Gerhard Kegler, the general, who dared to disobey Himmler – Part IX

His Side of the Story 2

 

American and Soviet Forces Meet at Torgau April 1945 - Photo Credit: dw.com
American and Soviet Forces Meet at Torgau April 1945 – Photo Credit: dw.com

After much conscientious deliberation I decided to disobey the order, which I considered senseless and whose execution could not have brought any positive results, but would have cost great unnecessary human sacrifices. In spite of being threatened with court martial proceedings, I remained loyal to my conscience and relying on my three years of front experience in Russia I led the ‘division’ within four days in an orderly fashion to Küstrin with the purpose of integrating the troupes into the Oder front.

From the New York Times Edition of February 4, 1945
From the New York Times Edition of February 4, 1945

General Busse, former commanding officer of the 9th Army, describes in an article to the magazine ‘Wehrwissenschaftliche Rundschau’ the situation with the words, “He fled in a train to Küstrin”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The description and his conclusions do not agree with the facts.

Castle Hartenfels at Torgau - PhtoCredit: wikipedia.org
Recent Photo of Castle Hartenfels at Torgau – Photo Credit: wikipedia.org

In the early morning hours of February 2, 1945 I arrived with the last unit at Küstrin-Neustadt. There I received the order to report to the war tribunal at Torgau. Dr. Jur. Freiherr von Dörnberg was commissioned to act as investigating judge. He could not prevent that I be sentenced to death, as it was then customary, and be sent on ‘probation’ to the Eastern Front, where as a regular soldier I was seriously wounded on the first front line.

Thus, from the first to the last day not only as soldier did I prove my mettle, but also saved the lives of many comrades and civilians through my opposition against a senseless retaining order (Durchhaltebefehl in German – defense order to fight to the last man).

Signed: Gerhard Kegler, Majorgeneral in retirement

Dr. Dietrich Kegler, the late Majorgeneral’s son, is presently writing an epilogue, which I will publish in a future post, as soon as it becomes available.

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