|Born||10 Jul 1883|
|Died||5 Feb 1948|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Johannes Albrecht Blaskowitz was born in Peterswalde, Kreis Wehlau in East Prussia, German Empire (now Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia) to a Lutheran pastor. He enrolled in the cadet school in Köslin and the Berlin Lichterfelde, and then joined an East Prussian Army regiment in Osterode. He became a non-commissioned officer (Fähnrich) on 2 Mar 1901, was promoted to the rank of second lieutenant on 27 Jan 1902, first lieutenant on 27 Jan 1910, and then captain on 17 Feb 1914. In WW1, served on both fronts of the war, gained experience commanding an infantry company, and won the Iron Cross award for bravery. During the inter-war years, he served in the army of the Weimar Republic. He was promoted to the rank of major on 1 Jan 1922, lieutenant colonel on 6 Apr 1926, colonel on 1 Oct 1929, and finally reaching general rank when he was promoted to major general on 1 Oct 1932. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general on 1 Dec 1933. A traditionalist, he believed that army officers should not be involved in politics, thus was indifferent to Nazi Party's rise to power. He was promoted to the rank of general (General der Infanterie) on 1 Aug 1936.
In early 1939, Blaskowitz commanded occupation troops in Austria and Czechoslovakia. In Sep 1939, he commanded the German 8th Army during the invasion of Poland and participated in the Battle of the Bzura; he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross award along with a promotion to the rank of colonel general on 1 Oct 1939 for his successes in Poland. On 20 Oct 1939, he was made the Commander-in-Chief East. In this role, he was made aware of the atrocities committed against Polish civilians. He wrote several memorandums to his superiors to report them while restraining his own troops from doing the same. General Walther von Brauchitsch forwarded Blaskowitz's first memorandum to Adolf Hitler on 18 Nov 1939, which earned him disfavor. He was relieved of his command on 29 May 1940. In May 1940, the German Army planned to give him command of the 9th Army for occupation duties, but Hitler interfered, and he was relegated to a minor military governor position in Northern France, which he held on Oct 1940. In late 1940, he was given command of the 1st Army stationed on the Spanish border.
In 1944, Blaskowitz was awarded Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross. In May 1944, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt appointed him the commanding officer of Army Group G, consisted of the 1st and 19th Armies, in Southern France. On 15 Aug 1944, Allied troops invaded Southern France. Unable to counter the Allied advances, he attempted to organize an orderly fighting retreat through the Vosges mountains. After being reinforced by Hasso von Manteuffel's 5th Panzer Army, he wanted to stop falling back and establish a defensive line. Hitler, however, ordered them to counter attack immediately. Despite knowing they did not have the strength to do so, Blaskowitz and Manteuffel still obeyed the order. They were able to push the American forces back near Lunéville between 18 and 20 Sep 1944, but they were unable to defeat the invasion force. Hitler relieved him of his command and replaced him with Hermann Balck.
Blaskowitz's next command came in Dec 1944 when he was placed in command of an attack in the Alsace-Lorraine region as a campaign launched in parallel to the Ardennes Offensive (known as the Battle of the Bulge to the Allies). At the height of the attack in Jan 1945, however, he was transferred to the Netherlands to lead Army Group H. With Army Group H, he conducted a fighting withdraw against the advancing British VIII Corps; for this effort, he was awarded Swords to his Knight's Cross. In Apr 1945, he was named the commander-in-chief of German troops in the Netherlands.
On 5 May 1945, Blaskowitz, Canadian General Charles Foulkes, and Dutch Prince Bernhard met at the Hotel de Wereld in Wageningen, the Netherlands to discuss terms of surrender. Their agreement was typed up on the next day, and they officially signed the surrender document.
After the war, Blaskowitz was charged for war crimes and was tried in the High Command Trial of the Nuremberg Trials. Before the trial was concluded, he committed suicide by throwing himself off of a balcony of the court building.
Johannes Blaskowitz Timeline
|10 Jul 1883||Johannes Blaskowitz was born.|
|18 Oct 1939||General Johannes Blaskowitz sent a message to Adolf Hitler, complaining of SS atrocities in Poland.|
|5 Feb 1948||Johannes Blaskowitz passed away.|
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Winston Churchill, 1935