hermann-bernhard-ramckeRamcke, Hermann Bernard, born 24-01-1889 in Schleswig, to a family of farmers. He is born one month after Adolf Hitler . He joined the German Imperial Navy in 1905 as ship’s boy. During the First World War he served aboard the armoured cruiser Prinz Adalbertin the Baltic and North Sea. When the Adalbert suffered extensive damage in 1915, fearing that the war might end before the ship returned to service, Ramcke transferred to the marines. The Adalbert returned to service months later and was lost with 672 of her crew, as Ramcke would learn from a short telegram received at the front. Ramcke fought in the West with the German Marine-Infanterie, mainly in the area of Flanders. In 1914 he was decorated with the Iron Cross second class and later the Iron Cross first class. After a defensive action against three British attacks he was decorated with the Prussian Golden Merit Cross, the highest decoration for non-commissioned officers in the German Imperial Forces, and became a deputy-commissioned officer.  In 1918 he attained the rank of Leutnant der Marine-Infanterie.RAM1

By the time the Armistice was signed, he had risen to the rank of Oberleutnant. On 19-07-1940, Ramcke was transferred to the 7th Fliegerdivision under the command of General der Flieger, Kurt Student and was promoted to Oberst. At the age of 51 he successfully completed the parachute qualification course. In May 1941 working with the division Stab he helped plan and also took part in Operation Merkur, the airborne attack on Crete. Ramcke led the Fallschirmjäger-Sturm-Regiment 1, and also led Kampfgruppe West. After the successful, but costly, victory in Crete, ram2 remainders of several Fallschirmjäger units were formed into a ad-hoc, and command was given to Ramcke. He was also promoted to Generalmajor on 22-07-1941. In 1942 Fallschirmjäger-Brigade Afrika was sent to North Africa to join Erwin Rommel’s Afrikakorps.

The brigade was renamed Fallschirmjäger-Brigade Ramcke in July and supported the offensive towards the Suez Canal, but when the offensive got bogged down they entered the line at El Alamein. The British attack at the Second Battle of El Alamein did not directly strike the unit but they soon became involved in heavy fighting. During the withdrawal of the Afrikakorps, the Brigade was surrounded and written off as lost by the high command since it had no organic transport. Rather than surrender, Ramcke led his troops out of the British trap and headed west, losing about 450 men in the process. They soon captured a British supply column which provided not only trucks but food, tobacco and other luxuries. About 600 of the paras later rejoined the Afrikakorps in late November 1942. Ramcke was sent back to Germany, where he was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knights Cross. In 1943 Ramcke, now a Generalleutnant, took command of 2nd Fallschirmjäger-Division. The division was deployed to Italy, to help bolster the German forces there to ensure that Italy did not join the Allies. When Italy signed the armistice with the Allies on 8 September 1943, the division, along with other German units, took part in Operation Achse to take control of the country. Ramcke led his division in an assault on Rome, and secured the city two days later. The division continued serving in Italy for a while, during which time Ramcke was wounded after his car was forced off the road by an Allied fighter-bomber. Ramcke returned to command the division in early 1944. By this time 2nd Para was fighting on the Eastern Front, during the withdrawal from the Bug River area. Ramcke fell ill during this time and was sent back to Germany for recuperation. He assumed command again in May 1944 to oversee the rebuilding of the 2ndPara-Division, which was based near Cologne. Following the Allied D-Day landings on 6 June, 2nd Fallschirmjäger-Division File:2nd Fallschirmjäger Division Logo.svg was sent to the Brittany region of France, and took up the defence of Brest. Following Operation Cobra, the Allied breakout from Normandy, Major-General Troy H. Middleton U.S. VIII Corps hooked left from Normandy and attacked the Brittany region. The German defenders in the region fell back on Brest, and Ramcke assumed command of the garrison, now known as Festung Brest. Brest was largely surrounded and infiltrated by partisan guerillas who succeeded in killing one of Ramcke’s junior officers in the seat next to him as they drove through an ambush. Commanding about 35,000 German troops Ramcke led the defense of Brest from 11 August until 19 September.  Ramcke refused early requests to surrender and followed orders to hold out as long as possible. On the final day of battle, it was only after escaping a strafing attack during a personal reconnoiter of the area, and the entry of American forces into the bunker, that General der Fallschirmtruppe Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke surrendered, on the same day as he was awarded the Swords & Diamonds to the Knights Cross.


Ramcke was moved to the United States as a prisoner of war and later to England,and France. While in England he bragged to fellow prisoners about how he had kept the Americans waiting while he got his final report sent off via radio. This was recorded a secret POW Camp system which spied on high ranking German officers to see if they would tell one another any important information.   While a POW at Camp Clinton, Mississippi, he wrote a letter to Byron Price. Arguing in the letter that the treatment of Germany following World War I had led to National Socialism and World War II, he protested the Morgenthau Plan as another attempt to enforce harsh treatment upon Germany. Citing General Middleton‘s remarks as verification, Ramcke detailed his efforts to protect American POWs and otherwise uphold the laws of war and stated he was “convinced that all other German commanders have acted in the same way”.

In 1951 Ramcke was charged with war crimes in France, relating to the destruction of Brest and murders of civilians, but managed to escape from captivity to Germany. He returned voluntarily and was sentenced to five years imprisonment by a French court in March 1951, but was released on 24 June 1951. Testifying in his defense was American General Troy Middleton, to whose forces Ramcke had surrendered in the autumn of 1944.

After the war, Ramcke and Middleton maintained a correspondence for about fifteen years.

Following his release from nearly 7 years captivity, Ramcke, through his public actions, became seen as a dedicated nationalist by his fellow generals and supported extreme right-wing movements such as the Naumann-Kreis in Germany. In November 1952, he told a group of former SS-men attending a HIAG meeting they should be proud of being blacklisted, while pointing out that in the future their blacklist would instead be seen as a “list of honor”. Ramcke’s remarks caused a furor in Germany; even the former SS General Felix Steiner distanced himself from them. Konrad Adenauer was so furious with Ramcke’s remarks that he directed Thomas Dehler, the German federal Minister of Justice, to investigate the possibility of prosecuting Ramcke. Adenauer publicly decried Ramcke’s remarks as “irresponsible” and his associated behavior as “foolishness”—a reaction probably prompted because Adenauer’s government had made a significant effort to obtain early release for Ramcke from French imprisonment.

Ramcke’s intent, as stated by himself and his supporters, in his actions following the war was to again seek to protect his men, both in their reputations and their future, such as in cautioning against their being used as “cannon fodder” in the speech to ex-paratroopers during the rearmament debate.This was consistent with his behavior throughout his career during which his superiors found him to be a demanding subordinate in his advocacy for the needs of his men.Ramcke published two autobiographies, one during the war and the other in 1951. He died in 1968.




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Candid collection 1934


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Adolf Wagner

Hitler standing with his good friend and comrade, Adolf Wagner, the Gauleiter of Munich, 1937. Their voices were similar and whenever Hitler was under the weather or had something going on, Wagner would read his speeches for him, stating that the Fuehrer was unavailable. They had the same cadence, intonations and inflections.tumblr_o93md6FFGF1toqeyzo1_540

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