Kesselring Albert, born on 30-11-1885 in Marktsteft, Unterfranken,
four and a half year older as Adolf Hitler
(did you know
) as the son of Karl Adolph Kesselring, a town education officer and Rosina Margaretha Maria Kesselring. Albert joined the military as a cadet in 1904, age 19 and became an artillery officer in the 2nd Bavarian Foot Artillery Regiment at Metz.
During the First World War Kesselring was transferred to the German Air Service where he trained as a balloon observer.
While in this post he developed a close friendship with Hermann Göring
Kesselring married Luise Anna Pauline “Liny” Keyssler, the daughter of an apothecary from Bayreuth, in 1910. The couple honeymooned in Italy. Their marriage was childless, but in 1913 they adopted Rainer, the son of Albert’s second cousin Kurt Kesselring. After his service in the First World War, Kesselring joined the Reichswehr for regimental service with the artillery and was promoted to Brigadier in 1932. By 1935 Kesselring was transferred into Hermann Göring’s
(did you know
and quickly held significant rank. He served under Erhard Milch
In June 1936, despite the objections of Milch, Goering appointed Kesselring as the organization’s chief of staff. He was made General of Flyers in 1937 and a year later became Commander-in-Chief of Air Fleet I. Following his success in Poland and Belgium, he was made General Field Marshal in July 1940 with the fall of France.
Later in 1940, Kesselring led the bombing raids during the Blitzkrieg in the Netherlands, Belgium and France. His strategic bombing attacks in Rotterdam, 800 civilians were killed (see About
) (see Jan Ackermans
) and Dunkirk were considered brilliant by strategists and his success during the Battle of Britain (see Arthur “Bomber Harris“
may have been complete had it not been for Goering’s (see Göring Peter
In December 1941, he was transferred to the Mediterranean as the Commander-in-Chief in the South.
On 21-11-1943 he was appointed Commander in Chief of Army Group C, which command he took over from Marshal der Artillerie, Wilhelm von Leeb
and lost to Generaloberst der Panzertruppe, Oberbefehlhaber Südwest
, Heinrich von Vietinghoff
His noteworthy military and strategist career was marred by his involvement in the Ardeantine cave massacre of March . on 23-04-1944, the 11th
company was attacked by Italian partisans. Twenty eight SS soldiers were killed outright, with a few more dying over the next day. The German security forces in Rome, led by SS-Obersturmbannführer, Herbert Kappler
organized a reprisal which became known as the Ardeatine massacre.
That evening he was summoned to the headquarters of the German Armed Forces Commandant in Rome, Luftwaffe Generalmajor der Flieger, Kurt Malzer
who had decided that the killings called for reprisals. The massacre was perpetrated without prior public notice in what was then a little-frequented rural suburb of the city, inside the tunnels of the disused quarries of Pozzolana, near the Via Ardeatina. By mistake, a total of 335 Italian prisoners were taken, five in excess of the 330 called for. On March 24, led by SS officers Hauptsturmführer Erich Priebke
and Karl Hass
, they were transported to the Ardeatine caves in truckloads and then, in groups of five, put to death inside the caves. Priebke was tried later and was currently under house arrest because of his old age, meanwhile 99. On 12-06-2007, he received authorization to leave his home for working reasons, to work at his lawyer’s office in Rome. This led to angry protests from Jewish groups and the judge’s decision was overturned. As of 2011, his health has been reported to be fading and he has been confined to his apartment. Karl Hass was tried and convicted for his role in the Ardeatine action. He admitted to executing two civilians but defended his actions by claiming he was only following orders, a defense which has been ruled invalid ever since the Nuremburg trials. Hass was sentenced to life in prison in 1998. Because of his advanced age and poor health, Hass was held under house arrest in Castel Gandolfo, near Rome, Italy, where Hass spent his last years, till his death, also old age 91, on 21-04-2004. Kesselring finished the war on the western front.
In October 1944 he was severely injured when his car collided with a gun coming out of a side road. He was in hospital for three months.
and recovered he returned only briefly to his command before succeeding Generaloberst der Infanterie, Gerd von Rundstedt
the commander of the 101st
Airborne Division, “The Screaming Eagles”
who’s forces were the first in Berchtesgaden, Bavaria. Kesselring, the only one of the early field marshals not to be sacked by Hitler, was taken prisoner on 6th May 1945. With the end of the war, Kesselring was hoping to be able to make a start on the rehabilitation of Germany. Instead, he found himself placed under arrest. On 15-05-1945, Smiling Albert
was taken to Mondorf les Bains where his baton and decorations were taken from him and he was incarcerated. Kesselring was held in a number of American POW camps before being transferred to British custody in 1946.
He testified at the Nuremburg Trial of Hermann mGoering, but his offers to testify against Soviet, American, and British commanders were declined. A British military Court in Venice sentenced Kesselring to death in 1947 for killing Italian hostages, but his sentence was comuted to life imprisonment.
Death and burial ground of Kesselring, Albert “Smiling Albert”.
In July 1952, Kesselring was diagnosed with a cancerous growth in the throat. During World War I, he had frequently smoked up to twenty cigars per day but he quit smoking in 1925. Although the British were suspicious of the diagnosis, they were concerned that he might die in prison like Generalleutnant der Luftwaffe Kurt Mälzer,
which would be a public relations disaster. Kesselring was transferred to a hospital, under guard. In October 1952, Kesselring was released from his prison sentence on the grounds of ill-health. Smiling Albert Kesselring died eight years later on 16-07-1960, age 74 in a sanatorium in Bad Nauheim of a heart attack,
He was given a quasi-military Stahlhelm
funeral and buried in Bergfriedhof Cemetery in Bad Wiessee. Members of Stahlhelm
acted as his pallbearers and fired a rifle volley over his grave. His former Chief of Staff, General der Kavallerie
Siegfried Carl Theodore Westphal,
spoke for the veterans of North Africa and Italy, describing Kesselring as “a man of admirable strength of character whose care was for soldiers of all ranks”and the German diplomat who served the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany, Rudolf Rahn.
Rahn died in Düsseldorf on 07-01-1975, age 74. General der Kavallerie
Siegfried Carl Theodore Westphal, died 02-07-1982, age 80 in Celle, Nedersaksen.
Albert Kesselring was buried with his wife Luise Anna Pauline “Liny” Keyssler,
who died age 69, on 28-01-1957, on the Bergfriedhof of Bad Wiessee, Field I and only steps of the graves of the Generalfeldmarschall der Infanterie, Werner Blomberg
General der Flieger, Josef Kammhuber
spoke on behalf of the Luftwaffe and Bundeswehr, expressing the hope that Kesselring would be remembered for his earlier accomplishments rather than for his later activities. Also present were the former SS Oberstgruppenführer Josef “Sepp” Dietrich
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