Branch: Kaiserliche Heer / Reichsheer / Heer
Born: 5 September 1876 in Upper Bavaria near Landsberg, Germany.
Died: 29 April 1956 in Füssen, Germany.
Generalfeldmarschall 19 July 1940
Generaloberst 1 November 1939
General der Infanterie 1 January 1934
Generalleutnant 1 December 1929
Generalmajor 1 February 1929
Oberst 1 February 1925
Oberstleutnant 28 December 1920
Major 19 May 1916
Hauptmann 7 March 1912
Oberleutnant 13 May 1905
Leutnant 3 March 1896
Fähnrich 18 January 1896
Iron Cross 1914
Knight's Cross of the House Order of Hohenzollern
Knight's Cross of the Military Order of Max Joseph
Hanseatic Cross of Hamburg
Hanseatic Cross of Bremen
Cross of Honor
Wehrmacht-Dienstauszeichnung 4th to 1st Class
Sudetenland Medal with Prague Castle Bar
Iron Cross 1939
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 24 June 1940
Wilhelm Josef Franz Ritter von Leeb became a German Generalfeldmarschall during the Second World War. Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb was born in Upper Bavaria near Landsberg, Germany, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb joined the Bavarian Army in 1895 as an officer cadet. And after being commissioned a Lieutenant of artillery, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb served in China during the Boxer Rebellion. Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb later attended the Bavarian War Academy in Munich 1907 to 1909 and served on the General Staff in Berlin, Germany 1909 to 1911. Promoted to Hauptmann, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb served as a artillery battery commander in the Bavarian 10th Field Artillery Regiment at Erlangen 1912 to 1913.
Once the second world war had started, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb was already stationed with the General Staff of the Bavarian I Corps, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb then served with the Bavarian 11th Infantry Division. Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb was promoted to major, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb was transferred to the Eastern Front in the summertime of 1916. The following year, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb was appointed to the staff of Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria. On 29 May 1916, for his military accomplishments on May 2, 1915, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb received the Knight's Cross of the Military Order of Max Joseph. This was the Bavarian equal of the Prussian Pour le Mérite, and its receipt raised Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb to the ranks of aristocracy, on 21 June 1916, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb received a patent of nobility, which changed his name by adding the title Ritter and von to his name.
After the war, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb stayed on in the Reichswehr, the 100,000 strong army allowed under the Treaty of Versailles. In 1923, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb was involved in bringing down the National Socialist Beer Hall Putsch. Before the rise of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist Party, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb commanded Wehrkreis VII, which covered Bavaria as a Generalleutnant.
Adolf Hitler did not like Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb because he opposed the National Socialist attitudes , Adolf Hitler retired Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb in 1938 after promoting him to the rank of Generaloberst. But Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb was called back to duty in July of the same year and made commandant of the 12. Armee, which took part in the occupation of the Sudetenland. Subsequently, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb was retired again.
In the summertime of 1939, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb was again recalled into service and given command of Heeresgruppe C (Army Group C). Prior to the Battle of France, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb was the only German general to oppose the offensive through the low countries, especially Kingdom of Belgium, on ethical grounds. Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb wrote, The whole world will turn against Germany, which for the 2nd time within twenty-five years, attacks the neutral Kingdom of Belgium. And Germany, whose authorities solemnly guaranteed for and assured the conservation and respect for this neutrality only a couple of weeks ago. During that battle, his troops broke through around the Maginot Line area. Because of Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb role in this victory, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb was promoted to the rank of Generalfeldmarschall in July 1940 and presented the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.
Whilst having Adolf Hitler trust, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb was assigned command of Heeresgruppe Nord (Army Group North) and had responsibility for the northern sector in Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb was to destroy the Soviet Socialist Republics ground forces in the Baltic area and capture all Soviet Socialist Republics naval bases on the Baltic Sea. Whilst the invasion began on June 22, 1941, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb's ground forces met with spectacular success against the overwhelmed Soviet Socialist Republics ground forces. From the end of September, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb ground forces had advanced 900 kilometres into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and encircled Leningrad, although Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb failed to capture the Leningrad.
Because Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb an old school general, he did not take well to having his command managed from afar by Adolf Hitler, who he considered an armchair general. In January, 1942, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb asked Adolf Hitler to relieve him of his command, and Adolf Hitler complied. It was formally declared that Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb had resigned due to sickness, not because of his defeat. Generalfeldmarschall Georg von Küchler took over command of Heeresgruppe Nord (Army Group North), and Adolf Hitler never engaged Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb again.
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