|Herbert Otto Gille|
|Born||8 March 1897|
|Died||26 December 1966(aged 69)|
|Place of birth||Gandersheim, Duchy of Brunswick, German Empire|
|Place of death||Stemmen near Hannover, Lower Saxony, West Germany|
German Empire (to 1918)|
Weimar Republic (to 1922)
Heer (to 1919)|
|Years of service||1910–19, 1934–45|
|Unit||5th SS Panzergrenadier Division Wiking|
|Commands held||5th SS Panzergrenadier Division Wiking|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds|
|Other work||worked for a newspaper|
Herbert Otto Gille (8 March 1897 – 26 December 1966) was a German general, and as a winner of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds and of the German Cross in Gold, the most highly decorated member of the Waffen-SS during World War II. By the end of the war he held the rank of SS-Obergruppenfuhrer und General der Waffen-SS and was the last regular officer of the Waffen-SS to be promoted to that rank with date of rank from 9 November 1944.
Born in Gandersheim, Gille began his military career as a first lieutenant in the artillery branch during the First World War and won the Iron Cross First and Second Classes. He left the army in 1919 and remained a civilian working in agriculture and as a car dealer until 1931 when he joined the Nazi Party and the SS.
In 1934 he was re-activated by the SS combat support forces. He became a Company Commander in Ellwangen, then a Battalion Commander of the SS regiment Germania in Arolsen. He later served as the commander of an artillery unit in Jueterbog. As the commander of the 1st Battalion of the SS-V Artillery Regiment Gille participated in the invasion of Poland and in the western campaign. In 1940 he took over the artillery regiment of the 5th SS Panzer Division, led by SS Obergruppenführer Felix Steiner.
With his regiment, Gille participated in the Operation Barbarossa in 1941 and in advance to Kuban in 1942; he received the Knight's Cross on 8 October 1942. He then took command of the Wiking Division (5th SS Panzer Division) on the Eastern Front. Early in 1944, Gille participated in the breakout of the Group Stemmermann during the Korsun encirclement, also known as the Cherkassy Pocket. Gille received the diamonds to his Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords on 19 April 1944. Shortly after, Gille and members of his staff were flown into the encircled town of Kovel to organize German defenses. In January 1945 Gille, as leader of the IV SS Panzer Corps comprising the 3rd and 5th SS Panzer Divisions, was sent to Hungary to attempt to relieve the encircled German and Hungarian troops in Budapest. However, his troops were unable to break through to the city. In March 1945 he led the IV SS Panzer Corps in the failed Lake Balaton Offensive. Following the Soviet counter-offensive, his corps retreated into Austria, where it surrendered to the U.S forces.
Gille was held by the U.S. for three years, and released in May 1948. He then worked for a newspaper until 1958. He also owned a small bookshop. In the early 1950s, Gille became active in HIAG, a lobby group and a revisionist veteran's organisation founded by former high-ranking Waffen-SS personnel in West Germany to campaign for their legal, economic and historical rehabilitation. Gille, alongside Felix Steiner, Otto Kumm and Paul Hausser, became an early leading figure within HIAG.
in 1951 Gille launched the periodical Wiking-Ruf ("Viking Call"). Initially it was aimed at the veterans of the SS Division Wiking. Within its first year of existence, in 1952, it became the official publication of HIAG and was eventually renamed to Der Freiwillige ("The Volunteer"). Gille faced his share of controversy with the organisation. In 1952, HIAG held its first major meeting in Verden. It began respectably, with Gille announcing that the veterans were ready to 'do their duty for the Fatherland' and Steiner declaring support for 'freedom, order and justice'. But the next speaker delivered a different message. Former paratroop general Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke, who had been invited to demonstrate so-called solidarity with the Wehrmacht, condemned the Western Allies as the 'real war criminals' and insisted that the blacklist on which all former SS members then stood would soon become 'a list of honor'. The outburst caused a furor within West Germany. Periodicals as far as the U.S. and Canada carried headlines Hitler's Guard Cheers Ex-chief and Rabble-Rousing General Is Worrying the Allies, with the latter article reporting that Ramcke's speech had been greeted with "roars of approval and cries "Eisenhower, Schweinehund!" ("Pig – Dog")".
Internal disagreements began to emerge within HIAG in the mid-1950s as to the stance of the organisation: Steiner and Gille favored a more political, outspoken orientation, while the rest of the leadership favored a moderate approach so that not to jeopardize HIAG's goals of legal and economic rehabilitation, which, in their opinion, could only come from the establishment.
On 26 December 1966 Gille died of a heart attack in Stemmen, near Hannover. He was buried at the local cemetery in Stemmen; however, his grave no longer exists.
On January 3, 1935, Gille married 31-year-old Sophie Charlotte Mennecke, and together had one daughter (born on October 9, 1935).
