Rainer Stahel, born 15-01-1892 in Bielefeld, joined the German Army during World War I. Initially a lieutenant in the 27th Rifle Battalion of the 130thInfantry Regiment, by the end of the war he had moved to Finland and joined the Finnish Army participating in the Finnish Civil War. By 1933 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel and served as a commander of the garrison of the city of Turku. The same year he retired from the Finnish Army and returned to Nazi Germany, where his military grade reverted to captain. Initially an officer at the Ministry of Aviation, Stahel became responsible for the development of German anti-air artillery. He became the commanding officer of the 71st Reserve Anti-air Artillery Battalion in 1938 and the commander of the anti-air defence of the city of Augsburg in June 1940. Soon afterwards he was dispatched to Vichy France as a military advisor and then in March of the following year he was made the commanding officer of the 9th Anti-Air Regiment. With that unit he served in southern Russia. For the defensive actions on the eastern front on 18-01-1942, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross . On March 1 of that year he was promoted to the rank of colonel and by the end of that year he became the commanding officer of a Luftwaffe task force defending the German south-eastern front. On January 4 he was awarded the Oak Leaves to his Iron Cross. Three weeks later he was promoted to the rank of Major General and in July of that year he was transferred to Italy, where he assumed command of the 2nd Anti-Air Artillery Brigade , with which he secured the Messina road. Following the German retreat from Sicily and Italy’s surrender, Stahel was made the military commander of the city of Rome in October 1943. In July 1944 he was transferred to Vilna in German-occupied Poland, where he became the military commander of the city’s garrison. Initially commanding roughly 500 men, soon he received reinforcements and was able to postpone the seizure of that city by Polish partisans and the Red Army. For his efforts, on 28-07-1944, he was awarded the Swords to the Knight’s Cross and promoted to the rank of lieutenant general. Stahel was transferred to Warsaw, where he was to defend the city against the advancing Red Army. However, the Soviet offensive was halted and instead on August 1 the Warsaw Uprising was started by the Polish Home Army. On the first day of the uprising Stahel was surrounded in his headquarters in the Saxon Palace, and he lost control of the situation. On August 4 the command over Nazi forces in Warsaw was given to SS Obergruppenführer, Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski , Bach-Zelewski (see von dem Bach-Zelewski) died in Munich, age 73, on 08-03-1972 and Stahel’s pocket was subordinated to the new commander. Although by August 7 the troops of SS Oberführer, Oskar Dirlewanger, he was killed age 49, on 05-06-1945, managed to reach Stahel’s positions in the city centre, he did not resume his command over the city’s garrison. Instead, on August 24 he was dispatched to Bucharest, where similar urban fighting was anticipated by the German headquarters. However, Romania switched sides and the Red Army entered the city almost unopposed. On 20-09-1944, Stahel was arrested by the NKVD together with Field Marshal, Ion Antonescu (see Antonescu).
He was executed, age 63, on 01-06-1946. Interrogated on his part in the Warsaw Uprising,
Death and burial ground.
Stahel was imprisoned in the Soviet Gulag system. The exact date of his death is a subject of controversy. According to Soviet sources Stahel died on 30-11-1952, in Vladimir central transfer prison. However, other sources mention that Stahel died in 1955 in Voikovo of a heart attack when he was informed of his possible transfer to Germany. Stahel is buried on the Genererals cemetery of Cherntsy (see Cherntsy). A few of his neighbours are, General der Infanterie, Kommandeur 145th Infanterie Regiment, Karl Specht (see Specht), Generalmajor der Wehrmacht, Grenadier Regiment 70, Louis Tronnier (see Tronnier), General der Artillerie, Kommandeur IV Heeresgruppe, Max Pfeffer (see Pfeffer), Generalmajor der Infanterie, Kommandeur der XVIII Gebirgstruppe, Friederich Hochbaum (see Hochbaum), General der Infanterie, Commander 32nd Infantry Division and L Army Corps, Hans Boeckh-Behrens (see Boeckh-Behrensrens), Generalleutnant der Infanterie, Commander of the 44thInfanterie Division, Heinrich Deboi (see Deboi), and Generalmajor der Wehrmacht, Pioneer Commander, Wilhelm Runge (see Runge), Generalleutnant der Infanterie, Commander of a Field Training Division, Friedrich Bayer (see Bayer).