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Gustav Heistermann von Ziehlberg

Gustav Heistermann von Ziehlberg German General and Knight's Cross recipients

German General and Knight's Cross recipients
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro German General and Knight's Cross recipients
A.K.A. Gustav von Ziehlberg
Was Military officer Resistance fighter
From Germany
Type Activism Military
Gender male
Birth 10 December 1898, Inowrocław, Poland
Death 2 February 1945, Spandau, Germany (aged 46 years)
Star sign SagittariusSagittarius
Gustav Heistermann von Ziehlberg
The details
Biography

Gustav Heistermann von Ziehlberg (10 December 1898 – 2 February 1945) was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Convicted in connection with the 20 July plot, he was sentenced to death and executed by firing squad. This represents a 'magnificent irony of history' . In fact, had he survived the war, he would most probably have had to confront a British firing squad. As the commanding officer of the 65th Division, he had ordered the execution of four uniformed British soldiers captured in Italy in September 1943.

Divisional commander

Ziehlberg commanded a division on the Eastern Front and was described in one history as having "indomitable energy" and of being a "military role model." Ziehlberg took command of the 65th Infantry Division in May 1943 and led it through its first combats in Italy. In Italy, he mercilessly acted pursuant to Hitler's 'Commando Order' calling for the execution of any lawful combatant engaged in commando tasks beyond enemy lines. This sealed the fate of four men of the 2nd SAS Regiment deployed into Northern Tuscany on 9 September 1943 (Operation Speedwell), few hours after the announcement of the Italian Armistice. He also showed an inclination for the use of reprisal on civilians, but his zeal was at the time curbed by Field Marshal Rommel, Supreme German Commander in Northern Italy. In late November 1943 he was seriously wounded by an Allied air raid, in which he lost an arm. After recovery he commanded a light infantry division on the Eastern Front.

July Plot

firing grounds and memorial in Berlin.

On 20 July 1944, Ziehlberg was ordered to arrest his Ia staff officer Major Joachim Kuhn for his involvement in the 20 July plot. Kuhn together with his friend Lieutenant Albrecht von Hagen had arranged for the explosive delivered by Helmuth Stieff to Claus von Stauffenberg. On 21 July he had accompanied General Henning von Tresckow to the front near Królowy Most, where Tresckow committed suicide. Confronted with the warrant, Kuhn denied any entanglement. Instead of arresting him, Heisterman told Kuhn to transfer his official duties and to proceed to Berlin in order to clear things up. Kuhn used that opportunity to flee towards the forces of the Soviet 2nd Belorussian Front. He was taken prisoner and interrogated by the SMERSH counter-intelligence agency.

Heisterman was charged with negligent disobedience and in September 1944 was sentenced to nine months in prison by the Reichskriegsgericht, however he was pardoned for his previous service. He returned to his division, but was again summoned to Berlin on 30 October. Hitler, suspecting him of collaboration with Generaloberst Ludwig Beck, revoked his sentence and Heisterman was again arrested and had to face another trial. On 21 November he was sentenced to death by the Reichskriegsgericht, dishonourably discharged and stripped of all honors, ranks and titles. The judges openly stated that they had to follow the Führer's instructions.

Heisterman was executed on 2 February 1945 by a Wehrmacht firing squad at a proving ground near Olympic Stadium in the Charlottenburg (present-day Westend) district of Berlin. This spared him the fate of being tried as a war criminal.

Awards

  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 27 July 1944 as Generalleutnant and commander of 28. Jäger-Division
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https://web.archive.org/web/20111002114240/http://www.ostdeutsche-biographie.de/heisgu98.htm
https://d-nb.info/gnd/108226329X
https://viaf.org/viaf/148145542443096640197
https://www.worldcat.org/identities/containsVIAFID/148145542443096640197
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