Burgdorf file photo [9976]

Wilhelm Burgdorf

Given NameWilhelm
Born15 Feb 1895
Died2 May 1945


ww2dbaseWilhelm Burgdorf was born in FĂĽrstenwalde, Germany. He joined the German Army as an officer cadet as WW1 began, and was commissioned as an infantry officer in 1915. During the inter-war years, he remained in the German Army. In 1935, at the rank of major, he was appointed an instructor at the military academy in Dresden, Germany. In 1937, he was assigned to the IX Corps as a staff officer. In 1938, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Between May 1940 and Apr 1942, he was the commanding officer of the 529th Infantry Regiment. In May 1942, he was the deputy chief of the personnel department of the German Army, followed by the appointment as the chief in Oct 1944. In the same month, he also began serving as Adolf Hitler's chief adjutant.

ww2dbaseAfter the failed July Plot assassination attempt, many German leaders were implicated, including Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Rommel was initially requested to visit Berlin, Germany for what was said to be a meeting with Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel for his next assignment, but Rommel sensed danger and refused to visit, citing health concerns from his recent injury to the head. Instead, Keitel sent Burgdorf to Rommel's home, accompanied by fellow General Ernst Maisel, driven in a car by SS driver Heinrich Doose. At Rommel's study on 14 Oct 1944, Burgdorf informed Rommel of his implication in the plot, and presented him the choice of being tried by the People's Court or commit suicide; Maisel largely remained silent as the witness. After dismissing Maisel, Burgdorf also secretly presented a cyanide capsule meant to help Rommel avoid unnecessary suffering. He escorted the cooperative Rommel into his car, ordered Doose to drive several miles away from Rommel's home, where the car came to rest. Burgdorf dismissed Maisel and Doose, and witnessed Rommel biting down on the cyanide capsule. He then ordered Maisel and Doose to return, drove Rommel's body to a nearby hospital for a proof of death, and rejected the doctor's recommendation for an autopsy.

ww2dbaseAs Soviet troops neared Berlin, Burgdorf was among the men who coordinated the defenses from Hitler's underground bunker. On 28 Apr 1945, when it was discovered that Heinrich Himmler was attempting to negotiate his surrender, Burgdorf was named by Hitler as a member of the tribunal who was to put Himmler and his associates on trial. On the next day, he was among the four men who witnessed and signed Hitler's last will and testament. Following Hitler's suicide, he also killed himself on 1 or 2 May 1945.

Terry Brighton. Patton, Montgomery, Rommel.

Last Major Revision: Apr 2010

Wilhelm Burgdorf Timeline

15 Feb 1895 Wilhelm Burgdorf was born.
2 May 1945 Wilhelm Burgdorf passed away.


German Army General Wilhelm Burgdorf, date unknown

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German Army General Wilhelm Burgdorf, date unknown

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