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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Initially the head of the Truppenamt and then the Chief of Army General Staff, Ludwig Beck tried to influence Adolf Hitler’s foreign policy, although never an official Nazi Party member. He was part of a plot to assassinate Hitler and bring about an alternate power but was shot dead after it failed.
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.
Günther von Kluge was a German field marshal who played a critical role during the Second World War, commanding both the Western and Eastern Fronts of the war. Günther von Kluge played significant roles during the invasion of Poland (1939), the Battle of France (1940), the invasion of the Soviet Union (1941), and the Battle for Moscow (1941).
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.
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.
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.
Erich von Falkenhayn was a war leader who played a major role during World War I where he served as the Chief of the German General Staff from 1914 to 1916. He also served as the Prussian Minister of War from 1913 to 1915. Although his reputation was attacked by certain groups, many regard Falkenhayn as a great German general.
German field marshal Erwin von Witzleben was one of the main conspirators of the 20 July plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Arrested for his crimes, he was later forced to appear in court without his false teeth and eventually executed and hung from a meat hook by a piano wire.
Walther von Brauchitsch was a German field marshal. During World War II, Brauchitsch played an important role in the German Army where he served as the Commander-in-Chief. He also played a prominent role in the Battle of France and supervised the invasions of Greece and Yugoslavia. He was promoted to field marshal for his role in the Battle of France.
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.
Prince Maximilian of Baden was a German politician and general. Maximilian, who belonged to the German aristocracy, was the last chancellor of the German Empire. He also played an important role in the events leading up to the creation of the Weimar Republic.