Wilhelm Bodewin Gustav Keitel [IPA:Vɪlhɛlm kaɪtɐl] (22 September 1882 – 16 October 1946) was a German Field Marshal and Adolf Hitler's chief of the Armed Forces' Supreme Command during WWII.
Keitel was born in Bad Gandersheim, Duchy of Brunswick, German Empire. After completing his education in Göttingen, he embarked on a military career in 1901. He married Lisa Fontaine in 1909. Together they had six children, one of whom died in infancy.
During WW2, Keitel was one of the primary planners of the Wehrmacht campaigns and operations on the Western and the Eastern fronts. He advised Hitler against invading France and opposed Operation Barbarossa. Both times he backed down in the face of Hitler and tendered his resignation, which Hitler refused to accept.
In 1940, after the French campaign, he was promoted to Field Marshal. Unusual for a non-field commander, Keitel was awarded the Knight's Cross for arranging the armistice with France.
In 1942, he confronted Hitler in defense of Field Marshal Wilhelm List, whose Army Group A was stalled in the Battle of the Caucasus. Hitler spurned Keitel's pleading and fired List. Keitel's defense of List was his last act of defiance to Hitler; he never again challenged one of Hitler's orders. For example, during a strategy briefing late in the war, Luftwaffe intelligence discovered vast numbers of Soviet fighter aircraft ready to be deployed to the front. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe, told Hitler that they were simply dummies; the Red Air Force could not possibly have that many aircraft. Keitel then slammed his fist onto the table, and, although he knew the exact opposite was true, said "Mein Führer, the Reichsmarschall is correct." His sycophancy was well known in the army, and he acquired the nickname 'Lakeitel', a pun on his name which in the German language almost sounded like 'Lakei' - the word for 'lackey'.
In April and May 1945, during the Battle of Berlin, Keitel called for counterattacks to drive back the Soviet forces and relieve Berlin. However, there were insufficient German forces to carry out such attacks. After Hitler's suicide on 30 April, Keitel stayed on as a member of the short-lived Flensburg government under Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz. On 8 May 1945, Dönitz authorized Keitel to sign an unconditional surrender in Berlin. Although Germany had surrendered to the Allies a day earlier, Stalin had insisted on a second surrender ceremony in Berlin.
He was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Nuremberg Trials and hanged.
In the parodies
Keitel, like Weidling is one of the most serious members of the bunker, never showing any real amusement in anything and thus is very annoyed about Fegelein's constant antics in the bunker, even though most of these antics never target him. Whilst never seeming to want to have fun, he is not interested in ranting either. He will usually leave Burgdorf or Jodl to the ranting and simply add a stern word whenever necessary.
However, he is shown to somehow rant in a few cases, like when Fegelein debates with the generals. He is probably best known for his quote from the aforementioned scene, "Niemals!" which is German for "never!". He is also the proponent of the Anti-Joke Keitel. Keitel did pull an antic, however, where he once set up a giant spring-loaded punching glove that punched Traudl as she opened Hitler's office door.
His Stalin Parody counterpart is Genrikh Yagoda, and his Mirror Parody Universe counterpart is Letiek Mlehliw. Letiek is serious like Keitel, although he's a little more open to a little humor.