Kesselring, Albert(äl`bĕrt kĕs`əlrĭng), 1885–1960, German field marshal. An artillery staff officer in World War I, he later joined the air force and rapidly rose in rank during the Hitler regime. In World War II, he commanded air operations in Poland, on the Western Front, in central Russia, and in the Mediterranean area. Late in 1943, Kesselring was made supreme commander in Italy, and in Mar., 1945, he replaced Rundstedt as commander in chief in the West. He was convicted of war crimes by a British tribunal in 1947, but his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Freed by an act of clemency in 1952, he was elected (1953) president of the Stahlhelm, a veterans' organization in West Germany.
See his memoirs (1953; tr. 1953, repr. 1970).
Born Nov. 20, 1885, in Markstedt; died July 16, 1960, in Bad Nauheim. Fascist German field marshal (1940).
In 1936—37, Kesselring was air force chief of staff. Beginning in February 1938 he was in command of the First Air Fleet, directing it in the aggression against Poland in 1939. In 1940 he took over command of the Second Air Fleet during the French Campaign of 1940, the air raids on Britain during 1940–41, and the attacks against the USSR. Beginning in December 1941, Kesselring was commander in chief of the German troops in the southwest (the Mediterranean area, including Italy), and from March through May of 1945 he served as commander in chief of the German troops in western Germany. In October 1947 he was sentenced to death as a war criminal by a British military tribunal, but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. In October 1952, Kesselring was freed. He was an honorary member of revanchist societies in the Federal Republic of Germany.