Famous German Leaders

The leaders of a nation are vested with power which they can use to guide the masses on the path of development or lead to their doom, like the infamous dictator Adolf Hitler. Similar to the dictator, the history of Germany has witnessed the rise and fall of many great leaders. These leaders have made significant contribution to the changes in socio-economic conditions both for the better and worse. Had it not been for Kaiser Frederick III, or the dictator Paul von Hidenburg, or even the great politician Helmut Kohl, the history of revolution, war and politics would have remained incomplete. It is not an easy task to motivate the masses on this magnitude for a cause but these famous German leaders have endured the tests of time and have helped attain the cumulative objective of the nation through their strength of character, determination and tenacity. The legacy is carried forward by the leaders of the modern day like Willy Brandt, Angela Merkel and Gerhard Schroder, who like their predecessors are trying to steer the nation on the path of development.Browse through the collection of biographies of some of the most famous German leaders. Read them for more information on their life stories, timeline along with some interesting facts & trivia related to their lives.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite German Leaders

 1 Martin Luther

Martin Luther
8
Famous As: Father of Protestantism and Church Reformer
Birthdate: November 10, 1483
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: German
Died: February 18, 1546

German monk Martin Luther challenged the dogmas of Roman Catholicism and the authority of the pope, in his Ninety-five Theses, and was thus excommunicated. His German translation of the Bible enriched the German culture, and his marriage set an example for clerical marriage. His teachings are now known as Lutherans.

 2 George Patton

George Patton
12
Famous As: Military Officer
Birthdate: November 11, 1885
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: German, American
Died: December 21, 1945

George Patton was a general of the US Army, remembered for his work as a commander of the Seventh United States Army during World War II. He is also remembered for commanding the Third Army in the Western Front in June 1944 after the Allied invasion of Normandy. His life and work inspired the 1970 epic biographical war film Patton.

 3 Otto von Bismarck

Otto von Bismarck
7
Famous As: German Statesman
Birthdate: April 1, 1815
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: German
Died: July 30, 1898
Otto von Bismarck was a German statesman. Bismarck is credited with masterminding the unification of Germany and served as its first chancellor. He is also credited with creating the first modern welfare state in the world. Regarded as a hero by German nationalists, Otto von Bismarck's life has inspired a couple of TV series.

 4 Karl Dönitz

Karl Dönitz
0
Famous As: Naval Officer
Birthdate: September 16, 1891
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: German
Died: December 24, 1980
Karl Dönitz was the supreme commander of the German Navy and played a crucial role in World War II. Hitler made Dönitz his successor before committing suicide. Dönitz officially surrendered after Germany’s loss in World War II and was convicted as a war criminal at the 1946 Nuremberg Trials.

 5 Martin Bormann

Martin Bormann
0
Famous As: Private Secretary of Adolf Hitler
Birthdate: June 17, 1900
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: German
Died: May 2, 1945

Martin Bormann was a Nazi Party official. Bormann headed the Nazi Party Chancellery, and gained immense power after he was accepted into Adolf Hitler's inner circle. In 1935, he became Hitler's personal secretary and served as the minister of the Nazi Party after Hitler's suicide in 1945.

 6 Max Weber

Maximilian Carl Emil Weber
0
Famous As: Sociologist
Birthdate: April 21, 1864
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: German
Died: June 14, 1920

Max Weber was a German historian, political economist, jurist, and sociologist. Widely regarded as one of the most influential and important theorists, Weber's ideas had a profound influence on social research and social theory. Although he did not see himself as a sociologist, Weber is often counted among the fathers of sociology alongside Émile Durkheim, Auguste Comte, and Karl Marx.

 7 Erwin Rommel

Erwin Rommel
5
Famous As: General
Birthdate: November 15, 1891
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: German
Died: October 14, 1944

Known as The Desert Fox, Nazi field marshal Erwin Rommel led the Axis forces during World War II. For his plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944, he was given a choice to either commit suicide by consuming a cyanide pill or face a trial and execution. He chose the former.

