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Fritz Erich Fellgiebel (4 October 1886 – 4 September 1944) was a German officer and resistance fighter in the Third Reich.


Military career

Fellgiebel was born in Pöpelwitz near Breslau, Silesia. In September 1905, he joined a signal battalion in the Prussian Army as an officer cadet, thereby beginning his military career. During the First World War, he was active on the General Staff. After the war, he went to Berlin as a General Staff Officer. His career as an officer had been exemplary, and in 1928, he was promoted to major.

In 1933 came another promotion, to lieutenant colonel. Others also followed. Fellgiebel became a full colonel in 1934, and a major general in 1938. That same year, he was also appointed Chief of the Army's Signal Establishment and Chief of the Wehrmacht's communications Liaison to the Wehrmacht's Supreme Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht). He was promoted to General der Nachrichtentruppe (General of the Communications Troops) on 1 August 1940. Adolf Hitler apparently did not fully trust Fellgiebel, deeming him too independent-minded, but his expertise was needed. Erich Fellgiebel (first from left, shaking hands) and other officers being congratulated at Peenemünde, 3 October 1942; Walter Dornberger & Wernher von Braun are third and fourth from left, respectively.

Hitler's misgivings notwithstanding, Fellgiebel, as head of Hitler's Signal services, was trusted with every military secret in the Reich, including Wernher von Braun's rocketry work at Peenemünde (photo at right).

Resistance activities

Through his acquaintance with Colonel General Ludwig Beck – who was his superior – and Beck's successor, Colonel General Franz Halder, Fellgiebel came into contact with the military resistance circles. Fellgiebel was significantly involved in the preparations for Operation Valkyrie, and tried on the day of the attempt on the Führer's life, 20 July 1944, to cut Hitler's headquarters off from all telecommunication connections, which he was, however, not fully successful in doing. As it later became clear that the attempt on Hitler's life had failed, Fellgiebel had to override the communications black-out that he had set up.

Perhaps Fellgiebel's most famous act that day was his telephone report to his co-conspirators in Berlin after Claus von Stauffenberg's briefcase bomb had gone off and Fellgiebel had found out that Hitler was still alive: "Etwas Schreckliches ist passiert! Der Führer lebt!" ("Something awful has happened! The Führer lives!").

Trial and death

On the same day, Fellgiebel was arrested at the Wolf's Lair in East Prussia, right where the attempt had taken place. There followed charges before the Volksgerichtshof, where, on 10 August 1944, he was found guilty by Roland Freisler and sentenced to death.

On 4 September 1944, Fellgiebel was executed at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin.

The Bundeswehr's barracks, a signals and intelligence school ("Führungsunterstützungsschule"), in Pöcking-Maxhof is named the General-Fellgiebel-Kaserne in his honour.

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