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eMedals-A Signature of SS Panzer Commander Hans Fegelein

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A Signature of SS Panzer Commander Hans Fegelein

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A Signature of SS Panzer Commander Hans Fegelein

Wartime Signature of SS Panzer Commander Hans Fegelein; In faded blue ink on 27.7 x 21 document, extremely fine.   Footnote: Hans Georg Otto Hermann Fegelein (October 30, 1906 – April 28, 1945) was an SS-Gruppenführer (General) of the Waffen-SS in Nazi Germany. He was a member of Adolf Hitler's entourage and brother-in-law to Eva Braun through his marriage to her sister, Gretl. Units under his command on the Eastern Front were responsible for the deaths of over 17,000 civilians during the Pripyat swamps punitive operation in the Byelorussian SSR in 1941. Fegelein was shot for desertion on April 28, 1945, two days before Hitler's suicide. Fegelein was born in Ansbach, Bavaria, to the retired Oberleutnant Hans Fegelein. As a young boy working at his father's equestrian school in Munich, he became proficient in riding skills and participated in jumping events. During this period he met Christian Weber, an original member of the Nazi Party. Weber later sponsored Fegelein for entry into the Schutzstaffel (SS). In 1925, after studying for two terms at Munich University, Fegelein joined the Reiter-Regiment 17 (Cavalry Regiment 17). On April 20, 1927, he joined the Bavarian State Police in Munich as an officer cadet. In 1929, he left the police service when he was caught stealing examination solutions from a teaching superior's office. The official communication at the time was that he resigned for "family reasons". Fegelein later stated that he had left the police on "his own account" to better serve the Nazi Party and SS. His father had started the "Reitinstitut Fegelein" (Riding Institute Fegelein) in 1926. Here in Munich Fegelein came into contact with National Socialism and the SS. His father had made the institute available to the SS as a meeting place. He joined the Nazi Party (membership number 1,200,158) and the Sturmabteilung (SA) in 1930. Fegelein transferred to the SS on April 10, 1933, with membership number 66,680 and became a leader of an SS equestrian group, which included his brother, Waldemar. He was promoted to the Allgemeine-SS rank of SS-Untersturmführer that year and to SS-Obersturmführer on April 20, 1934 and to SS-Hauptsturmführer on November 9, 1934. Beginning in November 1935, Fegelein oversaw the preparation of the courses and facilities for the equestrian events of the Berlin Olympic Games. He was promoted to the rank of SS-Sturmbannführer on January 30, 1936. He participated in the selection process for the German equestrian team, but was unable to prevail against the strong competition from the Kavallerieschule Hannover (Hanover Cavalry School), who went on to win all the equestrian gold medals. Fegelein won the Deutsches Spring- und Dressurderby international tournament in 1937, as did his brother, Waldemar, in 1939. He was promoted to the rank of SS-Obersturmbannführer on January 30th. On July 25, 1937 Reichsführer-SS Himmler, by special order of the SS-Oberabschnitt Süd, created the Haupt-Reitschule München (SS Main Riding School) in Munich. The school was started from his father's stud farm. Fegelein was named its commander and promoted to SS-Standartenführer the same day. Funding for the very expensive horses came in part from Brigadeführer Weber, who supported the school with more than 100,000 Reichsmarks annually. Fegelein won the "Braunes Band von Deutschland" (Brown Ribbon of Germany), an annual horse race which in 1938 was held on the premises of the riding school in Munich. Fegelein at the time had strong ambitions to participate in the 1940 Summer Olympics. With the help of his friend Höhere SS- und Polizeiführer (HSSPF; Higher SS and Police Leader) Karl von Eberstein, he arranged the transfer of all the Bavarian State Police horses to the SS riding school in case of mobilization. His fear was that the horses would be handed to the Wehrmacht. Albert Speer called him "one of the most disgusting people in Hitler's circle". Fegelein was an opportunist who ingratiated himself with Himmler. Himmler in return granted him the best assignments — mostly related to horses — and rapid promotion through the ranks. In September 1939, after the end of the Polish Campaign, Fegelein commanded the SS Totenkopf Reiterstandarte (Deaths-Head Horse Regiment). They were garrisoned in Warsaw until December. The unit was then split into two Standarten (Regiments), with Fegelein commanding the 1.Standarte. The units were placed under the overall command of HSSPF "East" Friedrich-Wilhelm Krüger. Fegelein's unit took part in "anti-partisan" fighting in the area of Kammienna–Konsky–Kielce. On December 7, 1939 Fegelein's unit was involved in the mass shooting of 1,700 people in the Kampinos Forest. April 23, 1941, Fegelein faced court-martial charges after he and his unit in 1940 had been caught stealing money and luxury goods for transportation back to Germany. The court-martial ordered for Fegelein was quashed by direct order of Himmler. The allegations brought forward against Fegelein had included "murder motivated by greed". Apparently he had ordered arrests and executions in the Gestapo prison in Warsaw. In