Max Amann-(1891-1957)-Hitler's regimental sergeant during WWI. In 1921 he became the first business manager of the Nazi Party, and in 1922 he was appointed director of the party's publishing house, the Franz Eher Verlag. In 1933 he became president of the Reich Press Chamber and was instrumental in coordinating the German press, making it a pliant tool of Nazi ideology. His close relation with Hitler enabled him to amass a sizeable fortune.
Ludwig Beck-(1880-1944)-Colonel general who served as a general staff officer in WWI. Hitler appointed him chief of the general staff in 1933, but when Beck realized the full implications of Hitler's warlike policies, especially during the Czech crisis, he tried unsuccessfully to organize resistance among high-ranking army officers. In 1938 he retired from active duty and became, over the next six years, a focal point of the resistance. In July 1944 he took his life after being implicated in the plot against Hitler's life.
Werner von Blomberg-(1878-1946)-General staff officer in WWI, high-ranking official in the Reich Ministry of Defense, and, on Hindenberg's recommendation, Hitler's first minister of defense. In this position he actively supported Hitler's rearmament policies and was rewarded in 1936 by being made a field marshal. In 1938 Blomberg was forced into retirement as a result of a scandal involving his marriage to a prostitute.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer-(1906-45)- Protestant theologian and member of the German resistance. Arrested by the Gestapo in 1943, he was executed at Flossenbürg shortly before the liberation.
Martin Bormann-(1900-1945)- Hitler's grey eminence and personal secretary. A "walking cabinet file," the indefatigable, single-minded, scheming Bormann wormed his way into Hitler's inner party circle by becoming Rudolf Hess's chief of staff and Reich leader (Reichsleiter) of the NSDAP. After Hess's flight to Scotland in 1941, Bormann became director of the party chancellery, Reich minister, and member of the Cabinet Council for Defense. He was at Hitler's side during most of the war and personally screened all communications and contacts with the führer. He remained with Hitler to the end and was killed while trying to escape from Berlin.
Philipp Bouhler-(1899-1945)- Loyal NSDAP business manager and later director of the relatively powerless office of the NSDAP chancellery. On Sept. 1, 1939, Hitler assigned him the responsibility for the euthanasia program whose murderers were later used to annihilate the Jews. Bouhler evaded responsibility for his activities by committing suicide in May 1945.
Walter von Brauchitsch-(1881-1948)- German general and later field marshal who succeeded von Fritsch as commander in chief of the army in 1938. Apolitical and cautious, he was not held in high esteem by his fellow officers. When the German drive toward Moscow was repelled in the winter of 1941, Hitler singled him out as a scapegoat, sacked him, and assumed command of the army himself.
Eva Braun-(1912-45)- Hitler's mistress and bride for one day. Since Hitler gave the public the impression that Germany was his only bride, Braun's role was not publicly revealed. Although Hitler allowed her to move to the Berghof, she could only socialize within a very restricted circle of initiates. She committed suicide with Hitler on April 30, 1945.
Heinrich Brüning-(1885-1970)- Leading Christian trade union leader and Center Party politician. In 1930 he was appointed by president Hindenburg to lead a presidential cabinet at a time of heightening economic depression. Brüning's conservative fiscal policies, which exacerbated the economic hardships, earned him the epithet "Hunger Chancellor." He emigrated to the United States.
Wilhelm Canaris-(1887-1945)- Admiral and head of the German secret service, the Abwehr. His initial enthusiasm for the Nazi movement gave way to determined opposition after he watched firsthand how Hitler maneuvered Germany into WWII. For years he played a clever double game of pretending to support the regime while secretly encouraging active opposition to it. His cat-and-mouse game ended when important Abwehr agents defected to Britain in 1944. Arrested in the wake of the July 20 plot against Hitler, Canaris was sent to a concentration camp and executed shortly before Allied troops closed in.
Houston Stewart Chamberlain-(1855-1927)- British writer and racial philosopher whose work Foundation of the Nineteenth Century became one of the ideological cornerstones of National Socialism. In 1885 he took up residence in Germany, married one of Richard Wagner's daughters, and became an apostle of Aryan supremacy and German nationalism.
Kurt Dalugue-(1897-1946)- SS officer and lieutenant general of the Prussian state police who helped Göring pave the way for the Nazification of the police in Prussia. He participated in the Röhm Purge and then became director of the police department in the Ministry of the Interior. Once Himmler had captured the police forces of the Reich, Dalugue was neutralized by being kicked upstairs, becoming director of the ordinary police (Orpo). During the war, he replaced martyred Heydrich as "Reich Protector" of Bohemia and Moravia. Held responsible for the massacres associated with the destruction of Lidice, Delugue was tried and executed in 1946.
Richard Walther Darre-(1895-1953)- NSDAP agronomist and expert in animal husbandry, famous for his "blood and soil" ideology based on völkisch racial convictions. As head of the Office of Agrarian Policies of the NSDAP, Darre was charged with the mission of organizing the peasants. Between 1931 and 1938 he was head of the SS Ofice for Race and Settlement. In 1933 he also became Reich minister of food and agriculture. His reactionary convictions were increasingly questioned by those who supported a strong industrial policy. After openly criticizing Himmler's methods of dealing with eastern settlements and questioning Hitler's war aims, Darre was relieved of his office in 1942.
Rudolf Diels-(1900-1957)- German jurist who was appointed by Göring to head Department 1-A, secret police, in the state of Prussia. This department would become the dreaded Gestapo. As chief of the secret police, Diels was instrumental in developing the theory and practice of "protective custody" and launching attacks on Jews. During Göring's power struggle with Himmler, Göring ultimately sacrificed Diels, who was married to his cousin, by fobbing him off with minor posts.
Joseph Dietrich-("Sepp", 1892-1966)- Former butcher and SS officer who helped establish Hitler's bodyguard regiment, the Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler. During the Röhm purge, Dietrich and his SS men served as the executioners of high-ranking SA officers, many of them Dietrich's friends. As part of the Waffen-SS (Armed SS), Dietrich's regiments fought bravely on many fronts during WWII, but also participated in the massacre of Allied troops during the battle of the Bulge (Malmedy). After the war Dietrich was tried and imprisoned first by the Allies (serving seven years) and then by a German court for his participation in the Röhm Purge (serving nineteen months).
