From law student to Einsatzgruppe commander: the career of a Gestapo Officer.
It is not the brutal SS man with his truncheon whom we cannot comprehend; we have seen his likes throughout history. It is the commander of a killing squad with a [degree] in law from a distinguished university in charge of organizing mass shootings of naked women and children whose figure frightens us. (2)
Over fifteen years ago I published a brief sketch in a Polish journal on the career of Gestapo officer and SS-Standartenfuhrer (Colonel) Heinz Seetzen prior to his appointment in 1943 as Inspector of the Security Police and the Security Service in Breslau (now Wroclaw). (3) Although completed in the spring of 1981, the article was unavoidably delayed in appearing until 1985. Meanwhile my book Kleinstadt und Nationalsozialismus. Ausgewahlte Dokumente zur Geschichte von Eutin 1918-1945, which reprints several documents on the beginning of Seetzen's involvement with political policing in the town of Eutin/Schleswig-Holstein, was published. (4) Since then other studies, in particular the history by Gerhard Paul of the Gestapo in what was the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein, have come out in which some mention is made of Seetzen's activities. (5) Moreover, a number of relevant new primary sources have only recently become available or been made known to me: the archive of the Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service, or Stasi, of the former German Democratic Republic (popularly called the "Gauck-Behorde"); the files of the Gestapo Regional Directorate in Stettin where Seetzen was stationed in 1939 and which are now held by the Russian State Military Archive (RSMA) in Moscow; (6) the records at the Zentrale Stelle der Landesjustizverwaltungen in Ludwigsburg (ZSL = Central Judicial Administrative Office of the German States) of the criminal investigations and verdicts in the postwar trials of members of the sub-unit of Einsatzgruppe "D" which Seetzen commanded in southern Russia during 1941/42; and a small quantity of papers in the private possession of the Seetzen family.
Last but not least, during the past decade and more a younger generation of scholars in both North America (Robert Gellately, George Browder, Peter Black, Eric Johnson) and Europe (Klaus-Michael Mallmann, Ulrich Herbert, Jens Banach, Michael Wildt, Ludwig Eiber, Johannes Tuchel, Franz Weisz, as well as the aforementioned Gerhard Paul) have begun the process of de-mythologizing the Gestapo primarily by posing questions about its everyday role in the comprehensive police system of the Nazi regime. (7) Yet, it was primarily the Gestapo that implemented the reign of terror set in motion by Hitler and other leading Nazis. This in turn necessitated the existence of a powerful and capable organization. (8) One approach to understanding its nature is to examine the concrete experiences of individual Gestapo officials who functioned in specific locations and at changing levels of authority during the entire period of the Third Reich.
It therefore seems opportune to revisit in greater detail the whole career of Heinz Seetzen from his earliest politicization and legal education, through the series of police offices in which he served, until his death by suicide at less than forty years of age in September 1945 to escape Allied prosecution for the crimes he had committed. Such "cradle to grave" biographies of Gestapo members, especially those below the very top rank, (9) are difficult to reconstruct on account of the lack of surviving documentation: the personnel and case dossiers of police forces unfortunately enjoyed a high priority for destruction before Germany's capitulation. (10) In that regard Seetzen's life is no exception. There are significant blank spaces in it for which few or no sources appear available any longer, a situation which precludes adding much to our knowledge of the institutional structure of the Gestapo. However, the fact that Seetzen was successively stationed across most regions of Germany--and also abroad during wartime--does demonstrate Gestapo policy of moving its higher officials on a regular basis from one locality to another. (11) His career exhibits, too, an escalating brutality in the tasks he was assigned to perform, a process that corresponded to the progressive radicalization of the dictatorship itself and was accordingly intended by his superiors in the police. Another subject the newly uncovered records on Seetzen significantly helps illuminate is the social aspect of the occupation of political policeman under Nazism. That is to say, beyond his rank, there is material evidence which reflects the status this young officer had attained in the Gestapo hierarchy before the regime he served was defeated in the war it had launched. (12)
Heinz Seetzen's biography, finally, prompts consideration of two broad issues of great interest to historians of Nazi genocide: namely, the representativeness of its individual perpetrators, as well as their private motivations. The former concerns the path followed by a person from a law-abiding background, indeed as a university-trained jurist, who gradually grew acculturated to criminal behaviour inside a terroristic organization such as the Gestapo. How could a lawyer come to abandon the rule of law he had been schooled to uphold to the extent of practising murder on a massive scale? (13) Was Seetzen thus representative of Christopher Browning's "ordinary" killers or even of Daniel Goldhagen's "normal" Germans who were responsible for the Holocaust? (14) Or as part of the SS leadership elite did he more closely resemble instead the type of legally educated professional police officer, ruthlessly efficient and utterly unscrupulous, whom Ulrich Herbert has depicted in Werner Best? (15) Related to the latter characterization is the question of the extent to which these people were motivated either by ideological considerations--fear and hatred of Jews, Communists, and other perceived enemies arising from a committed belief in the Nazi Weltanschauung--or else by the overriding ambition to achieve a successful career notwithstanding the homicidal requirements for that in the Third Reich; or perhaps by both conviction and opportunism. If Seetzen's motivation derived principally from ideology, then why did he not also conform to the more positive tenets of Heinrich Himmler's "Black Order" (for example his wish that its leaders procreate sufficiently if they were to obtain promotion)? (16) In what follows, these and other issues about Gestapo membership will be examined on the basis of the data Seetzen's biography offers.
II. Family, Education, and Politicization
Heinrich ("Heinz") Otto Seetzen was born on 22 June 1906 in Rustringen, a suburb of the Prussian naval base of Wilhelmshaven but situated in the adjacent state of Oldenburg. (17) By virtue of his citizenship Seetzen received preferential treatment in the form of his first temporary employment during 1933/34 running the political police office in the administration of a small enclave, whose main town was Eutin, located within Schleswig-Holstein though belonging to Oldenburg. Eutin, with its constitutional connection to Oldenburg, thus fortuitously became the launching pad for his Gestapo career--one for which he otherwise possessed no special professional qualifications. By no means was this the only element of chance in the life of this Nazi policeman.
Seetzen, who was baptized a Protestant but like many members of the SS eventually quit the church and instead designated himself "gottglaubig" (that is, merely a "believer in God"), (18) was the only child of a modestly placed shopkeeper. (19) His religious, socio-economic, and racial background (Lutheran, petty bourgeois, and, of course, "Aryan") made Seetzen typical of mid-1930s recruits to the police forces of the Third Reich and to the Nazi Party's elite formation of nordic males, the SS, that came to dominate them. (20)
His education readily secured his entrance into the leadership corps of these two organizations. His widow and also a lifelong friend both testified after the war that Seetzen's strongest personal characteristic was his exaggerated ambition, which stemmed from his parents, and especially his mother, who "wanted to make more out of him than they themselves were." This son of "kleine Leute" (literally, "little people") had been "a good, indeed a superior pupil, but not ... particularly intelligent" and even "a bit slow," who made up for what he lacked in brains "by a thoroughness in handling every task that came his way or was assigned to him. ... He would carry out a job he had been given no matter what it involved." He was, in other words, rigidly obedient rather than intellectually flexible. His familial origins initially made it difficult for Seetzen to assert himself among his fellow students when he entered university to pursue a degree in law after receiving the Abitur (secondary school graduation certificate) in 1925. (21) In order to enhance his status he became exceptionally active in university life--first at Marburg and then Kiel. Already as a schoolboy he had belonged to the youth section of the anti-Semitic and nationalistic veterans' league, the Stahlhelm ("Steel Helmets"), which until its incorporation into the Nazi stormtroopers--the brown-shirted SA--toward the end of 1933 oscillated between rivalry and collaboration with Hitler's movement. Seetzen's politicization in an increasingly right-wing direction continued when he joined the ultra-nationalist and racially exclusive "Philippina" duelling society at Marburg, "the university of anti-Semitism," from which he received the desired scars on his face. (22) Although there is nothing in the upbringing and training of this rather conventional scion of the German middle class that can be said directly to predict his future as a Gestapo member and mass murderer, nevertheless Heinz Seetzen's extra-curricular activities indicate a penchant for political and social groups of the very sort that for a great many Germans of his generation pointed the way into the abyss.
Seetzen's turn to extremism in politics occurred in 1929 after he had passed the preliminary state legal examination (Referendarexamen) at Kiel University. As part of his practical preparation at various law courts in that city, he met district judge Dr. Anton Franzen, the top candidate of the Nazi Party for the Schleswig-Holstein constituency during the September 1930 Reichstag election. A decade older than Seetzen, Franzen was widely regarded as a "respectable" and relatively moderate Nazi. He subsequently served the movement as Interior Minister in a coalition cabinet with the Nationalists in the state of Brunswick before resigning his office and then quitting the NSDAP over a policy disagreement with Hitler in October 1931. (23) It was while he was assigned to Franzen's court that Seetzen, who in his own words "had not previously been interested in any other political tendency," first came "into contact with the National Socialist idea" with which he immediately identified himself, "though not as an actual member" of the Party. His decision not to "officially" join the movement at that point was taken on Franzen's advice and without question corresponded to the career considerations of a novice jurist aspiring to a civil service position in Prussia (still governed in 1930-31 by anti-Nazi Social Democrats and the Catholic Centre Party). Seetzen maintained nonetheless that "during the entire period of my stay in Kiel" until the end of 1932 he "regularly attended Party events" and even founded "a Nazi group among my occupational colleagues." He also became friends there with an ex-naval officer named Reinhard Heydrich who had been entrusted by Heinrich Himmler, the head of the movement's infant SS, with creating an internal Security Service (the future Sicherheitsdienst or SD) to protect it against hostile forces of every type. (24) However, there is no evidence that Seetzen was then enrolled in the SD. Only after he had completed his second and final law examination (the so-called "Grosse juristische Staatsprufung") with a grade of just "satisfactory" did he in fact enter the NSDAP on 1 May 1933--his number was 2,732,725--and simultaneously the SA.
This step both confirmed Heinz Seetzen's already existing favourable attitude toward the phenomenon of Nazism and represented a sober appraisal of what was professionally useful for him. With tens of thousands of unemployed lawyers jostling for posts, the identification Seetzen had demonstrated with the new Nazi regime as it strove to establish control over Germany's governmental structure could only redound to his advantage. Besides his ideological commitment and practical astuteness, Seetzen struck one of his mentors as being extraordinarily capable above all in political matters. He was strong-willed and well-mannered with a sound knowledge of both the law and current affairs: his "temperament and personal inclination fit him especially for a career in the public sector, and he gives promise that when faced with major tasks he will accomplish great things." (25)
III. Political Police and Concentration Camp in Eutin
During the summer of 1933, Heinz Seetzen applied for the job of mayor of Eutin to replace the conservative incumbent fired by the Nazis. Despite being only a recent member of the Party, he was warmly recommended by its specialist for communal affairs in Schleswig-Holstein as someone who had "belonged spiritually to our movement for quite a long time." Since passing his examination he had found nothing except sporadic employment in the practices of Nazi lawyers who were absent helping to erect Hitler's dictatorship in the province. One of these also attested that Seetzen was indeed "dedicated to National Socialism" and "without any doubt suitable in every respect" for a function in a Nazi government: "I am convinced that he ... will render the new state very worthwhile service." However, the Ministry in Oldenburg insisted that the mayor's post be filled by one of its own jurists waiting for such an opening (instead of Seetzen who actually aimed at a career in the Prussian judiciary). But it had no objection if this citizen of Oldenburg worked temporarily as an assistant to the Nazi head of government, Johann Heinrich Bohmcker, in its enclave called "Landesteil Lubeck" around Eutin. (26) In this almost accidental fashion Seetzen began his political police activity.
