A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. This derives from sedere, Latin for to sit, Siege warfare is a form of constant, low-intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static defensive position. Consequently, an opportunity for negotiation between combatants is not uncommon, as proximity and fluctuating advantage can encourage diplomacy, a siege occurs when an attacker encounters a city or fortress that cannot be easily taken by direct assault and refuses to surrender. Failing a military outcome, sieges can often be decided by starvation, thirst, or disease and this form of siege, can take many months or even years, depending upon the size of the stores of food the fortified position holds. During the process of circumvallation, the force can be set upon by another force of enemies due to the lengthy amount of time required to starve a position. During the Warring States era of ancient China, there is textual and archaeological evidence of prolonged sieges and siege machinery used against the defenders of city walls.
Siege machinery was a tradition of the ancient Greco-Roman world, during the Renaissance and the early modern period, siege warfare dominated the conduct of war in Europe. Leonardo da Vinci gained as much of his renown from the design of fortifications as from his artwork, Medieval campaigns were generally designed around a succession of sieges. In the Napoleonic era, increasing use of more powerful cannon reduced the value of fortifications. In the 20th century, the significance of the classical siege declined, with the advent of mobile warfare, a single fortified stronghold is no longer as decisive as it once was. Modern sieges are more commonly the result of smaller hostage, the Assyrians deployed large labour forces to build new palaces and defensive walls. Some settlements in the Indus Valley Civilization were fortified, by about 3500 BC, hundreds of small farming villages dotted the Indus River floodplain. Many of these settlements had fortifications and planned streets, mundigak in present-day south-east Afghanistan has defensive walls and square bastions of sun-dried bricks.
City walls and fortifications were essential for the defence of the first cities in the ancient Near East, the walls were built of mudbricks, wood, or a combination of these materials, depending on local availability. They may have served the purpose of showing presumptive enemies the might of the kingdom. The great walls surrounding the Sumerian city of Uruk gained a widespread reputation, the walls were 9.5 km in length, and up to 12 m in height. Later, the walls of Babylon, reinforced by towers, moats, in Anatolia, the Hittites built massive stone walls around their cities atop hillsides, taking advantage of the terrain. In Shang Dynasty China, at the site of Ao, large walls were erected in the 15th century BC that had dimensions of 20 m in width at the base and enclosed an area of some 2,100 yards squared
A tank is an armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat, with heavy firepower, strong armour, and tracks providing good battlefield maneuverability. The first tanks were designed to overcome the deadlock of trench warfare, now they are a mainstay of ground forces. Modern tanks are versatile mobile land weapon platforms, mounting a large-calibre cannon in a rotating gun turret. In both offensive and defensive roles, they are units that are capable of performing tasks which are required of armoured units on the battlefield. As a result of advances, tanks underwent tremendous shifts in capability in the years since their first appearance. Tanks in World War I were developed separately and simultaneously by Great Britain and this was a prototype of a new design that would become the British Armys Mark I tank, the first tank used in combat in September 1916 during the Battle of the Somme. The name tank was adopted by the British during the stages of their development. While the British and French built thousands of tanks in World War I, Germany was unconvinced of the tanks potential, Tanks of the interwar period evolved into the much larger and more powerful designs of World War II.
Tanks in the Cold War were designed with these weapons in mind, improved engines and suspensions allowed tanks of this period to grow larger. Aspects of gun technology changed significantly as well, with advances in shell design, during the Cold War, the main battle tank concept arose and became a key component of modern armies. Modern tanks seldom operate alone, as they are organized into combined arms units which involve the support of infantry and they are usually supported by reconnaissance or ground-attack aircraft. The tank is the 20th century realization of an ancient concept, the internal combustion engine, armour plate, and continuous track were key innovations leading to the invention of the modern tank. Many sources imply that Leonardo da Vinci and H. G. Wells in some way foresaw or invented the tank, leonardos late 15th century drawings of what some describe as a tank show a man-powered, wheeled vehicle with cannons all around it. However the human crew would not have power to move it over larger distance.
