The Most Famous


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This page contains a list of the greatest Polish Military Personnels. The pantheon dataset contains 1,466 Military Personnels, 63 of which were born in Poland. This makes Poland the birth place of the 7th most number of Military Personnels behind United Kingdom and Japan.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Polish Military Personnels of all time. This list of famous Polish 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 Polish Military Personnels.

Photo of Heinz Guderian

1. Heinz Guderian (1888 - 1954)

With an HPI of 82.66, Heinz Guderian is the most famous Polish Military Personnel.  His biography has been translated into 59 different languages on wikipedia.

Heinz Wilhelm Guderian (German: [ɡuˈdeːʁi̯an]; 17 June 1888 – 14 May 1954) was a German general during World War II who, after the war, became a successful memoirist. An early pioneer and advocate of the "blitzkrieg" approach, he played a central role in the development of the panzer division concept. In 1936, he became the Inspector of Motorized Troops. At the beginning of the Second World War, Guderian led an armoured corps in the Invasion of Poland. During the Invasion of France, he commanded the armoured units that attacked through the Ardennes forest and overwhelmed the Allied defenses at the Battle of Sedan. He led the 2nd Panzer Army during Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. The campaign ended in failure after the German offensive Operation Typhoon failed to capture Moscow, after which Guderian was dismissed. In early 1943, Adolf Hitler appointed Guderian to the newly created position of Inspector General of Armoured Troops. In this role, he had broad responsibility to rebuild and train new panzer forces but saw limited success due to Germany's worsening war economy. Guderian was appointed Acting Chief of the General Staff of the Army High Command, immediately following the 20 July Plot to assassinate Hitler. Guderian was placed in charge of the "Court of Honour" by Hitler, which in the aftermath of the plot was used to dismiss people from the military so they could be tried in the "People's Court" and executed. He was Hitler's personal advisor on the Eastern Front and became closely associated with the Nazis. Guderian's troops carried out the criminal Commissar Order during Barbarossa, and he was implicated in the commission of reprisals after the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. Guderian surrendered to the United States forces on 10 May 1945 and was interned until 1948. He was released without charge and retired to write his memoirs. Entitled Panzer Leader, the autobiography became a bestseller, widely read to this day. Guderian's writings promoted several post-war myths, including that of the "clean Wehrmacht". In his autobiography, Guderian portrayed himself as the sole originator of the German panzer force; he omitted any mentions of crimes that he authorised or condoned. Guderian died in 1954 and was buried in Goslar.

Photo of Manfred von Richthofen

2. Manfred von Richthofen (1892 - 1918)

With an HPI of 80.42, Manfred von Richthofen is the 2nd most famous Polish Military Personnel.  His biography has been translated into 55 different languages.

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.

Photo of Erich Ludendorff

3. Erich Ludendorff (1865 - 1937)

With an HPI of 79.38, Erich Ludendorff is the 3rd most famous Polish Military Personnel.  His biography has been translated into 55 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 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 proved 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 a military dictatorship in all but name, 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 emasculating 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.

Photo of Fedor von Bock

4. Fedor von Bock (1880 - 1945)

With an HPI of 78.85, Fedor von Bock is the 4th most famous Polish Military Personnel.  His biography has been translated into 51 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 British fighter-bomber on 4 May 1945 as they traveled by car towards Hamburg.

Photo of Günther von Kluge

5. Günther von Kluge (1882 - 1944)

With an HPI of 78.58, Günther von Kluge is the 5th most famous Polish Military Personnel.  His biography has been translated into 43 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.

Photo of Hans-Ulrich Rudel

6. Hans-Ulrich Rudel (1916 - 1982)

With an HPI of 78.10, Hans-Ulrich Rudel is the 6th most famous Polish Military Personnel.  His biography has been translated into 43 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.

Photo of Konstantin Rokossovsky

7. Konstantin Rokossovsky (1896 - 1968)

With an HPI of 77.13, Konstantin Rokossovsky is the 7th most famous Polish Military Personnel.  His biography has been translated into 56 different languages.

Konstantin Konstantinovich (Xaverevich) Rokossovsky (Russian: Константин Константинович Рокоссовский; Polish: Konstanty Rokossowski; 21 December 1896 – 3 August 1968) was a Soviet and Polish officer who became a Marshal of the Soviet Union, a Marshal of Poland, and served as Poland's Defence Minister from 1949 until his removal in 1956 during the Polish October. He became one of the most prominent Red Army commanders of World War II. Born in Warsaw (in present-day Poland; then part of the Russian Empire, Rokossovsky served (1914–1917) in the Imperial Russian Army during World War I. In 1917 he joined the Red Guards and in 1918 the newly-formed Red Army; he fought with great distinction during the Russian Civil War of 1917–1922. Rokossovsky held senior commands until 1937 when he fell victim to Joseph Stalin's Great Purge, during which he was branded a traitor, imprisoned and probably tortured. After Soviet failures in the Winter War of 1940–1941, Rokossovsky was reinstated due to an urgent need for experienced officers. Following Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Rokossovsky played key roles in the defense of Moscow (1941–1942) and the counter-offensives at Stalingrad (1942–1943) and Kursk (1943). He was instrumental in planning and executing part of Operation Bagration (1944)—one of the most decisive Red Army successes of the war—for which he was made a Marshal of the Soviet Union. After the war, Rokossovsky became Defence Minister and deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers in the newly-established Polish People's Republic. Forced out of office in Poland 1956 after Władysław Gomułka became the leader of Poland, Rokossovsky then returned to the Soviet Union, where he lived out the rest of his life until his death in 1968.

Photo of Werner von Blomberg

8. Werner von Blomberg (1878 - 1946)

With an HPI of 76.30, Werner von Blomberg is the 8th most famous Polish 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.

Photo of Erich von Falkenhayn

9. Erich von Falkenhayn (1861 - 1922)

With an HPI of 76.13, Erich von Falkenhayn is the 9th most famous Polish Military Personnel.  His biography has been translated into 43 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.

Photo of Erwin von Witzleben

10. Erwin von Witzleben (1881 - 1944)

With an HPI of 75.26, Erwin von Witzleben is the 10th most famous Polish Military Personnel.  His biography has been translated into 38 different languages.

Job Wilhelm Georg Erdmann Erwin von Witzleben (4 December 1881 – 8 August 1944) was a German field marshal in the Wehrmacht during the Second World War. A leading conspirator in the 20 July plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, he was designated to become Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht in a post-Nazi regime had the plot succeeded.

Pantheon has 63 people classified as military personnels born between 1745 and 1951. Of these 63, none of them are still alive today. The most famous deceased military personnels include Heinz Guderian, Manfred von Richthofen, and Erich Ludendorff. As of October 2020, 10 new military personnels have been added to Pantheon including Erich Fellgiebel, Heinz Reinefarth, and Helmuth von Pannwitz.

Deceased Military Personnels

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Newly Added Military Personnels (2020)

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Which Military Personnels were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Military Personnels since 1700.