Walter Warlimont (* 3 October 1894 Osnabrück, Germany - † 9 October
1976 Kreuth near the
Tegernsee) was a German officer known for his role in the
OKW inner circle (deputy chief).
World War I
before the start of World War I, in June 1914 he was commissioned
as a second lieutenant in the 10th Prussian Foot
Artillery Regiment, which was based in Alsace.
World War I he served as an artillery officer and battery commander
in France and later in
In late 1918 he served in the Freikorps
rifle corps of General Maercker
Between the Wars
Between the world wars he served in various military duties. In
1922 he served in the 6th
. In 1926, as a captain, he was the second
assistant to Chief of Staff (on the General Staff). In May 1929 he
traveled to the United
States and was attached to the U.S.
Army for a year
to study U.S. industrial-mobilization theory during wartime. This
led to his service between 1930 and 1933 as a major on the staff of
the Industrial Mobilization Section of the German Defense Ministry;
he served as its Chief in 1935 and 1936.
outbreak of the Spanish Civil War,
between August and November 1936, newly promoted Lieutenant-Colonel
Warlimont served as the Plenipotentiary Delegate of the Wehrmacht (Reich War Minister, OKH General Staff)
to the government of Spanish General Francisco Franco, in Spain.
German War Minister Werner von
directed Warlimont to coordinate German aid in support
of General Franco's battle against the Spanish legal Government
forces. Before flying to Spain to meet with Franco, Warlimont met
various Italian intelligence officials to discuss the Spanish Civil
Lieutenant-Colonel Warlimont became known as an up-and-coming staff
officer when, in 1937, he wrote the Warlimont Memorandum
calling for the reorganization of the German armed forces under one
staff unit and one supreme commander. The plan was to limit the
power of the high officer caste in favor of the German Führer:
. On the basis of this
memorandum, Hitler developed the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
(High command of the armed forces), with Hitler as supreme
commander. Warlimont was rewarded in 1939 with a post as deputy to
General Alfred Jodl
In 1937 he
served as commander of the 2nd Battalion, 34th Artillery Regiment, in Trier.
1938 he was promoted to colonel and became commander of the
World War II
In late 1938
he became Senior Operations Staff
Officer to General Wilhelm
.This was a coveted position, and so between September
1939 and September 1944 he served as Deputy Chief of the Operations
: WFSt: Armed Forces
Operations Staff). General Jodl was his superior officer, who
served as Chief of the Operations Staff, which was responsible for
all strategical, executive, and war-operations planning.
While serving on this military operations planning staff, in early
1939 he assisted in developing some of the German military invasion
plans of Poland. On 1 September 1939
military forces invaded Poland, thereby starting World War
saw his promotion to Generalmajor
and he assisted in developing the invasion plans of France. In
he continued to assist in developing invasion
operations into Russia; this earned his promotion to
His meteoric advancement in rank almost sputtered out on 3 November 1942
when he was relieved of his job when a
junior officer failed to timely process a message from Field
Marshal Erwin Rommel
. However, only
five days later he was recalled to duty to visit the French
in France to
coordinate the defense of their colonial territories from possible
occupation by the Allies.
February 1943 he traveled to Tunis to confer
with Field Marshal Rommel as to whether
or not the Germans should abandon North Africa.
In early 1944
he was promoted to General der
. As Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces Operations
Staff, he continued to give almost daily briefings to Hitler
regarding the status of German military operations.
, when the Allies invaded at Normandy
, France, Warlimont telephoned General Jodl
to request that the German tanks in Normandy should be released to
attack the Allied invaders. Jodl responded that he did not want to
make that decision; they would have to wait until Hitler awoke.
Once Hitler awoke and authorized the release of the tanks for a
counter-attack, it was too late to blunt the successful Allied
invasion. The following day, Hitler sent Warlimont to
inspect the German defences in Italy.
On 20 July
1944, General Warlimont was wounded during the ill-fated assassination bombing against Hitler in a
war-briefing bunker (the "Schwarze
Kapelle" in Rastenburg).
