Hans Speidel

Hans Speidel : Nazi Germany

Hans Speidel was born in Metzingen, Germany, on 28th October, 1897. He joined the German Army in 1914 and served throughout the First World War. He remained in the army and was military attaché in Paris before becoming chief of section in the Foreign Armies Division of the General Staff.

During the Western Offensive he served as Chief of Staff to General George von Kuechler of the 18th Army. In this position he received two French officers who came under a flag of true early on 14th June 1940 to surrender Paris. Speidel remained in France until March 1942 when Speidel was sent to the Soviet Union where he served under General Gunther von Kluge and General Fedor von Bock. He saw action at Vyasma and Kharkov. During the campaign to capture Stalingrad Speidel was a member of Army Group B.

Speidel remained on the Eastern Front until he was appointed as Chief of Staff to General Erwin Rommel in April 1944. After the suicide of Rommel he retained the post under Gunther von Kluge and Walther Model. It was later claimed that Speidel was credited in playing a major role in sabotaging Hitler's orders for the demolition of Paris.

On 7th September 1944, Speidel was arrested by the Gestapo and accused of being involved in the July Plot against Adolf Hitler. Speidel appeared before the Army Court of Honour but Gerd von Rundstedt, Heinz Guderian and Wilhelm Keitel decided not to expel him from the German Army. If this had happened it would have been turned over to Roland Freisler and his People Court.

Speidel was held prisoner for seven months before escaping to Allied troops. After the war Speidel was professor of modern history at Tuebingen and published Invasion 1944: Rommel and the Normandy Campaign (1950). When NATO was formed Speidel became commander of Allied Land Forces in Europe (April 1957 - September 1963). Hans Speidel died in 1984.

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.