First general killed in World War II (1939)

First general killed in World War II (1939)

On September 10, 1939, German General Wilhelm Fritz von Roettig was killed, making him the first general killed during World War II. He held the rank of SS-Brigadeführer and police general (German Generalmajor der Ordnungspolizei). The rank of SS-Brigadeführer belonged to the rank of general in the SS and corresponded to the rank of major general in the German armed forces (German: Wehrmacht).

Roettig belonged to the SS-Verfügungstruppe, the armed wing of the Nazi paramilitary organization Schutzstaffel (better known by the acronym SS), from which the notorious Waffen-SS later developed. At that time, the SS armed forces were relatively small and were generally of lower quality than Wehrmacht units. They showed fanatical courage, but they lacked adequate military knowledge and their equipment was generally worse than that of the regular army.

Von Roettig was killed in Poland, just nine days after the start of the war. He was killed when Polish troops ambushed his car and attacked him with heavy machine guns. The next general killed in World War II was Józef Kustroń, a Pole, who was assassinated on September 16 of that year, just seven days after von Roettig.

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