Kurt Gildisch

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Kurt Gildisch
Born 2 March 1904
Potrempschen in East Prussia
Died 3 March 1956(1956-03-03) (aged 52)
West Berlin
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Flag of the Schutzstaffel.svg SS
Rank SS-Sturmbannführer SS-Untersturmführer der Waffen-SS
Unit SS-Begleitkommando des Führers
Battles/wars World War II

Kurt Gildisch (2 March 1904 – 3 March 1956) became the third commander of Adolf Hitler's personal bodyguard (SS-Begleitkommando des Führers) on 11 April 1933. He was a trained teacher, who had failed to find a classroom job and ended up in the Prussian police force. Like his successor Bruno Gesche, he was sacked for his Nazi affiliations, and joined the Sturmabteilung (SA) in 1931. Later that year he was transferred to the SS. During World War II, Gildisch was wounded and fell into Soviet captivity during the Battle of Berlin. He was released in August 1946. In May 1953, he was convicted in the murder of Dr. Erich Klausener, head of anti-Nazi Katholische Aktion (Catholic Action) group, during the "Night of the Long Knives" in 1934. He was sentenced to fifteen years in prison and later died in 1956.

Life

Kurt Gildisch was born in Potrempschen (East Prussia), the fourth child of the schoolteacher Paul Gildisch and his wife Marie (nee Riel). In his childhood Kurt Gildisch attended primary school in the village of Potrempschen (23 km south west of Insterburg). Subsequently he was trained as a teacher in Kaal, Insterburg until 1922. He undertook the schoolteachers test (Lehrerprüfung) in 1924. As he found no opportunities in the teaching profession, he applied for a job in the police.[1] In January 1925 he was sent to the police school in Sensburg which he left in September 1925 with the qualification for the accelerated promotion to officer. In October 1925 Gildisch was transferred to Berlin. He undermined his own reputation with heavy drinking and was dismissed on 10 March 1931 because of his ties to the Nazi Party.[1] He joined the SA on 1 April 1931 and then transferred to the SS on 29 September 1931.[1]

He was viewed with mistrust and dislike by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. While nominally under Himmler's control, Gildisch and other close comrades of the Führers took their orders direct from Hitler, much to Himmler's frustration.[2] Gildisch had a heavy drinking problem, which within months of his assuming command of the SS–Begleitkommando from Willy Herzberger, got the better of him.[1]

On 15 June 1934, Himmler had Gildisch removed from his post, and he was replaced by Bruno Gesche as the commander of the SS-Begleitkommando.[2] Hitler did not interfere but this was not the end of Gildisch's problems. Despite the warning and demotion, Gildisch continued to drink heavily and in 1936 this led to his expulsion from both the SS and the Nazi Party.[1] Prior to that, he had been a significant participant in the Night of the Long Knives from 30 June to 2 July 1934. [1] Gildisch had been ordered by Reinhard Heydrich to Dr. Erich Klausener's office to shoot him. Klausener had been an official in the Prussian Ministry and head of an anti-Nazi Katholische Aktion ("Catholic Action") group. After the killing, Gildisch was promoted in rank to SS-Sturmbannführer.[3]

File:Bundesarchiv Bild 102-02486, Berlin, Prinz Waldeck im Deutschen Stadion.jpg
SS Sturmbannführer Kurt Gildisch (second from right, with arm bent over his chest) in the company of SS Obergruppenführer Prince Waldeck : SS und Polizeiführer (Josias, Hereditary Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont).

World War II

Kurt Gildisch participated in a leadership course at the SS Junker School in Bad Tölz and on 20 April 1941, he was appointed Untersturmführer der Waffen-SS. From 1942 Gildisch actively fought on the Eastern Front. There Gildisch was again involved in a drunken incident in Russia: on 24 June 1942 Gildisch injured slightly drunken junior officers and soldiers of the Baubatallion 25.

Theodor Eicke sentenced Gildisch on 27 December 1942 to several weeks of house arrest. From November to December 1943 Gildisch spent a few days rehabilitating in the concentration camp Buchenwald. In 1944 Gildisch was attached to the 11th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Nordland on the Soviet front. In August 1944 Gildisch was wounded on the Eastern Front. On 2 May 1945 Gildisch was wounded again and fell into Soviet captivity during the Battle of Berlin.

Post-war period

He was released after the war in August 1946. Upon his return from captivity Gildisch had his right leg amputated and replaced by a prosthesis. Gildisch was for some time incapable of work and due to his personal politics he could seek only limited work options. He was unable to return to his family home in Potrempschen as it was incorporated into the newly created Soviet Kaliningrad region and renamed Wolschskoe. Kurt Gildisch finally found work after retraining as a bookbinder in an Evangelical-Lutheran maintained company that employed disabled people.

In 1949 Gildisch was recognized at a Berlin train station by an old friend who then denounced him to the police. Gildisch was arrested. After a case at the Berlin court, he was convicted in May 1953 of the murder of Dr. Erich Klausener during the "Night of the Long Knives" in 1934. He was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.[1] Kurt Gildisch died in 1956 of incurable liver disease in a Wilmersdorfer private hospital after the criminal sentence was suspended due to his poor health and lack of prison treatment.

SS career summary

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Hoffmann 2000, p. 52.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Felton 2014, p. 33.
  3. Hoffmann 2000, p. 49.

References

  • Felton, Mark (2014). Guarding Hitler: The Secret World of the Führer. London: Pen and Sword Military. ISBN 978-1-78159-305-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Kempner, Robert M. W. SS im Kreuzverhör, München 1964, S. 256ff. (Urteil des Schwugerichts Berlin in Auszügen)
  • Hoffmann, Peter (2000) [1979]. Hitler's Personal Security: Protecting the Führer 1921-1945. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-30680-947-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Hsi-Huey Liang: Die Berliner Polizei in der Weimarer Republik, 1977, p. 185.
  • Verfahrensakten im Archiv des Instituts für Zeitgeschichte, Sign. Gb 06.12.