As a supernumerary official in the Eutin administration Seetzen was delegated responsibility for a variety of portfolios (for example, air raid defence) as well as deputizing for other members of the government when they were on vacation. Although policing and what were euphemistically designated "protective custody" (Schutzhaft) matters comprised his most politically sensitive tasks, he had to manage these only on a part-time basis. Under the aegis of Regierungsprasident and SA troop leader Bohmcker, an improvised concentration camp was established first on one floor of the Eutin jail and later moved to other sites (Nuchel, Holstendorf, and Ahrensbok) in the enclave. At least 345 persons--mostly Communists but also some Social Democrats, trade unionists, bourgeois politicians, and even a couple of dissident Nazis--accused of political misdeeds were taken into "protective custody" and confined to the camp. From there they were marched out daily to perform hard labour at land reclamation, road construction, and the like. (27) Seetzen' s role consisted in negotiating with local authorities about the financial terms under which prisoners were hired out to them for these public works projects. Though he did not actively participate in the beatings which recalcitrant inmates received from the brutal commandant and guards, Seetzen was sometimes present at these. He allegedly replied to a complaint from one victim: "A few lost teeth are nothing, we are only interested in a case if anybody should die." (None did.) (28) He decided too--likely in agreement with Bohmcker--if a prisoner was ready for release. Finally, Seetzen presided over the dissolution of the camp in May 1934 that accompanied the consolidation by the SS of the regime's entire system of repression. His parting warning to those inmates sent home rather than to other camps or prisons was that while no obstacles would be placed in the way of reintegrating themselves into civil society, "by the same token, in future Marxist subversion will be fought with the same rigour as heretofore." (29) Thus, Seetzen endorsed Schutzhaft and concentration camps as permanent institutions in the new Germany.
The suppression of opponents on the left by no means occupied all of Seetzen's attention in Eutin. As determined by Bohmcker, the foes of the regime included the socially prominent members of a harmless "Casino Club" whose exclusivity was deemed no longer appropriate to the supposedly egalitarian ethos of the Third Reich, and a senior police officer who dared report to the state attorney in Lubeck that an escapee from the president's camp had been "beaten half to death" upon recapture. When asked for advice on these occasions Seetzen used legal arguments or personal suasion to try to moderate and divert Bohmcker's wrath. Yet, concern for judicial propriety did not deter Seetzen, in the end, from relentlessly persecuting all those whom he was convinced sought to undermine the power of the dictatorship. (30)
Seetzen's appointment by the Oldenburg Interior Minister to direct a proper State Police Office attached to the Eutin government took place at the beginning of March 1934. The file concerning its creation was apparently destroyed in 1945, but the announcement followed the installation of SS-Reichsfuhrer Himmler as Commander of the Political Police in both Oldenburg and the adjoining city of Bremen. According to the press notice, the primary duty of the Eutin Staatspolizeistelle was to "monitor and combat every hostile undertaking" against the Nazi state. For Seetzen that also meant compiling regular reports about such activities within his jurisdiction for Eutin's headquarters located in Oldenburg; however, most of these have disappeared too. (31) The office he ran was small, as it remained under his successors, in keeping with the size of the population in "Landesteil Lubeck" (less than 50,000) and the general principle of limiting the Gestapo to as few full-time agents as was feasible. (32) Hence, Seetzen depended upon assistance from the district's gendarmes to fulfill his responsibilities. These professionals compensated for his own complete lack of training in police work. As for his salary, which ranged between 200 and 250 marks monthly, at least before he was formally named the chief political policeman in Eutin, it was drawn from irregular sources of dubious legality: namely, out of fines or "contributions" exacted either from politically suspect individuals and concentration camp inmates seeking to preserve or regain their freedom, or from businesses such as newspapers looking for lucrative contracts from Bohmcker's administration and therefore in need of its goodwill. (33) Seetzen's income and position thus complemented one another--both derived from the inherently criminal nature of Nazism.
When Seetzen's employment with the Eutin government ceased around the end of 1934, ostensibly on account of a reduction in work available for its officials, Bohmcker gave him a glowing letter of recommendation. "I was thoroughly satisfied with his labours," the Regierungsprasident wrote. For three-quarters of a year he "managed the Secret Police Office here. In that capacity he faultlessly attended to all protective custody matters. As far as his politics go, there can be no hesitation in employing Seetzen." In similar statements Bohmcker added that, in spite of Seetzen's youthfulness, "he has truly earned a great deal of credit in carrying through the National Socialist revolution" in "Landesteil Lubeck." He "displayed a clear understanding and the necessary tact about all political questions. He is absolutely to be trusted politically." (34) To be sure, the Oldenburg Ministry of the Interior did not fully endorse this unstinting praise. It pointed out that Seetzen had made certain technical errors in applying "protective custody" which had exposed the state to compensation claims from some of those affected. But if that was the real reason he was not retained on a permanent basis by Oldenburg, Seetzen's sound Nazi politics made him eminently suitable for the post he now sought: employment in the Prussian Gestapo. (35)
Heinz Seetzen lived and worked in Eutin for only slightly more than a year, but professionally as well as personally his experiences there had a lasting influence upon him. First and foremost he was introduced to the practices of Nazi political policing. Initially, as in the case of the elitist "Casino Club," his legal scruples helped restrain him from agreeing to criminal measures to suppress it. But when Bohmcker decided to ban the group, Seetzen readily provided plausible grounds to do so and to confiscate its assets for the benefit of the regime. He also looked on when real or imagined enemies of his Party were cruelly mishandled in the Eutin concentration camp. While he likely did not join physically in their torture, as the town's Gestapo officer he can be blamed for facilitating their incarceration in that frightful place. (36) Yet, in his bearing and deportment Seetzen made an excellent impression on other inhabitants of Eutin. His imposing height of 1.86 metres, neat appearance, charming conversation, and politeness won him the hand of the attractive daughter of a fairly prosperous local businessman who was also a neighbourhood functionary (Blockleiter) in the NSDAP. Seetzen's future mother-in-law, whom he assiduously cultivated and who was correspondingly smitten with him, provided the young couple with an expensive dowry when they married in 1937. For its part the Eutin magistracy, too, facilitated the wedding of the blond SS lieutenant (which he had been since 1935) and the well-bred girl who appeared to be an ideal Nazi pair. The civil ceremony--there was none in church--was permitted to take place outside the usual hours in the town-hall council chamber that was specially decorated by members of the groom's black-uniformed formation. (37) This dichotomy between a seemingly "normal" personality and biography, on the one hand, and the evil deeds he performed, on the other, became increasingly pronounced in Seetzen as his career in the Gestapo advanced.
IV. Gestapo Aachen, Vienna, Stettin, and Hamburg
Heinz Seetzen applied to join the Gestapo in the state of Prussia at a particularly advantageous moment and with credentials that made him a very desirable recruit. The total strength of all police forces in Germany early in 1935 was just over 158,000 including a mere 2,367 in the Prussian Gestapo into which he was accepted on 15 February. But by the fall of that year, the overall number of policemen had been reduced by about 50,000 who transferred into the armed forces. Furthermore, under the leadership of Himmler and his deputy, Seetzen's friend Reinhard Heydrich who actually ran the political police, the organization was especially looking for individuals who were both politically reliable (as Bohmcker, a Nazi since 1926, testified Seetzen was) and possessed superior professional qualifications. (38) In Seetzen's case his practical experience in Eutin presumably satisfied the latter criterion because he seems never to have attended a police academy. Instead, after a short training course at the school in Berlin-Grunewald operated by Heydrich's SD, Seetzen spent an additional few weeks of orientation at Gestapo headquarters in the capital before receiving his first appointment on 1 April 1935. He became acting head of the office in Aachen, a position confirmed six months later when he was taken into government service with the probationary rank of Regierungs-Assessor. (39)
But before that Seetzen had made another decisive career move. In the wake of the bloody purge of the SA (the so-called "Rohm-Putsch") during the previous summer, the brownshirts had lost their claim to serve as the chief enforcers of the Nazi revolution; or, as Seetzen circumspectly put it, "the tasks that were formerly delegated to the SA" had "largely been accomplished." Instead, its erstwhile subordinate, the dynamic SS, had secured control of most of the Reich's police organs while on the way to turning Germany into an "SS state." (40) The heads of the Gestapo thereupon decided that its officers would be drawn as a rule from the SS. Also sought were younger men, born since the turn of the century, and preferably with a legal education. Even Seetzen's stature made him welcome: Himmler maintained that "people whose size exceeded a certain number of centimetres must be assumed to have the blood that we desire." (41) So in July 1935 Seetzen switched from the moribund SA to the "General SS" (with the number 267,231) and was commissioned an Untersturmfuhrer, or second lieutenant, in the SD. This step set him firmly on the road to becoming one of the elite in the management of the regime's Staatsschutzkorps (state protection corps): by 1939 only 3,000 among the 20,000 personnel of the Gestapo had been granted SS status. (42)
Seetzen's period of service in Aachen, which lasted more than three years, was the longest he spent in a single place during his entire Gestapo career. The duration of this term ran contrary to the force's usual procedure of rotating top leaders more frequently so that they would not become advocates for their district vis-a-vis Berlin rather than its representative there, as well as to reduce the opportunities for financial corruption. There was also less likelihood that a north German (and at least nominal) Lutheran overseeing a largely Catholic area would succumb to pressures exerted by the dominant Roman church. (43) Countering its activities and those of the region's Communists, and also monitoring the behaviour of Jews who lived around Aachen, constituted Seetzen's primary duties to the extent these were reflected in the monthly "situation reports" he prepared for Gestapo headquarters. Since no other archival evidence of his work in Aachen has survived, these Lageberichte are the only source for evaluating that phase in his biography. (44) Compiling such reports was intended to provide the regime with a comprehensive picture of the political, economic, and social conditions in an area and of the attitude of its population toward the dictatorship. (45) Notwithstanding claims to "objectivity," these analyses of the popular mood in Aachen often reveal the opinions of their author concerning the subjects of his observations. (46)
Thus, Seetzen's reports abound in denunciations of Catholic priests and the press they controlled for fomenting anti-Nazi sentiments among their flock who made up over 90 per cent of the local citizenry. He was surely recounting his own experience in coming to the Rhineland when he wrote in August 1935 that "the influence of the clergy is so strong that one can hardly even imagine its extent living in the Protestant regions of the Reich." Seetzen was wise enough, however, to perceive that popular support for National Socialism might be more readily forthcoming among Catholics "if their sensitivity about their beliefs was not offended" constantly by members of the Party. But his solution to this problem was for the government to forbid diocesan newspapers printing verbatim extracts from speeches by prominent Nazis critical of the church! In particular he was concerned that confessionally-oriented youth groups "must be regarded as nothing more than reservoirs of those who reject the present state." Therefore Seetzen "very much welcomed" the decision in the summer of 1935 to enrol every young German in the Hitler-Jugend: "In this way the often still decisive impact of the clergy upon them will be neutralized." What was more, "any leniency on the part of the state regarding the church question would be interpreted by the clerics as weakness." Not merely anti-clericalism, which was commonplace within the Gestapo, but also a fundamental hostility to Roman Catholicism per se can be glimpsed in Seetzen's remark that "with all its energy the church has set its face against the necessities of the twentieth century and against National Socialist principles which are contrary to the preservation of a medieval outlook." (47)
One such "necessity," in his view, was the racial legislation of the dictatorship, and so Seetzen approved of the September 1935 Nurnberg laws for the prospect they offered of putting a stop to anti-Semitic excesses "which are condemned by the overwhelming majority of the populace." These random acts of violence and vandalism against Jews and their property, taking place as they did along the border of the Reich under the gaze of foreign powers, "have caused more harm than good." This behaviour suggested to Seetzen that Party organizations, as well as a segment of the public, required more education about the need to "maintain the necessary self-discipline with respect to the Jewish question." He favoured instead the use of appropriate means of propaganda to encourage at least younger Jews to emigrate to Palestine and elsewhere. But the limits of Seetzen's "rational" and legalistic anti-Semitism were shown by his veiled threat to the Central Association of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith that had the "effrontery" to protest to him against the singing of songs denigrating Jews by Aachen units of the SA and the Hitler Youth. "Clearly these Jews think," he said, "that the current political and economic situation does not permit proceeding radically against them." (48)
These examples show that Heinz Seetzen had thoroughly absorbed Nazi anti-Semitism, although as a jurist and policeman he preferred to see it expressed in forms other than unauthorized physical attacks which disrupted public order. Furthermore, such assaults frequently appeared to be motivated more by considerations of private advantage than ideology and hence provided a cover for other enemies of the regime to vent their opposition to it by showing sympathy for the Jews. Chief among these, according to Seetzen, were Communists. Because the organizational structure of the Communist Party (KPD), like that of Social Democracy, had by the mid-1930s substantially been eliminated by the Gestapo throughout the Rhineland, Communism did not pose the serious threat that he believed the Catholic priesthood did. On the contrary, he reported to Berlin that even the formerly Marxist-inclined miners among the area's working class had almost no interest any longer in "world Bolshevism." Yet, he warned, "their living conditions need to be made secure and indeed significantly improved." As for the handful of KPD agitators exiled in neighbouring Holland and Belgium who still refused to accept the reality of what Seetzen described as "the unity of the entire German people behind the firm leadership of Adolf Hitler," they were in danger of being rounded up by agreement of the Gestapo with police forces across the frontier. He also recommended that diplomatic efforts be undertaken in Paris to suppress the transport into Germany of printed materials which condemned the Third Reich; and he personally established a connection with his counterpart in Brussels to prevent graffiti with similar messages from being chalked on the coaches of cross-border Belgian trains. What Communist activity there was in his district Seetzen contained effectively by the widespread use of informants (so-called Vertrauens- or V-Manner), insinuated into or recruited from inside the KPD, and by means of "protective custody" applied to those caught serving its "treasonous" purposes--whether or not there was sufficient evidence to prove this. Seetzen realized that some adherents of Communism remained true to their convictions: "These individuals can only be combatted if they are inexorably exterminated (unerbittlich ausgerottet)." (49) Such terminology, if it was not simply rhetorical, described the manner in which he later actually fought the "Jewish- Bolshevist" foes of the Nazi Weltanschauung in the Soviet Union.
