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Hanns Albin Rauter

Johann Baptist Albin Rauter (Klagenfurt, February 4, 1895 – Scheveningen, March 24, 1949) was Higher SS and Police Leader in the occupied Netherlands during the period of 1940-1945. He reported to Heinrich Himmler and Arthur Seyss-Inquart. After World War II he was convicted of crimes against humanity and executed by firing squad.

Early life and career

Rauter graduated from High school in 1912, and started training as an Engineer at the Technical University in Graz. At the outbreak of World War I Rauter volunteered for service in the Austro-Hungarian Army. He served with a Gebirgsschützenregiment and was discharged in 1919 having reached the rank of Oberleutnant. Rauter took part in the Kärntner Freiheitskampf of 1919, and from May until July 1921 he fought in the Freikorps Oberland in Oberschlesien.

Rauter first met Adolf Hitler in 1929 and joined the National Socialist cause in Austria. His forays in Austria forced him to flee to Germany in 1933, where he became part of the NSDAP department for Austria. He joined the SA, and was active in planning illegal NSDAP activities in Austria. In 1935 he left the SA to become a member of the SS. Until 1940 he was the Leader of the SS Southeast department in Breslau.

Actions in occupied Holland

In May 1940 he was appointed Generalkommissar für das Sicherheitswesen (Commissioner of security forces) and Höhere SS-und Polizeiführer (Higher SS and Police leader) for the occupied Netherlands. In his position as police commander and highest ranking SS leader in the Netherlands Rauter was responsible for the deportation of 110,000 Dutch Jews to the Nazi concentration camps (6,000 survived) and the repression of the Dutch resistance. He had 300,000 Dutchmen deported to Germany for forced labour. He ordered the bloody disruption of the February strike on February 26, 1941; this strike was disrupted by declaring a state of emergency and summary executions.

During the Allied assault on Arnhem in Operation Market Garden Rauter commanded the Kampfgruppe Rauter during operations in the Veluwe area and near the bridges over the IJssel river. Kampfgruppe Rauter consisted of the Landstorm Nederland, Wachbataillon Nordwest and a regiment of the Ordnungspolizei. After the assault on Arnhem had been fought off by the Germans, Rauter was given the command of the Maas front as a General in the Waffen-SS.

In March 1945 he was severely wounded by an attack staged by the Dutch resistance at the Woeste Hoeve on the Veluwe. As a reprisal the Germans executed hundreds of political prisoners on the location of the attack, 50 in the concentration camp Amersfoort and 40 each in the cities The Hague and Rotterdam. This attack had not been planned; the resistance merely wanted to hijack a truck carrying meat. Instead of the truck, Rauter's BMW motorcar was stopped by members of the resistance dressed in German uniforms. However, Rauter had just issued a directive stating that German patrols should not stop any German military vehicles and a firefight broke out. His fellow passengers were all killed, but Rauter feigned death and survived. He was found by a German military patrol and transferred to a hospital where he would remain until his arrest by British Military Police after the end of hostilities.

After the war

Rauter was handed over to the Dutch government by the British, and was tried by a special court in Den Haag which sentenced him to death. This death sentence was confirmed by a higher court on January 12, 1949. A film was recorded of his trial, and it shows that during his trial Rauter denied being guilty of war crimes. He was executed by firing squad near Scheveningen on March 24, 1949. His place of burial is a state secret.

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