Karl August Meinel

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Karl August Meinel was a German major in the Wehrmacht during World War II. Meinel gained notoriety for being one of the few officers in the Wehrmacht who actively opposed the execution of the so-called commissar's order .

Resistance to the commissioner's order

At the beginning of the German attack on the Soviet Union, Meinel was deployed as an officer in the POW camp in Moosburg ( main camp VII A ). In this position Meinel witnessed actions by the Gestapo, so-called segregation commandos, which were tasked with searching the prison camps for "intolerable elements" and taking them to concentration camps for liquidation. The inmates of the camp had previously been captured by Germans on the Eastern Front and had not yet been singled out as part of the commissioner's order. According to the criminal order, the Wehrmacht was instructed not to treat political commissars of the Red Army as prisoners of war, but to shoot them immediately.

After Meinel received the order to separate from the OKW, he first ordered that the separation teams be allowed into the camp. A short time later, there was increasing evidence that the commandos were physically abusing the prisoners. Meinel received initial information about this from a Wehrmacht interpreter at the camp. Based on this information, Meinel and his superior Lieutenant General Otto Ritter von Saur decided to investigate the events more closely. Together they visited several nearby work details and questioned the responsible command leaders and asked for lists to show which prisoners were singled out. During the interviews it was generally confirmed that the Gestapo had mistreated the prisoners. Based on the lists available, Meinel came to the conclusion that only the "intelligentsia" of the Russian prisoners was singled out. During this time Meinel and Saur tried to remove the prisoners from being separated and to assign them to the work details. A Gestapo official discovered this procedure at the end of September 1941. Even during a subsequent check, the camp officers refused to cooperate with the Gestapo and tried to evade the prisoners from the Gestapo by setting up new work details. The intervention of Meinel and the other officers saved an estimated 120 prisoners.

In coordination with Lieutenant General von Saur, Meinel wrote an official protest note after the visits, which was also sent to Hermann Reinecke, head of the General Wehrmacht Office. In the report, Meinel protested both against the mistreatment by the Gestapo and against the execution of the prisoners. On the basis of the report, von Saur was summoned by the Gauleiter Robert Wagner. Meinel was then transferred to a prisoner of war camp in Lithuania. Two months later Meinel was transferred to the Führerreserve and thus effectively removed from service.

Individual evidence

  1. http://www.moosburg.org/info/stalag/meinel.html#fn19
  2. https://www.sueddeutsche.de/muenchen/dachau/gedenkfeier-fuer-ermordete-sowjetische-soldaten-lichtblick-in-dunkelsten-stunden-1.4029580
  3. Dominik Reither: Stalag VII A Moosburg. On the trail of lost identities. Soviet prisoners of war in Stalag VII A Moosburg . ISBN 978-3-7460-9608-7 ( worldcat.org [accessed July 1, 2020]).
  4. Süddeutsche Zeitung: A bright spot in the darkest hours. Retrieved June 30, 2020 .