Arthur Greiser

Arthur Greiser

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Arthur Greiser'
Start a new discussion about 'Arthur Greiser'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Arthur Greiser was a Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 politician
Politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

 and SS Obergruppenfuhrer
Obergruppenführer
Obergruppenführer was a Nazi Party paramilitary rank that was first created in 1932 as a rank of the SA and until 1942 it was the highest SS rank inferior only to Reichsführer-SS...

. He was one of the persons primarily responsible for organizing the Holocaust in Poland and numerous other war crimes and crimes against humanity, for which he was tried, convicted and executed by hanging
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

 after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

Early life and career


Born in Schroda
Sroda Wielkopolska
Środa Wielkopolska is a town in central Poland, about southeast of Poznań, with 22,001 inhabitants .-Overview:It is situated in Greater Poland Voivodeship, having previously been in the former Poznań Voivodeship...

, Province of Posen
Province of Posen
The Province of Posen was a province of Prussia from 1848–1918 and as such part of the German Empire from 1871 to 1918. The area was about 29,000 km2....

, Imperial Germany, Greiser was the son of a minor local Gerichtsvollzieher (Bailiff). In 1903, he was enrolled at the Könglich-Humanistische Gymnasium (Royal Humanities College) in Hohensalza and is believed to have learnt to speak Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

 fluently. In August 1914, he joined the Reichsmarine
Reichsmarine
The Reichsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Weimar Republic and first two years of Nazi Germany. It was the naval branch of the Reichswehr, existing from 1918 to 1935...

. After front line service in Flanders, in the Spring of 1917 he became a naval aviator. He served as a pilot on the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

. He earned the Iron Cross
Iron Cross
The Iron Cross is a cross symbol typically in black with a white or silver outline that originated after 1219 when the Kingdom of Jerusalem granted the Teutonic Order the right to combine the Teutonic Black Cross placed above a silver Cross of Jerusalem....

 (First and Second Class), the Cross of Honour 1914–1918 Combatants medal, and a Wound Badge
Wound Badge
Wound Badge was a German military award for wounded or frost-bitten soldiers of Imperial German Army in World War I, the Reichswehr between the wars, and the Wehrmacht, SS and the auxiliary service organizations during the Second World War. After March 1943, due to the increasing number of Allied...

 Black Class in 1914.

After the war and the loss of his homeland to Poland, he became particularly racist against Poles
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

. From 1919 to May 1921, he served in the Freikorps
Freikorps
Freikorps are German volunteer military or paramilitary units. The term was originally applied to voluntary armies formed in German lands from the middle of the 18th century onwards. Between World War I and World War II the term was also used for the paramilitary organizations that arose during...

 Grenzschutz Ost and fought in the Baltic states
Baltic states
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

.

Beginning career in the Nazi Party


Greiser was an early member of the Nazi party (Party number 166,635). After many years with the nationalist Deutschsoziale Partei of von Kunze and membership of the Stahlhelm
Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten
The Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten also known in short form as Der Stahlhelm was one of the many paramilitary organizations that arose after the defeat of World War I in the Weimar Republic...

 in the mid-1920s, he joined the NSDAP and SA
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 on 1 November 1929. He eventually joined the SS on 30 June 1931. He was later awarded the prestigious "Golden Party Badge".

He was the Senate President and the head of state (Senatspräsident) of the Free City of Danzig
Free City of Danzig
The Free City of Danzig was a semi-autonomous city-state that existed between 1920 and 1939, consisting of the Baltic Sea port of Danzig and surrounding areas....

 (now Gdańsk
Gdansk
Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast, at the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.The city lies on the southern edge of Gdańsk Bay , in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, spa town of Sopot, and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the...

, Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

) (1935–1939), and the administrator (Reichsstatthalter und Gauleiter) of Reichsgau Wartheland
Reichsgau Wartheland
Reichsgau Wartheland was a Nazi German Reichsgau formed from Polish territory annexed in 1939. It comprised the Greater Poland and adjacent areas, and only in part matched the area of the similarly named pre-Versailles Prussian province of Posen...

 (1939–1945). As Senate President of Danzig, he was described as a “hothead” and was a serious rival to his nominal superior Albert Forster
Albert Forster
Albert Maria Forster was a Nazi German politician. Under his administration as the Gauleiter of Danzig-West Prussia during the Second World War, the local non-German population suffered ethnic cleansing, mass murder, and forceful Germanisation...

