Historical records matching Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring
About Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring
Albert Kesselring (30 November 1885 – 16 July 1960) was a German Luftwaffe Generalfeldmarschall during World War II. In a military career that spanned both World Wars, Kesselring became one of Nazi Germany's most skillful commanders, being one of 27 soldiers awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. Nicknamed "Smiling Albert" by the Allies and "Uncle Albert" by his troops, he was one of the most popular generals of World War II with the rank and file.
Kesselring joined the Bavarian Army as an officer cadet in 1904, and served in the artillery branch. He completed training as a balloon observer in 1912. During World War I, he served on both the Western and Eastern fronts and was posted to the General Staff, despite not having attended the War Academy. Kesselring remained in the Army after the war but was discharged in 1933 to become head of the Department of Administration at the Reich Commissariat for Aviation, where he was involved in the re-establishment of the aviation industry and the laying of the foundations for the Luftwaffe, serving as its Chief of Staff from 1936 to 1938.
During World War II he commanded air forces in the invasions of Poland and France, the Battle of Britain and Operation Barbarossa. As Commander-in-Chief South, he was overall German commander in the Mediterranean theatre, which included the operations in North Africa. Kesselring conducted an uncompromising defensive campaign against the Allied forces in Italy until he was injured in an accident in October 1944. In the final campaign of the war, he commanded German forces on the Western Front. He won the respect of his Allied opponents for his military accomplishments, but his record was marred by massacres committed by troops under his command in Italy.
After the war, Kesselring was tried for war crimes and sentenced to death. The sentence was subsequently commuted to life imprisonment. A political and media campaign resulted in his release in 1952, ostensibly on health grounds. He was one of only three Generalfeldmarschalls to publish his memoirs, entitled Soldat bis zum letzten Tag (A Soldier to the Last Day).