You May Like

 8 Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard of Bingen
7
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: September 16, 1098
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: German
Died: September 17, 1179

Hildegard of Bingen was a German writer, composer, Christian mystic, visionary, philosopher, polymath, and Benedictine abbess of the High Middle Ages. Apart from being the most-recorded composers of sacred monophony in modern history, Hildegard of Bingen is also widely regarded as the founder of scientific natural history.

Recommended Lists:

 9 Rudolf Hess

Rudolf Hess
2
Famous As: Deputy Führer
Birthdate: April 26, 1894
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: German
Died: August 17, 1987
Nazi Party member Rudolf Hess was Hitler’s Deputy Führer and helped in the passage of the Nuremberg Laws. While on a trip to Scotland to initiate peace talks with the U.K. during World War II, he was arrested, and then convicted of war crimes. He eventually committed suicide in prison.

 10 Frederick III, German Emperor

Frederick III, German Emperor
0
Famous As: King
Birthdate: October 18, 1831
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: German
Died: June 15, 1888

Frederick III, German Emperor reigned as the king of Prussia and emperor of the German Empire from 9 March 1888 until his death on 15 June 1888. Although he played key roles during the Austro-Prussian, Second Schleswig, and Franco-Prussian wars, Frederick professed hatred for warfare and was willing to make the German Empire more liberal before his untimely death.

Recommended Lists:

 11 Erich Ludendorff

Erich Ludendorff
0
Famous As: General of German Army
Birthdate: April 9, 1865
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: German
Died: December 20, 1937

German military leader Erich Ludendorff gained fame with the victories at Liège and Tannenberg during World War I. He promoted the theory that Marxists, Jews, and Freemasons were responsible for Germany’s defeat in the war. He later became a military theorist, writing books such as The Total War.

 12 Wilhelm Keitel

Wilhelm Keitel
1
Famous As: German Commanding Officer
Birthdate: September 22, 1882
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: German
Died: October 16, 1946

Wilhelm Keitel was a German field marshal. As the chief of the Armed Forces High Command, Keitel was Nazi Germany Armed Forces' highest-ranking officer during World War II. Wilhelm Keitel was responsible for the loss of many lives as he signed several criminal orders. After the war, he was indicted as one of the war criminals and sentenced to death.

 13 Heinz Guderian

Heinz Guderian
0
Famous As: German General
Birthdate: June 17, 1888
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: German, Polish
Died: May 14, 1954

German military general Heinz Guderian was part of World War II and led the successful invasions of Poland and France. He was dismissed after the failed Operation Typhoon. He used the blitzkrieg approach and was in charge of training the panzer forces. He wrote a bestselling memoir, following the war.

 14 Joachim von Ribbentrop

Joachim von Ribbentrop
0
Famous As: Nazi Minister
Birthdate: April 30, 1893
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: German
Died: October 16, 1946

German politician Joachim von Ribbentrop was Nazi Germany’s minister of foreign affairs from 1938 to 1945. He let Hitler use his summer house, Schloss Fuschl, for secret Nazi meetings. Ribbentrop was eventually convicted of war crimes and became the first Nuremberg defendant to be hanged to death.

 15 Helmut Kohl

Helmut Kohl
0
Famous As: Former Chancellor of Germany
Birthdate: April 3, 1930
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: German
Died: June 16, 2017
Christian Democratic Union politician Helmut Kohl was the Chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998. He had also served as the chairman of the CDU earlier. His tenure witnessed the end of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the formation of the European Union.

 16 Konrad Adenauer

Konrad Adenauer
0
Famous As: Former Chancellor of Germany
Birthdate: January 5, 1876
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: German
Died: April 19, 1967

German politician, Konrad Adenauer, served as the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1949 to 1963. He was also the co-founder and the first leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). He played a key role in leading his country from the ruins of World War II to becoming a  prosperous nation.

