|Born||15 February 1895|
Fürstenwalde, Province of Brandenburg, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
|Died||2 May 1945 50) (aged|
Berlin, Nazi Germany
|Rank||General of the Infantry|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross|
Wilhelm Emanuel Burgdorf (15 February 1895 – 2 May 1945)was a German general in the Wehrmacht during World War II, who served as a commander and staff officer in the German Army (Wehrmacht) (army). In October 1944, Burgdorf assumed the role of the Chief of the Army Personnel Office ( Heerespersonalamt ) and Chief Adjutant to Adolf Hitler. In this capacity, he played a role in the forced suicide of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Burgdorf committed suicide in the Führerbunker on 2 May 1945 at the conclusion of the Battle of Berlin.
The Wehrmacht was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer (army), the Kriegsmarine (navy) and the Luftwaffe. The designation "Wehrmacht" replaced the previously used term Reichswehr, and was the manifestation of the Nazi regime's efforts to rearm Germany to a greater extent than the Treaty of Versailles permitted.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
Adolf Hitler was a German politician and leader of the Nazi Party. He rose to power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933, and as Führer in 1934. During his dictatorship from 1933 to 1945, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland on 1 September 1939. He was closely involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust. Hitler's actions and ideology are almost universally regarded as evil. According to historian Ian Kershaw, "Never in history has such ruination—physical and moral—been associated with the name of one man."
Burgdorf joined the Prussian Army at the outbreak of World War I as an officer cadet and was commissioned as an infantry officer in Grenadier Regiment 12 in 1915. After the war he served in the Reichswehr and was promoted to captain in 1930. In Wehrmacht, he became an instructor in tactics at the military academy in Dresden with the rank of major in 1935 and was appointed an adjutant on the staff of the IX corps in 1937. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1938 and served as the commander of the 529th Infantry Regiment from May 1940 to April 1942. In May 1942, he became Chief of Department 2 of the Army Personnel Office. Burgdorf became the Deputy Chief in October 1942, when he was promoted to Generalmajor .
The Royal Prussian Army served as the army of the Kingdom of Prussia. It became vital to the development of Brandenburg-Prussia as a European power.
The Reichswehr formed the military organisation of Germany from 1919 until 1935, when it was united with the new Wehrmacht.
Hauptmann is a German word usually translated as captain when it is used as an officer's rank in the German, Austrian, and Swiss armies. While Haupt in contemporary German means 'main', it also has and originally had the meaning of 'head', i.e. Hauptmann literally translates to 'head-man', which is also the etymological root of captain . It equates to the rank of captain in the British and US Armies, and is rated OF-2 in NATO.
Burgdorf was promoted to Chief of the Army Personnel Office ( Heerespersonalamt ) and Chief Adjutant to Adolf Hitler in October 1944. At that time, he was further promoted in rank to Generalleutnant , and one month later (on 1 November 1944), to the rank of General der Infanterie . Burgdorf retained that rank and position until his death.Burgdorf decreed: Every officer and every judge of the Wehrmacht have to act with strongest measures against doubters in the German final victory. "An officer who expresses himself disparaging about the state leadership is intolerable in the National Socialist state."
Generalleutnant, short GenLt, is the second highest general officer rank in the German Army (Heer) and the German Air Force (Luftwaffe).
General of the Infantry is a former rank of German Ground forces. Present it is an appointment or position to an OF-6 rank officer, responsible for particular affairs of training and equipment of the Bundeswehr infantry.
As part of Burgdorf's function as Hitler's chief adjutant, he played a key role in the death of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Rommel had been implicated as having a peripheral role in Operation Valkyrie on 20 July 1944, in which an attempt was made to assassinate Hitler. Hitler recognised that to haul the most popular general in Germany before a People's Court would cause a scandal throughout Germanyand accordingly arranged a face-saving maneuver.
Generalfeldmarschall was a rank in the armies of several German states and the Holy Roman Empire (Reichsgeneralfeldmarschall); in the Habsburg Monarchy, the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary, the rank Feldmarschall was used. The rank was the equivalent to Großadmiral in the Kaiserliche Marine and Kriegsmarine, a five-star rank, comparable to OF-10 in today's NATO naval forces.
