Fedor von Bock
(1880 - 1945)
Fedor von Bock was born in Kustrin, Germany, on December
3, 1880. He joined the German Army and during the First World War won
the Pour le Mérite. By 1918, Bock had reached the rank of major.
Bock was promoted to field marshal in 1940 for his
part in Germany's victorious
blitzkrieg campaign against France and the Low Countries. He was subsequently given the task of capturing
Moscow. In July 1941, his Army Group Center troops captured Minsk and,
three weeks later, reached Smolensk. Bock was only 225 miles from Moscow
when Adolf Hitler decided
to divert some of his army to Leningrad and Kiev. It was not until October
that Bock was able to resume his advance on Moscow.
Bad weather forced Bock to halt his advance on Moscow in December 1941. Hitler replaced Bock
with Gunther von Kluge but,
after only a month's rest, Bock was sent once again to the Soviet Union
to take control of Army Group South after the death of Walther von Reichenau.
After Hitler escalated his campaign in Russia to a war of annihilation, widespread
atrocities were committed against Soviet civilians by Reinhard
Heydrich's Einzatsgruppen units. This outraged many of Bock's subordinate officers, including
Army Group Center Chief of Staff and anti-Hitler conspirator Colonel
Henning von Tresckow.
Bock privately expressed outrage at the atrocities,
but is unwilling to take the matter directly to Hitler.
Instead, he sent one of his subordinate officers to lodge the complaint.
When his envoy returned empty-handed, Bock declared triumphantly,"Gentlemen!
Let it be noted that Field Marshal von Bock protested."
Hitler told Bock to
destroy Soviet forces west of the Don and to gain control of the Caucusus
oil fields. He initially had success at Voronezh, but Hitler was angered
by his slow progress and dismissed Bock him from active service on July
In 1944, Bock was approached by his nephew Henning
von Tresckow about the possibility of joining the July
Plot against Hitler.
Bock refused, but did not pass details onto the Gestapo.
After Hitler's suicide, Bock offered his services to the interim Doenitz government, but Bock and his wife and daughter were killed on May 4,
1945, during an Allied air raid on Hamburg.
Sources: Joric Center; Spartacus