, the leader of the Nazi Party in that city since 1930. Greiser was part of the SS empire whilst Forster was closely aligned to the Nazi Party Mandarins Rudolf Hess
Rudolf Hess
Rudolf Walter Richard Hess was a prominent Nazi politician who was Adolf Hitler's deputy in the Nazi Party during the 1930s and early 1940s...

 and later Martin Bormann
Martin Bormann
Martin Ludwig Bormann was a prominent Nazi official. He became head of the Party Chancellery and private secretary to Adolf Hitler...

.

Greiser was directly responsible for escalating tensions between the Free City and the Republic of Poland in 1939. When the Polish
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 Foreign Affairs Minister Józef Beck
Józef Beck
' was a Polish statesman, diplomat, military officer, and close associate of Józef Piłsudski...

 threatened economic reprisals following the harassment of Polish frontier guards and customs officers, Greiser issued an announcement on 29 July 1939 declaring that the Danzig police no longer recognised their authority or power and demanded their immediate withdrawal. The notice was so rudely worded that the Polish diplomatic representative to Danzig, Marian Chodacki, refused to forward it to Beck and instead sent a curt summary.

World War II


Immediately following the German invasion of Poland, Greiser was transferred from Danzig and appointed “Chef der Zivilverwaltung im Militärbezirk Posen” or Chief of Civil Administration in the military district of Greater Poland
Greater Poland
Greater Poland or Great Poland, often known by its Polish name Wielkopolska is a historical region of west-central Poland. Its chief city is Poznań.The boundaries of Greater Poland have varied somewhat throughout history...

, which was annexed to the German Reich on 8 September 1939. The military administration ended the following month, and he was then appointed Gauleiter
Gauleiter
A Gauleiter was the party leader of a regional branch of the NSDAP or the head of a Gau or of a Reichsgau.-Creation and Early Usage:...

 (21 October) and "Reichsstatthalter
Reichsstatthalter
The term Reichsstatthalter was used twice for different offices, in the imperial Hohenzollern dynasty's German Empire and the single-party Nazi Third Reich.- "Statthalter des Reiches" 1879-1918 in Alsace-Lorraine :...

 für den Reichsgau Posen" (26 October). On 29 January 1940, the region was renamed Reichsgau Wartheland
Reichsgau Wartheland
Reichsgau Wartheland was a Nazi German Reichsgau formed from Polish territory annexed in 1939. It comprised the Greater Poland and adjacent areas, and only in part matched the area of the similarly named pre-Versailles Prussian province of Posen...

. The territory was potentially very rich - the Prussian
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

 Imperial province of Posen
Province of Posen
The Province of Posen was a province of Prussia from 1848–1918 and as such part of the German Empire from 1871 to 1918. The area was about 29,000 km2....

 had been the breadbasket of Wilhelmine
Wilhelmine
Wilhelmine is a term for the period of German history, also known as the German Empire. The term Wilhelmine Germany refers to the period running from the proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Kaiser at Versailles in 1871 to the abdication of his grandson Wilhelm II in 1918.Although the father of...

 Germany before 1914, possessed an excellent rail and road network, and a comparatively healthy and well educated workforce; Litzmanstadt had developed a fairly sophisticated industrial base during the 19th century. Although every Gauleiter was expected to fully Germanize their assigned area by any method, Greiser emphasized brutality to achieve this goal. He was an ardent racist
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

 who enthusiastically pursued an 'ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing
Ethnic cleansing is a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic orreligious group from certain geographic areas....

' program to rid the Warthegau of Poles and to resettle the 'cleansed' areas with ethnic Germans. This was along the lines of the racial theories espoused by SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

. Mass expulsions of Poles
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

 from the Warthegau to the General Government
General Government
The General Government was an area of Second Republic of Poland under Nazi German rule during World War II; designated as a separate region of the Third Reich between 1939–1945...

 and summary executions were the norm. A Polish servant in Greiser's house described him as "...a powerfully built figure. He was a tall man, 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 himself stated his beliefs: "If, in past times, other peoples enjoyed their century-long history by living well, and doing so by getting foreign peoples to work for them without compensating them accordingly and without meting out justice to them, then we too, as Germans want to learn from this history. No longer must we stand in the wings; on the contrary, we must altogether become a master race!".

