World War II German Field Marshal. Considered by many to have been a war criminal due to his Reichenau Order (or Severity Order) concerning the treatment of civil populations in occupied Eastern Europe and involvement of Wehrmacht troops under his command in the Babi Yar Massacre as well as his personal order to execute 90 Jewish children in Bila Zirkwa for the supposed involvement of their parents in partisan activities. Son of a Prussian general, he entered the Prussian Army in 1903 and was promoted to Captain in 1914. He served throughout World War I, and was awarded the Iron Cross First and Second Class. After the war he served in the Border Patrol in Pomerania and Silesia and then was permitted to join the new Reichswehr when it was formed in 1919. He was a proponent of mobile warfare and was one of those responsible for bringing English studies of tank warfare into the German Army. He became an ardent Nazi under the influence of his uncle and became the liaison between the Army and the Nazi Party upon the Nazi takeover in January of 1933. He was promoted to Lieutenant General in 1935 and named the commander of troops in the Munich district in 1938. He was in line for promotion to head of the Army in 1938, but many older officers refused to serve under him due to his strong Nazism. He commanded the 10th Army in the Battle of Poland and the 6th Army during the invasion of Belgium and the Battle of France. He was promoted to Field Marshal in June 1940. He was strongly against the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941; nevertheless, he led 6th Army into battle. His suggestion that White Russians and Ukrainians be enlisted in the fight, as they viewed the Germans as liberators, at first, was flatly rejected. In late 1941, Hitler again tried to have him selected as Commander in Chief, but this again was rejected by the General Staff, though he was named Commander of Army Group South, giving the command of 6th Army to Paulus. In February, while running in subzero weather, he suffered a massive stroke and died in the air over the Ukraine while being transported from Poltava to Lviv.
Bio by: Kenneth Gilbert