In the 15th century, Jan Žižka built armoured wagons containing cannons, the caterpillar track arose from attempts to improve the mobility of wheeled vehicles by spreading their weight, reducing ground pressure, and increasing their traction. Experiments can be traced back as far as the 17th century and it is frequently claimed that Richard Lovell Edgeworth created a caterpillar track. It is true that in 1770 he patented a machine, that should carry and lay down its own road and his own account in his autobiography is of a horse-drawn wooden carriage on eight retractable legs, capable of lifting itself over high walls. The description bears no similarity to a caterpillar track, armoured trains appeared in the mid-19th century, and various armoured steam and petrol-engined vehicles were proposed
Heinz Wilhelm Guderian was a German general during World War II, noted for his success as a leader of Panzer units in Poland and France and for partial success in the Soviet Union. Guderian had pioneered motorized tactics in the army, while keeping himself well informed about tank development in other armies. In particular, he promoted the use of communication between tank-crews, and devised shock-tactics that proved highly effective. In 1940, he led the Panzers that broke the French defences at Sedan, France, in 1941, his attack on Moscow was delayed by orders from Hitler with whom he disagreed sharply. After the German defeat at the Battle of Moscow he was transferred to the reserve and this marked the end of his ascendancy. He was appointed Chief of the General Staff of the Army, from 1945-48, Guderian was held in U. S. custody, but released without charge. He advised on the re-establishment of military forces in West Germany, Guderian was born in Kulm, West Prussia, the son of Clara and Friedrich Guderian.
He entered the Army in 1907, on 1 October 1913 he married Margarete Goerne, with whom he had two sons, Heinz Günther and Kurt. At the outset of World War I Guderian served as a Signals Officer in the 5th Cavalry Division, on 28 February 1918 Guderian was appointed to the General Staff Corps. Like many Germans, he disagreed with Germany signing the armistice in 1918, early in 1919, Guderian was selected as one of the four thousand officers to continue on in military service for the reduced size German army, the Reichswehr. He was assigned to serve on the staff of the command of the Eastern Frontier Guard Service. In June 1919, Guderian joined the Iron Brigade as its second General Staff officer, the commanders of the regular German army had intended that this move would allow the army to reassert its control over the Iron Division, their hopes were disappointed. Rather than restrain the Freikorps, Guderians anti-communism caused him to empathize with the Iron Divisions efforts to defend Prussia against the Soviet threat, Guderian was assigned as a company commander for the 10th Jäger-Battalion.
Later he joined the Truppenamt, which was a form of the Armys General Staff which had been officially forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles. In 1927 Guderian was promoted to major and transferred to the command of Army transport and this placed Guderian at the center of German development of armoured forces. Guderian, who was fluent in both English and French, studied the works of British maneuver warfare theorists J. F. C, in 1931, he was promoted to Oberstleutnant and became chief of staff to the Inspectorate of Motorized Troops under Oswald Lutz. In 1933 he was promoted to Oberst or Colonel, Guderian wrote many papers on mechanized warfare during this period. Some of these trial maneuveres were conducted in Soviet Russia, in October 1935 he was made commander of the newly created 2nd Panzer Division
Battle of Dunkirk
The Battle of Dunkirk took place in Dunkirk/Dunkerque, during the Second World War between the Allies and Nazi Germany. As part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, after the Phoney War, the Battle of France began in earnest on 10 May 1940. To the east, the German Army Group B invaded the Netherlands, in response, the Supreme Allied Commander—French General Maurice Gamelin—initiated Plan D and entered Belgium to engage the Germans in the Netherlands. The plan relied heavily on the Maginot Line fortifications along the German-French border, gamelin instead committed the forces under his command, three mechanised armies, the French First and Seventh and the British Expeditionary Force to the River Dyle. After reaching the Channel, the German forces swung north along the coast, threatening to capture the ports and trap the British, in one of the most widely debated decisions of the war, the Germans halted their advance on Dunkirk. Contrary to popular belief, what became known as the Halt Order did not originate with Adolf Hitler.
