|Born||31 December 1919|
|Died||21 December 2001(aged 81)|
|Place of birth||Chemnitz, Weimar Republic|
|Place of death||Schenefeld, Pinneberg|
|Unit||16.(Pi.)/SS-PzGrenRgt 3 "Deutschland"|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves|
Close Combat Clasp in Gold
Heinz Macher (December 31, 1919 – December 21, 2001) was an SS-Sturmbannführer (major) and Nazi official during the Second World War. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German language: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Macher was born in Chemnitz, Germany and joined the Nazi Party in the early 1940s. He served as the second personal assistant to Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler during the Second World War.
Career[edit | edit source]
Macher was born in the town of Chemnitz in 1919. He joined the Schutzstaffel (SS) in 1940 and was attached to the 3rd SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment "Deutschland". He earned the Iron Cross First Class in March 1942. In 1943, he received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for valor in combat on the Eastern Front. In 1944, he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and promoted to Sturmbannführer (major).
Macher was appointed the second assistant to Heinrich Himmler in 1944, followed by Werner Grothmann. In 1945, Macher led a group of 15 SS specialists who were ordered by Himmler to blow up the SS castle Wewelsburg near Paderborn in order to ensure that the devotional objects and important files should not fall into the hands of the Allies. The demolition command arrived on March 31, 1945. The same day, after Macher had informed the local fire brigade, the south-east tower, the least important tower of the large castle, was blown up. Because of lack of explosives they could not blow up the rest of the complex. Macher ordered the firemen not to extinguish the fire so that most of the complex was nevertheless destroyed. Macher was also charged with the task of burying the castle's treasures, including over 9,000 Death's Head rings held in a shrine to commemorate SS men killed in action. These treasures have never been found.
During the last few days of the war, Himmler, Macher and Grothmann traveled from Lübeck to Flensburg, where Himmler offered his services as second-in-command to the new interim government led by Karl Dönitz, who had been appointed a successor to Adolf Hitler. Dönitz repeatedly rejected Himmler's overtures and initiated peace negotiations with the Allies.
Dismissed from his posts and unwanted by his former colleagues, Himmler attempted to go into hiding in order to avoid capture. Himmler equipped himself with a forged paybook under the name of Sergeant Heinrich Hitzinger of the Geheime Feldpolizei (Secret Field Police), which was a mistake since members of this organization were sought after by the liberation forces. Macher and Grothmann were both dressed as army privates. Macher, Himmler and Grothmann were stopped at a checkpoint on May 21 and detained. The three men were taken to an Allied barracks in Lüneburg on May 23. During a routine interrogation, Himmler admitted who he was; thereafter, at the headquarters of the Second British Army, during an attempted medical examination Himmler bit into a hidden cyanide pill and died. After Himmler's suicide, Macher and Grothmann were arrested.
Awards[edit | edit source]
- Wound Badge in Gold
- Infantry Assault Badge
- Tank Destruction Badge for Individual Combatants
- Iron Cross
- 2nd Class (24 September 1941)
- 1st Class (15 March 1942)
- German Cross in Gold (7 August 1944)
- Close Combat Clasp in Gold
- Bronze (12 April 1943)
- Silver (unknown)
- Gold (18 October 1944)
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
References[edit | edit source]
- Index SS-Heinz Macher
- Wewelsburg Castle
- Longerich 2012, pp. 733–734.
- Manvell & Fraenkel 2007, pp. 239, 243.
- Weale 2010, p. 410.
- Weale 2010, pp. 410, 411.
- Photograph of Heinz Macher next to Himmler
- Photograph of the funeral of Sepp Dietrich
- This article incorporates information from the corresponding article in the Spanish Wikipedia
- Fellgiebel 2000, pp. 300, 497.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 87.
- Berger, Florian. Ritterkreuzträger mit Nahkampfspange in Gold (in German). Selbstverlag Florian Berger, 2004. ISBN 3-9501307-3-X.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945 (in German). Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas, 2000. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
- Longerich, Peter (2012). Heinrich Himmler: A Life. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-959232-6.
- Manvell, Roger; Fraenkel, Heinrich (2007) . Heinrich Himmler: The Sinister Life of the Head of the SS and Gestapo. London; New York: Greenhill; Skyhorse. ISBN 978-1-60239-178-9.
- Patzwall, Klaus D. and Scherzer, Veit. Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 - 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall, 2001. ISBN 3-931533-45-X.
- Weale, Adrian (2010). The SS: A New History. London: Little, Brown. ISBN 978-1408703045.
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