Otto Dietrich-(1897-1952)-National Socialist press chief who played a key role in the coordination of the German press. In 1937 Hitler appointed him Reich press chief and state secretary to the Propaganda Ministry responsible for reporting the Nazi weltanschauung to the rest of the world. He fed Germans a steady diet of misinformation, first by inflation the Nazi's victories and then deflating their defeats.
Karl Dönitz-(1891-1980)-Grand admiral and commander of the U-boat branch of the German navy. A devout follower of Hitler, he succeeded Admiral Raeder in 1943 as commander in chief of the German navy. In the closing days of the war, Hitler appointed Dönitz as his successor, but the new führer served less than one month in his new office before he was arrested by the allies. Tried at Nuremberg as a war criminal, he was sentenced to ten years in prison.click the cover to learn more, including how to buy this book
Memoirs by Karl Dönitz (paperback) 554 p. $13.56
After his release from prison, Kriegsmarine leader Karl Dönitz wrote his story, which has been published as this book, Memoirs.
Anton Drexler-(1884-1942)- Munich locksmith who founded the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (German Worker's Party), which later became the Nationalsozialistische deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP). Initially encouraging Hitler, Drexler was soon pushed out of the way and fobbed off with an honorary title. In 1925 he broke with Hitler and founded the National Socialist People's League. Although Drexler later reconciled with Hitler, he never played another role in the party he helped to found.
Friedrich Ebert-(1871-1923)- Politician and leader of the Social Democratic Party who became the first president of the Weimar Republic. As president, he tried to chart a middle course between the left and right and was savagely attacked by both.
Dietrich Eckhart-(1868-1923)-Poet, journalist, and mentor of the young Hitler. Known for his anti-Semitic views, best expressed in his weekly paper Auf gut Deutsch (In plain German), Eckart served asan important catalyst of the rising Nazi Party, which he supported financially. He was also the first editor-in-chief of the Völkischer Beobachter, the Nazi Party's official newspaper. Hitler thought so highly of Eckhart that he dedicated Mein Kampf to his memory.
Adolf Eichmann-(1906-62)- SS-Obersturmbannführer who joined the SS in 1933 and then moved to Himmler's SD (Security Service), where he worked in the department of Jewish Emigration. In 1938 he was tasked with setting up a central office for Jewish emigration in Vienna, which succeeded in driving 150,000 Austrian Jews into forced emigration. Transferred to Berlin in 19939, he was put in charge of Jewish deportation in the Reivh Main Security Office (RSHA) as chief of Section IV B-4. This office rounded up well over 3 million Jews in all German-controlled territories and drove them into the annihilation camps as part of Hitler's "final solution." As an unobtrusive "desk murderer," Eichmann was overlooked after WWII and managed to escape to Argentina. Israeli secret agents caught up with him there, kidnapped him, and returned him to Israel to stand trial on charges of crimes against humanity. Found guilty, he was executed in 1962.
Theodor Eicke-(1892-1943)- Brutal, sociopathic SS officer and head of the German concentration camps. His first major post, which he owed to Himmler, was as commandant of Dachau concentration camp. In this post he instituted methods of control and punishment that would later be replicated throughout all concentration camps- vicious corporal punishment, the use of the Kapo system, and so on. Eicke played a prominent role in the Röhm Purge, personally murdering the SA chief. His star in the SS rose rapidly thereafter. The SS Death's-Head Units he had used as executioners during the Röhm Purge would later form the core of the Waffen-SS divisions called Death's-Head Divisions, infamous for their brutal actions against their enemies. Eicke died in a plane crash in 1943.
Franz Xaver Ritter von Epp-(1868-1947)-General and early supporter of the Nazi Party. After serving as a Reichstag deputy for the NSDAP, Epp took an active part in coordinating the state of Bavaria for the National Socialists. On Hitler's orders, he dissolved the Bavarian government and made himself a Reichstatthalter (governor), a post he retained along with that of Reichsleiter until the collapse of the Nazi regime in 1945.
Hermann Esser-(1900-1981)-One of the original founders of the NSDAP and a close comrade of Adolf Hitler. A "demon speech-maker," notorious womanizer, and rabid anti-Semite, he was often an embarrassment even to the Nazis, though Hitler always valued him as an old fighter and rewarded him with various posts after 1933-Bavarian minister of economics, chief of the Bavarian state chancellery, and president of the Bavarian Landtag. His quarrel with Adolf Wagner, Gauleiter of Bavaria, and additional private scandals (Esser was a notorious cad) finally caused Hitler to relieve him of his post in 1935. Only three years later, however, Hitler gave him another chance by appointing him secretary of state for tourist traffic. During WWII, Esser faded into obscurity- so much so that even the Allies overlooked him in 1945. A Munich court, however, convicted him in 1949 as a major offender and sentenced him to five years of hard labor.
Gottfried Feder-(1883-1941)- One of the original members of the NSDAP and Hitler's advisor on economic issues. Although not opposed to productive capitalism, Feder constantly attacked "interest slavery," which he associated with stock-exchange capitalism and the people who supported it-the Jews. Feder succeeded in embodying some of his populist and reactionary notions into the party's Twenty-five Point Program. Hitler later divested himself of Feder because he needed the support of big business. After the seizure of power, Feder was fobbed off to a minor post as undersecretary in the Ministry of Economics, but protests by Schacht and others led to his dismissal after only one year. Feeling deeply betrayed by the course Hitler had charted for the movement, Feder retired and died in obscurity in 1941.
Hans Frank-(1900-1946)-Member of the old Nazi guard, Frank joined the German Worker's Party at the age of nineteen, participated in the Beerhall Putsch of 1923 and then served as Hitler's personal attorney for many years. As head of the party's legal division, he was privy to the inner workings of the party as well as Hitler's personal history. When Hitler became chancellor in 1933, Frank rose rapidly in both party and state, holding a variety of offices- Bavarian minister of justice, Reich minister of justice, and Reichsleiter of the party. After the conquest of Poland, Hitler appointed Frank as governor-general of Poland. Known as the "king of Poland," Frank governed so brutally and venally, plundering the nation's treasures and sending thousands of Poles and Jews to their deaths, that he was later tried as a war criminal and executed.
