Famous German Military Leaders

Find out more about the greatest German Military Leaders, including Adolf Hitler, Otto von Bismarck, Heinrich Himmler, Erwin Rommel and Reinhard Heydrich.

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 Military Leaders

 1 Otto von Bismarck

Otto von Bismarck
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Famous As: German Statesman
Birthdate: April 1, 1815
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Schönhausen
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.

 2 George Patton

George Patton
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Famous As: Military Officer
Birthdate: November 11, 1885
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: San Gabriel, California, United States
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.

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 3 Erwin Rommel

Erwin Rommel
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Famous As: General
Birthdate: November 15, 1891
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Heidenheim an der Brenz, Germany
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.

 4 Paul von Hindenburg

Paul von Hindenburg
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Famous As: General, Second President of Weimar Republic
Birthdate: October 2, 1847
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Posen, Duchy of Posen, Kingdom of Prussia (now Poznań)
Died: August 2, 1934
Paul von Hindenburg served as the second president of the German Weimar Republic, from 1925 to 1934. In 1933, he appointed Adolf Hitler as the Chancellor of Germany, and also signed the Enabling Act, which gave Hitler total administrative powers. Following his death, Hitler declared himself the Führer.

 5 Claus von Stauffenberg

Claus von Stauffenberg
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Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: November 15, 1907
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Jettingen-Scheppach, Germany
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.

 6 Frederick III, German Emperor

Frederick III, German Emperor
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Famous As: King
Birthdate: October 18, 1831
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New Palace, Potsdam, Germany
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.

 7 Karl Von Clausewitz

Karl Von Clausewitz
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Famous As: General
Birthdate: July 1, 1780
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Burg bei Magdeburg
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.

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 8 Wilm Hosenfeld

Wilm Hosenfeld
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Famous As: Army Officer
Birthdate: May 2, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Mackenzell, Prussia, German Empire
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.

 9 Erich Ludendorff

Erich Ludendorff
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Famous As: General of German Army
Birthdate: April 9, 1865
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
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.

 10 Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben

Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben
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Famous As: Military Officer
Birthdate: September 17, 1730
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Magdeburg, Germany
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.

 11 Helmuth von Moltke the Elder

Helmuth von Moltke the Elder
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Famous As: General, Historian
Birthdate: October 26, 1800
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Mecklenburg-Schwerin
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. 

 12 Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher

Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher
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Famous As: Prussian field marshal
Birthdate: December 16, 1742
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Toitenwinkel, Rostock, Germany
Died: September 12, 1819

 13 Publius Quinctilius Varus

Publius Quinctilius Varus
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Famous As: Roman general
Birthdate: 0046 BC
Birthplace: Cremona
Died: 0009 AD

Roman general Publius Quinctilius Varus had also been made the governor of Africa. Working under Roman emperor Augustus, he lost three Roman legions to the Germanic tribes of Arminius in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest and eventually committed suicide by falling upon his sword.

 14 Erwin von Witzleben

Erwin von Witzleben
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Famous As: Military personnel, Officer
Birthdate: December 4, 1881
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wrocław
Died: August 8, 1944

 15 Eugène de Beauharnais

Eugène de Beauharnais
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Famous As: Military commander
Birthdate: September 3, 1781
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris
Died: February 21, 1824

 16 Gerhard von Scharnhorst

Gerhard von Scharnhorst
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Famous As: Military General
Birthdate: November 12, 1755
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Electorate of Hanover, Germany
Died: June 28, 1813

 17 Wilhelm von Knyphausen

Wilhelm von Knyphausen
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Famous As: General
Birthdate: November 4, 1716
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lütetsburg, Germany
Died: December 7, 1800

 18 August, Count Neidhardt von Gneisenau

August, Count Neidhardt von Gneisenau
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Famous As: Military officer
Birthdate: October 27, 1760
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Schildau, Belgern-Schildau, Germany
Died: August 23, 1831

 19 Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia

Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia
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Famous As: Military officer
Birthdate: March 20, 1828
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: June 15, 1885

 20 Friedrich Wilhelm von Seydlitz

Friedrich Wilhelm von Seydlitz
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Famous As: General
Birthdate: February 3, 1721
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kalkar, Germany
Died: November 8, 1773

 21 Hermann Goring

Hermann Goring
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Famous As: German Military Leader
Birthdate: January 12, 1893
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Rosenheim, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire
Died: October 15, 1946

Hermann Goring was a German military and political leader. One of the most influential personalities in the Nazi Party, Göring oversaw the creation of the Gestapo. He also played a key role in the Holocaust, for which he was later convicted of crimes against humanity and crimes against peace.

 22 Heinrich Himmler

Heinrich Himmler
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Famous As: Nazi Commander
Birthdate: October 7, 1900
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Munich, Kingdom of Bavaria, Germany
Died: May 23, 1945

From being one of Hitler's most trusted confidante to getting termed as a back-stabber by Hitler himself, Heinrich Himmler had an interesting role in history. A powerful man in Nazi Germany, he is considered the main architect of the Holocaust, which killed six million Jews. During World War II, he betrayed Hitler and committed suicide after Hitler ordered his arrest.

