Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist

German general during World War II

Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist (August 8, 1881 – c. November 13, 1954) was a German field marshal during World War II. Kleist was the commander of Panzer Group Kleist (later 1st Panzer Army), the first operational formation of several Panzer corps in the Wehrmacht during the Battle of France, the Battle of Belgium, the Invasion of Yugoslavia and Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union.

It is interesting but it was tragic. If you receive a military order you must obey. That is where the big difference between a military and a political order comes in. One can sabotage a political order but to disobey a military command is treason.

During the Battle of France, units under Kleist's command included Guderian's armoured corps and Rommel's 7th Panzer Division. Kleist's forces spearheaded the "blitzkrieg" attack through the Ardennes forest, outflanking the Maginot Line. His panzer divisions eventually pushed deep into France, resulting in Allied defeat. Kleist was appointed commander-in-chief of Army Group A during the last days of Case Blue, the 1942 German summer offensive in southern Russia. His disagreements with Hitler over strategic decisions led to his dismissal in March 1944 after the German defeat in right-bank Ukraine. Following the war, Kleist was extradited to the Soviet Union where he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for war crimes; he died in prison.

QuotesEdit

  • Recently I was discharged from the German army while in this prison and was informed that I am on the so-called war criminal list number seven. I haven't the faintest idea of what war crime I could have committed. The main thing is that I have a clear conscience.
    • To Leon Goldensohn (12 June 1946). Quoted in "The Nuremberg Interviews", Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellatel (2004).
  • The Russians were five times superior to us poor but brave Germans, both in numbers and in the superiority of their equipment. My immediate commander was Hitler himself. Unfortunately, Hitler's advice in those critical periods was invariably lousy.
    • To Leon Goldensohn (25 June 1946). Quoted in "The Nuremberg Interviews", Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellatel (2004).
  • It is interesting but it was tragic. If you receive a military order you must obey. That is where the big difference between a military and a political order comes in. One can sabotage a political order but to disobey a military command is treason.
    • To Leon Goldensohn (25 June 1946). Quoted in "The Nuremberg Interviews", Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellatel (2004).

About KleistEdit

  • Ewald von Kleist was an officer and a gentleman in an era when such characteristics were liabilities.
    • Samuel W. Mitcham Jr., in Hitler's Generals (2003)

External linksEdit