Walter von Zeidlitz - Hitler's favorite, order bearer and ... traitor?

Court stories implacable; neither powerful leaders nor despicable cowards can escape it. Anyone who is somehow imprinted on the pages of the chronicle of human existence will receive a fair and independent assessment of descendants. However, even after several decades, it is rather difficult to judge the meaning of a particular person. Political games today are largely based on a deliberate distortion of historical facts, especially with regard to questions of the Second World War. This article is dedicated to the personality of the damned by both belligerent powers, who tried to justify the betrayal by patriotic reasoning, and the desire for power by loyalty to the Fatherland. It's about general Walter von Seidlitz.

Walter von Zeidlitz - Hitler's favorite, order bearer and ... traitor?
Seidlitz-Kurzbach and Paulus in 1942 year

The future chairman of the Council of German officers was born in a large military family of Alexander von Zeidlitz-Kurzbach. An ordinary military family with established German traditions brought up children in the spirit of patriotism and honesty. The career of all men in a clan, in one way or another, was connected with the German army, therefore, at twenty years old, Seidlitz entered the service and was sent to train first in Danzig and then in Hannover at the military academy. From the beginning of 1910, he arrived at the location of the 36 th field artillery regiment.

A successful professional career is fully connected with Zeidlitts active service. He participated in the First World War and was wounded several times, lost a finger on his left hand and seriously injured his left foot, but did not quit his job. Numerous manifestations of bravery, intelligence and enterprise in battles on the side of the German army, as well as outstanding commanding abilities were marked by iron crosses of both classes, the Hanseatic cross, a silver badge, and the Order of the House of Hohenzollern. The energetic, impulsive, active character, along with military achievements and considerable experience allowed Zeidlitz to pursue a successful career in the period of the Weimar Republic. Contemporaries remember him as a strong-willed and decisive man, a commander who especially appreciated soldier’s life and risked it only when there was an objective need. It was a good tactician, a cautious, but effective combat officer.

Already in 1930, Walter von Seidlitz became a major. His life in the interwar period is slightly different from that of the German military elite. For example, he served for one term of four years in the General Staff, although he did not have proper training for this and did not pass tests and spent 20 years in leading positions in the army. Among his hobbies, one should mention horse racing, since Seidlitz was very fond of horse riding and spent a lot of time with horses. His career developed rapidly, in 1934 he was promoted to Oberst Lieutenant, and in 1936 - Oberst. However, World War II became a real eminence for him. After the German attack on Poland, Seidlitz went to the border with Holland, and in December 1939 he was promoted to the rank of Major General. In the early spring of 1940, he was entrusted with the command of the Mecklenburg Infantry Division No. 12.

The first participation of the Major General and his division in the battles in World War II occurred in May 1940, during the breakthrough of the Maginot Line, then followed the crossing of the Somme. For the distinction and precise execution of orders of command, Zeidlitz is awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, and then his division is delayed by several months in France for the purpose of occupation. In May, 1941 Seidlitz, together with the forces entrusted to him, is transferred to Poland, after which 22 June participates in an offensive operation on the territory of the USSR. On the very first day, the 12 Infantry Division advanced more than thirty miles deep into Soviet space.

Thanks to Zeidlitz’s decisive actions, the German troops were able to prevent the breakthrough of the Soviet troops near the Hill, surrounded by Nevel. On the eve of 1942, the distinguished commander was summoned to the headquarters, where he received from the hands of Hitler Oak leaves to his Knight's cross. In addition, Zeidlitts was given the rank of lieutenant-general, and also enlisted in the Fuhrer's reserve. Such a move indicated that the commanders from now on highly valued the lieutenant general and reserved him for especially important and responsible missions.

For the first time, Seidlitz expressed his disagreement and even resentment over the verdict in the case of von Sponeck. The prosecuted general ordered the retreat under difficult conditions, threatening the death of a huge number of German soldiers. The tribunal, whose judges included Zeidlitz, was sentenced to death, but Hitler replaced him with a six-year sentence. The decision of the Fuhrer was influenced, first of all, by the openly expressed opinion of Walter von Seidlitz. This person was distinguished by his unwillingness to hide his point of view and the ability to openly express it. Sometimes this quality grew into excessive self-reliance, which, as a result, led the energetic general. Soon after the verdict was passed, Shponek, Zeidlitz was sent to the Eastern Front, where he was entrusted with rescuing the second corps, surrounded by Soviet troops under Demyansk.

On March 21, 1942, the lieutenant general led the units entrusted to him to the blocked corps. The terrain turned out to be marshy, almost entirely covered with dense forests and thickets, and the heavy spring snow and the beginning of thaw made it difficult to advance. “Bridge aiming” - the operation was so called, it was completed with success, and communication with the blocked forces was established. However, the presence of the German army in the Demyansk ledge threatened a new environment, and Seidlitz went to headquarters to obtain permission to retreat. Hitler didn’t take such a decision, as he hoped to use a kind of ledge for the offensive, reinforcing the forces based here tanks. Objections to the impassability of the surroundings of Demyansk Fuhrer rigidly suppressed.

