General Dietrich von Choltitz

General Dietrich von Choltitz

Dietrich von Choltitz was a military leader in World War Two. He is now most famous for saving Paris from destruction in 1944. Adolf Hitler preferred to see the city destroyed than in the hands of the Allies, but Choltitz defied the dictator and surrendered the city to the enemy.

Born in 1894 in Silesia, Dietrich von Choltitz fought in World War One and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. He stayed in the army after the war and in 1929 earned a further promotion to the rank of captain in a cavalry regiment. Later he was made commander of the Third battalion of the Luftlande-Infanterie Regiment 16, from 1938 as a lieutenant colonel.

Choltitz saw action in the Netherlands during World War Two. His battalion helped occupy Rotterdam in 1940. His leadership during this swift attack earned him the Knight's Cross.

In September 1940, Choltitz became commander of the entire Luftlande-Infanterie Regiment 16, and in 1941 he was promoted to full colonel.

In June 1941, ‘Operation Barbarossa’ - the Nazi invasion of the USSR - was launched.  At first the Nazis made rapid gains, but the invasion soon stagnated and the Nazis failed to take the crucial cities of Leningrad, Moscow and Stalingrad.

See also: General Mark Clark

MLA Citation/Reference

"General Dietrich von Choltitz". 2023. Web.

Key facts

Name: Dietrich von Choltitz
Birth Date: 9 November 1894, Gräflich Wiese, German Empire
Death: 4 November 1966 (aged 71), Baden-Baden, West Germany
  • Dietrich von Choltitz fought in World War One.
  • He remained in the German army after the war.
  • He served Hitler loyally in the war until 1944.
  • As military governor of Paris he defied Hitler’s orders to destroy the city instead of surrender it intact to the Allies.
  • His reasons for doing so are still unclear.
Selected Military Decorations/Awards
  • 1914: Iron Cross, 1st and 2nd Class
  • 1914/1918: Honour Cross of the World War
  • 1940: Infantry Assault Badge
  • 1940: Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross
  • 1942: German Cross in Gold