Friedrich Gustav Jaeger

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Friedrich Gustav Jaeger
Born (1895-09-25)September 25, 1895
Kirchberg an der Jagst
Died August 21, 1944(1944-08-21) (aged 48)
Berlin (Plötzensee Prison)
Allegiance
Service/branch Heer
Years of service 1914-1944
Rank Oberst
Commands held II./Infanterie-Regiment 8
Battles/wars
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Friedrich Gustav Jaeger (25 September 1895 – 21 August 1944) was a resistance fighter in Nazi Germany and a member of the July 20 Plot.

Life[edit]

Friedrich Gustav Jaeger – sometimes known as "Fritz" – was born in Kirchberg an der Jagst, a small town in eastern Württemberg (now part of Baden-Württemberg) to the district doctor (later chief doctor), Franz Jaeger and his wife Sofie Katharina (née Schirndinger von Schirnding). In 1906, the family moved to Stuttgart, where Jaeger went to the Eberhard-Ludwigs-Gymnasium.

At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Jaeger did the Notabitur (a special, harder wartime version of the Abitur), declared himself a volunteer, and became an ensign in Infantry Regiment 119. During the war, he was deployed in Flanders and France, and also at the Battles of the Isonzo on the Italian Front in Slovenia. Jaeger was wounded six times and received numerous decorations.

After the war's end, he studied agriculture in Tettnang. In 1919, Jaeger's only son, Krafft Werner Jaeger, was born. In the same year, Jaeger joined the German Workers' Party (Deutsche Arbeiterpartei), which later called itself the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP). Although he was a leading member of the Munich Freikorps Oberland, Jaeger refused to participate in the Kapp Putsch and quit the NSDAP.

In the years that followed, Jaeger was a resolute opponent of the Nazis. In 1934, he went out of his way to get himself back into the Reichswehr, since he was foreseen as Reichssportführer Hans von Tschammer und Osten's adjutant. He was taken on by Infantry Regiment 29 as a captain. In 1936, he was promoted to major.

Resistance activities[edit]

In 1938, after the Sudeten Crisis, Jaeger took part in the German invasion of Czechoslovakia's Sudeten-German areas. With the outbreak of the Second World War, he was deployed in the invasion of Poland. From 1939, Jaeger forged contacts with resistance elements within the Wehrmacht, including Hans Oster, Friedrich Olbricht and Ludwig Beck. In 1940, he participated in the Battle of France where he earned the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross[clarification needed] (German Medal Of Honor) and in 1941, he was deployed in the Russian Campaign.[Notes 1]

After his wife's death during a British bombing raid on 17 February 1942, Jaeger spoke with his son for the first time about his contacts with the resistance and their plans to overthrow Adolf Hitler. In the course of the year, Jaeger was made a colonel, and he was sent to the Battle of Stalingrad. There, he was wounded eight times, and after becoming sick with epidemic typhus, he was flown out to Lublin.

In 1943, Jaeger was approached and reluctantly agreed to the plans for an attempt on Hitler's life. Owing to his Christian convictions, he would rather have seen Hitler standing before a duly constituted court. Jaeger's son was a Captain in the Gross Deutschland Division, one of Germany's most elite units. Jaeger's son Krafft was arrested and charged with attempted treason and leading a comrade into military disobedience. Krafft was freed for lack of evidence, but he was then sent back to the front so that he could "recover his honour".[citation needed]

Plot failure, downfall, and death[edit]

On 20 July 1944, the day of the attempt on Hitler's life, Jaeger was commander of the Panzer reserve troops in defence districts II (Stettin) and XXI (Kalisch). After the briefcase bomb exploded at the Wolf's Lair in East Prussia, Jaeger received orders from Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg to arrest an SS Oberführer. Furthermore, he was also to arrest Joseph Goebbels and occupy the radio station in Masurenallee. After it became known that Hitler had survived the attempt on his life, however, the soldiers under his command would no longer take his orders. Jaeger himself was arrested by the Gestapo in connection with the plot. His son was likewise arrested, being taken from an Italian military hospital and brought by train to the Gestapo prison in Berlin. On 21 August, Friedrich Gustav Jaeger was sentenced to death for treason by Roland Freisler at the Volksgerichtshof, and he was hanged later the same day at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin. His family's property was confiscated.

Honours[edit]

Krafft Jaeger was sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He survived, however, and on 25 September 1995, he unveiled a memorial plaque to his father at the house where he was born exactly one hundred years earlier. The house is now Kirchberg an der Jagst's town hall.

Friedrich Gustav Jaeger has also been honoured by having a street in Wünsdorf named Fritz-Jaeger-Allee after him.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Jaeger, in connection with the 20 July plot, failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler, was deprived of all honors, ranks and orders and dishonorably discharged from the Heer on 14 August 1944. The civilian Jäger was sentenced to death by the Volksgerichtshof on 21 August 1944 and executed the same day.[1]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 146.
Bibliography
  • 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. 
  • 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. 

External links[edit]