Walther von Seydlitz-Kurzbach
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|Walther von Seydlitz-Kurzbach|
Seydlitz-Kurzbach (left) and Friedrich Paulus in Russia, 1942
22 August 1888|
Eppendorf, Hamburg, German Empire
|Died||28 April 1976
Bremen, West Germany
|Allegiance|| German Empire (to 1918)
Weimar Republic (to 1933)
Nazi Germany (to 1942)
|Years of service||1908–1945|
|Rank||General der Artillerie|
|Commands held||12. Infanterie-Division|
|Battles/wars||World War I
World War II
|Awards||Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves|
Walther Kurt von Seydlitz-Kurzbach (22 August 1888 – 28 April 1976) was a German general. He was born in Hamburg, Germany, into the noble Prussian Seydlitz family. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
During World War I he served on both fronts as an officer. During the Weimar Republic, he remained a professional officer in the Reichswehr; from 1940 to 1942 he commanded the 12th Infantry Division of the German army. When the division was encircled in the Demyansk Pocket, Seydlitz was responsible for breaking the Soviet cordon and enabling German units to escape from encirclement; for this action he was promoted to General of the Artillery (General der Artillerie) and appointed commander of the LI Corps.
The corps was subordinated to the Sixth Army during the Battle of Stalingrad. When the entire Army was trapped in the city in the course of the Soviet Operation Uranus, Seydlitz was one of the generals who argued most forcefully in favor of a breakout, in contravention of Hitler’s orders. On the surrender of the remaining forces in Stalingrad, Seydlitz was taken into Soviet custody, where he was interrogated by Captain Nikolay Dyatlenko.
As a POW he became the leader of the anti-Nazi organization, the League of German Officers (German: Bund deutscher Offiziere) and a prominent member of the National Committee Free Germany (German: Nationalkomitee Freies Deutschland). He was condemned by many of his fellow generals for his anti-Nazi activities and was sentenced to death in absentia. His idea of creating an anti-Nazi force of some 40,000 German POWs to be airlifted into Germany was not considered credible, while in Germany his family was taken into Sippenhaft, detention for the crimes of a family member. Seydlitz was ultimately exploited by both Soviet and German propaganda: he was used by the former in broadcasts and literature to encourage German soldiers to surrender, while the latter cultivated the idea of “Seydlitz troops” (German: Seydlitztruppen). His figure in the German propaganda was largely equivalent to the one of Andrey Vlasov in the Soviet one.
In 1949 Seydlitz, who showed little inclination to cooperate with Soviet authorities after the war, requested release into the Soviet occupation zone of Germany. This was refused, and he was charged with atrocities committed against Soviet POWs and the civilian population while in Wehrmacht service. In 1950, a Soviet tribunal sentenced him to 25 years’ imprisonment, but in 1955 he was released to West Germany, where in 1956 his Third Reich death sentence was nullified.
Seydlitz died on 28 April 1976 in Bremen. On 23 April 1996 a posthumous pardon was issued by Russian authorities.
Awards and decorations 
- Iron Cross (1914)
- 2nd Class (19 September 1914)
- 1st Class (21 October 1915)
- Wound Badge (1914)
- in Black
- in Silver
- Knight's Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern with Swords (16 October 1918)
- Hanseatic Cross of Hamburg
- Cross of Honor
- Wehrmacht-Dienstauszeichnung IV. bis I. Class
- Iron Cross
- 2nd Class (17 May 1940)
- 1st Class (22 May 1940)
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
Ribbon bar 
|Iron Cross with 1939 Clasp||Knight's Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern with Swords||Hamburg Hanseatic Cross||The Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918||Wehrmacht Long Service Award 1st Class||Wehrmacht Long Service Award 3rd Class|
- This article incorporates information from the revision as of 2005-07-30 of the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.
- Beevor, Antony, Stalingrad, London: Penguin, p. 396
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 399.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 56.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 (in German). Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
- Scherzer, Veit (2007). 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 (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
Media related to Walter von Seydlitz-Kurzbach at Wikimedia Commons
- Walther von Seydlitz-Kurzbach in the German National Library catalogue
- (German) Walther v. Seydlitz-Kurzbach, General der Artillerie, a biography on the website of the Seydlitz family.
Generalleutnant Ludwig von der Leyen
|Commander of 12. Infanterie-Division
March 10, 1940 – January 1, 1942
Oberst Karl Hernekamp