In addition to mass deportation, Greiser's district was also at the forefront of "internal" racial cleansing according to Nazi ideals. His subordinate Wilhelm Koppe
Wilhelm Koppe
Wilhelm Koppe was a German Nazi commander who was responsible for numerous atrocities against Poles and Jews in Reichsgau Wartheland and the General Government during the German occupation of Poland in World War II.-Biography:Born in Hildesheim, he fought in the First World War...

 provided the 'Special Detachment (Sonderkommando) Lange
Herbert Lange
Herbert Lange was a Sturmbannführer in the SS. He was responsible for numerous crimes against humanity related to the murder of mental patients in Poland and in Germany.- Background :...

' to the nearby Gau of East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

 during May and June 1940. This SS squad gassed 1558 patients from mental asylums at the Soldau concentration camp
Soldau concentration camp
The Soldau concentration camp was a concentration camp established by Nazi Germany during World War II in Działdowo , which after the occupation of Poland was part of East Prussia....

 and then returned to his region to continue this process.

Perhaps the only evidence of humanitarian acts in his career was his involvement in the resettlement of German refugees from lands annexed to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 over 1939 to 1940. Between October and December 1939 nearly 60,000 Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche - "German in terms of people/folk" -, defined ethnically, is a historical term from the 20th century. The words volk and volkische conveyed in Nazi thinking the meanings of "folk" and "race" while adding the sense of superior civilization and blood...

 arrived in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 from the Baltic states
Baltic states
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

 of Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

 and Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

. Evidently Wilfried Strik-Strikfeldt
Wilfried Strik-Strikfeldt
Wilfried Karl Strik-Strikfeldt was a Baltic German soldier involved with General Vlasov and the German sponsored Russian Liberation Army of World War II.-Early years:...

 (later employed as translator for General Andrey Vlasov
Andrey Vlasov
Andrey Andreyevich Vlasov or Wlassow was a Russian Red Army general who collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II.-Early career:...

) was in this group as he "resettled" in Posen
Poznan
Poznań is a city on the Warta river in west-central Poland, with a population of 556,022 in June 2009. It is among the oldest cities in Poland, and was one of the most important centres in the early Polish state, whose first rulers were buried at Poznań's cathedral. It is sometimes claimed to be...

. Neighbouring Gauleiter
Gauleiter
A Gauleiter was the party leader of a regional branch of the NSDAP or the head of a Gau or of a Reichsgau.-Creation and Early Usage:...

 and rival Albert Forster
Albert Forster
Albert Maria Forster was a Nazi German politician. Under his administration as the Gauleiter of Danzig-West Prussia during the Second World War, the local non-German population suffered ethnic cleansing, mass murder, and forceful Germanisation...

 refused them entry point blank and they were largely settled in properties seized from Poles
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

 in Poznań
Poznan
Poznań is a city on the Warta river in west-central Poland, with a population of 556,022 in June 2009. It is among the oldest cities in Poland, and was one of the most important centres in the early Polish state, whose first rulers were buried at Poznań's cathedral. It is sometimes claimed to be...

 and across the Wartheland. However even Greiser was wary, noting that many were elderly and urbanized aristocrats with a strong class consciousness, not the virile peasant warrior types idolized by the SS. Closer to his heart were the over 100,000 Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche - "German in terms of people/folk" -, defined ethnically, is a historical term from the 20th century. The words volk and volkische conveyed in Nazi thinking the meanings of "folk" and "race" while adding the sense of superior civilization and blood...

 who were evacuated from Volhynia
Volhynia
Volhynia, Volynia, or Volyn is a historic region in western Ukraine located between the rivers Prypiat and Southern Bug River, to the north of Galicia and Podolia; the region is named for the former city of Volyn or Velyn, said to have been located on the Southern Bug River, whose name may come...

 and eastern Galicia. These were mostly farmers and rural people, and, learning from the Baltic experience, Łódź in eastern Wartheland was designated the main Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle (VoMi) reception centre. In May 1940 a further 30,000 Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche - "German in terms of people/folk" -, defined ethnically, is a historical term from the 20th century. The words volk and volkische conveyed in Nazi thinking the meanings of "folk" and "race" while adding the sense of superior civilization and blood...

 were relocated from the Nazi General Government of Poland to Greiser’s domain. After 1941 a further 300,000 Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche
Volksdeutsche - "German in terms of people/folk" -, defined ethnically, is a historical term from the 20th century. The words volk and volkische conveyed in Nazi thinking the meanings of "folk" and "race" while adding the sense of superior civilization and blood...

 were evacuated from Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 to Wartheland during the German invasion and occupation of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

.

