Dietrich von Choltitz

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Dietrich von Choltitz
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Full Name: Dietrich Hugo Hermann

von Choltitz

Alias: The Savior of Paris
Origin: Gräflich Wiese, German Empire
Occupation: Military commander of Nazi-occupied France
Goals: Redeem himself for his involvement in the Final Solution (successful)
Crimes: War crimes
Type of Villain: Military Leader


We all share the guilt. We went along with everything, and we half-took the Nazis seriously instead of saying "to hell with you and your stupid nonsense". I misled my soldiers into believing this rubbish. I feel utterly ashamed of myself. Perhaps we bear even more guilt than these uneducated animals.
~ von Choltitz to another official on his remorse for his involvement in the Holocaust.

Dietrich von Choltitz (November 9th, 1894 - November 5th, 1966) was a Nazi Party commander. He is chiefly remembered for his role as the last commander of Nazi-occupied Paris in 1944, when he disobeyed Adolf Hitler's orders to level the city, but instead surrendered it to Free French forces. He has been called the "Saviour of Paris" for preventing its destruction. Choltitz later asserted that his defiance of Hitler's direct order stemmed from its obvious military futility, his affection for the French capital's history and culture, and his belief that Hitler had by then become insane.

Biography

Von Choltitz became a Leutnant in 1914 while fighting in World War I, and participated in the invasion of Poland and the occupation of Sudetenland in World War II, during which he became an Oberstleutenant. While fighting in World War 2, von Choltitz prevented the Wehrmacht from carrying out a reprisal after Kurt Student was injured during the Battle of Rotterdam.

In 1944, von Choltitz was made governor of Paris, and subsequently was ordered to burn Paris by Adolf Hitler in order to prevent it falling into Allied hands. However, von Choltitz repeatedly refused to carry out this order, instead surrendering to the Free French and allowing himself to be taken into custody. He was released without charge in 1947, and died of pulmonary emphysema 19 years later.

Involvement in the Final Solution

Although von Choltitz is chiefly remembered for his refusal to burn Paris, the account of a group of British soldiers suggests complicity in the genocide of the Jewish people. In August 1944, several British army officers listening in on von Choltitz' s conversations revealed that he had told another official:

The worst job I ever carried out - which however I carried out with great consistency - was the liquidation of the Jews. I carried out this thoroughly and entirely

However, both this and the quote at the top of the page suggest that von Choltitz felt remorse for his involvement in the Final Solution, and his actions in his refusal to burn Paris may suggest that he was trying to redeem himself in some way.