The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Military Personnels of all time. This list of famous Military Personnels is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Military Personnels.
With an HPI of 74.13, Manfred von Richthofen is the most famous Military Personnel. His biography has been translated into 55 different languages on wikipedia.
Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen (German: [ˈmanfreːt fɔn ˈʁɪçthoːfn̩]; 2 May 1892 – 21 April 1918), known in English as Baron von Richthofen or the Red Baron, was a fighter pilot with the German Air Force during World War I. He is considered the ace-of-aces of the war, being officially credited with 80 air combat victories. Originally a cavalryman, Richthofen transferred to the Air Service in 1915, becoming one of the first members of fighter squadron Jagdstaffel 2 in 1916. He quickly distinguished himself as a fighter pilot, and during 1917 became the leader of Jasta 11. Later he led the larger fighter wing Jagdgeschwader I, better known as "The Flying Circus" or "Richthofen's Circus" because of the bright colours of its aircraft, and perhaps also because of the way the unit was transferred from one area of Allied air activity to another – moving like a travelling circus, and frequently setting up in tents on improvised airfields. By 1918, Richthofen was regarded as a national hero in Germany, and respected by his enemies. Richthofen was shot down and killed near Vaux-sur-Somme on 21 April 1918. There has been considerable discussion and debate regarding aspects of his career, especially the circumstances of his death. He remains one of the most widely known fighter pilots of all time, and has been the subject of many books, films, and other media.
With an HPI of 72.90, Fedor von Bock is the 2nd most famous Military Personnel. His biography has been translated into 52 different languages.
Moritz Albrecht Franz Friedrich Fedor von Bock (3 December 1880 – 4 May 1945) was a German Generalfeldmarschall who served in the German Army during the Second World War. Bock served as the commander of Army Group North during the Invasion of Poland in 1939, commander of Army Group B during the Invasion of France in 1940, and later as the commander of Army Group Center during the attack on the Soviet Union in 1941; his final command was that of Army Group South in 1942. Bock commanded Operation Typhoon, the ultimately failed attempt to capture Moscow during the autumn and winter of 1941. The Wehrmacht offensive was slowed by stiff Soviet resistance around Mozhaisk, and also by the rasputitsa, the season of rain and mud in Central Russia. The Soviet counteroffensive soon drove the German army into retreat, and Bock was subsequently relieved of command by Adolf Hitler. A monarchist, Bock was not heavily involved in politics. He did not sympathize with plots to overthrow Adolf Hitler, and never filed protests over the treatment of civilians by the SS and his own troops. Bock was also uncommonly outspoken, a privilege Hitler extended to him only because he had been successful in battle. Bock, his second wife and his stepdaughter were killed by a strafing Royal New Zealand Air Force fighter-bomber on 4 May 1945 as they traveled by car towards Hamburg.
With an HPI of 72.71, Erich Ludendorff is the 3rd most famous Military Personnel. His biography has been translated into 57 different languages.
Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff (9 April 1865 – 20 December 1937) was a German general, politician and military theorist. He achieved fame during World War I for his central role in the German victories at Liège and Tannenberg in 1914. Following his appointment as First Quartermaster-general (German: Erster Generalquartiermeister) of the Imperial Army's Great General Staff in 1916, he became the chief policymaker in a de facto military dictatorship that dominated Germany for the rest of the war. After Germany's defeat, he contributed significantly to the Nazis' rise to power. Erich Ludendorff came from a family of the minor nobility in Ludendorff, (now Kruszewnia), located in the Prussian province of Posen. After completing his education as a cadet, he received his commission as a junior officer in 1885. Later in 1893, Ludendorff was admitted to the prestigious German War Academy and was recommended by its commandant to the General Staff Corps only a year later. By 1904, he had rapidly risen in rank to become a member of the Army's Great General Staff, where he oversaw the development of the Schlieffen Plan. Despite being temporarily removed from the Great General Staff for meddling in German politics, Ludendorff restored his standing in the army through his success as a commander in World War I. On 16 August 1914, he led the successful German assault on Liège, a feat for which he earned the Pour le Mérite. Upon being transferred to the Eastern Front under the command of General Paul von Hindenburg, Ludendorff was instrumental in inflicting a series of crushing defeats against the Russians, including at Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes. By 29 August 1916, he had successfully lobbied for Hindenburg's appointment as Supreme Commander of the German Army as well as his own promotion to Quartermaster General of the army high command. Once he and Hindenburg had established what some authors describe as a de facto military dictatorship, Ludendorff directed Germany's entire military strategy and war effort until the end of the conflict. In this capacity, he secured Russia's defeat in the east and launched a new wave of offensives on the Western Front resulting in advances not seen since the war's outbreak. However, by the end of 1918, all improvements in Germany's fortunes were reversed after its forces' decisive defeat in the Second Battle of the Marne and the Allies' Hundred Days Offensive. Faced with the war effort's collapse and a growing popular revolution, the German Emperor, Wilhelm II, forced Ludendorff to resign. After the war, Ludendorff became a prominent nationalist leader, and a promoter of the stab-in-the-back myth, which posited that Germany's defeat and the settlement reached at Versailles were the result of a treasonous conspiracy by Marxists, Freemasons and Jews. He also took part in the failed 1920 Kapp Putsch and 1923 Beer Hall Putsch before unsuccessfully running for President against Field Marshal Hindenburg, his wartime superior. Thereafter, he retired from politics and devoted his final years to the study of military theory. His most famous work in this field was Der totale Krieg (The Total War), where he argued that a nation's entire physical and moral resources should remain forever poised for mobilization because peace was merely an interval in a never-ending chain of wars. Ludendorff died of liver cancer in Munich in 1937.
