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Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist

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Title: Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Timeline of World War II (1942), Eberhard von Mackensen, Alexander Löhr, Hasso von Manteuffel, Günther von Kluge
Collection: 1881 Births, 1954 Deaths, Commanders of the Military Order of Savoy, Field Marshals of Nazi Germany, German Military Personnel of World War I, German People Who Died in Soviet Detention, German Prisoners of War, German Untitled Nobility, Grand Crosses of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary (Military), Kleist Family, Knights of the Order of Saint John (Bailiwick of Brandenburg), Military Personnel Referenced in the Wehrmachtbericht, People Extradited from Germany, People Extradited from Yugoslavia, People Extradited to the Soviet Union, People Extradited to Yugoslavia, People from Braunfels, People from the Rhine Province, Prussian Army Personnel, Recipients of the Clasp to the Iron Cross, 1St Class, Recipients of the Hanseatic Cross (Hamburg), Recipients of the Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918, Recipients of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords, Recipients of the Knight's Cross with Swords, Recipients of the Military Merit Cross (Austria-Hungary), 3Rd Class, Recipients of the Military Merit Order (Bavaria), 4Th Class, Recipients of the Order of Michael the Brave, 1St Class, Reichswehr Generals, World War II Prisoners of War Held by the Soviet Union, World War II Prisoners of War Held by the United States
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist

Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist
Generaloberst Ewald von Kleist in 1940.
Born (1881-08-08)8 August 1881
Braunfels an der Lahn, Province of Hesse-Nassau, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Died 13 November 1954(1954-11-13) (aged 73)
Vladimir, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer
Years of service 1900–38; 1939–44
Rank Generalfeldmarschall
Commands held XXII.Armeekorps, Panzergruppe von Kleist, 1st Panzergruppe, 1st Panzer Army, Army Group A
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords

Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist (8 August 1881 – 13 November 1954) was a German field marshal during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.


  • Early life and education 1
  • World War II 2
  • Awards 3
  • References 4
    • Citations 4.1
    • Bibliography 4.2

Early life and education

Born in Braunfels an der Lahn into an aristocratic family, Kleist was educated in a German military school and graduated in 1900. He served as a lieutenant of Hussars and a regimental commander in World War I. After the war he served as a commander of a cavalry division from 1932 to 1935.

World War II

Kleist was semi-retired when, in August 1939, he was recalled to active duty at the age of fifty-eight. During the invasion of Poland, Kleist commanded the XXII Panzer Corps. In the Battle of France he commanded Panzergruppe von Kleist, consisting of XLI Panzer Corps and XIX Panzer Corps (under Heinz Guderian), the two southernmost armoured corps in the drive to the English Channel. During this time he attempted to relieve Guderian of his command after he disobeyed orders to halt their advance toward the Channel; the Army Group A commander, Gerd von Rundstedt, refused to confirm the order, and the Franco-British armies became trapped.

In April 1941, Kleist commanded 1st Panzergruppe, comprising III, XIV and XLVIII Panzer Corps and XXIX Infantry Corps, which spearheaded the Blitzkrieg-style invasions of Yugoslavia and Greece. With this formation he also participated in the subsequent Operation Barbarossa as part of Army Group South.

In 1942, Kleist was sent to command troops in the Caucasus in order to capture important oil wells in the area. On 22 November 1942, he was placed in command of Army Group A. He was promoted to field marshal in 1943. He was relieved of his command in March 1944 for ordering the 8th Army to retreat when it was in danger of destruction by the Soviet Red Army, in explicit violation of Adolf Hitler's orders. After his dismissal by Hitler, Kleist went into enforced retirement.

Kleist was captured by U.S. forces in 1945, and was sent to Yugoslavia to face war crimes charges in 1946. In 1948 he was extradited to the Soviet Union where he was given a 10-year sentence in 1952 for war crimes. He died in captivity in Vladimir Prison in 1954, the highest ranked German officer to die in Soviet captivity. Of note is the fact that Kleist was charged, among other things, with "alienating, through friendship & generosity, the peoples of the Soviet Union".[1]





  1. ^ "Hitler's Generals" by Samuel W. Mitcham Jr. (2003).
  2. ^ a b c d Thomas 1997, p. 375.
  3. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 259.
  4. ^ a b c Scherzer 2007, p. 447.
  5. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 58.
  6. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 43.


  • Berger, Florian (1999). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges [With Oak Leaves and Swords. The Highest Decorated Soldiers of the Second World War] (in German). Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger.  
  • Kemp, Anthony (1990 reprint). German Commanders of World War II (#124 Men-At-Arms series). Osprey Pub., London. ISBN 0-85045-433-6.
  • Mitcham, Samuel (2003). Hitler's Generals.
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2004). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe II Ihlefeld - Primozic [Oak Leaves Bearers 1940 – 1945 Contemporary History in Color II Ihlefeld - Primozic] (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite.  
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag.  
  • Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag.  

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