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General Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel was Chief of Staff of the High Command from 1938 to 1945 and one of Hitlers closest military advisers.

On his dissolution of the War Ministry in 1938, Hitler asked its disgraced chief, Blomberg, if his assistant, Keitel, would make a suitable professional head. On being told that he was 'simply the man who runs my office', Hitler said, 'That's exactly the man I want'. For the rest of the war, Keitel acted as Hitler's principal military mouthpiece.

Known as Lakaitel to the rest of the High Command (Lakai meaning lackey) he never disagreed with the Fuhrer, but did nothing else to justify his Marshal's baton. The real work of OKW was carried out by Jodl.

On 13 May 1941 Keitel, as Chief of OKW, signed an order from the Fuehrer's Headquarters providing that Russian civilians suspected of offenses against German troops should be shot or ruthlessly punished without a military trial, and that prosecution of German soldiers for offenses against Russian civilians was not required.

On May 8, 1945, Keitel ratified in Berlin the unconditional surrender of Germany.

Wilhelm Keitel was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and hanged in Nuremberg prison on 16 October 1946.