Werner von Gilsa

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Werner von Gilsa
Gilsa.jpg
Werner von Gilsa, June 1940
Born (1889-03-04)4 March 1889
Berlin
Died 8 May 1945(1945-05-08) (aged 56)
Leitmeritz
Allegiance German Empire German Empire (to 1918)
Germany Weimar Republic (to 1933)
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer (Army)
Rank General der Infanterie
Commands held LXXXIX Army Corps,
Last military commander of Dresden
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

Werner Albrecht Freiherr von und zu Gilsa[Notes 1] (born 4 March 1889 in Berlin; † 8 May 1945 Leitmeritz) was a German officer and General of Infantry, whose last assignment was as Wehrmacht commandant of Dresden. In 1936, while he was a lieutenant colonel, Gilsa became commandant of the Olympic Village, during the Berlin Olympic Games.

Pre-War and World War I[edit]

Gilsa Coat of Arms

Gilsa was descended from a noble German family, the Lords and Barons of Gilsa, and was himself a baron (Freiherr). He joined the Garde-Fusilier regiment, part of the German army, on 19 March 1908. On 19 August 1909 Gilsa was appointed second lieutenant. At the beginning of the First World War, he went to the front as a platoon leader. He was promoted to first lieutenant on 24 July 1915. In the meantime he was awarded Iron Crosses second and first class. Gilsa became regimental adjutant, then brigade adjutant; on 15 July 1918 he was promoted to captain. At war’s end he was awarded the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern, Knight's Cross with Swords, as well as other decorations.

Weimar years[edit]

After the war Gilsa was transferred to the Reichsheer. From here he made the transition, in the spring of 1920, to the Reichsheer's 115th military infantry regiment and was responsible for the training of 100,000 men. He became a company officer in the 5th Prussian infantry regiment, then company commander. Between 1924 and 1927, he was chief of the 8th MG (machine gun) company of the 5th Prussian infantry regiment. On 1 October 1930 he was appointed adjutant to the commander of the troop exercise area in Döberitz and as such was promoted to Major, on 1 June 1931.

Wehrmacht Career[edit]

Gilsa became commander of the 1st Battalion of the 6th Infantry Regiment on 1 April 1934; he was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 1 September. With the enlargement of the Reichsheer, Gilsa became the commander of the 1st Battalion of the infantry regiment at Lübeck. He was appointed commander of the Berlin Guard-Regiment on 15 October 1935. As such he became, in the summer of 1936, the commander of the Olympic village, replacing the demoted Wolfgang Fürstner.

World War II[edit]

Gilsa was, from 1 October 1936 to 31 January 1941, commander of the 9th Infantry Regiment. He led his unit in the Polish campaign at the outbreak of World War II. During the campaign, Gilsa was awarded both clips (Spangen) for his Iron Crosses, meaning that he was awarded these decorations for the second time. In early 1940 his regiment fought in the campaign against France. Gilsa succeeded in taking Charleville with some Maas bridges intact, contributing to the success of the German advance. For this achievement, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on 5 June 1940. From 1 April 1941 to 4 April 1943, Gilsa was commander of the 216th Infantry Division. In the winter of 1941/42 the division was sent to the Eastern Front. For the defence of the fortified sites at Sukhinitchi (Festen Platzes Suchinitschi), Gilsa was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, on 24 January 1942. He was promoted to lieutenant general on 1 October of that year.

Gilsa was a confidant of the conspirators in the Stauffenberg assassination plot to kill Hitler.

Last Commands[edit]

Gilsa was promoted to General of Infantry on 1 July 1943. From 11 June 1943 to 23 November 1944 he was Commanding General of the LXXXIX Army Corps, which took part in the Battle of the Scheldt, from 2 October to 8 November 1944. Gilsa was Military Commander of Dresden from 15 March to May 1945. In Dresden he opened the Wehrmacht hospitals and food warehouses to the civilian population.

Captured by the Russians at the end of the war, Gilsa committed suicide.

Awards and decorations[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Regarding personal names: Freiherr is a former title (translated as Baron), which is now legally a part of the last name. The feminine forms are Freifrau and Freiin.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Dost, Susanne. Das Olympische Dorf 1936 im Wandel der Zeit, Neddermeyer, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-933254-12-4
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [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] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Lehrer, Steven (2002). Hitler Sites: A City-by-city Guidebook (Austria, Germany, France, United States). McFarland. p. 224. ISBN 0-7864-1045-0. 
  • Lehrer, Steven (2006). The Reich Chancellery and Führerbunker Complex: An Illustrated History of the Seat of the Nazi Regime. McFarland. p. 214. ISBN 0-7864-2393-5. 
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). 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] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6. 
  • Lexikon der Wehrmacht. Personenregister. Freiherr von und zu Gilsa, Werner-Albrecht. [1] This non-political website is maintained by Volksbund Deutscher Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V., a non-governmental charity that cares for German World War II military graves and the remains of Hitler's soldiers, both in Germany and in other parts of the world. See Hitler Sites: A City-by-city Guidebook (Austria, Germany, France, United States) for further detail.
Military offices
Preceded by
Oberst Walther Fischer von Weikersthal
Commander of 9. Infanterie-Regiment
1 October 1936 – 31 January 1941
Succeeded by
Oberst Adolf Raegener
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Kurt Himer
Commander of 216. Infanterie-Division
1 April 1941 – 4 April 1943
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Friedrich-August Schack
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Friedrich-Wilhelm Neumann
Commander of LXXXIX. Armeekorps
11 June 1944 – 23 November 1944
Succeeded by
General der Infanterie Gustav Höhne