Heinrich-Anton Deboi was a German general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II who held several commands at the divisional levels. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Deboi surrendered to the Red Army at the conclusion of the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943. Convicted as a war criminal in the Soviet Union, he died in captivity in January 1955. Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 10 September 1942 as Generalmajor and commander of 44. Infanterie Division
Hans-Valentin Hube was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II. He commanded several panzer divisions during the invasions of Poland and the Soviet Union, he was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Diamonds, Nazi Germany's highest military decoration. Hube died in an air crash on 21 April 1944. Hans-Valentin Hube was born on 29 October 1890, in Naumburg an der Saale, German Empire. Hube volunteered for military service in the Prussian Army in 1909, served during World War I where he saw action during the Race to the Sea, was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class and the Knight's Cross of the House Order of Hohenzollern. In 1918, following the end of the war which ended with the German Empire's defeat and subsequent collapse, Hube served with the right-wing Freikorps paramilitary during the instability. Hube joined the Reichswehr, the successor of the Imperial German Army after the establishment of the Weimar Republic, continued his army service in the Wehrmacht after the founding of Nazi Germany, reaching the rank of Oberst in 1936.
Hube took part in the Battle of France as a regimental commander. He was appointed commander of 16th Infantry Division in June 1940; as commander of the 16th Panzer Division, he took part in Operation Barbarossa as part of Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt's Army Group South. For this action during the campaign, Hube received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. On 16 January 1942, he was awarded the Oak leaves to the Knight's Cross for his actions in the Battle of Kiev. Hube led the division during Fall Blau and the Battle of Stalingrad. On 16 September 1942, Hube was given command of XIV Panzer Corps, the parent formation of the 16th Panzer Division. Hube commanded the XIVth Corps during Operation Uranus, he was promoted to General der Panzertruppe and received the Swords to the Knight's Cross with Oak leaves from Adolf Hitler on 21 December 1942. During his time at the Führer-Headquarters in Rastenburg, Hube argued but to no avail, for Hitler to allow the 6th Army to attempt a breakout. Instead, Hitler promised a new relief attack beginning in the middle of February.
Hube conveyed that plan to Paulus upon his return to the cauldron. However, Hube was ordered to fly out again on 10 January. To "reorganize the supply of the 6th Army."After the destruction of the 6th Army, Hube was sent to the Mediterranean front. He created Gruppe Hube in A four-division force whose task was to defend the island. With the advent of Operation Husky on 10 July, Hube commanded the overall German defence. On 17 July 1943 Hube was given command of all Flak troops on the island. Hube organised the evacuation to the Italian peninsula, he had prepared a strong defensive line, the'Etna Line' around Messina, that would enable the Germans to make a progressive retreat while evacuating large parts of his army to the mainland. Patton began his assault on the line at Troina, but it was a linchpin of the defense and stubbornly held. Despite three'end run' amphibious landings the Germans managed to keep the bulk of their forces beyond reach of capture, maintain their evacuation plans. Withdrawing a large number of troops from the threat of capture on Sicily represented a major success for the Axis.
Hube was involved in the battles defending positions at Salerno during the Allied Operation Avalanche. Afterwards Hube was transferred to the Führer-Reserve. On 23 October 1943, Hube was delegated as commander of the 200,000 man 1st Panzer Army serving with Army Group South under Field Marshal Erich von Manstein. In February 1944, Hube was confirmed as commander of the 1st Panzer Army. Shortly after, III. Panzerkorps, one of Hube's units, was required to assist German forces breaking out of the Korsun-Cherkassy Pocket. Soon after this, Hube's force was encircled in a pocket near Kamenets-Podolsky. Hube led the breakout which lasted from 27 March 1944 until 15 April 1944. On 20 April 1944, Hube returned to Germany where Adolf Hitler awarded him the Diamonds to the Knight's Cross and promoted him to Generaloberst for his actions in Sicily, Salerno and in the Kamenets-Podolsky pocket. Hube was killed when the aircraft, transporting him crashed after takeoff in Salzburg on 21 April 1944. Hube was given a state funeral in Berlin on 26 April 1944.
