Commands held Army Norway
Name Nikolaus Falkenhorst
Years of service 1903–1944
|Birth name Nikolaus von Jastrzembski|
Born 17 January 1885Breslau, Silesia, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire now Wroclaw, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, Poland (1885-01-17)
Allegiance German Empire (to 1918) Weimar Republic (to 1933) Nazi Germany
Battles/wars First World WarSecond World War
Died June 18, 1968, Holzminden, Germany
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Similar People Eduard Dietl, Hjalmar Siilasvuo, Otto Ruge, Lothar Rendulic, Valerian A Frolov
Battles and wars World War I, World War II
A pictures from Norway
Nikolaus von Falkenhorst (17 January 1885 – 18 June 1968) was a German general and a war criminal during World War II. 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.
After the war, Falkenhorst was tried by a joint British-Norwegian military tribunal for war crimes. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 1946. The sentence was later commuted to twenty years' imprisonment. Falkenhorst was released in 1953 and died in 1968.
Falkenhorst was born in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland) into a noble family with military roots, the Jastrzembski of Bad Königsdorff-Jastrzemb in Upper Silesia. In 1911 he changed this Polish-derived family name to the Germanized Falkenhorst (meaning "falcon's nest"). He joined the army in 1903 and served in World War I in regimental and staff roles, including a stint in Finland. In 1919, after the end of the war, he joined the paramilitary group Freikorps, and later the Reichswehr. On 1 July 1935, he was appointed Chief of Staff of the 3rd Army. In 1939 he commanded the XXI Army Corp during the Invasion of Poland.
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. Hitler 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).
In December 1942, Falkenhorst made a plan for the invasion of Sweden if necessary (Operation Polarfuchs; "Arctic Fox") which required 10 German divisions. Falkenhorst thought it would succeed in 10 days. Falkenhorst was dismissed from his command on 18 December 1944 and transferred to the Führerreserve. He did not receive a further assignment.
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 commandos to be shot as spies, and several were. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 1946. The sentence was 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. He was buried in the Holzminden Cemetery.