Wilhelm Adam

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For the German army officer who was a general in World War II, see Wilhelm Adam (general).
Wilhelm Adam
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-F0316-0204-005, Russland, Paulus in Kriegsgefangenschaft.jpg
Surrender at Stalingrad, 1943: Colonel Wilhelm Adam (right) with Lt-Gen. Arthur Schmidt (centre) and Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus (left)
Born (1893-03-28)28 March 1893
Eichen, now a part of Nidderau, German Empire
Died 24 November 1978(1978-11-24) (aged 85)
Dresden, East Germany
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Nazi Germany (to 1945)
 East Germany
Service/branch Heer
Years of service 1914–18 (Reichswehr)
1934–45 (Wehrmacht)
1952–56 (KVP)
1956–58 (NVA)
Rank Oberstleutnant (Wehrmacht)
Generalmajor (NVA)
Unit XXIII Army Corps

World War I

World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Other work politician

Wilhelm Adam (28 March 1893 in Eichen, now a part of Nidderau – 24 November 1978 in Dresden) was a career military officer who served in three German Armies and later became an East German politician.

World War I[edit]

Born in 1893, Adam's attended from 1908 to 1913 the teacher training college in Schlüchtern. Adam and his wife had two children, a daughter and a son. Their son Heinz was killed in France at the start of World War II on 16 May 1940.[1] From 1 October 1913, Adam served as a one-year volunteer in military service with the 5th Company of the 2nd Nassau Infantry Regiment 88. At the beginning of the First World War on 8 August 1914, now a corporal, he moved to the front. He was wounded on 16 September 1914 and sent to a Protestant hospital in Düsseldorf. returning to the replacement battalion of his regiment 10 days later. On 1 April 1915 he was promoted to sergeant. From April to May 1915 he took an officer candidate course in Lockstedter and upon graduation on 22 May was promoted to lieutenant. On 14 June, he became a Zugführer (platoon leader) at 1st Recruits Depot of the XVI Army Corps. On 5 October 1915 he was assigned to the 5th Company of the Infantry Regiment "Graf Werder“ (4. Rheinisches) Nr. 30 . After an illness in July 1916, which he recovered from in a field hospital at Germersheim, he was transferred to the 1st Replacement Battalion of the 2nd Nassau Infantry Regiment 88. On 28 September 1916 he became the commander of a machine gun company of the 424th Infantry Regiment. On 28 October 1916, he was appointed the aide to the Landwehr Infantry Brigade 70, a position he held until the end of the war. He was dismissed from the Army as a Lieutenant on 31 January 1919.

Inter-war period[edit]

From 1919 to 1929, Adam was working as a senior vocational school teacher at the army's vocational school in Langenselbold, Hesse, and from 1929 to 1934 in Weimar, Thuringia.[1]:210 Alongside these duties, Adam also studied from 1922 to 1924 at the university in Frankfurt am Main and completed the examination for middle school teachers in 1927. In 1919 he became a member of the Langenselbold Military Association and in 1920 of the Young German Order. In 1923, Adam joined the Nazi Party and was involved that same year in the Beer Hall Putsch. In 1926, Adam left the Nazis and joined the German People's Party (DVP), with whom he stayed until 1929.

In 1933 he became a member of the Stahlhelm and an SA Oberscharführer. He worked at the Unit for ideological training with the Staff of Standard 94 in Weimar. After being transferred to the SA reserves in 1933 came Adam's reactivation in 1934 at the rank of captain, as well as a promotion to major once he had finished a course at military school in 1937. Thereafter, until 1939, Adam worked as company chief and a teacher at the infantry school in Döberitz near Berlin.

"Until the outbreak of the war," Adam taught tactics at the War School in Dresden.[1]:88

Second World War[edit]

In 1939 he became an adjutant in the XXIII Army Corps, under the Army Commanders Walter von Reichenau and later in 1941, Friedrich Paulus. On 17 December 1942, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.[1]:144 On 31 January 1943, now a colonel, Adam was captured by the Soviet Army after the surrender at Stalingrad, where he was interrogated by Nikolay Dyatlenko.[2] While a prisoner of war, he went to the Central Antifa (i.e. Anti-Fascist) School at Krasnogorsk and became a member of the National Committee for a Free Germany. He was also sentenced to death in absentia by a Nazi German court.

Concerning the war, Adam states, "That the Second World War started by Hitler's Germany was a crime not only against the peoples attacked by us, but also against the German nation, did not occur to us. And because of this, we did not recognize the deeper reasons for the defeat on the Volga, superiority of the socialist state and social system, whose sharp sword was the Soviet army."[1]:153

Post-war period[edit]

In 1948, Adam returned to the Soviet Zone of Germany. He was among the co-founders of the National Democratic Party of Germany, an East German political party that acted as an organization for former members of the Nazi Party and the Wehrmacht. From 1948 to 1949 he worked as a consultant for the Saxony state government. From 1950 to 1952 he was Saxony's finance minister and from 1949 to 1963 a member of East Germany's Volkskammer.

His grave at the Heidefriedhof in Dresden

In 1952, Adam became a colonel in the Kasernierte Volkspolizei (KVP) ("Barracked People's Police"), the forerunner of the East German National People's Army. From 1953 to 1956 he was commander of the Officers' College of the KVP – and later became the National People's Army. In 1958, Adam was sent into retirement. He kept on working, though, for the Working Group of Former Officers. In 1968 he was decorated with the Banner of Labor, and on the occasion of the twenty-eighth anniversary of East Germany's founding on 7 October 1977, he was appointed major general, retired in the East German Army.

Adam died on 24 November 1978 in Dresden.



  • Adam, Wilhelm. Der schwere Entschluss, (autobiography), Berlin, 1965.
  • Adam, W. with Otto Ruhle. With Paulus At Stalingrad, "Pen & Sword Books Ltd.", England, 2015.



  1. ^ a b c d e Adam, Wilhelm; Ruhle, Otto (2015). With Paulus at Stalingrad. Translated by Tony Le Tissier. Pen and Sword Books Ltd. p. 71,73,75–77,153,274,187,211. ISBN 9781473833869. 
  2. ^ Beevor, Antony, Stalingrad, London: Penguin, 1999, pp. 378–9
  3. ^ a b c d e Thomas & Wegmann 1987, p. 17.
  4. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 113.
  5. ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 188.


  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. 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] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Thomas, Franz; Wegmann, Günter (1987). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Teil III: Infanterie Band 1: A–Be [The Knight's Cross Bearers of the German Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Part III: Infantry Volume 1: A–Be] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-1153-2. 
  • 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 Militaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.