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Friedrich Fromm (8 October 1888 – 12 March 1945) was a German army officer. In World War II, Fromm was Commander in Chief of the Reserve Army (Ersatzheer), in charge of training and personnel replacement for combat divisions of the German Army, a position he occupied for most of the war.[1] A recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, he was executed for failing to act against the plot of 20 July 1944 to assassinate Hitler.

Friedrich Fromm
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1969-168-07, Friedrich Fromm.jpg
Generaloberst Friedrich Fromm
Born8 October 1888
Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia, Germany
Died12 March 1945 (aged 56)
Brandenburg-Görden Prison, Brandenburg an der Havel, Province of Brandenburg, Free State of Prussia, Nazi Germany
Allegiance German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Commands heldChef der Heeresausrüstung und Befehlshaber des Ersatzheeres
Battles/warsWorld War I
World War II
AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross


Early lifeEdit

Fromm was born in Charlottenburg. He served as a lieutenant during World War I.

At the beginning of the Nazi era, Fromm played an important role in the power structure of the regime: beginning in 1933, he was responsible for the human and material upgrade of the German army.

Head of the Reserve ArmyEdit

In 1939, Fromm became Chief of Army armour and commander of the Replacement Army (the Ersatzheer).[2]

When Operation Barbarossa stalled outside of Moscow in December 1941 and the Russian counter-attack started, Hitler took direct command of the Army and re-organized the armed forces' command structure. The Office of the Chief of Army Armament and the Reserve Army under Generaloberst Friedrich Fromm was created, subordinate to the commander in chief, army (head of the OKH, i.e. Hitler). Fromm had enough power at his disposal to control the German state because his position controlled army procurement and production and commanded all army troops inside Germany.[3]

At the beginning of 1942 Fromm, apparently, recommended going over to the defensive for the entire year, because of exhausted army stockpiles and the diversion of production, after the initial successes of Barbarossa in the summer of 1941.[3]

20 July plotEdit

Though Fromm was aware that some of his subordinates—most notably Claus von Stauffenberg, his Chief of Staff—were planning an assassination attempt against Hitler, he remained quiet and agreed to have a part in it if he became a top official of the new government after the mutiny. He did not have any direct involvement in the conspiracy. When the attempt to proceed with a mutiny on 15 July 1944 failed, Fromm refused to have any further part in it.

On 20 July, news broke that Hitler and several officers of the OKW (Supreme Command of the Armed Forces) had become victims of an explosion in the German military's headquarters on the Eastern Front, the Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair), near Rastenburg, East Prussia (modern day Poland). Fromm quickly came to the conclusion that it was Stauffenberg and the plotters who were behind the explosion, and when he attempted to arrest them, he was quickly overwhelmed and confined to a jail cell in the Bendlerblock, the Berlin headquarters of the Ersatzheer among other branches of the German military, after he refused to join the plotters in Operation Valkyrie (they forged Fromm's signature to start the operation).

When the coup failed, Fromm was found by men of the Ersatzheer and freed. Against Hitler's direct orders to take the conspirators alive, he only arrested the one who was, at that time, a civilian (retired Colonel-General Beck). He then held a Summary Court Martial of the active soldiers at his HQ's; that had, at that point, been identified or suspected of being part of the coup. As presiding official of the Summary Court Martial, Fromm condemned those officers to death and ordered their immediate execution by firing squad.[4] As for Colonel-General Beck, Fromm allowed him upon request to commit suicide; after the suicide attempt failed, Fromm ordered him shot.

Whether he executed the conspirators to spare them a humiliating trial or to cover up his involvement in the conspiracy remains a topic of debate.

Arrest, trial and executionEdit

After executing the top plotters, Fromm returned to his office for the night after a reported upcoming air-raid. There in his office he was met by various Nazi officers, Joseph Goebbels among them. Fromm tried to claim credit for ending the coup.

On the morning of 22 July 1944, Fromm was arrested by Nazi officials and locked in jail to await trial. It was clear to them that his actions immediately after the coup's collapse were more likely than not to have been an attempt to use his authority - despite Hitler's specific orders to the contrary - to silence those officers directly under his operational command who might have implicated him for at least "turning a blind eye" to their activities leading up to Hitler's assassination attempt. Fromm was discharged from the German Army on 14 September 1944. The civilian Fromm was sentenced to death and considered unworthy for military duty by the Volksgerichtshof on 7 March 1945. Since the court failed to prove a direct association with the 20 July plotters, he had been charged and convicted for cowardice before the enemy. However, because he had executed the conspirators within reach, he was spared torture and execution by hanging with a thin rope, and sentenced to a military execution.

On 12 March 1945, Fromm was executed at the Brandenburg-Görden Prison by firing squad as part of the post-conspiracy purge. His last words before the firing squad were reported to be "I die, because it was ordered. I had always wanted only the best for Germany."[5]


In popular cultureEdit




  1. ^
  2. ^ Obermüller, Benjamin (13 January 2006). "Friedrich Fromm - nicht nur eine Figur um den "20. Juli"". Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b Ziemke, Earl F.; Bauer, Magna E. (1985). Moscow To Stalingrad: Decision In The East. U.S. Army Center of Military History. ISBN 9780160019425.
  4. ^ Clark, Alan (1965). Barbarossa. Cassell & Co. p. 478. ISBN 0304358649.
  5. ^ Mueller, Gene: Generaloberst Friedrich Fromm. In: Gerd R. Ueberschär (ed.): Hitlers militärische Elite. Vol. 1, Primus Verlag, Darmstadt 1998, ISBN 3-89678-083-2, p. 76.
  6. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 188.


  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [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.
  • Kroener, Bernhard R. (2005). "Der starke Mann im Heimatkriegsgebiet". Generaloberst Friedrich Fromm. Eine Biographie. Paderborn: Schoeningh, Oler family (Alberta, Canada)
  • 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 Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.

External linksEdit