Wilhelm Keitel
Overview
 
Wilhelm Bodewin Gustav Keitel (22 September 1882 – 16 October 1946) was a German
Germany
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...

 field marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 (Generalfeldmarschall). As head of 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 :...

(Supreme Command of the Armed Forces) and de facto war minister, he was one of Germany's most senior military leaders during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. At the Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 court at Nuremberg
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

 he was tried, sentenced to death
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 and hanged
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

 as a war criminal.
Keitel was born in Bad Gandersheim
Bad Gandersheim
Bad Gandersheim is a town in southern Lower Saxony, Germany, located in the district of Northeim. , it had a population 10,572.Bad Gandersheim has many half-timbered houses and is located on the German Framework Road .- Geography :...

, Duchy of Brunswick
Duchy of Brunswick
Brunswick was a historical state in Germany. Originally the territory of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel in the Holy Roman Empire, it was established as an independent duchy by the Congress of Vienna in 1815...

, German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

, the son of Carl Keitel, a middle class
Middle class
The middle class is any class of people in the middle of a societal hierarchy. In Weberian socio-economic terms, the middle class is the broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economically between the working class and upper class....

 landowner and his wife Apollonia Vissering.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Wilhelm Bodewin Gustav Keitel (22 September 1882 – 16 October 1946) was a German
Germany
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...

 field marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 (Generalfeldmarschall). As head of 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 :...

(Supreme Command of the Armed Forces) and de facto war minister, he was one of Germany's most senior military leaders during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. At the Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 court at Nuremberg
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

 he was tried, sentenced to death
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 and hanged
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

 as a war criminal.

Early life and career

Keitel was born in Bad Gandersheim
Bad Gandersheim
Bad Gandersheim is a town in southern Lower Saxony, Germany, located in the district of Northeim. , it had a population 10,572.Bad Gandersheim has many half-timbered houses and is located on the German Framework Road .- Geography :...

, Duchy of Brunswick
Duchy of Brunswick
Brunswick was a historical state in Germany. Originally the territory of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel in the Holy Roman Empire, it was established as an independent duchy by the Congress of Vienna in 1815...

, German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

, the son of Carl Keitel, a middle class
Middle class
The middle class is any class of people in the middle of a societal hierarchy. In Weberian socio-economic terms, the middle class is the broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economically between the working class and upper class....

 landowner and his wife Apollonia Vissering. After completing his education in Göttingen
Göttingen
Göttingen is a university town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the capital of the district of Göttingen. The Leine river runs through the town. In 2006 the population was 129,686.-General information:...

, he embarked on a military career in 1901, becoming a Fahnenjunker (Cadet Officer), joining the 6th Lower-Saxon Field Artillery Regiment. He married Lisa Fontaine, a wealthy landowner's daughter, in 1909. Together they had six children, one of whom died in infancy. His eldest son, Karl-Heinz Keitel
Karl-Heinz Keitel
Karl-Heinz Keitel was a Sturmbannführer in the Waffen-SS during World War II.-Military service:...

 went on to serve as a divisional commander in the Waffen-SS
Waffen-SS
The Waffen-SS was a multi-ethnic and multi-national military force of the Third Reich. It constituted the armed wing of the Schutzstaffel or SS, an organ of the Nazi Party. The Waffen-SS saw action throughout World War II and grew from three regiments to over 38 divisions, and served alongside...

. During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 Keitel served on the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

 with the Field Artillery Regiment No. 46. In September 1914, during the fighting in Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

, he was severely wounded in his right forearm by a shell fragment.

Keitel recovered, and thereafter was posted to the German General Staff
German General Staff
The German General Staff was an institution whose rise and development gave the German armed forces a decided advantage over its adversaries. The Staff amounted to its best "weapon" for nearly a century and a half....

 in early 1915. After World War I ended, he stayed in the newly created Reichswehr
Reichswehr
The Reichswehr formed the military organisation of Germany from 1919 until 1935, when it was renamed the Wehrmacht ....