His coffin was laid out in the Reich Chancellery and the eulogy was delivered by Heinz Guderian. The guard of honour consisted of the generals Walther Nehring, Hermann Breith, Heinrich Eberbach and Hans Gollnick. Hube was buried at the Invalid's Cemetery in Berlin. Iron Cross 2nd Class & 1st Class Knight's Cross of the House Order of Hohenzollern with Swords Clasp to the Iron Cross 2nd Class & 1st Class Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Diamonds Knight's Cross on 1 August 1941 as Generalmajor and commander of the 16th Panzer Division 62nd Oak Leaves on 16 January 1942 as Generalmajor and commander of the 16th Panzer Division 22nd Swords on 21 December 1942 as Generalleutnant and commanding general of the XIV Panzer Corps 13th Diamonds on 20 April 1944 as General der Panzertruppe and commander in chief of the 1st Panzer Army Promoted to Generalleutnant on 1 January 1942.
The Axis powers known as "Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis", were the nations that fought in World War II against the Allies. The Axis powers agreed on their opposition to the Allies, but did not coordinate their activity; the Axis grew out of the diplomatic efforts of Germany and Japan to secure their own specific expansionist interests in the mid-1930s. The first step was the treaty signed by Germany and Italy in October 1936. Benito Mussolini declared on 1 November that all other European countries would from on rotate on the Rome–Berlin axis, thus creating the term "Axis"; the simultaneous second step was the signing in November 1936 of the Anti-Comintern Pact, an anti-communist treaty between Germany and Japan. Italy joined the Pact in 1937; the "Rome–Berlin Axis" became a military alliance in 1939 under the so-called "Pact of Steel", with the Tripartite Pact of 1940 leading to the integration of the military aims of Germany and Japan. At its zenith during World War II, the Axis presided over territories that occupied large parts of Europe, North Africa, East Asia.
There were no three-way summit meetings and cooperation and coordination was minimal, with more between Germany and Italy. The war ended in 1945 with the dissolution of their alliance; as in the case of the Allies, membership of the Axis was fluid, with some nations switching sides or changing their degree of military involvement over the course of the war. The term "axis" was first applied to the Italo-German relationship by the Italian prime minister Benito Mussolini in September 1923, when he wrote in the preface to Roberto Suster's Germania Repubblica that "there is no doubt that in this moment the axis of European history passes through Berlin". At the time, he was seeking an alliance with the Weimar Republic against Yugoslavia and France in the dispute over the Free State of Fiume; the term was used by Hungary's prime minister Gyula Gömbös when advocating an alliance of Hungary with Germany and Italy in the early 1930s. Gömbös' efforts did affect the Italo-Hungarian Rome Protocols, but his sudden death in 1936 while negotiating with Germany in Munich and the arrival of Kálmán Darányi, his successor, ended Hungary's involvement in pursuing a trilateral axis.
Contentious negotiations between the Italian foreign minister, Galeazzo Ciano, the German ambassador, Ulrich von Hassell, resulted in a Nineteen-Point Protocol, signed by Ciano and his German counterpart, Konstantin von Neurath, in 1936. When Mussolini publicly announced the signing on 1 November, he proclaimed the creation of a Rome–Berlin axis. Italy under Duce Benito Mussolini had pursued a strategic alliance of Italy with Germany against France since the early 1920s. Prior to becoming head of government in Italy as leader of the Italian Fascist movement, Mussolini had advocated alliance with defeated Germany after the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 settled World War I, he believed. In early 1923, as a goodwill gesture to Germany, Italy secretly delivered weapons for the German Army, which had faced major disarmament under the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. In September 1923, Mussolini offered German Chancellor Gustav Stresemann a "common policy": he sought German military support against potential French military intervention over Italy's diplomatic dispute with Yugoslavia over Fiume, should an Italian seizure of Fiume result in war between Italy and Yugoslavia.
The German ambassador to Italy in 1924 reported that Mussolini saw a nationalist Germany as an essential ally for Italy against France, hoped to tap into the desire within the German army and the German political right for a war of revenge against France. During the Weimar Republic, the German government did not respect the Treaty of Versailles that it had been pressured to sign, various government figures at the time rejected Germany's post-Versailles borders. General Hans von Seeckt supported an alliance between Germany and the Soviet Union to invade and partition Poland between them and restore the German-Russian border of 1914. Gustav Streseman as German foreign minister in 1925 declared that the reincorporation of territories lost to Poland and Danzig in the Treaty of Versailles was a major task of German foreign policy; the Reichswehr Ministry memorandum of 1926 declared its intention to seek the reincorporation of German territory lost to Poland as its first priority, to be followed by the return of the Saar territory, the annexation of Austria, remilitarization of the Rhineland.
