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Walther von Brauchitsch (Munich Goes Sour)

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Walther von Brauchitsch
Walter von Brauchitsch
Rank: Generaloberst Generaloberst General DE
Military service
Allegiance: Flag of the German Empire German Empire
Flag of Germany (3-2 aspect ratio) Weimar Republic
Flag of German Reich (1935–1945) Nazi Germany
Years of service: 1900-
Commands: Head of OKH
Biography
Date of birth: October 4, 1881
Place of birth: Flag of the German Empire Berlin, German Empire

Heinrich Alfred Hermann Walther von Brauchitsch (born October 4, 1881) was an aristocratic German general and the Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht Heer during the Invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Biography

Brauchitsch was born on October 4, 1881 in Berlin as the fifth son of an aristocratic cavalry general. He attended Berlin's best school, the Französisches Gymnasium. Brauchitsch was commissioned in the Prussian Guard in 1900. He was an outstanding officer. By World War I, he was appointed to the prestigious General Staff. He also married Elizabeth von Karstedt, a fabulously wealthy heiress to 300,000 acres (1,200 km²) in Pomerania.

In 1933, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party came to power and began to expand the military. Brauchitsch was named Chief of the East Prussian Military District. His specialty was artillery. In 1937, he became commander of the Fourth Army Group.

Like many other German generals, Brauchitsch disliked or opposed much of the Nazi system, but also welcomed the Nazi policy of rearmament and was dazzled by Hitler's personality. He became largely reliant on Hitler as political patron and even for financial help. In February 1938, in the middle of the Munich Crisis, Brauchitsch left his wife Elizabeth after 28 years. He wanted to marry Charlotte Schmidt, the beautiful young daughter of a Silesian judge, and an ardent admirer of the Nazis. Hitler set aside his usual anti-divorce sentiments and encouraged Brauchitsch to divorce and re-marry. Hitler even lent him 80,000 Reichsmarks, which he needed since the family wealth was all his wife's. In the same month, Brauchitsch was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Army, replacing General Werner von Fritsch, who had been dismissed on false charges of homosexuality.

Brauchitsch resented the growing power of the SS, believing that they were attempting to replace the Wehrmacht as the official German armed forces. He had disagreements with Erich Koch, the Gauleiter of East Prussia, and Adolf Hitler had to resolve the dispute between the two.

Like General Ludwig Beck, Brauchitsch opposed Hitler's annexation of Austria (the Anschluss), although he did not resist Hitler's plans for war. He took no action when Beck asked him to persuade the whole General Staff to resign if Hitler proceeded in his invasion of Czechoslovakia.

In September 1938, a group of officers began plotting against Hitler and repeatedly tried to persuade Brauchitsch, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army, to lead the anticipated coup, but the only assurance he gave them was: "I myself won't do anything, but I won't stop anyone else from acting." After the collapse of the 1938 coup attempt, Brauchitsch ignored all further appeals from Beck and the other plotters to use the army to overthrow Hitler before Germany was plunged into world war.

Invasion of Czechoslovakia

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