Wilhelm Frick-(1877-1946)- Hitler's favorite bureaucrat and comrade-in-arms since the early 1920s. Between 1919 and 1923, Frick was Hitler's inside man in the Munich police department who protected the interests of the NSDAP. He participated in the Beerhall Putsch, managed to void being legally implicated, and helped in reconstructing the party in the late 1920s. He became the first Nazi to hold a major state position as minister of the interior in Thuringia, where he proceeded to Nazify the police force. When Hitler came to power, he appointed Frick as Reich minister of the interior. In this post he was instrumental in coordination justice throughout the Reich, dissolving the governments of the individual states, and drawing up the Nuremberg racial laws of 1935. Frick was an authoritarian nationalist with decidedly anti-Semitic tendencies, but he was not a murderous racist. Unable to assert himself against the more persistent and aggressive Himmler, who constructed his own police empire, Frick's Ministry of the Interior was increasingly emasculated and eventually taken over by Himmler. Frick was tried at Nuremberg, found guilty, and executed as a war criminal in 1946.
Werner von Fritsch-(1880-1939)-Commander in chief of the German army whose patient and cautious attitudes did not fit into Hitler's conception of what a commanding officer should be in the Third Reich. Wrongly accused by Himmler of a homosexual liaison, Fritsch was removed from his position in 1938, though later cleared by an army court of honor. Recalled to active duty just before the outbreak of WWII, Fritsch died on the battlefield near Warsaw in September 1939.
Walther Funk-(1890-1960)-Economist, journalist, and later minister of economics under Hitler. As chief editor of the Berliner Börsenzeitung, a Berlin business newspaper, he made contacts with the Nazi Party and became Hitler's personal advisor on economic issues, helping him gain an entrée into big business. After the Nazis came to power, he held several posts, including press chief for the Reich government and undersecretary of in the Ministry of Propaganda. His real opportunity came in 1938 when he replaced Schacht as minister of economics and general plenipotentiary for war economy as well as president of the Reichsbank. During the war he became implicated in exploiting the wealth of conquered territories and hoarding the personal wealth (gold, jewels, currency) extracted from millions of murdered Jews, etc. At Nuremberg he was sentenced to life in prison but was released for health reasons in 1957.
Odilo Globocnik-(1904-1945)- One of the most unscrupulous and brutal henchmen of Heinrich Himmler. For his help in subverting the independence of his native Austria, he was made Gauleiter of Vienna. When WWII broke out, he served as an SS-Brigadeführer and police chief in Lublin, Poland. Instrumental in opening three major concentration camps in Poland- Belzec, Maidanek, and Sobibor- he was eventually put in charge of all the annihilation camps in 1941. After his arrest in Austria in 1945, he committed suicide.
Joseph Goebbels-(1897-1945)- Hitler's minister of propaganda and alter ego who created the theory and practice of the führer cult. Next to Himmler and Göring, he was the most powerful henchman of Adolf Hitler. Diminutive and clubfooted, Goebbels made up for his physical shortcomings with his nimble mind (PhD University of Heidelberg) and sharp tongue. As an unemployed intellectual, he had found his way into the NSDAP as early as 1922, but did not commit himself, heart and soul, to Hitler until 1926. From Gauleiter of Berlin and NSDAP Reichstag deputy, he rose to become one of the most powerful and sinister figures in the Third Reich, perfecting the black arts of government that made and destroyed Nazi Germany. He never wavered in his almost religious devotion to Adolf Hitler and immolated himself upon the death of his führer on May 1, 1945.
Carl Friedrich Goerdeler-(1884-1945)- Mayor of Leipzig and prominent opponent of National Socialism. His association with the men who planned the July 20, 1944 plot against Hitler led to his arrest and execution.
Hermann Göring-(1893-1946)- Next to Hitler, the most powerful man in the Third Reich. The swashbuckling hero of the famed Richthofen flying squad joined the NSDAP in the fall of 1922, organized the SA, participated in the Beerhall Putsch of 1923, and then helped Hitler gain and consolidate his power. As Reich minister without portfolio and Prussian minister of the interior, he ruthlessly expanded the police force by building up the state police (Gestapo). Between 1933 and 1939 he greatly expanded hi powers; his various titles included Reich minister, aviation minister, commander in chief of the air force, Reich forest master, Reich hunting master, general plenipotentiary of the Four-Year Plan, and Reich marshal. Witty, affable, charming, and intelligent, he was also vain, selfish, greedy, brutal, and venal. The German people admired Göring's apparent bonhomie, but lost confidence in his leadership during WWII. His failure to destrot the Allied forces at Dunkirk, his bungling of the battle of Britain, his inability to destroy the Soviet air force, and his impotence in preventing the round-the-clock saturation of bombing of German cities- all these earned him the contempt of Hitler, and his standing in the Nazi hierarchy diminished rapidly. To escape from his failures, he increasingly retreated into drugs and hedonistic living. Arrested in 1945, he was tried as a war criminal at Nuremberg, found guilty, but escaped execution by committing suicide.
Heinz Guderian-(1888-1954)-General and foremost Greman expert on modern tank warfare. His takn forces were instrumental in bringing about Hitler's early Blitzkrieg victories in Poland and France. His relationship with Hitler was generally stormy. Hitler relieved him of his command during the winter of 1941 but then reappointed him as inspector general of German tank forces in 1943 and then as chief of staff of the army in 1944. When he called for an armistice in the spring of 1945, Hitler dismissed him for good.
Hans F.K. Günther-Next to Alfred Rosenberg, Günther was the chief racial philosopher in the Third Reich. His major work Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes (Racial ethnology of the German People ), sold more than a quarter of a million copies and became one of the seminal works of Nazi racial views. Appointed to a major chair of racial anthropology at the University of Jena in 1930 by Wilhelm Frick, he rose rapidly in the academic world after Hitler's seizure of power, holding the position of director at the Institute of Racial Studies in Berlin and then a professorship at the University of Freiburg (1940). He never abandoned his racial beliefs and continued to republish some of his works after WWII.
Franz Gürtner-(1881-1941)- Conservative and anti-democratic jurist and politician. As Bavarian minister of justice, he tended to overlook right-wing extremism, especially on the part of the NSDAP, while dealing harshly with left-wing extremism. In 1932 Papen appointed him as Reich minister of justice, a post he continued to hold under National Socialist rule. Although opposed to the brutalities of National Socialism, he was unable to prevent the perversion of the law that Hitler demanded of his ministry.
