In the September 1939 campaign against Poland, List, now a Generaloberst (U.S. equiv. full general), commanded the Fourteenth Army in General Karl Gerd von Rundstedt's Army Group South and took Kraków. In the 1940 Battle for France, List again served under Rundstedt, commanding Twelfth Army, primarily an infantry force. He impressed his peers by the speed with which he maneuvered his troops and in penetrating the Maginot Line. Hitler promoted him to field marshal in July 1940.
List then returned to the Balkans, concluding a secret agreement with Bulgarian Minister of War General Teodossi Dascaloff to allow German troops safe passage through that country to Greece. List and his forces helped conquer Greece by 23 April 1941, and he then commanded all German forces in the Balkans. Directly subordinate to Hitler, he was responsible for the German-occupied areas of the Balkans as well as liaison with Italian and Bulgarian forces there.
In July 1942, List took command of Army Group A in the Soviet Union, with the task of securing the Black Sea ports of Novorossiysk, Tuapse, Sochi, Sukhumi, and Batum to take the Soviet naval bases and oil fields there. His forces were insufficient for the task and were halted at the Terek River at the end of August. List wanted to fall back and regroup, but Hitler insisted that he continue offensive operations. The Führer demanded that List secure the oil fields of Baku, Tiflis, and Batum, but he was unable to do so. List fell ill and was removed from command on 9 September 1942, and Hitler then took personal command of Army Group A.
In February 1948, List was tried at Nuremberg on war crime charges, found guilty, and sentenced to life in prison. He was released in December 1952. List died in Garmish, Germany, on 17 August 1971.
M. David Yaman
Brett-Smith, Richard. Hitler's Generals. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1977.; Mitcham, Samuel. Hitler's Field Marshals and Their Battles. London: Cooper, 1988.