Gustav Anton von Wietersheim (11 February 1884 – 25 April 1974) was an officer in the German Army from 1902 to 1942, and a General in the Wehrmacht Heer during World War II. He led the XIV Motorized Corps (after June 21, 1942, XIV Panzer Corps) from its creation on April 1, 1938 until September 14, 1942 during the Battle of Stalingrad.
From 1903 until the end the First World War Wietersheim served in the Garde du Corps, as his service records do not denote a change in assignment until after the war had ended. It is not clear in what exact capacity Wietersheim served in the 4th Regiment, Garde-Grenadiers, nor what his specific accomplishments were, but he was given the Ehrenkreuz für Frontkämpfer, or Honor Cross for (World War I) Combatants, which was awarded by President and Field Marshal, Paul von Hindenburg, for those who, at least in theory, had some kind of front line assignment. In reality, it was mainly intended as a commemorative medal for Great War veterans, so Wietersheim may or may not have actually seen combat and still have received a medal. He was however awarded the Iron Cross, both 1st and 2nd Class, during World War I as well, so he must have continued to impress his superiors regardless of the duties he was assigned. Given that the majority of his overall career was spent as a staff officer, it is most likely that Wietersheim served as an officer of the General Staff attached to his Garde du Corps unit. Indeed, after the war, as one of the 4,000 officers Germany was allowed to maintain in its army, Wietersheim had two simultaneous General Staff assignments, as a Hauptmann (captain) in the staff of the 3rd Division, and also the general staff of the XXV Reserve Corps.
During the 1920s, Wietersheim continued to climb slowly up the ladder of ranks in the Reichswehr (the very selective 100,000-man army Germany was allowed by the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles), as even experienced officers still had to compete with the other, as mentioned, 4,000 highly-qualified officers serving in the army's few, abridged units. The exact dates of promotion after his 1903 assignment as a second lieutenant are not available until he was made an Oberstleutnant (lieutenant colonel) in February 1930, although he entered the Reichswehr as a captain and remained so for quite some time; Telford Taylor lists him as still at this rank in April 1924. Eventually, though, he was promoted to Major and was made an Abteilungsleiter, or department manager, at the Reich Defense Ministry (Reichswehrministerium), the governmental organ that determined the overarching policy of the Reichswehr in relation to the Weimar Republic.
During the early 1930s, Wietersheim served as the Chief of Staff of the 3rd Division and continued his work with the Defense Ministry. He was promoted to Oberst (colonel) in November 1932 and to Generalmajor (brigadier general) in July 1934. When the Defense Ministry was reorganized as the War Ministry (Reichskriegministerium) under Adolf Hitler, chancellor of Germany and dictator since 1933, in 1935 to match Hitler's simultaneous dissolution of the Reichswehr and creation of the greatly expanded, war-oriented Wehrmacht, Wietersheim was made the Oberquartiermeistern I (O. Qu. I) of the General Staff. This position, "immediately subordinated to the Chief of the General Staff," entailed the control of several departments of General Staff, "carrying command of the operations, transport and supply sections. As the General Staff was put on a war footing, this high-level logistics command was a "key position," and Wietersheim, "a brilliant Generalmajor," held this role from March 1935 until later-Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, at that time junior to Wietersheim, took over for him in October 1936. During this time Wietersheim had been promoted to Generalleutnant, in April 1936, and, after handing over his post as O. Qu. I to Manstein, he took over command of the 29th Division his first real position outside the internal command structure of the General Staff.
On two occasions prior to the war Wietersheim criticized Hitler's plans of action during meetings with the Supreme Commander, first in August 1938, between the Anschluss of Germany and Austria and the Invasion of Czechoslovakia, and second in August 1939, just prior to the Invasion of Poland.
In the first case, on August 10, 1938 Wietersheim had been called to the Berghof, Hitler's Bavarian retreat, along with a group of other high-ranking Wehrmacht chiefs of staffs in order that Hitler could attempt to persuade them that invading Czechoslovakia was a good plan of action. Most of the generals were not convinced by Hitler's arguments, but Generals Jodl and Manstein later commented that Wietersheim, who was the highest-ranking officer in attendance (and the Chief of Staff of General Wilhelm Adam's Second Army Group, which was in charge of any potential Western front), was the only one present to argue with Hitler directly about the faults in his plan, namely that an invasion of Czechoslovakia would leave the West Wall along the German-French border weak and in risk of being overrun within a few weeks should a French force decide to attack. Jodl reported in his diary that Hitler "became furious" and yelled at Wietersheim: "I say to you Herr General...[the West Wall] will be held not only for three weeks but for three years! Although this comment proved to be not exactly wrong, it ultimately exhibited to the more cautious, experienced German commanders, like Wietersheim, that Hitler's military philosophy was not only misguided, but potentially ruinous if he was allowed to continue driving military policy.
Although the 1938 West Wall confrontation is well-documented based on remarks by witnesses and other contemporaries (and several secondary sources), the second time Wietersheim and Hitler fought openly can only be discerned from a paragraph in OKW chief Wilhelm Keitel's memoirs, who reports that he was there when Wietersheim again disapproved of Hitler's war plans, this time for the much more drastic goal of attacking Poland:
Early in August 1939 [Hitler] conceived the idea of addressing his ideas to the various army chiefs of staff by themselves, in other words without their Commander-in-Chief, at the Berghof. From the shadows I was probably in the best position to study its effect and I realised that he had failed to achieve his object: for while General von Wietersheim [chief of staff of the Second Army Group] was the only one to find his tongue enough to show by his questions how little he agreed with what Hitler had outlined, this in itself probably crystallised in Hitler's mind the suspicion that he was confronted with an iron phalanx of men who inwardly refused to be swayed by any speech they thought was just a propaganda speech.Keitel believed that Hitler's "pronounced distaste for the General Staff" and "its 'caste' arrogance", which would become something of an obsession of his later, was in part a result of this meeting and Wietersheim's comments. Hitler no doubt considered Wietersheim's disagreements with him as a kind of treason: in 1946 Manstein told the Nuremberg tribunal that after the August 1938 incident Hitler no longer allowed the military to directly question any of his decisions.