Johannes Blaskowitz

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Johannes Blaskowitz (1944)
From left to right: Gerd von Rundstedt , Johannes Blaskowitz and Walter von Reichenau (1939)

Johannes Albrecht Blaskowitz (born July 10, 1883 in Paterswalde , Wehlau district ( East Prussia ), † February 5, 1948 in Nuremberg ) was a German army officer (from 1939 Colonel General ). During the Second World War he was first in command of the army in Poland, then during the French campaign in the west and also in command of the occupation forces . He was the author of several memoranda against atrocities by the Einsatzgruppen . Later he was commander in chief of various army groups . After the end of the war he was charged with the " High Command of the Wehrmacht " trial; He committed suicide on the first day of the trial of suicide .


Empire and First World War

Johannes Blaskowitz was born on July 10, 1883 as the son of the Protestant pastor Hermann Blaskowitz, whose ancestors originally came from Carniola , and Marie Blaskowitz, née Kuhn, in Paterswalde. Johannes had three sisters, with whom he grew up in East Prussia until he was eleven after his mother's death in 1886 and his father's remarriage. He attended primary school in Walterkehmen ( district of Gumbinnen ), then a higher private school in Milluhnen ( district of Stallupönen ).

His military career began at the age of ten, he spent three years as a cadet in Köslin and four more years at the main cadet institute in Groß-Lichterfelde near Berlin . On March 2, 1901, after graduating from high school, he joined the Prussian Army as an eighteen-year-old ensign and was assigned to the "von Grolmann" (1st Posensches) Infantry Regiment No. 18 in Osterode in East Prussia, to which he belonged for the next eleven years .

Blaskowitz attended the Engers War School , graduated second best and was promoted to lieutenant on January 27, 1902 . He took part in a course at the military gymnastics institute in Berlin and then worked as an assistant teacher at this institute for a year and a half. From 1908 to 1911 he was in command of the War Academy in Berlin, where he passed the interpreting test in French and then came to Offenburg as a first lieutenant in the 3rd Company of the 9th Baden Infantry Regiment No. 170 . On April 1, 1914 he was transferred to the staff of the infantry regiment "Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm" (3rd Badisches) No. 111 .

As a captain and company commander , Blaskowitz experienced the First World War exclusively at the front, where he participated in the battles in Lorraine and Flanders as well as in the battles in Tyrol and the campaign against Serbia . From April 1916 he was used as a promoted general staff officer in the battles of Kovel and Riga . This was followed by further missions on the western front . During the war Blaskowitz a. a. awarded with both classes of the Iron Cross and the Knight's Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern with Swords.

Weimar Republic

After the end of the war, Blaskowitz returned to Offenburg , but a short time later he was transferred to Hanover to the headquarters of the X. Army Corps . In the spring of 1919 Blaskowitz began his service as a general staff officer in the headquarters of military district V in Stuttgart . During the Kapp Putsch , the Bauer cabinet fled from Dresden to Stuttgart, where it was supported by Blaskowitz's commanding superior, General Walter von Bergmann . After the failed coup attempt, Blaskowitz was involved in the suppression of the Ruhr uprising.

On October 1, 1924, he took over as commander of the III. Battalion of the 13th (Württemberg) Infantry Regiment in Ulm. Blaskowitz was promoted to lieutenant colonel there in 1926 and returned to Stuttgart in 1928, where he served as chief of staff in the 5th division . After being promoted to colonel on October 1, 1929, he was also state commander in Baden until January 31, 1933 .

At the end of 1930 Blaskowitz was appointed commander of the 14th (Baden) Infantry Regiment ("sea hares") in Constance and promoted to major general on October 1, 1932 .

Occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939

time of the nationalsocialism

Pre-war period

On February 1, 1933, he was transferred to the Reichswehr Ministry in Berlin, appointed inspector of the weapons schools and promoted to lieutenant general on December 1, 1933 . In 1935 he was appointed commanding general in military district II in Stettin and in 1936 he was promoted to general of the infantry . In 1938 he became Commander-in-Chief of Army Group 3 in Dresden . He took part in the invasion of the Wehrmacht in Austria ( company Otto ) and led his units in the occupation of the Sudetenland and the Czech part of the former Czechoslovakia in autumn 1938 and spring 1939.

Second World War

Blaskowitz (with his back to the camera) when the Polish divisional general Tadeusz Kutrzeba accepted the surrender of Warsaw on September 28, 1939

During the attack on Poland , in whose operational planning Blaskowitz was involved, he commanded the 8th Army . In the Battle of the Bzura on September 9, he prevented a Polish breakthrough at Leczyca in the direction of Lodz by counterattacking in a north-westerly direction with his army, which was actually attacking eastwards. As a result, the 8th Army played a decisive role in the success of the Kesselschlacht. Although showed Hitler at a front visit with Blaskowitz 'guide dissatisfied. Nevertheless, Blaskowitz was charged with the attack on Warsaw . On September 28, 1939, he accepted the surrender of Warsaw .

