Alexander von Falkenhausen

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Alexander von Falkenhausen
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-2008-0155, Alexander von Falkenhausen.jpg
Falkenhausen in uniform, 1940
Born (1878-10-29)October 29, 1878
Gut Blumenthal, Province of Silesia, German Empire
Died July 31, 1966(1966-07-31) (aged 87)
Nassau, Rhineland-Palatinate, West Germany
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Republic of China (to 1938)
 Nazi Germany
Years of service 1897–1930, 1934 - 1944
Rank General der Infanterie
Awards Pour le Mérite

Alexander Ernst Alfred Hermann Freiherr von Falkenhausen (October 29, 1878 – July 31, 1966) was a German general. He was an important figure during the Sino-German cooperation to reform the Chinese Army. During World War II Germany ended its support for China and Falkenhausen was forced to withdraw from China. Back in Europe he later became the head of the military government of Belgium from 1940–44 during its occupation by Germany.

He was married twice, firstly to Paula von Wedderkop (8 October 1879 - 3 March 1950) and secondly, in 1960, to Cecile Vent (16 September 1906 - 1977), both without issue. He was a nephew of Ludwig von Falkenhausen, who was the governor-general of Belgium during the German occupation, from 1917 until 1918, during the First World War, and a direct male line descendant of Karl Wilhelm Friedrich, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach, by his mistress Elisabeth Wünsch.

Early life and military career[edit]

Alexander von Falkenhausen was born at Blumenthal, near Neisse (now Nysa, Poland) in the Prussian province of Silesia, one of seven children of Baron Alexander von Falkenhausen (1844–1909) and his wife, Elisabeth. He attended a Gymnasium in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland) and then the cadet school at Wahlstatt (now Legnickie Pole).

In his youth, Falkenhausen showed an interest in Eastern Asia and its culture. He traveled and studied in Japan, northern China, Korea and Indochina from 1909 to 1911.

In 1897 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Imperial German Army and served as a military attaché in Japan prior to the First World War. He was awarded the prestigious Pour le Mérite award while serving with the Ottoman Army in Palestine. After the war, he remained in the much-reduced Germany Army and in 1927 was appointed to head the Dresden Infantry School.

Adviser to Chiang Kai-shek[edit]

Falkenhausen in 1933

In 1930, Falkenhausen retired from the service and went to China to serve as Chiang Kai-Shek's military advisor in 1934. In 1937 Nazi Germany officially allied themselves with the Empire of Japan, who by then had launched a war against the Republic of China during the Second Sino-Japanese War as part of the Sino-German cooperation to reform the Chinese Army. As a goodwill gesture to Japan, Germany recognized the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo and withdrew German support to China, including forcing Falkenhausen to resign his advisor post by threatening to have his family back in Germany punished for disloyalty. After a goodbye dinner party with Chiang Kai-Shek's family, Falkenhausen promised he would never reveal any battle plans he had taught him to the Japanese.

According to some sources (especially from Communist Chinese in late 1930s), Falkenhausen kept contact with Chiang Kai-Shek after his return to Germany and would occasionally send him European luxury items and food to the Chiang household and his officers.

On his 72nd birthday in 1950, Falkenhausen received 12,000 U.S. dollar[citation needed] cheque from Chiang Kai-shek as his birthday gift and a personal note declaring him a "Friend of China".

Military governor for Belgium[edit]

Recalled to active duty in 1938, Falkenhausen served as an infantry general on the Western Front until he was appointed military governor of Belgium in May 1940. During his time as military governor, the Nazi administration published 17 decrees against the Jewish population of Belgium as preparatory measures leading in June 1942 to the deportation of 28,900 Jews.

His deputy for economic affairs, Eggert Reeder was in charge of the destruction of "Jewish influence" in the Belgian economy, leading to mass unemployment of Jewish workers, especially in the diamond business. Some 2,250 of these unemployed were thus sent to forced labour camps in Northern France to build the Atlantic Wall for the Organisation Todt. Some 43,000 non-Jewish Belgians were also deported to Nazi concentration camps, where about 13,000 died. Hundreds of captured resistance fighters were shot during the occupation.

He intervened twice the execution of Belgians for resistance against the Germans at the request of Qian Xiu Ling, whose elder cousin was a good friend of Falkenhausen during his time in China. She would in the post-war trial speak in defense of him. [1]

Involvement in the conspiracy against Hitler[edit]

Falkenhausen was a close friend of two anti-Hitler conspirators, Carl Friedrich Goerdeler and Field Marshal Erwin von Witzleben, and soon came to detest Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. He offered his support to Witzleben for a planned coup d'état. After the failure of the July 20 Plot to kill Hitler in 1944, Falkenhausen spent the rest of the war being transferred from one concentration camp to another. In late April 1945 he was transferred to Tyrol with about 140 other prominent inmates of the Dachau concentration camp. The SS fled, leaving the prisoners behind. He was captured by the Fifth U.S. Army on May 5, 1945.[2]

Trial and pardon[edit]

Falkenhausen and Reeder were both sent to Belgium for trial in 1948, where they were held on remand in prison for three years. Their trial for their role in the deportation of Jews from Belgium, but not for their deaths in Auschwitz, began in Brussels on 9 March 1951, and they were defended by the lawyer Ernst Achenbach. Falkenhausen was vouched for by a Chinese woman named Qian Xiuling who was living in Belgium;[3] together with a number of Belgian Jews, she gave evidence that both Falkenhausen and Reeder had tried to save Belgian and Jewish lives. Nevertheless, on 9 July 1951 they were both found guilty and were sentenced to twelve years hard labour in Germany. On their return to West Germany in 1955, having served one third of their sentence, as required by Belgian law, they were pardoned by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.

Falkenhausen died in Nassau, Rhineland-Palatinate, in 1966.

Dates of rank[edit]

Decorations and awards[edit]

This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.china.org.cn/english/2002/Apr/30512.htm
  2. ^ Peter Koblank: Die Befreiung der Sonder- und Sippenhäftlinge in Südtirol, Online-Edition Mythos Elser 2006 (German)
  3. ^ details at china.org.cn

External links[edit]