Alfred Gerstenberg

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Alfred Gerstenberg
Born 6 April 1893
Died 1 January 1959(1959-01-01) (aged 65)
Bad Tolz
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1926)
 Nazi Germany
Service/branch Deutsches Heer (1912–1918)
Reichswehr (1918–1926)
Luftwaffe (1934–1945)
Years of service 1912–1926
Rank Generalleutnant
Battles/wars World War I
World War II

Alfred Gerstenberg (April 6, 1893 in Grainau - January 1, 1959 in Bad Tölz) was a German Luftwaffe general. During World War II he organized a very effective defensive perimeter around oil fields in Ploieşti, Romania.


Gerstenberg began his army service in 1912 in a cavalry unit. During World War I he was sent to the Eastern Front. Later, he was transferred into the air force and flew as an observation aircraft pilot. In 1916 he joined the Richthofen Squadron led by Manfred von Richthofen. In October 1917 his plane was shot down and Gerstenberg suffered a heavy injury. Next year he returned as a non-flying officer. After the war served in several cavalry units, retiring in 1926. He rejoined the Luftwaffe in 1934 and after 1938 served as Luftwaffe attaché at embassies in Warsaw and Bucharest.

During February 15, 1942 - August 27, 1944 Gerstenberg served as the commanding general of Luftwaffe in Romania (Kommandierender General und Befehlshaber der Deutschen Luftwaffe in Rumänien). His most important task was to set up a defense zone around the oil refineries in Ploieşti, the largest single source of oil for Nazi Germany. He managed to create an effective anti-aircraft defense system against air attacks. He commanded around 25,000 men in Ploieşti and 11,000 near Bucharest. As a result, the first massive air attack on the fields on August 1, 1943 (US Air Force operation Tidal Wave) failed to knock out the oil production and suffered heavy losses.

When Romania switched sides during World War II (August 23, 1944), Gerstenberg, with 4,000 men, entered Bucharest trying to occupy its key points. This attempt failed and his troops were encircled, in spite of Brandenburgers paratroopers dropped in as a support. On August 28, he surrendered to the Soviets and was kept in captivity until October 12, 1955. Gerstenberg died of tuberculosis.

External links[edit]


  • Hillgruber, Andreas (1965): Hitler, König Carol und Marschall Antonescu: die deutsch-rumänischen Beziehungen 1938–1944, Wiesbaden: Steiner.