addition to this, Fegelein was charged with having had an unlawful sexual relationship with a Polish woman. The woman had become pregnant and Fegelein forced her to have an abortion. Reinhard Heydrich attempted multiple times to investigate the accusations against Fegelein, but each time the attempt was put down by Himmler. In May and June 1940, Fegelein, who had been promoted to SS-Obersturmbannführer of the Reserves in the Waffen-SS on March 1, 1940, participated in the Battle of Belgium and France as a member of the SS-Verfügungstruppe. For his service in these campaigns he was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class on December 15, 1940. In March 1941, the SS Totenkopf Reiterstandarte 1 was renamed the 1st SS Cavalry Regiment. With the start of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, which began on June 22, 1941, Fegelein saw active service on the Eastern Front. He received the Iron Cross 1st Class on June 28th. On July 17, 1941 Himmler assigned Fegelein's regiment to the general command of HSSPF Erich von dem Bach for the "systematic combing" of the Pripyat swamps, an operation designed to round up and exterminate Jews, partisans, and civilians in that area of Byelorussian SSR. The two-stage operation began on July 19, 1941. Fegelein reported to von dem Bach that his men had killed 13,788 Jews and what he claimed were "soldiers in civilian clothes" during the first stage of the operation. At the end of the second stage, which ran during the last two weeks of August, Fegelein reported that all the Jewish men in the Rogatschew region had been killed — a total of another 3,500 men. On August 5th, Himmler had assigned to him the leadership of the SS Cavalry Brigade, which was formed from the 1st and 2nd SS Cavalry Regiments. In October 1941, the Brigade was tasked with securing the territory behind the front line in Belarus. Fegelein received the Infantry Assault Badge on October 2nd. Four days later, he was again brought before a court for peculation of captured goods. Again the prosecution was halted by Himmler. In the winter of 1941- 42, Fegelein and the SS Cavalry Brigade were held back as an operational reserve in the rearward area of the 9th Army. There it helped secure the front at Toropets and Rzhev. The brigade was deployed at the south-eastern sector of the XXIII Army Corps, where it defended against attacks in the rearward area of the 206th Infantry Division in the Battles of Rzhev. On February 1, 1942, he was promoted to SS-Standartenführer in the Waffen-SS and transferred from the reserve force to active service. Four days later, on February 5th, Fegelein, on his own initiative, led an attack on a strong enemy group northwest of Tschertolino. The attack, carried out in difficult weather conditions, secured an important road junction and the railway station at Tschertolino. In a nocturnal attack on February 9th, the brigade encircled and destroyed enemy forces at Tschertolino, killing 1,800 combatants. Jersowo was captured on February 14th, leading to the annihilation of all enemy forces in the Rzhev area. For his leadership in these battles, Fegelein was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on March 2, 1942. Fegelein was then granted home leave and was appointed Inspector of Cavalry and Transportation (Inspekteur des Reit- und Fahrwesens) in the SS-Führungshauptamt on May 1, 1942. In this position he was awarded the Eastern Front Medal and the War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords, both on September 1, 1942. Fegelein was sent to the front line on December 1, 1942 and on the same day promoted to SS-Oberführer. He was given command of Kampfgruppe "Fegelein", based in the great bend of the Don. Fegelein was wounded in action by Soviet snipers on December 21 and December 22, 1942. On April 20, 1943 he was appointed commander of the 8th SS Cavalry Division Florian Geyer. Fegelein and his division were involved in operations against partisans from May to July 1943, which included Operation Weichsel, Operation Zeithen, and Operation Seydlitz. On May 17th, he annihilated a partisan group south west of Nowoselki. He personally blew up a bunker in the attack. A week later, on May 24th, the division attacked another partisan strongpoint and no prisoners were taken. During Weichsel (May 27 – June 10, 1943) he reported the killing of 4,018 persons, the deportation of 18,860, the confiscation of 21,000 cattle, and the destruction of 61 villages southwest of Gomel. During Zeithen (June 13-16, 1943) he destroyed a further 63 villages, and under direct orders from Hitler killed all partisans. During Seidlitz (June 26 – July 27, 1943), he accounted for the destruction of 96 additional villages, killed a further 5,016 people, deported an additional 9,166 persons, and confiscated 19,941 cattle. The division was then deployed in defensive operations against massed Soviet attacks. From August 26th to September 15th, the division repulsed five attacks of divisional strength and a further 85 attacks of battalion strength. The heaviest combat occurred on August 26th near Bespalowka and onAugust 28th, when the division halted a Soviet breakthrough at Bol-Gomolscha. Fegelein led a counterattack on September 8th, recapturing the height 199,0 at Werchne-Bischkin. On September 11, 1943, during these defensive battles, he was awarded the Close Combat Clasp in bronze. Fegelein was severely