Since the 1920s Italy had identified the year 1935 as a crucial date for preparing for a war against France, as 1935 was the year when Germany's obligations under the Treaty of Versailles were scheduled to expire. Meetings took place in Berlin in 1924 between Italian General Luigi Capello and prominent figures in the German military, such as von Seeckt and Erich Ludendorff, over military collaboration between Germany and Italy; the discussions concluded that Germans still wanted a war of revenge against France but were short on weapons and hoped that Italy could assist Germany. However at this time Mussolini stressed one important condition that Italy must pursue in an alliance with Germany: that Italy "must... tow them, not be towed by them". Italian foreign minister Dino Grandi in the early 1930s stressed the importance of "decisive weight", involving Italy's relations between France and Germany, in which he recognized that Italy was not yet a major power, but perceived that Italy did have
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was the largest confrontation of World War II, in which Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in Southern Russia. Marked by fierce close quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians in air raids, it was the largest and bloodiest battle in the history of warfare. After their defeat at Stalingrad, the German High Command had to withdraw vast military forces from the Western Front to replace their losses; the German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in August 1942, using the 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army. The attack was supported by intensive Luftwaffe bombing; the fighting degenerated into house-to-house fighting. By mid-November 1942, the Germans had pushed the Soviet defenders back at great cost into narrow zones along the west bank of the Volga River. On 19 November 1942, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, a two-pronged attack targeting the weaker Romanian and Hungarian armies protecting the German 6th Army's flanks.
The Axis forces on the flanks were overrun and the 6th Army was cut off and surrounded in the Stalingrad area. Adolf Hitler ordered that the army make no attempt to break out. Heavy fighting continued for another two months. By the beginning of February 1943, the Axis forces in Stalingrad had exhausted their ammunition and food; the remaining units of the 6th Army surrendered. The battle lasted one week and three days. By the spring of 1942, despite the failure of Operation Barbarossa to decisively defeat the Soviet Union in a single campaign, the Wehrmacht had captured vast expanses of territory, including Ukraine and the Baltic republics. Elsewhere, the war had been progressing well: the U-boat offensive in the Atlantic had been successful and Erwin Rommel had just captured Tobruk. In the east, they had stabilized their front in a line running from Leningrad in the north to Rostov in the south. There were a number of salients, but these were not threatening. Hitler was confident that he could master the Red Army after the winter of 1942, because though Army Group Centre had suffered heavy losses west of Moscow the previous winter, 65% of its infantry had not been engaged and had been rested and re-equipped.
Neither Army Group North nor Army Group South had been hard pressed over the winter. Stalin was expecting the main thrust of the German summer attacks to be directed against Moscow again. With the initial operations being successful, the Germans decided that their summer campaign in 1942 would be directed at the southern parts of the Soviet Union; the initial objectives in the region around Stalingrad were the destruction of the industrial capacity of the city and the deployment of forces to block the Volga River. The river was the Caspian Sea to central Russia, its capture would disrupt commercial river traffic. The Germans cut the pipeline from the oilfields; the capture of Stalingrad would make the delivery of Lend Lease supplies via the Persian Corridor much more difficult. On 23 July 1942, Hitler rewrote the operational objectives for the 1942 campaign expanding them to include the occupation of the city of Stalingrad. Both sides began to attach propaganda value to the city, based on it bearing the name of the leader of the Soviet Union.
Hitler proclaimed that after Stalingrad's capture, its male citizens were to be killed and all women and children were to be deported because its population was "thoroughly communistic" and "especially dangerous". It was assumed that the fall of the city would firmly secure the northern and western flanks of the German armies as they advanced on Baku, with the aim of securing these strategic petroleum resources for Germany; the expansion of objectives was a significant factor in Germany's failure at Stalingrad, caused by German overconfidence and an underestimation of Soviet reserves. The Soviets realized, they ordered that anyone strong enough to hold a rifle be sent to fight. If I do not get the oil of Maikop and Grozny I must finish this war. Army Group South was selected for a sprint forward through the southern Russian steppes into the Caucasus to capture the vital Soviet oil fields there; the planned summer offensive, code-named Fall Blau, was to include the German 6th, 17th, 4th Panzer and 1st Panzer Armies.
