Birthday: October 8, 1888
Died At Age: 56
Sun Sign: Libra
Born Country: Germany
Born in: Berlin, Germany
Famous as: German Army officer
children: Helga Heinke
Died on: March 12, 1945
place of death: Brandenburg-Görden Prison, Brandenburg, Germany
Cause of Death: Firearm
City: Berlin, Germany
awards: Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Friedrich Fromm was a German army officer. He had served in the ‘Royal Prussian Army’ during the First World War. He was also the chief of army equipment and the commander of the ‘Replacement Army’ of ‘Nazi’ Germany during most of the Second World War. During this time, he was subordinate only to Adolf Hitler. He held considerable power in the German state, as his position allowed him to control army procurement and production and also command the entire army within the country. He received several awards for his military service, including the ‘Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.’ He was aware of an assassination plot against Hitler, conspired by some of his immediate subordinates. Although he was not directly involved in it, Fromm initially tacitly supported it but eventually backed out. After the assassination attempt failed, Fromm did not follow Hitler’s orders of taking the conspirators alive. Instead, he held a ‘Summary Court Martial’ of the suspected and identified officers and had them executed immediately, possibly to save himself from future scrutiny. This action raised suspicion, leading to his arrest, trial, and execution, for failing to act against the plot to assassinate Hitler.
Childhood & Early Life
Friedrich Fromm was born on October 8, 1888, in the affluent locality of Charlottenburg in Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia, Germany.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
Fromm served the ‘Royal Prussian Army’ as an officer at the time of the First World War and had attained the rank of lieutenant by the end of the war.
He served the army under the chief of the ‘General Staff,’ General Ludwig Beck. He was made the chief of army equipment and the commander of the ‘Replacement Army’ (the “Ersatzheer”) in 1939. He thus took charge of training and replacing personnel for the ‘German Army’s combat divisions.
In December 1941, when Operation Barbarossa of the ‘Axis’ forces was stalled outside Moscow, and the Soviets, in their defensive effort, started a counter-attack, Adolf Hitler, the “Führer” of ‘Nazi’ Germany, took charge of the army. He also re-arranged the command structure of the armed forces. There was significant development of the ‘Office of the Chief of Army Armament’ and the ‘Reserve Army’ under Fromm. With this, Generaloberst Fromm became subordinate only to the army’s commander-in-chief, Hitler. The position empowered Fromm to control army procurement and production and to command army troops within Germany, thus giving him considerable power over the entire German state.
In early 1942, he seemingly suggested that due to the depletion of army stockpiles and re-direction of production, following the initial success of Barbarossa in the summer of 1941, they should play defensive that year.
Fromm received several awards and honors for his military service. Some of the most notable of them were the ‘Iron Cross’ (1914), the ‘Wound Badge’ (1914), the ‘Honour Cross of the World War’ (1914/1918), the ‘Clasp to the Iron Cross’ (1939), the and ‘Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross’ (1940).
The Anti-Hitler Plot & the Military coup d'Ã©tat
Certain groups within the ‘German Army’ and the ‘German Military Intelligence Organization’ had started plotting to overthrow the ‘Nazi Party’ and to remove Hitler from power since 1938. The wave of the Second World War started going against Germany by mid-1943. The anti-Hitler plotters among the German army and civilians became convinced that by killing Hitler and forming a government that would be acceptable to the western ‘Allies,’ they could prevent a Soviet invasion of Germany.
On July 1, 1944, Claus von Stauffenberg was inducted as the chief of staff to Fromm at the ‘Reserve Army’ headquarters on Bendlerstraße in central Berlin. Fromm knew that some of his immediate subordinates, including Stauffenberg, were plotting an assassination attempt on Hitler. Fromm chose to remain quiet on the matter and was not directly involved in the conspiracy. He, however, gave consent to be part of the plot on the condition that following the mutiny, he would be given a top office in the new government. He, however, refused to remain involved with the conspirators after the assassination attempt, scheduled on July 15, 1944, was called off at the last minute.
Another plot was made on July 20, 1944. As news reached that Hitler and many other officers of the ‘Supreme Command’ of the armed forces were injured due to a bomb explosion in the Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair), Fromm understood that this was the work of Stauffenberg and the conspirators. When he tried to arrest the conspirators, he was overpowered and locked up in a jail cell in the ‘Bendlerblock.’ The conspirators forged his signature for Operation Valkyrie after he refused to join them and be part of the operation.
After the “coup d’état” failed, the ‘Ersatzheer’ men found Fromm locked in jail and released him. Hitler ordered to catch the conspirators alive. However, Fromm, probably anxious that the conspirators might divulge his knowledge of the plots against Hitler and his silent approval, conducted a ‘Summary Court Martial’ of the identified and suspected soldiers, at his headquarters. He presided over the ‘Summary Court Martial’ and ordered immediate execution of the officers by a firing squad. He granted retired colonel-general Ludwig Beck’s request of committing suicide, but when this attempt failed, Fromm gave orders to shoot Beck, too.
Trial, Conviction, & Execution
Fromm had defied Hitler’s orders of taking the conspirators alive and had executed them immediately after the failure of the coup. Thus, his actions raised Hitler’s suspicion. It was doubted that he had tried to use power in silencing the plotters who were serving under his command and who could have implicated him for deliberately disregarding their activities involving the assassination attempt on Hitler. Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler arrested Fromm on July 22, 1944. He was confined to a jail for trial before the ‘People's Court.’
On September 14, 1944, he was discharged from the ‘German Army.’ The ‘Volksgerichtshof’ considered him unworthy of continuing military service. Thus, the civilian Fromm was given a death sentence on March 7, 1945. Although his direct association with the conspirators of the July 20, 1944 plot could not be established, the court convicted him for displaying cowardice before the enemy. However, as he had executed all the plotters he could lay his hands on, he was sentenced to a military execution instead of a more torturous death by hanging with a thin rope.
He was executed by a firing squad at the ‘Brandenburg-Görden Prison’ on March 12, 1945. Reportedly, the last words of Fromm before his execution were "I die, because it was ordered. I had always wanted only the best for Germany.”
Family & Personal Life
Although not much is known about Fromm’s personal life, according to sources, German politician Helga Heinke was his daughter.