Wilhelm List

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Wilhelm List in 1935 in the uniform of an infantry general

Siegmund Wilhelm Walther List (born May 14, 1880 in Oberkirchberg near Ulm ; † August 16, 1971 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen ) was a German army officer (field marshal since 1940 ) and commander-in-chief of various armies and army groups during the Second World War . He was convicted as a war criminal in the Generals Trial in Southeastern Europe in 1948 .



List was the son of the general practitioner Walter List (1853-1907). He married Hedwig Kleinschroth in 1911. The marriage had three children.

Bavarian Army

List joined the 1st  Pioneer Battalion of the Bavarian Army as a two-year-old volunteer after attending Luitpold High School in 1898 . In 1900 he was appointed lieutenant promoted and the 3rd Engineer Battalion added . After his commanding the Artillery and Engineering School served List in 1904 for several years as a battalion adjutant . From 1908 to 1911 List graduated from the War Academy , which made him qualified for the general staff , military railroad service and the subject (fortress warfare). In 1912 he was assigned to the central office of the General Staff and the following year he was promoted to captain . This was followed by commands to the 1st Infantry Regiment "König" and to the Ingolstadt fortress . In the period up to the beginning of the First World War it was then used in the central office of the General Staff.

After the outbreak of war in 1914, List was initially employed as a general staff officer in the II Army Corps . In the winter of 1915 he fell seriously ill and had to undergo an operation. After his recovery he served first as Second General Staff Officer (Ib) in the Strantz Army Department and from 1917 as First General Staff Officer (Ia) in the 8th Reserve Division . In January 1918 List was promoted to major . At the end of the war he was employed in the War Ministry .

Weimar Republic

In the early 1920s List was involved in various operations against the Soviet Republic as a member of the Epp Freikorps . In the transitional army, he served on the staff of Group Command 4 (Munich), from which military district command VII later emerged.

From April 1923 to October 1924 List was in command of the III. ( Jäger ) battalions in the 19th (Bavarian) Infantry Regiment in Kempten (Allgäu) , which was also trained here for use in the mountains. For the next ten years or so, List was mainly active in training for the Reichswehr . From 1924 on, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and served for two years as the first general staff officer of the 7th Division and head of training for assistant leaders in military district VII. In 1926 he moved to the Reichswehr Ministry , where he was initially employed as a consultant in the Army Training Department (T 4). On March 1, 1927 List was promoted to colonel and at the same time entrusted with the management of the department. On February 1, 1930 he took over the management of the infantry school in Dresden's Albertstadt . In this position, List was promoted to major general on October 1, 1930 and lieutenant general in 1932 .

time of the nationalsocialism

Pre-war period

On October 1, 1933, List was then commander in military district IV (Dresden) and commander of the 4th division . Two years later, on October 1, 1935, List was appointed General of the Infantry and was now Commanding General of the IV Army Corps .

In February 1938 List took over the position of Commander-in-Chief of Army Group Command 2 in Kassel . On April 1st, after Austria was annexed to the German Reich , List became Commander-in-Chief of Army Group Command 5 in Vienna , with the task of integrating the Austrian Armed Forces into the Wehrmacht . On April 1, 1939 he was appointed Colonel-General conveyed.

Second World War

As Commander-in-Chief of the 14th Army , List took part in the attack on Poland in 1939 and received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on September 30th . When Western campaign now be in shelter 12th Army renamed United Association of Army Group A in the center of the front. For his essential part in the victory over France he was promoted to field marshal on July 19, 1940 (as well as 11 other generals).

In the Balkan campaign that began on April 6, 1941, List was Commander-in-Chief of the 12th Army and, in this position, chief of all German ground operations against Greece and East Yugoslavia. List accepted the Greek surrender on April 21 , after the Kingdom of Yugoslavia had surrendered on April 17 . On the verge of the Greek surrender, there were entanglements with the then German ally Italy . List, instructed by Hitler , had the deed of surrender signed without the participation of Italian officers. After the Italian dictator Mussolini protested to Hitler, he sent the chief of the Wehrmacht command staff , Alfred Jodl , to Greece to carry out the act of surrender a second time - this time with Italian participation.

