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Arthur Greiser, SS Obergruppenführer and Reichsstatthalter (Reich Governor)


Arthur Greiser was born in Schroda, Posen, in the Kingdom of Prussia to a minor local official. In 1903, he began to study at the Könglich-Humanistische Gymnasium (Royal Humanities College) in Hohensalza, Posen. In Aug 1914, he joined the navy, and in 1917 became a naval aviator. For his WW1 service on the Western Front, he  earned the Iron Class medal, First and Second Class, among others. After WW1, he returned home to Posen, which was now part of Poland, and developed prejudice against the Polish people. Between 1919 and May 1921, he was a member of the para-military Freikorps Grenzschutz Ost organization . He joined the Nazi Party and SA on 1 Nov 1929, and became a part of the SS on 30 Jun 1931. In 1935, he became the Senate President of the Free City of Danzig. On 8 Sep 1939, after Germany invaded Poland, he was named the head of the military government in Poland.    On 21 and 26 Oct, he was appointed the Gauleiter and administrator of Reichsgau Posen (renamed Wartheland on 29 Jan 1940), positions he would hold until the end of the war. Before the European War began, he was among the key Nazi German figures that provoked Poland to deteriorate relations. He removed Polish civilians from successive regions and resettled them with Germans, 350,000 of whom were ethnic German refugees from Eastern European nations occupied by Russia; some of the people removed were executed systematically, while others were deported to the east. A Polish servant working for Greiser in this period described

you could see his arrogance, his conceit. He was so vain, so full of himself-as if there was nothing above him, a god, almost. Everybody tried to get out of his way, people had to bow to him, salute him. And the Poles, he treated them with great contempt. For him the Poles were slaves, good for nothing, but work.                                                             Greiser authorized the formation of SS detachments that essentially acted as mobile execution squads that murdered Jews, mental patients, and other groups deemed subhuman by Nazi philosophies. Wilhelm Koppe , an ardent Nazi subordinate to Greiser, was the man placed in charge of the Holocaust, who between late 1941 and Apr 1942 alone killed 150,000 Jews using gas vans. Greiser was fully aware of the efforts and results of the mass murders. On 20 Jan 1945, he was contacted by Martin Bormann, notifying Adolf Hitler‘s (did you know) orders for him to flee from Reichsgau Wartheland, though he was to instruct his troops to hold the Fortress City of Posen at all costs; Posen fell under Russian control on 28 Jan. He surrendered to the Americans in Austria near the end of the European War. He was tried by the Polish Supreme National Tribunal after the war.  His defense against war crimes charges was that he was following orders from above, but he was still found guilty of several charges, including genocide, torture, and the systematic destruction of Polish culture and identity. He on 21th July 1946, age 49, was executed by hanging on slope of Fort Winiary in Poznan (restored Polish name of what Germans formerly referred to as Posen) in what would become the last public execution in Polish history.

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