Brauchitsch, Field Marshal Walter von, 1881-1948

HITLER appointed Brauchitsch Commander in Chief of the German Army after he had had Fritsch dismissed on a trumped up charge of impropriety. Brauchitsch was chosen because he was a more pliable person, who was susceptible to Hitler’s powers of persuasion. He was also respected in the Army and refused to join a plot to have Hitler arrested if he took action against Czechoslovakia. Brauchitsch took part in the operational direction of the Polish Campaign but his Army High Command had no access to the higher direction of the war, except through the influence Brauchitsch could exert. At the time of the planning of the campaign in the west. Brauchitsch and HALDER tried to persuade Hitler that logistical problems made his plan impracticable but Hitler gave Brauchitsch a severe reprimand and refused to accept Brauchitsch’s resignation. This effort was Brauchitsch’s last attempt to stand up to Hitler. During the Barbarossa Operation Brauchitsch suffered a heart attack and when Zhukov opened the Soviet counterattack outside Moscow, Brauchitsch was in no fit state to respond. He offered his resignation to Hitler within 36 hours and this time it was accepted. Hitler blamed him for this setback and called him ‘a vain, cowardly wretch.’ Hitler took over Brauchitsch’s duties himself and became the first civilian to command the German Army.

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