Seetzen's work in Aachen, which included the stipulation to his subordinates that a card index system be employed to keep track of every interrogation the office conducted, (50) was a complete success in the estimation of his superiors. One of them wrote in July 1936 that after overcoming his "initial reluctance" (not further specified), Seetzen soon demonstrated "inner conviction" in carrying out political policing in close collaboration with the regional branch of the SD in what was a "particularly difficult area" of the country. He was accordingly promoted to the SS rank of first lieutenant (Obersturmfuhrer) on the occasion of the 1936 Nurnberg Party Congress and then a permanent civil servant (Regierungsrat)--as one of five young probationary officials advanced over the heads of some nineteen more senior Nazis--to coincide with the fourth anniversary of Hitler's assumption of the chancellorship. (51) That recognition, along with his experience running a Gestapo unit in a frontier district, presumably help explain Seetzen's next assignment: a temporary posting in March 1938 to Vienna following the German conquest of Austria.
Almost nothing is known of his precise role there, except that by 22 March 1938 on Heydrich's orders Seetzen had taken charge of Department I of the State Police Directorate (Staatspolizeileitstelle) that was being set up within the former interior ministry in the capital. The functions he performed were administrative in nature: to organize the establishment and staffing of political police units in the Austrian provinces and along the borders of Germany's new "Ostmark" as well as the Viennese headquarters, all part of Heydrich's plan to integrate the country completely into the existing Reich. Seetzen did not exercise executive authority in Austria, but he was involved in acquiring what had been Jewish-owned properties to house Gestapo personnel. (52) In any event, what he accomplished once again pleased Himmler and on 1 August 1938 he skipped a rank when he was named a SS-Sturmbannfuhrer (major).
Seetzen seems to have been among the first contingent of Gestapo officers to return from Vienna to their home bases during the summer of 1938. If so, he was back in Aachen in time to oversee the Reichskristallnacht pogrom there on 9-10 November, although none of the published accounts which discuss the participation of the local Gestapo in that infamous night allude to him. Just two weeks later, though, Seetzen did send a telegram from his Aachen office to Gestapo headquarters concerning another matter, but it can no longer be determined with certainty whether in that interval he shared responsibility for the arrest of 268 Jews from the Aachen area, the beating of some of them, and their internment in the Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen concentration camps where at least one man died. (53)
At the beginning of March 1939 Heinz Seetzen was transferred to the main Baltic port of Stettin where for the remainder of that year he headed the Staatspolizeileitstelle, a step up in authority from Aachen. As in the case of Vienna, however, little of substance about what he did there apparently survives among its records. Communism rather than Catholicism occupied the spotlight, but the KPD was completely disorganized and so propaganda emanating from Moscow was the chief concern. Seetzen had no difficulty suppressing whatever left-wing resistance activity surfaced in the region through the usual means of Schutzhaft and the concentration camp. He could afford to focus his attention instead upon bureaucratic matters: improving the morale and efficiency of his staff in their "labour for the Fuhrer and the idea of National Socialism" by co-operation among all the police forces in the city, training programs, and even social events. To judge by the myriad internal directives Seetzen issued, on the eve of the war the Gestapo had become to a significant degree a routinized government agency, albeit one concerned with political persecution. When he left Stettin after less than ten months he expressed regret that the time had been too brief and external circumstances unsuitable (he obviously meant the outbreak of war) for him to have accomplished a great deal. (54)
Notwithstanding these meagre results, the upward trajectory of Seetzen's career continued when on 1 January 1940 he took command of the Stapoleitstelle in Hamburg, Germany's second largest metropolis, with more than 1.7 million inhabitants. But there, too, documentation about his specific actions is sparse. (55) Thus, the Gestapo was not the police agency primarily responsible for the May 1940 deportation of 550 Sinti and Roma ("Gypsies") from Hamburg to the "General Government" in Nazi-ruled Poland where many of them were murdered. Their rounding up and transport were instead the direct task of the Criminal Police, though the two forces had been linked since 1936 in the Sicherheitspolizei directed by Heydrich and as a rule they collaborated closely. From the onset of the war, however, Seetzen's office did control the lives of--and could recommend summary executions among--the city's growing population of foreign (particularly Polish) workers, whose confinement in closed camps it had already approved by 1941. It also participated energetically in the harassment of both homosexuals and the anglophile and jazz-besotted "swing-youth" in the Hansestadt. (56) And in at least one instance Seetzen himself intervened with the courts to ensure that a convicted Hamburg Communist whom he considered "cunning and dangerous" did not receive a reduction in his sentence. (57)
However, there was an important operation undertaken in Hamburg for which Seetzen at least formally, and perhaps in practice as well, did bear executive responsibility. It concerned the "final solution of the Jewish question." On 22 April 1942 he was among the fifteen regional Gestapo chiefs who received a confidential telegram from Adolf Eichmann ordering them to facilitate the removal eastwards of Jews from their respective districts by permitting functionaries from the umbrella Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland (National Union of German Jews) and other Jewish cultural organizations to be deferred until the last such transport. (58) The fact that Seetzen was specifically named in this directive as the head of Hamburg's Staatspolizeileitstelle shows that he continued to occupy the post even though he had been actively leading a killing squad in Russia since the beginning of the German invasion. By the same token Seetzen was also still the designated Gestapo commander of Hamburg when in September 1941 Gauleiter Karl Kaufmann had first recommended to Hitler that the city's Jews be "evacuated" after a bombing attack on it in order to free up apartment space for homeless Germans. (59) In both these cases it is conceivable that action may in fact have been taken by Seetzen's representative in office, although he definitely expected to resume in person his Hamburg position "within a few months ... after completion of my assignment" in the east. Nevertheless, it is known--or can be surmised--that on two occasions Seetzen received periods of leave which he spent with his family at his residence in the city. One of these was over the Christmas and New Year's holiday of 1941-42, while the other must have been nine months before the birth of his second child--that is, sometime in May 1942. (60) The exact duration of the second furlough is uncertain, but it does not seem impossible that Seetzen may already have been in Hamburg when Eichmann's order of late April arrived and was implemented. Seetzen was only finally succeeded as Hamburg's chief of political policing on 1 September 1942 by a Dr. Kreuzer, who while in charge of the Gestapo post in Munster had simultaneously functioned as his substitute since before the end of 1941. (61) Thus, if Heinz Seetzen did not himself participate in carrying out the deportation of Hamburg Jewry, his deputy acting in his name did so.
The most certain information that exists about Seetzen's tours of duty in Stettin and Hamburg is of a personal nature. On 21 June 1940 Hitler signed his promotion to the status of an Oberregierungsrat (superior government counsellor), and a few days later he also became a lieutenant-colonel (Obersturmbannfuhrer) in the SS. (62) Equally noteworthy were developments in his private life. Seetzen's son was born in 1939 and a daughter followed three and a half years later. This completed the family which meant that, while it exceeded the average size for married leaders in the SS (which was 1.3 children), it fell far short of the ideal of four--preferably all boys!--which Himmler had set. (63) There were other respects, too, in which Seetzen's marriage did not correspond to that model. For example, his wife resolutely rejected any suggestion that as the spouse of a highly placed SS officer she ought to join one of the Party's organizations for women. Indeed, she is said to have become quite critical of Hitler. Be that as it may, Seetzen's widow later averred that he had told her very little about his police work. Such silence might only have corresponded to the overall aura of secrecy which enveloped the Gestapo, but in any case it differed from the wishes of many such wives for a more active part in the SS and even to share in their husbands' crimes. (64)
Otherwise, though, Seetzen's career was paradigmatic for a successful political policeman. According to the calculations of Gerhard Paul and Claudia Steur, he would already have earned between twice and four times as much annually as did a skilled German craftsman when in his early thirties he headed the Gestapo offices in Aachen and Stettin, and more than that when he was promoted to the larger city of Hamburg. (65) There the young family had an apartment in the desirable Uhlenhorst district near the Outer Alster Lake. The belongings they lost (including a stamp collection and a chalk drawing of the Fuhrer) during a 1943 air raid on the city had a replacement cost evaluated at 51,000 marks. Compared to his situation in 1933 when he was among the half of the 4,000 aspirants for a placement in the Prussian judiciary who were jobless, the first decade of the Third Reich had been very good to Heinz Seetzen. (66)
His simultaneous entry into the Prussian Gestapo and the SS set Seetzen on his way to becoming a leading enforcer of the Nazi dictatorship. Although not a great deal is known in detail about his subsequent activities in Aachen, Vienna, Stettin, and Hamburg, some conclusions can nonetheless be drawn about his development from 1935 until mid-1941. The firmest of these is that this period completed his indoctrination in Hitler's ideology. To Seetzen's already existing rejection of Marxism was now added a pronounced hostility toward so-called "political Catholicism" and Jews whom he encountered probably for the first time. Most of the men who had served under him before meeting up with Seetzen again in the Soviet Union testified after the war that he had earned a reputation as one of the "`150 percenters' who looked upon orders and regulations which came down from above as gospel." Furthermore, "everyone holding any sort of responsible post in the Security Police" was supposedly acquainted with him; they could not overlook the tall, blond, and blue-eyed Seetzen, "the perfect type sought by the SS leadership." He was regarded as a "relentless" and "extremely ambitious" police officer with an arrogant and "icy-cold" manner that lacked all warmth. "Whoever fell into his clutches was lost.... Seetzen in retrospect seemed like a man who demanded that his subordinates carry out measures without any concern for their feelings about them." (67) His repeated promotions in themselves argue that in directing the tasks which every Gestapo office performed--arbitrary arrests, the physical abuse of prisoners, even outright killings--Seetzen's personality must have been deemed exceptionally appropriate for the job. (68) Prior to leaving for Russia Heinz Seetzen had thus undergone a thorough transformation, one which gradually rid him of his erstwhile legal and moral scruples so that he was ready to implement even the most heinous crimes demanded by the regime.
V. Sonderkommando 10a in the Soviet Union
Between June 1941 and August 1942 Seetzen led Sonderkommando (SK) 10a, a sub-unit of Einsatzgruppe "D" under Otto Ohlendorf operating behind the furthest southern front of the German armies that invaded Soviet Russia. (69) He seems to have agreed to the assignment quite willingly. (70) Indeed, thanks to his friendship with Reinhard Heydrich and perhaps also to keep an eye upon the less-trusted Ohlendorf, Seetzen was installed as the de facto deputy commander of the entire Einsatzgruppe. (71) In both capacities he amply demonstrated his unreserved acceptance of Hitler's goal to annihilate European Jewry and his dedication to the SS ideal of personal hardness (Harte).
