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, which was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership by Nazi Germany during World War II.
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.
In October 1934, he was given command of a platoon in the 9th Company, SS Standarte Deutschland and also commanded platoons in the 10th and 17th Companies. In December 1936 he was made the Adjutant of the IV.Battalion, SS Standarte Deutschland. In May 1938, Gesele obtained his first Company command, when he took over the 10th Company.
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.
After he recovered he 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.