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Fritz von Brodowski
Born (1886-11-26)November 26, 1886
Died October 28, 1944(1944-10-28) (aged 57)
Place of birth Köslin, Pomerania, German Empire
Place of death near Besancon, France
Allegiance Flag of the German Empire.svg German Empire
Flag of Germany.png Weimar Republic
Flag of Germany (1935–1945).svg Nazi Germany
Service/branch Balkenkreuz.svg Wehrmacht Heer
Years of service 1904-45
Rank Generalleutnant

Friedrich Wilhelm Konrad von Brodowski, known as Fritz, (November 26, 1886 – October 28, 1944) was a German army general, controversially killed while in French custody during World War II. His death led to the murder, by way of a reprisal, of an imprisoned French army general, Gustave Mesny.


Fritz von Brodowski was the son of Prussian General Fedor von Brodowski (1841–1923).[1]

Von Brodowski enlisted on March 10, 1904, as a cadet in the 6th (Brandenburg) Cuirassiers "Emperor Nicholas I of Russia" of the Prussian Army in Brandenburg an der Havel. From November 6, 1904 to July 8, 1905 he studied at the Glogau Military School and subsequently was commissioned as a Lieutenant. Von Brodowski served within his regiment from October 21, 1908 as the "Gerichtsoffizier" (that is, an officer for legal matters) and was then transferred on October 18, 1909 to the Guards Cuirassiers. Von Brodowski underwent further training from October 1, 1912, at the Prussian Military Academy, which he left upon the outbreak of World War I.

World War I

After mobilization von Brodowski served first as a squadron officer and then, from August 6, 1914, as an aide-de-camp on the staff of the 3rd Cavalry Brigade (German Empire) and 1st Cavalry Brigade. Von Brodowski was promoted to captain on December 24, 1914. At the end of June 1917 he was transferred to the reserve squadron of the Guards Cuirassier Regiment and commanded the reserve battalion of the Kaiser Franz Garde-Grenadier-Regiment 2. A month later, Von Brodowski joined a battalion of the Queen Elizabeth Garde-Grenadier-Regiment Nr. 3. There he was entrusted with the leadership of the Fusilier Battalion on August 4, 1917. Von Brodowski was wounded on September 30, 1918, during the defensive battles on the Western Front near Cambrai and Saint-Quentin, and spent the remaining weeks of the war in hospital.

For his wartime achievements, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern, the Iron Cross first and second class, the Wound Badge in black as well as the Knight's Cross 2nd Class of the Order of the Zähringer Lion with swords and oak leaves and the Knight's Cross First Class of the Order of Albert with swords.[2]

After his recovery, in December 1918, von Brodowski was transferred to the General Staff of the army in Berlin. On January 18, 1919, he returned to the demobilizing Guards Cuirassiers. Elements of the regiment became Freikorps formations and Von Brodowski on February 1, 1919 was appointed the leader of a volunteer squadron. On April 11, 1919, he was reappointed to the Provisional Reichswehr and on November 1, 1919 assigned to the 3rd Cavalry Regiment. Von Brodowski was appointed squadron commander of the 4th (Prussian) Cavalry Regiment from February 24, 1920 to March 31, 1922. He was then transferred to the Ministry of Defense in Berlin for one year. Von Brodowski was promoted Lieutenant Colonel on April 1, 1931 and became on November 1, 1931 commander of the 16th Cavalry Regiment in Kassel. In this position he was promoted Colonel on October 1, 1933. With the transition of the Reichswehr into the Wehrmacht Von Brodowski was appointed inspector of military recruitment, Ulm, on April 13, 1935. Von Brodowski was promoted Major General on January 1, 1937. From May 1938 to December 26, 1941, he was Inspector of the Armed Forces Reserves Stuttgart.

World War II

In June 1942, von Brodowski was appointed head of the Feld-Ersatz-Division B[3] (Replacement Field Division B), gathering replacement troops to defend the River Don line. From September 25, 1942 to March 14, 1943, he commanded the 404th Division (Landesschützen)[4] in Dresden. Von Brodowski was then appointed Chief of Staff for instruction to the Commander of the Wehrmacht in Netherlands. Von Brodowski was then successively Commander in Kiev, Ukraine in the summer of 1943, then Commander in Lille.

