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21 July 1890|
Bad Aibling, Bavaria
|Died||23 June 1944
near Rettenegg, Styria
|Buried at||Munich Northern Cemetery
Plot 114—Row 1—Grave 34
|Allegiance|| German Empire
|Years of service||1910–1944|
|Commands held||German 20th Mountain Army|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords|
Eduard Dietl (21 July 1890 – 23 June 1944) was a German general of World War II. He was born in Bad Aibling, Bavaria. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
Eduard Dietl was the son of a Bavarian finance official.1 In 1909, at his second attempt to join the 5. Bavarian Infanterie Regiment, he entered as an officer cadet. After studying at the Kriegschule in Munich, he was commissioned Leutnant in October 1911. In October 1915 he was promoted to Oberleutnant and served as a company commander with his regiment. In March 1918, he was promoted to Hauptmann. He was wounded four times during his actions in the First World War. He joined the DAP (Deutsche Arbeiter Partei) and Freikorps of Franz Ritter von Epp in 1919. Dietl was prepared with his company on 9 November 1923 to support Adolf Hitler and the rebels in the Beer Hall Putsch. However it did not come to an intervention.
Dietl commanded the German 3rd Mountain Division that participated in the German invasion of Norway on 9 and 10 April 1940. Most of this division was landed at Narvik by a German naval force of ten destroyers, commanded by Commodore Friedrich Bonte, on 9 April 1940. British naval forces led by the battleship HMS Warspite destroyed all ten destroyers that had ferried Dietl's troops to Narvik and managed to recapture the town. Dietl's mountaineers withdrew into the hills and later retook the town when Britain abandoned her efforts to evict the Germans from Norway due to German success on the Western Front (the Franco-German border, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands).
A convinced Nazi and one of Hitler's favourite generals, he was the first German soldier to receive, on 19 June 1940, the oak leaves cluster to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Dietl was also popular among his men, and his Finnish allies.3
Dietl subsequently commanded German forces in Norway and northern Finland and in Eastern Europe and rose to the rank of Generaloberst (equivalent to a US four-star general), commanding the 20th Mountain Army on the northern Eastern Front, where the results of the German Arctic campaign were disappointing. Dietl initially turned down his promotion, but was convinced to accept the appointment by Generaloberst Alfred Jodl.3 On 23 June 1944, a Junkers Ju 52 aircraft carrying Dietl, General der Infanterie Thomas-Emil von Wickede, General der Gebirgstruppe Karl Eglseer, Generalleutnant Franz Rossi and three other passengers crashed in the vicinity of the small village of Rettenegg, Styria; there were no survivors.
- Gefreiter: 29 January 1910
- Unteroffizier: 11 March 1910
- Fähnrich: 4 May 1910
- Leutnant: 26 October 1911
- Oberleutnant: 9 July 1915
- Hauptmann: 29 August 1919
- Major: 1 February 1930
- Oberstleutnant: 1 February 1933
- Oberst: 1 January 1935
- Generalmajor: 1 April 1938
- Generalleutnant: 1 April 1940
- General der Gebirgstruppe: 19 July 1940
- Generaloberst: 1 June 1942
- Prince Regent Luitpold Medal (Bavaria; 12 March 1911)
- Iron Cross of 1914;
- 2nd class (16 September 1914)
- 1st class (3 September 1916)
- Wound Badge in Black (1917) and Silver (1918)
- Military Order of Merit, 2nd class (?), 4th class with Swords (1918) and 4th class with Crown (?) (Bavaria)
- General Honour Decoration (Hesse)
- Army mountain guide badge (1 April 1931)
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
- Destroyer War Badge on 5 November 1940
- Golden Party Badge in Gold (1943)
- Blood Order (Medal commemorating the 9 November 1923 - Medaille zur Erinnerung an den 9. November 1923)
- Pilot/Observer Badge in Gold with Diamonds(?)
- Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918 (1935)
- Olympic Games Decoration, 1st class (1936)Note 1
- Wehrmacht Long Service Award, 4th class with 1st class (2 October 1936)
- Anschluss Medal (?)
- Sudetenland Medal with Prague Castle clasp (Medal commemorating the 13th March 1938 - Medaille zur Erinnerung an den 13. März 1938)
- Clasp to the Iron Cross of 1939;
- 2nd class (24 September 1939)
- 1st class (15 April 1940)
- Mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht on 10 June 1940
- Narvik Shield (21 March 1941)
- Eastern Front Medal (1942)
- Foreign awards
- Order of Merit, Commander's Cross with carry permit (Chile; 16 March 1934)
- Order of the White Rose, Grand Cross with Breast Star and Swords (Finland; 9 November 1941)
- Order of the Cross of Liberty, 1st class with Star, Oak leaves and Swords (1941) and Grand Cross with Swords (Finland; 20 January 1944)
- Grand Cross of the Order of the Cross of Liberty with swords (Finland)
|Date||Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording||Direct English translation|
|Monday, 10 June 1940||Der heldenhafte Widerstand den die Kampfgruppe des Generalleutnants Dietl seit vielen Wochen, vereinsamt unter den schwersten Bedingungen, in Narvik gegen eine überwältigende feindliche Übermacht geleistet hat, erhielt heute seine Krönung durch den völligen Sieg.5||The heroic resistance of Lieutenant General Dietl's battle group in Narvik, isolated under the most difficult conditions for many weeks, and against overwhelming enemy superiority, was today crowned by total victory.|
- Dietl is shown wearing this neck decoration in pre-war photos and on his war time ribbon bar.
- Williamson and McGregor 2005.
- "article, June 10, 1940". Time Magazine..
- Lunde 2011, p. 145.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 272.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, p. 195.
- Berger, Florian (1999). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges With Oak Leaves and Swords. The Highest Decorated Soldiers of the Second World War (in German). Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 978-3-9501307-0-6.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6.
- Schaulen, Fritjof (2003). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe I Abraham – Huppertz Oak Leaves Bearers 1940 – 1945 Contemporary History in Color I Abraham – Huppertz (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 978-3-932381-20-1.
- Lunde, Henrik O. (2011). Finland's War of Choice. Casemate Publishers, ISBN 978-1-935149-48-4.
- Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
- Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6.
- Williamson, Gordon; McGregor, Malcolm (2005). German commanders of World War II. 1, Army. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-596-9.
- Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, 1. Januar 1942 bis 31. Dezember 1943 The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 2, 1 January 1942 to 31 December 1943 (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2.
Media related to Eduard Dietl at Wikimedia Commons
Arrival at Hitler-Mannerheim meeting (see 53 seconds into clip). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqpnDzNxMN8&feature=related
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