, and played a part in organising Freikorps
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...

frontier guard units on the Polish
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 border. Keitel also served as a divisional general staff officer, and later taught at the Hanover Cavalry School for two years.

In late 1924, Keitel was transferred to the Ministry of Defense (Reichswehrministerium), serving with the Troop Office (Truppenamt
Truppenamt
The Truppenamt or 'Troop Office' was the cover organisation for the German General Staff from 1919 through until 1933 when the General Staff was re-created. This subterfuge was deemed necessary in order for Germany to be seen to meet the requirements of the Versailles Treaty...

), the post-Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 disguised General Staff
German General Staff
The German General Staff was an institution whose rise and development gave the German armed forces a decided advantage over its adversaries. The Staff amounted to its best "weapon" for nearly a century and a half....

. He was soon promoted to the head of the organisational department, a post he retained after the Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 seizure of power
Machtergreifung
Machtergreifung is a German word meaning "seizure of power". It is normally used specifically to refer to the Nazi takeover of power in the democratic Weimar Republic on 30 January 1933, the day Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany, turning it into the Nazi German dictatorship.-Term:The...

 in 1933. In 1935, based on a recommendation by Werner von Fritsch
Werner von Fritsch
Werner Thomas Ludwig Freiherr von Fritsch was a prominent Wehrmacht officer, member of the German High Command, and the second German general to be killed during World War II.-Early life:...

, Keitel was promoted to Lieutenant-General and appointed as the departmental head of the Wehrmachtsamt (Armed Forces Office) which had the responsibility over all three branches of the armed forces.

OKW and World War II

In 1937, Keitel received a promotion to General. In the following year, after the Blomberg-Fritsch Affair
Blomberg-Fritsch Affair
The Blomberg–Fritsch Affair were two related scandals in early 1938 that resulted in the subjugation of the German Armed Forces to dictator Adolf Hitler...

, the Ministry of War (Reichskriegsministerium) was replaced by the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces (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 :...

or OKW), and Keitel was appointed as its chief. This effectively made Keitel Germany's war minister, and accordingly he was appointed to the Cabinet. Soon after his appointment at OKW, he convinced 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...

 to appoint his close friend, Walter von Brauchitsch, Commander-in-Chief of the Army.

For a brief period in October 1938, Keitel was Military Governor of the Sudetenland
Sudetenland
Sudetenland is the German name used in English in the first half of the 20th century for the northern, southwest and western regions of Czechoslovakia inhabited mostly by ethnic Germans, specifically the border areas of Bohemia, Moravia, and those parts of Silesia being within Czechoslovakia.The...

. In February 1939 Keitel again became Chief of OKW. Keitel remained the Chief of OKW until the end of the war.

During World War II, Keitel was one of the primary planners of the Wehrmacht campaigns and operations on the western
Western Front (World War II)
The Western Front of the European Theatre of World War II encompassed, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and West Germany. The Western Front was marked by two phases of large-scale ground combat operations...

 and the eastern
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

 fronts. He advised Hitler against invading France
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

 and opposed Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

. Both times he backed down in the face of Hitler and tendered his resignation, which Hitler refused to accept.

In 1940, after the French campaign, he was promoted to Field Marshal along with several other generals. Unusual for a non-field commander, Keitel was awarded the Knight's Cross
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was a grade of the 1939 version of the 1813 created Iron Cross . The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was the highest award of Germany to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership during World War II...

 for arranging the armistice with France.

In 1942, he confronted Hitler in defense of Field Marshal Wilhelm List, whose Army Group A
Army Group A
Army Group A was the name of a number of German Army Groups during World War II.-Western Front, 1940:During the German invasion of the Low Countries and France Army Group A was under the command of General Gerd von Rundstedt, and was responsible for the break-out through the Ardennes...

 was stalled in the Battle of the Caucasus
Battle of the Caucasus
The Battle of Caucasus is a name given to a series of German and Soviet operations in the Caucasus area during the Soviet-German War.-1941 operations:...

. Hitler spurned Keitel's pleading and fired List. Keitel's defense of List was his last act of defiance to Hitler; he never again challenged one of Hitler's orders. For example, during a strategy briefing late in the war, Luftwaffe intelligence discovered vast numbers of Soviet fighter aircraft ready to be deployed to the front. Reichsmarschall
Reichsmarschall
Reichsmarschall literally in ; was the highest rank in the armed forces of Nazi Germany during World War II after the position of Supreme Commander held by Adolf Hitler....

 Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

, commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe, told Hitler that they were simply dummies; the Red Air Force could not possibly have that many aircraft. Keitel then slammed his fist onto the table, and, although he knew the exact opposite was true, said "Mein Führer, the Reichsmarschall is correct." His sycophancy was well known in the army, and he acquired the nickname 'Lakeitel', a pun on his name which in the German language meant 'lackey'.

Keitel unquestionably allowed Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

 a free hand with his racial controls and ensuing terror in occupied Eastern European territory. He also signed numerous orders of dubious legality under the laws of war. The most infamous were the Commissar Order
Commissar Order
The Commissar Order was a written order given by Adolf Hitler on 6 June 1941, prior to Operation Barbarossa. Its official name was Guidelines for the Treatment of Political Commissars...

 (which stipulated that Soviet political commissar
Political commissar
The political commissar is the supervisory political officer responsible for the political education and organisation, and loyalty to the government of the military...

s were to be shot on sight) and the Night and Fog Decree (which called for the forced disappearance
Forced disappearance
In international human rights law, a forced disappearance occurs when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organization or by a third party with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of a state or political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the...

 of resistance fighters and other political prisoners in Germany's occupied territories). Another was the order that French pilots of the Normandie-Niemen
Normandie-Niemen
The Normandie-Niemen Regiment was a fighter squadron, later regiment of the French Air Force. It served on the Eastern Front of the European Theatre of World War II with the 1st Air Army...

 squadron be executed rather than be made prisoners of war.

Keitel accepted Hitler's directive for Operation Citadel in 1943, despite strong opposition from several field officers who argued that neither the troops nor the new tanks on which Hitler staked his hopes for victory were ready.

Keitel played an important role in foiling the July 20 plot
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...

 in 1944. Keitel then sat on the Army "Court of honour" that handed over many officers who were involved, including Field Marshal Erwin von Witzleben
Erwin von Witzleben
Job-Wilhelm Georg Erdmann Erwin von Witzleben was a German army officer and in the Second World War an Army commander and a conspirator in the July 20 Plot.-Early years:...

, to Roland Freisler
Roland Freisler
Roland Freisler was a prominent and notorious Nazi lawyer and judge. He was State Secretary of the Reich Ministry of Justice and President of the People's Court , which was set up outside constitutional authority...

's notorious People's Court.

In April and May 1945, during the Battle of Berlin
Battle of Berlin
The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, was the final major offensive of the European Theatre of World War II....

, Keitel called for counterattacks to drive back the Soviet forces and relieve Berlin. However, there were insufficient German forces to carry out such attacks.

After Hitler's suicide
Death of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler committed suicide by gunshot on Monday, 30 April 1945 in his Führerbunker in Berlin. His wife Eva , committed suicide with him by ingesting cyanide...

 on 30 April, Keitel stayed on as a member of the short-lived Flensburg government
Flensburg government
The Flensburg Government , also known as the Flensburg Cabinet and the Dönitz Government , was the short-lived administration that attempted to rule the Third Reich during most of May 1945 at the end of World War II in Europe...

 under Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz
Karl Dönitz
Karl Dönitz was a German naval commander during World War II. He started his career in the German Navy during World War I. In 1918, while he was in command of , the submarine was sunk by British forces and Dönitz was taken prisoner...

.

On 8 May 1945, Dönitz authorized Keitel to sign an unconditional surrender in Berlin. Although Germany had surrendered to the Allies a day earlier, Stalin had insisted on a second surrender ceremony in Berlin.

Nazi connections

As a military officer, Keitel was prohibited by law from joining the NSDAP (Nazi Party). However, after the Wehrmachts rapid early successes on the Russian Front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

, he was given a "Golden" (Honorary) NSDAP membership badge by Adolf Hitler, who was seeking to link military successes to political successes. In 1944, German laws were changed and military officers were encouraged to seek NSDAP membership. Keitel claimed he did so as a formality at the Nuremberg Trials
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

, but never received formal party membership. He was one of only two people to receive honorary party membership status.

Before his execution, Keitel published Mein Leben: Pflichterfüllung bis zum Untergang: Hitlers Feldmarschall und Chef des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht in Selbstzeugnissen, otherwise known in English as In the Service of the Reich, and was later re-edited as The Memoirs of Field-Marshal Keitel by Walter Görlitz from a translation by David Irving
David Irving
David John Cawdell Irving is an English writer,best known for his denial of the Holocaust, who specialises in the military and political history of World War II, with a focus on Nazi Germany...

 as the author in 1965. Another work by Keitel later published in English was Questionnaire on the Ardennes offensive

Trial and execution


Four days after the surrender, Keitel was arrested along with the rest of the Flensburg government. He soon faced the International Military Tribunal
Nuremberg Trials
The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany....

 (IMT), which charged him with a number of offences:
  • Conspiracy to commit crimes against peace;
  • Planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression
    War of aggression
    A war of aggression, sometimes also war of conquest, is a military conflict waged without the justification of self-defense usually for territorial gain and subjugation. The phrase is distinctly modern and diametrically opposed to the prior legal international standard of "might makes right", under...

    ;
  • War crimes; and,
  • Crimes against humanity.


Keitel testified that he knew many of Hitler's orders were illegal (for instance, he described the Night and Fog Decree as "the worst of all" the orders he'd been given) but claimed he was merely following orders in conformity to "the leader principle" (Führerprinzip
Führerprinzip
The Führerprinzip , German for "leader principle", prescribes the fundamental basis of political authority in the governmental structures of the Third Reich...

). The IMT rejected this defence and convicted him on all charges. Because of his signature on orders which called for soldiers and political prisoners to be killed or disappeared, he was sentenced to death. To underscore the criminal rather than military nature of Keitel's acts, the Allies denied his request to be shot by firing squad. Instead, he was executed by hanging
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

. Keitel's last words were:

Dates of rank

  • Fähnrich
    Fähnrich
    Fähnrich is a German and Austrian military rank in armed forces which translates as "Ensign" in English. The rank also exists in a few other European military organizations, often with historical ties to the German system. Examples are Sweden, Norway and Finland . The French Army has a similar...

     – 14 October 1901
  • Leutnant – 18 August 1902
  • Oberleutnant
    Oberleutnant
    Oberleutnant is a junior officer rank in the militaries of Germany, Switzerland and Austria. In the German Army, it dates from the early 19th century. Translated as "Senior Lieutenant", the rank is typically bestowed upon commissioned officers after five to six years of active duty...

     – 18 August 1910
  • Hauptmann
    Hauptmann
    Hauptmann is a German word usually translated as captain when it is used as an officer's rank in the German, Austrian and Swiss armies. While "haupt" in contemporary German means "main", it also has the dated meaning of "head", i.e...

     – 8 August 1914
  • Major
    Major
    Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

     – 1 June 1923
  • Oberstleutnant
    Oberstleutnant
    Oberstleutnant is a German Army and Air Force rank equal to Lieutenant Colonel, above Major, and below Oberst.There are two paygrade associated to the rank of Oberstleutnant...

     – 1 February 1929
  • Oberst
    Oberst
    Oberst is a military rank in several German-speaking and Scandinavian countries, equivalent to Colonel. It is currently used by both the ground and air forces of Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and Norway. The Swedish rank överste is a direct translation, as are the Finnish rank eversti...

