Georg Keppler

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Georg Keppler
Georg Keppler.jpg
Born 7 May 1894
Mainz
Died 16 June 1966(1966-06-16) (aged 72)
Hamburg
Allegiance Germany
Years of service 1913–1945
Rank SS-Obergruppenführer Collar Rank.svg Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS
Commands held 2. SS-Division Das Reich, 3. SS-Division Totenkopf, I. SS-Panzerkorps, III.(germanische) SS-Panzerkorps and the XVIII.SS-Armee-Korps
Awards Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes

Georg Keppler (7 May 1894 – 16 June 1966) was an SS-Obergruppenführer (equiv. to a US Lieutenant General), a Heer and Polizei officer who served in both World War I and World War II. During World War II, Keppler commanded the 2. SS-Division Das Reich, 3. SS-Division Totenkopf, I. SS-Panzerkorps, III.(germanische) SS-Panzerkorps and the XVIII.SS-Armee-Korps. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

Early Life – World War I Service[edit]

Georg Keppler was a son of career-officer Oberst (Colonel) Otto Keppler and was born in Mainz, Grand Duchy of Hesse. After passing his Abitur in 1913, he decided to join the Army and in October the same year began his studies at the military academy in Glogau. Following his graduation in May 1914, he was assigned to the elite Füsilier Regiment General-Feldmarschall Prinz Albrecht von Preußen (1. Hannoversches) Nr. 73. It was with this regiment Leutnant Keppler saw, for the first time, action in World War I. However, he was wounded in August 1914 and after recovering was transferred to the 19. Reserve-Division. Before the war ended, Keppler was twice more wounded and received both classes of the Iron Cross. Following the Armistice in 1918, he decided to leave the Army and settled in Hanover.

Inter-war Years[edit]

On 31 January 1920, following in the steps of Theodor Eicke and Sepp Dietrich, Keppler enlisted to the Schutzpolizei (uniformed police) in Hanover. In July 1926, he left Hanover and joined the Landespolizei Thüringen (state police) in the town of Hildburghausen. For the next eight years Keppler remained a police officer, commanding various Landespolizei and Schutzpolizei regiments in Jena, Gotha and in Munich. After 14 years as a police officer, Keppler decided to leave and returned to the German Army with Infantrie-Regiment 32. However he did not stay in the army for long and on 10 October 1935 entered the SS-Verfügungstruppe. SS-Sturmbannführer (Major) Keppler was given command of the I. Battalion of SS-Standarte 1, which later became SS.VT-Standarte Deutschland. Following the annexation of Austria into Greater Germany, Keppler moved to Vienna and received a new command – SS.VT-Standarte 3. In September 1938, this unit was awarded the honor title Der Führer and was eventually redesignated as the SS-Regiment Der Führer. He led this unit throughout the pre-war period, during which the regiment served as a Wacht-Regiment of the Reichsprotektor (Governor) of Bohemia and Moravia Konstantin Freiherr von Neurath.

World War II service[edit]

In October 1939, SS-Regiment Der Führer became a component of SS-Verfügungs Division. Keppler continued as its regimental commander throughout the operations in the West, Balkans and in Russia. In August 1940, on personal recommendation of Paul Hausser, Keppler was awarded the Ritterkreuz, particularly as a consequence of the Standartes performances during the Battle of the Netherlands. Meanwhile SS-Standarte Der Führer had become the backbone of the newly raised 2nd SS Division Das Reich. Keppler remained with Das Reich until 15 July 1941, when he took over for injured Theodor Eicke as a commander of the Totenkopf Division. Upon Eicke's return on 21 September 1941, Keppler was given commanded of the SS-Division Nord. During the Fall 1941 he started to suffer from regular headaches and eventually had fallen seriously ill. After extensive medical examinations it was determined that Keppler had a brain tumor and spent the remainder of 1941 and the Spring 1942 in hospital under close medical care . In January 1942, Keppler was promoted to SS-Gruppenführer (equiv. to a US Major General) and three months later was given command of the 2. SS-Division Das Reich. In February 1943, on the advice of his doctors, Keppler removed himself from an active field duty and assumed a number of administrative positions within the Waffen-SS, first in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and later in Hungary. After his promotion to SS-Obergruppenführer (equiv. to a US Lieutenant General) he was given again a field assignment as a commander of the I. SS-Panzerkorps, which he led from 16 August 1944 until 24 October 1944, during the later stages of the Battle of Normandy. On 30 October 1944 Keppler returned to the Eastern Front, where he took over the III.(germanische) SS-Panzerkorps. He remained with this unit until 2 April 1945 when he became the last commander of the XVIII. SS-Armeekorps, surrendering to the U.S. forces on 22 May 1945. After the war Keppler was imprisoned, but was released in 1948 and settled in Hamburg, where he died on 16 June 1966.

Summary of his military career[edit]

Dates of rank[edit]

Notable decorations[edit]

References[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Matthias Kleinheisterkamp
Commander of 3. SS-Panzer Division Totenkopf
15 July 1941 – 21 September 1941
Succeeded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Theodor Eicke
Preceded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Karl-Maria Demelhuber
Commander of 6. SS-Gebirgs-Division Nord
September 1941 – October 1941
Succeeded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Karl-Maria Demelhuber
Preceded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Matthias Kleinheisterkamp
Commander of 2. SS-Division Das Reich
1 April 1942 – 10 October 1943
Succeeded by
SS-Brigadeführer Herbert-Ernst Vahl
Preceded by
SS-Brigadeführer Fritz Kraemer
Commander of I. SS-Panzer Corps
16 August 1944 – 24 October 1944
Succeeded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Hermann Priess
Preceded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Felix Steiner
Commander of III.(germanische) SS-Panzerkorps
30 October 1944 – 4 February 1945
Succeeded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Matthias Kleinheisterkamp
Preceded by
SS-Gruppenführer Heinz Reinfarth
Commander of XVIII. SS-Armeekorps
4 February 1945 – 8 May 1945
Succeeded by
dissolved on 8 May 1945