Reinefarth, Heinrich “Heinz” Friedrich “Butcher of Wola”.

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Reinefarth, Heinrich "Butcher of Wola"
germanySS GruppenführerWaffen SS

Reinefarth, Heinrich Friedrich “Butcher of Wola”, born, 26-12-1903 Gnesen. son of a deputy of the Landsraad, Friedrich „Fritz“ Reinefarth.  After finishing the gymnasium in 1922, he joined the law faculty of the University of Jena. and graduated in 1927 and passed the 1st degree state exams. Until 1930 he completed his application at the local court in Jena and was promoted to judge. On 01-08-1932, he joined the NSDAP  ,  and received a relatively low number of party id card Nr 1,268,933 on 01-08-1932. In December of the same year he joined the SS, Nr 56634, in December 1932.

Shortly before the outbreak of World War II Reinefarth was conscripted as a reserve Feldwebel. For his actions during the invasion of Poland  he received the 2nd Class Iron Cross.  He took part in the 1940 campaign against France, for which he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross.  On 20-04-1942, he was promoted to SS-Brigadeführer the equivalent of Generalmajor in the Wehrmacht.

After promotion to Brigadier, Reinefarth here with SS Obergruppenfuhrer Karl Hermann Frank. and here with SS Obergruppenführer and Reichsstatthalter (Reich Governor) Arthur Greiser  was appointed as General Inspector of SS in the Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia. In September 1943, he was transferred to Berlin where he served in the Ministry of Order Police (Hauptamt Ordnungspolizei). On 29-01-1944, Reinefarth was assigned to be SS and Police Leader in Reichsgau Wartheland (Polish Poznań Voivodeship annexed by Germany in 1939). In this post he was responsible for organising repressions against Poles and other nationalities> During the Warsaw Uprising he complained that his soldiers lacked ammunition to execute all prisoners.

After the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising, Reinefarth was ordered to organise a military unit consisting of personnel from various security units and head for Warsaw. Upon arrival, his forces (Kampfgruppe Reinefarth) were included in the Korpsgruppe von dem Bach of General Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski

who was ordered by SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler 

 to quell the rebellion. From 05-08-1944, Reinefarth’s group took part in fighting in the Wola area. 

In two days, the units of Reinefarth   and SS-Oberführer Oskar Dirlewanger executed approximately 60,000 civilian inhabitants of Warsaw in what is known as the Wola Massacre. In one of his reports to the commander of the German 9th Army Reinefarth stated that “we have more prisoners than ammunition to kill them”. After securing the Wola area, his troops took part in heavy fighting against the Armia Krajowa in the Old Town. In September, his forces were transferred to attack the boroughs of Powiśle and Czerniaków, where they committed further atrocities, including killing of POWs and wounded found in military hospitals. In all 150,000–200,000 Polish civilians were killed during the uprising. For his actions during the Warsaw Uprising Reinefarth was awarded the Oak Leaves to his Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross  on 30-09-1944.

In December 1944, Reinefarth was given command over the XVIII SS Corps in the central Oder river area. Between January and March 1945, he commanded the defence of “Festung Küstrin” (Kostrzyn nad Odrą). He declined to defend it to the last man and Hitler found fault with the way he withdrew his troops. Himmler, acting on Hitler’s order, had Reinefarth arrested at the end of March 1945. Later he was sentenced to death by a military court. However, the sentence was not carried out, and he continued to command those of his troops that managed to leave the fortress; they were renamed as the XIV SS Corps.

After World War II, the Polish authorities demanded his extradition. However, the British and American authorities of occupied Germany decided that Reinefarth could be useful as a witness at the Nuremberg Trial. After the trials, he was arrested for war crimes, but the local court in Hamburg released him shortly afterwards on the grounds of lack of evidence. West Germany ruled that depositions were not sufficient to secure his conviction, and also, that genocide was not in the criminal code of Nazi Germany and therefore, would not be applied retroactively.

Reinefarth went on to live a normal life similar to other war criminals and Holocaust perpetrators living in West Germany including SS-Obersturmführer Arnold Strippel  from Majdanek concentration camp, and SS Oberscharführer Johann Fiedler from Chełmno extermination camp. In December 1951, he was elected mayor of the town of Westerland, the main town on the island of Sylt. SS Sturmführer Arnold Strippel was convicted of war crimes at the Third Majdanek Trial before the West German Court in Düsseldorf (1975–1981) for his actions at Buchenwald and at the Majdanek concentration camp, Poland, where he served as deputy commandant. He  was implicated in the torture and killing of many dozens of prisoners including 42 Soviet POWs in July 1942. Strippel received a nominal three-and-a-half year sentence. He also received 121,500 Deutsche Mark reimbursement for the loss of earnings and his social security contributions, which made him a wealthy man. He used this windfall to purchase a condominium in Frankfurt, which he occupied until his death on 01-05-1994, aged 82. SS OberscharfuhrerJohann Fielder survived the war and died on 23-09-1999, age 77.

Death and burial ground of Reinefarth, Heinrich Friedrich “Butcher of Wola”


In 1962, Reinefarth was elected to the parliament of Schleswig-Holstein. After his term ended in 1967, he worked as a lawyer. Despite numerous demands by Poland, he was not extradited. Since the German courts had ruled that there was no evidence of him committing any crimes, he was considered not guilty in the eyes of the law and the federal government. He received a general’s pension upon retirement. He  died on 07-05-1979, age 75 in his mansion on Sylt.  He is buried, with his wife Adelheid, born Reichelt, on the Saint Severin Church yard of Sylt.






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