Günther von Kluge

Günther von Kluge
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1973-139-14, Günther v. Kluge.jpg
Kluge as Field Marshal in 1939
Born(1882-10-30)30 October 1882
Posen, Province of Posen, Prussia, German Empire
Died19 August 1944(1944-08-19) (aged 61)
Metz, Nazi Germany
Allegiance Nazi Germany
Service/branchArmy (Wehrmacht)
Years of service1901–44
Commands held4th Army
Army Group Centre

World War I
World War II

AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
RelationsWolfgang von Kluge (brother)

Günther von Kluge (30 October 1882 – 19 August 1944) was a German field marshal during World War II. Kluge held commands on both the Eastern and Western Fronts. He commanded the 4th Army of the Wehrmacht during Operation Barbarossa and the Battle for Moscow, going on to command Army Group Centre until 1944. Although Kluge was not an active conspirator in the 20 July plot, he committed suicide on 19 August 1944, after having been recalled to Berlin for a meeting with Hitler in the aftermath of the failed coup. He was replaced by Field Marshal Walter Model.

Early life and career

Günther Hans von Kluge was born on 30 October 1882 in Posen, Prussia.[1] Kluge's father Max von Kluge was from an aristocratic Prussian military family. A distinguished commander, Max was a Lieutenant General in the Prussian Army who served in the First World War; he married Elise Kühn-Schuhmann in 1881.[1] Kluge was one of two children, having a younger brother named Wolfgang von Kluge (born 1892).[1]

In 1901, Kluge was commissioned in the Prussian Army's 46th Field Artillery Regiment.[1] He served on the General Staff between 1910 and 1918, reaching the rank of Captain on the Western Front during the First World War; he remained in the Reichswehr following the conflict.[1] On 1 April 1934, Kluge–promoted to Lieutenant General–took command of the 6th Division in Münster.[1] Adolf Hitler's proclamation of the Wehrmacht in 1935 precipitated Kluge's appointment to the 6th Corps and then the 6th Army Group, which subsequently became the 4th Army.[1]

Like several Wehrmacht commanders, Kluge believed Hitler's "crude militarism" would lead Germany into disaster.[1] During the crisis in the Sudetenland, Kluge was a member of a secret anti-war faction lead by Ludwig Beck and Ernst von Weizsäcker, hoping to avoid armed conflict over the disputed territory. The crisis was averted by the Munich Agreement on 30 September 1938. As much as he derided Nazism, Kluge believed in the principle of Lebensraum and took pride in the rearmament of the Wehrmacht.[2]

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