Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist


Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist

Infobox Military Person
name=Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist
lived=birth date|1881|8|8|df=ydeath date and age|1954|11|13|1881|8|8|df=y
placeofbirth=Braunfels an der Lahn
placeofdeath=Camp Wladimirowka, Russia


caption="Generalfeldmarshall Ewald von Kleist"
nickname=
allegiance=flagicon|German Empire German Empire (to 1918)
flagicon|Germany Weimar Republic (to 1933)
flagicon|Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
branch=Heer
serviceyears=
rank=Generalfeldmarschall
commands=XXII.Armeekorps, Panzergruppe von Kleist, 1st Panzergruppe, 1st Panzer Army, Army Group A
unit=
battles=World War I
World War II
awards=Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
laterwork=

Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist (August 8 1881 – c. November 13 1954) was a leading German field marshal during World War II.

Born in Braunfels an der Lahn into an aristocratic family, Kleist was educated in a German military school and served as a lieutenant of hussars and a regimental commander in World War I. After the war he served as a commander of a cavalry division from 1932-35.

Semi-retired, in August 1939 Kleist was recalled to active duty at the age of fifty-eight.

In the invasion of Poland, Kleist commanded the XXII Panzer Corps. In the Battle of France he commanded "Panzergruppe von Kleist", consisting of XLI Panzer Corps and XIX Panzer Corps (under Heinz Guderian), the two southernmost armoured corps in the drive to the English Channel. During this time he attempted to relieve Guderian of his command after he and his subordinate, Erwin Rommel, disobeyed orders to halt their advance to the Channel; the Wehrmacht Chief of Staff, Gerd von Rundstedt, refused to confirm the order, and the Franco-British armies were trapped.

In April 1941, Kleist commanded "1st Panzergruppe", comprising XVIII and XL Panzer Corps, which spearheaded the Blitzkrieg-style invasions of Yugoslavia and Greece. With this formation he also participated in the subsequent Operation Barbarossa as part of Army Group South.

In 1942 Kleist was sent to command troops in the Caucasus in order to capture important oil wells in the area. On 22 November 1942, he was placed in command of Army Group A. He was promoted to field marshal in 1943. He was relieved of his command in March 1944 for ordering the 8th Army to retreat when it was in danger of destruction by the Soviet Red Army, in explicit violation of Adolf Hitler's orders.

Kleist was captured by United States forces in 1945. He was sent to communist Yugoslavia to face alleged war crimes charges in 1946. In 1948 he was then extradited to the Soviet Union where he was condemned to a 10-years sentence in 1952 for war crimes and he died in captivity in Vladimir Prison in 1954. He was the highest ranked German officer to die in Soviet captivity. Of note is the fact the Kleist was charged, among other things, with "alienating, through friendship & generosity, the peoples of the Soviet Union" as described in the book "Hitler's Generals" by Samuel W. Mitcham Jr. (2003).

References


* Berger, Florian, "Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges". Selbstverlag Florian Berger, 2006. ISBN 3-9501307-0-5.
* Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer. "Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945". Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas, 2000. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.


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