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.
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.
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.
Nazi World War II pilot Hans-Ulrich Rudel hated academics but loved skiing as a young man. He is believed to have destroyed 519 Soviet tanks and even got a leg amputated. Post-war, he went to Argentina briefly, wrote books, and also became an entrepreneur after returning to Germany.
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.
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.
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.
Karl Wolff was a German SS official during World War II. By the end of the war, Wolff was serving as the Supreme SS and Police Leader in Italy, where he played a major role in bringing the war to an end sooner than in the rest of Europe. Wolff was prosecuted in 1962 for the deportation of Italian Jews.
Remembered for his aerial battles during the North African Campaign, Hans-Joachim Marseille was a German Luftwaffe fighter pilot and a flying ace, who claimed a total of 158 victories, out of which 151 victories were against the British Commonwealth's Desert Air Force. Nicknamed Star of Africa, he is also credited with shooting down seventeen Allied fighters in a single day.
Though Ernst Jünger was part of the German Army in both the World Wars, he was against the Nazi dictatorship and was accused of being involved in a plot to kill Hitler. He authored the diary-novel The Storm of Steel and also made a mark as an entomologist.
SS captain Erich Priebke made headlines when he was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing 335 boys and men in groups of 5, at the Ardeatine Caves in Italy. He eventually died of old age in house arrest at age 100, and was the oldest surviving Nazi war criminal back then.
Remembered as one of the most successful tank commanders of World War II, Kurt Knispel demolished at least 168 tanks. The German Tiger commander, who died of a shrapnel injury, is often compared to fellow commander Otto Carius. He was honored with a German Cross in Gold.
German general Friedrich Olbricht was part of the First World War but is best remembered for his association with the July Plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Eventually arrested for the conspiracy, he and the other plotters were executed, and Olbricht was the first to be shot.
Known as the Nazi Master Negotiator, Hanns Scharff was famous for his unusual method of extracting information out of prisoners without the use of violence. Initially part of his family textile business, he had also mastered the art of sales. He later moved to the US and became a mosaic artisan.
Adam Worth was a German-born American thief whose short stature earned him the nickname Napoleon of the criminal world. It is widely believed that he was the inspiration behind Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character Professor James Moriarty. In the 1976 period comedy film Harry and Walter Go to New York, Adam Worth was portrayed by English actor Sir Michael Caine.
German Army general Hans Krebs was the last OKH Chief of Staff during the last phase of World War II. He was part of the Fuehrer’s entourage during his final days in the Fuehrerbunker. Following Hitler’s suicide, he was sent to deliver the surrender terms to the Soviets but eventually committed suicide.
A West German military leader of the post WWII period, General Hans Speidel is best remembered for his contributions to German rearmament and integration into NATO. The only leading member of the 20 July Plot to survive the war, he later played an important role in the international defense cooperation, eventually being appointed Commander of Allied Land Forces Central Europe.
Dietrich von Choltitz, the last commander of Nazi-occupied Paris, is best remembered for disobeying Adolf Hitler’s orders of burning Paris down, an action that earned him the nickname of the Savior of Paris. His many awards include the Knight's Cross and the German Cross. His exploits inspired the film Is Paris Burning?
Heinz Hitler was a German Unteroffizier who served between 1939 and 1942 in the unified armed forces of Germany, Bundeswehr. Heinz belonged to the infamous Hitler family and was widely regarded as Adolf Hitler's favorite nephew. An ardent supporter of the Nazis, Heinz Hitler joined the Wehrmacht, the armed forces of Nazi Germany, at the dawn of World War II.
Günther Rall was a German military aviator and General whose career spanned almost four decades. In 1938, Rall became a fighter pilot and went on to become one of the most successful fighter pilots in the history of aviation. Over the course of his illustrious career, Rall was honored with several awards like the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.
Werner von Blomberg was a German military officer who served as a German General Staff officer. Blomberg also served as Nazi Germany's first Minister of War. As the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, Werner von Blomberg played a key role in Germany's preparation in the years leading to the Second World War.
Nazi commander Kurt Meyer, also known as Panzermeyer, is remembered for his atrocities, especially the mass murder of the Canadian POWs in Normandy. He was sentenced to death as a war criminal, but his sentence was later commuted and he was eventually released from jail.
Known as Adolf Hitler’s favorite spy, Reinhard Gehlen led the Wehrmacht military intelligence during World War II. Following the war, he surrendered to the Allies and then joined hands with the CIA to form Germany’s modern spy service consisting of countless former Nazis and war criminals.
Lothar von Richthofen was a German flying ace who served during the First World War. He was the younger brother of another aviator Manfred von Richthofen, whose life inspired the 2008 German-British biopic The Red Baron where Lothar von Richthofen was played by German actor Volker Bruch. Richthofen died in a flying accident when he was just 27 years old.
Fritz Todt was a German civil engineer and architect. A senior Nazi, Todt oversaw the construction of Reichsautobahnen, a controlled-access highway, and also served as the Reich Minister for Armaments and Ammunition. Before the start of the Second World War, Todt initiated a military-engineering company called Organisation Todt that oversaw the construction of many Nazi concentration camps.