There is a great deal of evidence in the postwar testimony of former members of SK 10a that Seetzen knew before crossing the Rumanian frontier that he and his men would be engaging in acts of mass murder, if not perhaps in outright genocide. (72) Moreover, he took direct part himself in these actions. For example, at Belzy in Bessarabia on 15 July 1941 Seetzen helped the police and Waffen-SS to execute the city's entire council of Jewish elders. (73) A few days later he instructed a section of SK 10a at Kodyma to co-operate with the Wehrmacht in shooting around 100 Jews who allegedly belonged to the Communist Party. The first Jewish women and children were killed along with males, around 200 persons in all, by Seetzen and his unit in August on a collective farm near Beresovka. (74) In the steppe region north of Odessa they murdered whole families whose bodies were pushed down a dried-up well. This was the Judenaktion that brought Seetzen's name to the attention of the Allies when in October 1943 a policeman from a neighbouring death squad deserted to Italy; in his interrogation he accused Seetzen of ordering some victims thrown alive into the deep hole. (75) The number of those massacred at each site on his command steadily escalated: 1,000 at Berdjansk, 2,000 at Melitopol around 8 October 1941, and four times that many Jews in the city of Mariupol before the end of the same month. (76) Seetzen was frequently described wearing a warm-up suit, standing like a general on a mound of earth beside an anti-tank ditch with a cigar in his mouth, and firing his machine pistol at the helpless people lying naked on top of one another in the pit. Afterwards he could calmly sit down at his headquarters to enjoy a good meal. (77)
After quitting Rostov-on-the-Don with the retreating Wehrmacht at the end of November, Sonderkommando 10a spent the winter months of 1941-42 in Taganrog on the Sea of Azov. There it received a gas van to facilitate the killing operations while easing the psychological strain on the murderers. According to one driver with the unit, Seetzen "maliciously" laughed at the screaming and banging of those locked in the vehicle as it drove off with the exhaust fumes engulfing them. (78) When SK 10a was able to return to Rostov in summer 1942 he set up a Jewish council (Judenrat) to assist in registering the 1,500-2,000 members of the community who had hot escaped with the Red Army. They were then transported to a ravine outside the city where Seetzen and a firing squad gunned them down. (79) Altogether, over the space of little more than a year he and his unit brutally executed at least 15,000 innocent human beings, most of them Jews but also Soviet prisoners-of-war, civilian hostages, real or alleged partisans, "Gypsies," and others. (80) For this accomplishment Seetzen received the War Service Cross (first class) with Swords and several additional decorations. (81)
Seetzen was formally relieved of his command on 13 July 1942 and went back to Germany shortly afterwards when his successor arrived to take over SK 10a. The reason for the change at just that point in time may have been connected with the general restructuring of the German police leadership following the assassination of his patron, Reinhard Heydrich, a few weeks earlier in Prague (Otto Ohlendorf, too, was recalled then to Berlin). Another possible explanation is that Seetzen, a "passionate philatelist," was reassigned as a disciplinary measure for having been involved in the theft of Russian stamps from deserted houses and post-offices in Rostov and elsewhere, a serious violation that was considered plundering. (82) His biography can therefore be said to provide a textbook illustration of the perverse morality at the core of Nazism: perpetrating genocide on behalf of the state was rewarded with honours and preferment, but otherwise taking advantage of the victims' plight became a punishable offence.
VI. Sipo Kassel, Breslau, and Minsk
"Effective immediately," on 18 August 1942 Heinz Seetzen was posted to Kassel as Inspector of the Security Police and the Security Service (IdS); (83) he was simultaneously promoted to the rank of colonel (Standartenfuhrer) in the SS and the police. The tasks of the IdS consisted of supervising the work of three agencies--the Gestapo, Kripo, and SD--within a military district which in the case of Kassel (Wehrkreis IX) also included the cities of Frankfurt/Main, Erfurt, and Weimar. In practice Seetzen served under the aegis of its Higher SS and Police Leader (HSSPF) as Heydrich's successor Ernst Kaltenbrunner's representative in carrying out regular inspections of the activities of the offices under his charge. He was also responsible for the ideological training of their members and for recruiting suitable new ones to the police organizations in his locality from the Hitler Youth and the regime's elite secondary schools, the Nationalpolitische Erziehungsanstalten; for setting up and controlling so-called "labour education camps" to deal with recalcitrant German and foreign workers; for ensuring cooperation between the police and the area's Party, government, and Wehrmacht leadership; for overseeing the "evacuation" of Jews and other unwelcome persons from the region to the east; and for tracking down, and sometimes executing, escaped prisoners-of-war (POWs). Seetzen appears to have been one of the first of these inspectors drawn from the SD and the Gestapo with a university education augmented by experience in the Security Police acquired in occupied Russia. (84)
From a pocket calendar he kept covering the first half of 1943 it is possible to glean some idea of what Seetzen did during the final months of his time in Kassel. It records the names of individuals with whom he met: his superior, HSSPF Josias Prince of Waldeck-Pyrmont, the Kassel chiefs of the Gestapo and Kripo, Gauleiter and head of government in the state of Hesse Jacob Sprenger, and several army commanders from the Wehrkreis. On tours of his subordinate offices and trips to Berlin, where he attended conferences in the Reich Security Mare Office (the RSHA, since the beginning of the war Germany's supreme police headquarters), Seetzen invariably stayed in the best hotels. Both of these were indications that he was now reaching the upper echelons of the Nazi hierarchy. Already in mid-March 1943 the calendar notes: "news of transfer received from the HSSPF," and on 13 May he accordingly travelled from a meeting of all the IdS with their chief, Kaltenbrunner, at the RSHA directly to his next station. (85)
Breslau, the capital city of Prussian Silesia, housed one of the largest provincial Gestapo branches and as the IdS there Seetzen was closer to the centre of Nazi political and police affairs than at any time in his career. The former was reflected in the prominence of the visitors he welcomed to Breslau as these appear from the entries in his pocket calendar for the remainder of 1943. They included Reich Economics Minister Walther Funk; the national leader of the Hitler Youth, Artur Axmann; SA chief Wilhelm Schepmann; State Secretary Curt Rothenberger from the justice ministry; both of Seetzen's bosses in the SS and the RSHA, Himmler and Kaltenbrunner; and on 20 November the Fuhrer himself, who delivered a speech before several thousand military officer candidates in the city's Jahrhunderthalle. But Seetzen also found himself in increasing proximity to the inner-German implementation of the regime's murderous "ethnic cleansing." That situation was the result of two factors: the ongoing "Germanisation" policy of expelling Silesian Poles to the adjacent Generalgouvernement (rump Poland), and the presence still by 1943 of some 53,000 Jews employed in the region. (86)
From the start of his new appointment Seetzen was deeply involved in the measures taken by the Third Reich against Poles and Jews within Silesia. For among the places that fell under his overall supervision was Auschwitz. Although Jewish deportations to the death camp from Breslau, neighbouring Oppeln, and other Silesian towns were well-advanced before he arrived in the area (one survivor called 5 March 1943 the day the Jews of Breslau were annihilated), Seetzen became an intimate collaborator of the two Gauleiter, Karl Hanke and Fritz Bracht of Lower and Upper Silesia respectively, and of Ernst-Heinrich Schmauser, the HSSPF in Wehrkreis VIII, who were chiefly responsible for completing these. Moreover, he personally went to Auschwitz at least four times. His pocket calendar contains the following notation for 22 October 1943:
Breslau. In the morning to Kattowitz. Conference with Gauleiter Bracht. --Then to Auschwitz ([Commandant Rudolf] Hoess, tour of I.G. Farben [synthetic rubber and gasoline factory complex], followed by an evening of camaraderie). Return to Kattowitz.
No further details are given. However, Seetzen shared authority with the RSHA and his counterpart in Kattowitz to commit persons to the camp and also to order their execution, which was carried out by the Gestapo (the so-called "political department") there. On 22 October a police court martial, chaired by the newly appointed head of the Kattowitz Gestapo, convened in Auschwitz and condemned to death ninety-five Poles transferred from various Silesian prisons (87)--Seetzen was thus at least partially culpable for this instance of judicial murder.
The horrors associated with Auschwitz were not the only ones in which Seetzen participated while he was located in Breslau. He was also in contact with Johannes Hassebroek, the commandant of Gross-Rosen near Striegau, which was the other notorious concentration camp in his district and often sent prisoners to Auschwitz. (88) The crime that led to his own death a year and a half later was connected with the escape of seventy-six Allied airmen from Stalag Luft III in Sagan on 24 March 1944. Hitler ordered fifty of them shot upon recapture as a deterrent to other POWs. It was the Gestapo as well as the Criminal Police who belonged to the domain of the Breslau IdS that performed most of the killings and attended to their aftermath. Ironically, an atrocity which in the context of the millions who died during the Second World War (or in relation to the mass murders Seetzen committed in the Soviet Union) almost looks "like a peccadillo" cost him his life. (89)
He had nearly lost that already in July 1943. While posted to Kassel and Breslau, Seetzen's family continued to reside in Hamburg. During the afternoon of the 24th. the four of them left the city for a vacation in Eutin. That same night Allied bombers carried out the first of a series of devastating raids on Hamburg which together killed 40,000 people and also left 900,000 homeless. The family's apartment was hit at once and the couple returned two days later to help extinguish the blaze and rescue what belongings they could. They were still in the city on the night of 27-28 July when another attack struck the building next door. Seetzen and his wife survived the ensuing firestorm and even managed to save some of their furniture. In the fall of 1943 he moved it and his family to a house at 17 Kleinburgstrasse in Breslau. (90) That was the address from which they fled before the advancing Red Army in 1945.
Meanwhile, in April 1944 Kaltenbrunner transferred Seetzen first to Prague but then shortly afterwards to Minsk as Commander of the Security Police and the SD for Russland-Mitte and Weissruthenian; he thereby also became chief of Einsatzgruppe "B". (91) The reason for the change in destination, or whether Seetzen actually ever held an appointment in the Czech capital, are both unknown. However, before the end of 1943 EG "B" had been fused with the Sipo office in Minsk where they jointly took part in the ruthless German campaign against local partisan forces, as well as carrying out the murders of political opponents and other victims in the towns, prisons, and internment camps of White Russia. When it finally withdrew from Soviet soil in the summer of 1944, killing as it went, EG "B" had massacred a minimum of 150,000 persons, of whom at least two-thirds were Jews. Seetzen's own share in this particular genocide, until he was replaced as commander of the formation on 12 August 1944 when he was seriously wounded from driving over a landmine, can no longer be determined. He was awarded the Iron Cross (second. class) a few months later, presumably for these deeds. (92) One man interrogated after the war who had met Seetzen while he was in Minsk characterized him as "lacking in personal feelings, an icy-cold administrative official.... I believe I can say that Seetzen was the most unsuitable [to understand anyone's reluctance to execute people] of all the many superior officers whom I encountered during my long years of service." (93) Whatever degree of exaggeration there may be in this statement, it nevertheless seems indisputable that Heinz Seetzen must be counted among Hitler's most effective practitioners of human destruction.
VII. Death and Aftermath
In the chaos that followed the capitulation of "Fortress Breslau," Seetzen was able to evade the Russians and Poles who were rounding up Gestapo members all across Silesia. He intended at first to join his wife and children in her hometown in eastern Holstein where he probably thought he could conceal himself among the hundreds of thousands of German POWs interned in temporary camps around the countryside. But, as the British occupation forces began to sort out the situation and questioned Frau Seetzen about her husband's whereabouts, he decided instead at the end of June 1945 to move on to Hamburg expecting that he would be helped by friends there. On his flight from Breslau he met a woman, Dr. Gertrud Stark, whom he had known since childhood and he asked her to obtain a set of false identification papers for him. She was afraid to do so but did give him civilian clothes and directed him to her mother living in the Elbe suburb of Blankenese, who had agreed to take him in beginning on 1 August. His wife even managed to visit him several times.
