August Haefner

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August Haefner

August "Gustel" Häfner (born January 31, 1912 in Mellingen , Switzerland ; † June 20, 1999 in Ilshofen-Eckartshausen ) was a German cooper , wine and spirits dealer from Schwäbisch Hall , who was employed as Obersturmführer and Detective Inspector in Sonderkommando 4a and is considered to be one of the major contributors to the Babyn Yar massacre on September 29 and 30, 1941 in Kiev , Ukraine .


August “Gustel” Häfner was born as the son of the cooper August Häfner and Emma. Swiss born in Switzerland. August Häfner went to Switzerland during his wandering years in the 1900s and worked there as a cooper and cellar master. When his father Georg Wilhelm died in 1914, his mother (Gustel Häfner's grandmother) called him back to Germany to take over his parents' cooperage. On his arrival on August 1, 1914, however, August Häfner was immediately drafted into military service and the takeover did not take place until 1918. During the war, August's younger brother, Wilhelm "Willie", then, when he was also drafted, his mother Marie ran the business. The youngest brother, Robert, died in 1914 in the first days of the war.

Gustel Häfner learned the trade of cooper from his father from 1927 to 1929. During his wandering years, he first joined the HJ , where he was awarded the golden HJ badge. In 1931, at the age of 19, he became a member of the NSDAP (membership number 869.199). He also joined the SA in 1932 but, according to his own statements, left it two weeks later. On March 4, 1933, he became a member of the SS with the number 105,693 . On August 1, 1937, he voluntarily joined the border troops and became an inspection officer at the Pretzsch border police school . During the Second World War he was transferred to Berlin on August 1, 1940 to take the gifted high school and passed the exam there. He then attended the course for candidates for the senior service of the Sipo , which he said he could not finish because the course was broken off due to the war.

The participants of the course were transferred to the border police school in Pretzsch. In June 1941, members of the Sipo and SD and the course participants formed the Sonderkommando 4a. On June 23, 1941, after the attack on the Soviet Union , the Sonderkommando was sent to the Eastern Front. A few days after the capture of Kiev, bombs fitted with time detonators led to several explosions in Wehrmacht quarters. It was then decided to murder the Jews of Kiev. The massacre of Babyn Yar was carried out by Sonderkommando 4a.

Then he was still with the Gestapo in Innsbruck , from late summer 1943 in the Einsatzkommando 11b and commander of the security police and SD in Vienna .

On October 27, 1947, Häfner testified as a witness before the United States Military Tribunal in the Nuremberg Einsatzgruppen trial . After the war, he joined his father's cooperage and wine and spirits business at Gelbinger Gasse 39 in Schwäbisch Hall and took over the business in 1954.

On May 18, 1965, a preliminary judicial investigation was initiated against August Häfner for his involvement in the murders of Sonderkommando 4a. On October 2, 1967, the main trial against former members of Sonderkommando 4a began before the Darmstadt jury court. He became known in 1968 through his statements before the Darmstadt district court, which certified that the Wehrmacht had indirect involvement in the massacre. "You have to shoot!" Is said to have said the city commandant of Kiev, Kurt Eberhard, according to statements by Häfner in a meeting. According to Häfner, the Wehrmacht is also said to have dug the graves and found the operation to be “good and right”. On November 29, 1968 he was sentenced to nine years imprisonment, taking into account the custody of a witness during the Nuremberg trials . After an appeal before the Düsseldorf Regional Court , the verdict was set in 1973 for eight years in prison.

Häfner died in June 1999 at the age of 87 from complications from Parkinson's disease . He left his wife Irmgard geb. Ernst and two daughters, Gudrun and Ingeborg.


  • Wolfgang Proske (Hrsg.): Nazi victims from eastern Württemberg (=  perpetrators - helpers - free riders . Volume 3 ). 2nd, revised edition. Kugelberg, Gerstetten 2014, ISBN 978-3-945893-02-9 , pp. 74 ff .
  • Gudrun Moore: A Duty of Remembrance. Trafford Publishing, Bloomington 2010, ISBN 978-1-42692-061-5 (Gudrun Moore is August Häfner's daughter).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Häfner, August on the pages of the Baden-Württemberg regional information system.
  2. "I, August Häfner, b. January 31, 1912 in Mellingen (Switzerland), most recently SS-Obersturmführer and Kriminalkommissar… ” In: Udo Walendy : Babi Jar - The gorge“ with 33,771 murdered Jews ”? In: (PDF; 4.2 MB).
  3. ^ Moore: A Duty of Remembrance. 2010, pp. 14–32.
  4. a b c d Ernst Klee: The dictionary of persons on the Third Reich . Frankfurt am Main 2007, p. 216.
  5. ^ Moore: A Duty of Remembrance. 2010, p. 72.
  6. ^ August Häfner: Affidavits. In: Blobel Exhibit No. 5, Military Court II Z, Case 9, Nuremberg Palace of Justice.
  7. ^ Moore: A Duty of Remembrance. 2010, p. 32.
  8. ^ The Darmstadt Einsatzgruppen Trial 1965–1968 and the mass murder in Babi Yar. In: Fritz M. Bauer Archive. Quote: Kuno Callsen was sentenced to 15 years in prison for aiding and abetting murder (in five cases), August Häfner (in four cases) to nine years in prison, Kurt Hans (in five cases) to eleven, Adolf Janssen (in two cases) to eleven Years, Alexander Riesle (in one case) to four years, Victor Woithon (in two cases) to seven years, Christian Schulte (in two cases) to four years and six months in prison. The defendants Georg Pfarrkircher (accused in three cases), Ernst Consee (accused in five cases) and Victor Trill (accused in two cases) were not punished in accordance with Section 47, Paragraph II of the Military Criminal Code.
  9. Gudula Hörr: The Babi Yar massacre. "We had to do the dirty work". In: . September 29, 2016. Quote: Shortly before the massacre, a report from the SS to Berlin said: “Wehrmacht welcomes measures and asks for radical action.” The division of labor was also clear: “We had to do the dirty work,” said 1968 in court SS-Obersturmführer August Häfner. "I think forever that Major General Eberhard said in Kiev: 'You have to shoot!'"
  10. ^ Josef Fiala: "Austrians" in the SS Einsatzgruppen and SS Brigades. Diplomica, Hamburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-8428-1730-2 , p. 74.
  11. Wolfram Wette : “You have to shoot!” During the massacre of Babiy Yar near Kiev, the Wehrmacht and SS shared the bloody work. In: Zeit Online . November 22, 2001. Quote: SS-Obersturmführer August Häfner, who belongs to Sonderkommando 4a, was also present at this and other discussions. Before the Darmstadt regional court in 1968 he characterized the agreed division of labor between the SS and the Wehrmacht: “We had to do the dirty work. I think forever that Major General Eberhard said in Kiev: 'You have to shoot!' "
  12. Bert Hoppe, Hiltrud Glass (arr.): The persecution and murder of European Jews by National Socialist Germany 1933–1945 (collection of sources). Volume 7: Soviet Union with annexed areas I - Occupied Soviet areas under German military administration, the Baltic States and Transnistria. Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-486-58911-5 , here p. 256, note 13.
  13. ^ Moore: A Duty of Remembrance. 2010, p. 544.