Alexander von Falkenhausen
|Born||29 Oct 1878|
|Died||31 Jul 1966|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Ernst Alexander Alfred Herrmann von Falkenhausen was born in Germany from a line of Bavarian officers. He was the nephew of Ludwig von Falkenhausen, the German Governor General of Belgium during WW1. He entered military academy in 1897 and was later commissioned as a second lieutenant in the German Army in 1897. He married Paula von Wedderkop, daughter of a German aristocrat. He then spent time in China fighting in the Boxer Rebellion and in Japan as a military attaché before WW1. During WW1, he served with the Ottoman Army as the Chief of Staff of the Turkish 7th Army in Palestine, earning the honor of Pour le Mérite for his gallantry. After the war he became one of the few who remained with the German Army. He was involved with the border negotiations between Germany and Poland, and then in 1927 he headed the Dresden Infantry School.
In 1930, Falkenhausen retired from the German Army and served as a military adviser to Chiang Kaishek, training Chinese troops to fight Japanese aggression in China. He played a vital role in the modernization of the Chinese military of all branches, and his guidelines for the defense of China written in Jul 1935 heavily influenced the campaign the Chinese carried out during the Second Sino-Japanese War which began two years later; namely, a war of attrition which Japan could not afford to engage in, and the use of guerrilla warfare. In 1936, Adolf Hitler officially appointed Falkenhausen a member of the German military mission in China. After the Second Sino-Japanese War began, he was sometimes seen in Chinese Army uniform, which was an inspiration to the Chinese troops he was training. During the Second Battle of Shanghai in Sep 1937, he personally led troops in Luodian, earning further respect from fellow Chinese officers. As Germany and Japan grew closer, along with Germany's preparations for the European War, Falkenhausen was recalled by the German Army in Jul 1938. As he said goodbye to Chiang, he promised him that he would never reveal any Chinese military secrets to the Japanese, and it was apparent that he had kept his word.
Returning to Europe, Falkenhausen first served as an infantry general, then was briefly a high-ranking commander at Dresden. In 1940 he was named the military governor of Belgium, where he was accused of atrocities involving execution of prisoners of war and the deportation of Jews. He was dismissed on 18 Jul 1944 on various charges, and then two days later, the 20 Jul Plot failed to assassinate Adolf Hitler. For his involvement with the conspirators of the plot, he was arrested and sent to concentration camps. Before that, however, post war records showed that even before the July Plot, he had already offered his support for a possible coup d'etat by Field Marshal Erwin von Witzleben.
After the war, Falkenhausen was captured by the Allies at a concentration camp and deported to Belgium for war trials. In Mar 1951 he was sentenced to 12 years, but was acquitted three weeks later when evidence was found that he attempted to save as many Jews and Belgians as possible from harm as the head of the German occupation government in Belgium. When he turned 75 in Oct 1953, Chiang, now President of China, sent him a gift check for US$12,000 as a sign of continued appreciation for what he had done for China. Falkenhausen died in Nassau, Germany, in 1966.
Sources: Jewish Virtual Library, Joric, Spartacus Educational, Wikipedia.
Alexander von Falkenhausen Timeline
|29 Oct 1878||Alexander von Falkenhausen was born.|
|31 Jul 1966||Alexander von Falkenhausen passed away.|
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Thomas Dodd, late 1945