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Sunday, March 6, 2016

WW2 | Mar. 6, 1945–Dutch Kill SS Gen. Rauter

Nazi Lt. Gen. Hans Rauter, convicted
 of war crimes and executed in 1949.
Young members of the Dutch Resistance, attempting to hijack an SS truck in Apeldoorn, Holland, on this day shot the Nazi SS Leader in Holland.

However, Johann Baptist Albin (Hanns) Rauter (1895-1949), a high-ranking Austrian, was not killed, and he exacted a steep price in his reprisal for his injury and humiliation.

He was the highest SS and Police Leader in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands during 1940-1945, reporting directly to Nazi SS chief Heinrich Himmler, although nominally under  the Nazi governor of the Netherlands, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, also Austrian.

Rauter was riding in the ambushed truck, filled with food destined for the nearby Luftwaffe base. The previous "Hunger Winter" left much of occupied Holland close to famine conditions. The Resistance workers were raiding the truck not because its passengers included the commander of the Dutch SS, but because it had food inside.

The Dutch Resistance was one of the fiercest of all the underground movements in Nazi-occupied Europe. It was composed of independently organized groups from all segments of Dutch society, ranging from conservative older bankers, housewives to young people motivated by ideology or revenge or patriotism. The Dutch Foreign Minister wrote after the war:
The Dutch never accepted the German contention that… the war was over. [T]heir acts of resistance and sabotage grew more audacious as time passed.” 
Reuter responded to every act of Resistance with savage and escalated brutality.  In 1941, during the General Strike in Amsterdam and nearby towns among Dutch workers to protest the round-up of almost 400 Dutch Jews, Rauter ordered the SS and Wehrmacht troops to open fire on the strikers, killing 11. The Jews, whom the strikers were trying to protect, were deported to Buchenwald and all were dead by the fall.

Dutch acts of resistance and sabotage included:
  • hiding Allied soldiers and pilots who either parachuted or crash-landed within Dutch territory, 
  • hiding Dutch Jews,  
  • killing German troops and senior Dutch collaborators,
  • raiding offices to obtain ration coupons or destroy identification records,
  • raiding supply vehicles or depots to obtain food for starving Dutch families,
  • printing and distributing underground newspapers.
Rauter's retaliation for the assault on his truck was to order the SS to round up and summarily execute 263 Dutchmen. Some were Resistance fighters already being held in prison.

After World War II Rauter was convicted in the Netherlands court in The Hague of crimes against humanity and was executed, after an unsuccessful appeal in Nuremberg, by a firing squad.