Karl Schümers

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Karl Schümers
Born 17 October 1905
Died 18 August 1944(1944-08-18) (aged 38)
Árta, Greece
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Flag of the Schutzstaffel.svg Waffen-SS
Years of service 1939–44
Rank SS-Brigadeführer
Unit SS Polizei Division
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross

Karl Schümers (17 October 1905 – 18 August 1944) was a high-ranking commander in the Waffen-SS and Ordnungspolizei (police) of Nazi Germany during World War II. He commanded the SS Polizei Division in July – August 1944. He was directly or indirectly involved in many of the major atrocities committed in Greece during 1944. Killed by a landmine on 18 August 1944, he was posthumously awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

War-time atrocities[edit]

  • On 5 April 1944, Karl Schümers commanded the 7th unit of the 4th SS Polizei Panzergrenadier Division[1] to the execution of 277 unarmed women, children and elders in the village of Kleisoura in Greece as a retaliation of the killing of 3 German soldiers.[2] In the official investigations by his command hierarchy for the massacre he testified that his soldiers had to kill them all because guerrilla forces were hiding in the village, and was acquitted, while it was proven after the war that his testimony was false.[2]:587
  • On 24 April the his 7th unit committed the Pyrgoi massacre where 368 children were slaughtered.[3]
  • Men from the same 7th unit, under the command of Hans Zampel and Fritz Lautenbach committed the Distomo massacre, on 10 June, where 218 civilians were brutally murdered for retaliation, one of the cruelest atrocities of WW II; no one was ever tried for this war crime.[citation needed]
  • On 17 June 1944 Karl Schümers commanded the execution of 28 civilians and total destruction of Ipati, and the next day, the burning down of Sperchiada and the killing of 35 civilians.[4]
  • After he was assigned the command of the 4th Panzer Grenadier Division, on 22 July 1944,[1] the 8th unit of his forces took part in the operation Kreuzotter (5-31 August 1944) in a failed attempt to eradicate ELAS bases from the mountains of central Greece, Roumeli, Greece (el), that resulted, among others, in the killing of approximately 170 civilians and the partial or complete destruction of dozens of villages and cities.[4][5]

He was killed on 18 August 1944 when his car stepped into a landmine planted by Greek resistance, in Arta, Greece.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "4. SS-Polizei-Panzergrenadier-Division". www.axishistory.com. Retrieved 28 Dec 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Dordanas, Stratos (2002), Αντιποινα των Γερμανικων Αρχων Κατοχης στη Μακεδονία 1941-1944 [Retaliations of the German occupation authorities in Macedonia 1941-1944] (phd) (in Greek), Αριστοτέλιο Πανεπιστημιο Θεσσαλονίκης, retrieved 27 Dec 2016 
  3. ^ Φωτιάδης, Kostas; Dordanas, Stratos; Michailidis, Iakovos (25 Oct 2014). Αθώα θύματα στο Βέρμιο: οι Πύργοι και το Μεσόβουνο στην Κατοχή (1941-1944) [Innocent victims on mountain Vermio: The Pyrgi and Mesovouno villages during the German occupation]. Thessaloniki: Εκδοτικός Οίκος αδελφών Κυριακίδη Α.Ε. ISBN 978-960-602-052-0. 
  4. ^ a b Barsos, Chronis (14 Aug 2015). "5-31 Αυγούστου 1944: Η μεγάλη γερμανική εκκαθαριστική επιχείρηση «Kreuzotter» (Έχιδνα) στην κεντρική Ρούμελη" [5-31 August 1944: The extensive German extermination operation «Kreuzotter» (viper) in Central Roumeli]. www.mag24.gr (in Greek). Archived from the original on 6 Oct 2015. Retrieved 28 Dec 2016. 
  5. ^ Perdue, Robert (2 Apr 2010). Behind the Lines in Greece: The Story of OSS Operational Group II. Greece: AuthorHouse. p. 222. ISBN 9781449067892. Retrieved 2 Jan 2017. 

Further reading[edit]