With an HPI of 71.19, Günther von Kluge is the 4th most famous Military Personnel. His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.
Günther Adolf Ferdinand von Kluge (30 October 1882 – 19 August 1944) was a German field marshal during World War II who held commands on both the Eastern and Western Fronts. He commanded the 4th Army of the Wehrmacht during the invasion of Poland in 1939 and the Battle of France in 1940, earning a promotion to Generalfeldmarschall. Kluge went on to command the 4th Army in Operation Barbarossa (the invasion of the Soviet Union) and the Battle for Moscow in 1941. Amid the crisis of the Soviet counter-offensive in December 1941, Kluge was promoted to command Army Group Centre replacing Field Marshal Fedor von Bock. Several members of the German military resistance to Adolf Hitler served on his staff, including Henning von Tresckow. Kluge was aware of the plotters' activities but refused to offer his support unless Hitler was killed. His command on the Eastern Front lasted until October 1943 when Kluge was badly injured in a car accident. Following a lengthy recuperation, Kluge was appointed OB West (Supreme Commander West) in occupied France in July 1944, after his predecessor, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, was dismissed for defeatism. Kluge's forces were unable to stop the momentum of the Allied invasion of Normandy, and he began to realise that the war in the West was lost. Although Kluge was not an active conspirator in the 20 July plot, in the aftermath of the failed coup he committed suicide on 19 August 1944, after having been recalled to Berlin for a meeting with Hitler. Kluge was replaced by Field Marshal Walter Model.
With an HPI of 71.06, Hans-Ulrich Rudel is the 5th most famous Military Personnel. His biography has been translated into 44 different languages.
Hans-Ulrich Rudel (2 July 1916 – 18 December 1982) was a German ground-attack pilot during World War II and a post-war neo-Nazi activist. The most decorated German pilot of the war and the only recipient of the Knight's Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds, Rudel was credited with the destruction of 519 tanks, one battleship, one cruiser, 70 landing craft and 150 artillery emplacements. He claimed 51 aerial victories and the destruction of more than 800 vehicles. He flew 2,530 ground-attack missions exclusively on the Eastern Front, usually flying the Junkers Ju 87 "Stuka" dive bomber. Rudel surrendered to US forces in 1945 and emigrated to Argentina. An unrepentant Nazi, he helped fugitives escape to Latin America and the Middle East, and sheltered Josef Mengele, the former SS doctor at Auschwitz. He worked as an arms dealer to several right-wing regimes in South America, for which he was placed under observation by the US Central Intelligence Agency. In the West German federal election of 1953, Rudel was the top candidate for the far-right German Reich Party but was not elected. Following the fall of Perón, Rudel moved to Paraguay, where he acted as a foreign representative for several German companies.
With an HPI of 69.24, Erich von Falkenhayn is the 6th most famous Military Personnel. His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.
General Erich Georg Sebastian Anton von Falkenhayn (11 September 1861 – 8 April 1922) was the second Chief of the German General Staff of the First World War from September 1914 until 29 August 1916. He was removed on 29 August 1916 after the failure at the Battle of Verdun, the opening of the Battle of the Somme, the Brusilov Offensive and the entry of Romania into the war on the Allied side undid his strategy to end the war before 1917. He was later given important field commands in Romania and Syria. His reputation as a war leader was attacked in Germany during and after the war, especially by the faction supporting Paul von Hindenburg. Falkenhayn held that Germany could not win the war by a decisive battle but would have to reach a compromise peace; his enemies said he lacked the resolve necessary to win a decisive victory. Falkenhayn's relations with the Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg were troubled and undercut Falkenhayn's plans.
