Walter von Seydlitz was born on August 22, 1888, in Hamburg, Germany, the descendant of a well-known military family. After joining the army in 1908, von Seydlitz fought in World War I on both the eastern and western fronts.
From 1919 to 1930, he held various appointments before being transferred to the Reichwehr Ministry. Brigadier from 1934 to 1939, he was promoted to Major General at the outbreak of World War II and held a command in the French campaign.
In August 1940, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross for his contribution to the Russian campaign. Promoted to Lieutenant-General, von Seydlitz commanded the infantry and the Second Army Corps beginning in 1942. One of General Friedrich Paulus’s divisional commanders, von Seydlitz was captured by Soviet forces at Stalingrad in February 1943.
A vigorous opponent of the Nazi conduct of the war, von Seydlitz became the first German officer to broadcast from Moscow and was appointed by the Russians as President of the “League of German Officers” in September 1943. The group’s objective was to encourage Germans to overthrow Hitler. For his role in the League, Hitler imposed a death sentence on von Seydlitz absentia.
The failure of the July plot to assassinate Hitler convinced the Russians the League was unnecessary and subsequently jailed von Seydlitz. He was released in October 1955 after serving 12 years. Nine months later, Hitler’s death sentence was annulled.
He died on April 28, 1976 in Bremen.
Sources: The Simon Wiesenthal Center