He suffered a mild head concussion. Later
in the day he telephoned Field Marshal Günther von Kluge
and convinced him
that Hitler was alive; this prompted von Kluge not to continue in
the anti-Hitler coup. Even though General Warlimont was wounded
alongside Hitler, nonetheless, he was wrongly viewed as possibly
having been involved in the anti-Hitler conspiracy. Because of
this, he belatedly received the special 20th
of July Wound Badge
, which was awarded only to those few
wounded or killed in the 20 July explosion.
On 22 July, Warlimont traveled to France to meet with Field Marshal
Rommel (who had been wounded a week earlier by an Allied airplane
attack), and Rommel's naval aide Vice Admiral Friedrich Ruge
, to discuss the deteriorating
battlefield situation in Normandy.
though Hitler (in Wolfsschanze) ordered Warlimont to travel to Paris on 1 August
to study the German military situation there with Field Marshal von
Kluge, Hitler thought that Warlimont might have been involved in
the conspiracy to have him assassinated (an action which Warlimont
On 2 August, Warlimont met outside Paris with
General Günther Blumentritt
and advised him that Hitler wanted the Germans to regain the attack
initiative against the Allies through Operation Luttich
/Liege. Later, Warlimont
urged General Heinrich Eberbach to
continue his attacks in the Falaise Pocket region.
Although all the German generals
informed Warlimont that they believed the attack would fail, he
cabled Hitler that the generals were "confident of success".
Even Warlimont's boss, General Jodl, believed similarly of
Warlimont's possible untrustworthiness. But Warlimont was not
involved with the anti-Hitler movement. Warlimont still carried out
Hitler's directives, but he was becoming disillusioned with Hitler
and realized that Germany would be defeated.
Despite his doubts about Warlimont's trustworthiness, during
September 1944 General Jodl considered making Warlimont his Chief
of Staff. However, at Warlimont's request, due to his dizzy spells
resulting from the 20 July assassination bombing against Hitler, he
was transferred and retired to the OKH Command Pool (the Führer
Reserve), and was not further employed during the war. Throughout
the war, Warlimont and his boss, General Jodl, had a very strained
After the War
Warlimont at the Nuremberg Trials,
With the German defeat in May 1945, Warlimont was held as a
October 1948, Warlimont was tried as a war criminal before a
tribunal in the High Command
Trial because he passed on Hitler's directive that Allied
commandos should be executed instead of being held as
Although he argued that he had tried to
dilute Hitler's directive, he was convicted and sentenced to life
imprisonment. However, in 1951 his sentence was reduced to 18
1957 there was an amnesty for certain prisoners, and he was finally
released from Landsberg
After the war he engaged in writing various
In 1962 he wrote Inside Hitler's Headquarters 1939 -
In an appraisal of General Warlimont's military capabilities,
German Field Marshall Erich von
- "Keitel, Jodl and Warlimont had never been in the war....Their
lack of fighting experience tended to make them underrate practical
difficulties, and encourage Hitler to believe that things could be
done that were quite impossible....." (as noted in The Battle of the Bulge: The German
View by Parker.
From an Allied perspective, Hugh
(in his The Spanish Civil War
- "Warlimont became renowned, with Keitel and Jodl, as one of the
German officers most loyal to Hitler and was accordingly sentenced
to 18 years' imprisonment in 1949 as a minor war criminal...."
Warlimont was interviewed for two episodes of The World at War
- Had the 20th of July bomb plot against Hitler succeeded
there would have been strikes and civil war within Germany...
Already there were fanatic National Socialists in the army with
ranks of captain and major; in the air force the doctrine was even
at the highest levels, and the SS was entirely a party group - a
state within a state. There were even divisions among the
people who for 12 years had heard the same party line and had been
effected [affected?] either favorably or
unfavorably from the NSDAP. Out of all this chaos there
was not a single person who could have brought these factions
together and achieve a peace and a democratic government.
(At a subsequent Nuremberg trial )
- Hitler's Generals: Authoritative Portraits of the Men Who
Waged Hitler's War, edited by Correlli Barnett.
- Inside Hitler's Headquarters: 1939-1945, Walter
- The Decision in the Mediterranean 1942 by Gen. W.
Warlimont in The Decisive Battles of WWII: The German
View, edited by H.A. Jacobsen (1965).
- "The Cossack Corps", General der Flieger Hellmuth Felmy and General der
Artillerie Walter Warlimont, US Army Historical Division,
Hailer Publishing, 2007