Hitler's relationship with Generals

General WWII era German military discussion that doesn't fit someplace more specific.
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Hitler's relationship with Generals

Post by rjb44 » Sun Oct 20, 2002 7:51 pm

This may be a stupid question, but I will ask it anyways. Why was everyone in Hitler’s high command was so intimidated of him. I am going to assume that everyone was basically in fear of there life. I have read in books that most top Generals were not comfortable in Hitler's presence or dreaded having to be called to FHQ. It seems that these "Leaders" were afraid that Hitler would have them "shot" at the mere disagreement with his position on matters. However, I have read that there were some Generals who stood thier ground with Hitler and continued to debate a military situation in which they felt strongly. Example would be GFM Schrornor. Would you agree that Hitler took advantage of the weaker Generals, and made examples of them? Even people like Goering feared Hitler. In some of my readings, it appeared that Hitler would be supportive and show more respect for generals, even lower grade generals (Major General) who were firm and would not back to him.
I think this 'resistance" set Hitler back. H was not one who was used to getting challenged, especially when the person challenging him had more consistent facts and supporting evidence regarding the issue being discussed. I have read over and over, how Hitler military briefings were dreaded by all who attended. Hitler would rant and rave and beret his generals with insults until they were near tears (Hadler). Hitler was used to cutting down Jodel and Keitel, everyday. He had them molded to where he could never be challenged in any way shape or form from these two. However if there was a field commander summoned from the field to give a status on a situation, Hitler would not immediately treat him the same way as he did his other, FHQ Generals. Granted, there were many times Hitler had Generals summoned from the field, who came only to berated by him and in some cases, relieved from duty. This was usually when the report given was unsatisfactory. In the event that a field commander reported satisfactory news, Hitler would not challenge this particular officer. I am still reading on the different personalities and their relationship with Hitler. I wonder how well Hitler respected certain German Generals. He respected many Generals Rommel, Model, Mainstien. Did he ever blow up at these individuals? Maybe.

Interesting how these military leaders, ones who are suppose to be respected by their soldiers, who command full armies and in some cases oversee all military operation in an entire country (occupied), can be verbally abused and repeatedly insulted by such a person. Gurdarian stood up to Hitler and at times verbally challenged the Fuhrer to the point they were yelling at each other. I wonder what Hitler got out of that. We know what happened to the General, he was relieved from duty, for medical reasons, according to Hitler. I think the weaker you presented yourself to Hitler the more vulnerable you were to his personal wrath.

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Did Hitler chew out Rommel?

Post by joscha » Mon Oct 21, 2002 12:36 pm

He sure did, and more than once. Read Rommel's biographies from Desmond Young to the newer ones.

My best. Joscha

PS: According to two men I am aware of and who were spoken to by Hitler, he was "paternal" with enlisted men, and interested in what they had to say.

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Post by Al Carter » Wed Oct 23, 2002 11:45 am

Interesting question.
I think the weaker you presented yourself to Hitler the more vulnerable you were to his personal wrath.
I would have to disagree with that statement. All the people who were around Hitler from his friends to the generals were either fanatic Nazis or "yes-men". For the generals the ones that did stay around throughout the war; Kietel, Jodl, Rundstedt all "yes-men" Model ardent Nazi. Look at the generals who questioned Hitler or said screw his orders. Bock, Kluge, Guderian, Manstein, and Hoth (probably more I can't think of at this time). Hausser disobeyed, but because he was SS Hitler just delayed his award. I believe this is due to the fact that Hitler knew or thought he was right, so why should he have someone there who might dispute him.

I see where you are coming from though. How could these men who command hundreds of thousands of men not stand up to one. The only thing I can think of is that they must have respected Hitler more than what they chose to say in their memoirs.