Army Group South had overrun the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1941. Poised in Eastern Ukraine, it was to spearhead the offensive. Hitler intervened, ordering the Army Group to split in two. Army Group South, under the command of Wilhelm List, was to continue advancing south towards the Caucasus as planned with the 17th Army and First Panzer Army. Army Group South, including Friedrich Paulus's 6th Army and Hermann Hoth's 4th Panzer Army, was to move east towards the Volga and Stalingrad. Army Group B was commanded by Field Marshal Fedor von Bock and by General Maximilian von Weichs; the start of Case Blue had been planned for late May 1942. However, a number of German and Romanian units that were to take part in Blau were besieging Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula. Delays in ending the siege pushed back the start date for Blau several times, the city did not fall until early July. Operation Fridericus I by the Germans against the "Isium bulge", pinched off the Soviet
A regiment is a military unit. Their role and size varies markedly, depending on the arm of service. In Medieval Europe, the term "regiment" denoted any large body of front-line soldiers, recruited or conscripted in one geographical area, by a leader, also the feudal lord of the soldiers. By the end of the 17th century, regiments in most European armies were permanent units, numbering about 1,000 men and under the command of a colonel. During the modern era, the word "regiment" – much like "corps" – may have two somewhat divergent meanings, which refer to two distinct roles: a front-line military formation. In many armies, the first role has been assumed by independent battalions, task forces and other, similarly-sized operational units. However, these non-regimental units tend to be short-lived. A regiment may be a variety of sizes: smaller than a standard battalion, e.g. Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. S. Infantry Regiment and Royal Regiment of Scotland; the French term régiment is considered to have entered military usage in Europe at the end of the 16th century, when armies evolved from collections of retinues who followed knights, to formally organised, permanent military forces.
At that time, regiments were named after their commanding colonels, disbanded at the end of the campaign or war. It was customary to name the regiment by its precedence in the line of battle, to recruit from specific places, called cantons; the oldest regiments which still exist, their dates of establishment, include the Spanish 9th Infantry Regiment “Soria”, Swedish Life Guards, the British Honourable Artillery Company and the King's Own Immemorial Regiment of Spain, first established in 1248 during the conquest of Seville by King Ferdinand the Saint. In the 17th century, brigades were formed as units combining infantry and artillery that were more effective than the older, single-arms regiments. By the beginning of the 18th century, regiments in most European continental armies had evolved into permanent units with distinctive titles and uniforms, each under the command of a colonel; when at full strength, an infantry regiment comprised two field battalions of about 800 men each or 8–10 companies.
In some armies, an independent regiment with fewer companies was labelled a demi-regiment. A cavalry regiment numbered 600 to 900 troopers. On campaign, these numbers were soon reduced by casualties and detachments and it was sometimes necessary to amalgamate regiments or to withdraw them to a depot while recruits were obtained and trained. With the widespread adoption of conscription in European armies during the nineteenth century, the regimental system underwent modification. Prior to World War I, an infantry regiment in the French, German and other smaller armies would comprise four battalions, each with a full strength on mobilization of about 1,000 men; as far as possible, the separate battalions would be garrisoned in the same military district, so that the regiment could be mobilized and campaign as a 4,000 strong linked group of sub-units. A cavalry regiment by contrast made up a single entity of up to 1,000 troopers. A notable exception to this practice was the British line infantry system where the two regular battalions constituting a regiment alternated between "home" and "foreign" service and came together as a single unit.
In the regimental system, each regiment is responsible for recruiting and administration. The regiment is responsible for recruiting and administering all of a soldier's military career. Depending upon the country, regiments can be administrative units or both; this is contrasted to the "continental system" adopted by many armies. In the continental system, the division is the functional army unit, its commander is the administrator of every aspect of the formation: his staff train and administer the soldiers and commanders of the division's subordinate units. Divisions are garrisoned together and share the same installations: thus, in divisional administration, a battalion commanding officer is just another officer in a chain of command. Soldiers and officers are transferred out of divisions as required; some regiments recruited from specific geographical areas, incorporated the place name into the regimental name. In other cases, regiments would recruit from a given age group within a nation, an ethnic group, or foreigners.
In other cases, new regiments were raised for new functions within an army.
