserve-Division/Garde-Korps) and, after being promoted to Major in July 1918, from 6 August 1918, finally in the Guards Reserve Corps.

  • Transferred into the General-Staff of the VI. Army-Corps (03 Jan 1919-26 Jan 1919)
  • Officer of the Army and Placed with the General-Command of the III. Army-Corps (26 Jan 1919-15 Mar 1919)
  • Transferred back into the 3rd Guards-Field-Artillery-Regiment (15 Mar 1919-01 Apr 1919)
  • General-Staff-Officer of the 34th Division (01 Apr 1919-24 May 1919)
  • Transferred to the Staff of the Dissolving-Staff 62 (24 May 1919-28 Sep 1919)
  • General-Staff-Officer with the Staff of Military-District-Command II (28 Sep 1919-01 Oct 1920)
  • Transferred to the Staff of Artillery-Leader II (01 Oct 1920-01 Oct 1921)
  • Battery Commander in the 2nd Artillery-Regiment (01 Oct 1921-01 Nov 1922)
  • Advisor in the Reichswehr Ministry or RWM (01 Nov 1922-01 Oct 1925)
  • Transferred into the 6th Artillery-Regiment (01 Oct 1925-01 Dec 1925)
  • Commander of the II. Battalion of the 6th Artillery-Regiment (01 Dec 1925-01 Nov 1927)
  • Detached to the Infantry-Course in Döberitz (18 Jul 1927-04 Aug 1927)
  • Chief of Staff of the 6th Division (01 Nov 1927-15 Jan 1930)
  • Detached to the RWM (15 Jan 1930-01 Feb 1930)
  • Chief of the Army-Training-Department in the Troop-Office, RWM (01 Feb 1930-01 Mar 1932)
    • 1931 Journey to the Soviet Union, where he supports the cooperation between the Red Army and the Reichswehr[3]
  • Inspector of Artillery (01 Mar 1932-01 Feb 1933)
  • Commander of the 1st Division and Commander in Military-District I in East Prussia (01 Mar 1933-21 Jun 1935)
  • Commanding General of I. Army-Corps and Commander in Military-District I (21 Jun 1935-01 Apr 1937)
  • Commander-in-Chief of Group-Command 4 (01 Apr 1937-04 Feb 1938)
  • Commander-in-Chief of the Army (04 Feb 1938-20 Dec 1941)
    • Risen to Reichs Minister in Rank (but not receiving the formal title), he participated, on arrangement of the Führer, in the Meetings of the Reichs Cabinet
    • At the same time, was Member of the Secret Cabinet-Meetings (04 Feb 1938-19 Dec 1941)
      • On 17 May 1939, Hitler stopped off in Karlsruhe on the occasion of a tour of the West Wall and a meeting with Wehrmacht commander Walther von Brauchitsch at the Hotel Germania.
  • Führerreserve at disposal of the Führer (19 Dec 1941-08 May 1945)

Von Brauchitsch, who is said to have asked to be dismissed as head of the OKH several times in vain after Hitler's unauthorized interventions during Operation Barbarossa and was also in poor health, was finally officially released as Commander-in-Chief of the Army on 19 December 1941, but not retired from the Wehrmacht. Hitler would become his successor. He stayed on standby in the Führerreserve OKH (Leader Reserve), but was never recalled to duty during the war. He had spent the last two-and-a-half years of the war living at his castle-like (Jagdschlösschen) hunting lodge "Drei Röhren" in the Brdy mountains (Brdy-Bergland) southwest of Prague. Adolf Hitler had gifted him with "Drei Röhren" (Reichsdotation) in 1942 for his service. "Drei Röhren" had been the guest house of the Kammwald military training area. In an article in the "Völkischer Beobachter" on 20 August 1944, von Brauchitsch condemned the 20 July plot as a betrayal of the people and Vaterland. He described the events as an “insanity act by a small number of people who had forgotten their honor” and as a stab in the back, “the success of which would have meant the downfall of Germany.”[4] Later, however, he personally advocated for Hitler on behalf of some of those arrested (e.g. Generaloberst Alexander von Falkenhausen).

Trial and death

In August 1945, von Brauchitsch was arrested and imprisoned by the British at Camp 198 (Island Farm) in South Wales. He was heard as a witness at the Nuremberg Show Trial on 12 March 1946, together with his oldest son Bernd, and on 8 August 1946 and then charged at the Subsequent Nuremberg trials with alleged "war crimes" related to his command of Operation Barbarossa. However, he died, aged 67 and now almost blind, on 18 October 1948 of bronchial pneumonia in a British-controlled military hospital in Hamburg.