Franz Halder-(1884-1972)- General staff officer and commander in chief of the army from 1938 to 1942. He was instrumental in planning Hitler's campaigns in Poland, France, the Balkans, and Russia. He began to have increasing doubts about Hitler's reckless strategy in Russia, especially after Hitler committed himself to the disastrous campaign that led to the battle of Stalingrad. Hitler sacked him in September 1942. Although he opposed Hitler, he did not participate in the resistance against him. In the wake of the July 20, 1944, plot against Hitler, Halder was arrested and sent to a concentration camp.
Konrad Henlein-(1898-1945)- Leader of the Sudeten Germans and Hitler's Trojan Horse in Czechoslovakia. As head of the Sudeten German Party, the second largest party in Czechoslovakia, he paved the way for the subversion and eventual destruction of Czechoslovakia. After the Munich Conference, Henlein was appointed Gauleiter and then Reichstatthalter (Reich governor). In 1945 he was tried, sentenced to death, and committed suicide in Allied captivity.
Rudolf Hess-(1894-1987)-Adolf Hitler's deputy and leader of the party. The introverted Hess, born to a German merchant in Alexandria, Egypt, had been a member of the party since 1920, participated in the Beerhall Putsch, and spent eighteen months in Landsberg Prison, where Hitler dictated Meib Kampf to him. Overshadowed by more aggressive Nazis, especially his own chief of staff, Martin Bormann, he steadily receded into the background as a mere figurehead. It may have been from his increasing isolation from Adolf Hitler, whom he worshipped devotedly, that Hess embarked on his futile mission to Scotland during WWII (May 10, 1941), ostensibly to initiate peace talks but more likely to regain the führer's favor and save him from destruction. While Hess was in English captivity, his mental condition seriously deteriorated, but he was declared sane by the Allied powers and tried along with other major Nazi members at Nuremberg. Found guilty, he was sentenced to life imprisonment at Spandau where, a lonely and tragic figure, he was the last Nazi prisoner to be guarded by the Allied powers. In 1987, at the age of 93, he committed suicide.
Reinhard Heydrich-(1904-1942)- SS-Obergruppenführer and Himmler's alter ego in creating the Nazi police state. Son of a well-known tenor and director of a conservatory, the musically and athletically gifted Heydrich had joined the navy, but was cashiered for conduct unbecoming an officer. Through connections the unprincipled young man found his way into the SS, becoming Himmler's chief of the security service (SD) in 1932. Together with Himmler he captured the police forces throughout Germany, becoming the executive authority over the security police (Sipo) and the secret state police (Gestapo). In 1939 he was appointed as head of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), which combined all state police and SS branches. Cold, brutal, and egotistic, he managed the Nazi system of terror, including the administrative plans leading to the extermination of six million Jews. He chaired the infamous Wannsee Conference, which led to the formulation of specific methods by which Jews throughout Europe were to be transported to their annihilation camps. In September 1941 he was appointed, in addition to his other positions, as deputy Reich protector of Bohemia and Moravia, where he was assassinated by Czechoslovakian resistance fighters in May 1942.
Heinrich Himmler-(1900-1945)- Reichsführer SS and Hitler's ruthless bloodhound who built up the Nazi system of institutional control and terror: SS, police, and concentration camps. Born into a respectable and pious Roman Catholic family, Himmler studied at the Technical University of Munich and received a diploma in agriculture. His contact with various völkisch groups and paramilitary organizations led him to adopt a worldview in which the ideal of a new German racial utopia was combined with extreme nationalistic and anti-Semitic prejudices. He found his way into the Nazi Party as early as 1923, participated in the Beerhall Putsch, and then dedicated himself to the reconstruction of the NSDAP. In 1929 Hitler appointed him Reichsführer SS, at this time the SS being a small, elite cadre that guarded the führer and kept order at party meetings. Subject to the control of the larger SA, Himmler's Blackshirts were instrumental in helping Hitler consolidate his power and ridding him of the SA threat. In 1934 Himmler gained control of the Gestapo, and in 1936 he was appointed chief of the German police. With his second-in-command, Reinhard Heydrich, Himmler extended his network of SS, police, and concentration camps all over Germany. With the outbreak of WWII, Himmler's SS empire, now consisting of large fighting units (Waffen-SS), business conglomerates, and concentration camps, exploited the whole continent. In the spring of 1941, Hitler gave Himmler a personal order to annihilate the Jews, making Himmler the architect of genocide, responsile for the deaths of six million Jews. The pinnacle of Himmler's power came in 1943 when Hitler appointed him minister of the interior. Although Hitler expelled him from the party in 1945 for negotiating behind his back with the Allied powers, Himmler remained personally loyal to his führer. Arrested by the British in May 1945, he committed suicide by swollowing poison.
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Adolf Hitler by John Toland (paperback) 1035 p. $17.56
The Last Days of Hitler by Hugh R. Trevor-Roper (paperback) 288 p. $11.96
Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, Ralph Manheim (translator) (p. back) 720 p. $14.40
This is the infamous book written by Hitler while he was in prison, which basically outlines his ideas and plans. It is a powerful, disturbing book that offers a unique look into the mind of the führer himself.
Hitler and Geli by Ronald Hayman (hardcover) 256 p. $17.46
This book tells about lesser known aspects of Hitler's earlier life and his relationship with his half-niece Geli Raubal, who was found fatally wounded from a gunshot (from Hitler's own pistol) one night. It is suspected to have been a suicide, but some people have speculated other possibilities.
Rudolf Franz Höss-(1900-1947)- The SS commandant of Auschwitz who was responsible for seeing to it that over 2.5 million inmates, mostly Jews, were exterminated in his concentration camp. He was sentenced to death for his crimes in 1947.
Alfred Jodl-(1890-1946)- General and chief of staff of operations in the German high command. Responsible for formulating the operational aspects of all military plans and for advising Hitler personally, Jodl became one of the most important military planners in the Third Reich. Conscientious and loyal to Hitler, he later paid for his uncritical and apolitical attitude with his life at Nuremberg.
