Karl Gesele

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Karl Gesele
Bundesarchiv Bild 101III-Bueschel-056-21A, Russland, Hermann Fegelein mit Sturmbannführer Karl Gesele.jpg
Gesele (on the left) as SS-Sturmbannführer with Hermann Fegelein.
Born 15 August 1912
Riedlingen, Kingdom of Württemberg, German Empire
Died 8 April 1968 (1968-04-09) (aged 55)
Friedrichshafen, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Flag of the Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen SS
Years of service 1931–1945
Rank SS-Standartenführer Collar Rank.svg SS-Standartenführer
Unit Begleit-Bataillon Reichsführer-SS
Sturmbrigade Reichsführer SS
16th SS Panzergrenadier Division Reichsführer-SS
37th SS Volunteer Cavalry Division Lützow
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Iron Cross I Class
Iron Cross II Class
German Cross in Gold
General Assault Badge in Silver

Karl Gesele (15 August 1912 – 8 April 1968) was a SS-Standartenführer (colonel) in the Waffen-SS during World War II. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership by Nazi Germany during World War II.

Early life

Karl Gesele was born on the 15 August 1912 in Riedlingen. After leaving school he volunteered to join the SS in August 1931 (SS service number: 10,596) and served with the 13 SS Standarte Regiment until 1933, when he joined the Political Readiness Detachment Württemberg. Between 1934 and 1939, Gesele held platoon and company commands in SS Standarte Deutschland.

World War II

During World War II after the Polish Campaign where he was awarded the Iron Cross I & II class and later fought in the Battle of France. He was posted to the SS-Junkerschule in Bad Tölz in August 1940 as an Instructor in tactics. He returned to the front on the staff of the SS Cavalry Brigade and was awarded the German Cross in Gold in May 1942 just before he was forced to leave the Brigade because of illness. Gesele was chief of staff of a unit which murdered Jews in the Ukraine and Belorussia during the summer of 1941.[1]

After he recovered, Gesele was given command of the Begleit-Bataillon Reichsführer-SS in October 1942, which was later reformed as the Sturmbrigade Reichsführer SS and stationed in France. Gesele remained in France until the Allied invasion of Italy when the Brigade was moved to Corsica in September 1943. Gesele and his Brigade served as part of the garrison until 15 September 1943. At that point it was sent to Italy and reorganized into the 16th SS Panzergrenadier Division Reichsführer SS. He was awarded his Knight's Cross in July 1944 for his command of the Brigade when in Corsica.

He remained the commander of the 16th SS until January 1945, when he was posted to the SS Cavalry school Weede near Göttingen and given his last combat command in March 1945 when he took over command of the 37th SS Volunteer Cavalry Division Lutzow to replace Waldemar Fegelein until the end of the war.


Karl Gesele survived the war and died on the 8 April 1968, in Friedrichshafen, Germany.


  1. Pezzino, Paolo (2012). Memory and Massacre: Revisiting Sant'Anna di Stazzema. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 113. ISBN 9781137011107.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>