Walter Warlimont
Walter Warlimont was a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

 known for his role in the OKW inner circle (deputy chief).

World War I

Just before the start of World War I, in June 1914 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 10th Prussian Foot Artillery Regiment, which was based in Alsace
Alsace is the fifth-smallest of the 27 regions of France in land area , and the smallest in metropolitan France. It is also the seventh-most densely populated region in France and third most densely populated region in metropolitan France, with ca. 220 inhabitants per km²...

. During World War I he served as an artillery officer and battery commander in France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and later in Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. In late 1918 he served in the Freikorps
Freikorps are German volunteer military or paramilitary units. The term was originally applied to voluntary armies formed in German lands from the middle of the 18th century onwards. Between World War I and World War II the term was also used for the paramilitary organizations that arose during...

 Land Jäger
Jäger (military)
Jäger is a term that was adopted in the Enlightenment era in German-speaking states and others influenced by German military practice to describe a kind of light infantry, and it has continued in that use since then....

 rifle corps of General Maercker
Ludwig Maercker
Georg Ludwig Rudolf Maercker was a German General of World War I.Following the Armistice of 1918 that saw the end of fighting and of the Bolshevik revolution that led to the creation of the Soviet Union, there were many examples of disturbances throughout Germany...


Between the Wars

Between the world wars he served in various military duties. In 1922 he served in the 6th Artillery Regiment. In 1926, as a captain, he was the second assistant to Chief of Staff (on the General Staff). In May 1929 he traveled to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and was attached to the U.S. Army for a year to study U.S. industrial-mobilization theory during wartime. This led to his service between 1930 and 1933 as a major on the staff of the Industrial Mobilization Section of the German Defense Ministry; he served as its Chief in 1935 and 1936.

With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

, between August and November 1936, newly promoted Lieutenant-Colonel Warlimont served as the Plenipotentiary Delegate of the Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 (Reich War Minister, OKH General Staff) to the government of Spanish General Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

, in Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. German War Minister Werner von Blomberg
Werner von Blomberg
Werner Eduard Fritz von Blomberg was a German Generalfeldmarschall, Minister of War and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces until January 1938.-Early life:...

 directed Warlimont to coordinate German aid in support of General Franco's battle against the Spanish legal Government forces. Before flying to Spain to meet with Franco, Warlimont met various Italian intelligence officials to discuss the Spanish Civil War.

Lieutenant-Colonel Warlimont became known as an up-and-coming staff officer when, in 1937, he wrote the Warlimont Memorandum calling for the reorganization of the German armed forces under one staff unit and one supreme commander. The plan was to limit the power of the high officer caste in favor of the German Führer: Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

. On the basis of this memorandum, Hitler developed the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
The Oberkommando der Wehrmacht was part of the command structure of the armed forces of Nazi Germany during World War II.- Genesis :...

(High command of the armed forces), with Hitler as supreme commander. Warlimont was rewarded in 1939 with a post as deputy to General Alfred Jodl
Alfred Jodl
Alfred Josef Ferdinand Jodl was a German military commander, attaining the position of Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command during World War II, acting as deputy to Wilhelm Keitel...


In 1937 he served as commander of the 2nd Battalion, 34th Artillery Regiment, in Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

. In 1938 he was promoted to colonel and became commander of the 26th Artillery Regiment.

World War II

In late 1938 he became Senior Operations Staff Officer to General Wilhelm Keitel
Wilhelm Keitel
Wilhelm Bodewin Gustav Keitel was a German field marshal . As head of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht and de facto war minister, he was one of Germany's most senior military leaders during World War II...

This was a coveted position, and so between September 1939 and September 1944 he served as Deputy Chief of the Operations Staff (Wehrmachtführungsstab: WFSt: Armed Forces Operations Staff). General Jodl was his superior officer, who served as Chief of the Operations Staff, which was responsible for all strategical, executive, and war-operations planning.

While serving on this military operations planning staff, in early 1939 he assisted in developing some of the German military invasion plans of Poland. On 1 September 1939, German military forces invaded Poland, thereby starting World War II.

