Fegelein, Hans Otto Georg Hermann, “Flegelein”.

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Fegelein, Hans Otto Georg Hermann “Flegelein”, 30-10-1906, in Ansbach, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire, to the retired Oberleutnant Hans Fegelein. As a boy working at his father’s equestrian school in Munich, he became a proficient rider and participated in jumping events. During this period he met Christian Weber,

an original member of the Nazi Party. Weber later sponsored Fegelein’s entry into the Schutzstaffel (SS).

Along with the likes of Emil Maurice, Ulrich Graf,    and Max Amann,   Christian Weber, a bouncer at a bar, was among the earliest political associates of Adolf Hitler. Ever ready for a fight, Weber carried a riding crop with him, a habit shared by Hitler in those early years. A German politician and an early member of the Nazi Party Otto Johann Maximilian Strasser

  denounced Weber as an “ape-like creature” and “the most despicable of Hitler’s underlings”; Strasser later claimed that Weber was a pimp at this time. Ulrich Graf was a founding member of the Sturmabteilung. In 1921 Strasser became member number 2882 of the NSDAP and became Adolf Hitler’s personal bodyguard. On 09-11-1923, during the Beer Hall Putsch, he stood in front of Hitler when the Bavarian police opened fire at the Feldherrnhalle. He was seriously injured. Ulrich Graf survived the war and died age 71 on 03-03-1950 in München. Otto Strasser together with his brother Gregor Strasser, was a leading member of the party’s more radical wing, whose ideology became known as Strasserism, and broke from the party due to disputes with the dominant Hitlerite faction. He formed the Black Front, a group intended to split the Nazi Party and take it from the grasp of Hitler. During his exile and World War II, this group also functioned as a secret opposition group. Otto fled first to Austria, then to Czechoslovakia (Prague), Switzerland, and France. Strasser eventually gained West German citizenship, returned to Germany on 16-03-1955, and settled in Munich and died 27-08-1974 (aged 76) in Munich, Gregor Strasser during the Night of the Long Knives as he was shot once in the main artery from behind in his cell but did not die immediately. On the orders of SS General Reinhard Heydrich, who was also murdered in 1942, age 38.  Strasser was left to bleed to death, which took almost an hour, on 30-06-1934 (aged 42) in Berlin,

Fegelein joined the Nazi Party (membership number 1,200,158) and the SA in 1930. He transferred to the SS on 10-04-1933, with membership number 66,680. He worked as an instructor at the Reitinstitut Fegelein and became the leader of the SS-Reitersturm, the SS equestrian group based at the facility. By the mid-1930s he took over administration of the school from his father. He was promoted to the Allgemeine-SS rank of SS-Untersturmführer that year and to SS-Obersturmführer on 20-04-1934 and to SS-Hauptsturmführer  on 09-11-1934. Beginning in November 1935, Fegelein oversaw the preparation of the courses and facilities for the equestrian events of the Berlin Olympic Games. He was promoted to the rank of SS-Sturmbannführer on 30-01-1936. He tried out for the German equestrian team, but was unable to prevail against the strong competition from the Kavallerieschule Hannover (cavalry school Hanover), who went on to win all the equestrian gold medals.

Fegelein won the Deutsches Spring- und Dressurderby international tournament in 1937, as did his brother Waldemar “Axel” Fegelein   in 1939. He was promoted to the rank of SS-Obersturmbannführer on 30 January. On 25-07-1937, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich  Himmler, by special order of the SS-Oberabschnitt Süd, created the Haupt-Reitschule München (SS Main Riding School) in Munich. The school was started from his father’s stud farm. Fegelein was named its commander and promoted to SS-Standartenführer the same day. Funding for the very expensive horses came in part from then SS-Brigadeführer Weber, who supported the school with more than 100,000 Reichsmark annually. Fegelein won the “Braunes Band von Deutschland” (Brown Ribbon of Germany), an annual horse race which in 1938 was held on the premises of the riding school in Munich.[12] Fegelein at the time had strong ambitions to participate in the 1940 Summer Olympics. With the help of his friend Höherer SS- und Polizeiführer (HSSPF; Higher SS and Police Leader) Friedrich Karl von Eberstein, he arranged the transfer of all the Bavarian State Police horses to the SS riding school in case of mobilization. His fear was that the horses would be handed to the Wehrmacht.

