Gustav Simon

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For the German surgeon, see Gustav Simon (surgeon).

Gustav Simon (2 August 1900, Saarbrücken – 18 December 1945, Paderborn)[1] was, as the Nazi Gauleiter in the Moselland Gau from 1940 until 1944, the Chief of the Civil Administration in Luxembourg, which was occupied at that time by Nazi Germany.

Family, schooling and profession[edit]

Gustav Simon's father was a railway official. His parents farmed small plots on the Hunsrück. Simon went to a Volksschule in Saarbrücken, and thereafter underwent training as a schoolteacher in Merzig. Although he got his diploma, he did not get a teaching job. He then decided to take his Abitur, and meanwhile he helped out on the railway and with customs. After his Abitur, he studied economics at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, planning to become a teacher. After completing his studies in 1927, he taught in Völklingen. Before the year was even out, though, he left the school and began as his main occupation working for the National Socialist German Workers' Party – the Nazis.


By 1923, Simon was a member of a völkisch College Group (völkischen Hochschulgruppe) in Frankfurt. On 14 August 1925, he joined the NSDAP, with membership number 17 017,[2][3] thereby becoming one of the "Old Fighters" ("alte Kämpfer") who would later automatically be decorated with the "Golden Party Badge". Shortly after joining, Simon founded the Hochschulgruppe Frankfurt of the National Socialist German Students' League. In 1927, he was chosen by the majority of students to be the National Socialist President of the Students' Board.

Not only was he already active for the Nazis during his time studying, but he furthermore set up more Party locals (Ortsgruppen) in the Hunsrück.

Beginning in 1928, Simon quickly rose in the Party hierarchy. In 1928 he became NSDAP "district leader" (Bezirksleiter) for the Trier-Birkenfeld district, and in 1929 also for the Koblenz-Trier district, as well as a member of the Rhineland Provincial Landtag. In 1930, he became a member of the Reichstag for the electoral district of Koblenz-Trier. On 1 June 1931, Adolf Hitler appointed him Gauleiter of the newly created Gau of Koblenz-Trier. Unlike almost all other Gauleiters, Simon did not belong to the SA or the SS; however, he was an Obergruppenführer in the National Socialist Motor Corps (Nationalsozialistisches Kraftfahrerkorps or NSKK).

Chief of Civil Administration in Luxembourg[edit]

After the German aggression on 10 May 1940, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg first fell under the administration of the German Military Commander of Belgium and Northern France in Brussels, namely General Alexander von Falkenhausen. Under this commander, Gustav Simon took over civil administration of Luxembourg on 25 July 1940. The occupation status ended on 2 August 1940, when Simon was appointed Chef der Zivilverwaltung (CdZ) by a decree from the Führer (Führererlass). His representative in this function was the district president (Regierungspräsident) of Trier, Heinrich Siekmeier. Their job was to give the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg – now the CdZ-Gebiet Luxemburg– German administrative structures, and to make it an integral part of the Greater German Reich.[4]

Simon's death[edit]

When the war ended, Simon went into hiding using his mother's maiden name in Upsprunge, a community in Salzkotten, Westphalia, where he posed as a gardener. On Dec. 10, 1945, he was seized by Captain Hanns Alexander and local soldiers and taken to a British Army prison in Paderborn.

Following his death on Dec. 18, 1945, several contradictory rumors persisted about the place and the circumstances of Simon's end. The stories, however, can be grouped into two fundamental versions. The official version has it that Simon died in Paderborn, as the registry office there put on the death certificate. Simon is said to have hanged himself shortly before he was to have been handed over to Luxembourg. It does stand out, though, that the registration number 66/1946 was only written in February 1946, some two months after the date of Simon's death.

The second – and to this day unofficial – version has it that Simon died in Luxembourg. After the British Occupation Administration agreed to hand him over, he was to have been taken by car by two Luxembourgers from Paderborn to the Luxembourgish capital (also called Luxembourg) so that he could be brought to book before a court there. Shortly before reaching Luxembourg, at Waldhaff, there was an incident provoked by Simon in which he was killed. Simon's body was nonetheless taken to the prison in Grund, a neighbourhood in the capital, where it was photographed by the press, and then in the end buried. His premature death thwarted any trial. To suppress the whole business, the media, among them the agency DANA (Deutsch-Amerikanische Nachrichtenagentur) and the Tageblatt, were furnished with information by the British Captain Hanns Alexander, about the "suicide in Paderborn".

