Anton Dostler, born on 13-06-1884 in Munich, entered the Army Service on 23-07-1910, at the age of 25, in the 6th Bayerischen Infanterieregiment. He ends World War I as a 1st Ordinance Officer in the same Regiment and is allowed in the new Reichswehr. At the beginning of World War II he is assigned to Operation Chief in the General Staff of the 7th Army and is promoted to Major General. Dostler is twice in the infamous Führer Reserve and served with several Corpses. His last command, from 01-12-1944, is of the LXXIII Army Corps and he is in American captivity on 08-05-1945. After the war Dostler was tried in the first trial after the war and found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to death by firing squad. On March 22/23, 1944, during a small scale operation behind enemy lines in northern Italy, a group of 15 Italian-Americans of the US 267th Headquarters Company were on a mission to blow up an important railway tunnel but were captured and taken prisoner before the mission (Operation ‘Ginny’) was completed. The captured American soldiers were interrograted in La Spezia by two German Naval Intelligence Officers. In the course of the investigation one of the officers on the America party revealed the story of the mission. On March 24 a report was made by the 135th Fortress Brigade to the 75th Army Corps about the capture. On the next morning 25-03-1944 a telegram was received at the headquaters of the 135th Fortress Brigade signed by the accused Dostler, saying in substance “the captured Americans will be shot immediately. On receiving this cable, the commanding officer of the 135thFortress Brigade and the Naval Officers interrogating the prisoners got into touch with 75th Army Corps headquarters in order to bring about a stay of the execution. Late on the afternoon of the 25th March, Major Kurt Almers, then commanding the brigade, received another telegram from 75th Army Corps which said in substance that by 7.0 o’clock the next morning, March 26, he would have reported complaiance withthe order of execution. They were also summarily shot on the instructions of 55 year old General Dostler who had simply passed on the order from higher authority, Hitler’s (see Adolf Hitler) (did you know) Führerbefehl of 18-10-1942, which stated that all enemy encountered in Commando actions were to be executed. The fifteen Americans were executed on the morning of 26-03-1944. Alexander zu Dohna-Schlobitten, who refused to sign the execution order, was dismissed from Wehrmacht for insubordination, Zu Dohna was a German aristocrat and died on 24-02-1997, at the very old age of 97.
Dostler became a prisoner of the Americans on 8 May 1945 and was put before a military tribunal at the seat of the Supreme Allied Commander, the Royal Palace in Caserta. In the first Allied war trial, he was accused of carrying out an illegal order. In his defense, he maintained that he had not issued the order, but had only passed along an order to Colonel Almers from supreme command. The trial found General Dostler guilty of war crimes, rejecting the defense of Superior Orders. The plea of superior orders did not save Dostler from the firing squad. After a five day trial he was found guilty of a war crime and sentenced to death. On 27-11-1944, the Mediterranean Theatre Commander, Lieutenant General, Chief of Staff, 82nd Airborne, Matthew Bunker Ridgway, (see Ridgway)
confirmed the sentence. At 8 a.m. on the morning of 01-12-1944, General Dostler was executed, age 54, by a firing squad, in Aversa. He is buried on the war cemetery of Pomezia, Italy.