Johann Pflugbeil

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Johann Pflugbeil
Born 24 August 1882
Died 21 October 1951(1951-10-21) (aged 69)
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Army (Wehrmacht)
Rank Generalleutnant
Commands held 221st Security Division
Battles/wars Operation Barbarossa
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Relations Kurt Pflugbeil (brother)

Johann Pflugbeil (24 August 1882 – 21 October 1951) was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany. During 1941 and 1942, he commanded the 221st Security Division in the Army Group Rear Area behind Army Group Centre. Under Pflugbeil's command, the division was responsible for numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity.

World War II[edit]

On June 27, 1941, the 221st Security Division held the Polish city of Bialystok, which had been in the Soviet zone of occupation. That day, the 309 Police battalion started a pogrom on the Jewish community: Jews were arrested, beaten, beards were cut, and people were shot. The Jewish community chiefs went to see general Pflugbeil, and asked him to stop that pogrom. They were in his office, on their knees to implore him. A policeman of the 309th Police Battalion urinated on them; the general offered his back, to see elsewhere. After that "meeting", the pogrom became slaughter and massacre: the Jews on the market place were shot in front on a wall, until the night; the synagogue, where 700 Jews were piled up, was set on fire with petrol and grenades. The Jews who tried to escape were shot. On June 28, general Pflugbeil asked Major Weis (309 Police battalion) the cause of the fire. Weis made a false report on the causes.[1]

In March of 1942, the division under Pflugbeil command embarked on large scale anti-partisan operations in the Yelnya-Dorogobuzh area east of Smolensk.[2] The so-called anti-partisan operations in "bandit-infested" areas amounted to destruction of villages, seizure of livestock, deporting of able-bodied population for slave labour to Germany and murder of those of non-working age.[3] The tactics included shelling villages not under German control with heavy weapons, resulting in mass civilian casualties. Pflugbeil directed his troops that the "goal of the operation is not to drive the enemy back, but to exterminate him".[4] During the operation, the unit recorded 278 German troops killed, while 806 enemies were reported killed in action and 120 prisoners were handed over to Wehrmacht's Secret Field Police for execution. Only 200 weapons (rifles, machine-guns and pistols) were seized.[4]




  1. ^ Browning (Christopher R.), Des hommes ordinaires : le 101e bataillon de réserve de la police allemande et la solution finale en Pologne, pp.25-26
  2. ^ Shepherd 2003, p. 59.
  3. ^ Shepherd 2004, p. 63.
  4. ^ a b Shepherd 2003, p. 63.
  5. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 275.


  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [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. 
  • Shepherd, Ben H. (2003). "The Continuum of Brutality: Wehrmacht Security Divisions in Central Russia, 1942". German History. 21 (1): 49–81. doi:10.1191/0266355403gh274oa. 
  • Shepherd, Ben H. (2004). War in the Wild East the German Army and Soviet Partisans. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674043553. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Commander of 221st Infantry Division
26 August 1939 - 15 March 1941
Succeeded by
Renamed 221. Sicherungs-Division
Preceded by
Previously 221. Infanterie-Division
Commander of 221st Security Division
15 March 1941 - 5 July 1942
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Hubert Lendle