This day in 1881 marked the birth of Walther von Brauchitsch, one of the highest-ranking military commanders in Hitler’s Third Reich. Von Brauchitsch reached the rank of field marshal in the Wehrmacht, and was the commander-in-chief of the German Army (Oberbefehlshaber des Heeres). This meant that von Brauchitsch was the highest-ranking officer of the German land forces after Field Marshal Keitel (the head of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht – OKW).
As the supreme commander of the German Army, Field Marshal Brauchitsch outranked the so-called Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH). In fact, the OKH was the German Supreme HQ and had a tradition that stretched back to the time of Prussia and the German Empire (when the OKH was one of the most powerful institutions in the state in general).
Walther von Brauchitsch married Elizabeth von Karstedt, a wealthy heiress who allegedly inherited as many as 120,000 hectares of land. As general (and later field marshal), von Brauchitsch had a great influence on the development of the so-called Blitzkrieg strategy.Von Brauchitsch played an important role in Hitler’s invasion of the USSR in 1941 (Operation Barbarossa). However, the Germans were stopped within sight of Moscow in winter 1941, and never truly recovered from this defeat. To make matters worse, Brauchitsch suffered a heart attack around that time. Hitler dismissed him, and personally took over his position as the supreme commander of the German Army.