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Monday, 2 March 2015

Johannes Albrecht Blaskowitz


Career:

Branch: Heer
Born: 10 July 1883 in Paterswalde, Kreis Wehlau (East Prussia).
Died: 5 February 1948 in Nuremberg, Germany.

Ranks:
Generaloberst 1 October 1939
General der Infanterie 1 August 1936
Generalleutnant 1 December 1933
Generalmajor 1 October 1932
Oberst 1 October 1929
Oberstleutnant 6 April 1926
Major 1 January 1922
Hauptmann 17 February 1914
Oberleutnant 27 January 1910
Leutnant 27 January 1902
Fähnrich 2 March 1901

Decorations:
Iron Cross Second 1914 and First 1915 Classes
Clasp to the Iron Cross Second 1939 and First 1939) Classes
Knight's Cross 1939
Oak Leaves 1944
Swords 1945
Anschluss Medal 1938
Sudetenland Medal 1938 with Prague Castle bar 1938
Wound Badge 1918
Cross of Honor 1934
Bavarian Military Merit Cross 3rd Class with Swords 1916
German Cross in Silver 1943
Prussian Knight's Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern with Swords 1917
Baden Knight's Cross 2nd Class of the Order of the Zähringer Lion with Swords 1915
Oldenburg Friedrich August Cross Second 1916 and First 1916 Classes
War Merit Cross Second and First Classes
Order of the Crown of Italy, Grand Cross 1941

Commands:
8. Armee
Takes command on 1 August 1939
Ends command on 20 October 1939

9. Armee
Takes command on 15 May 1940
Ends command on 29 May 1940

1. Armee
Takes command on 24 October 1940
Ends command on 2 May 1944

Heeresgruppe G
Takes command on 8 May 1944
Ends command on 1945

Heeresgruppe H
Takes command on 28 January 1945
Ends command on 21 March 1945

Personal Information:

Johannes Albrecht Blaskowitz was born on 10 July 1883 in Peterswalde and started his military career during the First World War and rose to command his own company. By 1918, and was awarded the iron Cross. And was a serving member of the Heer during World War II and managed to attain the rank of Generaloberst and went on to command the following 8. Armee, 9. Armee, 1. Armee, Heeresgruppe G (Army Group G), and Heeresgruppe H (Army Group H).

Johannes Blaskowitz was born on July 10, 1883, in Paterswalde, Kreis Wehlau (East Prussia), now in Kaliningrad Oblast. His father was a Lutheran pastor. In 1894, Johannes Blaskowitz joined cadet school at Köslin (Koszalin) and also afterwards at Berlin Lichterfelde. In 1901, he started his military career as a Fähnrich in an East Prussian regiment in Osterode (Ostróda).

During World War I, Johannes Blaskowitz served on the Eastern and Western Front and was employed in the Generalstab. He rose to command an infantry company by 1918, and was awarded the Iron Cross for bravery.

Johannes Blaskowitz war service secured him a place in the post-war Reichswehr during the Weimar Republic, through whose ranks he rose until 1938, when Adolf Hitler sacked virtually all the other senior generals. His attitude towards the National Socialists' seizure of power (Machtergreifung) was reportedly indifferent because he believed that the armed forces should be politically neutral.

In early 1939 he commanded the German forces that occupied Austria and Czechoslovakia, and was promoted to General of Infantry and given command of the 8th Army just prior to the outbreak of World War II

During the Invasion of Poland that began World War II, the 8th Army under Johannes Blaskowitz command participated in the Battle of the Bzura. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes), was promoted to Colonel-General, and was installed as Commander-in-Chief East (Oberbefehlshaber Ost) in Poland on 20 October 1939.

As a traditional soldier, Johannes Blaskowitz kept a firm control on the men under his command in their dealings with civilians, Johannes Blaskowitz was opposed to the Army committing war crimes with the SS, not the idea however of atrocities against Poland. Between November 1939 and February 1940 he wrote several memoranda to higher command, in which he detailed SS atrocities in Poland, their effects on Wehrmacht soldiers, and the insolent attitude of the SS to the army. However, his protests produced no condemnations of such behaviour, and merely earned him the enmity of Hans Frank, Reinhard Heydrich, Heinrich Himmler, and Adolf Hitler, while Chief of Staff Alfred Jodl dismissed them as naive and uncalled for. Historian Omer Bartov wrote that Johannes Blaskowitz was actually legitimising murder by expressing approval of SS massacres while demanding that the Army be kept out of the massacres as damaging to discipline. Johannes Blaskowitz wrote about mass murder of Jews and Poles: It is incorrect to slaughter a few ten thousand Jews and Poles as it is happening at the moment, for this will neither destroy the idea of Polish state in the eyes of the mass of the population, nor do away with the Jews. On the contrary, the manner in the which the slaughter is carried out causes great harm, complicates the problems and makes them much more dangerous than they would have been if premeditated and purposeful action were taken

According to Bartov such statements are ambiguous as they could also be read as recommendation to kill more people in more orderly and disciplined manner, rather than to refrain from murder altogetherTo Johannes Blaskowitz the result of the German policy would be the legalisation of criminality, to him the only way to protect oneself from this epidemic is by bringing the guilty and their followers at the greatest speed under military command and jurisdiction.

