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Herbert Otto Gille

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Herbert Otto Gille

Herbert Otto Gille
Born (1897-03-08)8 March 1897
Died 26 December 1966(1966-12-26) (aged 69)
Stemmen near Hannover
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1922)
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer (to 1919)
Years of service 1910–19, 1934–45
Rank Obergruppenführer
Unit 5th SS Panzergrenadier Division Wiking
Commands held 5th SS Panzergrenadier Division Wiking

World War I

World War II

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 (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillanten) 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.[1]

Military career

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. He married Sophie Charlotte Mennecke on 4 January 1935 and his only child, a daughter, was born on 9 October 1935.

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.

After the

Gille in Russia

His troops stood strong on the East Prussia border with the 3rd SS Panzer Division and prevented the planned Soviet breakthrough to Berlin in the autumn of 1944 destroying large numbers of Soviet tanks. 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 city of 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 and following the Soviet counter-offensive his corps was forced to retreat into Austria.

When the end of war was clear, he marched towards the U.S. troops in order to avoid surrendering to Soviet forces. He was held by the U.S. for three years, and released in May 1948.

Despite being an early Nazi Party member, Gille was known for his apolitical views. The author Heinz Höhne in The Order under the Death Head characterized Gille as an enigma and "Nur-Soldat" (soldier – nothing else) who once threatened a newly assigned Weltanschauungsoffizier (political indoctrination officer) with a clean-out squad to gather his uniforms and other possessions and throw them and the officer out of the unit.

Gille was highly regarded for his leadership qualities and tactical abilities. He commanded Waffen-SS units at the regiment, division and corps level with distinction during the war. Gille was popular with his men and admired for his personal bravery. He was well known for the unusual walking-stick he carried.


After the war he worked for a newspaper until 1958. He also owned a small bookshop. Gille was the founder of a magazine for veterans of the Wiking division, "Wiking Ruf". On 26 December 1966 Herbert Otto 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.

Personal life

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

Notable decorations


  1. ^ According to Scherzer as commander of Artillerie-Regiment SS-Division "Wiking".[5]


  1. ^ Dienstalterslisten der SS, NSDAP Revised edition (20 April 1945)
  2. ^ a b Thomas 1997, p. 197.
  3. ^ Patzwall and Scherzer 2001, p. 137.
  4. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 196.
  5. ^ a b c d Scherzer 2007, p. 335.
  6. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 73.
  7. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 42.
  8. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 37.

External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • "Lexikon der Wehrmacht". Herbert Otto Gille. Retrieved 28 May 2007. 
Military offices
Preceded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Felix Steiner
Commander of 5. SS-Panzer-Division Wiking
May 1, 1943 – August 6, 1944
Succeeded by
SS-Oberführer Eduard Deisenhofer
Preceded by
SS-Brigadeführer Nikolaus Heilmann
Commander of IV. SS-Panzerkorps
August 6, 1944 – May 8, 1945
Succeeded by
dissolved on May 8, 1945
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