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Georg Keppler
File:Georg Keppler.jpg
Born (1894-05-07)May 7, 1894
Died June 16, 1966(1966-06-16) (aged 72)
Place of birth Mainz
Place of death Hamburg
Allegiance Germany
Years of service 1913–1945
Rank SS-Obergruppenführer Collar Rank.svg Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS
Commands held 2. SS-Division Das Reich, 3. SS-Division Totenkopf, I. SS-Panzerkorps, III.(germanische) SS-Panzerkorps and the XVIII.SS-Armee-Korps
Awards Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes

Georg Keppler (May 7, 1894 – June 16, 1966) was an SS-Obergruppenführer (equiv. to a US Lieutenant General), a Heer and Polizei officer who served in both World War I and World War II. During World War II, Keppler commanded the 2. SS-Division Das Reich, 3. SS-Division Totenkopf, I. SS-Panzerkorps, III.(germanische) SS-Panzerkorps and the XVIII.SS-Armee-Korps. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

Early Life – World War I Service[edit | edit source]

Georg Keppler was a son of career-officer Oberst (Colonel) Otto Keppler and was born in Mainz, Grand Duchy of Hesse. After passing his Abitur in 1913, he decided to join the Army and in October the same year began his studies at the military academy in Glogau. Following his graduation in May 1914, he was assigned to the elite Füsilier Regiment General-Feldmarschall Prinz Albrecht von Preußen (1. Hannoversches) Nr. 73. It was with this regiment Leutnant Keppler saw, for the first time, action in World War I. However, he was wounded in August 1914 and after recovering was transferred to the 19. Reserve-Division. Before the war ended, Keppler was twice more wounded and received both classes of the Iron Cross. Following the Armistice in 1918, he decided to leave the Army and settled in Hanover.

Inter-war Years[edit | edit source]

On January 31, 1920 following in the steps of Theodor Eicke and Sepp Dietrich, Keppler enlisted to the Schutzpolizei (uniformed police) in Hanover. In July 1926, he left Hanover and joined the Landespolizei Thüringen (state police) in the town of Hildburghausen. For the next eight years Keppler remained a police officer, commanding various Landespolizei and Schutzpolizei regiments in Jena, Gotha and in Munich. After 14 years as a police officer, Keppler decided to leave and returned to the German Army with Infantrie-Regiment 32. However he did not stay in the army for long and on October 10, 1935 entered the SS-Verfügungstruppe. SS-Sturmbannführer (Major) Keppler was given command of the I. Battalion of SS-Standarte 1, which later became SS.VT-Standarte Deutschland. Following the annexation of Austria into Greater Germany, Keppler moved to Vienna and received a new command – SS.VT-Standarte 3. In September 1938, this unit was awarded the honor title Der Führer and was eventually redesignated as the SS-Regiment Der Führer. He led this unit throughout the pre-war period, during which the regiment served as a Wacht-Regiment of the Reichsprotektor (Governor) of Bohemia and Moravia Konstantin Freiherr von Neurath.

World War II service[edit | edit source]

In October 1939, SS-Regiment Der Führer became a component of 2nd SS Division Das Reich. Keppler continued as its regimental commander throughout the operations in the West, Balkans and in Russia. In August 1940, on personal recommendation of Paul Hausser, Keppler was awarded the Ritterkreuz. He remained with Das Reich until July 15, 1941, when he took over for injured Theodor Eicke as a commander of the Totenkopf Division. Upon Eicke's return on September 21, 1941, Keppler was given commanded of the SS-Division Nord. During the Fall 1941 he started to suffer from regular headaches and eventually had fallen seriously ill. After extensive medical examinations it was determined that Keppler had a brain tumor and spent the remainder of 1941 and the Spring 1942 in hospital under close medical care . In January 1942, Keppler was promoted to SS-Gruppenführer (equiv. to a US Major General) and three months later was given command of the 2. SS-Division Das Reich. In February 1943, on the advice of his doctors, Keppler removed himself from an active field duty and assumed a number of administrative positions within the Waffen-SS, first in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and later in Hungary. After his promotion to SS-Obergruppenführer (equiv. to a US Lieutenant General) he was given again a field assignment as a commander of the I. SS-Panzerkorps, which he led from August 16, 1944 until October 24, 1944, during the later stages of the Battle of Normandy. On October 30, 1944 Keppler returned to the Eastern Front, where he took over the III.(germanische) SS-Panzerkorps. He remained with this unit until April 2, 1945 when he became the last commander of the XVIII. SS-Armeekorps, surrendering to the U.S. forces on May 22, 1945. After the war Keppler was imprisoned, but was released in 1948 and settled in Hamburg, where he died on June 16, 1966.

Summary of his military career[edit | edit source]

Dates of rank[edit | edit source]

Notable decorations[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  • Krätschmer, Ernst-Günther (1999). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Waffen-SS [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Waffen-SS]. Coburg, Germany: Nation Europa Verlag. ISBN 978-3-920677-43-9. 
  • Williamson, Gordon Williamson (March 1994). The SS: Hitler's Instrument of Terror: The Full Story From Street Fighters to the Waffen-SS . Motorbooks International. ISBN 0-87938-905-2, ISBN 978-0-87938-905-5.
  • Yerger, Mark C. (October 1997). Waffen-SS Commanders: The Army, Corps and Divisional Leaders of a Legend : Augsberger to Kreutz. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 0-7643-0356-2, ISBN 978-0-7643-0356-2.
Military offices
Preceded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Matthias Kleinheisterkamp
Commander of 3. SS-Panzer Division Totenkopf
July 15, 1941 – September 21, 1941
Succeeded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Theodor Eicke
Preceded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Karl-Maria Demelhuber
Commander of 6. SS-Gebirgs-Division Nord
September, 1941 – October, 1941
Succeeded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Karl-Maria Demelhuber
Preceded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Matthias Kleinheisterkamp
Commander of 2. SS-Division Das Reich
April 01, 1942 – October 10, 1943
Succeeded by
SS-Brigadeführer Herbert-Ernst Vahl
Preceded by
SS-Brigadeführer Fritz Kraemer
Commander of I. SS-Panzer Corps
August 16, 1944 – October 24, 1944
Succeeded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Hermann Priess
Preceded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Felix Steiner
Commander of III.(germanische) SS-Panzerkorps
October 30, 1944 – February 04, 1945
Succeeded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Matthias Kleinheisterkamp
Preceded by
SS-Gruppenführer Heinz Reinfarth
Commander of XVIII. SS-Armeekorps
February 04, 1945 – May 08, 1945
Succeeded by
dissolved on May 8, 1945

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