In 1942 Fegelein became SS-Oberführer (comparable to Brigadier General) and also joined the Waffen-SS. In 1943 he became SS-Brigadeführer (Brigadier General) and Generalmajor of the Waffen-SS. As commander of the 8th SS Cavalry Division, he was deployed in the fight against partisans in the Pripjet Marshes area in Russia, where he was guilty of serious war crimes against the civilian population. After his marriage in June 1944 to Gretl Braun, Eva Braun’s  younger sister, he was promoted to SS-Gruppenführer (Major General) and Generalleutnant of the Waffen-SS. He was also added to the staff of Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the SS. In that position he acted as Himmler’s liaison in Berlin (Himmler himself stayed just outside Berlin).

During the last months of World War II Fegelein stayed in the underground Führerbunker with Hitler, Eva Braun, Joseph Goebbels and Martin Bormann, among others. However, on 29-04-1945, Fegelein disappeared without a trace. Hitler sent SS men to look for him. They found him at home in civilian clothes with a mistres. He was arrested and taken back to the bunker. It is likely that Fegelein had tried to flee. His flight was explained by Hitler as part of Heinrich Himmler’s plan to make peace with the Western Allies. Fegelein was demoted to Schutze (soldier) and sentenced to death and executed by a court-martial later that day. However, there are different opinions about the certainty regarding Fegelein’s death in historical writings. In The Last Days of Hitler, historian Hugh Trevor Roper notes that “The real situation surrounding Fegelein’s execution is one of the few subjects in this book about which absolute certainty cannot be gathered.”Journalist James O’Donnell has discovered in his research that there are several theories about what exactly happened to Fegelein. Many of the theories contradict each other. There is even a theory that it was Adolf Hitler himself who shot Fegelein. For a long time the dominant theory was that Fegelein was executed after a conviction by a tribunal. SS Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke, who chaired the tribunal, told O’Donnell (The Bunker, 1978):Adolf Hitler instructed me to set up a tribunal that I would chair myself. I decided that the accused (Fegelein) had the right to be tried by a tribunal composed of senior officers. The members were Generals Wilhelm Emanuel Burgdorf,  Hans Krebs,  Johann Rattenhuber and myself. At that time we intended to hold a trial. The tribunal took place in a room near my command post. We, the military judges, took our seats at the table with the German manual for military tribunals in front of us. When we were about to sit down, defendant Fegelein began to behave in such a ferocious manner that the trial could not take place. He was drunk and his eyes looked strange. Fegelein challenged the legality of the tribunal and continued to say that he was answerable only to Heinrich Himmler, and to no one but Himmler. Not even to Hitler. He refused to defend himself, trembled violently and shivered while shouting and cursing constantly. He even took his penis out of his pants and started urinating on the floor. The situation was impossible. On the one hand, it was clear – based on the available evidence, including his own statement – that this sad officer had deserted. On the other hand, it was clearly prescribed that no German soldier could be tried if he was not sufficiently clear of mind and body to hear the evidence presented. I looked at the regulations again and consulted with the other judges. In our opinion, Hermann Fegelein was not fit to stand before the tribunal, he literally could not even stand anymore. I then closed the procedure. I handed Fegelein over to SS General Rattenhuber and his security service. I never saw the man again after that. A number of other people involved who were present in the bunker stated that Wilhelm Mohnke lied and that it was Mohnke himself who murdered Fegelein and that he had tried to clear himself of all guilt with his statement. The situation was complicated because Mohnke was the only member of the supposed tribunal to survive the war. Hans Krebs and Wilhelm Burgdorf committed suicide on May 2. Although Johann “Hans”  Rattenhuber

