Friedrich Fromm was born in Berlin on October 8, 1888. He joined the German Army and by the end of the
First World War had reached the rank of lieutenant.
Fromm remained in the army and worked under General
Ludwig Beck, the chief of general staff. In 1937, he was made commander
of the Replacement Army and during the Second World War was chief of
An early supporter of Adolf
Hitler, Fromm became disillusioned with his management of the war
and, by 1942, Fromm favored a negotiated peace with the Soviet Union.
Fromm tolerated the conspiratorial activities of his
immediate subordinates — General Friedrich
Olbricht, Colonel Claus
von Stauffenberg, and Colonel Albrecht von Mertz von Quiernheim
— who were planning the July
1944 coup d'etat. He refused to commit himself to any attempt and
was therefore distrusted by the conspirators.
On July 20, 1944, Fromm expressed outrage when confronted
with news from Olbricht,
and Mertz of Hitler's "assassination" and of their dispatch
by telex for the Home Army to march on Berlin and secure the Government
Quarter under the secret orders of the emergency contingency plan Operation
After telephoning the Wolf's Lair and learning from
Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel that Hitler was only
slightly injured in the assassination attempt, Fromm declared the conspirators
under arrest. But he was immediately overpowered, disarmed, and confined
to a room of the Bendlerstrasse headquarters under armed guard.
As the coup attempt fell apart close to midnight, officers
loyal to the regime freed Fromm who then burst into Stauffenberg's office
with an armed escort and proclaimed the conspirators in his presence
Mertz, Colonel- General Ludwig
Beck, and Lt. Werner von
Haeften) guilty of high treason. Undoubtedly anxious to conceal
any revelations the conspirators may divulge regarding his foreknowledge
and tacit approval of their planned coup, Fromm allowed Beck to take his own life, but has the others executed by firing squad shortly
before half-past midnight. When Joseph
Goebbels arrived on the scene he told Fromm: "You've been in
a damned hurry to get your witnesses below ground."
Fromm's duplicitous action fails to save him. Within
a fortnight he falls under Hitler's suspicion. On July 21, 1944, he
was arrested by Heinrich Himmler and brought before the People's Court and charged with not reporting
the conspiracy. Fromm was found guilty and executed on March 12, 1945.