Field Marshals Gerd von Rundstedt and Günther von Kluge suggested that the German forces around the Dunkirk pocket should cease their advance on the port and consolidate, Hitler sanctioned the order on 24 May with the support of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht. The army was to halt for three days, which gave the Allies sufficient time to organise the Dunkirk evacuation and build a defensive line. Despite the Allies gloomy estimates of the situation, with Britain even discussing a conditional surrender to Germany, on 10 May 1940, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. By 26 May, the BEF and the French 1st Army were bottled up in a corridor to the sea, about 60 mi deep, most of the British forces were still around Lille, over 40 mi from Dunkirk, with the French further south. Two massive German armies flanked them, General Fedor von Bocks Army Group B was to the east, and General Gerd von Rundstedts Army Group A to the west. On 24 May, Hitler had visited General von Rundstedts headquarters at Charleville and this order allowed the Germans to consolidate their gains and prepare for a southward advance against the remaining French forces.
The terrain around Dunkirk was thought unsuitable for armour, Hitler was familiar with Flanders marshes from the First World War, despite his pilots need to rest after two weeks of nonstop combat, Luftwaffe commander Hermann Göring asked for the chance to destroy the forces in Dunkirk. The Allied forces destruction was initially assigned to the air force. Von Rundstedt called one of the great turning points of the war. The true reason for the decision to halt the German armour on 24 May is still debated, one theory is that Von Rundstedt and Hitler agreed to conserve the armour for Fall Rot, an operation to the south. It is possible that the Luftwaffes closer ties than the armys to the Nazi Party contributed to Hitlers approval of Görings request, another theory—which few historians have given credence—is that Hitler was still trying to establish diplomatic peace with Britain before Operation Barbarossa. Whatever the reasons for Hitlers decision, the Germans confidently believed the Allied troops were doomed, american journalist William Shirer reported on 25 May, German military circles here tonight put it flatly
Battle of Magdhaba
The Battle of Magdhaba took place on 23 December 1916 during the Defence of Egypt section of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in the First World War. This Egyptian Expeditionary Force victory against the Ottoman Empire garrison secured the town of El Arish after the Ottoman garrison withdrew. In August 1916, a combined Ottoman and German Empire army had forced to retreat to Bir el Abd. During the following three months the defeated force retired further eastwards to El Arish, while the territory stretching from the Suez Canal was consolidated and garrisoned by the EEF. By December, construction of the infrastructure and supply lines had sufficiently progressed to enable the British advance to recommence, by the following morning a mounted force had reached El Arish to find it abandoned. An Ottoman Army garrison in a defensive position was located at Magdhaba, some 18–30 miles inland to the south east. All of the redoubts were eventually located and captured and the Ottoman defenders surrendered in the late afternoon.
At the beginning of the First World War, the Egyptian police who had controlled the Sinai Desert were withdrawn, in February 1915, a German and Ottoman force unsuccessfully attacked the Suez Canal. After the Gallipoli Campaign, a second joint German and Ottoman force again advanced across the desert to threaten the canal and this force was defeated in August at the Battle of Romani, after which the Anzac Mounted Division, known as the A. & N. Z. The Maghara Hills,50 miles south west of Romani, in the interior of the Sinai Desert, were attacked in mid-October by a British force based on the Suez Canal. Although not captured at the time, all positions were eventually abandoned by their Ottoman garrisons in the face of growing British Empire strength. The British established garrisons along their lines, which stretched across the Sinai from the Suez Canal. Patrols and reconnaissances were carried out to protect the advance of the railway and water pipeline. These supply lines were marked by stations and sidings, signal installations.
