Wilhelm Bodewin Johann Gustav Keitel (born September 22, 1882) was a German general. As head of the High Command of the Armed Forces, he was one of Germany's most senior military leaders during the Invasion of Czechoslovakia.
Keitel was born on September 22, 1882 in Helmscherode, Brunswick, German Empire, as the son of Carl Keitel, a middle-class landowner, and his wife Apollonia Vissering. After completing his education in Göttingen, he embarked on a military career in 1901, becoming a Fahnenjunker (Cadet Officer), joining the 6th Lower-Saxon Field Artillery Regiment. He married Lisa Fontaine, a wealthy landowner's daughter, in 1909. Together they had six children, one of whom died in infancy. During World War I Keitel served on the Western front with the Field Artillery Regiment No. 46. In September 1914, during the fighting in Flanders, he was seriously wounded in his right forearm by a shell fragment.
Keitel recovered, and thereafter was posted to the German General Staff in early 1915. After World War I ended, he stayed in the newly created Reichswehr, and played a part in organizing Freikorps frontier guard units on the Polish border. Keitel also served as a divisional general staff officer, and later taught at the Hanover Cavalry School for two years.
In late 1924, Keitel was transferred to the Ministry of Defence (Reichswehrministerium), serving with the Troop Office (Truppenamt), the post-Versailles disguised General Staff. He was soon promoted to the head of the organizational department, a post he retained after the Nazi seizure of power in 1933. In 1935, based on a recommendation by Werner von Fritsch he became Nazi Germany's chief of the newly-created Armed Forces Office (Wehrmachtamt).
In 1937, Keitel received a promotion to Generaloberst. in the following year, he assumed the position of Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, or OKW) in the wake of the Blomberg-Fritsch Affair and the replacement of the Ministry of War (Reichskriegsministerium) with the OKW.