Branch: Kaiserliche Heer / Reichsheer / Heer
Born: 4 March 1898 in Helmstedt, Germany.
Died: 2 May 1945 in Berlin, Germany.
General der Infanterie
Iron Cross 1914
2nd Class 22 August 1915
1st Class 6 February 1917
Wound Badge 914
Knight's Cross of the House Order of Hohenzollern
Cross of Honor
Iron Cross 1939
2nd Class 14 May 1940
1st Class 18 May 1940
Eastern Front Medal
German Cross in Gold 26 January 1942
Knight's Cross of the Iron with Oak Leaves
Knight's Cross 26 March 1944
Oak Leaves 20 February 1945
Hans Krebs was born on 4 March 1898 and became a German Army (Wehrmacht Heer) general of infantry who served during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Hans Krebs was born in Helmstedt. He volunteered for service in the Imperial German Army in 1914, was promoted to lieutenant in 1915, and to first lieutenant in 1925. Hans Krebs was a career officer, and reached the position of chief of staff of various Heeresgruppen until he became a General of Infantry.
As Chief of the Army General Staff (OKH), Hans Krebs was in the Führerbunker below the Reich Chancellery garden during the Battle of Berlin.
On 28 April 1945, Hans Krebs made his last telephone call from the Führerbunker. He called Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel at the new Supreme Command Headquarters in Fürstenberg. He told Keitel that, if relief did not arrive within 48 hours, all was lost. Keitel promised to exert the utmost pressure on General Walther Wenck who commanded the German 12. Armee and General Theodor Busse who commanded the German 9th Army. The 12. Armee was attacking towards Berlin from the west and the 9th Army was attacking from the south. Adolf Hitler had ordered both of these armies to link up and come to the relief of Berlin. In addition, forces under General Rudolf Holste were to have attacked towards Berlin from the north.
Later on 28 April, when it was discovered that Heinrich Himmler was trying to negotiate a backdoor surrender to the western Allies via Count Folke Bernadotte, Hans Krebs became part of a military tribunal ordered by Adolf Hitler to court-martial Heinrich Himmler's SS liaison officer Hermann Fegelein. Fegelein, by that time was Eva Braun's brother-in-law. SS-General Wilhelm Mohnke presided over the tribunal which, in addition to Hans Krebs and Mohnke, included SS-General Johann Rattenhuber and General Wilhelm Burgdorf. However, Fegelein was so drunk that he was determined to be in no condition to stand trial. Mohnke closed the proceedings and turned Fegelein over to Rattenhuber and his security squad.
On 29 April, Hans Krebs, Wilhelm Burgdorf, Joseph Goebbels, and Martin Bormann witnessed and signed the last will and testament of Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler dictated the document to his personal private secretary, Traudl Junge. Martin Bormann was head of the Party Chancellery (Parteikanzlei) and private secretary to Adolf Hitler.
Late that evening, Hans Krebs contacted General Alfred Jodl (Supreme Army Command) by radio and made the following demands: Request immediate report. Firstly, of the whereabouts of Wenck's spearheads. Secondly, of time intended to attack. Thirdly, of the location of the 9th Army. Fourthly, of the precise place in which the 9th Army will break through. Fifthly, of the whereabouts of General Holste's spearhead.
In the early morning of 30 April, Alfred Jodl replied to Hans Krebs: Firstly, Wenck's spearhead bogged down south of Schwielow Lake. Secondly, 12. Armee therefore unable to continue attack on Berlin. Thirdly, bulk of 9th Army surrounded. Fourthly, Holste's Corps on the defensive.
Later that day, Adolf Hitler committed suicide at around 15:30 hrs. In accordance with Adolf Hitler's last will and testament, Großadmiral (Grand Admiral) Karl Dönitz was named Adolf Hitler's successor as Staatsoberhaupt (Head of State), with the title of Reichspräsident (President) and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The same document named the Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda Joseph Goebbels as Head of Government with the title of Reichskanzler (Chancellor).
