Walter Model

German field marshal

Otto Moritz Walter Model (January 24 1891April 21 1945) was a German general and later field marshal during World War II. He is noted for his defensive battles in the latter half of the war, mostly on the Eastern Front but also in the west, and for his close association with Adolf Hitler and Nazism. He has been called the Wehrmacht's best defensive tactician. In order to avoid surrender, he shot himself in the head in a wooded area on April 21, 1945. The location, between Duisburg and the village of Lintorf, is today part of the city of Ratingen.


  • He who leads troops has no right to think about himself.
    • Quoted in "Hitler's Generals" - Page 323 - by Correlli Barnett - History - 2003
  • Every minute that we lose will cost us great losses later that we will not be able to afford. We must push forward now, otherwise we risk everything. Hurry yourself with the technical aspects, a lot of time has already been lost.
    • To Major Kratzenberg on 3 July 1942, The Battle of Smolensk. Quoted in "Generalfeldmarschall Model Biographie" - Page 93 - by Walter Göriltz - 2012
  • Mein Führer, who commands The Ninth Army, you or I?
    • To Adolf Hitler on 20 January 1942, Wolfsschanze. Quoted in "Generalfeldmarschall Model Biographie" - Page 115 - by Walter Göriltz - 2012
  • We have lost a battle, but I assure to you that we will not lose the war! I cannot say more at the present moment although I know the losses are crowded in your minds. That this happened does not hold importance. What counts is not to lose confidence in the future of Germany. At the same time everyone must understand the gravity of the situation. This moment will be enough to distinguish the true men from the inept ones. Every soldier has the same responsibilities: if the advancing one falls, another must be ready to take his place in order to go on.
    • September 3 1944, <Appeal to the Soldiers of the Army of the West>. Quoted in "Rückzug: The German Retreat from France, 1944" - Page 191 - by Joachim Ludewig - 2012
  • I fully subscribe to those words with my special thanks to all officers, noncommissioned officers and men for the attitude displayed during this fighting.
    • After the Operation Market Garden, Field Marshal Model passed the appreciation from OB West on to his soldier, September 27, 1944. Quoted in "Rückzug: The German Retreat from France, 1944" - Page 278 - by Joachim Ludewig - 2012
  • My Soldiers are My Children. (Meine Soldaten sind Meine Kinder)
    • To SS-Sturmbannführer Heinrich Springer, his aide. In the early morning hours of December 23, 1944. Quoted in "Stationen eines Lebens in Krieg und Frieden" - Page 127 - by Heinrich Springer - 1996
  • The best Kamerad inside the pocket will be the Kamerad outside the pocket. (Der beste K.I.K wird K.A.K)
    • To Colonel Günther Reichhelm on 11 April 1945. Model requested that Reichhelm join him for dinner before his departure. In the staff guest book at the officers' mess, the field marshal carefully wrote. Quoted in "Battle for the Ruhr" - Page 345 - by Derek S. Zumbro - 2006
  • Has everything been done to justify our actions in the light of history? What can there be left for a commander in defeat? In antiquity they took poison.
    • To his chief of staff General Carl Wagener on 17 April 1945, before dissolving Army Group B. Quoted in "Battle for the Ruhr" - Page 373 - by Derek S. Zumbro - 2006
  • I sincerely believe that I have served a criminal. I led my soldiers in good conscience... but for a criminal government.
    • To Colonel Theodor Pilling, Lieutenant Colonel Roger Michael, Major Winrich Behr in the evening of April 20, 1945. They tuned in the Wehrmacht receiver, and listened Joseph Goebbels's speech marking the Hitler's Birthday. Quoted in "Battle for the Ruhr" - Page 378 - by Derek S. Zumbro - 2006
  • Behr, I cannot imagine that I, as a Field Marshal, the one who out of conviction in victory for my country am responsible for the deaths of hundreds of my soldiers, should now emerge from these woods to approach Montgomery, or the Americans, with my hands in the air and say 'Here I am. Field Marshal Model, I Surrender.'
    • To Major Winrich Behr in the early morning hours of April 21, 1945. Quoted in "Battle for the Ruhr" - Page 378 - by Derek S. Zumbro - 2006

About Model

  • It should be prefaced by quotation from Goethe in which a special impression of Model's personality is given, "I love those who yearn for the impossible. (Faust)"
    • "Foreign Military Studies MS # A-925" - Page 28 - by Colonel Günther Reichhelm
  • "Where Model is present, nothing can go wrong. (Wo Model ist, geht's nicht schief)" or "Model remodeled very well again. (Das hat Model wieder hingemodelt)" were, at that time, which were often mentioned in the Eastern Front.
    • "Foreign Military Studies MS # A-925" - Page 31 - by Colonel Günther Reichhelm
  • His firm belief in God, his homeliness and an strongly developed love for his family, as well as his heartfelt pleasure in men and nature, consummated the one of the most outstanding soldiers in World War 2. In the most intimate circles it was said of him, "Without fear and fault."
    • "Foreign Military Studies MS # A-925" - Page 38 - by Colonel Günther Reichhelm
  • Field Marshal Model was a peerless master of the large-scale defensive battle. Always present himself at critical points, he asked a great deal of his troops. Often he was harsh, sometimes ruthless. But he always found the answer to the trickiest of situations, never leaving his men in the lurch.
    • "Battle for White Russia: the destruction of Army Group Centre, June 1944" - Page 257 - by Gerd Niepold - 1987
  • Field Marshal Model was a bold, inexhaustible soldier, who knew the front well and who won the confidence of his men by his habitual disregard for his personal safety. He had no time for lazy or incompetent subordinates. He carried out his intentions in a most determined fashion. He was the best possible man to perform the fantastically difficult task of reconstructing a line in centre of the Eastern Front.
  • With regard to himself, Field Marshal Model allowed no compromise and was ruthless, but he was indulgent to the men in the front lines who adored him. He demanded nothing for himself.
  • Model was a man who spent an incredible amount of time at the front. He didn't lead from behind, looking at maps, but he went wherever he believed his presence would help. In no way was he a politician. He was army through and through and all his thinking was military. In the high positions he later occupied he was criticize for this, with good reason.
  • Model stood up to Hitler in a way that hardly anyone else dared and even refused to carry out orders with which he did not agree.
  • Did you see that eye? I trust that man to do it, but I wouldn't want to serve under him.
    • Adolf Hitler to Rudolph Schmundt, after Model had exited the room, on 17 January 1942
  • My best Field Marshal. (mein bester Feldmarschall)
    • Adolf Hitler about Walter Model, after Model had established Eastern Front Line in August 1944.
Wikipedia has an article about: