Leeb, Wilhelm, born on 05-09-1872 in Landsberg, Germany, joined the Imperial Army in 1895 as an officer cadet and after being commissioned in the artillery served in China (1901-02). He attended the Bavarian War Academy in Munich and on the General Staff in Berlin. Promoted to Hauptmann he did a tour of duty as a battery commander in the Bavarian 10th Field Artillery Regiment at Erlangen. On the outbreak of the first World War von Leeb was on the General Staff of the Bavarian Army Corps. He was sent to the Western Front were he served with the Bavarian 11th Infantry Division . Promoted to major he was transferred to the Eastern Front in the summer of 1916. The following year he was appointed to the Staff of Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria. Rupprecht died, age 85, on 02-08-1955. After the war von Leeb remained in the new Reichswehr and in 1919 was appointed chief of department in the Reich Defence Ministry. In 1920 he was promoted to Oberst and the following year he became Chief of Staff of Wehrkreis II. In February 1922 he returned to Munich as Chief of Staff of Wehrkreis VII and in 1923 he was involved in putting down the Beer Hall Putsch. Von Leeb was appointed commander of the 2nd Mountain Artillery Battalion of the 7th Artillery Regiment in 1924. Considered an authority on defensive warfare von Leeb became the head of Wehrkries VII in 1930. A devout Roman Catholic, von Leeb was opposed to the policies of the Nazi Party. Von Leeb with Generals Laegener and Friedrich von Rabenau. After hearing Adolf Hitler make a speech to Germany’s senior army officers on 23-01-1933, von Leeb commented: “A businessman whose wares are good does not need to boost them in the loudest tones of a market crier.” Although the Gestapo were told to keep von Leeb under surveillance, it did not stop him being promoted to General of the Artillery and in 1934 was given command of Army Group 2. In 1937 von Leeb published Die Abwehr , where he argued that Germany could not defeat the Soviet Union in a two-front war. In 1938 Adolf Hitler (did you know) decided to purge the German Army of anti-Nazis and von Leeb, here with General George Küchler, was forced into retirement. However, he was recalled just before the outbreak of the war. Despite his objections he took part in the invasion of Poland and commanded Army Group C during the Western Offensive. He was rewarded by being promoted to Field Marshal on 19-07-1940. During Operation Barbarossa he commanded Army Group North. The 91.000 German POW’s taken at Stalingrad, 27.000 died within weeks and only 5-6,000 returned to Germany by 1955. The remainder of the POW’s died in Soviet captivity. On 02-02-1943, the organized resistance of Axis troops in Stalingrad ceased. Out of the 91.000 prisoners taken by the Soviets, 3.000 were Romanian. These were the survivors of the 20th Infantry Division , 1st Cavalry Division and “Colonel Voicu” Detachment. According to archival figures, the Red Army suffered a total of 1.129.619 total casualties; 478.741 men killed or missing and 650.878 wounded. These numbers are for the whole Don region; in the city itself 750.000 were killed, captured, or wounded. Anywhere from 25.000 to 40.000 Soviet civilians died in Stalingrad and its suburbs during a single week of aerial bombing by Luftflotte 4 as the German 4th Panzer under Generaloberst Richard Ruoff and 6th Armies approached the city; the total number of civilians killed in the regions outside the city is unknown. In all, the battle resulted in an estimated total of 1.7-2 million Axis and Soviet casualties. He took part in the siege of Leningrad but on 13-01-1942 he asked to retire from active service and was replaced by Generalfeldmarschall der Artillerie, OB Heeresgruppe Nord, Georg von Küchler.
Death and burial ground of Leeb, Wilhelm Joseph Franz Freiherr von.
Wilhelm von Leeb died on 29-04-1956, age 73 and is buried with his wife Maria, born Schrott, who died in a crash age 67 in 1959, on the Waldfriedhof of Zolln, in Munich. Only steps away the graves of SA Leader, Franz Pfeffer von Salomon, General der Panzertruppe, Kommandeur der 4th Panzerdivision , Dietrich von Saucken and General der Flieger, Inspektor der Tagesflieger, Johannes “Hannes” Trautloft.
Cemetery location of Leeb, Wilhelm Joseph Franz Freiherr von.