However, the special investigation branch of the Royal Air Force was searching intensively for Nazi officials who had in any way been involved in the murders of the fifty fliers from Sagan. Seetzen was high on the list of those they wanted to interview. After interrogating the last head of the SD in Breslau, Ernst Kah, the military police learned that Seetzen was residing in the Hamburg area: Kah had encountered the enthusiastic philatelist at a local stamp exchange. The British acted quickly to pick up Seetzen, who was using the name "Michael Gollwitzer," and living at the address also supplied by Kah. (94) When they arrived at the place where Seetzen was hiding on the night of 28 September 1945, he claimed to be an employee of the Woolworth firm in Dresden, and that he had left his family behind in the Soviet zone. He was taken into custody though (and likely roughed up in the process), but he may have bitten into the cyanide capsule he was carrying even before he reached the police car that was to drive him to jail. Seetzen died while his captors were trying to locate a doctor. After an autopsy, his body was buried in a mass grave at Hamburg's Ohlsdorf cemetery in October 1945. It was formally identified by his widow only six years later on the basis of a photograph and the clothing he had been wearing. But there could be no doubt about who the man was that had committed suicide: Heinz Seetzen. (95)
Two of the most perceptive assessments of Seetzen's personality were provided in 1962 to German judicial investigators by the pair of women who were among the last to see him alive. His wife repeatedly insisted that he had never revealed anything at all to her about his activities in the Soviet Union, except that once he had let her know that he would have liked to be recalled from duty there, ostensibly because he did not get along with his superior, Ohlendorf. But she had observed a noticeable change in her husband's demeanour starting in 1941. "Prior to that," said Frau Seetzen, "he had been even-tempered and open-minded, afterwards he was always in a bad mood and dissatisfied with himself.... He was an excellent father and did whatever he could for his children.... After the war his morale seemed to be completely destroyed. Whenever he thought about the children, he cried."
Seetzen was more forthcoming with his lifelong friend, Gertrud Stark. He confessed to her that he bore a heavy burden of guilt, that "he was a criminal and had forfeited his right to live." She maintained that Seetzen "in his youth was without any question a good person; perhaps also deep down inside somewhat sort, one could possibly even say feminine. But he tried by every means available to conceal that side of his nature from the world. Instead, he behaved uncompromisingly and harshly. If you knew him, however, you could see the extent to which he lacked balance" in his character. Both women stressed Seetzen's ambition and his consequent obsession with carrying out any orders he was given: "That was the reason for the fairly rapid advance in his career after he had completed his studies." Seetzen did not reveal to Dr. Stark, either, any details about what he had done, but she guessed it was something terribly bad. "His face had taken on a very different expression; morally, moreover, he had been reduced to nothing." Like Frau Seetzen she was aware that he had poison with him and intended to swallow it if he was apprehended. Seetzen told his friend that he wanted no part of a show trial. "I did nothing to dissuade him from this view," she recalled, "because I had formed the opinion that in light of his behaviour in its entirety his guilt could not be atoned for in any other way." (96)
So it appears that while Seetzen's role in the killing of the RAF pilots may have furnished the occasion for his suicide, his decision to end his life was primarily the result of his recognition of his own responsibility for the Nazi genocide perpetrated in the east and other crimes. These would surely have led, as he feared, to his trial at Nurnberg; but whether he would finally have been executed alongside Otto Ohlendorf can only be surmised. What is certain is that the denazification committee for the Eutin area in December 1949 placed him in category III as merely a "lesser offender" in case he was still alive. (97)
What, then, does the available biographical data on Heinz Seetzen finally have to say about both his representativeness and his motivation as a Gestapo official who perpetrated horrific acts of genocide on behalf of Adolf Hitler? A recent study by Michael Mann which presents a collective profile of some 1,500 Nazi killers from a variety of groups ("euthanasia" doctors and concentration camp personnel as well as members of the police and the Einsatzgruppen), (98) supplemented by other more specifically Gestapo-oriented sources, provides a useful measuring standard for the conclusions that follow.
To begin with, Seetzen's year of birth places him squarely within the age cohort--between 1901-02 and the outbreak of the First World War--from which the bulk of later Nazi political police leaders came. (99) However, if the north German urban site where he was born was also quite typical for those men, the interior geographical location of Wilhelmshaven-Rustringen (that is, away from the amputated and contested frontier territories of the postwar Reich) contrasted with the peripherally situated birthplaces of a great many perpetrators. (100) As for the social origins of Heinz Seetzen, Jens Banach has found that among 1,885 Security Police and SD commanders he analysed, those with storekeepers for fathers comprised the second largest identifiable category of lower middle class families. This was Seetzen's economic strata and it supplied Heinrich Himmler with over 70 per cent of his enforcers. (101) The Lutheran church into which Seetzen was baptized was the religious affiliation of the majority of such policemen, too, though Mann has determined that among Nazi murderers in general, Catholics predominated thanks to the high proportion of them who were from Austria and other border areas of German-speaking central Europe. (102) Socially, therefore, Heinz Seetzen's background was broadly representative of killers who wore Gestapo uniform.
Ulrich Herbert identifies universities as places in Weimar Germany where radical anti-Semitism early gained widespread acceptance. The same prejudice characterized members of the Stahlhelm and related right-wing political organizations. Among future police officers like Seetzen, who was enrolled in both these institutions, the favourite subject of study was the law. Herbert convincingly argues that their academic training taught such individuals to despise vulgar pogroms and other undisciplined forms of behaviour hostile toward Jews, but to be all the more resolved to remove them from the country by "legal" and administrative means. (103) This was precisely the mentality Seetzen displayed during the 1930s. Moreover, it must have been difficult for his parents to finance his education as a lawyer following the runaway inflation at the outset and in the midst of the Depression at the end of the Republic. Seetzen nevertheless underwent none of the "life traumas" (for example, prolonged economic hardship) that Peter Loewenberg uncovered among the generation of German youth who grew into Nazis and sometimes committed crimes at the behest of their Fuhrer. (104) But Heinz Seetzen was at least threatened with unemployment just at the point when he was ready to enter the workforce for the first time; and it was just then that he also took the decision to join the NSDAP. It is not unlikely that these two developments in his biography were related. Seetzen's claim after 1933 that he had long before been an adherent of the movement, though for career considerations had refrained formally from entering it, thus suggests an element of enlightened opportunism in his attitude toward National Socialism.
Because Heinz Seetzen did not live to be interrogated or tried for his crimes in the Gestapo and as one of the heads of the Einsatzgruppen, it is not easy to determine what his motives may have been in any situation. Furthermore, aside from the testimony of two women who evidently loved him, the only recorded assessment of the condition of his mind was carried out by an SS doctor in 1937--and he round Seetzen's psyche "in order." (105) Notwithstanding this lacuna, it is possible to speculate with some degree of plausibility about the reasons for his behaviour. At the start of his police career in Eutin he was reluctant to recommend even the confiscation of the property belonging to the reactionary "Casino Club," nor did he personally mistreat the town's concentration camp inmates. But by the summer of 1941, he was willing to participate actively in cold-blooded murder on an enormous scale. Although almost no evidence of specific deeds attributable to Seetzen during his intervening service from Aachen to Hamburg has survived, it seems clear that those years must have accustomed him to a steadily greater acceptance of illegality and indeed violence, on his own part and that of his subordinates, in dealing with the actual or putative enemies of Nazism. In that regard he experienced a transformation common among Gestapo personnel, namely an habituation to ever more pronounced forms of brutality and inhumanity. (106) Random remarks in the "situation reports" he composed for his Berlin superiors leave no doubt about at least his increasing verbal hostility toward especially Communism and Judaism, whose more activist representatives, Seetzen maintained, had to be countered uncompromisingly by the regime. But his uninterrupted rise in both SS and governmental status, accompanied by the ever greater police responsibilities that he was assigned, suggest that Seetzen was also acquiring the practical toughmindedness essential for participation in the project of genocide. (107) Ideologically as well as psychologically, Heinz Seetzen in 1941 had become the sort of doctrinally "sound" figure whose "hard" mentality characterized the upper ranks of the murderous Einsatzgruppen. (108)
To judge by the well-documented mayhem he himself carried out, the year Seetzen spent in the Soviet Union during 1941-42 constituted the apogee of his Nazi career. By all accounts he did not need to be coerced when he massacred Jews and other victims. On the contrary, he did so out of conviction and, on occasion, he also displayed unmistakable sadism. Despite his willingness to accept stolen property, however, Seetzen did not set out to profit materially from his period in Russia. Still, his subsequent postings imply that he knew it would facilitate his further promotion (and hence rewards) within the police. So, like those of most of the men and women Michael Mann studied, Seetzen's motives appear to have been mixed; but among those who murdered in fulfillment of Hitler's wishes he undoubtedly belonged to the species of "real Nazis" rather than merely "ordinary Germans." (109) He positively wanted to kill on grounds that he believed were "objective," perhaps even "idealistic."
The brief remainder of Seetzen's life after he returned from the east was rather anticlimatic. His elevation to the position of an IdS established him at the second highest stage a policeman could strive for in the Third Reich. (110) This brought him into contact with some of the foremost personages in Nazi Germany, and his association with the Auschwitz death factory put him near the centre of its genocidal program. But otherwise it is almost impossible to pinpoint his concrete activities in Kassel and Breslau. The same applies to his final post commanding the political police along with an Einsatzgruppe in what was still German-occupied White Russia. An exception to Seetzen's generally shadowy role during 1943-44 was his supervisory function in relation to the execution of Allied escapees from Sagan prisoner-of-war camp. Nonetheless, by virtue of his office alone he can be said to have belonged to the small group which Jens Banach has designated as the "best" of the elite leadership cadre of jurists who ran the Gestapo and its affiliated organizations which together comprised Himmler's "state protective corps." (111)
Heinz Seetzen's biography thus was paradigmatic for an enforcer under the Hitler dictatorship. Seetzen advanced from a racially indoctrinated but socially unadvantaged law student with no immediate prospect of satisfactory employment after graduation to the affluent rank of a trusted chief of the political police in several major cities within a decade. This notable achievement in upward mobility, (112) which was accomplished thanks to his readiness to abandon the traditional legal principles of the Rechtsstaat (the state bound by law) that he had been educated to uphold, culminated in his perpetration of genocide in the course of the German invasion of the USSR. Although at different points in his career he took decisions that had obvious favourable repercussions upon his advance through the system established by Nazism, on the whole Seetzen acted increasingly as a true believer. Only when contemplating suicide in the aftermath of the total defeat of his country and Weltanschauung did he seem at last to have comprehended the enormity of his misdeeds. But the price for himself these acts exacted might still have been evaded (as it was for all too many Gestapo and Einsatzgruppen leaders) (113) had he not behaved precipitously in September 1945. In doing so, Heinz Seetzen left his family to bear the burden of his name.
Dalhousie University, Halifax
(1) For various forms of assistance I am indebted to Gerhard Paul (Flensburg), Dietfrid Krause-Vilmar and Jorg Kammler (Kassel), Ludwig Eiber and Jurgen Zarusky (Munich), Michael Wildt, Frank Bajohr, J. Sielemann, and K.-O. Schutt (Hamburg), Franz Weisz (Vienna), Sergei Slutsch (Moscow), Andrej Angrick and Peter Klein (Berlin), Willi Dressen and W. Wacker (Ludwigsburg), Stephen Tyas (St. Albans), Stephen Brooke (Toronto), three anonymous referees for this journal, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Bonn), the Interlibrary Loan/Document Delivery Service of Dalhousie University (Halifax), and the family of Heinz Seetzen.
(2) Omer Bartov, Murder in our Midst (New York/Oxford, 1996), p. 67.
(3) Lawrence D. Stokes, "Die Fruhkarriere von Heinz Seetzen, Inspekteur der Sicherheitspolizei und des Sicherheitsdienstes in Wroclaw (1943-1944)," Studia nad Faszyzmem i Zbrodniami Hitlerowskimi, IX (1985), 399-420.