 17 Erich von Manstein

Erich von Manstein
0
Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: November 24, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: German
Died: June 9, 1973

Erich von Manstein was a German commander of the Wehrmacht, Nazi Germany's armed forces. He joined the army at a young age and was active during both World War I and World War II. Following Germany’s defeat in World War II, he was taken prisoner by the British. He was tried for war crimes and convicted on several counts.

 18 Gerd von Rundstedt

Gerd von Rundstedt
0
Famous As: Military Officer
Birthdate: December 12, 1875
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: German
Died: February 24, 1953

Gerd von Rundstedt was a Nazi field marshal during World War II. His army was part of the German campaigns in France and Russia. He was defeated at the Battle of Normandy. Following the war, he was charged with war crimes but was not tried due to old age.

 19 Claus von Stauffenberg

Claus von Stauffenberg
2
Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: November 15, 1907
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: German
Died: July 21, 1944

German army officer Claus von Stauffenberg, a significant figure of the German Resistance Movement within the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany, attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler in July 1944, but failed. He was executed by a firing squad soon after Operation Valkyrie. He had earlier actively participated in World War II.

 20 William I, German Emperor

William I, German Emperor
0
Famous As: King
Birthdate: March 22, 1797
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: German
Died: March 9, 1888

 21 Karl Von Clausewitz

Karl Von Clausewitz
0
Famous As: General
Birthdate: July 1, 1780
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: German
Died: November 16, 1831

Carl von Clausewitz was a Prussian military theorist and general. As a theorist, Clausewitz stressed the political aspects of war. His book Vom Kriege, which talks about military strategy, has been very influential despite the fact that it was unfinished at the time of his death. His ideas also influenced personalities like Karl Marx, Mao Zedong, and Leon Trotsky.

 22 Alfred Jodl

Alfred Jodl
0
Famous As: Military Commander, Nazi War Criminal
Birthdate: May 10, 1890
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: German
Died: October 16, 1946

Alfred Jodl was a German colonel-general who played an important role throughout World War II by serving as Chief of the Operations Staff of a German Armed Forces High Command called the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht. After the war, Jodl was tried at the Nuremberg trials and was found guilty on charges, such as crimes against humanity and war crimes.

 23 Franz von Papen

Franz von Papen
0
Famous As: Former Vice-Chancellor of Germany
Birthdate: October 29, 1879
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: German
Died: May 2, 1969

Franz von Papen was a German politician, Prussian nobleman, diplomat, and General Staff officer. From 1933 to 1934, he served under Adolf Hitler as the Vice-Chancellor of Germany. After World War II, Franz von Papen was indicted alongside other war criminals in the Nuremberg trials. However, he was later acquitted of all charges.

 24 Hermann Fegelein

Hermann Fegelein
0
Famous As: Nazi Leader
Birthdate: October 30, 1906
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: German
Died: April 28, 1945
Nazi commander Hermann Fegelein, a proficient horseback rider, was in charge of Germany’s preparation for the equestrian category at the Berlin Olympic Games. He was married to Eva Braun’s sister, Gretl, but had numerous affairs. He was executed by Hitler's men for treason jut 2 days before Hitler's suicide.

 25 William the Silent

William the Silent
0
Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: April 24, 1533
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: German, Dutch
Died: July 10, 1584

William the Silent played an important role in the Dutch Revolt where he led a group of fighters against the Spanish Habsburgs. The revolt resulted in the Eighty Years' War, which in turn paved the way for the independence of the United Provinces. Thanks to his efforts during the Dutch Revolt, William is referred to as Father of the Fatherland.    

 26 Ursula von der Leyen

Ursula von der Leyen
0
Famous As: President of the European Commission
Birthdate: October 8, 1958
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: German
Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen is currently serving as the first president of the European Commission. Named to Time 100 in 2020, she has previously been the first female defense minister of Germany, and has held positions such as the deputy leader of the CDU and the minister of labor.

 27 Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben

Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben
0
Famous As: Military Officer
Birthdate: September 17, 1730
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: German, American
Died: November 28, 1794
At a time when homosexuality was illegal, Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben was openly gay. The Prussian military officer and hero of the American Revolutionary War, reportedly had a romantic relationship with his fellow military man Benjamin Walker. He is also known as someone who singlehandedly trained the Continental Army.

