Ludwig Crüwell

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Ludwig Crüwell
Born(1892-03-20)20 March 1892
Dortmund, German Empire
Died25 September 1958(1958-09-25) (aged 66)
Essen, West Germany
Allegiance German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Service/branchArmy (Wehrmacht)
Years of service1911–45
Rank General der Panzertruppe
Commands held11th Panzer Division
Afrika Korps
Battles/warsWorld War I

World War II

North African Campaign

AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Ludwig Crüwell (20 March 1892 – 25 September 1958) was a German army general who served in the Afrika Korps of Nazi Germany during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. Crüwell surrendered to the British forces on 29 May 1942 and was interned at Trent Park, the British camp for high-ranking POW where his conversations were subject to covert surveillance.


Crüwell became commander of the 11th Panzer Division in August 1940 and led it during the Invasion of Yugoslavia; he received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross afterwards. Then the division took part in Operation Barbarossa; he was promoted to Generalleutnant and received the Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross.

Crüwell became commander of the Afrika Korps on 31 July 1941, under General Erwin Rommel, who on the same day took command of Panzer Army Africa, consisting of one infantry and two panzer divisions. Due to health reasons he took actual command on 15 September, and was promoted to General der Panzertruppe on 17 December 1941.[citation needed] On 29 May 1942, Crüwell was inspecting operations by air in Libya. His pilot mistook British troops for Italian soldiers and landed, where Crüwell was taken prisoner.[1]

Crüwell was interned at Trent Park to the north of London, known as the "Cockfosters Cage", a Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre for senior officers operated by MI19 and equipped with an "M Room" listening facility to secretly record and translate the conversations of the inmates.[2] Here, on March 22, 1943, he was intentionally placed with another POW, General Wilhelm von Thoma. During their conversation, Thoma disclosed intelligence regarding the V-2 rocket, i.e., surprise that London was not yet in ruins from German rockets being tested at Kummersdorf test grounds he had visited. This led to the British investigating Peenemünde and following confirmation, carried out a bombing raid on the Peenemünde facilities which severely disrupted the program.[3]

Senior German officers at Trent Park in November 1943. Crüwell is in the front row, second from the left.

Crüwell led the pro-Nazi group of German officers at Trent park, who were outnumbered by those opposed to the regime.[4] The British intelligence files recorded in his character profile that "he tried to impress everyone with his own importance and knowledge, a trouble-maker and a bore".[5] In mid-1944, Crüwell was transferred to a facility in the United States.[6]

After the war Crüwell settled in Essen. He became Chairman of the Veterans Association of the Germany Africa Corps and died on 25 September 1958.




  1. ^ "A Pilot's Error Leads to Capture," Chillicothe Daily Tribune, June 2, 1942, p.6
  2. ^ Fry 2020, pp. 22-23
  3. ^ PBS show "Secrets of the Dead," Episode "Bugging Hitler's Soldiers," transcript at PBS Archived 2018-07-24 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Fry 2020, p. 112
  5. ^ Fry 2020, p. 99
  6. ^ Fry 2020, p. 194
  7. ^ a b Thomas 1997, p. 106.
  8. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 263.


  • Fry, Helen (2020) [2019]. The Walls Have Ears. New Haven CT: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300254853.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
  • Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Commander of 11. Panzer Division
1 August 1940 – 15 August 1941
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Günther Angern
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppe Philipp Müller-Gebhard
Commander of Afrika Korps
15 September 1941 – 8 March 1942
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppe Walther Nehring
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppe Walther Nehring
Commander of Afrika Korps
19 March 1942 – 28 May 1942
Succeeded by
General der Panzertruppe Walther Nehring