Thursday, 5 March 2015

Franz Ritter von Epp

Franz Ritter von Epp


Branch: Kaiserliche Heer / Reichsheer / Heer / Government,
Born: 16 October 1868 in Munich, Germany.
Died: 31 December 1946 in Munich, Germany.

General der Infanterie



Personal Information:

Franz Xaver Ritter von Epp was a regular officer in the Imperial German Army of the early part of the 20th century, who rose to the office of Reichsstatthalter of Bavaria, a position of dictatorial power, under the Nazis.


Franz Ritter von Epp was born in Munich in 1868, under the name of Franz Epp, being the son of the painter Rudolph Epp and Katharina Streibel. He spent his school years in Augsburg and after this joined the military academy in Munich. He served as a volunteer in East Asia during the Boxer rebellion in 1900-01 and then became a company commander in the German colony Deutsch-Südwestafrika (now Namibia), where he took part in the bloody Herero and Namaqua Genocide. During the First World War, he served as the commanding officer of a Bavarian regiment, the Infanterie-Leibregiment, in France, Serbia, Romania and at the Isonzo front.

Franz Ritter von Epp war service, he received a large number of medals, the Pour le Mérite (29 May 1918) being the most prominent. Franz Ritter von Epp was also knighted, being made Ritter von Epp on 25 February 1918, and received the Bavarian Militär-Max Joseph-Orden (23 June 1916).

After the end of the war Franz Ritter von Epp formed the Freikorps Epp, a right-wing paramilitary formation mostly made up of war veterans, of which future leader of the SA Ernst Röhm, was a member. It took part in the crushing of the Bavarian Soviet Republic, and the taking of Munich from the Communists. Franz Ritter von Epp joined the Reichswehr and was promoted to Generalmajor in 1922. Franz Ritter von Epp took his leave from the German army after getting involved with right-wing associations in 1923.

When it became necessary for the NSDAP to purchase a newspaper to publicize its political creed, Franz Ritter von Epp made available some 60,000 Reichsmarks from secret army funds to acquire the Völkischer Beobachter, which would become the daily mouthpiece of the party.

As the SA expanded, it became an armed band of several hundred thousand men, whose function was to protect and guard Nazi rallies and to disrupt those of other political parties. Some of its leaders, particularly Ernst Röhm, visualized the SA as supplanting the regular army when Adolf Hitler came to power. To this end a department was set up under Franz Ritter von Epp called the Wehrpolitisches Amt (Army political office). Nothing came of this, as the role of the SA was dramatically recast after the Night of the Long Knives.

Franz Ritter von Epp became a member of the German parliament, the Reichstag, for the NSDAP after leaving the BVP in 1928, holding this position until 1945. Franz Ritter von Epp served as the NSDAP's head of its Military-Political Office from 1928 to 1945, and later as leader of the German Colonial Society, an organization devoted to regaining Germany's lost colonies.

Franz Ritter von Epp's final notable historical action occurred on 9 March 1933, two weeks before the Reichstag passed the enabling act which granted Adolf Hitler dictatorial powers. On the orders of Adolf Hitler and Wilhelm Frick, Franz Ritter von Epp abolished the Government of Bavaria and set up a Nazi regional government. Franz Ritter von Epp became Reichskommissar, later Reichsstatthalter, for Bavaria in 1933, in this position clashing with Bavaria's Nazi prime minister Ludwig Siebert, with Ludwig Siebert eventually succeeding Franz Ritter von Epp. Franz Ritter von Epp's attempt to limit the influence of the central government into Bavarian politics failed. Franz Ritter von Epp however continued in his post as Reichsstatthalter until the end of the war, politically insignificant.

Franz Ritter von Epp was arrested on Paul Giesler's orders in 1945, being associated with the Freiheitsaktion Bayern, led by Rupprecht Gerngroß, a group opposed to the Nazis. Franz Ritter von Epp however did not want to be directly involved with the group as Franz Ritter von Epp considered their goal, surrender to the allies, a form of backstabbing of the German army.

At the end of the war, Franz Ritter von Epp was imprisoned by the Americans and died in a prison camp in 1946


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