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Monday, 2 March 2015

Heinrich Alfred Hermann Walther von Brauchitsch

Heinrich Alfred Hermann Walther von Brauchitsch

Career:

Branch: Heer
Born: 4 October 1881 in Berlin, Germany.
Died: 18 October 1948 in Hamburg, Germany.

Ranks:
Generalfeldmarschall 19 July 1940
Generaloberst 4 February 1938
General der Artillerie 20 April 1936
Generalleutnant 1 October 1933
Generalmajor 1 October 1931
Oberst 1 April 1928
Oberstleutnant 01 April 1925
Major 15 July 1918
Hauptmann 18 December 1913
Oberleutnant 18 October 1909
Leutnant 22 March 1900

Decorations:

Commands:
Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres

Personal Information:

Heinrich Alfred Hermann Walther von Brauchitsch was born on 4 October 1881 and became a German field marshal and the Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres (Commander of the Heer (Army)) in the early years of World War II.

Walther von Brauchitsch was born in Berlin as the fifth son of a cavalry general. He attended the Französisches Gymnasium Berlin. Walther von Brauchitsch was commissioned in the Prussian Guard in 1900. By World War I, he was appointed to the General Staff. In 1910, he married Elizabeth von Karstedt, a wealthy heiress to 300,000 acres (1,200 km2) in Pomerania.

In 1933, Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist Party came to power and began to expand the military. Walther von Brauchitsch was named Chief of the East Prussian Military District. His specialty was artillery. In 1937, he became commander of the Fourth Army Group.

Walther von Brauchitsch disliked or opposed much of the National Socialist system, but also welcomed the National Socialist policy of rearmament and was dazzled by Adolf Hitler's personality. He became largely reliant on Adolf Hitler as political patron and even for financial help. In February 1938, in the middle of the Munich Crisis, Walther von Brauchitsch left his wife Elizabeth after 28 years. He wanted to marry Charlotte Rueffer (later married Schmidt), the daughter of a Silesian judge, and ardent admirer of the Nazis (Ulrich von Hassell later part of the conspiracy against Adolf Hitler described her as a 200 percent rabid Nazi). Adolf Hitler set aside his usual anti-divorce sentiments and encouraged Walther von Brauchitsch to divorce and remarry. Adolf Hitler even lent him 80,000 Reichsmarks, which he needed since the family wealth was all his wife's. In the same month, Walther von Brauchitsch was appointed Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres (Commander of the Heer) as a replacement for General Werner von Fritsch, who had been dismissed on false charges of homosexuality.

Walther von Brauchitsch resented the growing power of the SS, believing that they were attempting to replace the Wehrmacht as the official German armed forces. He had disagreements with Erich Koch, the Gauleiter of East Prussia, and Adolf Hitler had to resolve the dispute between the two.

Like General Ludwig Beck, Walther von Brauchitsch opposed Adolf Hitler's annexation of Austria (the Anschluss) and Czechoslovakia (see Fall Grün), although he did not resist Adolf Hitler's plans for war. He took no action when Ludwig Beck asked him to persuade the whole General Staff to resign if Adolf Hitler proceeded in his invasion of Czechoslovakia.

In September 1938, a group of officers began plotting against Adolf Hitler and repeatedly tried to persuade Walther von Brauchitsch as Commander of the Heer to lead the anticipated coup, but the only assurance he gave them was: I myself won't do anything, but I won't stop anyone else from acting. After the collapse of the 1938 coup attempt, Walther von Brauchitsch ignored all further appeals from Ludwig Beck and the other plotters to use the army to overthrow Adolf Hitler before Germany was plunged into world war.

