Eduard Dietl

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Eduard Dietl
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1984-019-20, Eduard Dietl.jpg
Born(1890-07-21)21 July 1890
Bad Aibling, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire
Died23 June 1944(1944-06-23) (aged 53)
near Rettenegg, Reichsgau Steiermark, Nazi Germany
Allegiance German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
Years of service1910–44
Commands heldGerman 3rd Mountain Division 20th Mountain Army
Battles/warsWorld War I

World War II

AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords

Eduard Dietl (21 July 1890 – 23 June 1944) was a German general during World War II who commanded the 20th Mountain Army. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords of Nazi Germany.

Military career[edit]

Born in 1890, Dietl joined the army on 1 October 1909 as a Fahnenjunker in the 5th Infantry Regiment "Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse" of the Bavarian Army in Bamberg. In the World War I, he was deployed on the Western Front in which he was wounded twice in October 1914 and October 1918. During the Weimar Republic, he joined the Deutsche Arbeiter-Partei, the precusor to the Nazi Party, and the paramilitary group Freikorps of Franz Ritter von Epp in 1919.[1] Dietl continued to serve in the German Army and, as a Generalmajor, he helped organise the 1936 Winter Olympics held at Garmisch-Partenkirchen.[2]

Dietl commanded the German 3rd Mountain Division that participated in the German invasion of Norway on 9 and 10 April 1940. Most of this division was landed at Narvik by a German naval force of ten destroyers, commanded by Commodore Friedrich Bonte, subsequently all ten destroyers that had ferried Dietl's troops to Narvik were sunk in the First and Second Battles of Narvik. Dietl's mountaineers withdrew into the hills and later retook the town when Britain abandoned her efforts to evict the Germans from Norway due to German success on the Western Front (the Franco-German border, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands).

Dietl was sent to Finland designated to be the "Hero in the snow" (to be a counterpart to Rommel who would be the "Hero in the sun", also given a secondary theater leaving the main stage to Hitler).[3] A convinced Nazi and one of Hitler's favourite generals, he was the first German soldier to receive, on 19 June 1940, the oak leaves cluster to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Dietl was also popular among his men and his Finnish allies.[4]

Dietl subsequently commanded German forces in Norway and northern Finland and in Eastern Europe and rose to the rank of Generaloberst, commanding the 20th Mountain Army on the northern Eastern Front, where the results of the German Arctic campaign were disappointing. Dietl initially turned down his promotion, but was convinced to accept the appointment by Generaloberst Alfred Jodl.[4]


On 23 June 1944, the Ju 52 aircraft carrying Dietl, General der Infanterie Thomas-Emil von Wickede, General der Gebirgstruppe Karl Eglseer, Generalleutnant der Gebirgstruppe Franz Rossi and three other passengers crashed in the vicinity of the small village of Rettenegg, Styria. There were no survivors.

Until 1997, the municipality of Ringelai in the Bavarian Forest honored Dietl with a memorial plaque. Until 1977, this site had honored Albert Leo Schlageter instead.[5] Freyung honored Dietl with a General-Dietl-Straße.[6]


Dietl memorial at crash site



  1. ^ Hürter, Johannes (2007). Hitlers Heerführer. Die deutschen Oberbefehlshaber im Krieg gegen die Sowjetunion 1941/42. 2nd edition (in German). Oldenbourg, Munich. p. 624-625. ISBN 978-3-486-58341-0.
  2. ^ "NORTHERN THEATRE: Indestructible Dietl". Time Magazine. 10 June 1940.
  3. ^ Latimer, Jon (2001). Tobruk 1941: Rommel's Opening Move. Oxford: Osprey Military. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-84176-092-6.
  4. ^ a b Lunde 2011, p. 145.
  5. ^ Anna Rosmus Hitlers Nibelungen, Samples Grafenau 2015, pp. 228f.
  6. ^ Anna Rosmus Hitlers Nibelungen, Samples Grafenau 2015, p. 229.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Thomas & Wegmann 1993, p. 85.
  8. ^ a b c Scherzer 2007, p. 272.


  • Lunde, Henrik O. (2011). Finland's War of Choice. Casemate Publishers, ISBN 978-1-935149-48-4.
  • 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 Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
  • Thomas, Franz; Wegmann, Günter (1993). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Teil VI: Die Gebirgstruppe Band 1: A–K [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the German Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Part VI: The Mountain Troops Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2430-3.
  • Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6.
  • Williamson, Gordon; McGregor, Malcolm (2005). German commanders of World War II. 1, Army. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-596-9.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Commander of 3. Gebirgs-Division
1 May 1938 – 14 June 1940
Succeeded by
General der Gebirgstruppen Julius Ringel
Preceded by
Commander of Gebirgs-Armeekorps Norwegen
14 June 1940 – 15 January 1942
Succeeded by
Generalfeldmarschall Ferdinand Schörner
Preceded by
Generaloberst Nikolaus von Falkenhorst
Commander of Lappland Armee
15 January 1942 – 20 June 1942
Succeeded by
redesignated as 20. Gebirgs-Armee
Preceded by
Commander of 20. Gebirgs-Armee
20 June 1942 – 23 June 1944
Succeeded by
Generaloberst Dr. Lothar Rendulic