Walter Model

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Walter Model

Otto Moritz Walter Model (Genthin, January 24, 1891 – near Ratingen, April 21, 1945) was a German Field Marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) during World War II. p>

Walter_Model’s Biography

Model was born in Genthin, in what is now Saxony-Anhalt. son of Otto and Marie Denmer, his father, was a music teacher and would have liked him to follow in his footsteps, but in 1908 he entered the Army Cadet School in Neisse, and two years later, he graduated as a lieutenant, being assigned to the 52nd Von Alvensleben regiment. He had few friends among his companions, although he stood out for his ambition, unity and openness.

At the outbreak of the 1st GM, his regiment was deployed to the Western Front, being seriously wounded in 1915, near Arras, and a few months later, he was decorated with the Iron Cross for its value. It is recommended by the commander of the 5th division, to be part of the Army General Staff, being promoted to captain. He returned to different positions in the front, ending the war in the 36th Division.

Writes a book about General von Gneisenau, and is known to be a capable officer, being held in the Reichswehr along with four thousand officers, and was far from politics in the turbulent times that existed at this time, despite that he participated in the repression against the communists of the Rhur in 1920.

The following year, he married Herta Huyssen, born of a son and two daughters. In 1925, he was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, becoming involved in the new tactics of war and as a professor of the same, studying at the same time for the basic course of General Staff, becoming known both for his enthusiasm for military modernization and for his lack of tact. In 1934, already a colonel, he was appointed Chief of the Armament Section of the Ministry of War, with the mission of improving and creating new weapons. As he was destined in Berlin, he begins to frequent with high ranks of the Nazi party, and becomes loyal to the National Socialist ideology, making friendships especially with Goebbels and Speer.

In 1938 he is appointed Chief of Staff of the IV Corps, being in this position when the II GM begins, fighting during the invasion of Poland, and then assigned to the 16th Army, during the campaign of France, already with the rank of General Major Almost at the end of it, he received command of the 3rd Panzer Division, began to ignore all the formalities of command, something that his men applauded, but that exasperated the officers, and put into practice their theories of new combat tactics.

Eastern Front

Model (center) as Commander of the 3rd Panxer Division on the Eastern Front, July 1941.

For the invasion of Russia, its division is assigned to the XXIV Panzer Corps, whose leader was Guderian, who commanded his divisions at a speed that Model liked; being his division at the point of the spear towards the Dnieper, he organized the attack in such a way that it was a success, winning the Knight’s Cross. Shortly after, he is promoted to general and is placed in command of the XLI Panzer Corps, initiating the assault on Moscow. Model was a whirlwind, scouring the front and exhorting his troops to the final assault, reaching 35 kilometers from the capital; However, the presence of winter, which froze vehicles and weapons, forced him to stop the advance.

Put into practice new defensive tactics, creating small mechanized combat groups, resulting in a success, and that did not go unnoticed by Hitler who in January 1942 entrusted him with the command of the 9th Army, which was involved in battles defensive and fighting not to be surrounded by the Russian counteroffensive. After several consultations with Hitler and Halder, he was able to retreat and strengthen the front; Hitler was impressed with the firmness and determination of Model, with the anecdote: “You saw this general, I trust him, but I would not like to serve his orders.” Hitler considered him his best general, using him in committed sectors, both the Eastern Front and later in the West.

His armored movement techniques were perfected, and yet he showed great ability in developing defensive tactics that was what Hitler expected of him.

In 1943, he took part in the offensive of the Kursk salient, but it turned into a failure, due mainly to the extensive fortifications of the Russians. Model doubted the attack, like Guderian, because he thought the Russians outnumbered him in men and equipment, seeing the 9th Army entangled in the Russian defensive positions, and after the failure, he retired with his men to the Dnieper, where previously he had ordered to construct defensive positions, which allowed him to maintain his reputation, although he ordered to destroy all the towns through which the Germans withdrew, this being the reason why he was later accused of war crimes.

He was propping up the Eastern Front, and although with heavy losses, he managed to prevent the Russians from advancing rapidly, and already as a marshal, he acted for a time as commander of two Army Groups (Central and Northern Ukraine).

Western Front

Model (center) on the Western Front, October 1944.

In August 1944, he was displaced to the Western Front, replacing von Kluge, as commander-in-chief of Army Group B (). To stabilize the front, he persuaded Hitler to give him permission to withdraw, something that von Kluge was unable to do, since he had limited influence, and managed to save large numbers of men (but not part of the material), and then of the important losses, he dedicated himself to rebuild the Army Group, now in Belgium / Holland.

In September, he was fully involved in the allied Operation “Market Garden”, and although he originally thought that the airborne assault was aimed at his capture, he quickly realized otherwise, organizing the counter-offensive and defeating the Allies , vanishing the possibility that the war would end before the end of the year.

At the end of this year, Hitler decided to launch the last offensive on the Western front, something that both he and von Rundstedt saw as unattainable. Given the resources available to the Wehrmacht, they devised a less ambitious plan that Hitler rejected, ordering the original plan, something that Model made him feel pale with rage.

He took charge of the 5th Army of Manteuffel, the 6th Panzer Army of the SS of Dietrich and the 7th Army, which presented the last strategic reserves of Germany. Despite his misgivings, he threw off his usual energy and took energetic action on any kind of defeatism, even though he knew that the operation only had a 10% chance of success. The operation began on December 16, and barring the initial success, it soon got bogged down by the inexperience of the infantry and the critical fuel situation, Model this time was unable to exploit the initial advance, leaving the offensive abandoned on January 8. of 1945.

The failure of the operation, produced a dejection that never recovered, and marked the end of the special relationship that Model had with Hitler, asked permission to go back to the Rhine, but Hitler denied it, limited the operations of his Army Group and there was only one order: defend the ground until the last man.

On April 1, the Army Group was surrounded in the so-called Ruhr Exchange, and later split in two. Hitler ordered it to become a fortress and the factories were destroyed, but Model ignored the order. He ordered the dissolution of the divisions under his command, and that the men return to their homes or surrender, not so himself, who felt bound by the oath given to Hitler and by being a marshal. On April 20, Goebbels denounced Army Group B as traitors, which definitively broke ties with the Nazi regime.

On April 21, he gave a trusted officer a letter to his family, his wedding ring and some personal effects, then went to a nearby forest, and shot himself in the head. He was buried in the same place. It seems that he had told his son Hansgeorg that “a field marshal does not surrender … it is not possible” (perhaps he remembered Field Marshal Paulus, [citation required], whom he criticized for surrendering to the Russians ).

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