29Josef Ritter von Gadolla – Staff building, 1st armoured division

Jenaer Straße 2

American soldier removes a sign of his unit for the change of occupation. The inscription "1st Armoured Division" can be seen on the sign.
American soldier removes a sign of his unit for the change of occupation, 4 June 1945.

After the reintroduction of compulsory military service in March 1935, the 1st German Armored
Division was formed in Weimar. It was part of the build-up of the Wehrmacht and served to prepare for war. From summer 1935, construction work began on the staff building for the armored division. The exposed location near the Goethe and Schiller Archive shows the newfound importance of the Wehrmacht. In 1936/37, a building for the court martial of the 1st Armored Division was also erected on the barracks grounds on today's Leibnizallee. The court martial convened in one of the two buildings on April 4, 1945 to judge the Wehrmacht officer Josef Ritter von Gadolla, the so-called combat commander of the city of Gotha. The day before, he had had white flags hoisted on all public buildings in the town and declared that he wanted to hand Gotha over to the Americans without a fight. He drove towards the Americans with a few men in a car flying a white flag, but was stopped by SS and German soldiers on his way. In Weimar, he was sentenced to "death and loss of eligibility for military service". The sentence was carried out on April 5 and he died with the cry: "For Gotha to live, I must die!" By this time, the city of Gotha was already in the hands of the Allies. It was spared further destruction. The building in Jenaer Straße served as a temporary base for US Army units until July 1945, then housed the district leadership of the SED and is now the seat of the Thuringian Constitutional Court and Higher Administrative Court.