SS-Hauptsturmführer (Captain) Wolfgang Birkner (27 October 1913, Breslau, German Empire – 24 March 1945, place of death unknown) was a Nazi war criminal and Holocaust perpetrator. He was a member of the NSDAP party with card number 3,601,309, and SS (No. 265,793). Following the 1939 German invasion of Poland Birkner served as the KdS Warschau (Komandeur der Sicherheitspolizei, pictured) in the Polish capital.
After the German attack on the Soviet Union, Birkner was deployed in the Bezirk Bialystok district behind Army Group Centre due to reports of Soviet guerrilla activity in the area. Birkner arrived in Białystok from the General Government on 30 June 1941, sent in by SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer Eberhard Schöngarth on orders from the Reich Main Security Office. As veteran of Einsatzgruppe IV from the Polish Campaign of 1939, Birkner was a specialist in the mounting of special operations.
Birkner was appointed commander of the Kommando Bialystok under SS-Gruppenführer Arthur Nebe. His death squad was made up of 29 Security Police and Gestapo functionaries. It was one of several units summoned at around the same time by Schöngarth stationing in Kraków, to meet the "new threat" of Soviet guerrilla activity south-east of East Prussia with local Jews being suspected as participants. Birkner and his Einsatzgruppe committed mass murder in and around Białystok. In the two initial months of operation, between 30 June and 28 August 1941, they had claimed the lives of 1,800 Jews. Birkner was promoted to the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer Kriminal-Kommisar (the equivalent of a police captain) on 20 April 1943. He was killed in the Pomorze Province on March 24, 1945.
Birkner was investigated by the West German prosecutors in 1960, prior to a court trial of SS-Hauptsturmführer Hermann Schaper, who had directed parallel shooting actions by Kommando SS Zichenau-Schröttersburg in the same area, including many villages and towns of eastern Poland such as Radziłów, Tykocin, Jedwabne, Łomża, Rutki, Wizna, Piątnica, and Zambrów.
Notes and references
- Marcus Wendel. "SS-Hstuf Kriminal-Kommisar Birkner Wolfgang". Axis History Factbook. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
- Tomasz Szarota (December 2–3, 2000). "Do we now know everything for certain? (translation)". Gazeta Wyborcza. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
- Piotr Wróbel (in) Dagmar Herzog (2006). Lessons and Legacies: The Holocaust in international perspective. Northwestern University Press. p. 392. ISBN 0-8101-2370-3. Retrieved May 13, 2011.
- Tomasz Szarota (April 2001). "Reflections on national stereotypes". Więź. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
- Alexander B. Rossino, historian at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. (2003). "Polish "Neighbors" and German Invaders: Contextualizing Anti-Jewish Violence in the Białystok District during the Opening Weeks of Operation Barbarossa". Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry, Volume 16.
Cited by Bogdan Musiał in: "Konterrevolutionäre Elemente sind zu erschiessen": Die Brutalisierung des deutsch-sowjetischen Krieges im Sommer 1941, (Berlin: Propyläen, 2000), pp. 32, 62. Also, cited in German archives of Birkner's postwar investigation at: Auswertung der Ereignismeldungen zu den Judenerschiessungen in Białystok im Juli 1941 in ZStL, 5 AR-Z 56/1960, pp. 4ff.
- Thomas Urban, "Poszukiwany Hermann Schaper", Rzeczpospolita, 01.09.01 Nr 204. (Polish)