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 Erwin Rommel

Erwin Rommel
13
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.

 2 Heinz Guderian

Heinz Guderian
5
Famous As: Chief of the General Staff of the German Army High Command (1944-45)
Birthdate: June 17, 1888
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chełmno, Poland
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.

 3 Karl Dönitz

Karl Dönitz
4
Famous As: President of Germany (1945)
Birthdate: September 16, 1891
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Grünau, Berlin, Germany
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.
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 4 Rudolf Hess

Rudolf Hess
7
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.

 5 Erich Ludendorff

Erich Ludendorff
9
Famous As: General of German Army (1916-18)
Birthdate: April 9, 1865
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kruszewnia, Poland
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.

 6 Claus von Stauffenberg

Claus von Stauffenberg
4
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.

 7 Rudolf Höss

Rudolf Höss
4
Famous As: German Nazi Officer
Birthdate: November 25, 1901
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Baden-Baden, Germany
Died: April 16, 1947

Rudolf Höss was a German SS officer who was convicted of war crimes after the defeat of Nazi Germany. The longest-serving commandant of the Auschwitz extermination camp, Höss implemented means to accelerate the Final Solution, a Nazi plan for the genocide of Jews. Upon his order, pesticide Zyklon B was used in gas chambers, killing millions of people.

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 8 Joachim von Ribbentrop

Joachim von Ribbentrop
4
Famous As: Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nazi Germany (1938-45)
Birthdate: April 30, 1893
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Wesel, Germany
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.

 9 Reinhard Heydrich

Reinhard Heydrich
14
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.

 10 Gerd von Rundstedt

Gerd von Rundstedt
4
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.

 11 Friedrich Paulus

Friedrich Paulus
6
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.

 12 Alfred Jodl

Alfred Jodl
4
Famous As: Chief of the Operations Staff of the German Armed Forces High Command (1939-1945)
Birthdate: May 10, 1890
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Würzburg, Germany
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.

 13 Wilm Hosenfeld

Wilm Hosenfeld
4
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.

 14 William, German Crown Prince

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

 15 Heinrich Himmler

Heinrich Himmler
23
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.

 16 Helmuth von Moltke the Elder

Helmuth von Moltke the Elder
3
Famous As: Chief of staff of the Prussian Army (1871-1888)
Birthdate: October 26, 1800
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Parchim, Germany
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. 

 17 Walter Model

Walter Model
6
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.

 18 Karl Von Clausewitz

Karl Von Clausewitz
4
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.

 19 Franz von Papen

Franz von Papen
4
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.

 20 Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher

Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher
3
Famous As: Prussian field marshal
Birthdate: December 16, 1742
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Toitenwinkel, Rostock, Germany
Died: September 12, 1819

 21 Heinrich Müller

Heinrich Müller
8
Famous As: Police officer
Birthdate: April 28, 1900
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Munich
Died: April 30, 1945

 22 Michael Wittmann

Michael Wittmann
4
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. 

 23 Willi Herold

Willi Herold
3
Famous As: Military personnel
Birthdate: September 11, 1925
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chemnitz, Germany
Died: November 14, 1946

 24 August von Mackensen

August von Mackensen
3
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. 

 25 Kurt von Schleicher

Kurt von Schleicher
5
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.

 26 Henning von Tresckow

Henning von Tresckow
4
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. 

 27 Wilhelm Canaris

Wilhelm Canaris
4
Famous As: Chief of the Abwehr (1935-44)
Birthdate: January 1, 1877
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.

 28 Hermann Goring

Hermann Goring
16
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.

 29 Friedrich Fromm

Friedrich Fromm
3
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.

 30 Erich von Manstein

Erich von Manstein
4
Famous As: Military officer
Birthdate: November 24, 1887
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: June 10, 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.

 31 Baldur von Schirach

Baldur von Schirach
3
Famous As: Nazi Leader
Birthdate: May 9, 1907
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: August 8, 1974

Baldur von Schirach was a Nazi German politician. He is best remembered for his work as the national youth leader of the Nazi Party. From 1931 to 1940, he also served as the head of an organization called Hitler Youth. After the Second World War, Schirach was found guilty of crimes against humanity and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

 32 Erich Raeder

Erich Raeder
3
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.