(4) (Neumunster, 1984), pp. 502-3,504-6,507-8,557-58,565-66, 568. In this volume I concealed the identities of Seetzen and some other persons to preserve their privacy or that of their families.
(5) Gerhard Paul, Staatlicher Terror und gesellschaftlicher Verrohung. Die Gestapo in Schleswig-Holstein (Hamburg, 1996); also Gerhard Paul and Klaus-Michael Mallmann (eds.), Die Gestapo. Mythos und Realitat (Darmstadt, 1995).
(6) Heinz Boberach and others (eds.), Inventar archivalischer Quellen des NS-Staates (Munich/London, 1995), part 2, pp. 113-14.
(7) See Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Gerhard Paul, "Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent? Gestapo, Society and Resistance," in D. Crew (ed.), Nazism and German Society 1933-1945 (London/New York, 1994), pp. 166-96; Mallmann and Paul, Herrschaft und Alltag. Ein Industrierevier im Dritten Reich (Bonn, 1991), II, 164-75,318-26,421-25; and Robert Gellately, The Gestapo and German Society: Enforcing Racial Policy 1933-1945 (Oxford, 1990), pp. 4-13 and chapter 2.
(8) Eric A. Johnson, Nazi Terror: The Gestapo, Jews, and Ordinary Germans (New York, 1999), pp. 19, 26,48-49.
(9) Peter Black, Ernst Kaltenbrunner: Ideological Soldier of the Third Reich (Princeton, 1984); and Andreas Seeger, "Gestapo-Muller". Die Karriere eines Schreibtischtaters (Berlin, 1996).
(10) Robert Gellately, "`In den Klauen der Gestapo'. Die Bedeutung von Denunziationen fur das nationalsozialistische Terrorsystem," in A. Faust (ed.), Verfolgung und Widerstand im Rheinland und in Westfalen 1933-1945 (Cologne, 1992), p.43; also Michael Wildt, "Der Hamburger Gestapochef Bruno Streckenbach. Eine nationalsozialistische Karriere," in F. Bajohr and J. Szodrzynski (eds.), Hamburg in der NS-Zeit. Ergebnisse neuerer Forschungen (Hamburg, 1995), pp. 93-123.
(11) Mallmann and Paul, Herrschaft und Alltag, II, 203.
(12) As a Regierungsrat (government counsellor) and the chief of a Gestapo regional office, Seetzen's rank and function by the late 1930s, "service in Himmler's new police force was not badly paid." Gerhard Paul, "Ganz normale Akademiker. Eine Fallstudie zur regionalen staatspolizeilichen Funktionseliten," in Paul and Mallmann (eds.), Die Gestapo, p. 244.
(13) See Hans-Joachim Heuer, Geheime Staatspolizei. Uber das Toten und die Tendenzen der Entzivilisierung (Berlin/New York, 1995); Heuer, "Brutalisierung und Entzivilisierung. Uber das staatspolizeiliche Toten," in Paul and Mallmann (eds.), Die Gestapo, pp. 508-26; and Mallmann and Paul, Herrschaft und Alltag, II, 107-10,208-10.
(14) Christopher Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (New York, 1992); and Daniel J. Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (New York, 1996); also Browning, "Die Debatte uber die Tater des Holocaust," in U. Herbert (ed.), Nationalsozialistische Vernichtungspolitik 1939-1945. Neue Forschungen und Kontroversen (Frankfurt/Main, 1998), pp. 148-69.
(15) Ulrich Herbert, Best. Biographische Studien uber Radikalismus, Weltanschauung und Vernunft 1903-1989 (Bonn, 1996); also Claudia Steur, Theodor Dannecker. Ein Funktionar der Endlosung (Essen, 1997).
(16) See Herbert F. Ziegler, Nazi Germany's New Aristocracy: The SS Leadership 1925-1939 (Princeton, 1989), pp. 138-39; and Ziegler, "Fight against the Empty Cradle: Nazi Pronatal Policies and the SS-Fuhrerkorps," Historical Social Research, 38 (1986), 30: "Himmler and his representatives took the matter of procreation seriously when deciding on recommendations for promotion."
(17) Unless otherwise specified all personal data on Seetzen are cited from his SS officer and Race and Settlement Main Office (RuSHA) files in the former Berlin Document Center (BDC) now housed at the German Federal Archives branch, Berlin-Lichterfelde (BAL).
(18) Ziegler, New Aristocracy, pp. 86-88. "Gottglaubig" signified, in fact, non-belief in the doctrines of Christianity.
(19) Letter from Seetzen's daughter, 4 Apr. 2000 (his parents ran a delicatessen in Wilhelmshaven). However, the family counted at least one distinguished ancestor--the nineteenth-century middle eastern scholar and traveller, Ulrich Jaspers Seetzen.
(20) See George C. Browder, Hitler's Enforcers: The Gestapo and the SS Security Service in the Nazi Revolution (Oxford, 1996), chapter 7 and pp. 259-81; and Jens Banach, Heydrichs Elite. Das Fuhrerkorps der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD 1936-1945 (Paderborn, 1998), chapters 2 and 3.
(21) ZSL, 22 Js 202/61, Ermittlungsverfahren gegen Heinz Seetzen und Anderen wegen Mordes (ES), VIII, 1716-18, 1720-21; and Seetzen Family Papers (SFP), Staatl. Kaiser Wilhelms-Gymnasium mit Realgymnasium in Wilhelmshaven: Zeugnis der Reife ... Heinz Seetzen, 13 Mar. 1925.
(22) On the Jungstahlhelm see Volker R. Berghahn, Der Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten 1918-1935 (Dusseldort, 1966), p. 64; and on Marburg university and its "Turnerschaft (that is: Burschenschaft) Philippina" see Rudy Koshar, Social Life, Local Politics. and Nazism: Marburg, 1880-1935 (Chapel Hill, 1986), pp. 116, 121 (emphasis in the original).
(23) Ernst-August Roloff, Burgertum und Nationalsozialismus 1930-1933. Braunschweigs Weg ins Dritte Reich (Hanover, 1961), pp. 28-29,35-38, 53-61. Franzen clashed with the Party leader over the issue of the alleged interference by the Reich government in the rights of the German states.
(24) ZSL/ES, VIII, 1721; and letter from Seetzen's sister-in-law, 27 Nov. 1999. See also Gerhard Paul, Landunter. Schleswig-Holstein und das Hakenkreuz (Munster, 2001), p. 192; Shlomo Aronson, Reinhard Heydrich und die Fruhgeschichte yon Gestapo und SD (Stuttgart, 1971), pp. 34-38 and chapter 2; and George C. Browder, Foundations of the Nazi Police State: The Formation of Sipo and SD (Lexington, 1990), chapter 2.
(25) SFP, Zeugnis fur Gerichtsassessor Heinz Seetzen vom Amtsgerichtsrat Dr. Ewoldt, Kiel, ausgestellt, 29 Mar. 1933.
(26) Landesarchiv Schleswig-Holstein, records of the government in Eutin (LAS/260), file 18964/5, correspondence between Dr. Sievers (Gaufachberater fur Kommunalpolitik fur Schleswig-Holstein), Schleswig, Rechtsanwalt Claussen, Kiel, Regierungsprasident Bohmcker, and Assessor Seetzen, 14, 15, and 28 June, 9 and 12 Sept. 1933. See also Lawrence D. Stokes, "Johann Heinrich Bohmcker," in Biographisches Lexikon fur Schleswig-Holstein und Lubeck (Neumunster, 1991), IX, 61-65.
(27) Lawrence D. Stokes, "Das Eutiner Schutzhaftlager 1933/34. Zur Geschichte eines `wilden' Konzentrationslagers," Vierteljahrshefte fur Zeitgeschichte, 27 (1979),570-625; and Stokes, Kleinstadt und Nationalsozialismus, chapter 4.
(28) LAS/260, file 17462, Bohmcker's directive of 5 Sept. 1934; and Stokes, Kleinstadt und Nationalsozialismus, pp. 557-58, 577.
(29) Stokes; Kleinstadt und Nationalsozialismus, pp. 512-13,538,565,566.
(30) Ibid., pp. 502-3,563-64, 565-66,772-73,876-77,897-98; and Paul, Staatlicher Terror, pp. 203, 320.
(31) Anzeiger fur das Furstentum Lubeck, Eutin, 9 Mar. 1934; Stokes, Kleinstadt und Nationalsozialismus, pp. 504, 823; and Paul, Staatlicher Terror, pp. 316-17.
(32) Paul, Staatlicher Terror, p. 34; and Gellately, Gestapo and German Society, p. 46.
(33) Stadtarchiv Eutin, file 4722, statements by three former Eutin policemen, 16 May 1950; LAS/260, file 17628; Stokes, Kleinstadt und Nationalsozialismus, p. 478; and Paul, Staatlicher Terror, p.99.
(34) LAS/260, file 17495, letters of 1 Mar. and 11 June 1934 and 13 Mar. 1935 by Bohmcker on Seetzen's behalf; and Stokes, Kleinstadt und Nationalsozialismus, p. 568.
(35) Niedersachsisches Staatsarchiv Oldenburg, record group 136, file 448, letters from the Reich and Prussian minister of the interior and from the deputy chief and inspector of the Prussian Gestapo to the government in Oldenburg, 18 and 21 Dec. 1934; and Stokes, Kleinstadt und Nationalsozialismus, pp. 568, 571-72.
(36) Stokes, Kleinstadt und Nationalsozialismus, p. 503; and Buhrke Family Papers, letters from Seetzen to Kathe and Adolf Buhrke, Altona, 21 Dec. 1933 and 23 July 1934; also interview with the former Social Democratic Eutin concentration camp prisoner A. Buhrke, 14 Jan. 1975.
(37) Letters from Seetzen's sister-in-law and daughter, 27 Nov. 1999 and 8 Feb. 2000; and Stokes, Kleinstadt und Nationalsozialismus, p. 841. On SS marriages see Gudrun Schwarz, Eine Frau an seiner Seite. Ehefrauen in der "SS-Sippengemeinschaft" (Hamburg, 1997).
(38) Richard Bessel, "Die `Modernisierung' der Polizei im Nationalsozialismus," in F. Bajohr (ed.), Norddeutschland im Nationalsozialismus (Hamburg, 1993), p. 378; Christoph Graf, "The Genesis of the Gestapo," Journal of Contemporary History, 22 (1987), 425; and Graf, Politische Polizeizwischen Demokratie und Diktatur (Berlin, 1983), p. 180.
(39) Geheimes Staatsarchiv (GSA), Berlin, collection 90, division P, no. 3, letter from the deputy chief and inspector of the Gestapo, Berlin, to Seetzen, Aachen, 4 Sept. 1935; "Gauck-Behorde," records of the ministry of state security HA IX/II, RHE 127/70-129/70, pp. 000030-31; and Banach, Heydrichs Elite, p. 105.
(40) Seetzen's characterization of the SA's demise is in his "Situation report for the month of May 1935" from the Aachen Gestapo office to headquarters in Berlin, 7 June 1935, printed in Bernhard Vollmer, Volksopposition im Polizeistaat. Gestapo- und Regierungsberichte 1934 bis 1936 (Stuttgart, 1957), p. 226.
(41) Graf, Politische Polizei, pp. 173-79; Gunnar C. Boehnert, "An Analysis of the Age and Education of the SS Fuhrerkorps 1925-1939," Historical Social Research, 12 (1979), 8-15; and Schwarz, Frau an seiner Seite, p. 22.
(42) Letter from the "Deutsche Dienststelle fur die Benachrichtigung der nachsten Angehorigen von Gefallenen der ehemaligen deutschen Wehrmacht" (DD), Berlin, 4 Feb. 2000; and Robert L. Koehl, The Black Corps: The Structure and Power Struggles of the Nazi SS (Madison, 1983), p. 159.
(43) Mallmann and Paul, Herrschaft und Alltag, II, 203; and Johnson, Nazi Terror, p. 52.
(44) Letters from the Nordrhein-Westfalisches Hauptstaatsarchiv (NWH), Dusseldorf, and the Landeshauptarchiv, Koblenz, 3 Mar. and 18 Apr. 1975. Seetzen's name does not appear in the standard history of the city during the Third Reich by Elmar Gasten, Aachen in der Zeit der nationalsozialistischen Herrschaft 1933-1944 (Frankfurt/Main, 1993).
