Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Krebs, Hans (1898–1945)

German army general who attempted to negotiate the surrender of Berlin with the Soviets in 1945. Born in Helmstedt, Germany, on 4 March 1898, Hans Krebs entered the German army in August 1914 as an officer candidate and was commissioned a lieutenant in June 1915. By the end of the war, he was a regimental adjutant. Krebs continued in the army and served in line regiments during the interwar period. Given his intelligence and gift for staff work, the remainder of his career was spent in staff assignments. He was assistant military attaché in Moscow in 1933 and 1934. Promoted to lieutenant colonel in February 1938, Krebs was sent to Moscow in September 1939 to assist the German Embassy in negotiations with the Kremlin concerning the partition of Poland. He was appointed chief of staff of VII Army Corps in December 1939.

Made a colonel in October 1940, Krebs returned briefly to Moscow in March 1941 as deputy military attaché to General of Cavalry Ernst August Kostring. Because of Kostring's illness, Krebs was acting attaché until the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June. In January 1942, he became chief of staff of Ninth Army. He held the same post in Army Group Center (under Field Marshal Günther von Kluge) beginning in March 1943 and Army Group B (under Field Marshal Walther Model) in September 1944.

Krebs was promoted to Generalmajor (U.S. equiv. brigadier general) in February 1942, Generalleutnant (U.S. equiv. major general) in April 1943, and General der Infanterie (U.S. equiv. lieutenant general) in August 1944. In February 1945, Adolf Hitler ordered Krebs assigned to Berlin, where he succeeded Colonel General Heinz Guderian as acting German army chief of staff following the latter's dismissal on 27 March. With Hitler's suicide on 30 April 1945, Krebs's final duty was to act as the liaison with the Soviets regarding the surrender of the Berlin garrison. Krebs crossed their lines on 1 May to inform the Soviets of Hitler's death and to attempt to negotiate an armistice. His hopes were quickly dashed by the commander of the Eighth Guards Army, General Vasily Chuikov, who insisted on unconditional surrender. Krebs returned to Hitler's bunker, advised Josef Goebbels and Martin Bormann of the situation, and then committed suicide on 1 or 2 May 1945, although his body was never found.

Jon D. Berlin


Further Reading
Brett-Smith, Richard. Hitler's Generals. San Rafael, CA: Presidio, 1977.; Erickson, John. Stalin's War with Germany. Vol. 2, The Road to Berlin. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1983.; Mitcham, Samuel W., Jr. Crumbling Empire: The German Defeat in the East, 1944. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2001.; Ziemke, Earl F. Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, 1984.
 

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