German Reineke

German Reineke

Military leader, infantry general.
Date of Birth: 14.02.1889
Country: Germany

  1. Biography of Herman Reinicke
  2. Military Figure, Infantry General

Biography of Herman Reinicke

Military Figure, Infantry General

Herman Reinicke was a prominent military figure and an infantry general. He completed his education at the cadet corps and later joined the 79th Infantry Regiment as a lieutenant in 1906. He participated in World War I as a captain and received the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class for his exceptional bravery in combat. After the demobilization of the army, Reinicke continued to serve in the Reichswehr. From 1928 to 1932, he served in the Ministry of Defense, where his duties involved working with technical schools and material-technical services.

During World War I, Reinicke served with enthusiasm and courage, earning him the Order of the House of Hohenzollern, Iron Cross 1st Class, Hamburg Hanseatic Cross, and Austro-Hungarian Cross for Military Merit. He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming an Oberleutnant in the first months of the war and eventually reaching the rank of Hauptmann in 1916.

Remaining in the army after World War I, Reinicke served at the headquarters of the 2nd Prussian Infantry Regiment in 1921. From 1928 to 1932, he worked at the Ministry of Defense, where his duties varied but were always related to personnel management and technical services. In February 1929, he was promoted to Major, and in October 1932, he became the commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 6th Infantry Regiment. In June 1933, he was promoted to Oberstleutnant.

In August 1938, Reinicke was appointed the head of the main military administration of the OKW (Supreme High Command of the Armed Forces). In this new position, he was responsible for overseeing ideological and educational training of the personnel, a role in which he excelled. Reinicke enjoyed aligning himself with the Nazi leadership, and his connections contributed to his career advancement. On January 1, 1939, he was promoted to the rank of Major General, and on August 1, 1940, he became a Lieutenant General.

Reinicke did everything in his power to please the OKW superiors and party officials in the Reich Chancellery. Many army officers referred to him as "Little Keitel," comparing him to Wilhelm Keitel, the head of the OKW, who was willing to do anything to please the Führer. In a meeting in July 1941, Reinicke stated that the main goal of every Russian was to destroy Germany, and therefore, all Soviet people should be regarded as mortal enemies of the Reich and treated accordingly. When the officer corps disagreed with his statement, Reinicke accused them of still being in the "ice age."

In accordance with Nazi ideology, Reinicke was tasked with supervising Soviet prisoners of war. His pathological hatred of communism was evident in his approach to this work. He issued orders to mercilessly beat and shoot Russian prisoners of war at the slightest sign of disobedience or escape attempt. These measures, along with similar actions taken by the OKH (High Command of the Army) and SS, led to a death rate of 65% among Soviet prisoners of war. The requirements of the Geneva Convention regarding the treatment of prisoners of war were completely disregarded.

In recognition of his loyalty to Nazism, Reinicke was appointed an honorary member of the People's Court in 1942, and on June 1 of the same year, he was promoted to the rank of Infantry General. Basking in the rays of Nazi recognition, Reinicke continued to emphasize the importance of theoretical and political preparation for OKW officers. In 1943, he informed Hitler that he and Bormann were recruiting unwavering warriors from party veterans to carry out necessary work among battle-hardened army officers.

In July 1943, Reinicke became the head of the General Staff Personnel Department. In this new role, he introduced the concept of theoretical (ideological) training for personnel. Officers from the National Socialist leadership, similar to their Soviet counterparts, were appointed as German "commissars." Reinicke's concept materialized in February 1944 when Hitler approved the appointment of officers for the National Socialist Leadership (NSFO) in the OKW and OKH. Reinicke himself headed the NSFO staff in the OKW, while General Ferdinand Scherner led the NSFO staff in the Army. However, tensions quickly arose between Reinicke and Scherner due to differing views on the role NSFO officers should play in regular army units.

The attempt on Hitler's life on July 20, 1944, had a direct impact on Reinicke's role in the Third Reich. In the chaotic aftermath of the explosion, Reinicke, acting on Keitel's orders, demanded that General Lieutenant Paul von Hase, the acting commandant of Berlin, transfer all authority to him and took command of Berlin himself. Despite Hase being one of the conspirators, he understood that the coup had failed and complied with Reinicke's demands, hoping that changing sides at the last moment would help him avoid the gallows (which did not happen). Meanwhile, Reinicke quickly restored order in the capital and informed the Berlin garrison that Hitler was alive and of sound mind.

Later, Reinicke presided over the court of honor that reviewed the cases of the officers involved in the conspiracy. After swiftly discharging them from the army, their cases were transferred to a People's Court. Around the same time, Bormann told Reinicke that the NSFO program should be reinforced. To fulfill this task, Reinicke issued an order on August 8, instructing NSFO officers to focus all their energy on fanatically mobilizing and activating the soldiers. He demanded that they squeeze out every last ounce of effort from the troops, even if it meant disregarding normal operational work. Germany desperately needed soldiers' fanatical loyalty at that time.

Reinicke further developed his views in an article published in the October issue of the "Political Soldier" magazine in 1944. This magazine was jointly published by the OKW and the NSDAP. He wrote that the goal of this work was to make the soldier act as if the Führer were standing next to him. Soldiers, he argued, should be aware that they carry Hitler's image and his ideas with them. NSFO officers were instructed to engage in conversations with all soldiers and officers and have them reiterate their oath of loyalty to the Führer. However, even the phenomenon of Hitler could not halt the swift advance of Soviet forces in the East and the breakthrough of the Allies in France. Therefore, the NSFO program was unable to achieve its goals. Fatigued soldiers had no interest in ideology, and combat officers blocked the work of NSFO officers at every opportunity. The NSDAP pillars blamed Reinicke for the failure of the NSFO program, but Field Marshal Keitel supported him, dismissing the party's criticism.

As the attacks continued, Reinicke felt guilty for the program's failure. He then proposed to Bormann that he, as the party secretary, take over the leadership of the NSFO system. Being a devoted supporter of Nazism, Reinicke could no longer tolerate his own helplessness in the ideological indoctrination of the army. He voluntarily offered to disband his personnel and was ready to support any reorganization proposed by Bormann.

Such submission to party opinion infuriated Keitel, who had always supported Reinicke. A wall formed between them that was never broken down. However, Bormann did not take any decisive action in such circumstances, so the leadership of NSFO remained with Reinicke. In the end, he lost all hope he had invested in ideological indoctrination. On April 9, 1945, he ordered NSFO officers to actively fight the enemy and refrain from political discussions, effectively admitting defeat.

At the end of the war, Reinicke surrendered to the Allies and was placed in a camp. Soon after, when his activities no longer raised any doubts (especially his brutal treatment of prisoners of war), Reinicke was tried by the US Military Tribunal and sentenced to life imprisonment on October 28, 1948. His sentence was later reduced to 27 years, and he served his time in Landsberg Prison. In the mid-1950s, he was released from prison. He settled in Hamburg, and as of 1958, he was still alive.