Famous German Military Leaders

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Find out more about the greatest German Military Leaders, including Adolf Hitler, Otto von Bismarck, Heinrich Himmler, Erwin Rommel and Reinhard Heydrich.
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 1 
Erwin Rommel
(General)
Erwin Rommel
31
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 
Karl Dönitz
(German Admiral Who Briefly Succeeded Adolf Hitler as Head of State)
Karl Dönitz
6
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.
 3 
Claus von Stauffenberg
(German Army Officer Who Failed in His Attempt to Assassinate Adolf Hitler)
Claus von Stauffenberg
10
Birthdate: November 15, 1907
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Jettingen, Germany
Died: July 1, 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.

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 4 
Erich Ludendorff
(German General, Politician and Military Theorist)
Erich Ludendorff
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.

 5 
Otto Skorzeny
(German SS - Obersturmbannführer During World War II)
Otto Skorzeny
5
Birthdate: June 12, 1908
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: July 5, 1975
Austrian-born German SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny served in the Waffen-SS during World War II. He led the Gran Sasso raid that rescued Benito Mussolini. He also headed Operation Greif that had German soldiers attacking Allied forces by using uniforms of their enemies. He later spent time in Egypt and Argentina.
 6 
Heinz Guderian
(German General During World War II and Inspector of Motorized Troops)
Heinz Guderian
7
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.

 7 
Erich Hartmann
(Aviator, Officer)
Erich Hartmann
5
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.

 8 
Friedrich Paulus
(German Field Marshal Best Known for Commanding the 6th Army During the Battle of Stalingrad)
Friedrich Paulus
8
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.

 9 
Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben
(German Military Officer Who Served as a Major General of the Continental Army During the American Revolutionary War)
Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben
8
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.
 10 
Rudolf Hess
(Deputy Führer)
Rudolf Hess
14
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.
 11 
Karl Von Clausewitz
5
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.

 12 
Helmuth von Moltke the Elder
(Former Chief of the German General Staff (1871 - 1888))
Helmuth von Moltke the Elder
3
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. 

 13 
Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher
(Prussian field marshal)
Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher
4
Birthdate: December 16, 1742
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Toitenwinkel, Rostock, Germany
Died: September 12, 1819
 14 
Wilhelm Canaris
(5th Chief of the Abwehr (1935 - 1944))
Wilhelm Canaris
5
Birthdate: January 1, 1877
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Germany
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.

 15 
Heinrich Müller
(Police officer)
Heinrich Müller
9
Birthdate: April 28, 1900
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Munich
Died: April 30, 1945
 16 
William, German Crown Prince
(Military commander)
William, German Crown Prince
7
Birthdate: May 6, 1882
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Potsdam, Germany
Died: July 20, 1951
 17 
Walter Model
(German Field Marshal During World War II)
Walter Model
8
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 
Kurt von Schleicher
(German General and the Last Chancellor of Germany—Before Adolf Hitler—During the Weimar Republic)
Kurt von Schleicher
5
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.

 19 
Adolf Galland
(Military Leader)
Adolf Galland
3
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.

 20 
Prince Rupert of the Rhine
(German-English Army Officer, Admiral, Scientist and Colonial Governor)
Prince Rupert of the Rhine
5
Birthdate: December 17, 1619
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Prague, Czechia
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. 

 21 
Sepp Dietrich
(Military Officer)
Sepp Dietrich
3
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.
 22 
Michael Wittmann
(Military Officer)
Michael Wittmann
4
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 
Henning von Tresckow
(Military Officer)
Henning von Tresckow
6
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. 

 24 
Erich Raeder
(Admiral)
Erich Raeder
3
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.

 25 
Erich von Manstein
(German Field Marshal During World War II)
Erich von Manstein
4
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.

 26 
Hermann Goring
(German Nazi Party Leader and Convicted War Criminal)
Hermann Goring
18
Birthdate: January 12, 1893
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Rosenheim, Germany
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.

 27 
Franz Halder
(Former general, chief of staff of the Army High Command (OKH) in Nazi Germany from 1938 until September 1942)
Franz Halder
5
Birthdate: June 30, 1884
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Würzburg, Germany
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.

 28 
Joachim von Ribbentrop
(Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nazi Germany (1938 - 1945))
Joachim von Ribbentrop
7
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.

 29 
Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck
(Was a general in the Imperial German Army)
Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck
4
Birthdate: March 20, 1870
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Saarlouis, Germany
Died: March 9, 1964
 30 
Edmund the Martyr
3
Birthdate: 0841 AD
Birthplace: Nuremberg, Germany
Died: November 28, 0869
 31 
Wilm Hosenfeld
(Army Officer)
Wilm Hosenfeld
4
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.

 32 
Friedrich Fromm
(German Army officer)
Friedrich Fromm
4
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.

Prince Wilhelm of Prussia
3
Birthdate: July 4, 1906
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Marmorpalais, Potsdam, Germany
Died: May 26, 1940
 34 
Gerd von Rundstedt
(Military Officer)
Gerd von Rundstedt
5
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.

 35 
Ferdinand Schörner
3
Birthdate: June 12, 1892
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Munich
Died: July 2, 1973
 36 
Franz von Papen
(Former Vice-Chancellor of Germany)
Franz von Papen
5
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.

 37 
Ludwig Beck
(German General and Chief of the German General Staff During the Early Years of the Nazi Regime)
Ludwig Beck
4
Birthdate: June 29, 1880
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Biebrich, Wiesbaden, Germany
Died: July 20, 1944

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.

 38 
Reinhard Heydrich
(Nazi Official)
Reinhard Heydrich
18
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.

 39 
Josef Kramer
(Military officer)
Josef Kramer
4
Birthdate: November 10, 1906
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Munich, Germany
Died: December 13, 1945
 40 
Günther von Kluge
(Former field marshal during World War II who held commands on both the Eastern and Western Fronts)
Günther von Kluge
4
Birthdate: October 30, 1882
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Poznań, Poland
Died: August 19, 1944

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). 

 41 
Hermann Fegelein
(Nazi Leader)
Hermann Fegelein
5
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.
 42 
Publius Quinctilius Varus
5
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.

 43 
August von Mackensen
(Military Leader)
August von Mackensen
3
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. 

Helmuth von Moltke the Younger
6
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.

 45 
Erich von Falkenhayn
(Former Minister of War of Prussia (1913 - 1915))
Erich von Falkenhayn
4
Birthdate: September 11, 1861
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Białochowo, Poland
Died: April 8, 1922

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.

 46 
Erwin von Witzleben
(Russian American Actress)
Erwin von Witzleben
3
Birthdate: December 4, 1881
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wrocław, Poland
Died: August 8, 1944

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.

 47 
Maurice de Saxe
2
Birthdate: October 28, 1696
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Goslar, Germany
Died: November 20, 1750
 48 
Walther von Brauchitsch
(Military Commander)
Walther von Brauchitsch
3
Birthdate: October 4, 1881
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: German Empire
Died: October 18, 1948

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.

 49 
Wilhelm Mohnke
(Military Leader)
Wilhelm Mohnke
4
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.

 50 
Prince Maximilian of Baden
(Last Chancellor of the German Empire and Minister-President of Prussia (1918))
Prince Maximilian of Baden
4
Birthdate: July 10, 1867
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Baden-Baden, Germany
Died: November 6, 1929

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.