Kleist, Paul Ludwig “Ewald” von, born 08-08-1881 in Braunfels an der Lahm, to an aristocratic family, with a long history of military service. There had been two previous Prussian field marshals in the family. His father was Geheime Studienrat Christof Hugo von Kleist, a high ranking civil servant. He was a strong monarchist who was close to the Von Hindenburg family serving as a commander of a cavalry division from 1932 until 1935. He joined, age 19, the Konigliche Preussian Army on 13-09-1901 as a Fahnenjunker with the Field Artillery Regiment “Generalfeldzeugmeister Nr 3. He followed the war school he was promoted to Leutnant on 18-08-1902 and appointed to Battery Officer in his Regiment. In 1910 he became an Oberleutnant. He married Gisela Wachtel in Hanover on 10-10-1910. On 22-04-1912 he was transferred to the 2nd Kurhessisches Husaren-Regiment „Landgraf Friedrich III. von Hessen-Homburg“ Nr. 14. Promoted to Ritmeister on 22-03-1914, with the Staff of the 1st Leibhusaren-Regiments Nr. 1 in Danzig. With the beginning of the first war assigned as Chief of the Ersatz-Eskadron des Husaren-Regiment Nr. 1. On 06-07-1917 his son Ewald was born in Hanover. After the war he was allowed in the 100.000 men Reichswehr with the Staff of the 7th Reichswehr Brigade. On 22-03-1921 his second son Heinrich was born also in Hanover. Promoted to Major on 01-02-1922 and Chief of of a Brigade of the 13th Prussian Cavalry Regiment. Assigned as Tactics teacher of the Kavallerie School in in Hanover from October 1923 and from 01-12-1926 promoted to Oberstleutnant. Oberst from 01-10-1929 and Generalmajor from 01-10-1932 with the command of the 2nd Kavallerie-Division in Breslau and became a Generalleutnant from 01-12-1933. With the enlargement of the Reichswehr he was appointed as commander of the new Generalcommando VIII Army Corps in Breslau, likewise Commanding General of Wehrkreis VIII in Breslau. He was semi-retired then when, in August 1939, he was recalled to active duty at the age of fifty-eight. In 1939, during the invasion of Poland, Kleist commanded the XXII Panzer Corps. In the battle of France he commanded Panzergruppe von Kleist, his Chief of Staff was then Oberst Kurt Zeitzler , consisting of XLI Panzer Corps and XIX Panzer Corps, under Heinz Guderian,
the two southernmost armoured corps in the drive to the English Channel. During this time he attempted to relieve Guderian of his command after he disobeyed orders to halt their advance toward the Channel; the Army Group A commander, Gerd von Rundstedt,
refused to confirm the order, and the Franco-British armies were trapped. In April 1941, Kleist commanded 1st Panzergruppe, comprising III, XIV and XLVIII Panzer Corps and XXIX Infantry Corps, which spearheaded the Blitzkrieg-style invasions of Yugoslavia and Greece. With this formation he also participated in the subsequent Operation Barbarossa as part of Army Group South, under Generaloberst Johannes “Hans” Friessner. In 1942 Kleist was sent to command troops in the Caucasus in order to capture important oil wells in the area. On 22-11-1942, he was placed in command of Army Group A, under Generalfieldmarschal Wilhelm List. He was promoted to Field Marshall in 1943. He was relieved of his command in March 1944 for ordering the 8th Army to retreat when it was in danger of destruction by the Soviet Red Army, in explicit violation of Adolf Hitler’s (did you know), orders. After his dismissal by Hitler, Kleist went into enforced retirement and arrested by the Gestapo and succeeded by Ferdinand Schörner. Kleist was captured by U.S. forces in 1945, also Generaloberst Richard Ruoff
and was sent to Yugoslavia to face wart crimes charges in 1946. In 1948 he was extradited to the Soviet Union where he was given a 10 year sentence in 1952 for war crimes.
Death and burial ground of Kleist, Paul Ludwig “Ewald” von.
His oldest son Ewald was captured too after the defeat of Breslau, but was released from prison in 1955 Ewald von Kleist, who has died aged 90, from arteriosclerosis and hypertension, was the last surviving member of the conspirators, the group of Wehrmacht officers who hatched an elaborate plot to kill Hitler in 1944. Paul Ludwig Ewald died in captivity in Vladimir Prison on 16-10-1954, the highest ranked German officer to die in Soviet captivity. Of note is the fact that Kleist was charged, among other things, with “alienating, through friendship & generosity, the peoples of the Soviet Union”. He is buried near the Wladimirowka prison in Russia and there is a memorial stone in the headstreet of the town Härtlingen where his family lives.