From May 8, Zeidlitz is entrusted with the command of the LI Corps, which is part of the Sixth Army, under the command of Paulus, and he becomes General of Artillery on June 1. Soon he distinguished himself in the battle for Kharkov. The summer offensive of the German troops in 1942 was carried out under the conditions of the already felt lack of funds for the maintenance of the army. Paulus's forces stopped more than once due to lack of fuel, ammunition and other things. In late July, the commander still managed to strike a serious blow to the 64 of the Soviet army, as well as the 1-oh tank. The losses were so impressive that Paulus arrogantly concluded that the enemy forces were being destroyed and reported to the headquarters about this. However, the 64 Army soon recovered and, in August, blocked the 14 Corps under the command of Whitesheim, which was sent to attack in the direction of the Volga from the north of Stalingrad. The 6 army movement was restrained by fierce resistance and pin counterattacks by the Soviet forces. Nevertheless, on September 13, the Seidlitz corps managed to capture Mamayev Kurgan, after which the counterattacks of the Red Army intensified. It should be noted that, despite Zeidlitz’s uncommon abilities in the field of military tactics, he was just one of the corps commanders and Paulus openly ignored his opinion. In tactical terms, the German offensive on Stalingrad turned out to be an illiterate operation.

The indecision of Paulus and other generals resented Zeidlitz. This person had the quality not only to believe that he was right, but also to defend his own opinion by any means. Despite the refusal of the command of maneuvers and offensive operations to prevent the possibility of the environment, he attempted to withdraw most of the corps entrusted to him for later use in an unauthorized breakthrough. The maneuver was noticed by the Soviet command, and the body was dealt a crushing blow, causing serious losses and demoralizing the soldiers. The fate of the 6 Army was solved, and it soon became surrounded. Most of the generals, who demanded support to get out of the blockade and did not receive it, were completely disillusioned with the Führer. In addition, Hitler categorically forbade retreat and surrender, but the situation dictated completely different rules of the game. The indecisive Paulus was silent, and the German soldiers died daily.

25 January 1943, Seidlitz raises the issue of surrender. The generals were well aware that they would no longer help them, and defeat was inevitable. However, Paulus hesitates and refuses voluntary surrender. Seidlitz, contrary to all orders, issues his own order about the possibility of surrender in hopeless situations. There are different points of view on this act. Some consider him cowardice, others argue that he allowed to avoid numerous human victims. Paulus, however, did not arrest the opposition general, but only appointed him commander of the Nazi fanatic Geytts. Goytz categorically forbade surrender at the mercy of the winner and demanded that the soldiers go to certain death. 31 January Seidlitz was captured by the Soviet.

Honored German general, Hitler's favorite, order bearer quickly began to cooperate with the Soviet authorities. Contributed to such a sharp change in priorities, the position developed on Hitler’s treachery and the “invalidity” of the oath to him. Rather, Seidlitz said that he took the oath to Germany, and Hitler is a traitor to German soldiers. The captured general again believed in his own words and joined in active anti-fascist work. In the imagination, he was already building free Germany and even himself was one of the representatives of state power. In fact, Seidlitz was not needed by anyone, his authority and ability to convince was simply used by the Soviet government.

12 September 1943 of the captive general is elected to the post of chairman of the Union of German officers, in addition, he becomes deputy chairman of the NK "Free Germany". Active propaganda, trips to the front line, campaigning of the rank and file in the fascist army organized by Zeidlitz provided considerable support in the counteroffensive of the Soviet troops. An analogue of the Soviet Vlasov - the so-called captive German general, launched a large-scale anti-Hitler activities. At home in 1944, he was sentenced in absentia to death and declared a traitor. More than once the German commanders received calls from him for an anti-Hitler protest and surrender, but none of them answered the appeals. Attention to the Seidlitts family for some time faded away, as Ingeborg filed a divorce. However, after the attempted assassination of Hitler, his wife and daughters of Zeidlitz were arrested. Only the intervention of influential friends nee Bart allowed to get freedom unhappy.

The activity of Seydlitts was quite successful, many of the German soldiers voluntarily went over to the side of the Soviets and went into battle against the Nazi armies. However, the arrogant general again made a mistake - he demanded from the Soviet government independence and recognition of him as an ally, not a prisoner. The manner of open criticism and statements made Zeydlitts objectionable and Stalin. After the end of the war 2 in November 1945, the Council of German officers was dissolved, and its chairman was placed on one of the government dachas in the Moscow region. Due to his unreliability, Zeidlitz was denied a return to his homeland, and on July 8, a Soviet court sentenced him to death for war crimes on July 1950. A few days later, the sentence was replaced by 25-years of imprisonment, and the general went to prison.

The release of the prisoner took place only in the 1955 year, but the return to Germany did not cause much joy. Motherland considered Zeidlitts a traitor, friends turned away. In the 1956 year, the sentence of the German court was canceled, as it was considered unproved that the general acted on low motives, in Russia he was rehabilitated only in the 1996 year.
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  1. Dust
    April 13 2012 12: 04
    Everything was, to put it mildly, not quite so - there are many sources on this topic that are worth reading if you are interested in this issue!
  2. biglow
    April 13 2012 16: 01
    author, you read copy-paste and translate miles to kilometers, and indicate that this point of view on the war belongs to English authors
  3. +3
    April 13 2012 18: 57
    Von Seidlitz was a great man ...
  4. Hauptmannzimermann
    April 13 2012 20: 52
    Seidlitz was not a coward, switching to the side of the Soviet Union, his contribution to the struggle against Hitler, only this desire arose in Stalingrad.
  5. AlexMH
    April 13 2012 22: 03
    Regarding Seidlitz and Paulus, the attitudes of captains of the 6th army to capitulation and their debate, I recommend reading the memoirs of Colonel Adam, Adjutant Paulus, an interesting book. As for the article, calling Zeidlitz a traitor, especially twice, is obviously unfair, rather he behaved the most worthily of the entire high command of the 6th Army.
  6. 0
    10 January 2016 10: 20
    ... many of the German soldiers voluntarily sided with the Soviets and went into battle already against the Nazi armies.

    What a strange statement. Such facts are unknown to me.