Generals Gerd von Rundstedt (saluting) and Johannes Blaskowitz take the parade in Warsaw on October 2, 1939 on the square in front of the opera. Photo by Erich Borchert.

After the fighting ended, Blaskowitz was promoted to Colonel General by Hitler and awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross . On October 26, 1939, he succeeded General von Rundstedt as Commander-in-Chief in the East and was thus chief of the German occupation army in Poland.

Blaskowitz protested several times in the autumn of 1939 and winter of 1939/40 against the radical implementation of the "volkisch land consolidation" ordered by Hitler, that is, against the murder of Jews and the Polish intelligentsia by the SS, police and the ethnic Germans self-protection , those in the occupied territories within a few Thousands were killed in months. His protest was not only fueled by moral indignation, but also by concern about the discipline of the troops, the anger about the "presumption" of independent police forces and pragmatic considerations.

“So far, the police have not performed any visible tasks of order, but have only spread horror among the population. To what extent the police are able to come to terms with the fact that they inevitably deliver their people to the bloodlust cannot be judged from here, but it is certain that it is an unbearable burden for the Wehrmacht, since everything happens in "field gray skirt". [...] The current state of affairs is driving towards a development that causes a military unrest and makes it impossible to use the country for the benefit of the troops and the military economy. The security and tranquility of the country cannot be restored with violence alone. It is in the interests of both the armed forces and the civil administration if there is a tolerable order in Poland, the population is supplied with the most essential food and necessities and the economy soon gets going. "

- Johannes Blaskowitz : Report to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Walther von Brauchitsch , November 27, 1939

Blaskowitz sent another report to von Brauchitsch on December 8, 1939. Lieutenant Colonel Helmuth Groscurth presented at least this report a few days later to senior army officers in charge on the Western Front , including Erwin von Witzleben and Gerd von Rundstedt . When Blaskowitz discovered a major Polish rebellion in the industrial area of Kamienna , he again took a position vis-à-vis von Brauchitsch in February 1940. In notes for a lecture on February 15, he emphasized the political damage caused by the SS and police with their actions.

“The role of the Wehrmacht, which is forced to watch these crimes [sic] inactive, and whose reputation, especially among the Polish population, suffers irreparable losses, does not need to be pointed out again. The worst damage that the German national body will suffer from the current situation, however, is the excessive brutality and moral depravity, which will spread like an epidemic among valuable German human material in a very short time.


The troops' attitude towards the SS and the police fluctuates between disgust and hatred. Every soldier feels disgusted and repulsed by these crimes, which are committed in Poland by members of the Reich and representatives of state power. R does not understand how such things, especially since they happen under his protection, so to speak, are possible with impunity .


The danger that this presents compels us to take a general position on the question of the treatment of the Polish people. It is absurd to slaughter a few thousand Jews and Poles; for in view of the mass of the population, this neither kills the Polish state idea nor eliminates the Jews. On the contrary, the manner of slaughter is extremely damaging. "

- Johannes Blaskowitz : Memorandum of February 6, 1940

For Raul Hilberg , Blaskowitz was by no means outraged by the thought of the rigorous approach, "but only by the amateurish way in which the SS tried to cope with such a huge crowd as represented by the two million Jews." Helmut Krausnick points out that the submissions, despite their sometimes fundamental nature, were directed against the executive organs of the occupation regime and that their author had not yet fully recognized that it was a program that Hitler himself wanted and approved. Omer Bartov considers Blaskowitz's explanation to be ambiguous, as it could also be understood as a recommendation to kill more people in an orderly and disciplined manner instead of ending the slaughter entirely. Blaskowitz had astutely recognized that the relatively passive role of the Wehrmacht in these crimes would have serious long-term effects on the soldiers and German society as a whole. Hermann Wentker sees Blaskowitz as motivated on the one hand by the traditional military consideration that the civilian population should not be affected by the fighting more than necessary, on the other hand by concerns about the Germans being “brutalized”. Klaus-Michael Mallmann , Jochen Böhler and Jürgen Matthäus argue that in his notes of February 1940, Blaskowitz defined Poles and Jews as "arch enemies in the East" despite all the criticism and thus accepted the common enemy image.

