Adolf Heusinger

Adolf Bruno Heinrich Ernst Heusinger (August 4, 1897 – November 30, 1982) was a German military officer, whose career spanned the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany and West Germany. Heusinger joined the German Army as a volunteer in 1915 and later became a professional soldier. He served as acting Chief of the General Staff of the Army for two weeks in 1944, and was head of the military cartography office when the war ended. He later became a general for West Germany and served as head of the West German military from 1957 to 1961 as well as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee from 1961 to 1964.

Adolf Heusinger
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-2005-0030, Adolf Heusinger.jpg
Heusinger in Bundeswehr uniform, c. 1960
Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
In office
December 1961 – 1 April 1964
Preceded byCharles Paul de Cumont
Succeeded byCharles Paul de Cumont
Inspector General of the Bundeswehr
In office
1 June 1957 – 31 March 1961
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byFriedrich Foertsch
Chief of the OKH General Staff
In office
10 June 1944 – 21 July 1944
Preceded byKurt Zeitzler
Succeeded byHeinz Guderian
Personal details
Born(1897-08-04)4 August 1897
Holzminden, Duchy of Brunswick, German Empire
Died30 November 1982(1982-11-30) (aged 85)
Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, West Germany
Gerda Luise Krüger
(m. 1931)
Military service
Allegiance German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 Nazi Germany
Germany West Germany
Branch/service German Army
 German Army
Years of service1915–1945
RankWMacht H OF7 GenLt h 1935-1945.svg Generalleutnant (Wehrmacht)
HD H 64 General.svg General (Bundeswehr)
AwardsWound Badge of 20 July 1944 in silver


Early careerEdit

Heusinger was born in Holzminden, in the Duchy of Brunswick, German Empire. He entered the Prussian Army in 1915, becoming an officer in 1917. Following the war, Heusinger was retained in the Reichswehr of the Weimar Republic. In 1931, Heusinger was assigned to the operations staff of the Troop Office (Truppenamt) in the Ministry of the Reichswehr, the German Army's covert General Staff in circumvention of the Treaty of Versailles, which forbade that institution. In August 1937, Heusinger was assigned to the Operations Staff of the re-established Army General Staff of Wehrmacht. He served there, being promoted to lieutenant colonel on March 20, 1939, and remained in that position until October 15, 1940, when he became its chief.

World War IIEdit

Heusinger (1st from left) attending a briefing with Adolf Hitler on 1 June 1942

With the outbreak of the Second World War, the German Army High Command (the OKH) assumed its wartime organization. Heusinger accompanied the field staff and assisted in the planning of operations for the invasions of Poland, Denmark, Norway, and France and the Low Countries. He was promoted to colonel on August 1, 1940, and became chief of the Operationsabteilung in October 1940, making him number three in the Army planning hierarchy, after the Chief of the General Staff, General Franz Halder, and the Deputy Chief of the General Staff/Chief Quartermaster, General Friedrich Paulus.

After the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, the OKH became primarily responsible for planning operations in that theater, while the Armed Forces High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, or OKW) was responsible for other theaters. Halder was replaced as Chief of the General Staff in September 1942 by General Kurt Zeitzler. Heusinger remained chief of the Operationsabteilung and was promoted to Generalleutnant on January 1, 1943. In June 1944, Zeitzler became ill, and on June 10, Heusinger temporarily assumed his office as Chief of the General Staff of the Army. In this capacity, he attended the meeting at Adolf Hitler's Wolf's Lair on July 20, 1944, and was standing next to Hitler when the bomb planted by Claus von Stauffenberg exploded.

Heusinger was hospitalized for his injuries in the explosion, but afterwards was arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo to determine his role, if any, in the July Plot. Although there was evidence that Heusinger had had contacts with many of the conspirators, there was insufficient evidence to directly connect him to the plot, and he was freed in October 1944. However, he was placed into the "Führer-Reserve" and was not assigned to another position until March 25, 1945, when he was made chief of armed forces mapping department (Chef Wehrmacht-Kartenwesen). He was taken prisoner by the Western Allies in May 1945.

Post-World War IIEdit

An internee from 1945 to 1947, Heusinger testified during the Nuremberg Trials.

In 1950, he became an advisor on military matters to Konrad Adenauer, the first Chancellor of West Germany. He served in the Blank Office Amt Blank, the office headed by Theodor Blank, which became the West German Ministry of Defense in 1955.

Heusinger and Speidel sworn into the newly founded Bundeswehr on 12 November 1955

With the establishment of the West Germany Armed Forces Bundeswehr in 1955, Heusinger returned to military service. He was appointed a Generalleutnant (lieutenant general) on November 12, 1955,[1] in the Bundeswehr and chairman of the Military Leadership Council (Militärischer Führungsrat).

In March 1957, he succeeded Hans Speidel as chief of the Bundeswehr's all-armed forces department (Chef der Abteilung Gesamtstreitkräfte).

Heusinger with Robert McNamara in Washington, D.C., 1964

Shortly thereafter, in June 1957, Heusinger was promoted to full general and named the first Inspector General of the Bundeswehr (Generalinspekteur der Bundeswehr), and served in that capacity until March 1961. In April 1961, he was appointed Chairman of the NATO Military Committee in Washington, D.C., where he served until 1964, when he retired. He was, according to news reports, wanted by the Soviet Union in the early 1960s for war crimes committed in the occupied Soviet territories. [2]

Heusinger died in Cologne on November 30, 1982, aged 85.

According to documents released by the German Federal Intelligence Service in 2014, Heusinger may have been part of the Schnez-Truppe, a secret army that veterans of the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS sought to establish in the early '50s.[3]


  1. ^ This was actually a promotion from his Wehrmacht rank of Generalleutnant. Until 1945, the German Army general officer ranks of Generalmajor (major-general) and Generalleutnant (lieutenant-general) were equivalent to one-star (brigadier or brigadier general) and two-star (major general) ranks, respectively. The Bundeswehr uses a NATO-standardized rank structure, with addition of the one-star rank of Brigadegeneral and Generalleutnant the equivalent to three-star rank in the British and American armies.
  2. ^ KEYSTONE news Agency
  3. ^ Wiegrefe, Klaus, "Files Uncovered: Nazi veterans Created Illegal Army", Spiegel Online, 14 May 2014

Further readingEdit

  • Searle, Alaric (2003). Wehrmacht Generals, West German Society, and the Debate on Rearmament, 1949–1959. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers. ISBN 978-0-275-97968-3.

External linksEdit

Military offices
New title Chief of Staff of the Federal Armed Forces
1 June 1957–31 March 1961
Succeeded by
General Friedrich Foertsch
Preceded by
C.P. de Cumont
Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
Succeeded by
C.P. de Cumont