Friedrich Wilhelm Ernst Paulus was a German general during World War II who commanded the 6th Army during the Battle of Stalingrad. The battle ended in disaster for Nazi Germany when Soviet forces encircled and defeated about 265,000 personnel of the Wehrmacht, their Axis allies and collaborators. Paulus surrendered in Stalingrad on 31 January 1943, the same day on which he was informed of his promotion to field marshal by Adolf Hitler. Hitler expected Paulus to commit suicide, repeating to his staff that there was no precedent of a German field marshal being captured alive. While in Soviet captivity during the war, Paulus became a vocal critic of the Nazi regime and joined the Soviet-sponsored National Committee for a Free Germany, he moved to East Germany in 1953. Paulus grew up in Kassel, Hesse-Nassau, the son of a treasurer, he tried, unsuccessfully, to secure a cadetship in the Imperial German Navy and studied law at Marburg University. Many English language sources and publications from the 1940s to the present day give Paulus' family name the prefix "von".
This is incorrect. After leaving the university without a degree, he joined the 111th Infantry Regiment as an officer cadet in February 1910. On 4 July 1912 he married the Romanian Elena Rosetti-Solescu, the sister of a colleague who served in the same regiment; when World War I began, Paulus' regiment was part of the thrust into France, he saw action in the Vosges and around Arras in the autumn of 1914. After a leave of absence due to illness, he joined the Alpenkorps as a staff officer, serving in Macedonia, France and Serbia. By the end of the war, he was a captain. After the Armistice, Paulus was a brigade adjutant with the Freikorps, he was chosen as one of only 4,000 officers to serve in the Reichswehr, the defensive army that the Treaty of Versailles had limited to 100,000 men. He was assigned to the 13th Infantry Regiment at Stuttgart as a company commander, he served in various staff positions for over a decade and briefly commanded a motorized battalion before being named chief of staff for Panzer headquarters in October 1935.
This was a new formation under the direction of Oswald Lutz that directed the training and development of the Panzerwaffen, or tank forces of the German army. In February 1938 Paulus was appointed Chef des Generalstabes to Gen. Heinz Guderian's new XVI Armeekorps, which replaced Lutz's command. Guderian described him as "brilliantly clever, hard working and talented" but had severe doubts about his decisiveness and lack of command experience, he remained in that post until May 1939, when he was promoted to major general and became chief of staff for the German Tenth Army, with which he saw service in Poland. The unit was renamed the Sixth Army and engaged in the spring offensives of 1940 through the Netherlands and Belgium. Paulus was promoted to lieutenant general in August 1940; the following month he was named deputy chief of the German General Staff. In that role he helped draft the plans for the invasion of Operation Barbarossa. In November 1941, after German Sixth Army's commander Field Marshal Walther von Reichenau—Paulus' patron—became commander of the entire Army Group South, who had never commanded a larger unit than a battalion prior to this time, was promoted to General der Panzertruppe and became commander of the Sixth Army.
However, he only took over his new command on 20 January, six days after the sudden death of Reichenau, leaving him on his own and without the support of his more experienced sponsor. Paulus led the drive on Stalingrad during that summer, his troops fought Soviet forces defending Stalingrad over three months in brutal urban warfare. In November 1942, when the Soviet Red Army launched a massive counter-offensive, code-named Operation Uranus, Paulus found himself surrounded by an entire Soviet Army Group. Paulus followed Adolf Hitler's orders to hold his forces' position in Stalingrad under all circumstances, despite the fact that he was surrounded by strong Soviet forces. Operation Winter Storm, a relief effort by Army Group Don under Field Marshal Erich von Manstein, was launched in December. Following his orders, Paulus prepared to cooperate with the offensive by trying to break out of Stalingrad. In the meantime, he kept his entire army in fixed defensive positions. Manstein told Paulus that the relief would need assistance from the Sixth Army, but the order to initiate the breakout never came.