This murder version has been investigated in studies based on both British and Luxembourgish archival documents.[5]

Thomas Harding revealed [6] that his great-uncle was believed by his family to have been involved in the murder: "Gustav Simon had been alive when Hanns picked him up from Paderborn prison, and that he did not hang himself, as Hanns had written in his field report. Instead, Hanns had then been joined by seven Luxembourg partisans, Captain Leone Muller among them, taken Simon to a forest outside of Paderborn and executed him. Having sworn an oath never to reveal what took place, Hanns was alleged to have covered up the murder, presenting the 'official version' at the press conference the next day in Luxembourg. This alternative account is bolstered by various inconsistencies with the official version: why, for instance, if Simon had committed suicide in prison on 18 December 1945, was a death certificate not issued until 8 February 1946, a full two months after his death? Equally, how could a man who was 1.6m high possibly hang himself from a bedpost that was 1.4m high? Even if such a feat was technically possible, how could the guard posted outside his door on suicide watch, for twenty-four hours a day, not have noticed what was taking place inside the cell? Finally, if the suicide had taken place, why had so many people come forward saying that the official version was untrue? According to this 'unofficial account', the murder was motivated either by Luxembourg collaborators, who did not want Simon to reveal their identities in court, or by partisans, angry at Simon's treatment of the Luxembourg nationalists and Jews."


  • Dostert, Paul: Luxemburg zwischen Selbstbehauptung und nationaler Selbstaufgabe. Die deutsche Besatzungspolitik und die Volksdeutsche Bewegung 1940-1945. Diss. Freiburg, Luxembourg 1985.
  • Schneider, Volker: Gauleiter Gustav Simon, der "Moselgau" und das ehemalige SS-Sonderlager/KZ Hinzert. In: Hans-Georg Meyer/Hans Berkessel (Hg.): Die Zeit des Nationalsozialismus in Rhineland-Palatinate. Für die Außenwelt seid ihr tot. Hermann Schmidt, Mainz 2000, Bd. 2, S. 276-307, ISBN 978-3-87439-454-3.
  • Spang, Paul: Gustav Simons Ende. In: Hémecht. Zeitschrift für Luxemburger Geschichte. Revue d'histoire luxembourgeoise 44 (1992) 3, S. 303-317.
  • Kienast, E. (Hg.): Der Großdeutsche Reichstag. IV. Wahlperiode, Beginn am 10. April 1938, verlängert bis zum 30. Januar 1947. Berlin 1943.
  • Arndt, Ino: Luxemburg. In: Wolfgang Benz (Hg.): Dimension des Völkermords. Die Zahl der jüdischen Opfer des Nationalsozialismus. Sources and accounts of contemporary history, published by the Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Band 33, R. Oldenbourg Verlag, München 1991, S. 95-104, ISBN 978-3-486-54631-6.


  1. ^ G. Hausemer (2006): Luxemburger Lexikon. Das Großherzogtum von A-Z. Luxembourg, Editions Binsfeld, p. 397.
  2. ^ Paul Dostert: Luxemburg zwischen Selbstbehauptung und nationaler Selbstaufgabe, ISP 1985, p.70
  3. ^ Hans Peter Klauck: Gustav Simon, der Satrap aus Saarbrücken, Gauleiter des Mosellandes [1]
  4. ^ Paul Dostert: Luxemburg zwischen Selbstbehauptung und nationaler Selbstaufgabe, ISP 1985
  5. ^ A. Schaack (2009): Le suicide du Gauleiter face aux légendes historiques: La mort du Gauleiter Gustav Simon. In: Die Warte 2009, Nr. 10 (19. März), pp. 2-3.
    Spang 1992 (cf. literature).
    P. Spang 1992 (cf. Literatur).
    P.J. Muller (1968): Tatsachen aus der Geschichte des Luxemburger Landes. Luxembourg, Vlg. "De Frendeskres" u. Impr. Bourg-Bourger, p. 410.
  6. ^ 'Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz' by T. Harding. London: William Heinemann, 2013, p. 219. & pp. 314-315