The Buchwäldchen Bohnstedt Line:
General Wilhelm Bohnstedt

by Thomas Allen Bohnstedt, California USA
     (the text of this page is my intellectual property. Please do not copy and repost without my written permission)


Generalleutnant (Lieutenant General) Wilhelm Bohnstedt


A Young Lieutenant Bohnstedt

Hitler's Commander: Field Marshal Walther Model - Hitler's Favorite General by Steven H. Newton, 2005, mentions a certain Lieutenant Wilhelm Bohnstedt and his view and opinion of Field Marshal Walther Model:

Something of Model’s aggressive, even abrasive personality begins to emerge during this period, glimpsed through the eyes of his comrades. His first close friendship in the regiment developed with another lieutenant who shared his passion for riding and the hunt, but with many other junior officers he was less popular. Lieutenant Wilhelm Bohnstedt found Model overly ambitious, while Lieutenant Erwin Vierow recalled him as excessively critical of the smallest miscues in infantry training.

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Johannes Wilhelm Bohnstedt earlier in his career. It is difficult to be certain of his rank from the collar insignia; depending on the design of his shoulder boards his rank might be anything from Leutnant (2nd Lieutenant) to Oberst (Colonel).
Hitler's Commander: Field Marshal Walther Model--Hitler's Favorite General by Steven H. Newton, 2005, makes mention of Wilhelm Bohnstedt's view and opinion of Field Marshal Model

The "Lieutenant Bohnstedt" mentioned in Hitler's Commander may in fact be Johannes Wilhelm Bohnstedt. As far as I know, he is mentioned only once in this book, in the excerpt cited above. Although there may have been other German army officers in military service in the years before WW II with the name Wilhelm Bohnstedt, I personally do not know of any.

More importantly, it seems more likely that author Steven H. Newton would have been especially interested in the views and opinions of those officers who later rose to the upper ranks of the military. For example, one of the young cadets mentioned with Model and Bohnstedt is Heinz Guderian, one of the German Army's top commanders during the Second World War.

Johannes Wilhelm Bohnstedt (who used his middle name of Wilhelm) rose to the rank of Lieutenant General before he retired. To my knowledge Wilhelm Bohnstedt was the highest ranking military officer anywhere in the world carrying the Bohnstedt name.

The one arguable exception might be Eberhard Bohnstedt, who held the rank of General in the Salvadoran Army in the 1930's. However, this was an honorary rank of sorts, most likely conferred upon him by the Salvadoran government because he was there as a guest, directing El Salvador's military academy. In the German army he still held the rank of Oberst (Colonel) at the time of his retirement.

Wilhelm entered army service in 1909, probably as a cadet. Within a year he was commissioned as a Leutnant (2nd Lieutenant). He was transferred to the 270th Reserve Infantry Regiment in January 1915, and one month later he was promoted to Oberleutnant (1st Lieutenant). Beginning that same year Wilhelm was given various leadership positions within the 270th, including leadership of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions in 1917. In December 1917 Wilhelm was promoted again, to Hauptmann (Captain).

In July 1918 Hauptmann (Captain) Wilhelm Bohnstedt was given command of the 271st Reserve Infantry Regiment. The following year he was placed in command of the Volunteer Battalion Unruhstadt. For the next few years Wilhelm was assigned various staff positions, and in 1931 he was promoted to Major.

From August 1933 to October 1934 he was placed in command of a training battalion in the 8th Infantry Division. While carrying out his duties with the 8th Infantry Wilhelm was promoted again in June 1934, to Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel).

In October 1934 Oberstleutnant Wilhelm was given command of the Infantry Regiment Glogau. He was transferred again in October 1935 at which time he was given command of the 51st Infantry Regiment.


General Bohnstedt and the Second World War

On April 1st 1936 Wilhelm was promoted again, to Oberst (Colonel), and then again in April 1940, to Generalmajor (Major General). Wilhelm continued with command of the 51st until June of 1940 when he was delegated with leadership of the 32nd Infantry Division, replacing Franz Boehme. In October of 1940 Generalmajor Wilhelm Bohnstedt was given full command of the 32nd Infantry Division, the "Lions Head Division", which was deployed in France at the time.

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German Airborne Divisions: Mediterranean Theatre 1942-45, by Bruce Quarrie, 2005 mentions General Wilhelm Bohnstedt as being the commander of the 21st infantry Division. But every other source, including German Order of Battle / Volume One: 1st - 290th Infantry Divisions in WW II, by Samuel W. Mitcham Jr., 2007 lists Lieutenant General Wilhelm Bohnstedt as commander of the 32nd Infantry Division from June 15, 1940 to January 24, 1942. However, Wilhelm was not actually promoted from Generalmajor (Major General) to Generallieutenant (Lieutenant General) until April of 1942. Slaughterhouse: The Handbook of the Eastern Front, 2004, agrees with other sources that Wilhelm commanded the 32nd Infantry Division, not the 21st.

In German Airborne Divisions: Mediterranean Theatre 1942-45, author Bruce Quarrie mentions that at one point in time "Kampfgruppe Sturm", an element of the 7 Flieger (7th Airborne) Division

was subordinated to Generalleutnant Wilhelm Bohnstedt's 21st Infantry Division.

This is a curious because, as far as records indicate, and as far as we know, General Wilhelm Bohnstedt never commanded the 21st Infantry Division. Every other source agrees that he did command the 32nd Infantry Division.

