Wilhelm Burgdorf

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Wilhelm Burgdorf
Wilhelm Burgdorf
Born (1895-02-15)15 February 1895
Died 2 May 1945(1945-05-02) (aged 50)
Service/branch Heer
Rank General der Infanterie
Commands held Infanterie-Regiment 529
  • World War I
  • World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Wilhelm Emanuel Burgdorf (15 February 1895 – 2 May 1945[1]) was a German general. Born in Fürstenwalde, Burgdorf served as a commander and staff officer in the German Army during World War II.

Military career[edit]

Burgdorf joined the German Army (Reichsheer) at the outbreak of World War I as an officer cadet and was commissioned as an infantry officer in Grenadier Regiment 12 in 1915. Between the wars he served in the Reichswehr and was promoted to captain in 1930. In 1935 he became an instructor in tactics at the military academy in Dresden with the rank of major and was appointed an adjutant on the staff of the IX corps in 1937. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1938 and served as the commander of the 529th Infantry Regiment from May 1940 to April 1942. In May 1942, he became Chief of Department 2 of the Army Personnel Office. Burgdorf became the Deputy Chief in October 1942, when he was promoted to Generalmajor. Burgdorf was promoted to Chief of the Army Personnel Office (Heerespersonalamt) and Chief Adjutant to Adolf Hitler in October 1944. At that time, he was further promoted in rank to Generalleutnant. Burgdorf retained that rank and position until his death.[2]

Erwin Rommel[edit]

As part of Burgdorf's function as Hitler's chief adjutant, he played a key role in the death of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Rommel had been implicated as having a peripheral role in the bomb plot of 20 July 1944, in which an attempt was made to assassinate Hitler. Hitler recognised that to haul the most popular general in Germany before a People's Court would cause a scandal throughout Germany[3] and accordingly arranged a face-saving maneuver.

On 14 October 1944, Burgdorf, with General Ernst Maisel, arrived at the Rommel household. Burgdorf had been instructed by Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel to offer Rommel a choice – take poison, receive a state funeral, and obtain immunity for his family and staff, or face a trial for treason.[4] Rommel drove away with Burgdorf and Maisel. Rommel's family received a telephone call 10 minutes later informing them that Rommel had committed suicide.


Shortly before the Battle of Berlin, Philipp Freiherr von Boeselager overheard Burgdorf say: "When the war is over, we will have to purge, after the Jews, the Catholic officers in the army."[5] Boeselager was a Roman Catholic Wehrmacht officer and vocally objected, citing his own decorations for heroism in combat. He left before Burgdorf answered.

Burgdorf joined Hitler in the Führerbunker when the Soviets assaulted Berlin. On 28 April, Hitler discovered that Heinrich Himmler tried to negotiate a surrender to the western Allies via Count Folke Bernadotte. Burgdorf took part in Hitler's court-martial of Hermann Fegelein, Himmler's SS liaison officer and Eva Braun's brother-in-law. SS-General Wilhelm Mohnke presided over the tribunal, which included SS-General Johann Rattenhuber and General Hans Krebs. Fegelein was drunk and in no condition to stand trial: Mohnke closed the proceedings and turned Fegelein over to Rattenhuber and his security squad.[6]

On 29 April 1945, Burgdorf, Krebs, Joseph Goebbels, and Martin Bormann witnessed and signed Hitler's last will and testament.[7] On 2 May, following the earlier suicides of Hitler and Goebbels, Burgdorf and his colleague Chief of Staff Hans Krebs committed suicide by gunshot to the head.[1] Soviet personnel found the bodies of Krebs and Burgdorf in the bunker complex.[8]

Awards and decorations[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Beevor 2002, p. 387.
  2. ^ Joachimsthaler 1999, p. 286.
  3. ^ Wilhelm Keitel, Nuremberg testimony
  4. ^ Manfred Rommel, Nuremberg testimony
  5. ^ von Boeselager 2009, p. 177.
  6. ^ O'Donnell 1978, pp. 182–183.
  7. ^ Bullock 1962, p. 795.
  8. ^ Ryan 1966, p. 398.
  9. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 150.


Further reading[edit]

  • Lehrer, Steven (2002). Hitler Sites: A City-By-City Guidebook (Austria, Germany, France, United States). McFarland. p. 224. ISBN 0-7864-1045-0. 
  • Lehrer, Steven (2006). The Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker Complex: An Illustrated History of the Seat of the Nazi Regime. McFarland. p. 214. ISBN 0-7864-2393-5. 

External links[edit]