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Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller

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Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller

Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller
General Friedrich Wilhelm Müller, at Berlin, in 1944
Nickname(s) The Butcher of Crete
Born (1897-08-29)29 August 1897
Barmen, Prussia
Died 20 May 1947(1947-05-20) (aged 49)
Athens, Greece
Allegiance German Empire (to 1918)
Weimar Republic (to 1933)
Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer
Years of service 1915–45
Rank General der Infanterie

World War I
World War II

Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords

Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller (29 August 1897 – 20 May 1947) was a General in the German Army in World War II. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. He is notorious for having been the most brutal commander of occupied Crete, where he earned the nickname "The Butcher of Crete." After the war, he was tried by a Greek military court for war crimes, convicted and executed.

Pre-war and early war

In 1915 Müller joined the German 2nd Infantry Regiment. He became a second lieutenant in the 266th Regiment in 1915. In 1936 he became a major in the German army, and by 1940 was a lieutenant colonel and commander of the 105th Infantry Regiment. He was awarded the Knight's Cross in 1941 and received oak leaves in 1942 for operations in Russia.


In August 1942 General Müller took command of the 22nd Air Landing Infantry Division, which was transferred from the Eastern Front to garrison occupied Crete. In Crete, Müller became notorious for his brutality, and he was responsible for many of the atrocities committed on the island (e.g. the holocaust of Viannos, the destruction of Anogia and the Kedros villages of Amari, the execution of civilians in Damasta, etc.). During the autumn of 1943, he led the German forces in their victory over the Italian-British forces in the Dodecanese Campaign. On the 6th of October, on the island of Kos, under his orders, German forces killed and buried in mass graves over one hundred Italian army officers captured at the end of the battle for the island, who would not side with the former allies [1] On 1 July 1944 he replaced Bruno Brauer as Commander on Crete.

By 1945, Müller commanded the German 4th Army on the Eastern Front. The 4th Army had already been decimated by fighting in the Heiligenbeil Pocket by the time he assumed command. Müller ended the war in East Prussia and was captured by the Soviets.

In 1946, Müller was tried by a Greek court in Athens for the massacres of hostages for reprisals. He was sentenced to death on 9 December 1946 and executed by firing squad on 20 May 1947,[2] along with former General Bruno Bräuer, on the anniversary of the German invasion of Crete.

Ill Met by Moonlight

The original SOE plan, as described in the book Ill Met by Moonlight written by W. Stanley Moss, later made into a film, was to capture Müller, the commander of the Sebastopol division. But, he had been replaced by General Kreipe. SOE believed that Müller had left Crete, when he was in Hania replacing Brauer as the commander of the island. The operation to capture a general was carried out, nevertheless, as it was reckoned that one German general was as good as another.


Wehrmachtbericht references

Date Original German Wehrmachtbericht wording Direct English translation
19 January 1942 Bei der Wiedereroberung von Feodosia hat sich der Ritterkreuzträger Oberst Müller erneut durch hervorragende persönliche Tapferkeit, Entschlußkraft und umsichtige Führung seines Regiments ausgezeichnet.[6] In the reconquest of Feodosia, the Knight's Cross bearer Colonel Mueller has once again distinguished himself by showing excellent personal courage, decisiveness and prudent leadership of his regiment.
18 November 1943 Wie durch Sondermeldung bekanntgegeben, haben deutsche Truppen des Heeres und der Luftwaffe unter Führung von Generalleutnant Müller nach viertägigem, zähem und wechselvollem Ringen gegen einen an Zahl und Bewaffnung überlegenem Feind am 16. November den englischen Seestützpunkt Leros genommen.[7] As announced by special bulletin, German troops of the Army and the Air Force under the command of Lieutenant General Müller, after four days of tough and changeful ringing, have against an enemy of superior numbers and armament, conquered the British naval base at Leros on 16 November.


  1. ^ Isabella Insolvibile, Kos 1943-1948. La strage, la storia, Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane (31 dicembre 2012)
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d Thomas 1998, p. 104.
  4. ^ Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 318.
  5. ^ a b c Scherzer 2007, p. 555.
  6. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 14.
  7. ^ Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 2, p. 608.

External links

  • - Militärgeschichte - Bremen und Umland 1933-1945 at
Military offices
Preceded by
General der Infanterie Ludwig Wolff
Commander of 22. Infanterie-Division
1 August 1942 – 15 February 1944
Succeeded by
Generalmajor Heinrich Kreipe
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Hermann Böhme
Commander of V. Armeekorps
4 May 1944 – 2 June 1944
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Dr. Franz Beyer
Preceded by
General der Infantrie Friedrich Hoßbach
Commander of 4. Armee
29 January 1945 – 27 April 1945
Succeeded by
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