Paulus remained firm in obeying the orders he had been given. Manstein's forces were unable to reach Stalingrad on their own and their efforts were halted due to Soviet offensives elsewhere on the front. Kurt Zeitzler, the newly appointed chief of the Army General Staff got Hitler to allow Paulus to break out—provided he continue to hold Stalingrad, an impossible task. For the next two months Paulus and his men fought on. However, the lack of food and ammunition, equipment attrition and the deteriorating physical condition of the German troops wore down the German defense. With the new year Hitler promoted Paulus to Colonel General. Regarding the resistance to capitulate, according to Adam, Paulus stated What would become of the war if our army in the Caucasus were surrounded? That danger is real, but as long as we keep on fighting, the Red Army has to remain here
Wolf-Dietrich Wilcke was a German Luftwaffe pilot during World War II, a fighter ace credited with 162 enemy aircraft shot down in 732 combat missions. He claimed the majority of his victories over the Eastern Front, 25 over the Western Front, including four four-engined bombers. Born in Schrimm in the Province of Posen, Wilcke volunteered for military service in the Reichswehr of the Third Reich in 1934. Serving in the Heer, he transferred to the Luftwaffe in 1935. Following flight training, he was posted to Jagdgeschwader "Richthofen" in April 1936. After an assignment as fighter pilot instructor he volunteered for service with the Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War in early 1939. After his return from Spain, he was appointed Staffelkapitän of the 7. Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 53. Following the outbreak of World War II, he claimed his first aerial victory on 7 November 1939. On 18 May 1940, during the Battle of France, he was taken prisoner of war. After the armistice with France, he returned from captivity and was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of the III.
Gruppe of JG 53 during the Battle of Britain, claiming 10 victories over England. Wilcke fought in the aerial battles of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union. There, after 25 aerial victories, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 6 August 1941. In September 1941, he relocated with his group to the Mediterranean Theater, where he was able to claim further victories. At the end of May 1942, he was transferred to the Stab of Jagdgeschwader 3 "Udet", that August he was appointed as its Geschwaderkommodore. Following his 100th aerial victory on 6 September, he received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. During the Battle of Stalingrad, on 17 December, he claimed his 150th aerial victory. On 23 December 1942, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords, his total now 155 aerial victories. Subsequent to the presentation of the Swords to his Knight's Cross, he was banned from operational flying, he still flew combat missions and on 23 March 1944, flying in defense of the Reich, he claimed his 162nd and last aerial victory and was killed in action by United States Army Air Forces long-range P-51 Mustang fighters near Schöppenstedt, in Lower Saxony.
Wilcke was born on 11 March 1913 at Schrimm in the Province of Posen, part of the Kingdom of Prussia at the time, now Śrem in the Greater Poland Voivodeship, Poland. He was the son of a Hauptmann of Infanterie-Regiment 47, Hans Wilcke, who died of pneumonia when Wilcke was just four weeks of age, his mother, Hertha von Schuckmann, married again on 14 June 1919. In 1931, Wilcke was arrested for attending a then-illegal demonstration of the Nazi Party. Although his loyalty to the Nazi cause is emphasized multiple times in his personal military files, according to biographers Prien and Stemmer, he was a firm opponent of the National Socialist regime. Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 53, he had the Swastikas on his unit's aircraft painted over, he volunteered for military service in the Reichswehr after receiving his Abitur. He joined Artillerie-Regiment 6 in Minden as a Fahnenjunker on 1 April 1934, his legal guardian and stepfather, Friedrich von Scotti served in this regiment. As a Fähnrich, Wilcke was posted to the Kriegsschule in Dresden on 1 October 1934.
On 1 November 1935, he was transferred to the newly emerging Luftwaffe holding the rank of Oberfähnrich. On 20 April 1936, while serving at the flight school in Perleberg, he was promoted to Leutnant. On 15 October he was transferred to Jagdgeschwader "Richthofen" known as Jagdgeschwader 132, named after the World War I fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen and forerunner of Jagdgeschwader 2 "Richthofen". There he excelled as a pilot and showed exceptional leadership ability and was sent as fighter pilot instructor to the Jagdfliegerschule in Werneuchen in the second half of 1937. In March 1939, Wilcke volunteered for service with the Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War. For a few weeks, he flew with 1. Staffel of Jagdgruppe 88 without claiming any aerial victories, he was awarded the Spanish Cross in Bronze with Swords for his service in Spain. In Spain he became friends with Werner Mölders and when Mölders was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of the newly created III. Gruppe of JG 53, he selected Wilcke as Staffelkapitän of the 7.
Staffel of JG 53. World War II in Europe began on 1 September 1939, when German forces invaded Poland. Wilcke, who at the time was still a member of 3. Staffel of JG 53, flew missions over Poland, he claimed his first aerial victory on 7 November 1939, over the Western Front when he shot down an Armée de l'Air Potez 630, a twin-engined fighter, near Völklingen during the Phoney War. For this achievement he was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class on 25 November 1939. From 2–16 January 1940, Wilcke and other pilots from III. Gruppe went on a ski vacation to the Vorarlberg. On 11 March 1940, he shot down another Potez at an altitude of 7,000 meters near the "three-n