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1-2. General Johannes Wilhelm Bohnstedt. His rank in these photos might be Generalmajor (Major General) or the next rank up; Generalleutnant (Lieutenant General) as evidenced by his collar insignia. As with the first photo a closer inspection of his shoulder boards would be needed to determine his exact rank.
3. Allegedly, this is Major General Wilhelm Bohnstedt, 32nd Infantry Division, awarding the Knights Cross to Feldwebel Otto Eske. (A "Feldwebel" is the approximate equivalent of a technical sergeant).

In June 1941, the 32nd Infantry Division, commanded by Generalmajor Wilhelm Bohnstedt, was deployed with 152 other army divisions divided up between Army Groups North, Center, and South along a 1,800 mile frontier waiting for a signal.

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1. Detail map showing German and Russian troop strengths and locations in various army groups just before Barbarossa. This is just one account of several for the order of battle for Operation Barbarossa
2. Movements of Army Groups North, Center and South during the Russian Invasion
Operation Barbarossa 1941, Army Group North, by Robert Kirchubel, 2005

On 22 June, at 3:15 AM some 3,400,000 German troops, supported by the Luftwaffe, moved into Russian territory commencing Operation Barbarossa, the Invasion of Russia. During the next few weeks Army Group South moved into the Ukraine and towards Stalingrad beyond, while the 25 infantry and armored divisions of Army Group North advanced towards Leningrad (St. Petersburg).

During my research I encountered a variety of differing accounts of just where the 32nd Infantry Division was placed in the Order of Battle during Operation Barbarossa. Campaign / Operation Barbarossa 1941, Army Group North, by Robert Kirchubel, places the 32nd Infantry Division, led by Generalmajor Bohnstedt within the II Corps led by General Walter von Brockdorff-Ahienfeldt, the II Corps within the 16th Army led by General Ernst Busch, and the 16th Army within Army Group North, led by General-Field Marshal Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb. However, even in this book, the information is qualified with the note:

No two sources on orders of battle for Barbarossa agree. The primary source for the German order of Battle is Horst Boog, Germany and the Second World War.

Army Group North, including Bohnstedt's 32nd Infantry Division (according to some sources) headed east, with most elements directed at Leningrad. It was during this campaign that Wilhelm was awarded the Ritterkreuz, or "Knights Cross", on October 13, 1941.

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1. The Ritterkreuz (Knights Cross) of the Iron Cross
Elite of the Third Reich: The Recipients of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939-45, by Walther Fellgiebel, 2004, lists Major General Wilhelm Bohnstedt, Commander of 32nd Infantry Division as a recipient of the Knights Cross on October 31, 1941

In January 1942 Wilhelm became ill and was replaced by Karl Hernekamp as commander of the 32nd Infantry. In April Wilhelm was promoted to Generalleutnant (Lieutenant General). From May of 1942 to early 1945 Generalleutnant Wilhelm Bohnstedt was assigned duties as Inspector of Infantry. He retired in April 1945.

Wilhelm Bohnstedt was decorated numerous times during his career as a soldier, and his decorations and awards include the Ehrenkreuz (Iron Cross) second class, Ehrenkreuz first class, and the Ritterkreuz (Knights Cross, a higher order of the Iron Cross), and various other medals.

Some records indicate that Wilhelm died in Hameln in 1947. One Internet website indicated that Wilhelm Bohnstedt died in November 1947 as a prisoner of war in Hameln. From 1945 through 1948 a large number of war criminals were tried, convicted and hanged at Hameln prison. Hameln prison had previously been a civilian criminal prison in Nazi Germany but was one of the facilities used by allied forces to detain suspected war criminals at the end of the war. Typically, these war criminals were members of the SS and Nazi party officials, but there were exceptions; many were senior army officers.

It is common knowledge that the German Army's behavior towards civilians during the Russian campaign was ruthless, and unarmed civilians were often executed. To date I do not know whether Wilhelm was executed, or whether he died of natural causes while being held prisoner.


- For detailed review of General Wilhelm Bohnstedt's military career, click here....


Book References:
- Newton, Steven H. Hitler's Commander: Field Marshal Walther Model - Hitler's Favorite General. Da Capo Press. 2005 (ISBN 0306813998)
- Quarrie, Bruce. German Airborne Divisions: Mediterranean Theatre 1942-45 2005 (ISBN 1841768286)
- Mitcham, Samuel W., Jr. German Order of Battle / Volume One: 1st - 290th Infantry Divisions in WW II. 2007 (ISBN 0811734161)
- Glantz, David, (Contributor), Et al . Slaughterhouse: The Handbook of the Eastern Front. The Aberjona Press. 2004 (ISBN 097176509X)
- Kirchubel, Robert. Campaign / Operation Barbarossa 1941, Army Group North. Osprey Publishing Limited. 2005 (ISBN 184176857X)
- Fellgiebel, Walther. Elite of the Third Reich: The Recipients of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939-45. Helion and Company Ltd. 2004 (ISBN 1874622469)


See Also:
1-29 /
The Buchwäldchen Bohnstedt Line; The Descendants of Albert Bohnstedt
1-30 /
The Bohnstedts and Prussian Military Tradition
1-44 /
Genealogy 1-6-3: Prussia and Eastern Germany: Buchwäldchen
5-7 /
Appendix F: Military Ranking Systems of Germany and the United States


Online Resources
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_Bohnstedt (English)
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_Bohnstedt (English, mobile site)
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/32._Infanterie-Division_(Wehrmacht) (Deutsche/German)
https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/32._Infanterie-Division_(Wehrmacht) (Deutsche/German, mobile site)
General Wilhelm Bohnstedt, Wikipedia (Русский/Russian)
General Wilhelm Bohnstedt, Wikipedia (Русский/Russian, mobile site)
http://military.wikia.com/wiki/Wilhelm_Bohnstedt (English)


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