 28 Alfred Rosenberg

Alfred Rosenberg
0
Famous As: Nazi Party Ideologue, Author
Birthdate: January 12, 1893
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: German
Died: October 16, 1946
Alfred Rosenberg led the NSDAP Office of Foreign Affairs in Nazi Germany. Known for his work The Myth of the Twentieth Century, which explored the Nazi ideology, he was hanged as a war criminal after the Nuremberg trials. He was also one of the proponents of Positive Christianity.

 29 Heinrich Müller

Heinrich Müller
0
Famous As: Police officer
Birthdate: April 28, 1900
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: German
Died: April 30, 1945

 30 Gerhard Schröder

Gerhard Schröder
0
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: April 7, 1944
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: German

 31 Walter Model

Walter Model
0
Famous As: Military Officer
Birthdate: January 24, 1891
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: German
Died: April 21, 1945

One of Hitler’s favorite military generals during World War II, Walter Model is remembered for his defensive warfare and for his exploits in Operation Market Garden. The commander of the Ninth Army, he guarded the Eastern Front, but after Germany’s defeat in the Battle of the Bulge, he committed suicide.

 32 Erich Hartmann

Erich Hartmann
0
Famous As: Aviator, Officer
Birthdate: April 19, 1922
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: German
Died: September 20, 1993

 33 Paul Schäfer

Paul Schäfer
0
Famous As: Medic
Birthdate: December 4, 1921
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: German
Died: April 24, 2010

 34 Kurt Georg Kiesinger

Kurt Georg Kiesinger
0
Famous As: Politician, Lawyer, Judge
Birthdate: April 6, 1904
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: German
Died: March 9, 1988

 35 Sepp Dietrich

Sepp Dietrich
0
Famous As: Military Officer
Birthdate: May 28, 1892
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: German
Died: April 21, 1966
Initially a butcher’s apprentice, Sepp Dietrich later rose to be one of Hitler’s most trusted men, commanding his bodyguard and eventually becoming the SS-Oberst-Gruppenführer. His association with the Malmedy massacre and Hitler’s purge of 1934 got him convicted. He apparently also frequented the infamous Nazi brothel Salon Kitty.

 36 Julius Streicher

Julius Streicher
0
Famous As: A Member of National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP)
Birthdate: February 12, 1885
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: German
Died: October 16, 1946
Julius Streicher went from being an elementary school teacher to establishing the anti-semitic Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer. He led an adulterous life and even spread rumors about his rival party members, which eventually led him to lose all party posts. He was eventually hanged after the Nuremberg trials.

 37 Kurt von Schleicher

Kurt von Schleicher
0
Famous As: Former Chancellor of Germany
Birthdate: April 7, 1882
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: German
Died: June 30, 1934

German general Kurt von Schleicher was the last Chancellor of the German Reich, or Weimar Republic, before Adolf Hitler came to power. He was killed on Hitler’s orders during the purge called the Night of the Long Knives. He had attempted to form an anti-Hitler coalition called the Querfront.

 38 Willi Herold

Willi Herold
0
Famous As: Military personnel
Birthdate: September 11, 1925
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: German
Died: November 14, 1946

 39 Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck

Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck
0
Famous As: Politician, Writer, Officer
Birthdate: March 20, 1870
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: German
Died: March 9, 1964

 40 Friedrich Ebert

Friedrich Ebert
0
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: February 4, 1871
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: German
Died: February 28, 1925

Friedrich Ebert was a German politician who served as the president of Germany from 1919 to 1925. He played an important role during the German Revolution of 1918–19, which helped replace the federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary republic, which came to be known as the Weimar Republic. Friedrich Ebert also worked towards restoring peace in Germany.

