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Rudolf Schmidt (12 May 1886 – 7 April 1957) was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II who commanded the 2nd Panzer Army on the Eastern Front. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves.
Rudolf Schmidt in 1942
|Born||12 May 1886|
Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
|Died||7 April 1957 (aged 70)|
Krefeld, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany
|Allegiance|| German Empire |
|Years of service||1906–45|
|Commands held||1st Panzer Division|
XXXIX Panzer Corps
2nd Panzer Army
|Battles/wars||World War II
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
|Relations||Hans-Thilo Schmidt (brother)|
Schmidt joined the Prussian Army in 1906 and served during World War I. He was retained in the Reichswehr where he served in staff roles. In October 1936 he was promoted to Generalmajor and appointed commander of the 1st Panzer Division. In 1939 Schmidt led the division in the invasion of Poland.
On 1 February 1940 he was appointed commanding general of the XXXIX Panzer Corps. He led the Corps in France and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for his role in that campaign on 3 June 1940. He was promoted to General der Panzertruppe and appointed acting commander of the 2nd Army which took part in the Battle of Moscow. On 25 December 1941 he was appointed Commander of the 2nd Panzer Army (replacing the sacked General Guderian).
In January 1942 Schmidt was promoted to Generaloberst. On 10 April 1943 he was relieved of his command after the Gestapo arrested his brother for spying for the French and found letters that Schmidt had written in which he was highly critical of Hitler’s conduct of the war and the Nazi Party. He appeared before a court martial but was acquitted and transferred to the leadership reserve on 30 September 1943. He was never re-employed.
His brother Hans-Thilo Schmidt sold details of the Germans' Enigma machine and other sensitive military information to the French Deuxieme Bureau from 1931 until the German invasion of France in 1940.
On 16 December 1947 Schmidt was arrested by Soviet forces on his way to his home in Weimar. Taken to Moscow, he was initially imprisoned at the Vladimir Central Prison and Butyrka prison. In 1952, he was sentenced to 25 years by a military tribunal. On 30 September 1955, Schmidt was among the last prisoners to be released. He died in 1957.
- Iron Cross (1939) 2nd Class (22 September 1939) & 1st Class (2 October 1939)
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- 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.
| Commander of XXXIX. Panzerkorps
1 February 1940 – 10 November 1941
Generaloberst Hans-Jürgen von Arnim
Generaloberst Heinz Guderian
| Commander of 2. Panzerarmee
25 December 1941 – 10 April 1943
General der Infanterie Heinrich Clößner