     – 1 October 1931
  • Generalmajor – 1 April 1934
  • Generalleutnant
    Lieutenant General
    Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

     – 1 January 1936
  • General der Artillerie – 1 August 1937
  • Generaloberst – 1 November 1938
  • Generalfeldmarschall
    Generalfeldmarschall
    Field Marshal or Generalfeldmarschall in German, was a rank in the armies of several German states and the Holy Roman Empire; in the Austrian Empire, the rank Feldmarschall was used...

     – 19 July 1940

Awards and decorations

  • Knights Cross
  • Wound Badge
  • Prussian Iron Cross, 1st Class (1914) with 1939 Bar
  • Prussian Iron Cross, 2nd Class (1914) with 1939 Bar
  • Prussian Royal Hohenzollern House Order, Knight’s Cross with Swords
  • Brunswick War Merit Cross, 1st Class
  • Brunswick War Merit Cross, 2nd Class with “Bewährung” (Reliability) Clasp
  • Saxe-Ernestine Ducal House Order, Knight 2nd Class with Swords
  • Hesse General Honor Decoration, “for Bravery”
  • Oldenburg Friedrich August Cross, 1st Class
  • Oldenburg Friedrich August Cross, 2nd Class with “Vor Dem Feinde” (In the Face of the Enemy) Clasp
  • Hamburg Hanseatic Cross
  • Bremen Hanseatic Cross
  • Cross of Honor for Combatants 1914–1918
  • Brunswick Ducal Order of Henry the Lion, 4th Class
  • Armed Forces Long Service Award, 1st Class (25-year Service Cross)
  • Armed Forces Long Service Award, 3rd Class (12-year Service Medal)
  • Austrian Military Merit Cross, 3rd Class with War Decoration
  • Commemorative Medal of 13 March 1938
  • Commemorative Medal of 1 October 1938 with Castle Prague Bar
  • Commemorative Medal for the Return of the Memel District

Legacy

Wilhelm Keitel wrote his memoirs in the six weeks before he was hanged; they have been published later in few editions, for example "The Memoirs of Field-Marshal Wilhelm Keitel: Chief of the German High Command, 1938–1945" edited by Walter Görlitz, ISBN 978-0815410720.

When moving to the United States and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 after World War II, some of Keitel's family changed their last name to Kihtel, Keetle, and Feitel so as to not be associated with his legacy.

Portrayal in popular culture

Wilhelm Keitel has been portrayed by the following actors in film, television and theater productions:
  • John Hoyt
    John Hoyt
    John Hoyt was an American film, stage, and television actor.-Early life:Hoyt was born John McArthur Hoysradt. Before becoming an actor with Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre, the Yale University graduate worked as a history instructor, acting teacher and even a nightclub comedian...

     in 1951's The Desert Fox
  • Leopold Hainisch in the 1955 West German
    West Germany
    West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

     film Der Letzte Akt (Hitler: The Last Ten Days)
  • Tadeusz Białoszczyński in the 1971 Polish
    Poland
    Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

     film Epilogue at Nurnberg
  • Gerd Michael Henneberg
    Gerd Michael Henneberg
    Gerd Michael Henneberg was a German actor and theater director.-Biography:Gerd Henneberg's father, Richard, was a theater director. After the young Heeneberg took private acting classes, he made his debut on stage at the age of sixteen, in the Leipzig Theater...

     in the 1970 Liberation
    Liberation (film series)
    Liberation is an epic five-part film series considered the most large-scale World War II film ever made in the Soviet Union. Filmed from 1967 to 1971, the first part was released during 1970 for the 25th anniversary of Victory Day...

    , the 1977 Soldiers of Freedom
    Soldiers of Freedom
    Soldiers of Freedom is a 1977 film directed by Yuri Ozerov and starring Mikhail Ulyanov, Yevgeny Matveyev, Vasily Lanovoy. Soldiers of Freedom is the World War II historical drama.-Plot:...

