Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel

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Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-R63893, Carl Heinrich von Stülpnagel.jpg
Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel
Born(1886-01-02)2 January 1886
Berlin, German Empire
Died30 August 1944(1944-08-30) (aged 58)
Plötzensee Prison, Berlin, Nazi Germany
Allegiance German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Imperial German Army
 German Army
Years of service1904–44
RankGeneral (Wehrmacht) 1.svg General of the Infantry
Commands heldII. Armeekorps
Battles/warsWorld War I
World War II
AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel (2 January 1886 – 30 August 1944) was a German general in the Wehrmacht during World War II who was an army level commander. While serving as military commander of German-occupied France and as commander of the 17th Army in the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa, Stülpnagel was implicated in German war crimes, including authorising reprisal operations against civilian population and closely cooperating with the Einsatzgruppen in their mass murder of Jews.

He was a member of the 20 July Plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, being in charge of conspirators' actions in France. After the failure of the plot, he was recalled to Berlin and attempted to commit suicide en route, but failed. Tried on 30 August 1944, he was convicted of treason and executed on the same day.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in Berlin into a noble family, Stülpnagel joined the German military straight from school in 1904, and served as a general staff officer in World War I. After the war he served in the Reichsheer reaching the rank of Colonel in 1933. The same year, he was appointed head of the 'Foreign Armies' branch of the General Staff of the Army.[1] In 1935 he published a memorandum in which he combined anti-Bolshevism with anti-semitism.[2] By 1936 he was a Major General and commanded the 30th Infantry Division in Lübeck.

On 27 August 1937 as a Lieutenant General he was appointed Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Army. In 1938, after the Blomberg-Fritsch Affair and the Sudeten Crisis, he established contact with the Schwarze Kapelle, revealing the secret plan for the invasion of Czechoslovakia. Stülpnagel took part in the military opposition's first plans to remove Hitler from power, but these plans were largely abandoned after the Munich Agreement.

World War II[edit]

Stülpnagel in German-occupied Poland, 1941

From 20 December 1940 to 4 October 1941, Stülpnagel was a General of Infantry (April 1939) and commanded the 17th Army. On 22 June 1941, after the launch of Operation Barbarossa, he successfully led this army across southern Russia on the Eastern Front. Under Stülpnagel's command, the 17th Army achieved victory during the Battle of Uman and the Battle of Kiev.

In February 1942, Stülpnagel was made German-occupied France's military commander,[1] in succession to his cousin, Gen. Otto von Stülpnagel. In this position, he, along with his personal adviser Lieutenant-Colonel Caesar von Hofacker, continued to maintain contact with other members of the conspiracy against Hitler.

War crimes[edit]

Substantial archival evidence indicates that during his tenure as commander of the 17th Army and military governor of France, Stülpnagel was involved in war crimes. He ordered that future reprisals for French Resistance activities were to take form in mass arrests and deportations of Jews. Following an attack on German soldiers, Stülpnagel ordered the arrest of 743 Jews, mostly French and had them interned at a German-run camp at Compiègne, another 369 Jewish prisoners were deported to Auschwitz in March 1942.[3] In the Soviet Union, Stülpnagel signed many orders authorizing reprisals against civilians for partisan attacks and closely collaborated with the Einsatzgruppen in their mass murder of Jews. He admonished his soldiers not for the murder of the civilian population but for chaotic means in which it was undertaken, particularly the early premature taking of hostages and random measures. He ordered his troops to focus on Jews and Communist civilians, remarking that Communists were Jews that needed capture anyway; in order to improve relations with Ukrainians, even in cases of Ukrainian sabotage, local Jews were targeted for reprisal.[4]

20 July plot[edit]

On the day in question, 20 July 1944, Stülpnagel put his part of the plot into operation. This mainly involved having Hans Otfried von Linstow, who was only informed of the plot on that same day, round up all SS and Gestapo officers in Paris and imprison them. However, when it became apparent that the assassination attempt in East Prussia had failed, Stülpnagel was unable to convince Field Marshal Günther von Kluge to support the uprising and was forced to release his prisoners. When Stülpnagel was recalled from Paris, he stopped at Verdun and tried to kill himself by shooting himself in the head[1] with a pistol on the banks of the Meuse River. He only succeeded in blinding himself.[5] and in the aftermath he was heard muttering repeatedly in delirium "Rommel", making himself the first to implicate the Field Marshal named as a party to the plot, leading ultimately to the latter's forced suicide.[6][7]

Stülpnagel and his adviser were both arrested by the Gestapo, and Stülpnagel was brought before the Volksgerichtshof (People's Court) on 30 August 1944. He was found guilty of high treason and hanged the same day by piano wire[1] at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin.


See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e Correlli Barnett, ed. (1989). Hitler's Generals. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 0 297 79462 0.
  2. ^ Bulletin, Volume 12-14 German Historical Institute in London, page 27 The Institute, 1990
  3. ^ The Third Reich at War by Richard J. Evans
  4. ^ Nazi empire-building and the Holocaust in Ukraine, Wendy Lower pages 54-55 UNC Press 2006
  5. ^ Die Wehrmacht: Eine Bilanz, Guido Knopp, p. 258
  6. ^ Martin, Blumenson (2001). Heroes Never Die: Warriors and Warfare in World War II. Cooper Square Press. p. 375. ISBN 978-0-8154-1152-9.
  7. ^ Brighton, Terry (2008). Patton, Montgomery, Rommel: Masters of War. ISBN 978-1-4001-1497-9.
  8. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p.337.


External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Commander of 30th Infantry Division
1 October 1936 – 4 February 1938
Succeeded by
Generalmajor Kurt von Briesen
Preceded by
Generaloberst Adolf Strauss
Commander of II Army Corps
30 April 1940 – 21 June 1940
Succeeded by
General Walter von Brockdorff-Ahlefeldt
Preceded by
Commander of 17. Armee
20 December 1940 – 4 October 1941
Succeeded by
Generaloberst Hermann Hoth