Wilhelm Adam

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Wilhelm Adam
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-F0316-0204-005, Russland, Paulus in Kriegsgefangenschaft.jpg
Surrender at Stalingrad, 1943: Colonel Wilhelm Adam (right) with Lt-Gen. Arthur Schmidt (centre) and Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus (left)
Born (1893-03-28)28 March 1893
Eichen, now a part of Nidderau
Died 24 November 1978(1978-11-24) (aged 85)
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Nazi Germany (to 1945)
 East Germany
Service/branch Heer
Years of service 1914–18 (Reichswehr)
1934–45 (Wehrmacht)
1952–56 (KVP)
1956–58 (NVA)
Rank Oberstleutnant (Wehrmacht)
Generalmajor (NVA)
Unit XXIII Army Corps
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Other work politician

Wilhelm Adam (28 March 1893 in Eichen, now a part of Nidderau – 24 November 1978 in Dresden) was a career military officer who served in three German Armies and later became an East German politician.


Adam's father was a farmer. After high school he attended from 1908 to 1913 the teacher training college in Schlüchtern.

First World War

From 1 October 1913, Adam served as a one-year volunteer in military service with the 5th Company of the 2nd Nassau Infantry Regiment 88. At the beginning of the First World War on 8 August 1914, now a corporal, he moved to the front. He was wounded on 16 September 1914 and sent to a Protestant hospital in Düsseldorf. returning to the replacement battalion of his regiment 10 days later. On 1 April 1915 he was promoted to sergeant. From April to May 1915 he took an officer candidate course in Lockstedter and upon graduation on 22 May was promoted to lieutenant. On 14 June, he became a Zugführer (platoon leader) at 1st Recruits Depot of the XVI Army Corps. On 5 October 1915 he was assigned to the 5th Company of the Infantry Regiment "Graf Werder“ (4. Rheinisches) Nr. 30 . After an illness in July 1916, which he recovered from in a field hospital at Germersheim, he was transferred to the 1st Replacement Battalion of the 2nd Nassau Infantry Regiment 88. On 28 September 1916 he became the commander of a machine gun company of the 424th Infantry Regiment. On 28 October 1916, he was appointed the aide to the Landwehr Infantry Brigade 70, a position he held until the end of the war. He was dismissed from the Army as a Lieutenant on 31 January 1919.

Weimar Republic

From 1919 to 1929, Adam was working as a senior vocational school teacher at the army's vocational school in Langenselbold, Hesse, and from 1929 to 1934 in Weimar, Thuringia. Alongside these duties, Adam also studied from 1922 to 1924 at the university in Frankfurt am Main and completed the examination for middle school teachers in 1927.

In 1919 he became a member of the Langenselbold Military Association and in 1920 of the Young German Order. In 1923, Adam joined the Nazi Party and was involved that same year in the Beer Hall Putsch. In 1926, Adam left the Nazis and joined the German People's Party (DVP), with whom he stayed until 1929.

In National Socialism to the Second World War

In 1933 he became a member of the Stahlhelm and an SA Oberscharführer. He worked at the Unit for ideological training with the Staff of Standard 94 in Weimar. After being transferred to the SA reserves in 1933 came Adam's reactivation in 1934 at the rank of captain, as well as a promotion to major once he had finished a course at military school in 1937. Thereafter, until 1939, Adam worked as company chief and a teacher at the infantry school in Döberitz near Berlin.

Second World War

In 1939 he became an adjutant in the XXIII Army Corps, under the Army Commanders Walter von Reichenau and later in 1941, Friedrich Paulus. On 17 December 1942, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. On 31 January 1943, now a colonel, Adam was captured by the Soviet Army after the surrender at Stalingrad, where he was interrogated by Nikolay Dyatlenko.[1] While a prisoner of war, he went to the Central Antifa (i.e. Anti-Fascist) School at Krasnogorsk and became a member of the National Committee for a Free Germany. He was also sentenced to death in absentia by a Nazi German court.

Post-war period

In 1948, Adam returned to the Soviet Zone of Germany. He was among the co-founders of the National Democratic Party of Germany, an East German political party that acted as an organization for former members of the Nazi Party and the Wehrmacht. From 1948 to 1949 he worked as a consultant for the Saxony state government. From 1950 to 1952 he was Saxony's finance minister and from 1949 to 1963 a member of East Germany's Volkskammer.

From the People's Police to the National People's Army

File:Dresden Heidefriedhof Adam.JPG
His grave at the Heidefriedhof in Dresden

In 1952, Adam became a colonel in the Kasernierte Volkspolizei (KVP) ("Barracked People's Police"), the forerunner of the East German National People's Army. From 1953 to 1956 he was commander of the Officers' College of the KVP – and later became the National People's Army. In 1958, Adam was sent into retirement. He kept on working, though, for the Working Group of Former Officers. In 1968 he was decorated with the Banner of Labor, and on the occasion of the twenty-eighth anniversary of East Germany's founding on 7 October 1977, he was appointed major general, retired in the East German Army.

Adam died on 24 November 1978 in Dresden.



  • Adam, Wilhelm. Der schwere Entschluss, (autobiography), Berlin, 1965.
  • Adam, W. with Otto Ruhle. With Paulus At Stalingrad, "Pen & Sword Books Ltd.", England, 2015.



  1. Beevor, Antony, Stalingrad, London: Penguin, 1999, pp. 378–9
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Thomas & Wegmann 1987, p. 17.
  3. Fellgiebel 2000, p. 113.
  4. Scherzer 2007, p. 188.


  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). 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)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Thomas, Franz; Wegmann, Günter (1987). Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht 1939–1945 Teil III: Infanterie Band 1: A–Be (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-1153-2. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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