  survived the war – he was held in captivity by the Red Army until the 1950s – he died shortly after his release and could therefore no longer be questioned about Fegelein. Although O’Donnell notes that no one actually witnessed Fegelein’s execution (or, if they did, remained silent about it), he joins many other historians in concluding that Fegelein was a victim of the betrayal of his boss, Himmler, as well as rumors that his mistress had been a spy. Fegelein was therefore executed on Hitler’s orders without having stood before a tribunal. He was probably hanged in a nearby cellar by members of the SS. Furthermore, O’Donnell noted that Adolf Hitler had held off on his wedding to Eva Braun until he knew Fegelein had been murdered. This was intended to prevent Hitler from having a traitor as a brother-in-law. A single survivor of the bunker says that Eva Braun begged Hitler to spare her brother-in-law. Others say she didn’t stick up for him at all. It is agreed that shortly after Fegelein’s arrest, Eva Braun told Hitler that her sister Gretl was pregnant by Fegelein and that Hitler therefore initially considered releasing him without punishment. There is disagreement about whether Braun tried to get Fegelein released after Hitler had already sentenced him to death.It is striking that Fegelein’s parents – who survived the war – have claimed to have received messages through a third person that their son had gone into hiding after the war.In 2006, Rochus Misch, a bodyguard, courier, and telephone operator for German dictator Adolf Hitler. gave an interview to the German weblog www.roland-harder.de about the Fegelein case. Misch was the last living witness of the events in the Führerbunker shortly before the end of World War II. When asked what happened when it became clear that Fegelein had left the bunker without permission, he said:Fegelein was not in the bunker. I tried calling him at home but couldn’t reach him. The Reich Security Command then took action. They found him in his home. Fegelein wondered indifferently what he still had to do in the bunker. Then the commando left again. Someone told me that Fegelein had a woman visiting when the commando came to see him. It is said to be a presenter of German radio. I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s what I was told. About what else happened to Fegelein, I can only tell you what people told me. When Bormann heard about it, he shouted: ‘Get there, immediately, arrest!’ Later he was interrogated by General Krebs and General Burgdorf. I don’t know if there were other people present at that interrogation. Regardless, Fegelein was sentenced to death for deserting. People from the Reich Security Service told me that the Kriminalrat Peter Hogl, a member of the Reich Security Service, gave the order to shoot Fegelein.

After Hitler’s death on 30 April, Högl, Ewald Lindloff,  Hans Reisser, and Hitler’s valet Heinz Linge carried his corpse up the stairs to ground level and through the bunker’s emergency exit to the bombed-out garden behind the Reich Chancellery. There, Högl and the others witnessed the cremation of Hitler and Eva Braun. On the following night of 1 May, Högl joined Rattenhuber in his attempt to break-out from the Soviet Red Army encirclement. After midnight on 02-05-1945, he was wounded in the head while crossing the Weidendammer Bridge and died of his injuries. Högl was 47 years old. Heinz Linge was eventually tried and sentenced to twenty-five years imprisonment. However, he only served five years before being released in the general amnesty of 1955. Heinz Linge died in Bremen in West Germany in 1980.

Death and burial ground of Fegelein, Hans Otto Georg Hermann, “Flegelein”.

 

Fegelein’s parents and his brother Waldemar survived the war. Gretl, who inherited some of Eva’s valuable jewellery, also survived the war. She gave birth to a daughter

(named Eva Barbara Fegelein, after her late aunt) on 05-05-1945. Gretl Braun remarried in 1954 in Munich to Kurt Berlinghoff

. Berlinghoff died 04-01-1999 (age 91). Eva Fegelein killed herself in April 1971 after her boyfriend died in a car accident. Gretl Braun-Fegelein moved to Munich and remarried in 1954. She died in 1987, aged 72.

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