Otto Ernst Remer
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|Otto Ernst Remer|
Otto Ernst Remer in 1945
18 August 1912|
Neubrandenburg, German Empire
|Died||4 October 1997
|Allegiance|| Weimar Republic (1932-1933)
Nazi Germany (1933-1945)
|Years of service||1932–45|
|Unit||4th Panzer Division|
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
(awarded in November 1943)
Otto-Ernst Remer (18 August 1912 – 4 October 1997) was a German Wehrmacht officer who played a decisive role in stopping the 1944 20 July plot against Adolf Hitler. During the war he was wounded nine times in combat. After the war he co-founded the Sozialistische Reichspartei (SRP) and advanced Holocaust denial. He is considered the "Godfather" of the post-war Nazi underground.
Second World War
By the time of the attack on Poland, in September 1939, he was an Oberleutnant in a motorised infantry company, and went on to serve in the Balkans Campaign, as well as in Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. By April 1942, he was a battalion commander, and he joined the Infantry Regiment Großdeutschland, in order to lead the special-weapons 4th Panzer Division, which supported the three rifle battalions of the elite regiment. By February 1943, he commanded the 1st (armoured) battalion of Grenadier Regiment Grossdeutschland (GD), after the original Infantry Regiment GD expanded to become a full division. His troops, mounted in halftracks, covered the withdrawal of an entire Waffen-SS tank corps during the fighting at Kharkov. He was awarded the Knight's Cross for his service as battalion commander, and in November 1943, he was awarded the Oak leaves to the Knight's Cross for leadership at Krivoi Rog, which was presented by Adolf Hitler personally.
In March 1944, after being wounded, Major Remer was chosen to command the Infantry Regiment Großdeutschland.
During this time, Remer and his men successfully stopped the 20 July plot to seize control of the German government, following an assassination attempt on Hitler. On 20 July 1944, an explosion took place at Adolf Hitler's army headquarters, "Wolf's Lair", in East Prussia. Otto Ernst Remer first heard of it through members of the Nazi Party and waited for official word of Hitler's fate. Remer heard both rumours that Hitler survived and rumours saying he died in the blast.
That evening Claus Von Stauffenberg was given control of Germany and its power because the military was convinced that Hitler did not survive the assassination attempt. Stauffenberg and his staff had Remer arrest several Nazi officials, claiming that they were arming defence from a mutiny. Upon being ordered by General Paul von Hase to arrest Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, Remer went to Goebbels' office to do so, pistol in hand. However, Goebbels used his oratory skills to dissuade Remer from arresting him, insisting instead that Hitler was still alive. When Remer asked for proof, Goebbels picked up the phone and asked to be put through to Hitler. Within the minute, Hitler was on the phone, and Goebbels handed the receiver to Remer. Hitler asked Remer whether he recognised his voice, whereupon Remer answered that he did. Hitler then gave Remer orders to crush the plot with his troops. Remer guiltily realised that he and his men actually were taking orders from the mutineers and unwittingly supporting them. Remer and his troops reversed the results of orders given by the plotters. Slowly the plotters were stripped of control over Germany, thus confusing the plotters and postponing the mutiny to figure out the confusion. Then Remer went to the Berlin Military Headquarters and arrested the plotters, including Stauffenberg. Friedrich Fromm had the plotters executed, but Remer unsuccessfully tried to dissuade Fromm since Remer was told to keep the plotters alive. That same night Remer was promoted two ranks to Oberst (colonel).
Remer discussed this incident in the British TV documentary series The World At War, produced in the early 1970s. He showed respect for Britain and former enemies of Germany but appeared to have no regrets about his role in crushing the plot, nor the war in general. The same was true of his appearance as himself (coaching a young actor who was to portray him) in the German language documentary drama about the 20 July assassination attempt, filmed by the German historian Joachim Fest.
Remer went on to command an expanded Führer Begleit Brigade (FBB), a field unit formed from a Grossdeutschland cadre, in East Prussia with little success. The brigade was then transferred to the west for the Ardennes Offensive, in December 1944, and again suffered high casualties for little gain.
In 1945, when the FBB was expanded to divisional status, he was promoted to Generalmajor (brigadier general), and appointed to command it. He was not considered a successful division commander, for when the FBD moved to Silesia in March 1945, Remer was criticised for lack of ability. He was eventually captured by American troops, and remained a prisoner until 1947.
Remer's Socialist Reich Party, which he had co-founded in 1950, was banned in 1952, after it had gathered about 360,000 supporters in Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein, and won 16 seats in the state parliament. The Socialist Reich Party also won eight seats in the parliament of the state Free Hanseatic City of Bremen. The party had received financing from the Soviet Union and worked with the Communist Party of Germany. The main issues of the party included Holocaust denial, where it accused the U.S. of planting fake gas chambers and films about concentration camps, seesaw politics, and ending Germany's puppet status with the United States.