1940 saw his promotion to Generalmajor, and he assisted in developing the invasion plans of France. In 1941 he continued to assist in developing invasion operations into Russia; this earned his promotion to Generalleutnant in 1942.

His meteoric advancement in rank almost sputtered out on 3 November 1942 when he was relieved of his job when a junior officer failed to timely process a message from Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
Erwin Rommel
Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel , popularly known as the Desert Fox , was a German Field Marshal of World War II. He won the respect of both his own troops and the enemies he fought....

. However, only five days later he was recalled to duty to visit the French Vichy Government in France to coordinate the defense of their colonial territories from possible occupation by the Allies.

In February 1943 he traveled to Tunis
Tunis is the capital of both the Tunisian Republic and the Tunis Governorate. It is Tunisia's largest city, with a population of 728,453 as of 2004; the greater metropolitan area holds some 2,412,500 inhabitants....

 to confer with Field Marshal Rommel
Erwin Rommel
Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel , popularly known as the Desert Fox , was a German Field Marshal of World War II. He won the respect of both his own troops and the enemies he fought....

 as to whether or not the Germans should abandon North Africa.

In early 1944 he was promoted to General der Artillerie. As Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces Operations Staff, he continued to give almost daily briefings to Hitler regarding the status of German military operations.

On D-Day
D-Day is a term often used in military parlance to denote the day on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. "D-Day" often represents a variable, designating the day upon which some significant event will occur or has occurred; see Military designation of days and hours for similar...

, when the Allies invaded at Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

, France, Warlimont telephoned General Jodl to request that the German tanks in Normandy should be released to attack the Allied invaders. Jodl responded that he did not want to make that decision; they would have to wait until Hitler awoke. Once Hitler awoke and authorized the release of the tanks for a counter-attack, it was too late to blunt the successful Allied invasion. The following day, Hitler sent Warlimont to inspect the German defences in Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...


On 20 July 1944, General Warlimont was wounded during the ill-fated assassination bombing
July 20 Plot
On 20 July 1944, an attempt was made to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Führer of the Third Reich, inside his Wolf's Lair field headquarters near Rastenburg, East Prussia. The plot was the culmination of the efforts of several groups in the German Resistance to overthrow the Nazi-led German government...

 against Hitler in a war-briefing building in Rastenburg. He suffered a mild head concussion. Later in the day he telephoned Field Marshal Günther von Kluge
Günther von Kluge
Günther Adolf Ferdinand “Hans” von Kluge was a German military leader. He was born in Posen into a Prussian military family. Kluge rose to the rank of Field Marshal in the Wehrmacht. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords...

 and convinced him that Hitler was alive; this prompted von Kluge not to continue in the anti-Hitler coup. Even though General Warlimont was wounded alongside Hitler, nonetheless, he was wrongly viewed as possibly having been involved in the anti-Hitler conspiracy. In spite of this, he belatedly received the special 20th of July Wound Badge
Wound Badge
Wound Badge was a German military award for wounded or frost-bitten soldiers of Imperial German Army in World War I, the Reichswehr between the wars, and the Wehrmacht, SS and the auxiliary service organizations during the Second World War. After March 1943, due to the increasing number of Allied...

, which was awarded only to those few wounded or killed in the 20 July explosion.

On 22 July, Warlimont traveled to France to meet with Field Marshal Rommel (who had been wounded a week earlier by an Allied airplane attack), and Rommel's naval aide Vice Admiral Friedrich Ruge
Friedrich Ruge
Friedrich Oskar Ruge was an officer in the German Navy and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross . The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.-Life:Friedrich Ruge was the son and grandson of German educators...

, to discuss the deteriorating battlefield situation in Normandy.

Even though Hitler (in Wolfsschanze
Wolf's Lair is the standard English name for Wolfsschanze, Adolf Hitler's first World War II Eastern Front military headquarters, one of several Führerhauptquartier or FHQs located in various parts of Europe...