On 1 May, after Adolf Hitler's suicide on 30 April, Joseph Goebbels sent Hans Krebs and Colonel Theodor von Dufving, under a white flag, to deliver a letter he had written to General Vasily Chuikov. Dufving was General Helmuth Weidling's Chief of Staff. The letter contained surrender terms acceptable to Joseph Goebbels. Chuikov, as commander of the Soviet 8th Guards Army, commanded the Soviet forces in central Berlin. Hans Krebs arrived shortly before 4 a.m. and took Chuikov by surprise. Hans Krebs, who spoke Russian, informed Chuikov that Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, his wife, had killed themselves in the Führerbunker. Chuikov, who was not aware that there was a bunker complex under the Reich Chancellery or that Adolf Hitler was married, calmly said that he already knew all of this. Chuikov was not, however, prepared to accept the terms in Joseph Goebbels' letter or to negotiate with Hans Krebs. The Soviets were unwilling to accept anything other than unconditional surrender, as it was agreed with the other Allies. Hans Krebs was not authorised by Joseph Goebbels to agree to such terms, however, and so the meeting ended with no agreement. According to Traudl Junge, Hans Krebs returned to the bunker looking worn out, exhausted. Hans Krebs's surrender of Berlin was thus impeded as long as Joseph Goebbels was alive.
At around 8 p.m. on the evening of 1 May, Joseph Goebbels removed this impediment. Shortly after killing their own children, Joseph Goebbels and his wife, Magda, left the bunker complex and went up to the garden of the Reich Chancellery. They each bit on a cyanide amphlett and either shot themselves at the same time, or were given a coup de grâce immediately afterwards by Joseph Goebbels' SS adjutant, Günther Schwägermann. Their bodies were then doused with petrol by Schwägermann and burned. After Joseph Goebbels' death, Hans Krebs became suicidal. The responsibility for surrendering the city fell to General of the Artillery (General der Artillerie) Helmuth Weidling, the commander of the Berlin Defence Area.
On 2 May, with Hans Krebs in no condition to do it himself, Weidling contacted General Chuikov to again discuss surrender. Weidling and Chuikov met and had the following conversation in which Chuikov asked about Hans Krebs:
Chuikov: You are the commander of the Berlin garrison?
Weidling: Yes, I am the commander of the LVI Panzer Corps.
Chuikov: Where is Hans Krebs?
Weidling: I saw him yesterday in the Reich Chancellery. I thought he would commit suicide. At first he (Hans Krebs) criticised me because unofficial capitulation started yesterday. The order regarding capitulation has been issued today.
As the Soviets advanced on the Reich Chancellery, Hans Krebs was last seen by others, including Junge, in the Führerbunker when they left to attempt to escape. Junge relates how she approached Hans Krebs to say goodbye and how he straightened up and smoothed his uniform before greeting her for the last time. Hans Krebs and General Wilhelm Burgdorf, along with SS Untersturmführer Franz Schädle of the SS-Begleitkommando des Führers, stayed behind with the intention of committing suicide. Sometime in the early morning hours of 2 May, they committed suicide by gunshot to the head. The bodies of Hans Krebs and Wilhelm Burgdorf were found when Soviet personnel entered the bunker complex. Schädle also committed suicide and Högl was wounded in the head while crossing the Weidendammer Bridge (during the break out) and died of his injuries on 2 May 1945.
Thereafter, the corpses of Hans Krebs, the Joseph Goebbels family along with the remains of Adolf Hitler, Eva Braun and Adolf Hitler's dogs were repeatedly buried and exhumed by the Soviets. The last burial had been at the SMERSH facility in Magdeburg on 21 February 1946. In 1970, KGB director Yuri Andropov authorised an operation to destroy the remains. On 4 April 1970, a Soviet KGB team with detailed burial charts secretly exhumed five wooden boxes. The remains from the boxes were thoroughly burned and crushed, after which the ashes were thrown into the Biederitz river, a tributary of the nearby Elbe.
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