Greiser’s Poznań
Poznan
Poznań is a city on the Warta river in west-central Poland, with a population of 556,022 in June 2009. It is among the oldest cities in Poland, and was one of the most important centres in the early Polish state, whose first rulers were buried at Poznań's cathedral. It is sometimes claimed to be...

 was considered the Germanised city par excellence and on 3 August 1943 he hosted a national gathering of Gauleiter and senior Nazis, including Martin Bormann
Martin Bormann
Martin Ludwig Bormann was a prominent Nazi official. He became head of the Party Chancellery and private secretary to Adolf Hitler...

, Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

 and Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

.

SS Obergruppenführer
Obergruppenführer
Obergruppenführer was a Nazi Party paramilitary rank that was first created in 1932 as a rank of the SA and until 1942 it was the highest SS rank inferior only to Reichsführer-SS...

 Greiser was fully aware of the Holocaust and actively participated in it. Early in 1940, Greiser is on record challenging Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

 over efforts to delay the expulsion of Łódź Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 to Poland. On 18 September 1941 SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler informed Greiser that he intended to transfer 60,000 Czech and German Jews to the Łódź ghetto
Ghetto
A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

, until spring 1942 when they would be "resettled". The first transport arrived a few weeks later, and Greiser sought and received permission from Himmler to kill 100,000 Jews in his area. He then instructed HSSPF Wilhelm Koppe
Wilhelm Koppe
Wilhelm Koppe was a German Nazi commander who was responsible for numerous atrocities against Poles and Jews in Reichsgau Wartheland and the General Government during the German occupation of Poland in World War II.-Biography:Born in Hildesheim, he fought in the First World War...

 to manage the overcrowding. Koppe and SS Sturmbannführer
Sturmbannführer
Sturmbannführer was a paramilitary rank of the Nazi Party equivalent to major, used both in the Sturmabteilung and the Schutzstaffel...

 Herbert Lange
Herbert Lange
Herbert Lange was a Sturmbannführer in the SS. He was responsible for numerous crimes against humanity related to the murder of mental patients in Poland and in Germany.- Background :...

 proceeded to manage the problem by experimenting at a country estate at Chełmno nad Nerem with gas vans, establishing the first extermination unit which ultimately carried out the mass murder of approximately 150,000 Jews between late 1941 and April 1942. Furthermore on 6 October 1943 Greiser hosted a national assembly of senior SS officers in Posen
Poznan
Poznań is a city on the Warta river in west-central Poland, with a population of 556,022 in June 2009. It is among the oldest cities in Poland, and was one of the most important centres in the early Polish state, whose first rulers were buried at Poznań's cathedral. It is sometimes claimed to be...

 at which Himmler candidly spoke of the mass executions of civilians (the infamous Posen Speech
Posen speech
The Posen speeches were two secret speeches made by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler on October 4 and 6, 1943 in the town hall of Posen , in Nazi occupied Poland. The recordings are the first known documents in which a high-ranking member of the Nazi government spoke of the on-going extermination...

).

On 20 January 1945, Greiser received a telegram from Bormann relaying Hitler's order to leave the city. Although Hitler also ordered Stronghold Poznań to be held at all costs, the city fell to the Soviet army eight days later. Joseph Goebbels objected to his actions towards the end of the war. In Goebbels' diary entry of 2 March 1945, he labeled Greiser "a real disgrace to the (Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

) Party.", but his recommendations for punishment after the capture of Poznań were ignored.

He surrendered to the Americans
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 with SS Obergruppenführer
Obergruppenführer
Obergruppenführer was a Nazi Party paramilitary rank that was first created in 1932 as a rank of the SA and until 1942 it was the highest SS rank inferior only to Reichsführer-SS...

 Heinz Reinefarth
Heinz Reinefarth
Heinrich Reinefarth was a German military officer during and government official after World War II. During the Warsaw Uprising his troops committed numerous war atrocities. After the war Reinefarth became the mayor of the town of Westerland and member of the Schleswig-Holstein Landtag...

 in 1945.

Trial and execution


After the war, the Polish government (the Supreme National Tribunal
Supreme National Tribunal
The Supreme National Tribunal was a war crime tribunal active in Poland from 1946 to 1948, with jurisdiction over fascist-hitlerite criminals and traitors to the Polish nation.The tribunal presided over seven high-profile cases ....