With an HPI of 68.81, Werner von Blomberg is the 7th most famous Military Personnel. His biography has been translated into 40 different languages.
Werner Eduard Fritz von Blomberg (2 September 1878 – 13 March 1946) was a German General Staff officer and the first Minister of War in Adolf Hitler's government. After serving on the Western Front in World War I, Blomberg was appointed chief of the Truppenamt ("Troop Office") during the Weimar Republic. Following the Nazis' rise to power, he was named Minister of War and Commander-in-Chief of the German Armed Forces. In this capacity, Blomberg played a central role in Germany's military build-up during the years leading to World War II. However, by 20 January 1938, he was forced to resign after his rivals, Hermann Göring and Heinrich Himmler, presented Hitler with evidence that his wife had posed in the past for pornographic photos.
With an HPI of 66.55, Anton Denikin is the 8th most famous Military Personnel. His biography has been translated into 47 different languages.
Anton Ivanovich Denikin (Russian: Анто́н Ива́нович Дени́кин [ɐnˈton ɪˈvanəvʲɪtɕ dʲɪˈnʲikʲɪn]; 16 December [O.S. 4 December] 1872 – 7 August 1947) was a Russian Lieutenant General in the Imperial Russian Army (1916), later served as the Deputy Supreme Ruler of Russia during the Russian Civil War of 1917–1922. He was also a military leader of South Russia (as commander in chief).
With an HPI of 66.28, Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski is the 9th most famous Military Personnel. His biography has been translated into 31 different languages.
Erich Julius Eberhard von dem Bach-Zelewski (born Erich Julius Eberhard von Zelewski; 1 March 1899 – 8 March 1972) was a high-ranking SS commander of Nazi Germany. During World War II, he was in charge of the Nazi security warfare against those designated by the regime as ideological enemies and any other persons deemed to present danger to the Nazi rule or Wehrmacht's rear security in the occupied territories of Eastern Europe. It mostly involved atrocities against the civilian population. In 1944 he led the brutal suppression of the Warsaw Uprising. At the end of 1941 the forces under von dem Bach numbered 14,953 Germans, mostly officers and unteroffiziere, and 238,105 local "volunteers" (most war crime victims were executed by local collaborators under Nazi command.)Despite his responsibility for numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity, Bach-Zelewski did not stand trial in the Nuremberg trials, and instead appeared as a witness for the prosecution. He was later convicted for politically motivated murders committed before the war and died in prison in 1972.
With an HPI of 66.17, Alfred von Tirpitz is the 10th most famous Military Personnel. His biography has been translated into 39 different languages.
Alfred Peter Friedrich von Tirpitz (19 March 1849 – 6 March 1930) was a German grand admiral, Secretary of State of the German Imperial Naval Office, the powerful administrative branch of the German Imperial Navy from 1897 until 1916. Prussia never had a major navy, nor did the other German states before the German Empire was formed in 1871. Tirpitz took the modest Imperial Navy and, starting in the 1890s, turned it into a world-class force that could threaten Britain's Royal Navy. However, during World War I, his High Seas Fleet proved unable to end Britain's command of the sea and its chokehold on Germany's economy. The one great engagement at sea, the Battle of Jutland, ended in a narrow German tactical victory but a strategic failure. As the High Seas Fleet's limitations became increasingly apparent during the war, Tirpitz became an outspoken advocate for unrestricted submarine warfare, a policy which would ultimately bring Germany into conflict with the United States. By the beginning of 1916, he was dismissed from office and never regained power.
Pantheon has 66 people classified as military personnels born between 1667 and 1951. Of these 66, none of them are still alive today. The most famous deceased military personnels include Manfred von Richthofen, Fedor von Bock, and Erich Ludendorff. As of April 2022, 7 new military personnels have been added to Pantheon including Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière, Mikhail Dmitrievich Gorchakov, and Jacob Heinrich von Flemming.
1892 - 1918
1880 - 1945
1865 - 1937
1882 - 1944
1916 - 1982
1861 - 1922
1878 - 1946
1872 - 1947
1899 - 1972
1849 - 1930
1881 - 1944
1755 - 1818
Which Military Personnels were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Military Personnels since 1700.