In response to Blaskowitz's memorandum of November 1939, Hitler reported that he had rejected the complaints as childish and with the remark that no war could be won with the methods of a Salvation Army. A copy of Blaskowitz's compilation of “attacks and violations” by the police and the SS was sent from the OKW to Himmler, who sent a functionary from the main office of the SS court to the general government. General von Brauchitsch refused in February 1940 to pass the new complaints on to Hitler. Instead, Brauchitsch issued an order that encouraged understanding for the politically motivated measures to safeguard German living space. Brauchitsch also invited Himmler to give a speech to the commanders-in-chief of the army groups and armies, which he followed on March 13, 1940. Blaskowitz was transferred to the Western Front at the beginning of May 1940 and relieved of his command of the 9th Army on June 3 at Hitler's request .


After taking part in the first phase of the campaign in the west as Commander of the 9th Army , he was temporarily appointed "Military Commander Northern France" on June 9, 1940. In this capacity he had published on June 20, 1940:

Blaskowitz during a troop inspection in France in June 1944

1. ... Those who behave calmly and peacefully have nothing to fear.
2. ... Threatened with the heaviest penalties : Any damage or deprivation of harvest products, supplies and equipment of all kinds that are important for the war effort, as well as tearing off and damaging posted notices , are also assessed as sabotage . ...
4. A court martial is punished ...

4.2. any help with the escape of civilians into the unoccupied area,
4.3. any communication to persons or authorities outside the occupied territory to the detriment of the German armed forces and the Reich,
4.4. any intercourse with prisoners of war,
4.5. any insult to the German armed forces and their commanders,
4.6. gathering in the street, distributing pamphlets, holding public meetings and elevators that have not been approved in advance by a German commander, and any other anti-German demonstration.
4.7. Induction into work cessation, malicious work cessation, strike and lockout. ...

9. French Franc = 0.05 RM. using a different conversion ratio is a criminal offense.

Blaskowitz (left) at a briefing with Field Marshal General Rommel (center) and von Rundstedt in Paris in May 1944

On October 26, 1940 Blaskowitz received the supreme command of the 1st Army in occupied France and was henceforth subordinate to the Commander in Chief West . On November 11, 1942, units of his army also occupied the previously free areas of southern France without encountering any resistance (" Anton Fall "). The first three and a half years of the occupation of France were relatively calm. Blaskowitz was awarded the German Silver Cross on October 30, 1943 . In May 1944 Blaskowitz was in command of the newly formed South of France Army Group G (from September 1944 Army Group G transmitted) consisting of the 1st and 19th Army was. At the same time, the military activities of the French Resistance assumed threatening forms. These were fought by Blaskowitz with all means available at the time under international law .

The Australian historian Christopher Clark emphasized in 1995 that Blaskowitz had clearly distanced himself with his order of the day of June 17, 1944 in front of the soldiers of his armies from those SS units of the 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich" , which had been with a week earlier killed six hundred men, women and children in the Oradour massacre (for which his Wehrmacht units were not responsible). He reacted differently when French authorities complained about the SS actions. He recommended answering the French authorities that “it is inevitable that innocent people will fall victim to the bullet […]. The Wehrmacht must and will defend itself against such a struggle [namely on the part of the partisans of the Resistance] using all means at its disposal. "

Map of the course of the front at the end of March 1945, registration of Army Group H in the Netherlands under the leadership of Blaskowitz
Surrender of the German armies in the Netherlands to the Canadians (left center: General Charles Foulkes, right center General Blaskowitz) on May 5, 1945 in the Hotel de Wereld in Wageningen

After the Allies landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944 and those on the French Mediterranean coast ( Operation Dragoon ) on August 15, 1944, Blaskowitz and his army group had to retreat to Alsace . On September 21 - Operation Dragoon had progressed extremely quickly - his command was again withdrawn and he was transferred to the Führerreserve , his successor being Hermann Balck . For his "energetic leadership" (Heuer) Blaskowitz received the oak leaves for the Knight's Cross on October 28, 1944 . On December 24, 1944, Blaskowitz was again given command of Army Group G on the southern wing of the Western Front; three weeks later he was replaced again, this time by Paul Hausser . Blaskowitz took over in January 1945, the Army Group H in Holland , for their guidance, he on 25 January 1945 Swords was awarded the Knight's Cross. He successfully negotiated with the Allies about the food supply for the Dutch population. Nevertheless, there was a famine in the winter of 1944/45 , which killed around 18,000 Dutch people. On April 6, 1945 he gave up his command and took over the command of the 25th Army , whereby he was also declared commander in chief of " Fortress Holland ". On May 5, 1945 he surrendered with the remains of the 25th Army in Wageningen to the British and the Canadians under General Charles Foulkes (see Bevrijdingsdag ).

post war period


From 1945 to 1948 Blaskowitz was in captivity in Dachau , Allendorf near Marburg and most recently in Nuremberg . Accusations against Blaskowitz were made from Poland, the United States and Czechoslovakia. The Netherlands withdrew their allegations. Czechoslovakia made Blaskowitz responsible for incidents that had occurred long after his work during the occupation of the Sudetenland and the “rest of Czechia” in autumn 1938 and spring 1939, respectively.

