SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Reinefarth
Heinrich Reinefarth (commonly known as Heinz Reinefarth, December 26, 1903-May 7, 1979) was a German official and military officer during and after World War II. During the Warsaw Uprising his troops committed numerous war atrocities. After the war Reinefarth became the mayor of the town of Westerland and member of the Schleswig-Holstein Landtag. He was never held responsible for war crimes.
Heinz Reinefarth was born on December 26, 1903, in (Gnesen)Gniezno. After finishing the gymnasium in 1922 he joined the law faculty of the university in Jena. He graduated in 1927 and passed the 1st degree state exams. Until 1930 he completed his application at the local court in Jena and was promoted to judge. On August 1, 1932, he joined the NSDAP and received a relatively low number of party id card (1 268 933). In December of the same year he joined the SS.
Shortly before the outbreak of World War II Reinefarth was conscripted as a reserve feldwebel. For his actions during the Polish Defense War of 1939 he received the 2nd Class Iron Cross. He took part in the 1940 campaign against France, for which he was awarded the Knight's Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz) as the first member of the Waffen-SS.
After the French campaign he was quickly promoted and on April 20, 1942, he was promoted to SS-brigadefuehrer, an equivalent of brigade general. He is assigned to the post of General Inspector of SS in Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia. In September 1943 he was transferred to Berlin where he served in the Ministry of Order Police. (Hauptamt Ordnungspolizei).
On January 29, 1944 Reinefarth was assigned to Commander of SS and Police in Reichsgau Wartheland (Polish Great Poland Voivodship annexed by Germany in 1939). On this post he was responsible for organized repressions against Poles and other nationalities deprived of all rights by Germany.
After the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising Reinefarth was ordered to organize a military unit out of 16th Police Company and other smaller units and head for Warsaw. Upon arrival his forces were included in the Korpsgruppe von dem Bach of general Erich von dem Bach who was ordered by Heinrich Himmler to quell the rebellion.
Since August 5, 1944 the group of Reinefarth took part in fights in Wola area. His soldiers, which included Russian volunteers RHONA, during several days executed approximately 50 000 civilian inhabitants of Warsaw in what is now known as the Wola Massacre. In one of his reports to the commander of the German 9th Army he stated that "we have more prisoners than ammunition to kill them". After securing the Wola area his troops took part in heavy fights against the Armia Krajowa in the Old Town. In September his forces were transferred to attack the partisans in the boroughs of Powiśle and Czerniaków. The exact number of victims of Reinefarth's unit is unknown. During their fight in Warsaw they deliberately shot most of the POWs, civilians and wounded in captured hospitals. For his actions during the Warsaw Uprising Reinefarth was awarded on September 30, 1944, with the Oak Leafs to his Iron Cross. The death toll could be as high as 100 000.
In December 1944 Reinefarth was given command over the XVIII SS Army Corps in the central Oder river area. Between January and March 1945 he commanded the Festung Küstrin. He declined to defend it to the last man and was sentenced to death by a military court. However, he was never executed and continued to command his troops that managed to leave the fortress and were renamed to XIV SS Army Corps.
After the World War II Polish authorities demanded his extradition. However, the British and American authorities of the occupied Germany decided that Reinefarth could be useful as a witness at the Nuremburg Trial. After the trial he was arrested for war crimes, but a local court in Hamburg released him shortly afterward due to lack of evidence. In December 1951 he was elected Mayor of the town of Westerland, the capital of a small island of Sylt. In 1962 he was elected to the Landtag of Schleswig-Holstein. After his term ended in 1967 he started to work as a lawyer.
Despite numerous demands he was never extradited to Poland. Instead, the government of West Germany awarded him with a general's pension. He died on May 7, 1979 in his manor on Sylt.
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