Model, Walter Otto Moritz

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Model, Walter, born on 24-01-1891 at Genthin in Saxony, two years after Adolf Hitler (did you know), as the son of Otto Model and Maria Demmer, she from a well established house, in the Brandenburger Strasse 5, entered the army officer Cadet School in Neisse in 1908, where he, named Walter, was an unexceptional student. He had one brother Otto. He had bad eyes and an oblique shoulder and after critics plans to leave the army. He a go getter, following his graduation was commissioned as a Lieutenant into the 52nd Infantry Regiment, von Alsleven in 1910, 18 years old    and one of his class mates was the later Generalleutnant Eberhard Bohnstedt  He made few friends among his fellow officers like the then Oberstleutnant Ludwig Beck  and soon became known for his ambition, drive and blunt outspokenness. When WWI began, the 52nd Regiment, formed part of the 5th Infantry Division under command of Fieldmarschal Freiherr Wilhelm Leopold Colmar von der Goltz . Goltz died on 19 April 1916, in Baghdad, just two weeks before the British in Kut surrendered. The official reason for his death was typhus, although apparently there were rumors that he had been poisoned, fighting on the Western Front. Model served as the adjutant of his Regiment’s 1st Battalion. In May 1915 Model was severely wounded near Arras, a shoulder shot, close to the artery and  was awarded with the Iron Cross, First Class  on 19-10-1915. In 1916 he was again severely wounded , a complicated under leg wound which cost him a few months hospital in Karlsruhe. His actions brought him to the attention of his Divisional commander, who despite misgivings about his ‘uncomfortable subordinate’, recommended him for a posting to the General Staff, were he worked for Paul von Hindenburg  and Erich Ludendorff At the headquarters he also met personal the emperor Wilhelm II.

  Model sailed through the abbreviated staff officers course and ended the war with the 36th Reserve Division. After the armistice he walked from Brugge, Belgium to Aachen with his division. Model was allowed in the new Reichswehr . In 1938, he was promoted to Generalmajor, under General der Flieger, Otto von Stülpnagel,   the later butcher of Paris. In 1920 he met Herta Huyssen, who’s fiancé was killed in the first war, they married on 12-05-1923, pastor was Martin Niemöller,  an anti Nazi and resistance man, and they got two daughters, Hella and Christa and one son Hans Georg, who joined the army later. Niemöller survived the concentration camps of Sachsenhausen and Dachau, dying old age 92, on 06-03-1984, in Wiesbaden. Hans Georg himself served as an officer cadet with the Grossdeutschland Division  in late 1944 and 1945, after the war he joined the Bundeswehr, rising to the rank of General Brigadier. House friend from the family Model was Generalmajor der Infanterie, Dr. Hans Speidel 

    . Like many other army officers at the time, he was a supporter of the Nazi party and his time in Berlin brought him into contact with senior members of the regime, in particular with Joseph Goebbels  (did you know) and Hermann Goering  (did you know). It was Goebbels who introduced him to Hitler, with whom he immediately found favor. During the Polish campaign he served as Chief of Staff to the 4th Army Corps  under command of Generaloberst Günther von Kluge which formed part of the southern attack force. Attached to 10th Army under command of General Walther von Reichenau  it advanced from Upper Silesia and attacked Polish forces in the area of Radom, the battle for Poland lasted only eighteen days. During the French campaign he served as Chief of Staff to the 16th Army, under command of Generaloberst Erich Hoepner, following his promotion to Generalmajor.  General Hoepner was implicated in the failed 20 July Plot against Adolf Hitler and executed on 08-08-1944, age 57 in the Plòtzensee prison

  . The 16th Army commanding General was Generalfieldmarshal, Ernst Busch  attached to the Army Group A under Generaloberst, Gerd von Rundstedt  and Oberstleutnant Hans Boeckh-Behrens  was Model’s Staff Officer. The 16th burst through the Ardennes and then crossed the Meuse River at Sedan. The Army then fought through the Maginot Line  and broke out in the direction of Verdun. During this time Model also instituted a combined arms training program. For the invasion of Russia, Model was given command of the 3rd Panzer Division, he succeeded Generaloberst der Infanterie, Hans Stumpf He was incredibly successful in this post, renowned to have immense drive and energy. Model was very much a front line General and often visited his troops who believed he was lucky.

 However he was not always so popular with his peers and could be difficult both as a subordinate and superior. After the warGeneral der Panzertruppe, Hasso von Manteuffel  said of him, ‘Model was a very good tactician, better in defence than attack. He had a knack of gauging what his troops were capable of. But his manner was rough and his methods were often unorthodox. Model stood up to Hitler, (see Alois  in a way that hardly anyone else dared and often refused to carry out orders with which he did not agree’. In August 1944, Model was transferred to the Western Front to take command of Army Group B and also received the Diamonds to his Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.     In September 1944, Model found himself at Oosterbeek, just a mile from the British airdrop .in Hotel de Tafelberg, Model’s headquarters.

Headquarter General Urquhart in Oosterbeek.        Now a famous museum.

     He marshalled the defence of the area, using the 9th SS Panzer Division , commander Walter Harzer , the 10th SS Panzer Division , under SS Brigade führer Heinz Harmel  and Kommandeur “Kampfgruppe Hans Peter Knaust”    to contain the British at Arnhem, while the 10th SS Panzer Division moved south to defend the bridge at Nijmegen. In December 1944, Model was given responsibility for overseeing the Ardennes offensive. Although he felt the obj  ectives of the offensive were over ambitious, he was obliged to carry it out. The Germans, with General der Panzertruppen Heinrich Diepold Georg Freiherr von Lùttwitz   failed to capture the vital road junction at Bastogne  and this combined with the poor weather and stubborn American defence of the 101 Airborne Division , under command of General Anthony McAuliffe   slowed their advance. Starved of fuel and ammunition, the attack had ground to a halt by the 25th of December and was called off entirely on the 8th of January. By the end of March, he could no longer prevent the relentless advance of the Americans and was gradually backed into the Ruhr. The American 1st and 9th Armies linked together at Lippstadt on the 1st of April, sealing Models Army Group in the Ruhr pocket. All effective resistance in the pocket ceased on the 18th of April and the forces in the pocket gradually surrendered over the next few days. While addressing his staff before dissolving his command he said, ‘Has everything been done to justify our actions in the light of history? What can there be left for a commander in defeat?’ Model decided to commit suicide, shooting himself with his pistol 6.35 millimetre in the head, in a wood between Lintdorf and Wedau, near Duisberg, on the 21st of April. Model always wearing a monocle  was convinced that the Americans would hand him over to the Russians, who regarded him as a war criminal. Model was buried in the wood where he fell. In 1955 his son, Hans Georg Model, guided by his father’s former officers, recovered his father’s body.

Death and burial ground of Model, Walter Otto Moritz.

   Fieldmarshal Walter Model, high decorated  was re interred in the Soldatenfriedhof Vossenack Hurtgenwald, a German military cemetery near the town of Vossenack in the Hürtgen Forest. A visit to the grave on 11-05-2015 proved that the stone was stolen again. But there is a new stone now 13-07-2015 as Kirk Bissat from Canada found out.

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