Heinrich Otto Seetzen, called Heinz Seetzen (22 June 1906 in Rüstringen, Duchy of Oldenburg – 28 September 1945 in Blankenese) was a German jurist, SS-Standartenführer and police lieutenant. Seetzen was a perpetrator of the Holocaust, responsible for the mass murder of civilians in Ukraine and in Belarus.
Life[edit | edit source]
Seetzen was born in 1906 as the only child of a deli owner in Rüstringen, in what is today part of Wilhelmshaven. While a student he joined the Jungstahlhelm. Seetzen studied jurisprudence at the University of Marburg and the University of Kiel. After his law examination he worked, helping out in various law firms. Heinz Seetzen was married to Ellen Knickrem.
On 1 May 1933, he joined the NSDAP (Nazi Party membership number 2,732,725) and the SA. On 1 February 1935, he became a member of the SS (membership number 267,231). After an unsuccessful bid for the post of mayor in Eutin, the unemployed Seetzen took a job as a temporary worker in the Eutin government, as an assistant to SA-Brigadeführer Heinrich Böhmcker. In 1935, he joined the Gestapo.
Seetzen was promoted to Chief of the SiPo and SD in Aachen (1935-1938), Vienna, Stettin and Hamburg (January 1940 to July 1941, then absent until August 1942). As of August 1942, he was Chief of the SiPo and SD in Kassel, and then in spring 1943 in Breslau. In 1944, he was commander of the SiPo in Prague.
After the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, Seetzen was commander of Sonderkommando 10a, which followed Army Group South and was responsible for mass killings in the south of the Soviet Union. Austrian police officer Robert Barth, an accomplice in the mass murder, said about Seetzen:
"A particularly brutal Kommandoführer [...]. He is said to have boasted that his Kommando would shoot the most Jews. I was also told that, at his command, once the ammunition for the shootings of Jews ran out, the Jews were cast alive into a well with a depth of approximately 30 meters (98 ft)."
From 28 April to August 1944, he served as commander of Einsatzgruppe B, which perpetrated mass murder in Belarus. This unit was responsible for the deaths of more than 134,000 people in Minsk and Smolensk. After his promotion to SS-Standartenführer and police colonel, he was made Commander of the SiPo and SD in Belarus in April 1944.
Post-war[edit | edit source]
After the war, Seetzen stayed with a female acquaintance, hiding his identity by using the false name “Michael Gollwitzer”. His acquaintance reported that Seetzen was remorseful and completely finished from a moral perspective. He told her "that he was heavily burdened by guilt, that he was a criminal, and that he had essentially forfeited his life." He also openly admitted that he would commit suicide by taking potassium cyanide the moment he was captured.
After his arrest by the British military police in Hamburg-Blankenese on 28 September 1945, Seetzen committed suicide using a cyanide capsule. He was not identified and was buried as "Michael Gollwitzer". Due to this fact (since his whereabouts remained uncertain), a Denazification Court classified Seetzen as a “lesser offender” (Group 3- Minderbelasteten) in 1949, adding the stipulation, "in the event that the person concerned is still alive".
References[edit | edit source]
- Linde Apel, Hamburg Ministry of Culture, Sports and Media, in cooperation with the Research Center for Contemporary History in Hamburg and the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial (eds.): In den Tod geschickt - Die Deportationen von Juden, Roma und Sinti aus Hamburg, 1940 bis 1945, Metropol Verlag, Hamburg 2009 - DVD of the exhibition, Die Gestapo, p. 8
- Report of Robert Barth of 8 October 1943 (Nuremberg document NO-3663) cited in: Stokes, Seetzen, p. 199
- Statement of Seetzen's acquaintance from 26 October 1962, quoted in: Stokes: Seetzen, p. 203
Bibliography[edit | edit source]
- Lawrence D. Stokes: Heinz Seetzen - Chef des Sonderkommandos 10a. In: Klaus-Michael Mallmann, Gerhard Paul (eds.): Karrieren der Gewalt. Nationalsozialistische Täterbiographien Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2004, ISBN 3-534-16654-X
- Lawrence D. Stokes: From law student to Einsatzgruppe commander: The career of a Gestapo officer. Canadian Journal of History, April 2002.
- Linde Apel, Hamburg Ministry of Culture, Sports and Media, in cooperation with the Research Center for Contemporary History in Hamburg and the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial (eds.): In den Tod geschickt - Die Deportationen von Juden, Roma und Sinti aus Hamburg, 1940 bis 1945, Metropol Verlag, Hamburg 2009
- Ernst Klee: Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007. ISBN 978-3-596-16048-8. (revised second edition)
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