A pioneer in developing airborne operations, Kurt Student was a German general and commander of the Luftwaffe's paratroop branch. Assigned to military research and development in interwar years, he became interested in gliders and paratroopers, eventually helping to develop Germany's airborne forces. He masterminded airborne attacks in places like Netherlands and Crete, forcing the Allies to develop their own airborne troops.
Hans Langsdorff was a German naval officer best remembered for commanding the Admiral Graf Spee, a heavily armed cruiser, which was nicknamed pocket battleship by the British. The legendary ship played a key role in the Spanish Civil War where it conducted five non-intervention patrols.
Hans von Seeckt was a German military officer. He played an important role in the First World War where he was a key figure in planning the victories achieved by August von Mackensen during World War I.
Hans Kammler was a German architect and civil engineer. He was responsible for several civil engineering projects of the Nazi regime and its secret weapons programs. Kammler supervised the construction of many Nazi concentration camps. A few days before the culmination of the war, Hans Kammler absconded and his fate remains a mystery to date.
Known for playing a key role in establishing Luftwaffe, Erhard Milch joined civil aviation industry after a brief army career during WWI and eventually became State Secretary of Reich Ministry of Aviation. Soon, he started building up Luftwaffe and quickly reaching a high position. Tried as war criminal after WWII, he was sentenced to life imprisonment, but was released within seven years.
Gerhard Barkhorn was a German military aviator who served as the wing commander in the Luftwaffe during World War II. He was a fighter ace and is counted among the most successful fighter pilot of all time, with over 300 victories. He received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords for his outstanding achievements.
Surprisingly German soldier Werner Goldberg was half-Jewish. Associated with the Nazi German army, he was part of World War II and was tagged The Ideal German Soldier. The Nazis considered him Aryan and not Jewish since his mother was non-Jewish. Following the war, he served as a politician.
Heinz Linge went from being a bricklayer to a Schutzstaffel official. He joined Adolf Hitler’s household staff, as his valet. Stationed at the Führerbunker with Hitler during the fall of the Nazis, he was eventually tasked with cremating Hitler’s body. Captured by the Red Army, he later penned a memoir.
Julius Schreck was a senior Nazi official who served in World War I. A close confidant of Adolf Hitler, Schreck is credited with co-founding the Sturmabteilung, Nazi Party's original paramilitary wing. He also played an active role in the development of Sturmabteilung. Julius Schreck was honored with a state funeral after his demise in 1936.
Heinrich Severloh was a German soldier who achieved notoriety in 2000 when a memoir titled WN 62 – Erinnerungen an Omaha Beach Normandie, 6. Juni 1944 was published. The book claims that Severloh gunned down more than 1,000 American soldiers on Omaha Beach on D-Day. At the end of the war, Heinrich Severloh was held as a prisoner of war.
Known as Albert Dussel in Anne Frank’s diary, Fritz Pfeffer was a successful Jewish dentist who had hid along with Anne Frank and her family in the Secret Annex during the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands. Initially deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, he later died at the Neuengamme concentration camp.
Christian Wirth was a German military officer and leading Holocaust perpetrator. Wirth was one of the chief architects of Operation Reinhard, a program to exterminate the Jews in Poland. After the end of Operation Reinhard, Christian Wirth was murdered by Yugoslav Partisans.
Günther Prien was a German military officer who played a major role as a U-boat commander during the Second World War. Under his command, submarine U-47 sank more than 30 Allied ships, including the legendary HMS Royal Oak. In 1939, Günther Prien became the first U-boat commander to be honored with the Knight's Cross for his efforts in the war.
Adolf Heusinger was a German military officer. A respected officer, Heusinger served as the general for West Germany from 1957 to 1961. From 1961 to 1964, Adolf Heusinger served as the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee.
Wilhelm Bittrich was a German Waffen-SS commander who served for Nazi Germany. Between 1942 and 1943, Wilhelm Bittrich commanded the Florian Geyer, a Waffen-SS cavalry division. From 1944 till the end of the war, Wilhelm Bittrich commanded the second SS Panzer Corps and played a major role during Operation Market Garden.
Tessy Antony de Nassau is a Luxembourgish non-profit executive and businesswoman. She was formerly married to Prince Louis of Luxembourg and was one of the most important members of the Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg. For her humanitarian work, Tessy was honored with the Mrongovius Medal in 2016. A multi-talented personality, Tessy practices spinning, scuba diving, swimming, skiing, and hunting.
Maximilian von Weichs was a German field marshal during World War II. Joining the military as a youngster, he fought in World War I. He was a senior army officer when World War II broke out and commanded the army during the invasions of France, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union. He was implicated in war crimes but was never sentenced.
Hans Baur was a German military officer and aviator. He served as Adolf Hitler's pilot in the early 1930s when Hitler became the world's first politician to use flight as part of his political campaigns. Baur was later appointed as Adolf Hitler's personal pilot. At the end of the war, Hans Baur was imprisoned in the USSR and France.
Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock was a German submarine commander who served in Nazi Germany's navy Kriegsmarine during World War II. Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock played an important role in the Battle of the Atlantic where he was one of the most successful U-boat commanders against the Allies. In 1941, he was honored with the prestigious Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves.