Erich von Manstein (born Fritz Erich Georg Eduard von Lewinski on 24 November 1887, died 9 June 1973) served the German military as a lifelong professional soldier. He became one of the most prominent commanders of Nazi Germany's Wehrmacht.
He was the initiator and one of the planners of the Ardennes-offensive alternative in the invasion of France in 1940. He received acclaim from the German leadership for the victorious battles of Perekop Isthmus, Kerch, Sevastopol and Kharkov. He commanded the failed relief effort at Stalingrad and the Cherkassy pocket evacuation. He was dismissed from service by Adolf Hitler in March 1944, due to his frequent clashes with Hitler over military strategy.
Manstein was taken prisoner by the British in 1945. In 1949, he was brought on trial in Hamburg for war crimes, which convicted him of "Neglecting to protect civilian lives" and for using scorched earth tactics denying vital food supplies to the local Soviet population. Although claiming to not know about the Holocaust, von Manstein nevertheless showed a callous disregard for the plight of the Jews, equating partisans and Jews, and advocating harsh measures against both. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison, which was later reduced to 12 years, but was released in 1953 in order became a military advisor for the government of West Germany during the Cold War.
Erich von Manstein in "Ready for the Fatherland"
Manstein's clashes with Hitler had grown more frequent as the situation on the Eastern Front deteriorated throughout 1942. In February 1943, Hitler flew to Zaporozhye, in German-Occupied Ukraine to berate Manstein. When Hitler demanded that he launch an attack which Manstein knew would only be disastrous, Manstein balked. In a manic tirade, Hitler then likened Manstein's nose to that of a Jew and commanded him to act. Manstein realized just how insane Hitler's rants had become. He pulled out his pistol and shot Hitler dead. Manstein and his ally, Field Marshal Paul von Kleist, promptly held Hitler's subordinates, Alfred Jodl and Wilhelm Keitel, at gunpoint. In the coming weeks, Manstein began the negotiations for a separate peace with the Soviet Union, becoming Germany's leader in the process. Shortly afterward, Manstein used the recalled Eastern Front troops to drive off the Anglo-American invasion of France, bringing the war in Europe to a close.
Erich von Manstein in Worldwar
In 1965, Manstein was a contender to succeed Heinrich Himmler as Führer and Chancellor of Germany. Despite being a respected general both in Germany and abroad, he was not politically adept enough to gain the favor of the Committee of Eight, and so lost to Ernst Kaltenbrunner. Soviet General-Secretary Vyacheslav Molotov, and Foreign Commissar Andrei Gromyko, both privately hoped Manstein would ascend to the leadership of the Greater German Reich, due to his willingness to see reason and his predictability.
as Führer and Chancellor
|Ruler (title unknown) of Germany
("Ready for the Fatherland")