|“||Yes, thousands of paratroopers have landed in Nijmegen... right on top of Field Marshal Model.||„|
|~ ~Wilhelm Bittrich|
SS Obergrumppenfuhrer or Wilhelm Bittrich, is the main antagonist of the film, A Bridge To Far. He is apart of the OC, II SS Panzer Corps
He was portrayed by the late Maxmillian Schell.
Wilhelm Wears a Grey Nazi General Suit With a Skull and a reichsadler on his hat. on his uniform he has the iron cross and a iron cross badge on his right pocket he has a Nazi Medal on his left pocket. He also wears a General insignia above the iron cross.
He took part in the invasion of Poland (1939), assigned as LSSAH Chief of Staff to Sepp Dietrich. In January 1940 through October 1941, he was commander of the Regiment "Deutschland" and fought in the battle of France. From the summer of 1942 through February 1943, Bittrich commanded SS Cavalry Division Florian Geyer, that was tasked with rear-security operations (Bandenbekämpfung, literally "bandit-fighting") in the Soviet Union. On 9 July 1942 Bittrich attended a conference called to convey the principles of the Bandenbekämpfung to senior police and security leaders. Organized by Heinrich Himmler, the conference included Kurt Daluege, Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski, Odilo Globocnik, Bruno Streckenbach and others. The policies included collective punishment against villages suspected of supporting partisans, automatic death penalty for immediate families of suspected partisans, deportation (to labor and death camps) of women and children, and confiscation of property for the state.
He assumed temporary command of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich from 14 October 1941 through 12 December 1941, after Paul Hausser had been wounded. He then was given command over the 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen effective February 1943 until 1 July 1944. On 1 July 1944, he was appointed commander of the 2nd SS Panzer Corps. The 2nd Panzer Corps fought in Normandy, at Arnhem and later in Hungary. Bittrich was listed as a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords by the Association of Knight's Cross Holders, although no record of the award could be found in the German archives due to the irregular nature of its presentation.
After his arrest on 8 May 1945 he was extradited to France on charges of having ordered the execution of 17 members of the Resistance in Nîmes. The trial revealed that Bittrich had not given such an order and had even opened procedures against the responsible officers. As the commander in charge of the troops who committed the execution, he was held responsible for their misconduct and sentenced to five years in prison. The sentence was considered as served after a long pretrial detention. He was put on trial for a second time in 1953 and sentenced to five years in prison for countenancing hangings, pillage and arson, but was acquitted by the French court in Bordeaux again and released in 1954. He was never brought to trial for any actions and war crimes of the 8th SS Cavalry Division Florian Geyer in the Soviet Union.