Salmuth, Hans Eberhard Kurt von, born 11-11-1888 in Metz, four months before Adolf Hitler (did you know), the son of a Prussian officer, Salmuth entered the German Army in 1907, age 19 and rose to the rank of captain during World War I, by the end of which he had risen to the rank of Hauptmann. He remained in the 100.000 men army after the war, 8 Infanterie and 2 Cavalry Divisions,.where he held various assignments. Promoted to Oberst on 01-05-1934 and becoming a Brigadier General in 1937 and Chief of Staff of the Second Army in 1939. Salmuth was Chief of Staff to Generalfeldmarschall, Fedor von Bock
, who commanded Army Group North in the invasion of Poland in September 1939. Von Salmuth who was not a member of the Nazi Party or any of its formations, continued as his Chief of Staff when Bock’s Army Group B invaded Belgium and the Netherlands (see Jan Ackermans) in May 1940. Salmuth, by now a Generalleutnant, commanded the XXX Corps in the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, fighting in the Crimea. He became commander of the Second Army in July 1942, succeeding General der Kavallerie Maximilian von Weichs and was promoted to General in January 1943. In August 1943 Von Salmuth was transferred to France to take command of the Fifteenth Army, succeeding General Heinrich von Vietinghoff genannt Scheel , whose 17 divisions were charged with defending the French coast from Le Havre northeastward to the Schelde River estuary against the impending Allied invasion of western Europe. Von Salmuth’s sector included the Pas-de-Calais, the likeliest site of an Allied landing, but the Allies invaded (on June 6, 1944) the less heavily defended Normandy coast, which adjoined von Salmuth’s sector on the west
It was a little after 10.15 p.m when Oberstleutnant Helmuth Meyer counterintelligence officer of the Fifteenth Army rushed out of his office. In his hands was probably the most important message the Germans had intercepted throughout the whole of World War II. Meyer now knew that the invasion would take place within forty-eight hours. With this information the Allies could be thrown back into the sea. The message picked up from a BBC broadcast to the French underground was the second line of the Verlain poem: “Blessent mon coeur d’une langueur monotome” Wound my heart with a monotonous languor. Meyer burst into the dining room where von Salmuth, the Fifteen’s Army commander officer was playing bridge with his chief of staff and two others. “General” said Meyer breathlessly “The message the second part-it’s here. Von Salmuth thought a moment, then gave the order to put the Fifteenth Army on full alert. As Meyer hurried out of the room von Salmuth was again at his bridge hand “I’m too old a bunny” Von Salmuth recalls saying, ” to get too excited about this” Back in his office Meyer, and his staff immediately notified OB West, von Rundstedt’s headquarters, by telephone. They in turn alerted OKW , Hitler’s headquarters.
In the days and weeks after D-Day, Adolf Hitler clung to the mistaken belief that the Normandy landings were merely a diversion from the main Allied attack, which he thought was still to come at the Pas de Calais. Accordingly, Hitler refused until late July to allow Salmuth’s infantry and armoured divisions to move west to help the beleaguered Seventh Army defend Normandy against the Allied advance. Hans von Salmuth wrote this anecdote in his diary about the morning of the D-Day invasion, 6 June 1944:“At 6 A.M., since it had been daylight for an hour and a half, I had my Chief of Staff telephone Seventh Army again to ask if the enemy had landed anywhere yet. The reply was, ‘Fleets of troop transports and warships big and small are lying at various points offshore, with masses of landing craft. But so far no landing has yet taken place.’ Thereupon I went back to sleep with a calm mind, after telling my Chief of Staff ‘—So their invasion has miscarried already!” Von Salmuth was relieved of his command by Hitler in late August 1944, following the disintegration of the German front line, after the Allied breakout from Normandy, Operation Cobra, and roughly about the same time as the liberation of Paris by French Marshal, Phillip Leclere. He was replaced by General der Infanterie, Gustav-Adolf von Zangen , who died age 71, on 01-05-1964, in Hanau. Hans von Salmuth was given no further commands in the war, which for Germany ended approximately nine months later, in May 1945. At war’s end von Salmuth was taken prisoner by U.S. forces, and von Salmuth was held as a prisoner of war until 1948, when he was one of 185 defendants prosecuted in the Nuremberg Military Tribunals under Allied Control Coucil (ACC) Law No. 10. Von Salmuth was tried in the High Command Trial and found guilty of war crimes against prisoners of war and enemy belligerents, and crimes against humanity involving civilians in occupied countries and was sentenced to twenty years in prison. However, he was released early after serving only five years, in 1953. in 1948 he was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment. Von Salmuth was married to Liselotte von Meßling and they had two sons..
Death and burial ground of Salmuth, Hans Eberhard Kurt von.
After his release Hans von Salmuth lived in Wiesbaden, where he at the age of 73 died, on 01-02-1962 and is buried with his wife Liselotte, born Meshling, who died on 23-07-1997, on the Nordfriedhof of Wiesbaden, almost next to the World War II Generalleutnant der Flieger, Kommandeur Luftwaffe Transport, Oskar Bertram, General der Infanterie, Kommandeur der LXIII Heeresgruppe, Ernst Dehner, Generalleutnant der Kavallerie, Jurist Reichs Kriegsgericht, Friedrich Eberhardt, Generalleutant der Infanterie, Kommandeur der 172nd Division, Kurt Fischer, Generalleutnant der Infanterie, Commander of POW’s in area Wehrmacht Commander Eastern Territories, Victor Gaissert, Generalmajor der Artillerie, Kommandeur der Raketten Artillerie Truppen, Ernst Graewe