 23 Reinhard Heydrich

Reinhard Heydrich
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Famous As: Nazi Official
Birthdate: March 7, 1904
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Halle
Died: June 4, 1942

Reinhard Heydrich was a Nazi police officer and a high-ranking SS. Heydrich is widely regarded as one of the main architects of the Holocaust, a World War II genocide that killed some six million Jews. Described by Adolf Hitler as the man with the iron heart, Heydrich is regarded as the darkest figure of the Nazi era by many historians.

 24 Rudolf Hess

Rudolf Hess
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Famous As: Deputy Führer
Birthdate: April 26, 1894
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Alexandria
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.

 25 Wilhelm Keitel

Wilhelm Keitel
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Famous As: German Commanding Officer
Birthdate: September 22, 1882
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Helmscherode, Bad Gandersheim
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.

 26 Heinz Guderian

Heinz Guderian
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Famous As: German General
Birthdate: June 17, 1888
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chełmno
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.

 27 Erich von Manstein

Erich von Manstein
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Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: November 24, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
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.

 28 Gerd von Rundstedt

Gerd von Rundstedt
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Famous As: Military Officer
Birthdate: December 12, 1875
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Aschersleben, Province of Saxony, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
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.

 29 Erich Hartmann

Erich Hartmann
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Famous As: Aviator, Officer
Birthdate: April 19, 1922
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Weissach
Died: September 20, 1993

 30 Friedrich Paulus

Friedrich Paulus
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Famous As: Military Officer
Birthdate: September 23, 1890
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Guxhagen, Germany
Died: February 1, 1957

Friedrich Paulus was a German field marshal who played a major role in World War II. He is best remembered for his role in the Battle of Stalingrad, where he commanded the 6th Army. As German General Staff's deputy chief, he also helped plan Operation Barbarossa, the code name for the invasion of the Soviet Union.

 31 William the Silent

William the Silent
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Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: April 24, 1533
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dillenburg, Germany
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.    

 32 William, German Crown Prince

William, German Crown Prince
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Famous As: Military commander
Birthdate: May 6, 1882
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Marmorpalais, Potsdam, Germany
Died: July 20, 1951

 33 Carl von Clausewitz

Carl von Clausewitz
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Famous As: General
Birthdate: June 1, 1780
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Burg bei Magdeburg, Germany
Died: November 16, 1831

 34 Alfred Jodl

Alfred Jodl
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Famous As: Military Commander, Nazi War Criminal
Birthdate: May 10, 1890
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Würzburg
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.

 35 Franz von Papen

Franz von Papen
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Famous As: Former Vice-Chancellor of Germany
Birthdate: October 29, 1879
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Werl, Westphalia, Prussia, Germany
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.

 36 Hermann Fegelein

Hermann Fegelein
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Famous As: Nazi Leader
Birthdate: October 30, 1906
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ansbach
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.

 37 Heinrich Müller

Heinrich Müller
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Famous As: Police officer
Birthdate: April 28, 1900
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Munich
Died: April 30, 1945

 38 Walter Model

Walter Model
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Famous As: Military Officer
Birthdate: January 24, 1891
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Genthin, Germany
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.

 39 Michael Wittmann

Michael Wittmann
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Famous As: Military Officer
Birthdate: April 22, 1914
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vogelthal, Dietfurt, Germany
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. 

 40 Wilhelm Canaris

Wilhelm Canaris
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Famous As: Admiral
Birthdate: January 1, 1887
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Aplerbeck
Died: April 9, 1945

While Wilhelm Canaris became one of Hitler’s most trusted secret agents, he was actually supplying information to Britain all along. He went down in history as a man who was hanged twice for treason, first as part of torture for a few moments, and then for good.

 41 Sepp Dietrich

Sepp Dietrich
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Famous As: Military Officer
Birthdate: May 28, 1892
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hawangen, Germany
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.

 42 Kurt von Schleicher

Kurt von Schleicher
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Famous As: Former Chancellor of Germany
Birthdate: April 7, 1882
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brandenburg, Germany
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.

 43 Willi Herold

Willi Herold
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Famous As: Military personnel
Birthdate: September 11, 1925
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chemnitz, Germany
Died: November 14, 1946

 44 Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck

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

 45 Adolf Galland

Adolf Galland
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Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: March 19, 1912
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Herten, Germany
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.

 46 August von Mackensen

August von Mackensen
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Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: December 6, 1849
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Trossin, Germany
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. 

 47 Prince Rupert of the Rhine

Prince Rupert of the Rhine
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Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: December 17, 1619
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Prague
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. 

 48 Erich Raeder

Erich Raeder
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Famous As: Admiral
Birthdate: April 24, 1876
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Wandsbek, Hamburg, Germany
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.

 49 Henning von Tresckow

Henning von Tresckow
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Famous As: Military Officer
Birthdate: January 10, 1901
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Magdeburg, Germany
Died: July 21, 1944

Henning von Tresckow was a German Army officer who played a key role in organizing German  resistance against Adolf Hitler. He drafted the Valkyrie plan for a coup against the German government and even attempted to assassinate Hitler in 1943. The next year, he once again plotted to kill Hitler and failed again, upon which he committed suicide. 

 50 Friedrich Fromm

Friedrich Fromm
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Famous As: German Army officer
Birthdate: October 8, 1888
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
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.