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Death solves all problems - no man, no problem. ~Joseph Stalin~


Post by Guest » Wed Oct 23, 2002 7:00 pm


I would have to disagree with that statement. All the people who were around Hitler from his friends to the generals were either fanatic Nazis or "yes-men". For the generals the ones that did stay around throughout the war; Kietel, Jodl, Rundstedt all "yes-men" Model ardent Nazi. Look at the generals who questioned Hitler or said screw his orders. Bock, Kluge,
I see where you are coming from though.
Al Carter[/quote]

Gentlemen I believe we are using to many Generalizations. First off what is a fanatic Nazi? There were many Germans that believed that National Socialism had good programs and were not fanatics. There were many Germans that didn't care about the programs but wanted to be on the winning team and pretended to be fanatics. When a dictator is in power its best to belong to his party, isn't it? (See Saddam Hussein )
A dictator will surround himself with supporting individuals and destroy the opposing ones. You can only stand up against Hitler if you have POWER. Take Fritsch; a smear campaign was launched against him. He was arrested. However the Adligen Officers closed rank Brockdorff-Ahlefeldt put the army out on ""maneuvers"" and surrounded Berlin. Hitler backed off and dropped the charges but he never trusted the Wehrmacht again. Hitler really expanded his personal army ( the SS) after that. Rome always feared generals with personal armies, now we know why.

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Post by Sebastian Pye » Thu Oct 24, 2002 5:46 am

For some very interesting information on this topic, I recommend Guderians Panzer Leader. One thing I remember is that if Hitler new that someone didnt agree with him he would have that person in a room with a lot of others yes-men who would never disagree with him. THen he would look at the doubtful person constantly when he spoke as if he almost was trying to hypnotise him, and then if that didnt work, which it usually did, he would get irritated and angry.

Also about guderian, according to hitlers personal adjutant the worst eruption of anger that he ever had seen was one directed at guderian. Another person in the room had to pull guderian backwards because he was afraid that Hitler was about to strike him.

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Post by lennardg » Mon Oct 28, 2002 3:41 pm

From most accounts I think it is fair to suggest that Hitler was a psychopath with strong manipulative talents, to get his will was the issue, he would charm, beg, taunt, fool, bully, belittle, beg, rave , - whatever, to achieve this, in his own words "he was the greatest actor in Europe", Goering wanted to tell Hitler "the news" about how the war was going wrong on several occations, but every time he came under Hitlers "spell" and changed his mind completely, if people were immune to this, Hitler would appearently start shouting at them, perhaps to scare them into submission or maybe their stubbornness just enraged him so much he resolved to the same shouting that made up most of his speeches, the realisation that Germany was run by a madman was reportedly one of the things that made Ernst Udet commit suicide, a disaster for the Luftwaffe because he was one of the few generals who believed the USA had the industrial capacity for a large scale bombing-campaign against Germany.

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Some Could Resist! Dietrich Von Sauken

Post by Mitch Williamson » Mon Oct 28, 2002 6:50 pm

Not all where cowed down by Hitler!

In March 1945 he was G.O.C. 2nd Army in Sopot, Gydnia and Danzig areas. His fellow-cavalryman Captain Gerhard Boldt has left a brilliant description of a meeting between Hitler and von Sauken in the Chancellory in March 1945. 'Slim, elegant, his left hand resting casually on his cavalry sabre, von Sauken saluted and gave a slight bow. This was three outrages at once. He had not given the Nazi salute with raised arm and the words "Heil Hitler", as had been regulation since 20 July 1944; he had not surrendered his weapon on entering the operations room; and he had kept his monocle in his eye when saluting Hitler....' Guderian and Bormann, who were present, seemed turned to stone, but Hitler merely asked Guderian to brief von Sauken on conditions in East Prussia and the Danzig area, where he was to take over 2nd Army Group. Hitler then told the General that in the Danzig area he would have to accept the authority of Gauleiter Forster. Von Sauken stiffened and, still with eyeglass in place struck the marble table with the flat of his hand and said: "I have no intention, Herr Hitler, of placing myself under the orders of a Gauleiter!" Boldt adds: 'One could have heard a pin drop on the carpet. It seems to me that Hitler shrank physically from the General's words. His face looked even more waxen, his body more bowed than ever....'

