German Generalfeldmarschall’s of WW2


The Heer (Army)

(This page will be continuously updated with brief bio’s and interesting anecdotes throughout the year.  Please check back)


Werner von Blomberg


Promotion Date: April 20, 1936


GFM von Blomberg was the first of Hitler’s appointed field marshals, and also the first to be discharged.  He was removed from service in 1938 due to what some believe was a manufactured ‘scandal’ alleging his wife was a former prostitute.



Walter von Brauschitsch


Promotion Date: July 19, 1940


GFM Brauschitsch was Commander in Chief of the Wehrmacht from 1938 until 1941, at which time Hitler retired him for failure to capture Moscow.  Brauschitsch had an interesting relationship regarding Hitler having at one time even borrowed money from him, yet also somewhat marginally involved in early plotting attempts to overthrow Hitler.  Brauschitsch also tried early on (1939) to convince Hitler that he could not win a drawn out European war.




Wilhelm Keitel


Promotion Date: July 19, 1940


GFM Keitel, as head of the Armed Forces High Command was primarily an administrative desk general.  Often referred to as Hitler’s “lackey”, he was a member of the inner circle of yes men surrounding the fuhrer and was largely out of touch with the reality of the war.  Keitel was executed as a war criminal at the close of the Nuremberg trials.



Gerd von Rundstedt


Promotion Date: July 19, 1940


One of the more well respected field marshals next to Rommel, von Rundstedt came from a Prussian family with a long military history.  Favoring the uniform of the honorary “Colonel in Chief” of his old Regiment, Rundstedt always conveyed a sense of class and authority.  Rundstedt was appointed Supreme Commander West and was taken in and out of service many times due to disagreements with Hitler.  He was one of the few German commanders who were never tried for war crimes.  For an in depth character study of von Rundstedt, please visit my von Rundstedt page.



Fedor von Bock


Promotion Date: July 19, 1940


GFM von Bock achieved early notoriety in the capture of Paris, earning him the marshal’s baton.  Bock spent the majority of the remaining war years as a Russian front commander and led the initial assault on Moscow.  He was ‘retired’ by Hitler in July of ’42 after a number of tactical disagreements.



Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb


Promotion Date: July 19, 1940


GFM von Leeb was a deeply religious man who had a dislike of the Nazi party. As an honorary general ‘at disposal’ of Artillery Regiment No. 7, he was entitled to wear the uniform of his regiment (pictured here, note the collar tabs of the regiment). Leeb was the commander of the armies that made the rapid assault on Leningrad, only to be stopped short by Hitler and doomed to a winter stalemate.  Leeb asked to be relieved and after January of ’42 spent the remaining years of the war in retirement.



Wilhelm List


Promotion Date: July 19, 1940


GFM List was known to be more of an administrative tactician and was at one time Supreme Commander South East.  He was sacked by Hitler in the fall of 1942 after refusing to commit battle weary troops to further action and spent the remainder of the war on the inactive list.



Gunther von Kluge


Promotion Date: July 19, 1940


GFM von Kluge, often referred to as “Hans” or “Clever Hans” amongst the officer cadre was an aggressive commander who’s success was often due to encouraging his subordinates to take their own initiative.  Though in contact with the resistance plotters against Hitler, he had no active role yet was suspected by Hitler.  When relieved of his command by the Fuhrer and ordered to report to Berlin Kluge suspected the worst and committed suicide in transit.



Werner von Witzleben


Promotion Date: July 19, 1940


GFM von Witzleben was heavily involved in the military resistance group plotting to kill Hitler and was in Berlin positioned to take charge of all German armed forces on June 20, 1944, when the bomb attempt on Hitler failed.  Witzleben paid for this with his life and was the highest ranking officer to be executed as part of the plot.  At one point in his career Witzleben had been Supreme Commander in the West.



Werner von Reichenau


Promotion Date: July 19, 1940


GFM Reichenau was one of the few loyal Nazi’s and anti-Semites amongst the General officer corps and was not favored by his peers, several refusing to serve under him.  He was, however, a favorite of Hitler’s which served to advance him in the rank hierarchy.  It was to be a short lived ride as Reichenau was killed in a plane crash in early 1942.



Erwin Rommel


Promotion Date: June 22, 1942


Probably one of the most well known, respected and popular Generals of all time, GFM Rommel was a tireless frontline commander who showed an early talent for innovation in tank warfare.  Though known as a post war hero for his implication in the plot against Hitler and his related suicide, history suggests there may have been no connection.



Georg von Kuchler


Promotion Date: June 30, 1942


Early success in capturing Belgium and the Netherlands earned GFM Kuchler favor with Hitler, who put him in charge of Army Group North as Leeb’s replacement.  He was later sacked, like many others of his rank, for a disagreement with Hitler over withdrawing troops from a hopeless situation….a common thread you will read throughout the descriptions of these field marshals.



Erich von Manstein


Promotion Date: July 1, 1942


GFM von Manstein was a brilliant infantry and field commander who at one time commanded up to 60 divisions on the Russian front. Manstein was so admired by his adversaries that a group of British officers actually paid for his defense during war crimes trials.



Friedrich Paulus


Promotion Date: January 31, 1943


Paulus was in the unfortunate position of being promoted field marshal by Hitler while surrounded by Russian troops in Stalingrad, and then ordered not to surrender.  At the time, no German field marshal had ever been captured and Hitler believed that by ordering this promotion surrender would not occur.  This was not to be and Paulus lived the remainder of his life in communist captivity as their war souvenir.



Ewald von Kleist


Promotion Date: January 30, 1943


GFM von Kleist was one of the first panzer commanders of General officer rank and led the well known Blitzkrieg against France.  Kleist had much success on the Russian front, but like many other commanders was eventually sacked by Hitler and spent the last year and a half of the war out of service.



Maximilian Freiherr von Weichs


Promotion Date: January 30, 1943


GFM Weichs was another in the long line of Generals who experienced early success in the Polish and French campaigns, leading to quick promotion on up the General hierarchy. Weichs was in charge of Army Group B during the disastrous siege of Stalingrad and ensuing encirclement and capture of the 6th Army and Generaloberst Paulus.  Weichs warnings to Hitler of this impending doom sent him into reserve status, only to be activated later in the war to oversee a retreat from Greece and Yugoslavia.



Ernst Busch


Promotion Date: January 30, 1943


GFM Busch had a strong military background having been a field commander throughout the entire first World War.  Though apolitical, Busch had a tendency to relentlessly follow Hitler’s orders even at the cost of large numbers of his own troops, leading to many promotions.  Though at one time sacked by Hitler, Busch was there at the end to preside over surrender terms to the Allies.



Walter Model


Promotion Date: March 31, 1944


GFM Model was another of the front line commanders who could often be found leading his troops into battle.  Known as the “fuhrer’s fireman”, Model was often called upon by Hitler to take on the most challenging situations, at one time commanding over 100 divisions as head of both Army Group North and Army Group Center.  In late April of ’45, surrounded by U.S. troops in the Ruhr pocket and fearing surrender, Model committed suicide.



Ferdinand Schorner


Promotion Date: April 5, 1945


GFM Schorner was the last army Generals that Hitler promoted to field marshal. He was one of the more well decorated officers of both World Wars and was known for being an ardent party member, shrewd tactician and always being on the front line of the battle.