Experiences of Gerd von Rundstedt
by Rundstedt's neighbour:
The following are the personal experiences of a neighbour of Gerd von Rundstedt
which have been graciously provided for inclusion on this web site by Mrs Barbara
Schmorak and her mother Mrs Hilda Jenson (March 2005):
- Barbara Schmorak:
I was born in Hannover, and my mother knew Mrs von Rundstedt (Bila)
very well. My mother also used to help the FeldMarshall out a lot when he
came back from England and his health wasn't so good. Sometimes, when I was
about 3 years old (I think, or so I am told), his wife (Bila) would ask my
mother around for coffee and cakes, and Gerd von Rundstedt would always save
me the little buns with icing on because he knew I liked them!
- Barbara Schmorak:
The Field Marshall used to sit me on his knee and sometimes I leant on
him and fell asleep. One time he was listening to classical music and I was
sleepy and at the same time I was playing with his tie. Don't ask me how it
happened but I somehow managed to push the knot of his tie upwards and at
the same time it tightened and I nearly strangled the poor man. It always
makes me laugh when I think of it.
- Account provided by Hilda Jenson told by her daughter Barbara Schmorak
One of my mother's last memories of Gerd von Rundstedt was around
the beginning of November 1952. His wife had died and he rarely left his bed
owing to sorrow and illness. She remembers that she went around to see him,
and even though he was in bed, he welcomed her like usual. It seems that around
the summer of 1952, he had remarked in passing that his collection of phonographic
records of military marches was missing the Washington Post March. Anyway,
she went to see him on a rainy November morning, and said she'd brought him
something which would hopefully make him feel better. He opened it, and there
it was : a phonographic '78 recording of the Washington Post March. It was
my father that had got it for her. She said his reaction was "cute". She said
he pulled her down to his level and gave her a kiss on the cheek and said
that she was indeed very kind to have done such a thing and it wasn't necessary,
followed by "could you put it on for me please?".
- Account provided by Hilda Jenson told by her daughter Barbara Schmorak
Another memory she has was from the same morning she took him his record.
He asked her to pass him his bedpan. She said of course, but she would empty
it first. She said he refused point blank to let her do such a thing. Her
response was to talk to him like talking to a child, saying that he couldn't
use it if it was already full. She says she couldn't understand what was wrong
with him! Was it because he was an "aristocrat" and she was a "commoner"?
Was it because he didn't think he should be brought down to that level of
'mucking in" and treating something as equal to everyone, in a sense of "everyone
uses the toilet so I've seen it before"? Any, he refused to let her empty
his bedpan and therefore to relieve himself until his nurse (who was a man)
returned from town. His nurse had only just gone out, and he didn't return
for another 2 hours, as he'd gone into the city!
- Account provided by Hilda Jenson told in her own words
In April 1952, Mrs von Rundstedt was in hospital after having suffered a bad
stroke. Her husband was left all on his own in the appartment, and one day
whilst trying to do the housework, he had a bad fall, and badly bruised his
ribs- he ended up in hospital also. Anyway, I had said that should he ever
need anything, he only had to call us. So I got this phone call, which sounded
like he was in immense pain and a little shaken. I went next door to see to
him, but Barbara followed me. She was about 4 at the time. I managed to prop
him up on the floor with some pillows, and she gave him her teddy bear...AAWWW...and
then she stood there with her fingers in her mouth.
We went to see him in hospital a few days later, and when he saw Barbara,
he put the teddy bear in the bed next to him, and moved its paw like it was
waving to her. When he was discharged and back at home with his wife and nurse,
he gave the teddy back to her. She wanted him to keep it for his bed, but
he told her that should she ever need a friend, teddy would be the one to
be with, as he had really helped him to get over his injuries! She was SO
Col. Lucius GŁnther
Schrivenbach (served under both Gen. Blumentritt and GFM von Rundstedt in 1943-44):
The following photo and accounts are the personal experiences of GŁnther
Schrivenbach which have been graciously provided for inclusion on this web
site April 2005:
row (Left to right):
Back row (Left
Lt Hans Gerd von Rundstedt
Unknown (Obscured by GFM von Rundstedt )
Unknown (Obscured by General der Infanterie GŁnther Blumentritt)
GŁnther Schrivenbach (indicated)
Lucius GŁnther Schrivenbach
Place of capture : Bad Reichenhall, Germany
Date of Capture : 5th May 1945
Date of birth : 12th
Place of birth : Leipzig,
Soldier, Berlin (prior to the war)
Hair colour : Light
Eye colour :
Next of kin:
(wife during WWII)
Commands & Assignments:
: Alpine Battalion <<< Rommel
: Posted to Hitler's HQ
: Posted to organize security of Olympic Games
: France 1941-1943 : Major in the DAK (Deutsches Afrika Korps) <<<< Rommel
: Reserve Lt. Fontainebleau, Paris and La Roche-Guyon, Paris <<<< Rommel
: Reserve Lt. St. Germain-en-Laye, Paris, <<<< von Rundstedt
- Early July 1944.
