Heinz Reinefarth

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Heinz Reinefarth (1944)
Heinz Reinefarth (left, with a Cossack hat) during the Warsaw Uprising

Heinz Reinefarth , actually Heinrich Reinefarth , (born December 26, 1903 in Gnesen , Province of Posen , Kingdom of Prussia ; † May 7, 1979 in Westerland , Sylt ) was a German lawyer, SS group leader , lieutenant general of the Waffen SS and police . Among other things, Reinefarth was responsible for the suppression of the Warsaw Uprising , in which 20,000 to 50,000 civilians were shot by the troops under his command in the Warsaw district of Wola alone .

Reinefarth was never prosecuted for his actions. On the contrary, he managed to embark on a political career in the post-war period , during which he became a member of the Schleswig-Holstein state parliament and mayor of Westerland on Sylt.


Reinefarth was the son of a district judge . After his transfer he went to school in Cottbus and passed his Abitur there in 1922 . As a high school student, during the Kapp Putsch in 1920, he followed the call of the Freikorpsführer Major Buchrucker and, together with others, took violent action against demonstrating workers. In 1923 he became a member of the Freikorps Oberland . He studied law in Jena and worked as a judge after completing his doctorate . In 1932 he became a member of the NSDAP ( membership number 1.268.933) and the SS (SS number 56.634). Between 1932 and 1939 he worked as a lawyer and notary in Cottbus . His marriage in 1932 resulted in a son and a daughter.

Second World War

During the attack on Poland , Reinefarth, although Hauptsturmführer of the SS, was drafted into the Wehrmacht as a rifleman in the reserve . In the winter of 1939/40 he first completed the non-commissioned officers 'school and later the officers' school. During the western campaign against France he was awarded  the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross as platoon leader of the 14th Company of the 337 Infantry Regiment and one of the first non-officers ; this immensely prestigious award furthered his career. In mid-1942 he was unfit for military service due to severe frostbite suffered during the Russian campaign. He left the Wehrmacht with the rank of lieutenant in the reserve and worked as Inspector General of Administration in the Reich Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia from June 1942 to mid-1943. On January 30, 1942, he was promoted to SS Brigadführer and Major General of the Police . After a year-long stay in the main office of the Ordnungspolizei , he was appointed Higher SS and Police Leader Warthe in April 1944 and SS Group Leader and Lieutenant General of the Waffen SS and Police on August 1, 1944 . In this function, he commanded twelve Galician Schutzmannschaft companies in the suppression of the Warsaw Uprising of the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa) from August 1 to October 3, 1944 (surrender of the Home Army). The units subordinate to him included the SS Special Regiment Dirlewanger with the subordinate II. Battalion (Azerbaijani) / Mountain Infantry Regiment "Bergmann" under Captain Hubert Mertelsmann and the reinforced Waffen Grenadier Regiment of the SS 72 (Russian No. 1) under the brigade staff Chief Waffen-Sturmbannführer Iwan Frolov of the Waffen-Sturmbrigade RONA as well as the I. & II. Battalion / East Muslim SS Regiment under SS-Sturmbannführer Franz Liebermann. These were marked by extreme brutality and brutality. In addition to mass murders (in which over 100,000 Polish insurgents and civilians were killed), there were also mass rapes and other excesses, in which minors and children were often victims ( massacre of Wola ). A radio conversation between Heinz Reinefarth and the Commander-in-Chief of the 9th Army Nikolaus von Vormann has been reported , in which he asks: "What should I do with the civilians? I have less ammunition than prisoners". Heinz Reinefarth, commander in the suppression of the Warsaw uprising, was nicknamed: "Murderer of Warsaw" or "The butcher of Warsaw" or "Executioner of Warsaw". On September 30, 1944, the Nazi regime awarded Reinefarth the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with the Oak Leaves for his actions in Warsaw.

