Werner von Fritsch

Werner von Fritsch : Nazi Germany

Werner von Fritsch was born in Benrath, Germany, on 4th August 1880. He joined the German Army and served throughout the First World War.

He remained in the army and in May 1935 he became commander in chief of the armed forces. Adolf Hitler was determined to gain control of the army and Heinrich Himmler was asked to gain information on Fritsch. Eventually, Hans Schmidt, a male prostitute, agreed to claim that he had a sexual relationship with Fritsch.

On 24th January 1938 Hitler told Fritsch about the claims made by Schmidt. When it became clear that senior members of the German Army were unwilling to support him against these false charges, Fritsch retired from office. When it was later discovered that Schmidt was lying Hitler refused to reinstate Fritsch.

Recalled to the army on the outbreak of the Second World War, Fritsch became an honorary colonel in his former regiment. Werner von Fritsch was killed during the invasion of Poland on 22nd September 1939.

Primary Sources

(1) Ernst Hanfstaengel first met Anton Drexler in 1922.

Anton Drexler, the original founder of the Party, was there most evenings, but by this time he was only its honorary president and had been pushed more or less to one side. A blacksmith by trade, he had a trade union background and although it was he who had thought up the original idea of appealing to the workers with a patriotic programme, he disapproved strongly of the street fighting and violence which was slowly becoming a factor in the Party's activities and wanted to build up as a working-class movement in an orderly fashion.