I was out on an inspection as communications officer with my boss (Rundstedt),
Blumentritt, my old boss (Rommel), and that unbearable chief of staff
of his, Speidel. But there were also the chauffeurs. So there were 7 of
us. On the way back, night fell, and we.....GOT LOST! In the middle of
the French countryside somewhere between the north coast and Paris! We
ended up in a forest, that was still behind the German lines, but in which
there seemed to be no German soldiers around at all! We found a clearing
and parked the cars, and settled down around a camp fire.... Speidel got
all twisted up about being hungry, and he didn't fancy eating wolves.......(see
how stupid that sounds!). I had an idea. I got the two chauffeurs to come
with me, and we went to a nearby farmer's field, and stole some wheat
from his crops, some apples from a nearby orchid, and we also managed
to catch a deer. Back at the fire, I was able to dry the wheat over the
heat and I managed to make couscous. So we had deer with apples and couscous
around a camp fire. We also slept around the fire. In the morning Rommel
had an argument with Rundstedt because he didn't wake up at 6am like he
did, and that he thought that it was very lazy of a man in his rank. Rundstedt
told him to "p*ss off". Then an argument broke out between the two chiefs
of staff because Speidel wasn't sure if he was imagining seeing an aristocrat
urinate behind a tree. Blumentritt decided to show his "appreciation"
of Speidels comment by directing some of his urine on to Speidel's boot....It
was a nightmare. In the end, we managed to find our way back to Paris
and the different HQs. Rundstedt made me send some papers that authorized
extra rations to the farmers I had stolen from. So you see, it wasn't
all orders and obeying in the German army!
Rundstedt never showed any interest in his personal security. When he
returned from a health cure in 1943 there was an air raid warning and,
after a lot of difficulty, Hans-Gerd von Rundstedt (son) eventually persuaded
the GFM to go into the shelter. Bodo Zimmerman was busy afterwards on
the phone and such, and forgot about the Field Marshal. About an hour
or so later the telephone rang. It was von Rundstedt who asked, in his
usual polite manner : "Zimmerman, may I please come out now?". This is
one of my most favourite recollections of the Field Marshal. You see,
most of the other officers of that rank, perhaps with the exception of
Rommel, would have grilled you for keeping them in a shelter and promptly
forgetting about them. When he came back to the villa, Von Rundstedt was
confronted by a very sorry Zimmerman who was all apologetic, and the GFM
said that he did not expect to be kept prisonner by his own son, who also
KNEW he was in the shelter, and had left him there to be a victim of nature's
mercy. What made us laugh most, was the thought of the Field Marshal keep
phoning and the telephone always being busy! He was not at all asking
whether he could come out of the shelter because the air raid warning
had finished, it was because everyone kept on insisting that he go in
there, and I think he was trying to please us!
by GŁnther Schrivenbach - February 1944 in Paris.
I originally sketched two of these, and gave one to the Field Marshal
- I have no idea where it is now!
FeldMarschall Erwin Rommel
with GFM von Rundstedt in France. I was on his staff when he was at St.
Germain in Paris. I was not originally posted to him, as I was first on
the staff of FM Rommel. I did not get on well with his Chief of Staff, Gen.
Speidel, and we one day had a row, in which I told him what I thought of
Rommel. Anyway, word got back to the FM and I was, after some interrogation
by him, "discharged" from my post. The authorities noticed there was a gap
in Rundstedt's staff, and I was posted to him. He was duly warned before
hand that I was a "troublemaker", and inquired as to why. When he found
out, I believe that he was very amused, as he thought the same as I did.
I was accepted on to his staff, and served with him until he was "sacked"
from the post. I got on very well with him, and he would insist that my
name was Von Schrivenbach, as it "sounded too noble to be common". When
I saw him again in Britain after the war, he took one look at me and said
"Ah! von Schrivenbach!".
: Reserve Lt. Remagen, <<<< von Rundstedt
: Captured at Bad Reichenhall
: Moved to Grizedale Hall
All of the officers
always showed deep respect for their captors, and even von Rundstedt was
often cheerful. One day at Grizedale Hall however, his frustration got the
better of him and he poked at the perimiter fence with his stick. The sentry
caught him, and had to point his rifle at the Field Marshal, in order to
get him to stop.
When I was in Grizedale
Hall, the Commander there had a big file which was called "The Case of Rundstedt's
Mattress", which came about after one of Rundstedt's acquaintances - Liddell
Hart - thought that his thin Army mattress was hardly helping to ease his
leg pains. When Captain Kingston was unable to get Rundstedt a better mattress
from the hospital, one was loaned to him. When Morton returned from his
leave, he complained to the War Office! (Morton was one of the British officers
in the Camp). In the end, von Rundstedt was allowed to keep his mattress.
: Moved to Glen Mill Camp 168, Oldham, Lancashire
1948 - 15 June 1948: Moved to Island Farm Special Camp 11, Bridgend, South
GFM had already left by then. I was treated very well in Britain, and
I didn't want to go home, as my home, Berlin, was in the Russian zone."
: Returned to Germany (Berlin). Denazification.
: Moved to West Germany (via "back door"). Left Germany.
: Attended funeral of von Rundstedt.
: attended funeral of Blumentritt.
was at Island Farm Camp from May 5th 1948 to June 15th 1948. I'm not sure
why I was transferred as we were not told much. The idea was that WE were
the prisonners now, and so WE would do as we were told. After I left Bridgend,
I went back to Germany, and was denazified. But it wasn't easy for me,
as I lived in the Russian Zone. I wanted to stay in England, or Wales,
but I also wanted to see my mother and sisters. But, after a few years,
I moved to Italy, where I stayed until 1986, only returning to attend
the funerals of von Rundstedt and Blumentritt in 1953 and 1967.
I was surprised to find GŁnther Schrivenbach on your
web site! I served in North Africa with him. You can see us on the
attached picture. I am on the left.
Kind regards, Hans Dietrich Riesl (Col.)