Heinz Macher

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Heinz Macher
Macherhein.jpg
Heinz Macher
Born (1919-12-31)31 December 1919
Chemnitz, Weimar Republic
Died 21 December 2001(2001-12-21) (aged 81)
Schenefeld, Pinneberg
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Flag Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen SS
Rank Sturmbannführer
Unit 16.(Pi.)/SS-PzGrenRgt 3 "Deutschland"
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
Close Combat Clasp in Gold

Heinz Macher (December 31, 1919 – December 21, 2001) was an SS-Sturmbannführer (major) and Nazi official during the Second World War. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Macher was born in Chemnitz, Germany and joined the Nazi Party in the early 1940s. He served as the second personal assistant to Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler during the Second World War.

Career[edit]

Macher was born in the town of Chemnitz in 1919. He joined the Schutzstaffel (SS) in 1940 and was attached to the 3rd SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment "Deutschland". He earned the Iron Cross First Class in March 1942. In 1943, he received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for valor in combat on the Eastern Front. In 1944, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and promoted to Sturmbannführer (major).[1]

Macher was appointed the second assistant to Heinrich Himmler in 1944, followed by Werner Grothmann. In 1945, Macher led a group of 15 SS specialists who were ordered by Himmler to blow up the SS castle Wewelsburg near Paderborn in order to ensure that the devotional objects and important files should not fall into the hands of the Allies. The demolition command arrived on March 31, 1945. The same day, after Macher had informed the local fire brigade, the south-east tower, the least important tower of the large castle, was blown up. Because of lack of explosives they could not blow up the rest of the complex. Macher ordered the firemen not to extinguish the fire so that most of the complex was nevertheless destroyed. Macher was also charged with the task of burying the castle's treasures, including over 9,000 Death's Head rings held in a shrine to commemorate SS men killed in action. These treasures have never been found.[2]

During the last few days of the war, Himmler, Macher and Grothmann traveled from Lübeck to Flensburg, where Himmler offered his services as second-in-command to the new interim government led by Karl Dönitz, who had been appointed a successor to Adolf Hitler. Dönitz repeatedly rejected Himmler's overtures and initiated peace negotiations with the Allies.[3][4]

Dismissed from his posts and unwanted by his former colleagues, Himmler attempted to go into hiding in order to avoid capture. Himmler equipped himself with a forged paybook under the name of Sergeant Heinrich Hitzinger of the Geheime Feldpolizei (Secret Field Police), which was a mistake since members of this organization were sought after by the liberation forces. Macher and Grothmann were both dressed as army privates.[5] Macher, Himmler and Grothmann were stopped at a checkpoint, which had been set up by former Soviet POWs, on May 21 and detained. The three men were taken to an Allied barracks in Lüneburg on May 23.[5] During a routine interrogation, Himmler admitted who he was; thereafter, at the headquarters of the Second British Army, during an attempted medical examination Himmler bit into a hidden cyanide pill and died.[6] After Himmler's suicide, Macher and Grothmann were arrested.[7]

Macher appeared publicly in April 1966, along with other former SS officers, at the funeral of Josef Dietrich, displaying the medals of the late SS leader.[8]

Macher died on December 21, 2001 in Schenefeld, Pinneberg, 10 days before his 82nd birthday.[9]

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

Citations
Bibliography
  • Berger, Florian (2004). Ritterkreuzträger mit Nahkampfspange in Gold [Knight's Cross Bearers with the Close Combat Clasp in Gold] (in German). Vienna, Austria: Selbstverlag Florian Berger. ISBN 978-3-9501307-3-7. 
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Longerich, Peter (2012). Heinrich Himmler: A Life. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-959232-6. 
  • Manvell, Roger; Fraenkel, Heinrich (2007) [1965]. Heinrich Himmler: The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo. London; New York: Greenhill; Skyhorse. ISBN 978-1-60239-178-9. 
  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8. 
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1998). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 2: L–Z [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 2: L–Z] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2300-9. 
  • Weale, Adrian (2010). The SS: A New History. London: Little, Brown. ISBN 978-1408703045.