Summary of his career
Dates of rank
- Leutnant: January 27, 1915
- Oberleutnant: March 31, 1919
- SS-Anwärter: December, 1931
- SS-Scharführer: 1932
- SS-Untersturmführer: April 20, 1933
- SS-Obersturmführer: April 20, 1935
- SS-Hauptsturmführer: November 9, 1935
- SS-Sturmbannführer: April 20, 1937
- SS-Obersturmbannführer: October 19, 1939
- SS-Standartenführer: January 30, 1941
- SS-Oberführer: October 1, 1941
- SS-Brigadeführer und Generalmajor der Waffen-SS: November 9, 1942
- SS-Gruppenführer und Generaleutnant der Waffen-SS: November 9, 1943
- SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS: November 9, 1944
- Iron Cross (1914) 2nd and 1st Class
- War Merit Cross Second and First Classes (Brunswick)
- Military Merit Cross 3rd Class with War Decoration (Austria-Hungary)
- The Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918 (1934)
- Clasp to the Iron Cross (1939)
- German Cross in Gold on 28 February 1942 as SS-Oberführer in SS-Artillerie-Regiment 5
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds
- Knight's Cross on 8 October 1942 as SS-Oberführer and commander of SS-Artillerie-Regiment 5 "Wiking"[Note 1]
- 315th Oak Leaves on 1 November 1943 as SS-Brigadeführer and Generalmajor of the Waffen-SS, and commander of SS-Panzergrenadier-Division "Wiking"[Note 2]
- 47th Swords on 20 February 1944 as SS-Gruppenführer and Generalleutnant of the Waffen-SS, and commander of SS-Panzergrenadier-Division "Wiking"[Note 2]
- 12th Diamonds on 19 April 1944 as SS-Gruppenführer and Generalleutnant of the Waffen-SS, and commander of 5th SS-Panzer-Division "Wiking"[Note 2]
- General Assault Badge (May 1941)
- Anschluss Medal
- Sudetenland Medal with Prague Castle clasp
- Eastern Front Medal (15 September 1941)
- Finnish Order of the Cross of Liberty 1st Class with Swords
- Mentioned twice in the Wehrmachtbericht (6 April 1944 and 2 September 1944)
- SS Long Service Award
- Sword of honour of the Reichsführer-SS
- Wound Badge (1939) in Silver
- Dienstalterslisten der SS, NSDAP Revised edition (20 April 1945)
- Large 1987, p. 93.
- Large 1987, p. 91.
- Ottawa Citizen 1952.
- Sarasota Herald-Tribune 1952.
- Large 1987.
- Berger 1999, p. 83.
- Thomas 1997, p. 197.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 137.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 196.
- Von Seemen 1976, p. 140.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 335.
- Krätschmer 1999, p. 345.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 73.
- Von Seemen 1976, p. 38.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 42.
- Von Seemen 1976, p. 15.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 37.
- Von Seemen 1976, p. 12.
- Berger, Florian (1999) (in German). Mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Die höchstdekorierten Soldaten des Zweiten Weltkrieges [With Oak Leaves and Swords. The Highest Decorated Soldiers of the Second World War]. Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 978-3-9501307-0-6.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000)  (in German). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches]. Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6.
- Fraschka, Günther (1994). Knights of the Reich. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Military/Aviation History. ISBN 978-0-88740-580-8.
- Krätschmer, Ernst-Günther (1999) (in German). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Waffen-SS [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the Waffen-SS]. Coburg, Germany: Nation Europa Verlag. ISBN 978-3-920677-43-9.
- Large, David Clay (1987). "Reckoning without the Past: The HIAG of the Waffen-SS and the Politics of Rehabilitation in the Bonn Republic, 1950–1961". University of Chicago Press. pp. 79–113. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1880378.
- Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001) (in German). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2]. Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8.
- Scherzer, Veit (2007) (in German). 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]. Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
- Thomas, Franz (1997) (in German). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K]. Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6.
- Von Seemen, Gerhard (1976) (in German). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 : die Ritterkreuzträger sämtlicher Wehrmachtteile, Brillanten-, Schwerter- und Eichenlaubträger in der Reihenfolge der Verleihung : Anhang mit Verleihungsbestimmungen und weiteren Angaben [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 : The Knight's Cross Bearers of All the Armed Services, Diamonds, Swords and Oak Leaves Bearers in the Order of Presentation: Appendix with Further Information and Presentation Requirements]. Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7909-0051-4.
- Williamson, Gordon (2006). Knight's Cross with Diamonds Recipients 1941–45. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-644-7.
- "Rabble-Rousing General Is Worrying the Allies". 1952. https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=jQAxAAAAIBAJ&sjid=NN4FAAAAIBAJ&pg=3364,4629429&dq=ramcke&hl=en.
- "Hitler's Guard Cheers Ex-chief". 1952. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=xOMcAAAAIBAJ&sjid=vmQEAAAAIBAJ&pg=2504,7968153&dq=ramcke&hl=en.
SS-Obergruppenführer Felix Steiner
|Commander of 5. SS-Panzer-Division Wiking
1 May 1943 – 6 August 1944
SS-Oberführer Eduard Deisenhofer
SS-Brigadeführer Nikolaus Heilmann
|Commander of IV. SS-Panzerkorps
6 August 1944 – 8 May 1945
dissolved on May 8, 1945
|This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).|