After the end of the Balkan campaign, List became Wehrmacht Commander Southeast. In this function he was subordinate to the military commanders of Serbia and Northern and Southern Greece. On October 4, 1941, he gave the order to set up collection camps for hostages to be shot while resisting partisans . Due to illness, List gave up his post in October 1941.

At the beginning of 1942 List received an inspection tour from Hitler through Norway , which had been occupied by Germany since 1940 , in order to determine the preparedness against a possible British landing on the Norwegian west coast.

List, who cannot be said to be in close proximity to National Socialism and who did not hide this attitude from Hitler either, was only entrusted with a new task after the intercession of various officers from the Wehrmacht and army command. On July 1, 1942 List received the supreme command of the newly formed Army Group A in the south of the Eastern Front . In this position there were soon disputes with Hitler about the conduct of the operation. On September 10th, List was relieved of his duties as Commander in Chief of Army Group A.

In May 1945 he was captured by US troops in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

post war period

Wilhelm List (left) and Walter Kuntze (right) being released in the prison yard during the "hostage trial".
List when he was sentenced in 1948

During the Nuremberg trials in the so-called "hostage trial ", also known as the trial of the Southeast Generals , Wilhelm List was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1948 . In his closing remarks, he once again took a stand on the murders of civilians and tried to deny himself any guilt: "The guilt rests with those who have waged this struggle cruelly and underhanded in the Balkans from the beginning".

The American High Commissioner John Jay McCloy rejected a pardon for List on January 31, 1951 after consulting an advisory committee. In a press release, he stated:

“Neither can I find any mitigating circumstances for the emphasis with which they [also means Walter Kuntze ] carried out the terrorization of the areas under their control. Personally signed orders document this fact. Their high rank created the atmosphere for the brutalities perpetrated, so to speak, and their own orders can only be interpreted as inciting excesses. In these cases, there is actually more to it than simply passing on an undoubtedly illegal order, bad as that in itself would have been. Even if one tries to take full account of the grueling character of the partisan and guerrilla warfare officers faced in this campaign, one cannot ignore the fact established by the committee: these highly responsible officers have got through military considerations far exceeded the justifiable limits, both by actions and by omissions. The court recognized that in the extreme case, and as a last resort, the shooting of hostages was a by-product of this type of warfare. However, the evidence has shown that hundreds of Gypsies , Jews and other people were killed in many executions who were not in the slightest connected, either geographically or causally, to any incidents to which German troops were exposed. In addition, the arrests and shooting of hostages were arbitrarily and excessively exaggerated in relation to the violations through which these measures were provoked. The committee points to the possibility of the health of List and Kuntze, both men of advancing age, making a further medical examination appear desirable in order to determine whether a release for incapacity is warranted. "

List, who was seriously ill, was released from custody in Landsberg in 1952 . He lived in Garmisch-Partenkirchen until his death in 1971.



Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Othmar Hackl: The Bavarian War Academy (1867-1914) . CH Beck, Munich 1989, ISBN 3-406-10490-8 , pp. 511 .
  2. Mr. Wilhelm List . General Field Marshal . In: Münchner Merkur . Garmisch-Partenkirchner Tagblatt . No. 188 , August 18, 1971, p. 14 .
  3. Ernst Klee : The dictionary of persons on the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. 2nd edition. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 978-3-596-16048-8 , p. 374, with reference to the source BAL 503 ARZ 54/66.
  4. ^ Quote from Ernst Klee: Das Personenlexikon zum Third Reich , Fischer Taschenbuch 2005, p. 375.
  5. a b c d e f g Ranking list of the German Imperial Army. Mittler & Sohn, Berlin, p. 108.
  6. Veit Scherzer : Knight's Cross bearers 1939–1945. The holders of the Iron Cross of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and armed forces allied with Germany according to the documents of the Federal Archives. 2nd Edition. Scherzers Militaer-Verlag, Ranis / Jena 2007, ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2 , p. 510.

Web links

Commons : Wilhelm List  - Collection of images, videos and audio files