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Herbert Otto Gille

Discussion in 'Who Was Who Of Germany In WWII' started by Jim, Jan 19, 2008.

  1. Jim

    Jim Active Member

    Sep 1, 2006
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    via War44
    Born in Gandersheim on 8 March 1897, Herbert Otto Gille entered the Imperial Army as a cadet. He served in Baden Feldartillerie Regiment Nr 30 throughout World War I, reaching the rank of Oberleutnant by the Armistice. He was not one of the lucky 100,000 who were retained in the army of the post-war Republic, and was forced to find civilian work. He was eventually employed as an estate administrator after obtaining further educational qualifications.
    In 1934 he volunteered for service in the SS-Verfugungstruppe, becoming first a platoon, then a company commander in the ‘Germania’ Regiment. With the expansion of the SS-VT an artillery regiment was authorized, and the former gunner officer Gille was heavily involved in its formation, ultimately serving as one of its battalion commanders during the campaign in Poland. Promoted to SS-Standartenfuhrer, he commanded his regiment when it later became part of the new SS-Division ‘Wiking’, with which Gille saw heavy action during the early part of the Russian campaign. In the rank of SS-Oberfuhrer he was decorated with the Knight’s Cross in October 1942 for personal bravery and exemplary leadership.


    In May 1943, Gille was promoted to general rank as an SS-Brigadefuhrer to command the ‘Wiking’ Division, which continued to earn a formidable reputation under his popular leadership. In the historic battle for the Cherkassy Pocket, ‘Wiking’, along with SS-Division Totenkopf, held out against Soviet forces which reached more than 20 times the strength of the encircled German units, before successfully breaking out. Subsequently ordered to take command of the ‘last man, last bullet’ defence of the city of Kovel, Gille refused to take his battered division into what he knew was a death trap; but he himself flew into Kovel, where the forces under his command held out against repeated armoured assaults by four Soviet armies - despite not having a single remaining tank of their own - until a relief force from the ‘Wiking’ Division broke in. Hitler was finally persuaded by GFM Model that the city must be abandoned; Gille withdrew his men and vehicles, with over 2,000 wounded, along a narrow corridor held by ‘Wiking’. For this remarkable achievement Gille was decorated with the Diamonds on 19 April 1944. He was subsequently appointed to command IV SS-Panzerkorps, being promoted to SS-Obergruppenfuhrer on 9 November 1944. After taking part in the doomed attempt to save Budapest his corps fought in the last offensive around Lake Balaton in March 1945; after its failure Gille took his men westwards, and surrendered to US troops.

    After his release Gille lived modestly, opening a mail order book service and founding the newspaper of the HIAG. He died suddenly of a heart attack on 26 December 1966.

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