8. SS-Kavallerie-Division "Florian Geyer"
07/1941: SS-Kavallerie Brigade/SS-Reiter Brigade
03/1944: 8.SS-Kavallerie-Division "Florian Geyer"
|Fought in||see below|
Annihilated in Budapest in February 1945.
Brigadeführer Hermann Fegelein (30 October 1906 - 29 April 1945 ?) was a senior officer of the Waffen-SS in Germany, a member of Adolf Hitler's entourage, and brother-in law to Eva Braun through his marriage to her sister, Gretl. However, he supposedly died before Braun married Hitler, and details of his death are controversial.
As a teenager Fegelein worked as a stable boy for Christian Weber, who in the 1930's was one of the original members of the NSDAP Party. Fegelein was barely literate but learned to ride horses expertly and made himself further useful by procuring dates for Weber.In 1925, Fegelein joined the Reiterregiment 17, leaving it in 1928 to join the Bavarian State Police in Munich. Whilst in Munich, he came into early contact with National Socialism, joining the Party (membership number 1,200,158) and the SA in 1930. By 1931, Fegelein had transferred to the SS.
Membership of the SS
On July 25, 1937, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, by special order of the Oberabschnitt (SUD), created the SS Main Riding School in Munich and made Hermann Fegelein the School Commander. Only former royalty from the Hohenzollern and Kaiserzeit dynasties could send representatives, along with the top heads of German industry, who donated to Martin Bormann's German industry fund. Hermann requested his friend, Hauptmann Marten von Barnekow, be allowed to enter the horse riding school, and Himmler granted his request.Fegelein rose quickly through the ranks and was briefly sent to the Russian front in 1943 with the Florian Geyer Cavalry Division, along with members of his SS Riding School (Haupt-Reitschule München). He had served under Reinhard Heydrich, and being an SS officer, was involved in the rituals at Wewelsburg Castle.
Relationship with Himmler
Fegelein was nicknamed Heinrich Himmler's "Golden Boy"; his boyish face and subservient attitude gained him considerable favour with Himmler, who treated him like a son. Himmler granted him the best assignments (mostly related to horses), the best staff and generous budgets. When he was injured on the Russian front, Himmler brought him home to work in Hitler's staff as Himmler's adjutant and representative of the Waffen SS.
His politically-arranged marriage took place on June 3, 1944, and a two-day celebration was held at Hitler's and Martin Bormann's Obersalzberg mountain homes. Photographs of the wedding dinner appeared in Britain's weekly Picture Post Magazine the next year showing Hitler at the festivities.Hitler had been actively trying to find a husband for Gretl for some time – in so doing, he would have an excuse to present Eva Braun to visitors, and to bring her to official functions.Gretl Braun had an extremely bad reputation as being promiscious – within the SS, she was nicknamed "the nymphomaniac of the Obersalzberg." Hitler had earlier tried to marry her off to a Captain Fritz Darges, but Darges actually asked to be sent to fight in the Eastern Front rather than marry her. Moreover, at the time of the marriage, Gretl Braun was pregnant by a man other than Fegelein.Fegelein became known as the playboy of the Third Reich, and after his marriage to Gretl Braun, engaged in numerous extramarital affairs.Nonetheless, Hitler was apparently aware of Fegelein's dalliances, and while not entirely approving of it, cast it a blind eye. This was common within Hitler's inner circle. Martin Bormann had 10 children with his wife and also kept a mistress, while Heinrich Himmler had children with both his wife and mistress.Hermann Fegelein also became the Commandant of the S.S. Horse Farm in Fischhorn Castle near Zell am See. Although he had a house with his wife, a love-nest apartment in Berlin, and a bedroom in Hitler's underground bunker below the Reich Chancellery, it was the farm where he was in charge and had his best friends.
From January to April, 1945, Fegelein and Martin Bormann controlled access to Hitler's office. After Fegelein's boss, Heinrich Himmler, tried to negotiate a backdoor surrender to the Allies via Count Bernadotte in April 1945, Fegelein left the Reichs Chancellery bunker and was caught in his Berlin apartment apparently preparing to escape to Sweden with cash and forged passports in civilian clothes with a mistress. He was also, according to all accounts, highly intoxicated when brought to the bunker.At this point, historical accounts begin to differ radically. In The Last Days of Hitler, historian Hugh Trevor-Roper remarked:
Many other people in the bunker argued that Mohnke was lying, that he had in fact had Fegelein killed, and only made the above statement to try and explicate himself from any guilt. This was complicated by the fact that Mohnke was the only survivor of this court martial - Krebs and Burgdorf committed suicide by May 2. While Rattenhuber survived, O'Donnell was only able to speak with him once before his death, and Rattenhuber did not discuss Fegelein with him.However, as O'Donnell noted, nobody actually saw Fegelein's execution (or, if they did, they weren't talking). O'Donnell and many historians, with the evidence at hand, agreed with Mohnke, and have concluded that Fegelein was doomed because of a combination of Himmler's betrayal and suspicions that his mistress was a spy. Fegelein, then, was killed without a proper trial on Hitler's orders, probably hanged by members of the SS in a nearby cellar. Furthermore, O'Donnell noted that Hitler held off on his marriage to Eva Braun until after he was satisfied Fegelein was dead – a means of ensuring that he would not have a "traitor" as a brother-in-law.Some survivors of the bunker say Eva Braun pleaded to Hitler to spare her new brother-in-law, Hermann, and some say she didn't speak a word in his defense. There is agreement among bunker survivors that, when Fegelein was first arrested, Braun did inform Hitler that her sister was pregnant, and that this apparently led Hitler to initially consider releasing him without punishment. However, there is no agreement on whether she said anything once Hitler condemned him to death.Possible survival?