Nikolaus von Falkenhorst

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search
Nikolaus von Falkenhorst
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-2006-0529-501, Nikolaus v. Falkenhorst.jpg
Nikolaus von Falkenhorst
Birth name Nikolaus von Jastrzembski
Born (1885-01-17)17 January 1885
Breslau, Silesia, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire now Wrocław, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, Poland
Died Script error: The function "death_date_and_age" does not exist.
Holzminden, Lower Saxony, West Germany
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Army
Years of service 1903–1944
Rank Generaloberst
Commands held Army Norway (Wehrmacht)
Battles/wars First World War
Second World War
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Relations Erich Dethleffsen (son-in-law)

Nikolaus von Falkenhorst (born Nikolaus von Jastrzembski; 17 January 1885 – 18 June 1968) was a German General in the Second World War. He planned and commanded the German invasion of Denmark and Norway in 1940, and was commander of German troops during the occupation of Norway from 1940 to 1944.


Falkenhorst was born in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland) into an ancient Silesian military and noble family, the Jastrzembski of Bad Königsdorff-Jastrzemb (Jastrzębie-Zdrój) in Upper Silesia. In 1911 he voluntarily changed this Polish-derived family name to the Germanized Falkenhorst (meaning "falcon's nest"). He joined the Imperial German army in 1903 and during the First World War was given various regimental and staff appointments, including a stint in Finland, which would later figure into his primary assignment in World War II. In 1919, after the end of the war, he served in the Freikorps, then transferred to the Reichswehr, and between 1925 and 1927 served in the operations division of the German War Ministry.

Falkenhorst was promoted to Colonel on 1 October 1932, and between 1933 and 1935 was appointed military attaché at the German embassies in Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and the Romania. On 1 July 1935, he was promoted to Generalmajor (Brigadier General) and Chief of Staff of the Third Army, and in 1937 to Generalleutnant (Major General). In 1939 he commanded the XXI Army Corp during the Invasion of Poland, and was promoted to General der Infanterie (Lieutenant General).

Vidkun Quisling, Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler, Reichskommissar Josef Terboven, Generaloberst Nikolaus von Falkenhorst and Waffen-SS, German Army (Wehrmacht) and Luftwaffe officers in Norway, 1941

On 20 February 1940, Hitler informed Falkenhorst that he would be ground commander for the invasion of Norway (Operation Weserübung), and gave him until 5 p.m. the same day to come up with a basic plan. With no time to consult military charts or maps, Falkenhorst picked up a Baedeker tourist guidebook of Norway at a stationery store on his way to his hotel room, where he planned the operation from maps he found in it.[1] Hitler promptly approved his plan.

The invasion was a success, aside from heavy losses inflicted upon the Kriegsmarine (navy). Allied forces tried to counter the German move, but Falkenhorst's troops drove them out of the country. For his part in the success he was promoted to Generaloberst (Colonel General).

Falkenhorst remained in charge of the German occupation forces in Norway. In contrast to the civilian administration, the military forces aimed to form an understanding with the Norwegian people, and Falkenhorst ordered his men to treat them with courtesy.

In December 1942, Falkenhorst made a plan for the invasion of Sweden if necessary (Operation Polarfuchs; "Arctic Fox")[citation needed] which required 10 German divisions. Falkenhorst thought it would succeed in 10 days.[2]

Falkenhorst was dismissed from his command on 18 December 1944, for opposing certain radical policies of Josef Terboven, the Nazi Reich Commissioner of German-occupied Norway. He was transferred to the Führerreserve, but no other assignment ever came.

War crimes

After the war, Falkenhorst was tried by a joint British-Norwegian military tribunal for violating the rules of war. He had passed on the Führerbefehl known as the "Commando Order" which required captured saboteurs to be shot as spies, and several were. He was therefore convicted and sentenced to death in 1946. The sentence was however later commuted to twenty years' imprisonment, after a successful appeal by Sven Hedin.

Falkenhorst was released from Werl prison on 23 July 1953, due to bad health. In 1968, following a heart attack, he died at Holzminden, West Germany, where his family had settled after fleeing from Lower Silesia.[3] He was buried in the Holzminden Cemetery.


References in the Wehrmachtbericht

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
Thursday, 10 April 1940 Die militärischen Maßnahmen zum Schutz der Neutralität von Dänemark und Norwegen wurden am 9. April von starken Einheiten des Heeres, der Kriegsmarine und die Luftwaffe unter dem Oberbefehl des Generals der Infanterie von Falkenhorst, von Seestreitkräften unter dem Befehl des Generaladmirals Saalwächter und des Admirals Carls und von zahlreichen Verbänden der Luftwaffe unter Führung des Generalleutnants Geißler in engster Zusammenarbeit durchgeführt.[5] The military measures for the protection of the neutrality of Denmark and Norway were carried out on 9 April from strong units in close cooperation of the Heer, the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe under the high command of General of the Infantry von Falkenhorst, of naval forces under the command of Generaladmiral Saalwächter and Admiral Rolf Carls and from numerous Luftwaffe units under the leadership of Generalleutnant Geißler (sic).


  1. Kersaudy, Francois, Norway 1940, pp. 45–47
  2. Pierrejean, Claudine and Daniel, Les secrets de l'affaire Raoul Wallenberg ("The Secrets of the Raoul Wallenberg Affair"), L'Harmattan.
  3. Milestones, Time Magazine, 5 July 1968.
  4. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  5. Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 1, pp. 101–102.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
  • Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Commander of 32. Infanterie-Division
1 October 1936 – 19 July 1939
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Franz Böhme
Preceded by
Commander of 21. Armee
19 December 1940 – 18 December 1944
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Kurt von Tippelskirch