Otto Wöhler

Otto Wöhler (12 July 1894 – 5 February 1987) was a German general in the Wehrmacht and a war criminal during World War II. He rose to a corps and army level commander.

Otto Wöhler
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-2007-0313-500, Rumänien, Otto Wöhler bei Lagebesprechung.jpg
Born(1894-07-12)12 July 1894
Großburgwedel, German Empire
Died5 February 1987(1987-02-05) (aged 92)
Großburgwedel, West Germany
Allegiance German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
Service/branchArmy (Wehrmacht)
Years of service1913–45
RankGeneral of the Infantry
Commands heldI Army Corps
8th Army
Army Group South
Battles/warsWorld War I
World War II
AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Wöhler was implicated in the Einsatzgruppe activities while serving as Chief of Staff of the 11th Army in early 1942. After the war, he was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the High Command trial and sentenced for 8 years. He was released in February 1951.

World War IIEdit

Wöhler fought in World War I and served in the post-war Reichswehr and in then the Wehrmacht in several staff roles. Between October 1940 and May 1942, Wöhler served as chief of staff of Field Marshal Erich von Manstein's 11th Army.[1] In this capacity Wöhler cooperated closely with the Einsatzgruppe D under Otto Ohlendorf. At one point, he requested that all watches belonging to the killed Jews be turned over to the army.[2]

Wöhler was then appointed chief of staff of Army Group Center under Field Marshal Günther von Kluge. Wöhler’s first combat command was I Army Corps which he led from February to August 1943, before being given command of the 8th Army in August 1943. In December 1944 he was appointed commander of Army Group South.[1]

Trial and convictionEdit

Wöhler was investigated by the Allies after the war and was implicated in Einsatzgruppen activities while serving as Chief of Staff of the 11th Army in early 1942. In the pre-trial interrogations, he admitted that Manstein awarded Iron Crosses to Einsatzgruppen men and described the cooperation with the Einsatzgruppen as "generally free of friction".[3]

He was tried by a U.S. Military Tribunal at Nuremberg ("High Command Trial" No. XII). At trial Wöhler denied knowledge of the Einsatzgruppen functions and any complicity in helping to carry their actions.[3] He was convicted of implementing the Barbarossa Jurisdiction Order, which allowed the murder of civilians on the pretext of counteracting partisan activity[4] Wöhler was also found guilty of deportations of civilians for slave labor and cooperation with Einsatzgruppen.[5]

Wöhler was sentenced to eight years imprisonment in October 1948. During the 1949 sentence review, his sentence was confirmed with no changes. Based on the sentence having been backdated to 1945, he was released in February 1951 on good time credit grounds.[6]




  1. ^ a b Hebert 2010, p. 215.
  2. ^ Hebert 2010, p. 265.
  3. ^ a b Hebert 2010, p. 119.
  4. ^ Hebert 2010, pp. 3, 151.
  5. ^ Hebert 2010, p. 151.
  6. ^ Hebert 2010, p. 219.
  7. ^ Thomas 1998, p. 455.
  8. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 520.
  9. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 793.


  • Hebert, Valerie (2010). Hitler's Generals on Trial: The Last War Crimes Tribunal at Nuremberg. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 978-0-7006-1698-5.
  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8.
  • 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.
  • Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9.

External linksEdit

Military offices
Preceded by
General der Kavallerie Philipp Kleffel
Commander of I. Armeekorps
1 April 1943 – 15 August 1943
Succeeded by
General der Kavallerie Philipp Kleffel
Preceded by Commander of 8. Armee
22 August 1943 – 27 December 1944
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Generaloberst Johannes Frießner
Commander of Heeresgruppe Süd
28 December 1944 – 25 March 1945
Succeeded by
Generaloberst Dr. Lothar Rendulic