Johannes Erwin Eugen Rommel was a German general and military theorist. Popularly known as the Desert Fox, he served as field marshal in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II, as well as serving in the Reichswehr of the Weimar Republic, and the army of Imperial Germany.
The People's Court was a Sondergericht of Nazi Germany, set up outside the operations of the constitutional frame of law. Its headquarters were originally located in the former Prussian House of Lords in Berlin, later moved to the former Königsberg Wilhelmsgymnasium at Bellevuestrasse 15 in Potsdamer Platz.
On 14 October 1944, Burgdorf, with General Ernst Maisel, arrived at the Rommel household. Burgdorf informed Rommel of the charges and following the instructions of Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, offered him three choices – report to Hitler to plead not guilty,or admit guilt, take poison, receive a state funeral, and obtain immunity for his family and staff, or face a trial for treason. Rommel drove away with Burgdorf and Maisel. Rommel's family received a telephone call 10 minutes later informing them that Rommel had committed suicide.
Generalleutnant Ernst Maisel was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II.
Wilhelm Bodewin Johann Gustav Keitel was a German field marshal and war criminal during the Nazi era who served as Chief of the Armed Forces High Command during World War II. In this capacity, Keitel signed a number of criminal orders and directives that led to a war of unprecedented brutality and criminality.
In law, treason is criminal disloyalty to the state. It is a crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's nation or sovereign. This usually includes things such as participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state. A person who commits treason is known in law as a traitor.
Shortly before the Battle of Berlin, Philipp Freiherr von Boeselager overheard Burgdorf say: "When the war is over, we will have to purge, after the Jews, the Catholic officers in the army."Boeselager was a Roman Catholic Wehrmacht officer and vocally objected, citing his own decorations for heroism in combat. He left before Burgdorf answered.
The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, and also known as the Fall of Berlin, was one of the last major offensives of the European theatre of World War II.
Burgdorf joined Hitler in the Führerbunker when the Soviets assaulted Berlin. On 28 April, Hitler discovered that Heinrich Himmler tried to negotiate a surrender to the western Allies via Count Folke Bernadotte. Burgdorf took part in Hitler's court-martial of Hermann Fegelein, Himmler's SS liaison officer and Eva Braun's brother-in-law. SS-General Wilhelm Mohnke presided over the tribunal, which included SS-General Johann Rattenhuber and General Hans Krebs. Fegelein was so drunk that he was crying, vomiting and unable to stand up; he even urinated on the floor. It was the opinion of the judges that he was in no condition to stand trial. Therefore, Mohnke closed the proceedings and turned Fegelein over to Rattenhuber and his security squad.
On 29 April 1945, Burgdorf, Krebs, Joseph Goebbels, and Martin Bormann witnessed and signed Hitler's last will and testament.After Hitler's suicide on 30 April 1945, Goebbels assumed Hitler's role as chancellor. On 1 May, Goebbels dictated a letter to Soviet Army General Vasily Chuikov, requesting a temporary ceasefire, and ordered General Krebs to deliver it. Chuikov commanded the Soviet forces in central Berlin. After this was rejected, Goebbels decided that further efforts were futile. Goebbels then launched into a tirade berating the generals, reminding them Hitler forbade them to surrender. Ministerialdirektor Hans Fritzsche left the room to take matters into his own hands. He went to his nearby office on Wilhelmplatz and wrote a surrender letter addressed to Soviet Marshall Georgy Zhukov. General Burgdorf followed Fritzsche to his office. There he asked Fritzsche if he intended to surrender Berlin. Fritzsche replied that he was going to do just that. Burgdorf shouted that Hitler had forbidden surrender and as a civilian he had no authority to do so. Burgdorf then pulled his pistol to shoot Fritzsche, but a radio technician "knocked the gun" and the bullet fired hit the ceiling. Several men then hustled Burgdorf out of the office and he returned to the bunker.
After midnight, in the early hours of 2 May 1945, following the earlier suicides of Hitler and Goebbels, Burgdorf and his colleague Chief of Staff Hans Krebs committed suicide together by gunshot to the head.The Soviets found the bodies of Krebs and Burgdorf in the bunker complex.
Hans Georg Fritzsche was a senior German Nazi official, ending the war as Ministerialdirektor at the Propagandaministerium. He was present in the Berlin Führerbunker during the last days of Adolf Hitler. After Hitler's death, he went over to the Soviet lines in Berlin to offer the surrender of the city to the Red Army on 1 May 1945. He was taken prisoner. Fritzsche died in 1953.
