General Friedrich Wilhelm Müller, at Berlin, in 1944
|Nickname||The Butcher of Crete|
29 August 1897|
|Died||20 May 1947
|Allegiance|| German Empire (to 1918)
Weimar Republic (to 1933)
|Years of service||1915 – 1945|
|Rank||General der Infanterie|
|Awards||Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords|
Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller (29 August 1897 – 20 May 1947) was a General in the German army in World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. He is notorious for having been the most brutal commander of occupied Crete, where he earned the nickname "The Butcher of Crete." After the war, he was tried by a Greek military court for war crimes, convicted and executed.
Pre-war and early war
In 1915 Müller joined the German 2nd Infantry Regiment. He became a second lieutenant in the 266th Regiment in 1915. In 1936 he became a major in the German army, and by 1940 was a lieutenant colonel and commander of the 105th Infantry Regiment. He was awarded the Knight's Cross in 1941 and received oak leaves in 1942 for operations in Russia.
In August 1942 General Müller took command of the 22nd Air Landing Infantry Division, which was transferred from the Eastern Front to garrison occupied Crete. In Crete, Müller became notorious for his brutality, and he was responsible for many of the atrocities committed on the island (e.g. the holocaust of Viannos, the destruction of Anogia and the Kedros villages of Amari, the execution of civilians in Damasta, etc.). During the autumn of 1943, he led the German forces in their victory over the Italian-British forces in the Dodecanese Campaign. On the 6th of october, on the island of Kos, under his orders, German forces killed and buried in mass graves over one hundred Italian army officers captured at the end of the battle for the island, who would not side with the former allies On 1 July 1944 he replaced Bruno Brauer as Commander on Crete.
By 1945, Müller commanded the German 4th Army on the Eastern Front. The 4th Army had already been decimated by fighting in the Heiligenbeil Pocket by the time he assumed command. Müller ended the war in East Prussia and was captured by the Soviets.
In 1946, Müller was tried by a Greek court in Athens for the massacres of hostages for reprisals. He was sentenced to death on 9 December 1946 and executed by firing squad 20 May 1947, along with former General Bruno Bräuer, on the anniversary of the German invasion of Crete.
Ill Met by Moonlight
The original SOE plan, as described in the book Ill Met by Moonlight written by W. Stanley Moss, later made into a film, was to capture Müller, the commander of the Sebastopol division. But, he had been replaced by General Kreipe. SOE believed that Müller had left Crete, when he was in Hania replacing Brauer as the commander of the island. The operation to capture a general was carried out, nevertheless, as it was reckoned that one German general was as good as another.
- Iron Cross (1914)
- Prussian Royal House Order of Hohenzollern, Knight's Cross with Swords
- Wound Badge in Silver
- Infantry Assault Badge
- "Crimea" Shield
- Bulgarian Military Order of Merit
- Clasp to the Iron Cross (1939)
- German Cross in Gold on 18 June 1943 as Generalleutnant and commander of the 22. Infanterie-Division
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
- Mentioned four times in the Wehrmachtbericht (19 January 1942, 18 November 1943, 10 March 1945 and 30 March 1945)
|Date||Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording||Direct English translation|
|19 January 1942||Bei der Wiedereroberung von Feodosia hat sich der Ritterkreuzträger Oberst Müller erneut durch hervorragende persönliche Tapferkeit, Entschlußkraft und umsichtige Führung seines Regiments ausgezeichnet.||In the reconquest of Feodosia, the Knight's Cross bearer Colonel Mueller has once again distinguished himself by showing excellent personal courage, decisiveness and prudent leadership of his regiment.|
|18 November 1943||Wie durch Sondermeldung bekanntgegeben, haben deutsche Truppen des Heeres und der Luftwaffe unter Führung von Generalleutnant Müller nach viertägigem, zähem und wechselvollem Ringen gegen einen an Zahl und Bewaffnung überlegenem Feind am 16. November den englischen Seestützpunkt Leros genommen.||As announced by special bulletin, German troops of the Army and the Air Force under the command of Lieutenant General Müller, after four days of tough and changeful ringing, have against an enemy of superior numbers and armament, conquered the British naval base at Leros on 16 November.|
- Isabella Insolvibile, Kos 1943-1948. La strage, la storia, Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane (31 dicembre 2012)
- Thomas 1998, p. 104.
- Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 318.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 555.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 14.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 608.
- Berger, Florian (1999). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges [With Oak Leaves and Swords. The Highest Decorated Soldiers of the Second World War] (in German). Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 978-3-9501307-0-6.
- Beevor, Antony (1991). Crete: The Battle and the Resistance.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6.
- Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8.
- Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
- Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, 1. Januar 1942 bis 31. Dezember 1943 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 2, 1 January 1942 to 31 December 1943] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, 1. Januar 1944 bis 9. Mai 1945 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 3, 1 January 1944 to 9 May 1945] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2.
- Historic.de - Militärgeschichte - Bremen und Umland 1933-1945 at www.historic.de
General der Infanterie Ludwig Wolff
|Commander of 22. Infanterie-Division
1 August 1942 – 15 February 1944
Generalmajor Heinrich Kreipe
Generalleutnant Hermann Böhme
|Commander of V. Armeekorps
4 May 1944 – 2 June 1944
General der Infanterie Dr. Franz Beyer
General der Infantrie Friedrich Hoßbach
|Commander of 4. Armee
29 January 1945 – 27 April 1945