Ernst Kaltenbrunner-(1903-1946)- SS-Obergruppenführer and successor to Reinhard Heydrich as chief of the Security Service (SD) of the SS from 1943 to 1945. An Austrian lawyer, he was instrumental in helping subvert his country for the Anschluss and was rewarded for his efforts by being appointed state secretary for internal security in a cabinet headed by Seyss-Inquart. He was responsible for building up the Gestapo in his native Austria and the concentration camp at Mauthausen. As successor to Heydrich, he distinguished himself in rounding up Jews for the gas chambers and using the Abwehr, which he took over in 1944, as a tool to combat partisans. The tall and thuggish-looking Kaltenbrunner, his face disfigured by a huge scar, was sentenced to death at Nuremberg for crimes against humanity.
Wilhelm Keitel-(1882-1946)-General field marshal and head of the High Command of the Armed Forces (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht [OKW]). Keitel, also called "Lakaitel" (Toady), was part of all military plans under Hitler; as such, he was later implicated in war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to death at Nuremberg.
Hanns Kerrl-(1887-1941)-Politician and jurist. After joining the NSDAP in 1923, Kerrl was elected to the Prussian Landstag in 1928 and in 1932 became its president. When the Nazis seized power, Kerrl became chief of the Prussian Ministry of Justice and served as minister without portfolio in Hitler's government. In 1935 Hitler appointed him minister for church affairs, responsible for all church and state relations. His inability to unite all evangelical churches into one German Evangelical Church, together with his failure to reduce the influence of the Confessional Church, forced him to give up the attempt to coordinate the churchs with National Socialism. Kerrl thereafter lost his influence with Hitler, and when he died in 1941, his position was not refilled.
Albert Kesselring- (1885-1960)- General field marshal. Kesselring joined the new Aviation Ministry in 1933 and was appointed in 1936 chief of the general staff of the Luftwaffe. In WWII he commanded Air Fleet I in Poland and Air Fleet II in the western campaign and in the east. In 1941 Hitler appointed him commander in chief of the south, responsible for liaison work between the Italian high command and Rommel's Afrika Korps. After Italy's withdrawal from the war, Kesselring was appointed commander in chief of the Mediterranean theater of war, and in March, Hitler put him in charge of the overall command of the west. Captured by Allied forces, he was tried for having condoned the execution of 335 Italian partisans and was sentenced to death. His sentence, however, was commuted to life in prison. In 1952 he was pardoned.
Ewald von Kleist-(1881-1954)-General field marshal who distinguished himself by commanding a Panzer group on the Western front that broke through the French lines at Abbeville. In 1940 he captured Belgrade, and in 1941 he led the first Panzer group in the invasion of Russia, but he made little progress towards Rostov. In 1942 Kleist was ordered to capture the valuable oil reserves in the Caucasus. Although the Nazis used vicious tactics in treating Eastern people, Kleist tried to cooperate with the people of the Caucasus; in so doing, he earned not only their respect, but also their cooperation in fighting Communism. At the end of the war, Kleist was taken prisoner in Yugoslavia and later transferred to the Soviet Union, where he died in a prison camp for war criminals in 1954.
Günther Hans Kluge-(1882-1944)-General field marshal. He was a career soldier who had been retired in 1938 for his support in the Fritsch affair, but was recalled to active duty in Sept. 1939, serving in the Polish and western campaigns. In 1940, Hitler promoted him to general field marshal and then gave him control of Army Group Center during the Russian campaign. Kluge was an indecisive officer who was easily spellbound by Hitler, who always managed to convince him with his histrionic performances. On July 2, 1944, Hitler turned to Kluge to stem the Normandy invasion, but when Kluge was no more successful than Rundstedt, he was replaced by Field Marshal Walther Model. Unable to face his failure on the western front and being suspected of negotiating with the Allied powers, he committed suicide.
Erich Koch-(1896-1986)-Brutal Gauleiter and later Reich commissioner of the Ukraine. His brutal rule in Russia, which shocked even the SS, provoked intense partisan opposition from a population that was originally friendly towards the German troops. He was personally responsible for sending thousands of Ukranians to Germany as slave laborers and ensured that countless Jews were transported to annihilation camps. Near the end of the war he organized resistance against the Red Army at Königsberg and then disappeared from view, not to surface until 1949 when he was arrested by the British and turned over to the Poles for trial.
Hans Heinrich Lammers-(1879-1962)-Head of the Reich chancellery. A lawyer and judge by profession, Lammers was a cautious, conservative bureaucrat who essentially functioned as Hitler's secretarial rubber stamp, preparing laws, handling personal matters relating to the ministerial bureaucracy, serving as a liaison between the various ministries, and informing Hitler of ongoing state business. His "hear no evil, see no evil" attitude, coupled with his readiness to put his legal rubber stamp on Hitler's criminal decrees, earned Lammers a twenty-year prison sentence at Nuremberg.
Ritter von Leeb-(1876-1956)-General field marshal whose careeris in many ways paradigmatic of the German Generalität- general staff officer in WWI, continuation of service in the Reichswehr, retired in the wake of the Fritsch crisis, and recalled on active duty during the Sudeten crisis. He commanded Army Group C in France and then Army Group North in Russia. Dismissed by Hitler for his lack of progress in taking Leningrad, he spent the rest of the war in retirement.
Robert Ley-(1890-1945)-One of the early leaders of the Nazi Party. As Gauleiter and NSDAP Reichstag deputy, Ley fought periodic bouts with alcoholism that caused him to fade in and out of favor with Hitler. For a time, he was deputy party organization leader under Strasser, a post to which he succeeded when Röhm was murdered. After the seizure of power, Hitler appointed Ley as leader of an Action Committee for the Protection of German Labor. Ley used this position to destroy the unions and replace them with the German Labor Front (DAF), one of the largest mass organizations under the Nazis. Ley increased his empire by developing the Strength through Joy Movement within the DAF and also by establishing two major Nazi elite educational institutions- the Adolf Hitler Schools and the Ordensburgen. During the war his influence began to diminish under the impact of rival empires (Todt, Speer, Sauckel). Arrested by Allied troops, Ley committed suicide before he could be tried as a war criminal at Nuremberg.
Josef Mengele-(1911-1979)-SS physician and infamous "Angel of Death" at Auschwitz. As a strong believer in racial science, Mengele joined the Waffen-SS in 1940 and served as a medical officer in France and Russia. In 1943, Himmler appointed him as chief doctor at Auschwitz where he conducted gruesome "scientific experiments," especially on twins, and presided over the daily selections of incoming Jews, picking some for hard labor and others (old people, women, children) for extermination. After the war, he managed to flee Germany for Argentina, always eluding the law by moving from country to country. He probably died of a heart attack in Brazil in 1979.