At this time the Egyptian Expeditionary Force had a strength of 156,000 soldiers. Hafir el Auja was linked to Beersheba and northern Palestine by road, if left intact, the Ottoman forces at Magdhaba and Hafir el Auja could seriously threaten the advance of the EEF along the north route towards Southern Palestine. The area of oases which extended from Dueidar,15 miles from Kantara along the Darb es Sultani, along the old caravan route, and on to Salmana 52 miles from Kantara could sustain life. But from Salmana to Bir el Mazar, there was little water, before the British advance to El Arish could begin, the 20 miles stretch without a water supply between El Mazar and El Arish had to be thoroughly explored
Genghis Khan, born Temüjin, was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death. He came to power by uniting many of the tribes of Northeast Asia. After founding the Empire and being proclaimed Genghis Khan, he started the Mongol invasions that conquered most of Eurasia, campaigns initiated in his lifetime include those against the Qara Khitai and Khwarazmian, Western Xia and Jin dynasties. These campaigns were accompanied by large-scale massacres of the civilian populations – especially in the Khwarazmian. By the end of his life, the Mongol Empire occupied a portion of Central Asia. Before Genghis Khan died, he assigned Ögedei Khan as his successor and he died in 1227 after defeating the Western Xia. He was buried in an unmarked grave somewhere in Mongolia, many of these invasions repeated the earlier large-scale slaughters of local populations. As a result, Genghis Khan and his empire have a reputation in local histories.
Beyond his military accomplishments, Genghis Khan advanced the Mongol Empire in other ways and he decreed the adoption of the Uyghur script as the Mongol Empires writing system. He practiced meritocracy and encouraged religious tolerance in the Mongol Empire, present-day Mongolians regard him as the founding father of Mongolia. This brought communication and trade from Northeast Asia into Muslim Southwest Asia and Christian Europe, Temüjin was related on his fathers side to Khabul Khan and Hotula Khan, who had headed the Khamag Mongol confederation and were descendants of Bodonchar Munkhag. When the Jurchen Jin dynasty switched support from the Mongols to the Tatars in 1161, Temüjins father, Yesügei, emerged as the head of the ruling Mongol clan. This position was contested by the rival Tayichiud clan, who descended directly from Ambaghai, when the Tatars grew too powerful after 1161, the Jin switched their support from the Tatars to the Keraites. Little is known about Temüjins early life, due to the lack of written records.
The few sources that give insight into this period often contradict, Temüjins name was derived from the Mongol word temür meaning of iron, while jin denotes agency thus temüjin means blacksmith. Temüjin was probably born in 1162 in Delüün Boldog, near the mountain Burkhan Khaldun, the Secret History of the Mongols reports that Temüjin was born grasping a blood clot in his fist, a traditional sign that he was destined to become a great leader. He was the son of his father Yesügei who was a Kiyad chief prominent in the Khamag Mongol confederation. Temüjin was the first son of his mother Hoelun, according to the Secret History, Temüjin was named after the Tatar chief Temüjin-üge whom his father had just captured
Albrecht von Wallenstein
He became the supreme commander of the armies of the Habsburg Monarchy and a major figure of the Thirty Years War. Several Protestant victories over Catholic armies induced Ferdinand to recall Wallenstein, dissatisfied with the Emperors treatment of him, Wallenstein considered allying with the Protestants. However, he was assassinated at Eger/Cheb in Bohemia by one of the officials, Walter Devereux. His mother Margaretha died in 1593, his father Wilhelm in 1595 and they had raised him bilingually – the father spoke German while his mother preferred Czech – yet Wallenstein in his childhood had a better command of Czech than of German. The religious affiliation of both his parents was Lutheranism and Utraquism, after their deaths, Albrecht for two years lived with his maternal uncle Heinrich Slavata of Chlum and Košumberk, a member of the Unity of the Brethren, and adopted his uncles religious affiliation. His uncle sent him to the school at Košumberk Castle in Eastern Bohemia. In 1597, Albrecht was sent to the Protestant Latin school at Goldberg in Silesia, while German became Wallensteins everyday language, he is said to have continued to curse in Czech.
