During the Third Reich, Hitler consolidated his leadership over strongholds of war, invasion and politics. One of them, however, dared to cross party lines and contribute to both Nazi propaganda and the downfall of Hitler. Franz Halder played an important role in the workings of the German Wehrmacht, but he was also awarded praise by the President of the United States. He served as chief of the General Staff of Hitler’s army from 1938 to 1942. During this time, he oversaw the victorious annexation of Poland, France, Denmark, Norway and the Balkans. However, he achieved all this despite expressing dissatisfaction with Hitler’s extreme position in the domestic and international arena.
getting to know a warring genius
Franz Halder was born in Würzburg into a military family with a Bavarian family from the 17th century. His career began in the 3rd Field Artillery Regiment of the Royal Bavarian Army. By the end of World War I, Halder began to receive work on his staff. He was heading his first command post till October 1934 and from there started rising in the ranks of the army. By 1936, Lieutenant General Halder was appointed chief of the Oberkommando des Heeres General Staff in Hitler’s Third Reich Army. During this time, Haldar was a man of fluctuating ideologies. On the one hand, he supported Hitler and did not object to the Holocaust killings. On the other hand, he refused to accept Hitler’s extremist strategy. Throughout this time, he remained the functional leader of the Gestapo. In fact, did he even plan to overthrow Hitler with his predecessor Ludwig Beck, who had previously resigned from office in disagreement with the leader. This daring protest, and the others that followed, initiate Halder’s own pardon in a strange turn of events.
Halder’s unshakable loyalty prompted him to maintain a meticulous diary of everything he encountered as chief of staff. The senior ranker was instrumental in developing plans to encircle neighboring countries, including the invasion of Poland in 1939. Soon achieved his highest rank in the army as Colonel-General. All developments, along with day-to-day events within the organization, went into Frank’s notes.
Hitler at the Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army.
Soon, Hitler was declaring a disastrous attack on France, which enlisted Halder and his contemporaries in a new plan to assassinate him. But the general’s feet fell cold, and a series of successful offensives cemented Hitler’s position. Halder’s own career also took a hit. The idea that troops would occupy Moscow before the winter of 1941 faltered in making provision for food and distribution for the cold season. The takeover lasted longer than expected, and thousands of soldiers were lost to the wrath of the weather. This marked the end of Halder’s career as Chief of Staff.
During his retirement, Franz was implicated in Hitler’s third unsuccessful assassination, which took place in 1944. The days of joy were gone, and the once respected army man was deported to a concentration camp in Flossenberg. But by the end of the war in 1945, he and other high-ranking officers were freed by Allied forces as soldiers marched into the camps of debauchery.
Knowledge is power, and unlike hundreds of others, he was able to escape execution because of his access to sensitive information and his commonly known opposition to Nazi propaganda. In July 1946, former General Halder testified at the hearing of the IMT Nuremberg Commission, where he uncovered a hat-trick of unsuccessful assassinations against Hitler. From 1947 to 1961 he served extensively with the US military. His diary came into play as an integral piece of evidence in shaping Nazi doctrine and German military history. It was also brought on record during the Allies’ prosecution of Hitler’s high command in the High Command Trial. The tables had turned, and now one of Hitler’s closest allies was assisting the US Historical Division. Under him, 700 German officers were tasked with producing about 2,500 documents of historical data. For his paramount contribution, Franz Halder was awarded the US Meritorious Civilian Service Award by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, becoming the only German to be decorated by both Hitler and the US President. The liberal attitude towards the general made his name gallantly colored for the generations to come. Haldar DiaryThose that were made public in 1976 continue to serve intelligence and historical studies even after the general’s death.
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