Oberländer, Theodor, born 01-05-1905 in Meiningen, Sachsen, was a Ostforschung scientist, Nazi officer and German politician. At the age of 18, he participated in Adolf Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, Bavaria, in 1923 during the existence of the Weimar Republic. After joining the Nazis in 1933, he became a senior SA commander and leader of an NSDAP district. Oberländer obtained a doctorate in Agricultural Sciences and wrote several books about the need for German intervention in the agricultural systems of Poland and the Soviet Union, which he considered “un-economic”.
Oberländer became a member of the NSDAP in 1933. He became a professor at the University of Greifswald, where he was at the forefront of making the university and the Province of Pomerania “judenfrei” (free of Jews). On 04-08-1935, he became an assistant to Gauleiter Erich Koch, under whose authority he started to gather information about non-German minorities in East Prussia. A significant role in this process was played by the “Bund Deutscher Osten” (BDO – “League for a German East”) , which advocated radical Germanization of the eastern provinces and the elimination of the Polish language in Masuria. The language’s traditional usage in the Protestant churches of the Masurians was outlawed in November 1939, with the Lutheran Prussian Church leadership acquiescing in December.
Before World War II he devised plans aimed against Jewish and Polish population in territories that were to be conquered by Nazi Germany. In 1940, Oberländer endorsed ethnic cleansing of Polish population and in 1941, wrote in the German magazine Deutsche Monatshefte: “We have the best soldier in the world who re-conquered German soil in the East. There is no bigger responsibility than educating this colonist to be the best on earth and to secure the living space for all time to come” Oberländer’s words echoed the views of Heinrich Himmler
, who envisioned settling former soldiers, armed with weapons and ploughs in the East, not just pure peasants. During 1940 he moved to University of Praque, after which he became active in Ukraine, where he was used by Nazi Germany’s military as expert on „ethnic psychology”. When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, Oberländer became an advising officer of the Nachtigall Battalion, Ukrainian battalion of Wehrmacht, which occupied Lviv in Ukraine; his position was similar to that of Soviet political commissars. The participation of the Battalion in The Lviv Civilian Massacre of 1941 has since been subject to controversy, and Oberländer himself has been accused after the war of participating in the events. In January 1942, he sent a report on situation in Ukraine in which he wrote that success lay in “winning over the masses and pitilessly exterminating partisans as deleterious to the people”. He later became the leader of the mixed German and Caucasian Sonderverband Bergmann, which was active in anti-partisan warfare. Both army groups were later claimed to have participated in war crimes. Oberländer’s involvement in Eastern front would led to the Oberländer case at the end of the 1950s. In 1943 he was dismissed from Wehrmacht due to political conflict with his superiors and returned to Prague. In 1944 he joined the Staff of Andrej Vlasov’s, he was hanged with most of his men by the Russians, age 45, on 02-08-1046, (see Andrey Vlasov)
Russian Liberation Army’s. Vlasov was taken into American captivity and held in a city in Tirol. He and his generals continued talks with the British and the Americans, explaining the principles of their liberation movement and trying to persuade the western Allies to grant asylum to its participants. However, Vlasov–along with many of his men and other Nazi collaborators–was forcibly repatriated to the Soviet Union. Soviet authorities sent Vlasov to Moscow, where over the course of a year he was held in the Lubyanka prison. A summary trial held in the summer of 1946 and presided over by Viktor Semenovich Abakumov , the head of SMERSH in the USSR People’s Commissariat of Defense, sentenced him and eleven other senior officers from his army to death for treason. Abakumov a high level Soviet security organs official, from 1943 to 1946 the head of Smersh in the USSR People Commissariat of Defense, died age 46, on 19-12-1954, in Moscow, The twelve men were hanged on 01-08-1946. These were among the last death sentences in the Soviet Union carried out by hanging (from then on Soviet death penalty was carried out by firing squad; later a group of Cossack leaders allied with the Germans,
including Pyotr Krasnov , Andrei Shkuro and Helmuth von Pannwitz , a German General for war crimes, suffered the same fate, on 16-01-1947. Oberlander was taken prisoner of war by the United states Army in 1945. After the war he served as Federal Minister for Displaced Persons Refugees and victims of war in the Second and Third Cabinets of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer from 1953 to 1960, and as a Member of the Bundestag from 1953 to 1961 and from 1963 to 1965. Oberländer initially represented the All German Bloc and served as its chairman from 1954 to 1955. In 1956 he became a member of the Christian Democratic Union. Before he entered federal politics, he served as a member of the Parliament of Bavaria from 1950 to 1953 and as Secretary of State for Refugee Affairs in the Bavarian Ministry of the Interior from 1951 to 1953.
Death and burial ground of Oberländer, Theodor.
Living in Bonn Theodoor Oberländer died at the old age of 93 and is buried on the Cemetery of Poppelsdorf in Bonn.