After the transfer to Dachau on April 30, 1946, Poland had Blaskowitz entered as number 8 on the UN War Crimes Commission’s wanted list for murder. But he was not extradited to Poland. Blaskowitz was accused of the mistreatment and murder of Polish prisoners of war. However, Blaskowitz is not mentioned in various other historical records that document Polish charges against German criminals.

In connection with a British military court in Wuppertal prison, Blaskowitz was first considered as a potential defendant by Telford Taylor in late 1947 . He was accused of sending the command to the LXXX. Corps on October 18, 1942. In addition, he was accused of acting as the then Commander in Chief of Army Group G for the murder of 31 British paratroopers near Poitiers on July 7, 1944 by the LXXX. Corps under General Kurt Gallenkamp to be responsible. He was also accused of having used prisoners of war on February 2, 1945 to build fortifications. Finally, he was also accused of passing on a deportation order that had been issued on August 1 and 10, 1944.

Blaskowitz was eventually charged with crimes against peace , war crimes in the narrower sense in Poland and France, for crimes against humanity and for waging a war of aggression (due to his role in the occupation of the Sudetenland, the attack on Poland and the attack on France) . Eventually Blaskowitz was charged with participating in a "joint plan or conspiracy" due to his membership on the general staff.


Blaskowitz pleaded not guilty. "Exonerating documents [...] were not available to the defense [...] at that time, so that he judged his situation pessimistically." So he took himself on February 5, shortly before the start of his hearing at the Nuremberg Trials (Case XII: High Command of the Wehrmacht ) by jumping into the rotunda of the Palace of Justice . The suicide was a surprise because - according to Clark - Blaskowitz could have expected an acquittal. The Nuremberg judges explicitly saw Blaskowitz as a positive example of how officers of the Wehrmacht could have behaved.

Blaskowitz 'wife and daughter stayed with the heather farmer Johannes Köpcke in Bommelsen , who had been Blaskowitz's horse boy during the First World War. The grave of Johannes Blaskowitz can therefore be found in the cemetery of the parish of Bommelsen.


  • Christopher Clark: Johannes Blaskowitz - The Christian General. In: Ronald Smelser , Enrico Syring (ed.): The military elite of the Third Reich. Ullstein, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-550-07080-2 , pp. 28-49.
  • Peter Lieb: Conventional War or Nazi Weltanschauung War: Warfare and Fight against Partisans in France. Oldenbourg, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-486-57992-5 .
  • Friedrich-Christian Stahl: Colonel General Johannes Blaskowitz. In: Gerd R. Ueberschär (ed.): Hitler's military elite. 68 CVs . Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2011, ISBN 978-3-534-23980-1 , pp. 20-27.
  • Joachim Ludewig: Colonel General Johannes Blaskowitz in World War II. In: Military History. 5, No. 1, 1995, pp. 12-19.
  • Richard Giziowski: The Enigma of General Blaskowitz. Hippocrene Books, New York 1997, ISBN 0-7818-0503-1 .

