On this day, one of Hitler’s most important field marshals – Erich von Manstein – was born. It is interesting that he, despite having a sky-high position in the Wehrmacht, was never a member of the Nazi party. Manstein was one of the people who contribute to the notion that the German army in World War II actually was not genocidal, but rather a professional military organization. In fact, it seems that most crimes were committed by other organizations, tightly associated with Nazism, like the notorious SS. However, this interpretation is itself highly controversial.
It is interesting that von Manstein was born under the surname Lewinski – probably of Polish origin. He received the surname Manstein when he was adopted. Namely, his biological father, General von Lewinski, had as many as ten children, so he gave little Erich up for adoption to his wife’s relatives (brother-in-law and sister-in-law) that were unable to have children of their own.
Von Manstein became one of Hitler’s 26 field marshals. It is an interesting coincidence that Napoleon also had exactly 26 marshals.
Field Marshal von Manstein held high command positions on the bloody Eastern Front during World War II. He commanded an entire army group. However, on this position, he came into conflict with Hitler, who had his own ideas about how the war should be led, despite not being a trained military strategist. Finally the Führer removed Manstein from the chain of command. Hitler’s actions eventually led to the loss of countless soldiers on the battlefield.