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  • GERMANIC MIGRATIONS AND
  • Fritsch, Werner von

    lang=EN-US style='font-size:10.5pt;font-family:"Meridien-Medium","serif"; color:black'>(18801939)

    general

    Colonel-General Werner von Fritsch was the

    commander in chief of the German army from

    1934 to 1938. He was responsible for modernizing

    the German army and became a victim of

    HITLERs ambition to gain complete control of the

    armed forces.

    Werner von Fritsch was born into an old

    Prussian military family on August 4, 1880. At

    18 years of age he entered the army, and three

    years later his abilities were recognized with an

    appointment to the War College in 1901. In

    1911 he was appointed to the General Staff, and

    during WORLDWAR I he experienced a variety of

    General Staff commands. During this period he

    became friends with the future leader of the

    army during the WEIMAR REPUBLIC, General von

    Seekt. During Weimar he served in the Reichswehr.

    Along with General Werner von

    BLOMBERG he supported the secret relation that

    the army had with the Soviet Union. He was

    prominent in General Staff circles and was promoted

    to lieutenant general in July 1932.

    At first Fritsch hoped to be able to integrate

    Nazism into the nationalist perspective of the

    army. He was shocked, however, by Nazi lawlessness

    while attributing it to Nazi youthful

    exuberance, but he remained silent. His military

    expertise made it possible for him to

    transform the small republican army into a

    large conscript one. As a leader he was a symbol

    of the non-Nazi officers. He feared that

    Hitlers anticommunism would lead Germany

    into a war with Russia, which turned out to be

    true. At the Hossbach Conference along

    with General Blomberg, both were horrified to

    hear of Hitlers war plans, which included the

    invasion of Russia. Fritsch was aware that the

    army was not ready, and he hoped that he

    could dissuade Hitler but was unsuccessful.

    Because of his opposition to Hitlers plans he

    got himself into trouble, and Fritschs personal

    life then was to play a significant role in his

    fall from power.

    Fritsch was reserved, had few female companions,

    and never marriedbeing a bachelor who

    chiefly pursued his military career. This was used

    against him in the Blomberg affair (Blomberg, a

    widower, remarried a secretary who had been a

    prostitute) which scandal Hitler used to take

    control of the army. Fritsch was forced to resign

    on February 4, 1938, based on accusations of

    homosexuality which Hermann GÖRING and

    Heinrich HIMMLER had fabricated. Replacing

    Fritsch as commander in chief of the army was

    General Walther von BRAUCHITSCH. Fritsch was

    acquitted by a court of officers, was recalled to

    the army, but died in the invasion of Poland on

    September 22, 1939.

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