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SS-Obersturmführer Hermann Schaper
12 August 1911 – deceased
SS Captain Hermann Schaper.jpg
Place of birth Strasbourg, Germany
(now France)
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Flag Schutzstaffel.svg Schutzstaffel
Years of service until 1945
Rank Obersturmführer
Unit SS Division Totenkopf.png SS-Totenkopfverbände
Commands held SS Zichenau-Schroettersburg

SS-Obersturmführer Hermann Schaper (born 12 August 1911 at Straßburg im Elsass, Germany – deceased), member of NSDAP (card number 105606) and SS (Schutzstaffel) No.: 3484, promoted to the rank of SS-Untersturmführer on 20 April 1935; and, the rank of SS-Obersturmführer on 20 April 1937. Before the 1939 invasion of Poland, Schaper worked at the SD principal offices in the Third Reich.

During the German occupation of Poland Schaper served as Hauptsturmführer, the captain of kommando SS Zichenau-Schroettersburg – a Nazi Einsatzgruppen, one of five such formations created in eastern Poland and composed of 500-1000 functionaries of the SS and Gestapo. Schaper operated in the Płock district administered by Count van der Groeben. His superior was a Gestapo chief based in Ciechanów.[1]

After the outbreak of war with the Soviet Union, the Red Army began to retreat so fast, that on 10 July 1941 Schaper's Einsatzgruppen had to be split into dozens of smaller commandos (Einsatzkommandos) numbering from several to several scores of people who's mission was to kill Jews, communists and the NKVD collaborators in the captured territories often far behind the advancing German front. The entire Einsatzgruppen employed the same, systematic method of mass killings across many Polish villages and towns such as Radziłów, Tykocin, Jedwabne, Łomża, Rutki, Wizna, Piatnica, and Zambrów.[1]

Postwar trials

At the beginning of the 1960s, the war crimes committed by SS-Obersturmfuehrer Hermann Schaper were investigated by the German judicial Center for Prosecuting Nazi Crimes in Ludwigsburg. He was charged in 1964 with personally directing the Einsatzkommando responsible for the mass killings of Jews in the vicinity of Łomża. Two witnesses from Israel – Chaja Finkelstein from Radziłów and Izchak Feler from Tykocin – recognized Hermann Schaper from photographs as the one responsible for the pogrom in Radziłów on 7 July 1941, as well as the pogrom in Tykocin of 25 August 1941. The methods used by Schaper's death squad in these massacres were identical to those employed in Jedwabne (a few kilometers distance) only three days later. Schaper denied the charges and the Germans found insufficient evidence to prosecute him at that time. He lied to interrogators that in 1941 he had been a truck driver. Legal proceedings against him were terminated on 2 September 1965.[2][3]

During the subsequent investigation, Count van der Groeben confirmed that it was indeed Hermann Schaper who conducted mass executions of Jews in his district. Schaper's case was reopened in 1974. In 1976, a German court in Giesen (Hessen) pronounced Schaper guilty of executions of Poles and Jews by the kommando SS Zichenau-Schroettersburg. Schaper was sentenced to six-years imprisonment, but was soon released for medical reasons.[2][3] He died of old age.

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b (Polish) Thomas Urban, "Poszukiwany Hermann Schaper", Rzeczpospolita, 01.09.01 Nr 204
  2. ^ a b Thomas Urban, reporter of the Suddeutsche Zeitung; Polish text in Rzeczpospolita, Sept 1-2, 2001
  3. ^ a b Alexander B. Rossino, historian at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Polin, Volume 16, 2003.
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