Theodor Morrell-(1886-1948)- Hitler's favorite private physician. Before meeting Hitler, he had operated a fashionable practice for skin and venereal diseases in Berlin. Hitler met him when he needed a dermatologist to cure him of eczema of the leg. Morrell's willingness to experiment with unorthodox treatment methods, usually in the form of injections (hence his nickname "Reich Injection Master"), commended him to Hitler. Under the führer's patronage, Morrell's stock rose rapidly. Not only did he enrich himself but he also seems to have had few qualms in using Hitler as a guinea pig, possibly turning him into a drug addict during the later stages of WWII.
Heinrich Müller-(1900-?)- SS-Gruppenführer and head of the Gestapo (1939-45). Nicknamed "Gestapo Müller," he was feared throughout Germany and occupied Europe for his brutal treatment of the people under his control. He rounded up countless opponents and personally participated in organizing mass liquidation of Jews. His fate after he fled the Reich chancellery bunker in May 1945 remains unknown.
Arthur Nebe-(1894-1945)- German police official and chief of the criminal police (Kripo) in the Reich Main Security Office. During the Russian campaign, he headed Einsatzgruppe B, but could not tolerate the mass murders committed under his command and returned to his former position in the criminal police. Implicated in the 1944 plot against Hitler's life, he was tried and executed in March 1945.
Konstantin von Neurath-(1873-1956)- German diplomat and Nazi foreign minister from 1933 to 1938. A diplomat of the old school, Neurath proved to be too cautious and conservative for the aggressive path Hitler was charting for Germany. In 1938 Hitler replaced Neurath with the more aggressive Ribbentrop, retaining Neurath as a minister without portfolio and in 1939 appointing him to the largely symbolic post of Reich protector of Bohemia and Moravia. In 1943 Neurath was retired for good. At Nuremberg he was sentenced to fifteen years in prison but was released on account of his poor health in 1954.
Otto Ohlendorf-(1907-1951)- SS-Obergruppenführer and head of Einsatzgruppe D in Russia. He was responsible for the deaths of one hundred thousand victims, mostly Jews, and was sentenced to death at Nuremberg.
Franz von Papen-(1879-1969)-Conservative Catholic politician, Weimar chancellor (1932), vice-president in the initial Hitler (1933-34) cabinet, minister and then ambassador to Austria (1934-38), and ambassador to Turkey (1939-44). The dashing, suave, ad opportunistic Papen was one of the most important stalking horses that Hitler used to gain access to the ruling elites of Germany and through them made his lead into power. Although a clever intriguer, Papen lacked the psychological acumen to recognize Hitler's ruthlessness and destructiveness. Cleared of any wrongdoing at Nuremberg, he was subsequently found guilty by a German denazification court and sentenced to eight years of hard labor in 1949 but released for time already spent. If Papen was guilty of anything, it was a monumental ignorance of the destructive power of Adolf Hitler and his opportunistic willingness to do his bidding to the very end.
Oswald Pohl-(1892-1951)- SS-Obergruppenführer and chief of administration in the SS Main Office (SS-Hauptamt). As chief financial administrator of the SS, Pohl managed a huge economic empire that included the administration and supply of the Waffen-SS, all concentration and labor camps, and all economic enterprises. Unscrupulous, slick, and intensely ambitious, he ruthlessly exploited his massive army of close to seven hundred thousand slave laborers and obediently carried out Himmler's order to annihilate concentration camp inmates through hard work. Captured in 1946, Pohl was tried and sentenced to death.
Erich Raeder-(1876-1960)- Grand admiral and supreme commander of the navy. Although a strong supporter of Hitler's rearmament program, he warned against a conflict between Germany and Britain, strongly believing that the German navy was inadequately prepared to support Hitler's grand ideological goals. Raeder became increasingly frustrated after Hitler subordinated his Mediterranean strategy, aimed at breaking the back of the British Empire, to his eastern (Russian) campaign. Raeder's break with Hitler occurred when the latter insisted on changing Germany's naval strategy from building up a large surface fleet to massive expansion of U-boats. In March 1943, Raeder was replaced by Dönitz as supreme commander of the navy. Raeder was found guilty of having participated in the planning and waging of aggressive war and was sentenced to life in prison. He was released in 1955.
Walter von Reichenau-(1884-1942)-General field marshal who supported Hitler's aggressive military goals. Hitler made him a field marshal after he had served in the Polish and French campaigns. Reichenau was one of the few German commanders who enthusiastically supported the campaign against Russia, including the brutal treatment of "Asiatic inferiors" and Jews. In December 1941 Hitler gave him the command of Army Group South, but he died shortly afterwards of a stroke.
Joachim von Ribbentrop-(1893-1946)-An opportunistic and intensely ambitious social climber, Ribbentrop had grafted himself on the rising Nazi movement in the early 1930s and used his social connections and his villa in Dahlem to bring together Hitler and the conservative political elite around President Hindenberg. After the Nazi seizure of power, he served Hitler as an advisor on foreign affairs and, on his own initiative, created a new foreign service institution (Dienststelle Ribbentrop), which concentrated primarily on Anglo-German relations. In 1935 Ribbentrop helped to negotiate the favorable Anglo-German Naval Agreement, which served as a springboard to his appointment as ambassador the Great Britain (1936-38). In 1938 Hitler appointed him to the post of foreign minister. In this position, he became Hitler's willling instrument in the conspiratorial policies that would lead to WWII. The Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, negotiated by Ribbentrop in Moscow in 1939, was his crowning achievement. During the war, which he helped to initiate, his influence steadily diminished, but he involved the Foreign Office in the final solution to the Jewish question by putting intense pressure on Allied or occupied countries to turn over Jewish citizens. For this as well as his role in triggering the war, Ribbentrop was found guilty aon all counts at Nuremberg and hanged in 1946.
