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Wilhelm Harster (b 21 July 1904 Kelheim, Bavaria, Germany died 25 December 1991) was an SS and Police Leader. He was twice convicted of war crimes, by the Netherlands and later by West Germany. He had been employed by the government of Bavaria as a civil servant and was let go with a full pension after a public outcry.


He attended Volksschule 1910-1913 in Munich and attended Humanist Ludwigs-Gymnasium graduating in 1919. Eventually, he became a Doctor of laws attending law school at the University of Munich finishing in 1927.

Prewar service

Before the war, Harster was reservist with the Reichswehr, joining in 1920 and serving with the 1st battalion of the Bund Oberland. In 1929 he joined the Kripos and graduated in 1932 as a Regierungsassessor. He also married Maria Hirsch on 30 September 1930 and has two sons. He joined the Nazi Party on 1 May 1933, holding the party number of 3,226,954.

SS and Military service

He joined the SS on 9 November 1933 with the serial number of 225,932. He joined the Sicherheitsdienst or SD on 29 October 1935 and eventually obtained the rank of Gruppenführer. He was also recalled to service in the Wehrmacht, serving in July 1940 as a member of a machinegun company. From 19 July 1940 until 29 August 1943, he was the commander of the Security Police and SD in the occupation of the Netherlands, where many of his war crimes occurred. He was implicated in the deaths of 104,000 Jews in the Holocaust, including Anne Frank. After his role in the occupation of the Netherlands, he was moved to Italy as the commander of the SD there under Karl Wolff from 29 August 1943 until his capture.

Prisoner of War and War Criminal

He was captured by the British Army where he was transferred to the Netherlands and tried for war crimes. In 1949, he was convicted and sentenced to 12 years for his role in the deportation and murder of Dutch Jews. He was, however, released in 1953.


After the war, he again became a civil servant in Bavaria, until he was retired due to public and media pressure in 1963. He kept his full pension. In 1967 he was tried alongside his two closest aides Wilhelm Zoepf and Gertrud Slottke and sentenced to an additional 15 years in jail for deportation of Jews to Auschwitz and Sobibor concentration camps. He was given credit for time served and was pardoned in 1969. His doctorate was officially removed from him. He died in 1991.


"SS-Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant der Polizei Dr. jur. Wilhelm Harster". ISLAND FARM SPECIAL CAMP: XI POWS HELD AT BRIDGEND. Brett Exton. Retrieved 2008-10-07. 

Richard Breitman (2001-04). "Historical Analysis of 20 Name Files from CIA Records". The National Archives, The Interagency Working Group. Retrieved 2008-10-07. 

Christian Ritz, Schreibtischtäter vor Gericht. Das Verfahren vor dem Münchner Landgericht wegen der Deportation der niederländischen Juden (1959-1967). Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 2012; 257 p.

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