The German General Staff

The German General- Staff: General Choltitz, General Dollman, SS-Brigadefùhrer Meyer Kurt, Marshal Rommel, Marshal Von Kluge, Marshal Von Rundstedt and General Schweppenburg.

 

Général CholtitzGeneral Choltitz

Dietrich Von Choltitz (9th November 1894 - 5th November 1966)

In 1944, Dietrich Von Choltitz was in command of the 76th Tank Corps and from 20th June 1944 to 28th July 1944 he assumed command of the LXXXIV army corps in Normandy, succeeding General Marcks, who was killed in action.  

On 9th August 1944, he was named as commander of the Wehrmacht in the city of Paris which he refused to destroy, ignoring Hitler’s orders.

General Dollman 

Friedrich Dollmann (2nd February 1882 - 28th June 1944) - Career Soldier 

Friedrich Dollmann took part in the lightning war against France where he stayed during the Occupation. His sector of command extended through Brittany and Normandy. 

From 5th June 1944, he left the coast for Rennes to participate in a "Kriegspiel" which is to say, combat simulation.  

Dollmann was found in a delicate defensive situation when the Landings began, but Hitler ordered him to fight to hold Cherbourg at all costs. 

When Cherbourg fell into Allied hands on 26th June 1944, Hitler informed his entourage that Dollmann would be court-martialed for lack of leadership. When he heard of this decision Dollmann died in dubious circumstances, officially from the results of a heart-attack, but many said that he had committed suicide by poison. He was replaced by Paul Hausser. 

SS-Brigadeführer Meyer Kurt 

(23rd December 1910 - 23rd December 1961) 

Kurt Meyer joined the NSDAP (Nazi Party) in 1930 and then entered the ranks of the SS, fighting notably during the invasion of Poland. He received the Iron Cross second class during that campaign. 

He was then sent to the USSR during Operation Barbarossa

During the Battle of Normandy, together with his units, he arrived in the Caen region to fight the Anglo-Canadian forces intent on taking the city. Kurt Meyer installed his HQ at the abbey of Ardennes. On 16th June 1944, he took command of the 12thPanzerdivision SS Hitlerjugend, a unit composed of young members of the Hitler Youth who did not hesitate to massacre Canadian prisoners. Kurt Meyer exhibited immense tenacity; the city of Caen did not fall into Allied hands until 21st July 1944. He was saluted for his resistance and received the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords on 27th August.  

Marshal Erwin Rommel 

(15th November 1891 - 14th October 1944) 

In November of 1943, Erwin Rommel was named Inspector of the coastal defences. 

In April 1944, while inspecting the Atlantic wall, which he re-enforced, he uttered these prophetic words: 

"If you think that they will come in good weather, by the shortest route and that they will give you fair warning, you are wrong?the Allies will land in terrible weather, having chosen the longest itinerary?the landing will be here, in Normandy and that will be the longest day." 

Aware of the weaknesses of the Atlantic wall, Rommel demanded that the Panzer divisions by positioned near the coast. Marshal Von Rundstedt refused. 

During the Battle of Normandy, Rommel moved from command post to command post. On 17th July 1944, he left Vimoutiers to rejoin his headquarters at La Roche-Guyon. On the way, two Spitfires of the RAF (Royal Air Force) machine-gunned his car, leaving him grievously wounded.

Marshal Von Kluge 

 Maréchal Von KlugeHans Günther Von Kluge (30th October 1882 - 18th August 1944) 

Officer who fought in the First World War.

After having served on the front and having been wounded, the Marshal Von Kluge resumed service as replacement for Marshal von Rundstedt in Normandy, at the beginning of July 1944. The Germans were overrun by the end of July, when Patton’s troops had achieved the breakthrough towards Avranches and had turned towards Brittany. Hitler ordered a counter-attack from Mortain, hoping to dissect the American forces. 

Von Kluge took the initiative to advance the date of the operation decided by Hitler, but crushed by Allied aviation, the counter-attack failed. Von Kluge proposed to Hitler to position the German forces behind the Siegfried line for better resistance.  

Hitler refused this proposition, which he considered a deviation of conduct, relieved Von Kluge of his functions and replaced him with Marshal Walther Model.

 

Marshal Von Rundstedt

Karl Rudolf Gerd Von Rundstedt - (12th December 1875 - 24th February 1953)

Maréchal Von Rundstedt Marshal Von Rundstedt climbed through the ranks during his participation in the First World War 

From March 1942, Von Rundstedt was Commander in Chief of the German armed forces on the western front, (Holland, Belgium and France). His headquarters was situated at Saint-Germain-en-Laye [France]. After the landings of 6th June 1944, Von Rundstedt had become aware of the German troops’ delicate position. He wanted to strategically retreat behind the Seine to conduct an efficient counter-attack. Hitler refused the idea and demanded that the German soldiers hold the position to the last man. 

By 1st July 1944, the count of German losses was alarming and the Allies continued to advance. Von Rundstedt wished Hitler to sue for peace. Furious, Hitler relieved him the next day of command and replaced him with Von Kluge.

 

General Leo Geyr Von Schweppenburg

(2nd March 1886 - 27th January 1974)

In 1944, General Von Schweppenburg commanded the LVIII reserve corps and later the Panzer Group West.

After the Landings, he was charged by Rommel to prepare a counter-attack to drive the Allies back to the sea but, on 10th June 1944, von Schweppenburg was gravely wounded in the Royal Air Force bombing of his headquarters established in la Caine, (Normandy, France). Hitler relieved him of his duties at the same time as his superior, Von Rundstedt.

 

 

With the contribution of Remy Desquesnes
Historian