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 Walter Model

Walter Model

Genthin, Landkreis Jerichower Land, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany
Death 21 Apr 1945 (aged 54)
Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Burial Vossenack, Kreis Düren, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Plot Grave 1074
Memorial ID 11833 · View Source
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German Army Field Marshal. He was often referred to as the "Führer's Fireman" because Hitler often called upon him to restore German Army morale and to restore the front lines after the enemy had breached it. He did this so often that by late 1944, Hitler referred to him as the "Savior of the Eastern Front." He was highly decorated with the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak leaves, Swords and Diamonds (the second highest German war decoration, it was only given 27 times). Born Otto Moritz Walter Model in Genthin, Saxony-Anhalt, he was the son of a professional musician. During World War I, he served as an Infantry officer, and was awarded the Iron Cross, First Class in 1915, and the Iron Cross, 2nd Class, a year later. In 1919, he was one of only 4,000 officers permitted to remain in the post war German Army, where he was appointed head of the war ministry's Technical Warfare Section. A great supporter of mechanized warfare, Model helped to create new and improved weapons. When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, Model was sympathetic to his policies, and favored officers who shared his political beliefs. Model came to Hitler's attention early in the war, and rose quickly, serving as the Chief of Staff of the VI Corps during the 1939 attack on Poland, and as Chief of Staff of the 16th Army during the 1940 invasion of France. His performance got him the command of 3rd Panzer Division for the 1941 attack into Russia, and in 1942, command of the Ninth Army, where in the winter of 1942-43, in four weeks, he destroyed one Soviet Army and decimated another. Model was not afraid to disobey the Fuehrer when the situation demanded it, and he often withdrew units in defiance of Hitler's "no withdrawal" orders. In October 1943, he was placed in command of Army Group North, and quickly stabilized that front against a Soviet onslaught. In April 1944, he was promoted to Field Marshal, and replaced von Manstein as Commander of Army Group South (renamed Army Group Northern Ukraine). Although he was pushed back by relentless Soviet attacks, his Army Group maintained cohesion, and he was soon rewarded with the joint command of Army Group Central as well as retaining command of Army Group Northern Ukraine, in early 1944 after AG Central had collapsed under a major Soviet offensive. After stopping the Soviet Army along the Vistula River and stabilizing the front, Model was selected as Commander-in-Chief West, on 16 August 1944, replacing Field Marshal Günther Hans von Kluge who had committed suicide. In September 1944, FM Gerd von Rundstedt was appointed Commander-in-Chief West, so that Model could concentrate using Army Group B to stop the British and Americans in Belgium and Holland. Model successfully delayed the western allied armies from entering Germany proper until spring of 1945. On April 2, 1945, with Army Group B surrounded, Model dissolved the unit, and broke out from the encirclement. Disappointed over Hitler's failure to deliver the promised "miracle weapons," and aware that the allies would arrest him as a war criminal if he was captured, Model shot himself on April 21, 1945, in a forest between Düsseldorf and Duisburg rather than surrender to the allies. A highly disciplined leader who led with an iron hand, Model was considered an excellent soldier, with high organizational skills that enabled him to take remnants of units and mold them quickly into functional units capable of continuing the battle. His abilities significantly delayed both the Russian Armies and the Western Armies from advancing, although he could not stop the Allies.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 23 Aug 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 11833
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Walter Model (24 Jan 1891–21 Apr 1945), Find A Grave Memorial no. 11833, citing Soldatenfriedhof Vossenack, Vossenack, Kreis Düren, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany ; Maintained by Find A Grave .