In February 1600, Albrecht left Altdorf and travelled around the Holy Roman Empire and Italy, by this time, Wallenstein was fluent in German, Czech and Italian, was able to understand Spanish, and spoke some French. Wallenstein joined the army of the Emperor Rudolf II in Hungary, in 1604, his sister Kateřina Anna married the leader of the Moravian Protestants, Karel the Older of Zierotin. He studied at the University of Olomouc and his contact with the Olomouc Jesuits was partly responsible for his conversion to Catholicism in the same year. Wallenstein was made a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece, in 1609, Wallenstein married Czech Lucretia of Víckov, née Nekšová, of Landek, rich widow of Arkleb of Víckov who owned the towns of Vsetín, Rymice and Všetuly/Holešov. She was three years older than Wallenstein, and he inherited her estates after her death in 1614 and he endowed a monastery in his dead wifes name and had her reburied there. In 1623, Wallenstein married Isabella Katharina, daughter of Count Harrach and she bore him two children, a son who died in infancy and a surviving daughter.
Examples of the couples correspondence survive, the two marriages made him one of the wealthiest men in the Bohemian Crown. The Thirty Years War began in 1618 when the estates of Bohemia rebelled against Ferdinand of Styria and elected Frederick V, Elector Palatine, Wallenstein associated himself with the cause of the Catholics and the Habsburg dynasty. Sympathizing with the Bohemians, he used his position as commander of the troops of the Moravian estates to escape with the Moravian treasure-chest to Vienna. There, the authorities told him that the money would go back to the Moravians — but he had shown his loyalty to Ferdinand, the future Emperor. Wallenstein recovered his lands and after the Battle of White Mountain he secured the estates belonging to his mothers family and he grouped his new possessions into a territory called Friedland in northern Bohemia
Shaka kaSenzangakhona, known as Shaka Zulu, was one of the most influential monarchs of the Zulu Kingdom. He was born near present-day Melmoth, KwaZulu-Natal Province, due to persecution as a result of his illegitimacy, Shaka spent his childhood in his mothers settlements where he was initiated into an ibutho lempi. In his early days, Shaka served as a warrior under the sway of Dingiswayo, the initial Zulu maneuvers were primarily defensive in nature, as Shaka preferred to apply pressure diplomatically, aided by an occasional strategic assassination. His changes to local society built on existing structures, although he preferred social and propagandistic political methods, he engaged in a number of battles, as the Zulu sources make clear. In turn, he was assassinated by his own half brothers, Dingane. When Senzangakhona died in 1816 Shakas younger half-brother Sigujana assumed power as the heir to the Zulu chiefdom. Sigujanas reign was short however as Shaka, with the help of Dingiswayo and his half brother Ngwadi, had Sigujana assassinated in a coup that was relatively bloodless, when the Mthethwa forces were defeated and scattered temporarily, the power vacuum was filled by Shaka.
He reformed the remnants of the Mthethwa and other regional tribes, when Dingiswayo was murdered by Zwide, Shaka sought to avenge his death. At some point Zwide barely escaped Shaka, though the details are not known. In that encounter Zwides mother Ntombazi, a Sangoma, was killed by Shaka. Shaka chose a particularly gruesome revenge on her, locking her in a house and placing jackals or hyenas inside, they devoured her and, in the morning, despite carrying out this revenge, Shaka continued his pursuit of Zwide. It was not until around 1825 that the two leaders met, near Phongola, in what would be their final meeting. Phongola is near the present day border of KwaZulu-Natal, a province in South Africa, Shaka was victorious in battle, although his forces sustained heavy casualties, which included his head military commander, Umgobhozi Ovela Entabeni. In Qwabe, Shaka may have intervened in a succession dispute to help his own choice, into power. As Shaka became more respected by his people, he was able to spread his ideas with greater ease, because of his background as a soldier, Shaka taught the Zulus that the most effective way of becoming powerful quickly was by conquering and controlling other tribes.