) tried him for war crime
War crime
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

s. His defense that he was only following orders did not hold up as it was shown that other Gauleiters had not followed a similar policy. For example, Albert Forster
Albert Forster
Albert Maria Forster was a Nazi German politician. Under his administration as the Gauleiter of Danzig-West Prussia during the Second World War, the local non-German population suffered ethnic cleansing, mass murder, and forceful Germanisation...

, Gauleiter
Gauleiter
A Gauleiter was the party leader of a regional branch of the NSDAP or the head of a Gau or of a Reichsgau.-Creation and Early Usage:...

 of Danzig-West Prussia (the other German-annexed section of occupied Poland), simply declared all Poles in his area who were reasonably proficient in German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 to be Germans (although he was guilty of the elimination of the Jewish population under his jurisdiction either by murder or deportation). Greiser's advocates, Stanisław Hejmowski and Jan Kręglewski, tried to convince the Tribunal that Greiser, as a head of formally independent state, the Free City of Danzig
Free City of Danzig
The Free City of Danzig was a semi-autonomous city-state that existed between 1920 and 1939, consisting of the Baltic Sea port of Danzig and surrounding areas....

, could not be judged by another country, an argument rejected by the court. Greiser was convicted for:
  • Genocide
    Genocide
    Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

     and the murder
    Murder
    Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

    s of civilians and POW
  • Torture, persecution, and injuring civilians and POWs
  • Organized and systematic destruction of Polish culture, plunder of Polish cultural heritage, Germanisation
    Germanisation
    Germanisation is both the spread of the German language, people and culture either by force or assimilation, and the adaptation of a foreign word to the German language in linguistics, much like the Romanisation of many languages which do not use the Latin alphabet...

     of the country and the Polish people, illegal appropriation of public property.
  • Organized and systematic looting of Polish property
  • Insulting and deriding the Polish nation by propagating its cultural inferiority and low social worth
  • Forcible expelling of whole districts, streets, families and singular persons to General Government
    General Government
    The General Government was an area of Second Republic of Poland under Nazi German rule during World War II; designated as a separate region of the Third Reich between 1939–1945...

     or forced labor camps
    Arbeitslager
    Arbeitslager is a German language word which means labor camp.The German government under Nazism used forced labor extensively, starting in the 1930s but most especially during World War II....

     in German Reich
  • Persecution and murder of Polish Jews
    Jews
    The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

     by killing them in place of residence, grouping in closed ghetto
    Ghetto
    A ghetto is a section of a city predominantly occupied by a group who live there, especially because of social, economic, or legal issues.The term was originally used in Venice to describe the area where Jews were compelled to live. The term now refers to an overcrowded urban area often associated...

    s from where they were send to Chelmno extermination camp
    Chelmno extermination camp
    Chełmno extermination camp, also known as the Kulmhof concentration camp, was a Nazi German extermination camp that was situated 50 kilometres from Łódź, near a small village called Chełmno nad Nerem . After annexation by Germany Kulmhof was included into Reichsgau Wartheland in 1939...

     for extermination in gas chamber
    Gas chamber
    A gas chamber is an apparatus for killing humans or animals with gas, consisting of a sealed chamber into which a poisonous or asphyxiant gas is introduced. The most commonly used poisonous agent is hydrogen cyanide; carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide have also been used...

    s, deriding the Jewish people in actions and words, causing physical suffering, injury and humiliation of human dignity
  • Taking Polish children against the will of their parents or guardians
    Kidnapping of Polish children by Nazi Germany
    Kidnapping of Eastern European children by Nazi Germany , part of the Generalplan Ost , involved taking children from Eastern Europe and moving them to Nazi Germany for the purpose of Germanization, or conversion into Germans....

    , forcibly putting them in German families or public orphanages within the Reich while breaking all contacts with their family and nation by giving them German names


The Tribunal decided that Greiser was guilty of all charges, and sentenced him to death by hanging, civil death
Civil death
Civil death is a term that refers to the loss of all or almost all civil rights by a person due to a conviction for a felony or due to an act by the government of a country that results in the loss of civil rights...

, and confiscation of all his property. In the early morning of 21 July 1946 he was transported from prison to the slope of Fort Winiary where he was hanged
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

before a large crowd. It was the last public execution in Poland.