Walter Model was one of Hitler's most loyal officers and his loyalty to the Führer never wavered. In 1944, after Hitler survived the bomb plot to kill him, Model was the first commander on the eastern front to send him a telegram, reaffirming his allegiance. Rough, agressive and outspoken, Model's loyalty earned him an advantage not given to many other officers in the Wehrmacht: he was able to ignore the Führer's more impossible orders, act first and receive permission afterwards and voice some very unpalatable truths. When Model took over from the displaced Hans Günther von Kluge as commander of Armygroup B in Normandy, the first thing he did was tell Hitler that defeat in France was inevitable; other high ranking officers had been dismissed for less.
Model's fighting experience in the war was considerable, he served in Poland and commanded the 3rd Panzerdivision in Russia as well as taking charge in Normandy in august 1944. In September 1944 he was responsible for the defeat of the Allies during Operation Market Garden.
He became known as Hitler's fireman for his skill in shoring up broken fighting fronts. His luck inevitably ran out at the Westwall. Model directed a ferocious defence of the Mosel section assigned to his Armygroup B but in the end he was forced to yield to the massive Allied onslaughts. In April 1945, Model's Armygroup B was surrounded in the Ruhr pocket; rather than accept defeat he dissolved his forces and gave them the choice of going home, fighting on with other units or surrendering. Model had always despised Fieldmarshall Von Paulus for his capitulation at Stalingrad in 1943 and had no intention of emulating him. Instead, he shot himself on April 21st because, he had said: "a Fieldmarshall did not surrender".
"What is left," he once asked, "to a commander in defeat?"
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