His teachings greatly influenced the outlook of the Zulu people. The Zulu tribe soon developed a warrior mindset, which Shaka turned to his advantage, Shakas hegemony was primarily based on military might, smashing rivals and incorporating scattered remnants into his own army. He supplemented this with a mixture of diplomacy and patronage, incorporating friendly chieftains, including Zihlandlo of the Mkhize, Jobe of the Sithole and these peoples were never defeated in battle by the Zulu, they did not have to be
Helmuth von Moltke the Elder
Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke was a German Field Marshal. The chief of staff of the Prussian Army for thirty years, he is regarded as the creator of a new, more modern method of directing armies in the field. He is often referred to as Moltke the Elder to distinguish him from his nephew Helmuth Johann Ludwig von Moltke, Moltke was born in Parchim, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, son of the Danish Generalleutnant Friedrich Philipp Victor von Moltke. Young Moltke therefore grew up under difficult circumstances, at nine he was sent as a boarder to Hohenfelde in Holstein, and at age twelve went to the cadet school at Copenhagen, being destined for the Danish army and court. In 1818 he became a page to the king of Denmark, at twenty-one Moltke resolved to enter the Swedish service, in spite of the loss of seniority. In 1822 he became a lieutenant in the 8th Infantry Regiment stationed at Frankfurt. At twenty-three, he was allowed to enter the war school. For a year Moltke had charge of a school at Frankfurt an der Oder.
In 1832 he was seconded for service on the staff at Berlin. He was at this time regarded as a brilliant officer by his superiors, including Prince William, max Boot says of Moltke in his War Made New, Moltke loved music, art and theater. He was a prolific artist who filled sketchbooks with landscapes and portraits, as well as a popular author. For all his catholicity of interests and he was a nationalist to the core who was appalled by the liberal revolutions that swept Europe on 1848. He placed his faith in the king and the forces of the old regime, Moltke was well received at court and in the best society of Berlin. His tastes inclined him to literature, to study and to travel. In 1827 he had published a romance, The Two Friends. In 1831 he wrote an essay entitled Holland and Belgium in their Mutual Relations, a year he wrote An Account of the Internal Circumstances and Social Conditions of Poland, a study based both on reading and on personal observation of Polish life and character. In eighteen months he had finished nine volumes out of twelve, in 1835 on his promotion as captain, Moltke obtained six months leave to travel in south-Eastern Europe.
After a short stay in Constantinople he was requested by the Sultan Mahmud II to help modernize the Ottoman Empire army and he remained two years at Constantinople, learned Turkish and surveyed the city of Constantinople, the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. He travelled through Wallachia and Rumelia, and made other journeys on both sides of the Strait
Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov, was a career officer in the Red Army of the Soviet Union who became Chief of General Staff, Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Minister of Defence and a member of the Politburo. During World War II he participated in battles, ultimately commanding the 1st Belorussian Front in the Battle of Berlin. In recognition of Zhukovs role in World War II, he was allowed to participate in signing the German Instrument of Surrender, born into a poverty-stricken peasant family in Strelkovka, Maloyaroslavsky Uyezd, Kaluga Governorate, Zhukov became an apprentice furrier in Moscow. In 1915 the Army of the Russian Empire conscripted him, he served first in the 106th Reserve Cavalry Regiment, during World War I, Zhukov was awarded the Cross of St. George twice, and promoted to the rank of non-commissioned officer for his bravery in battle. He joined the Bolshevik Party after the 1917 October Revolution, in Party circles his background of poverty became a significant asset. After recovering from a case of typhus he fought in the Russian Civil War over the period 1918 to 1921, serving with the 1st Cavalry Army.