Ernst Röhm-(1887-1934)-Chief of the SA and one of the earliest supporters of Hitler and the Nazi Party. A dyed-in-the-wool militarist, Röhm belonged to the "lost generation," hardened by war and disillusioned by a dishonorable peace. He was instrumental in helping launch the NSDAP, participated in the Beerhall Putsch of 1923, and then drifted without a clear purpose through the late 1920s, ultimately going to Bolivia as a military adviser. In late 1930, Hitler recalled him and asked him to take charge of the SA. In little over two years, Röhm built up the SA into a mass army of brownshirted storm troopers that Hitler could use as an instrument of electoral intimidation and persuasion. After the seizure of power, however, Röhm and Hitler increasingly came to a parting of ways over how this mass army should be used. Röhm saw the SA as a revolutionary people's army of the future that would incorporate the regular German army. Since this conception threatened to derail Hitler's own political plans, he decided to purge the SA along with its independent-minded chief. On June 30, 1934, Röhm and the top SA leaders were arrested and killed.
Erwin Rommel-(1891-1944)- General field marshal and one of Hitler's most effective and popular generals of WWII. Highly decorated as an officer in WWI, Rommel made the army his career, serving in the Reichswehr as an instructor at the infantry school in Dresden (1929-33). Rommel strongly supported the National Socialist movement and was identified early on by Hitler for his outstanding talent. He served as liaison officer to the Reich Youth Leadership and participated as commandant at führer headquarters in the Sudeten crisis, in the second Czechoslovakian crisis of March 1939, and in the invasion of Poland. His first field command was as leader of the Seventh Panzer Division on the western front, but his legendary reputation was earned as commander of the Afrika Corps in northern Africa. In a series of brilliant tank battles, which earned him the title of "Desert Fox," he threw the British back to El Alamein, just sixty miles from Alexandria. Because of lack of support from Hitler, who had shifted his major military resources to the eastern front, Rommel was ultimately defeated by the British at El Alamein and driven out of Africa by combined British and American forces. After commanding Army Group B in Italy, Rommel was put in charge of an army in northern France, responsible for fortifying the coast against an Allied invasion. After D-Day, Rommel urged Hitler to end the war; he also established contact with the resistance group that planned to eliminate Hitler. When the plot failed on July 20, 1944, Rommel was in the hospital recuperating from a serious car accident. When Hitler learned of his complicity in the plot, he gave Rommel two choices: committing suicide or facing trial in front of the People's Court with all the attendant consequences for his family. Rommel took poison on October 14, 1944, and was given a hero's state funeral. The German people were told that he had succumbed to his automobile injuries but that his "heart had always belonged to the führer."
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Alfred Rosenberg-(1893-1946)- Foremost Nazi racial philosopher and politician. Born in Reval, Estonia, and educated in Riga and Moscow, Rosenberg belonged to the Auslandsdeutsche, to those persons of German ethnicity who lived outside Germany in various tight-knit communities whose members acted more German than the Germans. His ideology, culled primarily from ethnic-racial tracts and conspiratorial theories, became an important element in Nazi doctrines. Hitler leaned heavily on Rosenberg in the formative years of the party (1919-23) and made him chief editor of the Völkischer Beobachter. Rosenberg participated in the putsch of 1923 and unsuccessfully tried to keep the party afloat during Hitler's imprisonment. Only peripherally involved in the political machinations that would lead to Hitler's seizure of power, Rosenberg tried to assert himself as an intellectual, publishing a monumentally turgid and nebulous work called Myth of the Twentieth Century, which was widely ridiculed even by the Nazis. After the seizure of power, Rosenberg was put in charge of the party office for foreign politics and also served as the führer's deputy for monitoring the spiritual education of the NSDAP. In both posts he was overshadowed and outmatched by more powerful rivals (Goebbels, Rust, Ribbentrop). The same was true during WWII when Hitler appointed him as Reich minister for the occupied eastern territories. In his effort to implement a mose diplomatic and even humane policy toward ethnic groups in Russia, he was stymied by Himmler and ultimately Hitler himself. Caught in a web of conflicts with the army, the SS, Göring, and the Reich commissioners, he ended up being ignored by everyone. At Nuremberg he was found guilty on all charges and hanged.
Gerd von Rundstedt-(1875-1953)-General field marshal and, next to Rommel, one of the most respected German generals. A strong believer in the old-school Prussian tradition, Rundstedt, like Rommel, had a checkered relationship with Hitler and National Socialism. A career officer, he served as a general staff officer in WWI and continued to advance rapidly through the ranks of the Reichswehr. Hitler retired him after learning of his critical attitude during the Czech crisis of 1938. However, he was recalled for the Polish campaign as supreme commander of Army Group South. In France as well as in Russia he commanded a major army group. When he withdrew his troops from Rostov in December 1941 he was retired again. But Rundstedt came out of retirement yet again, serving as supreme commander of the western forces from March 1942 to March 1945. Although aware of the plot against Hitler's life, even supporting some of the men who spearheaded it, Rundstedt decided to remain on the sidelines. He even served on the army's court of honor in weeding out officers who had participated in the plot. He was kept in British captivity until 1949 on charges of lesser war crimes but released for health reasons in 1949.
Fritz Sauckel-(1894-1946)- National Socialist politician and during WWII general plenipotentiary for labor allocation. Sauckel was an early party member and devoted follower of Adolf Hitler. In 1927 Hitler appointed him Gauleiter and in 1933 Reichstatthalter of Thuringia. When WWII broke out, Hitler made him Reich defense commissioner and general plenipotentiary of labor allocation. In 1942 Sauckel was given supreme authority to mobilize German and foreign workers. He performed his duties of recruiting foreign labor with great brutality. His protection squads scoured all of Europe for slave labor, they kidnapped their prey and shipped them to Germany in freight cars under appalling conditions. By the end of 1944, there were more than seven million foreign laborers in Germany. Sauckel was found guilty and hanged at Nuremberg.
Baldur von Schirach-(1907-1974)- German youth leader and politician. Son of a well-known Weiman theater director and his American wife, young Schirach became involved in the Nazi movement while he was an art and German language student at the University of Munich. In 1931 Hitler appointed the idealistic Schirach as Reich youth leader and then tasked him with the responsibility of coordinating all youth movements after 1933. Carried away by Nazi propaganda, the famous and morally obtuse Schirach deluded himself and many young people into believing that the Nazi state was a new dawn for young Germans. The war quickly disabused him of these illusions. Unable to assert himslef against his unprincipled rivals, he was replaced as youth leader in 1940 by Arthur Axmann and was pushed out of the way by being appointed Gauleiter and Reichstatthalter of Vienna. In 1943, during a visit to the Berghof, Schirach and his wife, Henriette, protested to Hitler about the brutal occupation policies and the treatment of Jews. After this encounter, Hitler no longer trusted Schirach and totally ignored him. Interestingly enough, as Gauleiter of Vienna, Schirach was responsible for rounding up and deporting 185,000 Austrian Jews to the east. Although he later claimed at Nuremberg that he did not know of the annihilation caps to which these Jews were sent, he was found guilty and sentenced to twenty years in prison.
