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Field Marshal Ferdinand Schörner

Ferdinand Schörner (December 5, 1892 - February 7, 1973) was a German general and later field marshal during World War II.

He was born in Munich, Bavaria. A noted veteran of the World War I, winning the Pour le Mérite in 1917, Schörner served as a staff member and instructor between the two wars. As an army instructor he was instrumental in turning the Waffen SS from a paramilitary force into military stormtroopers able to fight alongside the Wehrmacht.

Schörner was highly successful during the German campaigns in Poland and the Balkans, commanding the 98th Mountain Regiment, after which he commanded the XIX Mountain Corps in Finland. Later he commanded the XXXX Panzer Corps on the Eastern Front from November 16, 1943 to January 31, 1944.

In March 1944 he was made commander of Army Group A and in May, commander of Army Group South Ukraine. At this time he managed to persuade Hitler to authorize a retreat from the Black Sea port of Sevastopol and in a series of defensive battles stabilized the crumbling front. In July he became commander of Army Group Courland where he stayed until January 1945 when he was made commander of Army Group Centre. Finally, on April 30, 1945 Schörner was named as Commander-in-Chief of the German Army (Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres)Template:Ref in Hitler's last testament, which he served as until the surrender of the Third Reich on May 8, 1945. Schörner had been promoted to the rank of Field Marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) on April 5.

On May 7, the day General Alfred Jodl, Chief-of-Staff of OKW (German Armed Forces High Command), was negotiating a surrender of all German forces at SHAEF, the last the OKW had heard from Schörner was on May 2. He had reported he intended to fight his way west and surrender his army group to the Americans. On the May 8 an OKW colonel was escorted through the American lines to see Schörner. The colonel reported Schörner had ordered his operational command to observe the surrender but could not guarantee he would be obeyed everywhere. Later that day Schörner deserted his command and flew to Austria where on May 18 he was arrested by the Americans. Elements of Army Group Centre continued to resist until they met the overwelming force of the Red Army, sent to occupy Czechoslovakia during the final Prague Offensive.

Schörner was turned over to the Soviets who regarded him as a strategic prize. They repeatedly made offers to appoint him as a general in the new East German military if he switched his allegiance to Communism. Refusing to cooperate, Schörner was interred in a Soviet prisoner of war camp from May 15, 1945 until January 17, 1955. He was reportedly severely mistreated and apparently tortured. After his release the Soviets demanded he settle down in East Germany but he refused and went to West Germany instead. In retaliation for this the Soviet controlled East German Stasi, working through their network of agents, launched a massive smear campaign against him in West German media.

As a result an investigation was launched into his wartime court-martials and he was put on trial as a common criminal for ordering the shooting of a combat commander and his deputy for negligence, along with ordering the shooting a private 1st class who had fallen asleep behind the steering-wheel of his vehicle while drunk. Charged with manslaughter he was sentenced to 4 1/2 years of imprisonment. He was released in 1963.

A broken man, he died in Munich on February 7, 1973.

Notes

  1. Template:Note Like many institutions in Nazi Germany the control of the Army was split between the German Armed Forces High Command (OKW) and the German Army High Command (OKH). By 1945 the OKW commanded all German forces in every theatre apart from those on the Eastern Front which were under OKH control and which, before his suicide, had reported directly to Hitler. So it was not clear if Schörner was under the command of OKW on May 8 or if Reichspräsident ("President of Germany") Karl Dönitz, or Reichskanzler von Krosigk, needed to order Schorner to surrender .



 
German Field Marshals (Generalfeldmarschall) of World War II

Werner von Blomberg | Hermann Göring | Walther von Brauchitsch | Albert Kesselring | Wilhelm Keitel | Günther von Kluge | Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb | Fedor von Bock | Wilhelm List | Erwin von Witzleben | Walther von Reichenau | Erhard Milch | Hugo Sperrle | Gerd von Rundstedt | Erwin Rommel | Georg von Küchler | Erich von Manstein | Friedrich Paulus | Ewald von Kleist | Maximilian von Weichs | Ernst Busch | Wolfram von Richthofen | Walther Model | Ferdinand Schörner | Robert Ritter von Greim

Honorary: Eduard von Böhm-Ermolli

 
German Grand Admirals (Großadmiral) of World War II

Erich Raeder | Karl Dönitz


 
Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oakleaves, Swords, and Diamonds during World War II

Werner Mölders | Adolf Galland | Gordon Gollob | Hans-Joachim Marseille | Hermann Graf | Erwin Rommel | Wolfgang Luth | Walter Nowotny | Adelbert Schulz | Hans-Ulrich Rudel | Hyazinth Graf von Strachwitz | Herbert Otto Gille | Hans-Valentin Hube | Albert Kesselring | Helmut Lent | Sepp Dietrich | Walther Model | Erich Hartmann | Hermann Balck | Gerhard Ramcke | Wolfgang Schnaufer | Albrecht Brandi | Ferdinand Schörner | Hasso von Manteuffel | Theodor Tolsdorff | Karl Mauss | Dietrich von Saucken

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