He received the decoration of the Order of the Red Banner for his part in subduing the Tambov Rebellion in 1921, at the end of May 1923, Zhukov became a commander of the 39th Cavalry Regiment. In 1924, he entered the Higher School of Cavalry, from which he graduated the next year, in May 1930, Zhukov became commander of the 2nd Cavalry Brigade of the 7th Cavalry Division. In February 1931, he was appointed the Assistant Inspector of Cavalry of the Red Army, in May 1933, Zhukov was appointed a commander in the 4th Cavalry Division. In 1937, he became a commander of the 3rd Cavalry Corps, in 1938, he became a deputy commander of the Belorussian Military District for cavalry. This campaign was a war that lasted from 1938 to 1939. These events led to the strategically decisive Battle of Khalkhin Gol, Zhukov requested major reinforcements, and on 20 August 1939, his Soviet Offensive commenced. After a massive artillery barrage, nearly 500 BT-5 and BT-7 tanks advanced, supported by over 500 fighters and bombers and this was the Soviet Air Forces first fighter-bomber operation.
The offensive first appeared to be a typical conventional frontal attack, two tank brigades were initially held back and ordered to advance around on both flanks, supported by motorized artillery and other tanks. This daring and successful manoeuvre encircled the Japanese 6th Army and captured the enemys vulnerable rear supply areas, by 31 August 1939, the Japanese had been cleared from the disputed border, leaving the Soviets clearly victorious. This campaign had significance beyond the immediate tactical and local outcome, Zhukov demonstrated and tested the techniques used against the Germans in the Eastern Front of the Second World War. After this campaign, Nomonhan veterans were transferred to units that had not seen action, for his victory, Zhukov was declared a Hero of the Soviet Union. However, the campaign – and especially Zhukovs pioneering use of tanks – remained little known outside of the Soviet Union itself, Zhukov considered Nomonhan invaluable preparation for conducting operations during the Second World War
Gerd von Rundstedt
Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt was a Field Marshal in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II. Born into a Prussian family with a military tradition, Rundstedt entered the Prussian Army in 1892. During World War I, he served mainly as a staff officer, in the inter-war years, he continued his military career, reaching the rank of Colonel General before retiring in 1938. He was recalled at the beginning of World War II as commander of Army Group South in the invasion of Poland and he commanded Army Group A during the Battle of France, and was promoted to the rank of Field Marshal in 1940. He was relieved of command in December 1941, but was recalled in 1942, Rundstedt was aware of the various plots to depose Hitler, but refused to support them. After the war, he was charged with war crimes, but did not face due to his age. He was released in 1949, and died in 1953, Gerd von Rundstedt was born in Aschersleben, north of Halle in Prussian Saxony. He was the eldest son of Gerd Arnold Konrad von Rundstedt, the Rundstedts are an old Junker family that traced its origins to the 12th century and classed as members of the Uradel, or old nobility, although they held no titles and were not wealthy.
Virtually all the Rundstedt men since the time of Frederick the Great had served in the Prussian Army, Rundstedts mother, Adelheid Fischer, was of Huguenot descent. He was the eldest of four brothers, all of whom became Army officers, Rundstedts education followed the path ordained for Prussian military families, the junior cadet college at Diez, near Koblenz, the military academy at Lichterfelde in Berlin. Unable to meet the cost of joining a regiment, Rundstedt joined the 83rd Infantry Regiment in March 1892 as a cadet officer. The regiment was based at Kassel in Hesse-Kassel, which he came to regard as his home town and he undertook further training at the military college at Hannover, before being commissioned as a lieutenant in June 1893. He made an impression on his superiors. In 1896 he was regimental adjutant, and in 1903 he was sent to the prestigious War Academy in Berlin for a three-year staff officer training course. At the end of his course Rundstedt was described as an able officer.
Well suited for the General Staff and he married Luise “Bila” von Goetz in January 1902 and their only child, Hans Gerd von Rundstedt, was born in January 1903. Rundstedt joined the General Staff of the German Army in April 1907 serving there until July 1914 and this division was part of XI Corps, which in turn was part of General Alexander von Klucks First Army. Rundstedt served as 22nd Divisions chief of staff during the invasion of Belgium, in December 1914, suffering from a lung ailment, he was promoted to Major and transferred to the military government of Antwerp