Walter was the son of the director of the War Academy General of the Cavalry Bernhard Eduard Adolf von Brauchitsch (1833–1910) and his wife Charlotte Sophie Auguste Bertha, née von Gordon (1844–1906).[5] He had six siblings:

  • Gottfried Adolf Ernst (1866–1924), Generalmajor, Knight of Honour (Ehrenritter) of the Johanniter-Orden on 21 July 1917
  • Hedwig Emilie Ottilie (b. 1868), Superior of the deaconess institution in Frankenstein
  • Agnes Charlotte Clara (1869–1945); ∞ 21 March 1903 Johannes "Hans" Maximilian Gustav von Haeften (1870–1937), Generalmajor and President of the Reich Archives
    • 3 children (Elisabeth, Hans and Werner)
  • Gertrud (b./d. 1874)
  • Adolf Wilhelm Bernhard (1876–1935), Generalmajor; ∞ 7 November 1911 Ingeborg Renate Ruth Bernis; 1 daughter
  • Eduard Emil Max (b. 5 April 1886 in Charlottenburg near Berlin), jurist, Regierungsassessor
    • near Folies, France on 27[6] or 28 March[7] 1918 as 1st Lieutenant of the Reserves (Oberleutnant der Reserve) and Battery Leader in the 3. Garde-Feldartillerie-Regiment



On 29 December 1910, First Lieutenant von Brauchitsch married his at Rittergut Rossow born fiancée Elisabeth Bertha Welly von Karstedt (1881–1952) at Gut Fretzdorf (Brandenburg), where her late father Achim Karl von Karstedt (1844–1903) had been lord of the manor since 1888 (and after him his oldest son Ernst Achim von Karstedt). Elisabeth had eleven siblings. Her mother was Elisabeth Bertha Wilhelmine Anna von Rohr genannt von Wahlen-Jürgaß (1855–1941). The couple would divorce on 8 April 1938 in Berlin. They had three children:[8]


On 23 September 1938 in Bad Salzbrunn, Generaloberst von Brauchitsch married the much younger Charlotte, divorced Schmidt, née Rüffer (b. 8 July 1903 in Bolkenhain, Lower Silesia; d. 14 June 1992 in Braunschweig), the daughter of the district court director Georg Rüffer and his wife Else, née Wendorf. He had met her for the first time 1925. This marriage remained childless.


  • Leutnant (Second Lieutenant) – 22 March 1900
  • Oberleutnant (First Lieutenant) – 18 October 1909
  • Hauptmann (Captain) – 18 December 1913
  • Major (Major) – 15 July 1918
  • Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) – 1 April 1925 with Patent from 1 June 1923
  • Oberst (Colonel) – 1 April 1928
  • Generalmajor (Major General) – 1 October 1931
  • Generalleutnant (Lieutenant General) – 1 October 1933
  • General der Artillerie (General of Artillery) –1 October 1935
  • Generaloberst (Colonel General) – 4 February 1938
  • Generalfeldmarschall (Field Marshal) – 19 July 1940

Awards and decorations

Between wars


  • Repetition Clasp 1939 to the Iron Cross 1914, 2nd and 1st Class on 30 September 1939
  • Knights Cross of the Iron Cross on 30 September 1939 as Colonel General and Commander-in-Chief of the Army
  • Spanish Military Merit Cross, 4th Class (Grand Cross) in 1939
  • Oak Leaves to his Wehrmacht Long Service Award 1st Class for 40 years of service in 1940
  • Spanish Grand Imperial Order of the Red Arrows, Grand Cross in 1940
  • Grand Cross of the Royal Bulgarian Order of St Alexander with Swords on 15 May 1941
  • Grand Cross of the Royal Hungarian Order of Merit with Swords on 31 May 1941
  • Romanian Order of Michael the Brave, 3rd to 1st Class on 11 October 1941
  • Slovak War Victory Cross (Slowakisches Kriegssiegerkreuz), 1st Class on 20 October 1941
  • Grand Cross of the Finnish Order of the Cross of Liberty on 19 July 1942
  • Japanese Order of the Rising Sun, 1st Class on 26 September 1942


See also

External links