Reinefarth (center) at the honoring of the millionth Wartheland resettler by Gauleiter Arthur Greiser (right) in 1944.

On February 2, 1945, Adolf Hitler appointed him fortress commander of the town of Küstrin an der Oder, which after heavy Soviet bombing on 28/29. March was captured by the Soviet Army . Around 5,000 German and 6,000 Soviet soldiers were killed in the fighting for the Küstrin fortress. Reinefarth broke against Hitler's orders with a part of his troops from (only about 1300 reached the German lines) and was due to cowardice sentenced to death in front of the enemy. The judgment was not carried out because of the critical situation at the front; Reinefarth succeeded in surrendering to British soldiers with an army group on the western front.

At the end of the Second World War he had the rank of SS group leader and lieutenant general of the police.

post war period

Reinefarth spent three years in American captivity until 1948 . He had been transferred to Nuremberg several times to testify before the International Military Tribunal . His testimony did not take place. The extradition request of the state of Poland was not granted. In 1948 Reinefarth was transferred to Hamburg, to the British zone. The British also refused Reinefarth's extradition to Poland in 1950. As the historian Philipp Marti found out in 2012, the background was Reinefarth's secret service activity for the American CIC . In the denazification proceedings of the Germans, the Hamburg-Bergedorf verdict court acquitted him of all guilt in 1949.

From December 1951 to 1964 the city of Westerland / Sylt elected Reinefarth as mayor. In the state elections in September 1958 , Reinefarth was elected to the GB / BHE in the Schleswig-Holstein state parliament. After his withdrawal from politics, forced by investigations by the public prosecutor for war crimes, Reinefarth worked as a lawyer in Westerland from 1967. The investigation into him was stopped without charge. Reinefarth died on May 7, 1979 on Sylt and was buried in the Sylt-Keitum cemetery.

On July 10, 2014, the Schleswig-Holstein state parliament expressed “deep sympathy” for the victims of the Warsaw uprising in view of the atrocities of Reinefarth and expressed its regret that “after 1945 it was possible in Schleswig-Holstein to become a war criminal Becomes a member of the state parliament ”. Today's municipality of Sylt is also facing the past of its former mayor.

More functions:


  • 1939: Iron Cross, 2nd class
  • 1940: Iron Cross 1st class
  • June 25, 1940: Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
  • 1943: War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords
  • September 30, 1944: Oak leaves for the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross



Web links

Commons : Heinz Reinefarth  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Philipp Marti: The two careers of Heinz Reinefarth. From the “executioner of Warsaw” to the mayor of Westerland . In: Democratic History Volume 22, Advisory Board for History, Malente 2011, pp. 167–192.
  2. Ruth Bettina Birn: The higher SS and police leaders. Himmler's representative in the Reich and in the occupied territories. , Düsseldorf 1986, p. 345.
  3. pamiec.pl: THE UNCONTINUED CRIME. HEINZ REINEFARTH AND THE WARSAW UPRISING Philipp Marti in conversation with Filip Gańczak and Maciej
  4. Daniel Brössler: Warsaw Uprising: Commemoration of the darkest days. Retrieved August 2, 2020 .
  5. Fritz Kohlase: Küstrin demise in 1945
  6. ^ Philipp Marti: The two careers of Heinz Reinefarth. From the “executioner of Warsaw” to the mayor of Westerland. In: Democratic History , 22, Malente 2011, pp. 167–192. (online here) [1] , p. 176f.
  7. Agnieszka Hreczuk: The terrible Sylter. 70 years of the Warsaw Uprising: Westerland and ex-Nazi mayor Reinefarth. , tagesspiegel.de August 2, 2015. Accessed August 24, 2015.
  8. Landtag condemns atrocities committed by the former MP Reinefarth. July 10, 2014.
  9. ^ Resolution on the Warsaw Uprising of August 1, 1944, LtSH (PDF) Drs. 18/2124.
  10. message , polish-online.de, accessed on 26 April 2016th