    , the 1985 Battle of Moscow
    Battle of Moscow (film)
    The Battle of Moscow is a 1985 Soviet two-part film, presenting a dramatized account of the 1941 Battle of Moscow and the events preceding it. The films were a Soviet-East German-Czechoslovak-Vietnamese co-production directed by Yuri Ozerov who also wrote the script...

    and the 1989 Stalingrad
    Stalingrad (1989 film)
    Stalingrad is a 1989 two-part Soviet-East German-Czechoslovak-American co-production directed by Yuri Ozerov, who also wrote the script. The film revolves around the Battle of Stalingrad.-Film I:...

    , all of them Soviet films.
  • Raymond Adamson in the 1973 British
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

     television production The Death of Adolf Hitler
  • Gabriele Ferzetti
    Gabriele Ferzetti
    Gabriele Ferzetti is an Italian actor. He has more than 160 credits to his name across film, television and stage. His career was at its peak in the 1950s and 1960s....

     in the 1973 film Hitler: The Last Ten Days
    Hitler: The Last Ten Days
    Hitler: The Last Ten Days is a 1973 film depicting the days leading up to Adolf Hitler's suicide. It stars Alec Guinness and Simon Ward. The original music score was composed by Mischa Spoliansky...

  • John Malcolm
    John Malcolm (actor)
    John Malcolm was a Scottish actor who appeared in numerous films and television productions over a 40 year period....

     in the 1988 American television miniseries War and Remembrance
    War and Remembrance (mini-series)
    War and Remembrance is an American miniseries based on the novel of the same name by Herman Wouk. It is the sequel to highly successful The Winds of War...

  • Kenneth Colley
    Kenneth Colley
    Kenneth Colley is an English actor. A long-time character actor, he came to wider prominence through his role as Admiral Piett in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi....

     in the 1990 American television film The Plot to Kill Hitler
    The Plot to Kill Hitler (film)
    #The Plot to Kill Hitler is a 1990 television movie. It is about the 20 July 1944 plot by German officers to kill Adolf Hitler. Brad Davis stars as Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg who plants a bomb in the conference room of the Führer's headquarters in East Prussia.- Plot summary :“The...

  • Frank Fontaine in the 2000 Canadian
    Canada
    Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

    /U.S. T.V. production Nuremberg.
  • Christian Doermer
    Christian Doermer
    Christian Doermer is a German actor. He has appeared in 83 films and television shows since 1954. He starred in the 1966 film No Shooting Time for Foxes. The film was entered into the 16th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won the Silver Bear Extraordinary Jury Prize...

     in the 2004 German TV movie Stauffenberg
    Stauffenberg (Film)
    Stauffenberg is a German-Austrian TV movie released in 2004 by Das Erste , about Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg and the 20 July 1944 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler....

    .
  • Dieter Mann
    Dieter Mann
    Dieter Mann is a German actor.Mann was born in Berlin. Since 1984 he has belonged to the famous Deutsches Theater Berlin. He portrayed Wilhelm Keitel in Downfall.-References:...

     in the 2004 German
    Germany
    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...

     film Downfall (Der Untergang)
    Downfall (film)
    Downfall is a 2004 German/Italian/Austrian epic war film directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, depicting the final ten days of Adolf Hitler's life in his Berlin bunker and Nazi Germany in 1945....

  • Miroslav Kosev in the 2006 British
    Great Britain
    Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

     television docudrama Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial
    Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial
    Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial, is a BBC documentary film series consisting of three one-hour films that re-enact the Nuremberg War Trials of Albert Speer, Hermann Göring and Rudolf Hess...

  • Kenneth Cranham
    Kenneth Cranham
    Kenneth Cranham is a film, television and stage actor. He starred in the title role in the popular 1980s comedy drama Shine on Harvey Moon. He also appeared in Layer Cake, Gangster No. 1, Rome, Oliver! and many other films. He is probably best known to horror genre fans as the deranged Dr...

     in the 2008 American film Valkyrie
    Valkyrie (film)
    Valkyrie is a 2008 American historical thriller film set in Nazi Germany during World War II. The film depicts the 20 July plot in 1944 by German army officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler and to use the Operation Valkyrie national emergency plan to take control of the country...


External links

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