Zeitzler file photo [1077]

Kurt Zeitzler

Given NameKurt
Born9 Jun 1895
Died25 Sep 1963


ww2dbaseKurt Zeitzler was born in Cossmar-Luckau, Germany to a pastor. Joining the German army on 23 Mar 1914, he commanded an infantry division in WW1. After the war, he was one of the early supporters of Adolf Hitler's rise. He reached the rank of lieutenant colonel at the dawn of WW2 in Europe.

ww2dbaseDuring WW2, Zeitzler commanded troops during the Poland campaign, then subsequently served in France, Balkans, and Russia. In Poland and France, he was the chief of staff of the First Panzer Group, then commanded the First Panzer Army in Russia, earning him credibility as an able armor commander and winning the Knight's Cross on 18 May 1941. During these early campaigns, he served under famed German generals such as Siegmund List and Paul von Kleist. On 1 Feb 1942 he was promoted major general, and in Apr of the same year he became the chief of staff under Gerd von Rundstedt. In Sep 1942, he was appointed the Chief of the Army General Staff by Hitler against the recommendation of Wilhelm Keitel and Alfred Jodl, although Zeitzler eventually confronted Hitler on the German leader's stubborn strategies in Russia. Albert Speer noted one strategy discussion between Hitler and Zeitzler:

"Zeitzler, his face flushed and haggard from lack of sleep, insisted that the Sixth Army (in Stalingrad) must break out to the west. He deluged Hitler with data on all that the army lacked, both as regards to rations and fuel, so that it had become impossible to provide warm meals for the soldiers exposed to fierce cold in the snow-swept fields or the scanty shelter of rums. 'The counterattack from the south that I have ordered will soon relieve Stalingrad. That will recoup the situation. We have been in such positions often before, you know. In the end we always had the problem in hand again' (said Hitler).... Zeitzler disagreed.... Hitler's patience snapped, 'Stalingrad simply must be held. It must be; it is a key position. By breaking traffic on the Volga at that spot, we cause the Russians the greatest difficulties.'"

ww2dbaseAfter the loss at Stalingrad materialized, Zeitzler submitted his letter of resignation, but it was refused by Hitler. On 20 Jul 1944, Zeitzler claimed that health conditions prevented him from serving his office; an angered Hitler dismissed him from the German army. The disillusioned Zeitzler announced his retirement from the German army in Jan 1945 before the war ended.

ww2dbaseZeitzler passed away in Upper Bavaria in 1963.

ww2dbaseSource: Spartacus Educational, Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Dec 2005

Kurt Zeitzler Timeline

9 Jun 1895 Kurt Zeitzler was born.
25 Jan 1939 The US Army Air Corps announced a new competition for a new fighter design. The requirements were 310-370 miles per hour top speed, 15,000 feet ceiling, and 2 hours endurance at cruise speed. The firm Curtiss-Wright would ultimate win the competition with the P-40 design.
24 Sep 1942 Adolf Hitler sacked General Franz Halder as Chief of Staff, replacing him with General Kurt Zeitzler.
25 Sep 1942 Hitler dismissed the Chief of the Army General Staff, Colonel-General Halder, and appointed General Zeitzler to succeed him. At the same time responsibility for the employment of General Staff Corps personnel was taken away from the Chief of the General Staff and given to the Army Personnel Office, which was directly subordinate to Hitler.
25 Sep 1963 Kurt Zeitzler passed away.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
27 Mar 2016 12:04:38 AM

Having taken over day-to-day control of the Eastern front, General Zeitzler had the courage to insist on certain measures, warning Hitler that if a particular tactical withdrawal was not made, the troops would lose confidence in their commanders. The F├╝hrer predictable outburst that Zeitzler was nothing but a staff officer, who could not possibly know anything about the troops, produced the uncompromising retort that he, Zeitzler, had commanded a company in action for three years during the Great War, had then become regimental adjutant for a year, had been twice wounded and promoted for gallantry.' I think my combat experience is as good as yours.' Hitler turned pale and said no more - on that subject.
2. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
6 Oct 2019 04:30:29 AM

Having lost the argument with Goring over the ability of the Luftwaffe to airlift sufficient supplies into besieged Stalingrad, General Zeitzler made a courageous act of solidarity. He put himself on a Stalingrad diet, refusing to eat any more than the ration received by the men of the Sixth Army. In the mess hall of the general staff he insisted that that he be served only the same rations. He visibly lost weight. Hitler informed him that he considered it unbecoming for his Chief of Staff to use up his strength on such gestures and ordered Zeitzler to start eating properly again. At the same time Hitler decreed that for a few weeks no Champaign or Cognac was to be consumed in the Mess.

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More on Kurt Zeitzler
Event(s) Participated:
» Invasion of Poland
» Invasion of France and the Low Countries
» Balkans Campaign
» Operation Barbarossa
» Attack on Dieppe
» Battle of Kursk

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General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte, 17 Oct 1944

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