) ordered Warlimont to travel to Paris on 1 August to study the German military situation there with Field Marshal von Kluge, Hitler thought that Warlimont might have been involved in the conspiracy to have him assassinated (an action which Warlimont denied). On 2 August, Warlimont met outside Paris with General Günther Blumentritt
Günther Blumentritt
Günther Blumentritt was a German officer in World War I, who became a Staff Officer under the Weimar Republic and went on to serve as a general for Nazi Germany during World War II...

 and advised him that Hitler wanted the Germans to regain the attack initiative against the Allies through Operation Lüttich
Operation Lüttich
Operation Lüttich was a codename given to a German counterattack during the Battle of Normandy, which took place around the American positions near Mortain from 7 August to 13 August 1944...

/Liege. Later, Warlimont urged General Heinrich Eberbach
Heinrich Eberbach
Heinrich Kurt Alfons Willy Eberbach was a German General der Panzertruppen in the German Army of World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves...

 to continue his attacks in the Falaise Pocket
Falaise pocket
The battle of the Falaise Pocket, fought during the Second World War from 12 to 21 August 1944, was the decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy...

 region. Although all the German generals informed Warlimont that they believed the attack would fail, he cabled Hitler that the generals were "confident of success".

Even Warlimont's boss, General Jodl, believed similarly of Warlimont's possible untrustworthiness. But Warlimont was not involved with the anti-Hitler movement. Warlimont still carried out Hitler's directives, but he was becoming disillusioned with Hitler and realized that Germany would be defeated.

Despite his doubts about Warlimont's trustworthiness, during September 1944 General Jodl considered making Warlimont his Chief of Staff. However, at Warlimont's request, due to his dizzy spells resulting from the 20 July assassination bombing against Hitler, he was transferred and retired to the OKH Command Pool (the Führer Reserve), and was not further employed during the war. Throughout the war, Warlimont and his boss, General Jodl, had a very strained working relationship.

After the war

With the German defeat in May 1945, Warlimont was held as a prisoner-of-war.

In October 1948, Warlimont was tried as a war criminal before a United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 military tribunal
Subsequent Nuremberg Trials
The Subsequent Nuremberg Trials were a series of twelve U.S...

 in the High Command Trial
High Command Trial
The High Command Trial was the last of the twelve trials for war crimes the U.S. authorities held in their occupation zone in Germany in Nuremberg after the end of World War II. These twelve trials were all held before U.S...

 because he passed on Hitler's directive that Allied commandos should be executed instead of being held as prisoners-of-war. Although he argued that he had tried to dilute Hitler's directive, he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. However, in 1951 his sentence was reduced to 18 years. In 1957 there was an amnesty for certain prisoners, and he was finally released from Landsberg Prison
Landsberg Prison
Landsberg Prison is a penal facility located in the town of Landsberg am Lech in the southwest of the German state of Bavaria, about west of Munich and south of Augsburg....

. After the war he engaged in writing various war-historical studies.

In 1962 he wrote Inside Hitler's Headquarters 1939 - 1945.

In an appraisal of General Warlimont's military capabilities, German Field Marshal Erich von Manstein
Erich von Manstein
Erich von Manstein was a field marshal in World War II. He became one of the most prominent commanders of Germany's World War II armed forces...

From an Allied perspective, Hugh Thomas (in his The Spanish Civil War) opined:
Warlimont was interviewed for two episodes of The World at War.


Had the 20th of July bomb plot against Hitler succeeded there would have been strikes and civil war within Germany... Already there were fanatic National Socialists in the army with ranks of captain and major; in the air force the doctrine was even at the highest levels, and the SS was entirely a party group - a state within a state. There were even divisions among the people who for 12 years had heard the same party line and had been affected either favorably or unfavorably from the NSDAP. Out of all this chaos there was not a single person who could have brought these factions together and achieve a peace and a democratic government.

(At a subsequent Nuremberg trial)

Further reading

  • "The Cossack Corps", General der Flieger Hellmuth Felmy
    Hellmuth Felmy
    Hellmuth Felmy was a Nazi war criminal, German military officer during World War I, the interwar period, and World War II.-Biography:On 28 May 1885, Helmuth Felmy was born in Berlin in what was then the German Empire...

     and General der Artillerie Walter Warlimont, US Army Historical Division, Hailer Publishing, 2007

External links

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