Gertrud Scholtz-Klink-(1902-)-Nazi women's leader. Mother of eleven children, the blonde, tall, and fertile Scholtz-Klink actively entered politics when her husband, an SA man, died of a heart attack during a demonstration. She joined the party in 1928 and became leader of the National Socialist Women's Organization in Baden (1930) and Hesse (1931). In January 1934 she took over the Labor Service for Women and then became Reich leader of the National Socialist Women's Organization (NSF) and the German Women's Work (DFW). Later in 1934 Hitler promoted her to the top post of women's leader (Reichfrauenführerin). As "lady führer," she officially spoke for the concerns of millions of German women, and she did so by putting a sentimental veneer on the male reactionary views of the Nazi leadership.
Arthur Seyss-Inquart-(1892-1946)- Austrian lawyer and councilor of state who helped Hitler in paving the way for the Anschluss (annexation) of Austria in March 1938. Hitler rewarded him for his service in subverting Austria by making him Reich governor (Reichstatthalter) of the Ostmark, as Austria was now called. He served briefly as Hans Frank's deputy in Poland (October 1939-May 1940) and was then promoted to Reich commissioner of the Netherlands, a post he held until the end of the war. For sanctioning the deportation and liquidation of Jews and hostages, he was found guilty and executed at Nuremberg in 1946.
Albert Speer-(1905-1981)- Hitler's favorite architect and minister of armaments (1942-45). As a young and idealistic architectural student, Speer had joined the Nazi Party after listening to a speech by Hitler. Various minor architectural commissions for the party ultimately brought the unknown Speer to Hitler's notice. Hitler seems to have seen in the young man a reflection of what he might have been had he succeeded as a painter or architect, and he used Speer as the instrument of his own monumental aesthetic visions. Speer's rise under Hitler's tutelage was meteoric. He designed the various theatrical props that made the Nuremberg party congresses such impressive spectacles; he also designed the new Reich chancellery and several other buildings. In 1942, after Fritz Todt's death, Hitler appointed Speer as minister of armaments. Despite constant saturation bombings, Speer substantially increased production between 1942 and 44, making him one of the few effective Nazi administrators. In the spring of 1945 Speer told Hitler that the war was lost and obstructed his irrational orders (Nero Order) to obliterate German industries. At Nuremberg he was one of the few leading Nazis who accepted full responsibility for his actions and denounced the crimes of the Nazi regime. He was sentenced to twenty years in prison, where he wrote two of the most important works on Nazi Germany- Inside the Third Reich (memoirs) and Spandau Diaries.
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Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg-(1907-1944)-Colonel and catalyst of Operation Valkyrie, the plan to assassinate Hitler and topple the Nazi government. Member of an ancient family of Württemberg nobles, young Stauffenberg was a conservative monarchist who initially supported the Nazi movement and served with great distinction on several fronts during the war, losing an eye and half of his left hand while fighting in N. Africa in 1943. By that time he had become a determined opponent of Hitler, whom he described as the Antichrist. He established connections to the Kreisau Circles through his cousin Count Peter Yorck von Wartenburg, and after the arrest of Moltke he took personal charge of the conspiracy against Hitler. On July 20, 1944, he carried a bomb in his briefcase to the conference room at Rastenburg in East Prussia, Hitler's military headquarters. Although the device exploded and Stauffenberg was able to fly to Berlin to lead the projected coup, Hitler was only slightly injured and ordered the arrest and execution of its ring leaders. Stauffenberg was shot at the Bendlerstrasse on the same day.
Gregor Strasser-(1892-1934)- Pharmacist and one of the earliest leaders of the NSDAP. Strasser joined the Nazi Party in 1921, served as Gauleiter of Lower Bavaria, and participated in the Munich Beerhall Putsch of 1923. As a member of the Bavarian legislature, he received an amnesty for his participation in the coup and was able to carry on as one of the major organizational leaders of the party while Hitler was incarcerated at Landsberg. From 1925 to 1932 Strasser was instrumental in building up the party organization and served as its organizational leader. However, his strong socialistic beliefs eventually put him at odds with Hitler, whose support of Strasser began to diminish, particularly after Gregor's brother Otto openly bolted the party. In December 1932 Hitler drummed Strasser out of the party after learning that General Schleicher had offered Strasser the vice-chancellorship in his government. Strasser then retired from active politics. He was murdered by Nazi assassins during the Röhm purge.
Otto Thierack-(1889-1946)- German jurist, chief of the People's Court, and minister of justice. Thierack was indicted for his efforts to subvert justice and use the judicial system as an instrument of totalitarian terror. He escaped his impending trial by committing suicide in 1946.
Fritz Todt-(1891-1942)- German engineer and politician. In 1933 Hitler appointed Todt, an early party member, to the post of general inspector of German roads, responsible for the construction of the Autobahnen (freeways). Todt rose rapidly in the Nazi hierarchy because Hitler personally liked him. In 1938, he became general plenipotentiary for all public construction projects, particularly the construction of the West Wall. In 1940 he was appointed minister of armaments in addition to his other duties. Operating largely on a very independent basis outside the regular machinery of government, answerable only to Hitler, Todt built up a huge organization that spanned a very broad spectrum of economic activities and that became the controlling force behind the war effort. When Todt died in a plane accident, Hitler replaced him with Albert Speer.
Horst Wessel-(1907-1930)- A young university student and early martyr of the Nazi Party who is best known for the stirring lyrics that became part of the party's anthem, the "Horst Wessel Lied." Wessel was killed by Communists in a personal brawl in February 1930.
Kurt Zeitzler-(1895-1963)- Chief of staff of the army who replaced Halder in September 1942 and held that office until 1944. A career soldier of the old school, Zeitzler was a capable and energetic officer who supported Hitler to the limits of his professional loyalty, but finally asserted himself against Hitler's risky operations. In January 1945, Zeitzler retired from the army.
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