Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Falkenhorst, Nikolaus von (1885–1968)

German army general. Born as Nikolaus von Jastrzembski on 17 January 1885 in Breslau, Germany, Nikolaus von Falkenhorst was commissioned in a West Prussian infantry regiment in 1904. (In 1911, the family changed its name to Falkenhorst.) During World War I, Falkenhorst served on the Western Front, but he spent the last months of the conflict in the German expedition to Finland. He remained in the Reichswehr after the war and served in the War Ministry from 1925 to 1927. Colonel Falkenhorst served as German military attaché in Prague, Belgrade, and Budapest in the mid-1930s. He then commanded a division and, just before World War II, Generalleutnant (U.S. equiv. major general) Falkenhorst took command of XXI Corps.

Falkenhorst led his corps in the invasion of Poland in September 1939. In February 1940, Adolf Hitler met with Falkenhorst and assigned him the task of planning the German invasion of Norway and Denmark, partly because of the general's earlier experience in Finland. Told he would have five divisions and told to produce a plan in four hours, Falkenhorst used a commercial travel guide in his preparations.

On the success of that operation during April–June 1940, Falkenhorst was promoted to colonel general and made commander of all German forces in Norway, where he became known for brutal occupation policies. In the summer of 1941, Falkenhorst planned and attempted an invasion of the Soviet port of Murmansk on the Barents Sea. Following a disagreement with commissioner of the Nazi Reich Josef Terboven in Norway, Falkenhorst was relieved of his command and retired in December 1944. Captured by the British and placed on trial for war crimes in July 1946, Falkenhorst was found guilty of ordering the deaths of prisoners of war, and he was sentenced to death by firing squad. The sentence was then commuted to life in prison. Falkenhorst was released on 23 July 1953 for health reasons. He died at Holzminden, Germany, on 18 June 1968.

Harold Wise and Spencer C. Tucker


Further Reading
Derry, T. K. The Campaign in Norway. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1952.; Kersaudy, François. Norway, 1940. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987.
 

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