Maximilian von Herff
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|Maximilian von Herff|
Maximilian von Herff inspecting progress of liquidation of Warsaw Ghetto
|Born||17 April 1893
|Died||September 6, 1945
Conishead Priory, Ulverston, England
|Allegiance|| German Empire (to 1918)
Weimar Republic (to 1933)
|Rank||Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS|
|Commands held||Chef des Personalamtes der Waffen-SS|
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
World War I
He was born in Hanover, the son of a physician. He joined the Imperial Army in August 1914 and was commissioned as a leutnant (lieutenant) in the Grand Duchy of Hesse 1st Life Guards Regiment (115th Infantry). He served in this regiment through most of World War I. Later he served in the Fifth Lower Silesian Regiment (154th Infantry), and remained in that unit until 9 November 1918. During his service he was awarded the Iron Cross First and Second Class.
Between the wars
Between 1 March and 1 October 1919 he was a volunteer in the Hanoverian Freikorps and then joined the Reichswehr. He married Hedwig von Grolman on 4 August 1920. In 1926 he joined the 18th Cavalry Regiment in Stuttgart, and in 1 February 1928 joined the 15th Infantry Regiment in Kassel. On 1 February 1928 he was promoted to Hauptmann (captain) and on 1 October 1934 to Major.
On 16 March 1935 he was appointed to the staff of the Eighth Corps in Breslau. He was promoted to Oberstleutnant (lieutenant colonel) on 1 August 1937. On 3 January 1939 was appointed to the staff of the Seventeenth Corps in Vienna.
World War II
During World War II, von Herff served with the Deutsches Afrika Korps in North Africa. He was promoted to Oberst (colonel) and commanded "Kampfgruppe von Herff". For his service in North Africa he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross in June 1941.
At the suggestion of Heinrich Himmler he transferred to the Waffen SS. On 1 April 1942 he joined the Nazi Party (member no. 8 858 661) and the SS (member no. 405 894). From 1 October 1942 to 8 May 1945, he was chief of the Persönlicher Stab Reichsführer-SS (Himmler's personal staff). He dealt with internal and financial Waffen-SS matters.
In his later diary entries he would claim to have had knowledge of the Final Solution but not have played any role in administrative or actual involvement in exterminations or deportations. On 20 April 1944, he joined the Nazi and SS elite in his promotion to SS-Obergruppenführer (SS General).
On 14–15 May 1943, Von Herff was in Warsaw during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising where he supervised the proceedings under orders directly from Himmler. His adjutant, Karl Kaleske would write in his report of the deportations carried out following the uprising to K.L. Auschwitz and other camps where "special action" was required.
Capture and death
He was captured by British forces in 1945, and held at Grizedale Hall POW camp. He suffered a stroke and died at nearby Conishead Priory Military Hospital. He was reburied at Cannock Chase German war cemetery, Staffordshire.
His sister Carin von Herff moved to London during his imprisonment where she would live for four years before returning to Germany with her French Huguenot husband, a former Oberführer of the 33rd Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS Charlemagne (1st French). Both were acquitted of any war crimes and along with Maximilian von Herff claim they were only involved in the Nazi party base and Waffen-SS not the extermination of the Jews. The couple would later return to live England in the 1960s.
- "The USA and us"-"The sins of the forefathers" J. Andreani,
- List of SS personnel
- Western Desert Campaign
- Operation Brevity
- Literatur: Friedman, Tuviah. Collection Maximilian von Herff Institute of Documentation, Haifa, Israel.
- Gricksch, Albert Franke (SS Sturmbannfuhrer). "A Report on the Duty Journey through Poland from 4–16 May 1943"
- Williamson, Gordon; Bujeiro, Ramiro (2005). Knight's Cross and Oak Leaves Recipients 1941-45 Osprey Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-84176-642-9.