Colonel General Franz Halder was the Chief of the General Staff of the German army during the Hitler’s regime. After World War II the United States rewarded him with the U.S. Meritorious Civilian Service Award.
On this day died German Colonel General Franz Halder. He is significant by the fact that he was the Chief of the General Staff (i.e. head of the Supreme High Command) of the German army during the Hitler’s regime. This function in Germany was called “Chef des Generalstabes des Heeres”. It is widely known that the General Staff, i.e. Supreme High Command, played a key role in the military, which was a tradition since Prussian times. Indeed, by all accounts, Prussians invented the concept of the general staff as the focal point for planning and managing war operations.
Franz Halder was born in Würzburg, as the son of a general. In fact, his family allegedly had about 300 years long tradition of service in the Bavarian army. Franz was trained as an artillery officer. He became known as a good staff officer and organizer, so that he advanced to the rank of General der Artillerie even before World War II. A year before the attack on Poland, Halder was appointed Chief of Staff of the German Army. He had a major role in the development of plans to attack neighboring countries. Indeed, during the World War II, there was an unwritten division according to which Halder’s “General des Heeres” planned actions on the Eastern Front, while the Western Front was largely the responsibility of Keitel’s “Oberkommando der Wehrmacht”.
The highest rank Halder achieved was Colonel-General (Generaloberst), which is just below the rank of field marshal. In 1942 there were some disputes between Hitler and Halder, probably because Halder criticized Hitler’s irrational actions on the Eastern Front. Halder was therefore removed from the position of Chief of Staff. After Stauffenberg’s assassination attempt on Hitler, General Halder was arrested in the purges, although it seemed that he did not took part in the assassination. He stayed in various prison camps until the end of the war.
The Allies arrested Halder in 1945 and placed him in custody. He was released after two years, and later even became an American advisor for war history. He participated in the post-war reconstruction of Germany. The United States rewarded him with the U.S. Meritorious Civilian Service Award.