Albert Kesselring Biography

Albert Kesselring, a highly-decorated German military officer, played a significant role in both World Wars. Despite being found guilty of war crimes after World War II, Kesselring was widely regarded as one of the most brilliant and capable commanders of Nazi Germany. Originally from Marktsteft, he began his military career in the Bavarian Army and saw combat on both the Eastern and Western Fronts during World War I. Following the war, Kesselring played a crucial role in rebuilding the German aviation industry and establishing the Luftwaffe. As the generalfeldmarschall of the Luftwaffe during World War II, he participated in major military campaigns and earned the admiration of his Allied opponents. However, his involvement in the Ardeatine massacre led to a death sentence, which was later commuted to life imprisonment.

Quick Facts

  • Nick Name: Smiling Albert, Uncle Albert
  • Died At Age: 74
  • Family:
    • Father: Carl Adolf Kesselring
    • Mother: Rosina Kesselring
    • Children: Rainer Keßelring
  • Born Country: Germany
  • War Criminals
  • German Men
  • Died on: July 16, 1960
  • Place of death: Bad Nauheim, Hessen, West Germany

Childhood & Early Life

Albert Kesselring was born on November 30, 1885, in Marktsteft, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire. His parents were Rosina and Carl Adolf Kesselring. His father was a schoolmaster and town councillor. In 1904, he passed the secondary examination from the Christian Ernestinum Secondary School in Bayreuth and enlisted in the army as an officer cadet in the 2nd Bavarian Foot Artillery Regiment. He attended the Military Academy from 1905 to 1906 and finished his training as a balloon observer in 1912.

First World War

When World War I broke out, Kesselring served in the 1st Bavarian Foot Artillery. He was promoted to captain in May 1916 and joined the 3rd Bavarian Foot Artillery. He performed exceptionally well at the Battle of Arras in 1917. Although he never enrolled in the Bavarian War Academy, he became part of the general staff and was assigned to the Eastern Front. His experiences there shaped his anti-communist political outlook. In 1918, he returned to the Western Front as a staff officer.

Interwar Period

After the war, Kesselring was involved in the demobilization of the III Royal Bavarian Corps. He briefly faced incarceration for his alleged connection to a coup against the command of the III Bavarian Corps. From 1919 to 1922, he served as a battery commander with the 24th Artillery Regiment. From 1922 to 1929, he worked in the Military Training Department at the Ministry of the Reichswehr in Berlin, playing a pivotal role in army reorganization and introducing reforms. In 1934, he was appointed colonel in the Reich Commissariat for Aviation, which later became the Luftwaffe.

Second World War

At the start of World War II, Kesselring led air fleets in Poland, France, and during the Battle of Britain. He commanded bombing operations in Warsaw and Rotterdam. He agreed to divert Luftwaffe’s attack towards London, which turned out to be a mistake as it allowed the Royal Air Force to regroup and defeat the Germans. He was involved in the Invasion of Soviet Union and was appointed commander in chief, south, to strengthen Italy’s position in North Africa. He later became the Axis commander in North Africa. After the Allied forces breached Sicily and Italy, Kesselring created a defensive plan that delayed the Allied advance for over a year. In 1944, he sustained injuries and was made commander in chief, west. He was unsuccessful in preventing the Anglo-American invasion of Germany and offered the surrender of the southern half of the German forces in 1945.


Kesselring received numerous military decorations throughout his career. In July 1944, he received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds.

Family & Personal Life

In 1910, Kesselring married Luise Anna Pauline “Liny” Keyssler. They did not have any children but adopted Kesselring’s paternal second cousin’s son, Rainer.

Trial for War Crimes & Conviction

After the war, Kesselring was found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to death for his involvement in the Ardeatine massacre and commanding his troops to murder civilians. His sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

Later Years & Death

Kesselring was released in 1952 due to health-related issues. He published his memoir in 1953 and became the honorary president of three veterans’ organizations. He died on July 16, 1960, at the age of 74 and was buried in Bergfriedhof Cemetery in Bad Wiessee.

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