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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist

Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist

Career:

Branch: Heer
Born: 8 August 1881 in Braunfels, Germany.
Died: 16 October 1954 in Moscow.

Ranks:
Generalfeldmarschall
Generaloberst
General der Infanterie
Generalleutnant
Generalmajor
Oberst
Oberstleutnant
Major
Hauptmann
Oberleutnant
Leutnant
Fähnrich

Decorations:
Iron Cross 1914
2nd Class
1st Class
Military Merit Order of Bavaria
Hanseatic Cross of Hamburg
Military Merit Cross of Austria-Hungary 3rd Class
Wehrmacht-Dienstauszeichnung 4th to 1st Class
Clasp to the Iron Cross 1939
2nd Class
1st Class
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
Knight's Cross 15 May 1940
Oak Leaves 17 February 1942
Swords 30 March 1944
Eastern Front Medal

Commands:
XXII.Armeekorps
Takes command on
Ends command on

Panzergruppe von Kleist
Takes command on
Ends command on

1st Panzergruppe
Takes command on
Ends command on

1st Panzer Army
Takes command on
Ends command on

Heeresgruppe A
Takes command on
Ends command on

Personal Information:

Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist was born on 8 August 1881 and became a leading German field marshal during the Second World War. Paul von Kleist was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to acknowledge utmost battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

Paul von Kleist was born in Braunfels an der Lahn into an noble family, Paul von Kleist was schooled in a German military school and graduated in 1900. Paul von Kleist served as a lieutenant of hussars and a regimental commandant in the First World War. Subsequently after the First World War had ended Paul von Kleist served as a commandant of a cavalry division from 1932 to 1935

Paul von Kleist was semi-retired when, in August 1939, he was called back to active duty at the age of 58.

During the invasion of Poland, Paul von Kleist was the commander of the XXII Panzer Corps. And during the Battle of France Paul von Kleist commanded Panzergruppe von Kleist, comprising of XXXXI Panzerkorps (XLI Panzer Corps) and XIX Panzer Corps under the command of Heinz Guderian, the two southernmost armoured corps in the drive to the English Channel. During this time Paul von Kleist sought to relieve Guderian of his command after he disobeyed orders to halt their advance toward the Channel, the Heeresgruppe A (Army Group A) commander, Gerd von Rundstedt, declined to support the order, and the Franco British armies were entrapped.

In April 1941, Paul von Kleist commanded 1st Panzergruppe, consisting III, XIV and XLVIII Panzer Corps and XXIX Infantry Corps, which led the Blitzkrieg style invasions of Yugoslavia and Greece. With this organisation Paul von Kleist also took part in the subsequent Operation Barbarossa as part of Heeresgruppe Süd.

In 1942 Paul von Kleist was sent to command troops in the Caucasus in order to seize crucial oil wells in the area. On 22 November 1942, Paul von Kleist was placed in command of Heeresgruppe A (Army Group A). Paul von Kleist was promoted to field marshal in 1943. Paul von Kleist was relieved of his command in March 1944 for ordering the 8th Army to withdraw when it was at risk of being wiped out by the Russian Army, in explicit violation of Adolf Hitler's orders.

Paul von Kleist was apprehended by United States military forces in 1945. Paul von Kleist was sent to communist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to face war crimes charges in 1946. In 1948 Paul von Kleist was deported to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics where Paul von Kleist was given a 10 year sentence in 1952 for war crimes. Paul von Kleist passed away, whilst in imprisoned in Vladimir Prison in 1954, the highest ranked German officer to die in Union of Soviet Socialist Republics captivity. Of note is the fact that Paul von Kleist was charged, among other things, with alienating, through friendship & generosity, the peoples of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as described in the book Hitler's Generals by Samuel W. Mitcham Jr. (2003).

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Sources:

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