In early November 1939, Walther von Brauchitsch and Franz Halder started to consider overthrowing Adolf Hitler. Walther von Brauchitsch and Franz Halder had decided to overthrow Adolf Hitler after the latter had fixed X-day for the invasion of France for November 12, 1939 an invasion that both officers believed to be doomed to fail. On 5 November 1939, the Army General Staff prepared a memorandum purporting to recommend against launching an attack on the Western powers that autumn. Walther von Brauchitsch reluctantly agreed to read the document to Adolf Hitler. In the meeting with Adolf Hitler on November 5, Walther von Brauchitsch had attempted to talk Adolf Hitler into putting off X-day by saying that morale in the German Army was worse than what it was in 1918, a statement that enraged Adolf Hitler who harshly berated Walther von Brauchitsch for incompetence. The document's specific recommendations did not convey the dissent in the ranks of the General Staff, who were uneasy at having their planning and conduct of the Polish Campaign interfered with down to a regimental level. More generally, the unease at the army's position as the chief martial arbiter in the German State having been encroached upon since Adolf Hitler's ascendance to power was prevalent in the closing days of the 1930s. It was left to Walther von Brauchitsch to voice these doubts, which he did, stating that the OKH would be grateful for an understanding that it, and it alone, would be solely responsible for the conduct of any future campaign. The suggestion was received in an icy silence, whereupon on an impulse Walther von Brauchitsch went on to complain that the aggressive spirit of the German infantry was sadly below the standard of the First World War. there had beencertain symptoms of insubordination similar to those of 1917-18. Adolf Hitler responded by flying into a tremendous rage, accusing both the General Staff and Walther von Brauchitsch personally of disloyalty, cowardice, sabotage and defeatism. The Chief of the Army General Staff Franz Halder, who was the main propagator of the memorandum's preparation wrote that the scene was most ugly and disagreeable. He returned to the Headquarters at Zossen where he arrived in such poor shape that at first he could only give a somewhat incoherent account of the proceedings. After that meeting, both Franz Halder and Walther von Brauchitsch told Carl Friedrich Goerdeler that overthrowing Adolf Hitler was simply something that they could not do, and he should find other officers if he that was what he really wanted to. Adolf Hitler then called a meeting of the General Staff to declare that he would smash the West within a year. He also vowed to destroy the spirit of Zossen a threat that panicked Franz Halder to such an extent that he forced the conspirators to abort their second planned coup attempt. Equally important, on November 7, 1939 following heavy snowstorms, Adolf Hitler put off X-Day until further notice, which removed the reason that had most motivated Walther von Brauchitsch and Franz Halder to consider overthrowing Adolf Hitler.

Walther von Brauchitsch was promoted to Generalfeldmarshall in 1940 and was key in Adolf Hitler's blitzkrieg war against the West, making modifications to the original plan to overrun France. After France was conquered, Operation Sea Lion the invasion of Britain was planned. Had it succeeded, Adolf Hitler intended to place Walther von Brauchitsch in charge of the new conquest. However, the Luftwaffe could not gain the requisite air superiority, and the plan was abandoned. Walther von Brauchitsch agreed with harsh measures against the Polish population claiming they were inevitable for securing the German Lebensraum and ordered to his army and commanders that criticism of Nazism racist policy should cease as National Socialist policy was needed for forthcoming battle of destiny of the German people. When Germany turned east and invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the Army's failure to take Moscow earned Adolf Hitler's enmity. Things went further downhill for Walther von Brauchitsch as he endured a serious heart attack, and Adolf Hitler relieved him on 10 December. Walther von Brauchitsch spent the last three war years in the Tri Trubky hunting lodge in the Brdy mountains southwest of Prague. One of the few public comments he made after his retirement was a statement condemning the attempt on Adolf Hitler's life.

After the war, Walther von Brauchitsch was arrested and charged with war crimes, but died in Hamburg in 1948 before he could be prosecuted.

Walther von Brauchitsch was the uncle of Manfred von Brauchitsch, a 1930s Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrow Grand Prix driver, and Hans Bernd and Werner von Haeften, both members of the German resistance against Adolf Hitler.Walther von Brauchitsch was a strong admirer of Feldmarshal Helmuth von Moltke and used to linger in his former office that was made into a museum at a later date.

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