With the party banned, Remer faced criminal charges from the German government as being the successor party to the Nazis. He was hidden in the chalet of Countess Faber-Castell, an early supporter of the party, before he fled to Egypt.
Arriving in Egypt, he served as an advisor to Gamal Abdel Nasser and worked with other expatriate Germans assisting Arab states with weapons development. He was a frequent acquaintance of Johannes von Leers.
He returned to Germany in the 1980s, creating the German Freedom Movement which advocated a reunified country and the expulsion of NATO. It was an umbrella organisation for 23 underground Nazi organisations and allowed Remer the opportunity to create a new generation of followers.
From 1991 to 1994, Remer put out his own publication, the Remer-Depesche. Remer was sentenced to 22 months of imprisonment in October 1992, for writing and publishing a number of articles that were said to incite "racial hatred", through their questioning of the Holocaust. The political impact of this case upon the government is discussed in Searle's Wehrmacht Generals. His complaint over alleged violations of fairness of trial and freedom of speech was unanimously rejected by the European Commission on Human Rights. He filed numerous appeals, and eventually fled to Spain, prior to his actually being incarcerated.
Exile and death
In February 1994, Remer went into exile in Spain, in a successful effort to avoid imprisonment for his controversial public statements about the Holocaust. Remer was an avid supporter of studies by key individuals in Holocaust denial, such as Fred Leuchter and Germar Rudolf.
The high court of Spain ruled against appeals made by the German government to extradite Remer, claiming that he had not committed any crime under Spanish law. He remained a wanted man in Germany until his 1997 death in Marbella at 85.
A fellow veteran of the Grossdeutschland Division had the following to say about his former commanding officer:
We, his former comrades, have deeply regretted that destiny confronted this young officer in July 1944 with a situation with consequences the bearing of which I should assume are beyond the powers of any human being. No judgment will be made here as to whether his decision on 20 July was right or wrong. But the consequences of his decision were so terrible, and have cost so much of the best German blood, that we old soldiers had expected that a man to whom destiny gave such a burden to carry until the end of his life would recognise this, and would thereafter live quietly and in seclusion. We, his former comrades, lack any sympathy for the fact that Herr Remer fails to summon up this attitude of self-effacement.
- Iron Cross (1939)
- Wound Badge (1939)
- in Black
- in Silver
- in Gold
- Close Combat Clasp
- in Bronze
- in Silver
- General Assault Badge
- Eastern Front Medal
- Wehrmacht Long Service Medal
- German Cross in Gold on 29 August 1942 as Hauptmann in IV./Infanterie-Regiment "Großdeutschland"
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
- Bulgarian Order of Bravery IV Grade, I Class
- Verschwörung und Verrat um Hitler (Conspiracy and Betrayal Around Hitler)
- "Kriegshetze gegen Deutschland"
- Atkins 2004, pp. 273–274.
- The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer, p. 1063 ff. 1960.
- on YouTube
- Goodrick-Clarke 1998, p. 170.
- Lee 2000, pp. 73, 134, 151.
- ECmHR admissibility decisionon the application 25096/94
- Holocaust Denial on Trial: Using History to Confront Distortions. "Biographies: Otto Remer," (retrieved on April 10, 2009).
- Baigent, Michael and Leigh, Richard. 1994. Secret Germany. London, New York: The Penguin Group.
- Thomas 1998, p. 195.
- Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 373.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 355.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 74.
- Atkins, Stephen E. (2004). Encyclopedia of modern worldwide extremists and extremist groups. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-32485-7.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) . 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.
- Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas (1998). Hitler's Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu-Aryan Myth, and Neo-Nazism. NYU Press. ISBN 978-0-8147-3111-6.
- Lee, Martin A. (2000). The Beast Reawakens. ISBN 978-0-415-92546-4.
- 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.
- Rees, Philip (1990). Biographical Dictionary of the Extreme Right Since 1890. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-13-089301-3.
- Schaulen, Fritjof (2005). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe III Radusch – Zwernemann [Oak Leaves Bearers 1940 – 1945 Contemporary History in Color III Radusch – Zwernemann] (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 978-3-932381-22-5.
- 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.
- Searle, Alaric (2003). Wehrmacht Generals, West German Society, and the Debate on Rearmament, 1949–1959. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Pub. ISBN 0-275-97968-7.
- Spezzano, Remy; McGuirl, Thomas (1997). God, Honor, Fatherland: Pictorial History of the Grossdeutschland Division 1942–1944. ISBN 0-9657584-0-0.
- 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.
- Otto Remer tells the story of his important role in crushing the coup against Hitler on 20 July 1944
- Germany's New Nazis 1951 pamphlet about Otto Ernst Remer and other neo--nazis