 41 Frederick William III of Prussia

Frederick William III of Prussia
0
Famous As: King
Birthdate: August 3, 1770
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: German
Died: June 7, 1840

 42 Adolf Galland

Adolf Galland
0
Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: March 19, 1912
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: German
Died: February 9, 1996

Adolf Galland was a German flying ace and Luftwaffe general who served during World War II in Europe. He flew as much as 705 combat missions and fought in the Defence of the Reich and on the Western Front. During the course of his illustrious career, Adolf Galland achieved 104 aerial victories against the Western Allies.

 43 William Joyce

William Joyce
0
Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: April 24, 1906
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: German, American
Died: January 3, 1946

American-born fascist politician William Joyce was a Nazi propaganda broadcaster to UK during World War II. He later became a German citizen. As a young man, he joined the British Union of Fascists (BUF) and rose through the ranks to become the BUF's Director of Propaganda. Following the end of World War II, he was arrested for treason and executed.

 44 Wilm Hosenfeld

Wilm Hosenfeld
2
Famous As: Army Officer
Birthdate: May 2, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: German
Died: August 13, 1952

Wilm Hosenfeld was a German Army officer, best remembered for rescuing many Polish people in Nazi-German occupied Poland. His efforts to help save the life of Jewish composer and pianist Władysław Szpilman were depicted in the 2002 biographical war drama film, The Pianist, in which Hosenfeld was portrayed by actor Thomas Kretschmann.

 45 August von Mackensen

August von Mackensen
0
Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: December 6, 1849
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: German
Died: November 8, 1945

August von Mackensen was a German field marshal during the First World War. He was considered one of the German Empire's most prominent military leaders. Following his retirement, he became a Prussian state councilor. He supported right-wing monarchists and nationalist groups. His attitude towards the Nazi regime was ambiguous. He died in 1945 at the age of 95. 

 46 Prince Rupert of the Rhine

Prince Rupert of the Rhine
0
Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: December 17, 1619
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: German
Died: November 29, 1682

Prince Rupert of the Rhine was a German-English admiral, army officer, colonial governor, and scientist. Renowned for his energy and quick-thinking, Rupert made long-lasting and impressive contributions to the doctrine and development of the Royal Navy. He is also credited with shaping modern Canada's political geography. 

 47 Erich Raeder

Erich Raeder
0
Famous As: Admiral
Birthdate: April 24, 1876
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: German
Died: November 6, 1960

Erich Raeder was a German admiral best remembered for his role in World War II. In 1939, Raeder became the first person since Henning von Holtzendorff to hold the rank of Grand Admiral, the highest possible naval rank. Raeder led the Kriegsmarine, the navy of Nazi Germany, for the first half of the Second World War before resigning in 1943.

 48 Friedrich Fromm

Friedrich Fromm
0
Famous As: German Army officer
Birthdate: October 8, 1888
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: German
Died: March 12, 1945

Friedrich Fromm was a German Army officer who served as the Replacement Army's Commander in Chief during the Second World War. He is best remembered for his decision not to act against the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, for which he was executed on 12 March 1945. In the 2008 thriller movie Valkyrie, Friedrich Fromm was played by Tom Wilkinson.

 49 Helmuth von Moltke the Elder

Helmuth von Moltke the Elder
0
Famous As: General, Historian
Birthdate: October 26, 1800
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: German
Died: April 24, 1891

Helmuth von Moltke the Elder was a Prussian field marshal who served as the chief of staff in the Royal Prussian Army for 30 years. Moltke, who commanded troops during Austro-Prussian War, Second Schleswig War, and the Franco-Prussian War, is credited with creating a new method of directing armies. He is also credited with pioneering the military usage of railways. 

 50 Michael Wittmann

Michael Wittmann
2
Famous As: Military Officer
Birthdate: April 22, 1914
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: German
Died: August 8, 1944

Michael Wittmann was a German Waffen-SS tank commander during World War II. While commanding a Tiger I tank, he destroyed up to 14 tanks and 15 personnel carriers, all within 15 minutes. Owing to this, he became a cult figure in Nazi Germany. He was killed during an ambush in 1944. Several books and websites are dedicated to him.