On April 15, 1944 von Brodowski became Commander at Clermont-Ferrand, where he commanded Hauptverbindungsstäbe (HVS) 588,[5] responsible for 9 departments in central France:

  • Corrèze
  • Haute-Vienne
  • Creuse
  • Dordogne
  • Haute-Loire
  • Puy-de-Dôme
  • Cantal
  • Allier
  • Indre

The "Hauptverbindungsstäbe" were the main staff liaison placed with regional prefects who controlled, through the Verbindungsstäbe (VS), departmental prefects.

In May 1944, General von Brodowski, worried about concentrations of the maquis in Cantal, a sparsely populated area of 65,000 square kilometers,[1] asked the Kommandant Heeresgebiet Südfrankreich (KHS), the military command of the Army area in Southern France, to transfer to Lyon troop units to combat the resistance.[5] General Curt von Jesser in May 1944 created the Jesser Column, a force of about 5,000 soldiers, including units of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, to suppress and destroy the Maquis in the Auvergne and Limousin regions from June to August 1944.[1] These units wiped out the population of the town of Oradour-sur-Glane in June 1944, shortly after the Allied landings in Normandy, and Brodowski was therefore seen by the French as one of those responsible.[1]

In September 1944, von Brodowski was the head of the Kampfgruppe "von Brodowski" and fought in the Battle of the Vosges.[6] Von Brodowski was captured by French troops near Jussey on October 27, 1944.[6] He was imprisoned in the fortress of Besançon and was there held in solitary confinement by the French Forces of the Interior. He was shot dead on October 28 by his guards. According to the guards von Brodowski had attempted to escape.[1] Von Brodowski was buried with military honors by the French military authorities, who investigated the guards' actions and came to the formal conclusion that von Brodowski had attempted to escape. However, the killing remained unresolved.[1]

Von Brodowski's death was announced on November 8, 1944, by the French channel Radio Londres and the Swiss News Agency on the following day. Adolf Hitler then ordered the randomly chosen murder of a French general, Maurice Mesny, as a reprisal.[7] Mesny was killed by the SS in January 1945[1] in the course of a prison transfer.



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Weitkamp, Sebastian (2008). Braune Diplomaten: Horst Wagner und Eberhard von Thadden als Funktionäre der "Endlösung". J.H.W. Dietz, Bonn. pp. 331–333. ISBN 978-3801241780. Retrieved January 11, 2015. 
  2. Rangliste des Deutschen Reichsheeres, [Register of the German Army] Publ.: Reichswehrministerium, Mittler & Sohn, Berlin 1924, p. 142.
  3. "Feldersatz-Division B". Lexikon der Wehrmacht. 
  4. The Landesschützen were territorial infantry units composed of older personnel used for guard and garrison duties
  5. 5.0 5.1 Fritz von Brodowski, Kurzbiographie Archived September 24, 2015, at the Wayback Machine., Institut d'histoire du temps présent (IHTP) of the CNRS; undated
  6. 6.0 6.1 Kommandant Heeresgebiet Südfrankreich: Schlussbericht für die Zeit vom 1.7.-2.9.1944, (Commander Army Area Southern France: War Diary for the period 1.7.-2.9.1944) BA-MA RW 36/1316, Institut d'histoire du temps présent (IHTP); undated
  7. Weitkamp, Sebastian (2006). Mord mit reiner Weste: Die Ermordung des Generals Maurice Mesny im Januar 1945. In: Timm C. Richter. Krieg und Verbrechen. Meidenbauer, München. pp. 31–40. ISBN 3-89975-080-2. Retrieved January 11, 2015. 


  • Louis Le Moigne and Marcel Barbanceys, Sédentaires, réfractaires et maquisards : L'Armée secrète en Haute-Corrèze (1942–1944), Association Amicale des Maquis A. S. de Haute-Corrèze, 1979.
  • Dermot Bradley (Publ.): Die Generale des Heeres 1921–1945. Die militärischen Werdegänge der Generale, sowie der Ärzte, Veterinäre, Intendanten, Richter und Ministerialbeamten im Generalsrang. Vol 2: von. Blanckensee–von. Czettritz und Neuhauß. Biblio Verlag, Osnabrück 1993, ISBN 3-7648-2424-7, pp. 276–278.
  • Fritz von Brodowski on Axis History Forum

External links

  • Kommandant Heeresgebiet Südfrankreich: Schlussbericht für die Zeit vom 1.7.-2.9.1944, BA-MA RW 36/1316, bei Institut d'histoire du temps présent (IHTP)
  • Archivbestand (PDF; 127 kB), bei Institut für Zeitgeschichte

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