wounded on September 30, 1943 and was hospitalized for a few weeks. He received the German Cross in gold on November 1, 1943. Following his convalescence he was appointed chief of Amt VI—-Office for Rider and Driver Training—in the SS Führungshauptamt on January 1, 1944. At the same time, Himmler assigned him to Hitler's headquarters staff as his liaison officer and representative of the SS. He was promoted to the rank of SS-Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant of the Waffen-SSon on June 10, 1944. On July 20, 1944 Fegelein was present at the failed attempt on Hitler's life at the Wolf's Lair headquarters in Rastenburg, East Prussia, and received a minor wound to his left thigh from the bomb blast. Fegelein often showed around the photographs of the hanged men who had been executed as a result of this failed assassination attempt. Fegelein's politically motivated marriage to Gretl Braun, Eva Braun's sister, took place on June 3, 1944 in Salzburg. Historians Kershaw and Shirer believe he courted Braun as a way to advance his career. Hitler, Himmler, and Bormann acted as witnesses at the ceremony. A two-day celebration was then held at Hitler's and Martin Bormann's Obersalzberg mountain homes and the Eagle's Nest. Fegelein was a known playboy and had many extramarital affairs. After Himmler tried to negotiate a surrender to the western Allies via Count Bernadotte in April 1945, Fegelein left the Reich Chancellery bunker complex and was caught by SS-Obersturmbannführer Peter Högl in his Berlin apartment on April 27th, wearing civilian clothes and preparing to flee to Sweden or Switzerland He was carrying cash — German and foreign — and jewellery, some of which belonged to Eva Braun. Högl also uncovered a briefcase containing documents with evidence of Himmler's attempted peace negotiations with the western Allies. According to most accounts he was intoxicated when arrested and brought back to the Führerbunker. Journalist James P. O'Donnell, who conducted extensive interviews in the 1970s, provides a detailed description of what happened next. Waffen-SS General Wilhelm Mohnke, who presided over the court martial for desertion, told O'Donnell that Hitler ordered him to set up a tribunal. Mohnke arranged for a court martial panel, which consisted of Wilhelm Burgdorf, Hans Krebs, Johann Rattenhuber, and himself. Fegelein, still drunk, refused to accept that he had to answer to Hitler, and stated that he was responsible only to Himmler. Fegelein was so drunk that he was crying and vomiting; he was unable to stand up, and even urinated on the floor. Mohnke was in a quandary, as German military and civilian law both require a defendant to be of sound mind and to understand the charges against them. Although he was certain Fegelein was "guilty of flagrant desertion", Mohnke persuaded his fellow judges to close the proceedings and turned the defendant over to General Rattenhuber and his security squad. Mohnke never saw Fegelein again. Fegelein's wife was then in the late stages of pregnancy (the baby was born in early May). Hitler considered releasing him without punishment or assigning him to Mohnke's troops. Hitler's secretary, Traudl Junge – an eye-witness to bunker events – stated that Braun pleaded with Hitler to spare her brother-in-law and tried to justify Fegelein's actions. However, he was taken to the garden of the Reich Chancellery on April 28th, and was "shot like a dog". Rochus Misch, who was the last survivor from the Führerbunker, disputed aspects of this account in a 2007 interview with Der Spiegel. According to Misch, Hitler did not order Fegelein's execution, only his demotion. Misch claimed to know the identity of Fegelein's killer, but refused to reveal his name. Fegelein's parents and his brother Waldemar survived the war. Gretl, who inherited some of Eva's valuable jewellery, also survived the war. She gave birth to a daughter (named Eva Barbara Fegelein, after her late aunt) on May 5, 1945. Eva Fegelein committed suicide on April 25, 1971 after her boyfriend was killed in an auto accident. Gretl Braun-Fegelein moved to Munich and remarried in 1954. She died in 1987, at the age of 72. Fegelein's awards included: the Olympic Games Decoration (1st Class), the German Equestrian Badge (Gold), the German Sports Badge (Bronze), the SA Sports Badge (Bronze), the Nazi Party Long Service Award (Bronze), the General Assault Badge (Silver), the Infantry Assault Badge (Silver), the Close Combat Clasp (Silver), the Wound Badge (Silver), the Wound Badge on July 20, 1944 (Silver), the Iron Cross (1939) 2nd Class on December 15, 1940, the Iron Cross (1939) 1st Class on June 28, 1941), the German Cross in Gold on November 1, 1943 as SS-Brigadeführer and Generalmajor of the Waffen-SS in the SS-Kavallerie-Division, the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords, the Knight's Cross on March 2, 1942 as SS-Standartenführer and commander of the SS-Kavallerie-Brigade, 157th Oak Leaves on December 22, 1942 as SS-Oberführer and commander of a Kampfgruppe , the 83rd Swords on July 30, 1944 as SS-Gruppenführer and Generalleutnant of the Waffen-SS and commander of the 8. SS-Freiwilligen-Kavallerie-Division Florian Geyer. However, the death sentence carried out on Fegelein, on April 28, 1945, resulted in the loss of all orders, awards, and honorary signs. (C:4)  
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