 33 Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben

Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben
8
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.

 34 Josef Kramer

Josef Kramer
3
Famous As: Military officer
Birthdate: November 10, 1906
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: December 13, 1945

 35 Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck

Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck
3
Famous As: Politician, Writer, Officer
Birthdate: March 20, 1870
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Saarlouis
Died: March 9, 1964

 36 Erich Hartmann

Erich Hartmann
4
Famous As: Aviator, Officer
Birthdate: April 19, 1922
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Weissach
Died: September 20, 1993

Remembered as the most successful fighter pilot in the history of aerial warfare, Erich Hartmann completed 1,400 missions in his Messerschmitt Bf 109 and shot down 352 Allied planes. Known for his dogfighting strategy, he inspired the popular biography The Blond Knight of Germany and became a flight instructor post-retirement.

 37 Paul Hausser

Paul Hausser
3
Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: October 7, 1880
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brandenburg, Germany
Died: December 21, 1972

Paul Hausser was a German general who played an important role in the post-war efforts in order to achieve legal and historical rehabilitation. Hausser was among many former members of the Waffen-SS who strived towards achieving rehabilitation. He also played a prominent role during World War I, serving in the Prussian Army.

 38 Wilhelm Mohnke

Wilhelm Mohnke
3
Famous As: Military Leader
Birthdate: March 15, 1911
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Free City of Lübeck, German Empire
Died: August 6, 2001

Wilhelm Mohnke was a German military leader and one of the members of the SS-Staff Guard, which was formed in March 1933. In 1943, he was chosen to command a military unit in the SS Division Hitlerjugend. Over the course of his career, he went on to become one of Hitler's last remaining generals.

 39 Franz Halder

Franz Halder
3
Famous As: Soldier, Writer, Diarist
Birthdate: June 30, 1884
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Würzburg
Died: April 2, 1972

Franz Halder, the son of an army officer, became the Chief of General Staff of the German army, replacing General Ludwig Beck. He later became the Commander in Chief but was replaced due to disagreements with Hitler. He later testified against major Nazi officials in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial.

 40 Wilhelm Keitel

Wilhelm Keitel
8
Famous As: Chief of the German Armed Forces High Command (1938-45)
Birthdate: September 22, 1882
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bad Gandersheim, Germany
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.

 41 Prince Wilhelm of Prussia

Prince Wilhelm of Prussia
3
Famous As: Prince
Birthdate: July 4, 1906
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Marmorpalais, Potsdam, Germany
Died: May 26, 1940

 42 Hermann Fegelein

Hermann Fegelein
4
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.

 43 Ferdinand Schörner

Ferdinand Schörner
3
Famous As: General
Birthdate: June 12, 1892
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Munich
Died: July 2, 1973

 44 Günther von Kluge

Günther von Kluge
3
Famous As: Officer
Birthdate: October 30, 1882
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Poznań
Died: August 17, 1944

 45 Publius Quinctilius Varus

Publius Quinctilius Varus
3
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.

 46 Helmuth von Moltke the Younger

Helmuth von Moltke the Younger
5
Famous As: officer
Birthdate: May 23, 1848
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Parchim
Died: June 18, 1916

Helmuth von Moltke the Younger was a German military officer who served as a general. Moltke the Younger became the Chief of the German General Staff and led the German Army between 1906 and 1914. His influence on Germany's decision to enter World War I has tarnished his legacy. The failure of his Schlieffen Plan has also earned him criticisms.

 47 Sepp Dietrich

Sepp Dietrich
3
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.

 48 Erich von Falkenhayn

Erich von Falkenhayn
3
Famous As: General
Birthdate: September 11, 1861
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Białochowo, Poland
Died: April 8, 1922

 49 Maurice de Saxe

Maurice de Saxe
2
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: October 28, 1696
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Goslar, Germany
Died: November 20, 1750

 50 Adolf Galland

Adolf Galland
3
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.