Gliese studied from 1933 at the University of Breslau astronomy, mathematics and physics, then in Berlin, where he also worked at the Astronomical Institute rake. After returning from Soviet captivity 1949 he was an employee at the Astronomical Institute in Heidelberg rake. Until 1954 he worked at the Astronomical Yearbook, from 1957 until his retirement he was involved in the fundamental catalog FK5 and 4.
He is known for the Catalogue of Nearby Stars ( Catalogue of nearby stars ), which was published in 1969. 1951 Peter van de Kamp had encouraged him to compile a catalog of stars close to the Sun, while the limit of five parsecs ( approximately 40 objects) to four times ( with more than 1,000 stars ) to expand. A first version of this catalog with objects up to 20 parsecs appeared in 1957., The 1969 version ( with more than 2,000 objects) reached to 22 parsecs. This Gliese catalogs were essential basis for further studies on the distribution, composition and kinematics of low-mass stars in the neighborhood of the sun.
He is dedicated to the asteroid (1823 ) Gliese.