Web links

Commons : Johannes Blaskowitz  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c Friedrich-Christian Stahl: Blaskowitz, Johannes Albrecht. In: Bernd Ottnad (Ed.): Badische Biographien . New episode. Volume 2. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1987.
  2. ^ Karl Bosl, Günther Franz, Hanns Hubert Hofmann: Biographical dictionary on German history. Volume 1. 2nd edition. Francke, Munich 1973.
  3. Gerd F. Heuer: The Colonel General of the Army. Owner of the highest German command posts. 1933-1945. Moewig, Rastatt 1988, ISBN 3-8118-1049-9 , p. 34.
  4. a b Christopher Clark: Johannes Blaskowitz - The Christian General. 1995, p. 33.
  5. Johannes Hürter : Hitler's Army Leader The German Commanders-in-Chief in the War against the Soviet Union 1941/42. Oldenbourg, Munich 2007, p. 184 f.
  6. ^ Helmut Krausnick : Hitler's Einsatzgruppen. The troop of the Weltanschauung war . Fischer TB, Frankfurt am Main 1985, p. 79.
  7. ^ Helmut Krausnick: Hitler's Einsatzgruppen. The troop of the Weltanschauung war . Fischer TB, Frankfurt am Main 1985, p. 80.
  8. ^ Helmut Krausnick: Hitler's Einsatzgruppen. The troop of the Weltanschauung war . Fischer TB, Frankfurt am Main 1985, p. 83.
  9. ^ A b Helmut Krausnick: Hitler's Einsatzgruppen. The troop of the Weltanschauung war . Fischer TB, Frankfurt am Main 1985, p. 84.
  10. Klaus-Jürgen Müller: The Army and Hitler . DVA, Stuttgart 1969, p. 448, cit. according to: Hans Adolf Jacobsen: 1939–1945, The Second World War in Chronicles and Documents , Darmstadt 1961, pp. 606/607.
  11. ^ Raul Hilberg: The annihilation of the European Jews . Vol. 1. Fischer TB, Frankfurt am Main 1990, p. 200.
  12. Omer Bartov: Hitler's Wehrmacht. Soldiers, fanaticism and the brutalization of war . Rowohlt, Reinbek 1995, p. 103.
  13. Hermann Wentker: The resistance against Hitler and the war. Or: what remains of the “revolt of conscience”? In: Stephen Schröder, Christoph Studt (Ed.): July 20, 1944. Profiles, Motive Desiderate. Lit, Berlin 2008, p. 20.
  14. ^ Klaus-Michael Mallmann, Jochen Böhler, Jürgen Matthäus: Einsatzgruppen in Poland. Presentation and documentation . WBG, Darmstadt 2008, p. 69.
  15. a b Hans-Erich Volkmann: On the responsibility of the Wehrmacht . In: Rolf Dieter Müller u. Hans-Erich Volkmann (Ed.): The Wehrmacht. Myth and Reality . Oldenbourg, Munich 1999, p. 1203.
  16. ^ Helmut Krausnick: Hitler's Einsatzgruppen. The troop of the Weltanschauung war . Fischer TB, Frankfurt am Main 1985, p. 84 f.
  17. ^ Helmut Krausnick: Hitler's Einsatzgruppen. The troop of the Weltanschauung war . Fischer TB, Frankfurt am Main 1985, p. 86 f .; see. Klaus-Jürgen Müller: On the history and content of Himmler's speech to the senior generals on March 13, 1940 in Koblenz . In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 18, No. 1 (1970), pp. 95–120. ( PDF )
  18. ^ Helmut Krausnick: Hitler's Einsatzgruppen. The troop of the Weltanschauung war . Fischer TB, Frankfurt am Main 1985, p. 87.
  19. Dermot Bradley , Karl-Friedrich Hildebrand: The Generals of the Army 1921-1945. Volume 2. Biblio, Bissendorf 1993, ISBN 3-7648-2424-7 , p. 3.
  20. Christopher Clark: Johannes Blaskowitz - The Christian General. 1995, p. 43.
  21. Peter Lieb : Conventional war or Nazi ideological war? Warfare and the fight against partisans in France 1943/44. Dissertation University of Munich 2005. Oldenbourg, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-486-57992-5 , p. 373.
  22. Gerd F. Heuer: The Colonel General of the Army. Owner of the highest German command posts. 1933-1945. Moewig, Rastatt 1988, ISBN 3-8118-1049-9 , p. 37.
  23. Gerd F. Heuer: The Colonel General of the Army. Owner of the highest German command posts. 1933-1945. Moewig, Rastatt 1988, ISBN 3-8118-1049-9 , p. 37.
  24. ^ A b Fritz von Siegler:  Blaskowitz, Johann Albrecht. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 2, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1955, ISBN 3-428-00183-4 , p. 290 f. ( Digitized version ).
  25. ^ Henri A. van der Zee: The Hunger Winter: Occupied Holland 1944-1945 , University of Nebraska Press, 1998, pp. 304f.
  26. ^ Marian Muszkat: Polish Charges against German War Criminals. Polish Main National Office for Investigation of German War Crimes in Poland 1948, Warsaw.
  27. ^ Friedrich-Christian Stahl: Colonel General Johannes Blaskowitz. In: Gerd R. Ueberschär (ed.): Hitler's military elite. Volume 1. Primus, Darmstadt 1998, ISBN 3-89678-083-2 , p. 25.
  28. Christopher Clark: Johannes Blaskowitz - The Christian General. 1995, p. 45.
  29. Jens Scholten: Officers. Undefeated in spirit . In: Norbert Frei (Ed.): Careers in the twilight. Hitler's elites after 1945. Campus, Frankfurt am Main 2001, p. 134.
  30. Christopher Clark: Johannes Blaskowitz - The Christian General. 1995, p. 45 f.