Sunday, April 17, 2022

Keitel, Wilhelm Bodewin Johann Gustav

From a middle-class landowning family, Wilhelm Keitel served in the artillery and as a staff officer during World War I.

Wilhelm Keitel was born near Bad Gandersheim in what is today the state of Lower Saxony, Germany, on September 22, 1882. He embarked on a military career in 1901, becoming a Cadet Officer of the Prussian Army. His rise through the ranks continued during and after the First World War.

In 1909, Keitel married Lisa Fontaine, a wealthy landowner's daughter from Hanover. Together they had six children, one of whom died in infancy.

In September 1914 Keitel was seriously wounded by a shell splinter. After returning to duty, he became a battery commander before being appointed to the General Staff in March 1915. He fought in the First Battle of the Marne, at the Eastern Front, in the Battle of Verdun, and the Battle of Passchendaele, being awarded the Iron Cross 2nd and 1st Class.

After the Nazis took power in January 1933 Keitel participated in the expansion of the Reich Defense Ministry. In 1938, Keitel was appointed head of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces, that agency which replaced the German War Ministry and which bore responsibility over the army, navy, and air force. He held that post until the end of World War II. Keitel participated in all major conferences, dictated the terms of the French surrender in June 1940.

On 8 May 1945 he signed the unconditional surrender of the German armed forces in Berlin. He was convicted of crimes against humanity, by international Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and hanged on October 16, 1946.
Keitel, Wilhelm Bodewin Johann Gustav

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