Dietrich von Choltitz

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I am a soldier. I get orders. I execute them.
Oh, Field Marshal, so far it would have been a funeral without military honors, maybe now it can become one with military honors.
Since Sevastopol, it has been my fate to cover the retreat of our armies and destroy the cities behind them.
We all share the guilt. We went along with everything, and we half-took the Nazis seriously instead of saying "to hell with you and your stupid nonsense". I misled my soldiers into believing this rubbish. I feel utterly ashamed of myself. Perhaps we bear even more guilt than these uneducated animals.

Dietrich Hugo Hermann von Choltitz (9 November 18944 November 1966) was a German General who served in the Royal Saxon Army during World War I and the German Army during World War II. He is chiefly remembered for his role as the last commander of Nazi-occupied Paris in 1944, when he disobeyed Adolf Hitler's orders to level the city, but instead surrendered it to Free French forces.

Quotes[edit]

  • Even today, I can not say with certainty whether he himself believed in his words or whether he was knowingly deceiving those around him to urge him to keep to the end.
    • About Adolf Hitler.
  • Have you read Churchill's speech? Appalling beyond all words! A Jewish brigade to go to Germany! Then the French will take the west and the Poles the east. The hate in that speech! I am completely shattered.
  • I asked the Field Marshal von Manstein if he would take part in the actions against Hitler. Manstein was sitting in a chair and reading the Bible. Quick, almost embarrassed, he put it aside and covered it with some papers.
    • Ich habe den Feldmarschall von Manstein gefragt, ob er an der Aktion gegen Hitler teilnehmen würde. Manstein sitzt in einem Sessel und liest in der Bibel. Schnell, fast verlegen, legt er sie zur Seite und deckt sie mit Papieren zu.
    • About Erich von Manstein, "Der Spiegel", nr. 14, p. 12, 2 April 1952, spiegel.de
  • I stood in front of him and I saw an old, stooped, bloated man with gray, slick hair, barely standing on his legs.
    • About Adolf Hitler. Quoted in one of the German newspapers from 1994.
  • I was at Stalingrad, you know... And from that time onwards I have done nothing but manoeuvre to escape encirclement by the enemy: retreat on retreat, defeat upon defeat. And here I am in marvellous Paris. What do you think is going to happen now?
  • If for the first time I had disobeyed, it was because I knew that Hitler was insane.
    • About refusing to obey Hitler's orders. Quoted in a 1964 interview.
  • No doubt: I was in front of a madman. The awareness that the existence of our people was in the hands of an insane person, unable to dominate the situation [...] weighed on me with all its strength.
    • About Adolf Hitler.
  • Oh, Field Marshal, so far it would have been a funeral without military honors, maybe now it can become one with military honors.
    • In a conversation with Günther von Kluge, August 1944 (quoted in a book brennt paris? - adolf hitler)
  • They were just a gang of riffraff. Everybody talks all the time of the "Resistance" or the "Forces Françaises de l'intérieur" as if they were organized and disciplined troops, as if they had any real authority. But they are nothing but freeshooters firing on my men. If it continues I promise you I will take tough action. I will order that Paris be defended and will destry the city before evacuating it.
  • We all share the guilt. We went along with everything, and we half-took the Nazis seriously instead of saying "to hell with you and your stupid nonsense". I misled my soldiers into believing this rubbish. I feel utterly ashamed of myself. Perhaps we bear even more guilt than these uneducated animals.
    • Quoted in History Channel 5-part series "The Wehrmacht" in the episode "The Crimes".


Disputed[edit]

  • The worst job I ever carried out - which however I carried out with great consistency - was the liquidation of the Jews. I carried out this thoroughly and entirely.
    • On 29 August 1944 during a private conversation with other officers at Trent Park. Randall Hansen says that the veracity of Choltitz's involvement in such massacres is uncertain but that it is possible, even probable, that Choltitz was one of the many German generals who did commit atrocities. Hansen goes on to say the quote was out of context and there has never been any corroborating evidence of Choltitz's involvement in the massacre of Jews.

Quotes about Dietrich von Choltitz[edit]

  • His care and many endeavors for the well-being of the ordinary soldier at the front are to be emphasized as special characteristics of our regimental commander and he did not shy away from his warning voice when commanded by the commando.
    • Heinz Zwiebler, Die Geschichte der 22. Infanterie-Division, 1939-1945
  • Just as consistently as Colonel von Choltitz forbade the execution of the commissar order (to liquidate the Soviet commissioners after captivity) in his regiment during the conquest of Sevastopol, he ordered a humane treatment of the wounded and captured Russian soldiers.
    • Heinz Zwiebler, Die Geschichte der 22. Infanterie-Division, 1939-1945
  • The car stopped and a general in a magnificent uniform stepped out; he was wearing a monocle and his chest was covered with decorations. He was a most corpulent man, strong-looking with wide shoulders, extremely stiff in manner, imposing, and what seemed to me a terribly Prussian appearance. The expression on his face was hard, hislips tiht, his gestures frigid. I kept myself modestly to one side, watching this character and thinking to myself that it would not be easy to deal with him.

External links[edit]

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