Hitler: The Last Ten Days is a 1973 British-Italian biographical drama film depicting the days leading up to Adolf Hitler's suicide. The film stars Alec Guinness and Simon Ward, and features an introduction presented by Alistair Cooke; the original music score was composed by Mischa Spoliansky. The film is based on the book Hitler's Last Days: An Eye-Witness Account by Gerhard Boldt, an officer in the German Army who survived the Führerbunker. Location shooting for the film included the De Laurentiis Studios in Rome and parts of England.
Philipp von Boeselager was the second-to-last surviving member of the 20 July Plot, a conspiracy among Wehrmacht officers to assassinate German dictator Adolf Hitler in 1944.
Ferdinand Schörner was a German army officer and Nazi war criminal. He was a general and later Field Marshal in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II. He commanded several army groups and was the last Commander-in-chief of the German Army.
Otto-Ernst Remer was a German Wehrmacht officer in World War II who played a major role in stopping the 20 July plot in 1944 against Adolf Hitler. In his later years he became a politician and far right activist. He co-founded the Socialist Reich Party in West Germany in the 1950s, and is considered an influential figure in post-war neo-Fascist politics in Germany.
Helmuth Otto Ludwig Weidling was a German general during World War II. He was the last commander of the Berlin Defence Area during the Battle of Berlin, and led the defence of the city against Soviet forces, finally surrendering just before the end of World War II in Europe.
Wilhelm Mohnke was one of the original members of the SS-Staff Guard (Stabswache) "Berlin" formed in March 1933. From those ranks, Mohnke rose to become one of Adolf Hitler's last remaining generals. He joined the Nazi Party in September 1931.
Adolf Hitler signed his last will and testament in the Berlin Führerbunker on 29 April 1945, the day before he committed suicide with his wife Eva (nee) Braun.
Hans Otto Georg Hermann Fegelein was a high-ranking commander in the Waffen-SS of Nazi Germany. He was a member of Adolf Hitler's entourage and brother-in-law to Eva Braun through his marriage to her sister Gretl.
Friedrich Fromm was a German army officer. In World War II, Fromm was Commander in Chief of the Reserve Army (Ersatzheer), in charge of training and personnel replacement for combat divisions of the German Army, a position he occupied for most of the war. A recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, he was executed for failing to act against the plot of 20 July 1944 to assassinate Hitler.
Hellmuth Reymann was an officer in the German Army (Heer) during World War II. Reymann was one of the last commanders of the Berlin Defense Area during the final assault by Soviet forces on the city of Berlin.
Georg von Boeselager was a German nobleman and an officer in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany, who led rear security operations in the Army Group Centre Rear Area on the Eastern Front, calling for harsh measures, including shooting of all males in "gang-infested areas".
Gerhard Boldt was an officer in the German Army (Heer) who wrote about his experiences during World War II.
Theodor von Dufving [Theoderich Heinrich August Wilhelm von Dufving] was a German officer of the Wehrmacht during the Second World War.
Hans Krebs was a German Army general of infantry who served during World War II.
Karl Hubert Lanz was a German general during the Second World War, in which he led units in the Eastern Front and in the Balkans. After the war, he was tried for war crimes and convicted in the Southeast Case, specifically for several atrocities committed by units under his command in the Balkans. Released in 1951, he joined the liberal Free Democratic Party and served as its adviser on military and security issues.
Heinz Heuer was a German military police officer who was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for single-handedly destroying 13 Soviet tanks during the Battle of Berlin in the closing days of World War II. He was the only member of the Feldgendarmerie to be awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, the highest award in the military and paramilitary forces of Nazi Germany during World War II.
Rudolf Weiß was a German officer appointed personal adjutant for the Army's Personnel Department chief, a position he held until the end of World War II. Further, he was stationed in the Führerbunker in April 1945.
Alfred-Ingemar Berndt was a German journalist, writer and close collaborator of National Socialist Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. Berndt wrote an eyewitness account of the 1940 German invasion of the Low Countries and France, Tanks Break Through!, and is regarded as propagandistic creator of the "Desert Fox" myth attached to the German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.