Gerhard Weiss, the son of Ferdinand and Hedwig Weiss, was born 21 February 1925 near Heilsberg, a small town near Königsberg in East Prussia. On 21 August 1942, he was called up by his local Defense District Command, located in the neighboring town of Bartenstein, to receive his classification for military service. Deemed fit for military duty, he was placed in Replacement Reserve Category I, then issued a Wehrpass and given a Wehrnummer of 25/110/6/2. Weiss was then was released to return home, because the 1925 year group had not yet been drafted.
After beginning his apprenticeship as a salesman, he was called up next for his mandatory Reichsarbeitsdients (RAD) service on 17 April 1943 (when he was 18 years old) and sent to the RAD Construction Staff in Riga, Latvia. Here, he was to spend nearly 3 months working with other Arbeitsmänner on coastal defenses under the supervision of the Kriegsmarine. He was finally discharged from the RAD on 9 July 1943, his period of service completed.
On 27 July, after only two weeks at home with his family, Weiss was formally drafted and allocated to the Heer. Selected to be an artilleryman, he was sent to Headquarters Battery, Artillery Observation Replacement Battalion 1 in Königsberg for basic training. Following the successful completion of this two week program (he had already completed the equivalent of basic training in the RAD), now-Kannonier Weiss was next posted 11 August 1943 to 3rd Battery, Artillery Observation Training Battalion 1 at the same location. Here he was to spend the next 6 months undergoing rigorous training in gunnery, fire direction and control, flash and sound ranging, and other artillery spotter essential tasks.
Perhaps in recognition of his demonstrated leadership abilities, Weiss was selected to become an officer candidate on 15 February 1944 and was transferred to his battalion’s Reserve Officer Candidate preliminary course, which he successfully completed on 20 April 1944. Promoted to Reserve-Offizier-Bewerber (ROB), Weiss was posted the following day to Grenadier Replacement and Training Regiment 491, located at the time in Deutsch-Eylau. Here he would undergo over 4 months of grueling officer candidate training that was designed to result in his formal commissioning as an infantry officer after his probationary period was completed.
Assigned to the 3rd Officer Candidate Company (Infantry) of Military Defense District 3’s Reserve Officer Training Course Number 7, he learned all of the tradecraft that a young officer needed in order to successful lead troops in battle. Finally graduating on 8 September 1944, Weiss, now a reserve officer candidate on probationary status, was posted to Headquarters Company, Grenadier Replacement and Training Battalion 58. This unit, located in the city of Münster, found itself nearly in the frontline that September, as the victorious Allies drove the Wehrmacht out of Northern France, Belgium, and southwestern Holland. Weiss would soon experience combat and get an opportunity to prove his leadership ability.
When the Allies launched Operation Market Garden on 17 September 1944, the shortage of German troops and lack of defensive preparations forced the German High Command to grab whatever troops were available and thrust them into battle in hopes that they would buy time until a more organized defense could be put together.
Consequently, on 18 September, Weiss’ battalion was mobilized under the Valkyrie Plan and dispatched to Holland. Renamed Grenadier Battalion Münster, Weiss and 417 other men, organized into three infantry companies, was placed under the control of Division for Special Employment (Div.z.b.V.) 406, the major subordinate element of Korps Feldt. (Div.z.b.V. 406 was also known as Landeschützen Division 406). Weiss himself was assigned to the battalion staff, though in what capacity remains unknown.
From 18 to 30 September, Weiss and his comrades fought against Allied Forces (Primarily Americans of the 82nd Airborne Division) in the towns of Groesbeek and Mook. At some point during the fighting, Weiss distinguished himself due to conspicuous gallantry and was recommended for the Iron Cross, 2nd Class, which was awarded on 15 November 1944.
By the end of the month, Weiss’ battalion, much reduced in strength after suffering heavy casualties, was disbanded and its men were parceled out to other German units. On 1 October, he was assigned to the staff of 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Regiment 1052 of the 84th Infantry Division, which was heavily engaged in the Kleve and Venlo areas. Shortly afterwards, he was reported missing in action after heavy fighting on 5 October 1944, though he was probably captured since his name does not appear in the German War Graves Association’s database. His Wehrpass was returned to his Home Base replacement unit, Infantry Replacement Battalion 167 on 29 December 1944.