(45) See Bernd Hey, "Die westfalischen Staatspolizeistellen und ihre Lageberichte 1933-1936," in Faust (ed.), Verfolgung und Widerstand, pp. 32-33.
(46) Heinz Schumann and Gerhard Nitzsche, "Gestapoberichte uber den antifaschistischen Kampf der KPD im fruheren Regierungsbezirk Aachen 1934-1936. Zu einer Veroffentlichung von Bernhard Vollmer," Zeitschrift fur Geschichtswissenschaft, VII (1959), 129, reject Vollmer's explanation of Seetzen's "outsider status" (Bodenfremdheit) for some of the views he held as being too uncritical; see also Vollmer, Volksopposition im Polizeistaat, p. 14.
(47) Vollmer, Volksopposition im Polizeistaat, pp. 197, 212-13, 216-24,222-23,240, 249-51,257, 261,288-89,309,314,318,334,349,355,359,363-64,367,372-73,376-77 ("Situation reports" for Apr.-July and Sept.-Dec. 1935 and Jan.-Mar. 1936).
(48) Ibid., pp. 199, 259, 285-86, 290-91,293, 296, 319, 330, 348, 361 and NWH, collection "Regierung Aachen Prasidialburo" (RAP), files 1028-1038 ("Situation reports" for Apr.-July, Sept., and Nov.-Dec. 1935 and Jan.-Feb. 1936).
(49) Vollmer, Volksopposition im Polizeistaat, pp. 342-47 and NWH, RAP/1028-1038 ("Situation reports" for Apr.-July and Sept.- Dec. 1935 and Jan.-Mar. 1936).
(50) Volker Eichler, "Die Frankfurter Gestapo-Kartei. Entstehung, Struktur, Uberlieferungsgeschichte und Quellenwert," in Paul and Mallmann (eds.), Die Gestapo, p. 187.
(51) BDC, Seetzen's SS officer file, letter from the Fuhrer des SD-Oberabschnitt West, Dusseldorf, to SS-Reichsfuhrer Himmler, 7 July 1936; and GSA, 90/P/3.
(52) BAL, record group R58, no. 621, p. 34, decree issued by the inspector of the security police, Staatspolizeileitstelle Vienna, and signed by Seetzen, 22 Mar. 1938; Franz Weisz, "Die Geheime Staatspolizei, Staatspolizeileitstelle Wien 1938-1945. Organisation, Arbeitsweise, personale Angelegenheiten" (diss. Univ. Vienna, 1991), pp. 73-80, 121-51,530-33; Weisz, "Personell vor allem ein `standesstaatlicher' Polizeikurper. Die Gestapo in Osterreich," in Paul and Mallmann (eds.), Die Gestapo, p. 440; Black, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, pp. 108-9; Hans Buchheim, "Die Grenzpolizei der Geheimen Staatspolizei," in Gutachten des Instituts fur Zeitgeschichte (Stuttgart, 1966), II, 157-67; and letters from Franz Weisz, Schwechat-Mannsworth, and Elmar Gasten, Rommerskirchen, 28 Oct. and 2 Nov. 1999.
(53) Weisz, "Die Geheime Staatspolizei," p. 128; RSMA, collection 500, file 237, p. 436, telegram from the Aachen Gestapo (Seetzen) to the Gestapo office, Berlin, 23 Nov. 1938; letter from Winfried Meyer of the "Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstatten (Brandenburg, Ravensbruck, Sachsenhausen)," Oranienberg, 8 May 2000; Anselm Faust (ed.), Die "Kristallnacht" im Rheinland. Dokumente zum Judenpogrom im November 1938 (Dusseldorf, 1987); and Herbert Lepper, Von der Emanzipation zum Holocaust. Die israelitische Synagogengemeinde zu Aachen 1801-1942 (Aachen, 1994), 2 vols.
(54) RSMA, 503/659, pp. 1-4,503/391, pp. 50-60,501/65, pp. 181-83, and 503/25, pp. 1-10, 22-28, "Staatspolizeileitstelle Stettin, Befehle und Nachrichten," 13 Mar. and 9 Dec. 1939, "Lageberichterstattung Jan., Febr., Marz 1939," from Stapoleitstelle Stettin to the Gestapo office, Berlin, 3 Apr. 1939, and various orders, regulations, etc. for the internal use of the Stettin Gestapo signed by Seetzen, Mar.-Dec. 1939; and Andrzej Zientarski, Represje Gestapo wobec polskich robotnikow przymusowych na Pomorzu Zachodnim 1939-1945 (Koszalin,1979), pp. 61 and 246, who mistakenly dates Seetzen's appointment from 1938.
(55) Information from Frank Bajohr and Michael Wildt, Hamburg, 16 Sept. 1999 and letters from K-O. Schutt (Forschungsstelle fur Zeitgeschichte in Hamburg) and J. Sielemann (Staatsarchiv Hamburg), Sept. and 8 Oct. 1999; and Helmut Fangmann, Udo Reifner, and Norbert Steinborn, "Parteisoldaten ". Die Hamburger Polizei im "3. Reich" (Hamburg, 1987), p. 11: "... the records of the Secret State Police were for the most part destroyed and otherwise survive only in scattered remnants."
(56) See the essays on these groups by Michael Zimmermann and Friederike Littmann in Bajohr and Szodrzynski (eds.), Hamburg in der NS-Zeit, pp. 156-57,184; and by Rudko Kawczynski, HansGeorg Stumke, Rainer Pohl, and Friederike Littmann in Angelika Ebbinghaus, Heidrun Kaupen-Haas, and Karl Heinz Roth (eds.), Heilen und Vernichten im Mustergau Hamburg. Bevolkerungs- und Gesundheitspolitik im Dritten Reich (Hamburg, 1984), pp. 49-50, 80-82,98-99,164-69; also Michael Zimmermann, Rassenutopie und Genozid. Die nationalsozialistische "Losung der Zigeunerfrage" (Hamburg, 1996), pp. 106ff., 172-73,179.
(57) Seetzen's 1941 letter to the supreme state prosecutor at the People's Court in the case of Hans Prawitt ("In order to re-educate him I think he should serve his full sentence") is in Ursel Hochmuth and Gertrud Meyer, Streiflichter aus dem Hamburger Widerstand 1933-1945 (Frankfurt/Mam, 1969), pp. 148-49; when his six-year prison term ended in 1942 Prawitt was transferred to a concentration camp where he died. Gertrud Meyer, Nacht uber Hamburg. Berichte und Dokumente (Frankfurt/Main, 1971), pp. 125-26 states (but without supporting evidence) that Seetzen personally was responsible for breaking the anti-Nazi resistance of the city's working class.
(58) The document is printed in Robert M.W. Kempner, SS im Kreuzverhor (Munich, 1964), pp. 159-60; see also Meyer, Nacht uber Hamburg, p. 68; Hochmuth and Meyer, Streiflichter aus dem Hamburger Widerstand, p. 217; and Karl Heinz Roth, "Der Hamburger Weg zur `Endlosung der Judenfrage'. Aussonderung, Enteignung und Deportation der Hamburger Juden," in Ebbinghaus, Kaupen-Haas, and Roth (eds.), Heilen und Vernichten, pp. 55-56, 67-68, 71-72.
(59) Frank Bajohr, "Hamburgs `Fuhrer'. Zur Person und Tatigkeit des Hamburger NSDAP-Gauleiters Karl Kaufmann (1900-1969)," in Bajohr and Szodrzynski (eds.), Hamburg in der NS-Zeit, p. 81; see also the biographical data on Seetzen in the Forschungsstelle fur Zeitgeschichte in Hamburg.
(60) BDC, letter from Seetzen, Bad Duben a.d. Mulde, to the HSSPF "North Sea" (SS-Gruppenfuhrer Rudolf Querner?), Hamburg, 25 June 1941, and notification of the birth of his daughter from Seetzen to the chief of the SS personnel office, Berlin, 6 Mar. 1943; and ZSL/ES, XV, 3347 and XXV, 5354. See also Ruth B. Birn, Die hoheren SS- und Polizeifuhrer. Himmlers Vertreter im Reich und in den besetzten Gebieten (Dusseldorf, 1986), pp. 66-67,342-43; and on Himmler's policy to grant leaves to SS men serving in the east in order to encourage procreation Schwarz, Eine Frau an seiner Seite, pp. 187-88.
(61) RSMA, 720/184, p. 270, letter from Reichsfuhrer-SS Himmler to the personnel office of the Reich interior ministry, Berlin, on the appointment of Seetzen (director of the Stapoleitstelle Hamburg) to be inspector of the Security Police and the Security Service in Kassel, 18 Aug. 1942; see also Kempner, SS im Kreuzverhor, p. 159; Fangmann, Reifner,and Steinborn, "Parteisoldaten ", p. 125; and Meyer, Nacht uber Hamburg, p. 121.
(62) A copy of the decree with Hitler's signature is in the Seetzen Family Papers; see also BDC.
(63) Ziegler, "Fight against the Empty Cradle," pp. 27-30; and Schwarz, Eine Frau an seiner Seite, pp. 60, 99-100. Evidently because most SS officers did not satisfy Himmler's wish that they father many--and especially male--children (nor did he himself, for that matter), Seetzen's career was not affected by this deficit. See Josef Ackermann, Heinrich Himmler als Ideologe (Gottingen, 1970), p. 128.
(64) Letter from Seetzen's sister-in-law, 27 Oct. 1999; and ZSL/ES, VIII, 1721. See also Heuer, Geheime Staatspolizei, pp. 162-66; Heuer, "Brutalisierung und Entzivilisierung," p. 522; and Schwarz, Eine Frau an seiner Seite, pp. 62-68, 80-81, 96-97, 100-106, 187-89,195-99.
(65) Paul, "Ganz normale Akademiker," p. 244; and Steur, Theodor Dannecker, pp. 98-99.
(66) SFP, report by Hamburg bailiff Gerlach, 29/30 Mar. 1943; and Paul, "Ganz normale Akademiker," p. 243.
(67) ZSL/ES, VII, 1496 and 1500, VIII, 1725-26, and XXVI, 5475; but see also XXV, 5350: Seetzen "came from the Stettin Gestapo, as I did. I can't complain about him. He never treated me harshly. I never heard that a colleague refused to obey an order from him or of one who was punished for doing so."
(68) Wildt, "Bruno Streckenbach," p. 109; Heuer, Geheime Staatspolizei, pp. 125-34; and Mallmann and Paul, Herrschaft und Alltag, II, 264-68. On individual Gestapo offices see ibid., II, 175-268 (Saarbrucken); Johnson, Nazi Terror (Krefeld and Cologne); and Gellately, Gestapo and German Society (Wurzburg).
(69) Limitations of space preclude more than a summary of this most extensively-documented phase of Seetzen's career. But see Stokes, "Fruhkarriere von Heinz Seetzen," pp. 407-9, 412-20; Andrej Angrick, "Die Einsatzgruppe D," in P. Klein (ed.), Die Einsatzgrupp en in der besetzten Sowjetunion 1941/42. Die Tatigkeits- und Lageberichte des Chefs der Sicherheitspolizei und des SE) (Berlin, 1997), pp. 88-110; Angrick, "Im Windschatten der 11. Armee. Die Einsatzgruppe D," in G. Paul and K.-M Mallmann (eds.), Die Gestapo im Zweiten Weltkrieg. `Heimatfront' und besetztes Europa (Darmstadt, 2000), pp. 481-502; and Ralf Ogorreck, Die Einsatzgruppen und die "Genesis der Endlosung" (Berlin, 1996), pp. 86-89, 151-54, 204-5.
(70) BDC, Seetzen's letter of 25 June 1941 from the assembly area of SK 10a at Bad Duben to his Hamburg police superior in which he expresses his pleasure and eagerness to participate in the eastern campaign.
