Model, Field Marshal Walther, 1891-1945

Model represented a new middleclass in the German Army and was one of Hitler’s more trusted Army Commanders. He built himself a reputation as an energetic and forceful commander at the head of the Sixteenth Army in France and the 3rd Panzer Division in the USSR. As the older Army Commanders lost HITLER’s confidence, Model was given greater responsibilities. He helped plan the great tank battle at Kursk which ended in a defeat for the Germans; however Model held the Front together with his tireless energy. In 1944 Hitler used him as a trouble-shooter, transferring him from front to front. In early 1944 he commanded Army Group North and stopped the Soviet advance into the Baltic States. He also commanded Army Group Center after the opening of the Belorussian Campaign and the collapse of all resistance on that Front. Model succeeded in restoring stability to the front and stopped the Soviet armies outside Warsaw. On 17 August he was transferred to replace KLUGE as Commander in Chief of the west but found there was little he could do to repair the front. In September he was replaced by RUNDSTEDT and given command of Army Group B in Belgium, which was driven back to Holland shortly afterwards. However he was in the vicinity of the British paratroop attack on Arnhem and successfully prevented the Allies gaining an early bridgehead over the Rhine. Through careful reorganization of his forces he was able to mount the Ardennes offensive which nearly broke the back of the Allied advance. However when the offensive petered out, Model found himself trapped in a pocket in the Ruhr. He tried in vain to break out and decided to disband the Army Group on 15 April 1945. He shot himself on 21 April because he felt it was a disgrace for a field marshal to surrender.

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