Guderian and Bormann then tried to persuade von Sauken to be reasonable, but he would only reply, "I have no intention whatsoever of doing so...." Hitler, who seemed at last to have met his match in the matter of gazes, finally said in a weak voice: "All right, Sauken, keep the command to yourself." After a few more minutes of discussion von Sauken left 'with the merest hint of a bow'. Hitler did not shake his hand.

Guderian had a high opinion of von Sauken, whose abilities he thought 'outstanding'. He records, in his book 'Panzer Leader', that in Eastern Germany in 1945 'Generals Nehring and von Sauken performed taskes of military viruosity during those days that only the pen of a new Xenophon could adequately describe.'

Edited version from 'Hitler's Generals' by Richard Brett-Smith.

He got Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillianten in 8 May, 1944. Dietrich von Saucken is definitely recognized by the OdR (Knight's Cross winner association) as being the last man to receive the Diamonds, with his award dated May 8, 1945

Mitch Williamson

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Post by Al Carter » Wed Oct 30, 2002 10:01 am

Interesting story Mitch!

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Death solves all problems - no man, no problem. ~Joseph Stalin~

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Post by behblc » Mon Jul 14, 2003 9:09 am

He feared them , hated them , manipulated them and bullied them.
He used horses for courses , men of ability he used , men of no ability whom he could control and use he promoted.
Weakness he used to his best advantage , in short Hitler neither trusted liked any of his generals ...he used them all as and when he needed to do so.
Men who stood up to him were tolerated as long as they were neeed then were set aside , would oyu or could you imagine Keitel holding high rank in any army today ?
Men who had a sense of duty he exploited (Jodl) , Guderian , Manstein , Hitler was very good at sizing people up knowing what buttons to push to get what he ( Hitler wanted) , he shaped his own reality with men who would allow him to do so.
Truth and Reality could be set aside as and when the whim of the Fuhrer decreded it could be.
" Life , to be sure is nothing much to loose ; But young men think it is , and we were young . "
A.E. Housman.

" The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori. " Wilfred Owen (M.C.).

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Post by derGespenst » Mon Jul 14, 2003 1:01 pm

Could I imagine (the likes of) Keitel holding high rank in any army today? Sure, he would be the perfect man under Rumsfeld! I'm not at all sure that Tommy Franks isn't a bit like him.

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Robert F. Rojas
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RE: Hitler's Relationship With Generals - (Well Sort Of).

Post by Robert F. Rojas » Tue Jul 17, 2018 11:01 pm

Greetings to both citizen 'behblc' and the community as a whole. Howdy 'behblc'! Well sir, in deference to your point OR points-of-view as articulated within your now vintage posting of Monday - July 14, 2003 - 9:09am, old yours truly must take umbrage with your less than flattering characterization of Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel. Yes, it is certainly true that Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel was far from being a popular figure within the Wehrmacht's monarchist leaning officer corps, but as the Chairman of the High Command of the Armed Forces, he had the unenviable task of transforming the all knowing Bohemian Corporal's grandiose schemes into reasonably coherent options. During the course of the war, the man never once took any significant time off and I would also like to point out that NO ONE and I mean absolutely NO ONE ever vied for his thankless post. Finally, Field Marshall Wilhelm Keitel offered his resignation more than once and Adolf Hitler flatly refused to accept his offers of resignation. He even suggested that Field Marshall Erich von Manstein ought to be his replacement. As the old and battered adage goes, DO NOT JUDGE SOMEONE UNITL YOU HAVE WALKED A MILE IN HIS SHOES. It's just some sobering food for thought. Well, that's my initial two cents or pfennigs worth on this contentious topic from yesteryear - for now anyway. In any case, I would like to bid you a copacetic day over in your corner of the British Isles. GOD SAVE THE QUEEN - not to mention everyone else!

Best Regards From The Upstart Colonies,
Uncle Bob :idea: :[]
It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it - Robert E. Lee

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