(71) ZSL/ES, IV, 911, VI, 1214, 1247, 1327, 1331, 1351-52, VII, 1391, 1426-27,1500,1538,1571, VIII, 1668, IX, 1834, 1992-93, 1996, X, 2016, XIII, 2833, XV, 3330, XVI, 3505; but see also Angrick, "Im Windschatten," pp. 485-86.
(72) ZSL/ES, III, 789, V, 1029, 1141-43, VI, 1211-12, 1301, 1312, 1358, VII, 1502, XII, 2688, 2781, XIII, 2801, 2816, 2831, 2975-76, 2978-79, XVI, 3684, XXIV, 5082. On this controversial subject see Peter Longerich, Politik der Vernichtung. Eine Gesamtdarstellung der nationalsozialistischen Judenverfolgung (Munich, 1998), pp. 310-20; and Peter Witte and others (eds.), Der Dienstkalender Heinrich Himmlers 1941/42 (Hamburg, 1999), pp. 70-71.
(73) "Operational Situation Report [Ereignismeldung] from the USSR No. 37" by the chief of the Security Police and the SD, 29 July 1941, in Yitzhak Arad, Shmuel Krakowski, and Shmuel Spector (eds.), The Einsatzgruppen Reports. Selections from the Dispatches of the Nazi Death Squads' Campaign Against the Jews, July 1941-January 1943 (New York, 1989), p. 57.
(74) ZSL/ES, VI, 1216-18, XII, 2783, XIII, 2806-7.
(75) Institut fur Zeitgeschichte (IfZ), Munich, Nurnberg document NO-3663, "Report on the Organization and Activity of Einsatzgruppe `D'" by Robert Barth, 8 Oct. 1943; and United States National Archives, Washington, Nurnberg document NO-4992, "Sworn Declaration" by Barth, 12 Sept. 1947.
(76) ZSL/ES, XXII, 4674 (tabulation by the Munich state attorney's office, 27 Oct. 1969); but see also Angrick, "Im Windschatten," p. 496, who emphasizes that these figures are only approximate and likely underestimate the actual number of victims.
(77) ZSL/ES, IV, 851, VI, 1216, VII, 1430, X, 2102, XV, 3339-43.
(78) Ibid., XXVI, 5503-4.
(79) "Report from the Occupied Eastern Territories No. 16" by the chief of the Security Police and the SD, 14 Aug. 1942, in Arad, Krakowski,and Spector (eds.), Einzatzgruppen Reports, p. 358.
(80) ZSL/ES, XI, 2441-42, XXII, 4672-74.
(81) DD, letter of 4 Feb. 2000; and BDC.
(82) This incident is documented in Seetzen's SS officer file in the BDC; see also Paul, "Ganz normale Akademiker," p. 252; and James Weingartner, "Law and Justice in the Nazi SS: The Case of Konrad Morgen," Central European History, 16 (1983), p. 282.
(83) The Security Police comprised the Gestapo and the Criminal Police, and as the "Inspekteur der Sicherheitspolizei und des Sicherheitsdienstes" Seetzen was the regional delegate of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt; on this central office of the entire German police system during the war see Witte and others (eds.), Dienstkalender Himmlers, pp. 43-46.
(84) Banach, Heydrichs Elite, pp. 184, 187-89, 193, 197; and Taschenbuch fur Verwaltungsbeamte 1943 (Berlin, 1943), LX, 85-86, 96-97. See also Jorg Kammler, Dietfrid Krause-Vilmar, and others, Volksgemeinschaft und Volksfeinde. Kassel 1933-1945 (Fuldabruck, 1984), I, 274-78; and Gabriele Lotfi, KZ der Gestapo. Arbeitserziehungslager im Dritten Reich (Stuttgart/Munich, 2000).
(85) SFP, entries in Seetzen's Taschenkalender for Jan.-May 1943; see also Birn, Die hoheren SS- und Polizeifuhrer, pp. 66, 347; and Black, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, p. 128.
(86) SFP, entries in pocket calendar for 26 May, 28 Aug., 23 Sept., 19 and 20 Nov., and 14 Dec. 1943; see also Elisabeth Kohlhaas, "Die Mitarbeiter der regionalen Staatspolizeistellen. Quantitative und qualitative Befunde zur Personalausstattung der Gestapo," in Paul and Mallmann (eds.), Die Gestapo, p. 226; Banach, Heydrichs Elite, pp. 224-25; and Leni Yahil, The Holocaust (Oxford, 1990), p.406.
(87) SFP, entries in pocket calendar for 4,9, and 16 June, 20 July, 29 Sept., and 22 Oct. 1943; Karol Jonca, "Die Deportation und Vernichtung der schlesischen Juden," in H. Grabitz, K. Bastlein, and J. Tuchel (eds.), Die Normalitat des Verbrechens. Bilanz und Perspektiven der Forschung zu den nationalsozialistischen Gewaltverbrechen (Berlin, 1994), pp. 150-70; Danuta Czech (ed.), Auschwitz Chronicle 1939-1945 (New York, 1990), pp. 427,512; Martin Broszat (ed.), Kommandant in Auschwitz. Autobiographische Aufzeichnungen des Rudolf Hoss (Stuttgart, 1963), p. 91; Birn, Die hoheren SS- und Polizeifuhrer, pp. 65, 346; Sybille Steinbacher, "Musterstadt" Auschwitz. Germanisierungpolitik und Judenmord in Ostoberschlesien (Munich, 2000), pp. 280-81; and Alfred Konieczny, "Uwagi o sadzie doraznym katowickiego Gestapo pod kierownictwem SS-Obersturmbannfuhrers Johannesa Thummlera (pazdziernik 1943 r.--styczen 1945 r.)," Biuletyn Glownej Komisji Badania Zbrodni Hitlerowskich w Polsce, 24 (1972), 105-68.
(88) SFP, entry in pocket calendar for 16 Dec. 1943; and Czech (ed.), Auschwitz Chronicle, pp. 514, 602, 613, 614, 617. For similarities in the biographies of Seetzen and Hassebroek see Steinbacher, "Musterstadt" Auschwitz, pp. 304-305; Karin Orth, "`Ich habe mich nie getarnt.' Bruche und Kontinuitaten in der Lebensgeschichte des KZ-Kommandanten Johannes Hassebroek," Sozialwissenschaftliche Informationen, 24 (1995), 145-50; and Isabell Sprenger, Gross-Rosen. Ein Konzentrationslager in Schlesien (Cologne, 1996), pp. 94-96, 180-81, 303.
(89) M.R.D. Foot and J.M. Langley, MI 9: The British Secret Service that Fostered Escape and Evasion 1939-1945 and Ifs American Counterpart (London, 1979), pp. 255-59, 279; Paul Brickhill, The Great Escape (New York, 1978), pp. 179, 186-88, 222-36;Paul, Landunter, pp. 295-97; and Seeger, "Gestapo-Muller", pp. 155-58.
(90) SFP, entries in pocket calendar for 23 and 29 July, 5 and 6 Aug., 5 and 14 Sept. 1943. Immediately after the war Seetzen's wife destroyed what was likely a similar calendar for 1944 because "it seemed too dangerous to me." ZSL/ES, VIII, 1721.
(91) IfZ, Nurnberg document NO-2899; and BDC. The designation "commander" was used instead of "inspector" for the same position outside the Reich. Banach, Heydrichs Elite, p. 189; and Klaus-Michael Mallmann, "Menschenjagd und Massenmord. Das neue Instrument der Einsatzgruppen und -kommandos 1938-1945," in Paul and Mallmann (eds.), Gestapo im Zweiten Weltkrieg, pp. 307-8.
(92) IfZ, Nurnberg document MA-795, letter from Seetzen to the minister for the occupied eastern territories, Alfred Rosenberg, 13 May 1944; and Public Record Office (PRO), London, WO 309/48, postwar interrogation of Max Wielen. See also Christian Gerlach, "Die Einsatzgruppe B 1941/42," in Klein (ed.), Die Einsatzgruppen, pp. 61-63; and A.L. Ruter-Ehlermann, C.F. Ruter, and others (eds.), Justiz und NS-Verbrechen. Sammlung deutscher Strafurteile wegen nationalsozialistischer Totungsverbrechen 1945-1966 (Amsterdam, 1978), XIX, 186-87,222-23.
(93) ZSL/ES, VIII, 1733.
(94) PRO, WO 208/3441, M.I.9/BM/MS/127, p. 6, "List A: German Personalities Who may have Information and Assistance in the Post-war Investigation of the Shooting" of officers from Stalag Luft III, 26 Aug. 1944; and PRO, WO 311/171, interrogation of SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer Ernst Kah in Civilian Internment Camp No. 1 at Neumunster and report by Squadron Leader W.P. Thomas to the S.I.B., London, 17 and 30 Oct. 1945.
(95) ZSL/ES, III, 669, 672 and VIII, 1699-1722, autopsy carried out on "Michael Gollwitzer" (that is, Heinz Seetzen)by the Institut fur gerichtliche Medizin und Kriminalistik der Hansischen Universitat Hamburg, 1 Oct. 1945, and related documents, 1945-1962. Seetzen's suicide took place on 28 September, hot 28 May 1945 as Gerhard Paul has twice written. Paul, Staatlicher Terror, p. 231, and "Zwischen Selbstmord, Illegalitat und neuer Karriere. Ehemalige Gestapo-Bedienstete in Nachkriegsdeutschland," in Paul and Mallmann (eds.), Die Gestapo, p. 534.
(96) ZSL/ES, VIII, 1716-18, 1720-21.
(97) SFP, decision of the "Entnazifizierungs-Hauptausschuss fur den Bezirk Lubeck" concerning Heinz Seetzen, 13 Dec. 1949. The only penalty it imposed was the loss of the pension rights Seetzen had accumulated.
(98) Michael Mann, "Were the Perpetrators of Genocide `Ordinary Men' or `Real Nazis'? Results from Fifteen Hundred Biographies," Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 14 (2000),331-66.
(99) Ibid., 355; Herbert, Best, p. 194; and Ulrich Herbert, "Vernichtungspolitik. Neue Antworten und Fragen zur Geschichte des `Holocaust'," in Herbert (ed.), Nationalsozialistische Vernichtungspolitik, p. 43.
(100) Banach, Heydrichs Elite, pp. 50-52; and Mann, "Perpetrators of Genocide," 343-46. There is no evidence that the decimated condition of the German navy following the signing of the Versailles treaty had the same effect of stimulating national resentment in Seetzen as the simultaneous territorial losses to neighbouring states had upon other future Nazi killers from the German borderlands.
(101) Banach, Heydrichs Elite, p. 49.
(102) Ibid., p. 142; and Mann, "Perpetrators of Genocide," 347-49. Perhaps more relevant than religion of birth is that Mann qualifies this finding with the remark that "actually it is probably lapsed Catholics" who became killers. As did Seetzen, over 80 per cent of the Sipo and SD leadership ended up calling themselves "gottglaubig"--that is, they quit the church into which they had been baptized. Banach, Heydrichs Elite, p. 143.
(103) Herbert, "Vernichtungspolitik," pp. 35,41-43; and Herbert, Best, p. 194.
(104) Peter Loewenberg, "The Psychohistorical Origins of the Nazi Youth Cohort," American Historical Review, LXXVI (1971), 1457-1502; but see also Mann, "Perpetrators of Genocide," 341-42, who did not find such personal crises--including actual joblessness--very prevalent among his sample of Nazi killers.
(105) BDC, RuSHA file of Heinz Seetzen, medical report by SS doctor F. Zeller, Aachen, 19 Sept. 1937.
(106) Herbert, "Vernichtungspolitik," pp. 44-45.
(107) Mann, "Perpetrators of Genocide," 351.
(108) Ibid., 337.
(109) Ibid., 332-33
(110) Jens Banach, "Heydrichs Vertreter im Feld. Die Inspekteure, Kommandeure und Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD," in Paul and Mallmann (eds.), Gestapo im Zweiten Weltkrieg, pp.82-87.
(111) Ibid., pp. 87-99.
(112) Mann, "Perpetrators of Genocide," 342.
(113) For example, see Herbert, Best, part 3.
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|Author:||Stokes, Lawrence D.|
|Publication:||Canadian Journal of History|
|Date:||Apr 1, 2002|
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