Commander-in-Chief Walther von Brauchitsch forwarded Johannes Blaskowitz first memorandum to Adolf Hitler on 18 November, who launched a tirade against Johannes Blaskowitz, denouncing his concerns about due process as childish and poured scorn on his Salvation Army attitude. As a result, Johannes Blaskowitz found himself placed on a blacklist, and he was relieved of his command on 29 May 1940.

Following the Fall of France in May 1940, Johannes Blaskowitz was initially slated to command the 9th Army for occupation duties, but the appointment was blocked by Adolf Hitler and instead he was appointed to relatively minor position as Military Governor of Northern France, a position he held until October 1940, when he was transferred to the command of the 1st Army, on the South West coast between Brittany and the Spanish border.

In May 1944, following the appointment of Gerd von Rundstedt as Commander-in-Chief in the West, Johannes Blaskowitz was appointed head of Heeresgruppe G (Army Group G). This comparatively small command, consisting of the 1st Army and the 19th Army, was given the task of defending southern France from the imminent Allied invasion.

The invasion of southern France commenced on 15 August 1944, with Operation Dragoon, when Allied forces landed on the Riviera between Toulon and Cannes. Johannes Blaskowitz, badly outnumbered and lacking air superiority, brought up units, stabilised his front, and led a fighting withdrawal to the north to avoid encirclement US army units pursued Johannes Blaskowitz up through the Vosges mountains before pausing to regroup. There, Johannes Blaskowitz forces were reinforced by the 5th Panzer Army under Hasso von Manteuffel. Johannes Blaskowitz wanted to entrench his forces, but Adolf Hitler ordered him to immediately counterattack the US Third Army. Both Manteuffel and Johannes Blaskowitz realised the futility of such an action, but obeyed their orders, and their attack caught the US forces in disarray and pushed them back to near Lunéville on 18-20 September 1944, at which point resistance stiffened and the attack was suspended. Furious over this failure, Adolf Hitler summarily relieved Johannes Blaskowitz, replacing him with Hermann Balck.

Johannes Blaskowitz remained unoccupied for some time, until in December 1944 he was suddenly recalled and ordered to attack in the vicinity of Alsace-Lorraine in support of the ongoing Ardennes offensive. On 1 January 1945 Heeresgruppe G (Army Group G) hit the US 7th Army during Operation Nordwind, forcing them to withdraw. Johannes Blaskowitz was subsequently transferred to Holland, where he succeeded Kurt Student as commander of Heeresgruppe H (Army Group H) . For the following three months he conducted a fighting withdrawal against the British 2nd Army, being awarded the Swords to his Knights Cross. This command was redesignated in early April 1945 and Johannes Blaskowitz became commander-in-chief of the northern (still occupied) part of the Netherlands. Despite ruling the troops under his command with an iron hand, and threatening to execute deserters, from April 29, Johannes Blaskowitz allowed Allied airdrops of food and medicine to the Dutch civilian population.


Johannes Blaskowitz surrenders to the Canadians. On May 5, Johannes Blaskowitz was summoned to the Hotel de Wereld (Hotel the World) in Wageningen by General Charles Foulkes (commander of I Canadian Corps) to discuss the surrender of the German forces in the Netherlands. Prince Bernhard, acting as commander-in-chief of the Dutch Interior Forces, attended the meeting as well. Johannes Blaskowitz agreed with all proposals by Foulkes. However, nowhere in the building - some sources claim nowhere in the whole town - could a typewriter be found. Thus, the surrender document could not be typed. The next day, both parties returned and, in the presence of both General Foulkes and Prince Bernhard, Blaskowitz signed the surrender document which, in the meantime, had been typed
Johannes Blaskowitz was charged with war crimes during the Nuremberg Trials in the High Command Trial (Case No. XII), but died on February 5, 1948 by committing suicide. After breaking away from his guards he threw himself off a balcony into the inner courtyard of the court building.

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