Fellgiebel, Fritz Erich.

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Fellgiebel, Fritz Erich, born 04-10-1886, in Miasto Wrocław, Dolnośląskie, Poland At the age of 18, he joined a signals battalion in the Prussian Army as an officer cadet. During the First World War, he served as a Hauptmann on the General Staff. After the war he was assigned to Berlin as a General Staff officer of the Reichswehr. His service had been exemplary, and in 1928 he was promoted to the rank of Major.

Fellgiebel was promoted Oberstleutnant in 1933, and became a full Oberst  the following year. By 1938, he was a Generalmajor. That year, he was appointed Chief of the Army’s Signal Establishment and Chief of the Wehrmacht’s communications liaison to the Supreme Command (OKW). Fellgiebel became General der Nachrichtentruppe (General of the Communications Troops) on 01-08-1940. Adolf Hitler did not fully trust Fellgiebel, considering him too independent-minded, but needed Fellgiebel’s expertise. He was the first to understand the use that the German military could have of an encryption machine called Enigma, and worked to have it adopted by the Wehrmacht. As head of Hitler’s Signal services, Fellgiebel knew every military secret, including Wernher von Braun‘s rocketry work at the Peenemünde Army Research Center.  Through his acquaintance with Generaloberst Ludwig August Beck, his superior, and then Beck’s successor, Generaloberst Franz Halder,  Fellgiebel contacted the anti-Nazi resistance group in the Wehrmacht armed forces. In the 1938 September Conspiracy on the eve of the Munich Agreement, he was supposed to cut communications throughout Germany while Field Marshal Erwin von Witzleben would occupy Berlin.

Fellgiebel was again involved in the preparations for Operation Valkyrie and during the attempt on the Führer’s life on 20 July 1944 tried to cut Hitler’s headquarters at Wolf’s Lair in East Prussia off from all telecommunication connections. He only partly succeeded, as he could not prevent the information of Minister Joseph Goebbels in Berlin via separate SS links. When it became clear that the attempt had failed, Fellgiebel had to override the communications black-out he had set up.

Death and burial ground of Fellgiebel Fritz Erich.

Fellgiebel’s most famous act that day was his telephone report to his co-conspirator General Fritz Thiele at the Bendlerblock, after he was informed that Hitler was still alive: “Etwas schreckliches ist passiert! Der Führer lebt!” (“Something awful has happened! The Führer lives!”). Following Fellgiebel’s arrest General Thiele was directed to assume his duties before he was himself arrested by the Gestapo on 11-08-1944. He was condemned to death on 21-08-1944, age 50 by the Volksgerichtshof, of Jurist Roland Freisler and hanged on 04-09-1944 at Plötzensee prison in Berlin.

Fellgiebel was arrested immediately at Wolf’s Lair. He was also charged before the Volksgerichtshof (“People’s Court”). On 10-08-1944, he was found guilty by Roland Freisler and sentenced to death. He was executed on 04-09-1944, age 57, at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin.

Fellgiebel became head of the cipher bureau of the Ministry of the Reichswehr, which would later become the OKW/Chi. He was a signals specialist and was instrumental in introducing a common enciphering machine, the Enigma machine. However, he was unsuccessful in promoting a single cipher agency to coordinate all operations, as was demanded by OKW/Chi and was still blocked by Joachim von Ribbentrop, Heinrich Himmler and Hermann Goering until autumn 1943. It was not achieved until General Albert Praun took over the post. General Praun survived the war and died 03-03-1975, age 80, in Munich, West Germany

Adolf Hitler did not fully trust Fellgiebel; Hitler considered him too independent-minded, but Hitler needed Fellgiebel’s expertise. Fellgiebel contacted the anti-Nazi resistance group in the Wehrmacht armed forces. He was a key source for the Red Orchestra. Fellgiebel released classified German military information to Rudolf Roessler, a mysterious figure in the Lucyring spy operation. (codename “Lucy” of the Lucy spy ring) about Operation Citadel which allowed Soviet forces to deploy effectively.Fellgiebel was involved in the preparations for Operation Valkyrie and during the attempt on the Führer’s life on 20 July 1944 tried to cut Hitler’s headquarters at Wolf’s Lair in East Prussia off from all telecommunication connections. He only partly succeeded, as he could not prevent the informing of Joseph Goebbels in Berlin via separate SS links. When it became clear that the attempt had failed, Fellgiebel had to override the communications black-out he had set up. Fellgiebel was arrested immediately at Wolf’s Lair and tortured for three weeks, but did not reveal any names of his co-conspirators. He was charged before the Volksgerichtshof (“People’s Court”). On 10-08-1944, he was found guilty by Roland Freisler and sentenced to death. He was executed on 04-09-1944 at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin and his ashes were buried at the Plötzensee cemetery in anonymously grave, as all Plötzensee victims.

The son of Fritz Fellgiebel was Fellgiebel, Walther Peer, Major and battery commander of the 2nd Battery of the 935th Light Army Artillery. The younger Fellgiebel was probably unaware of his father’s participation in the assassination plot, but was arrested on 01-08-1944.  He was released and promoted to Major on 09-11-1944. In February 1945, authorities arrested him again, but senior Army officers interceded on his behalf and he thus survived the war. Walter died 14-10-2001, age 83, Frankfurt am Main and buried at the Hauptfriedhof of Frankfurt am Main..

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