Heinrich Fehlis (1 November 1906 – 11 May 1945) was a Schutzstaffel (SS) officer during World War II, most noted for his command of the Sicherheitspolizei (SiPo) and Sicherheitsdienst (SD) in Norway and Oslo during the occupation by Nazi Germany.
Heinrich Fehlis was born on 1 November 1906 in the village of Wulften am Harz, northeast of Göttingen, Germany. He was a newly educated attorney when Hitler rose to power in 1933, joining the SA that year on 1 April and the Nazi Party on 1 May. On 10 September 1935, Fehlis joined the SS, where he successfully applied to work for the Gestapo in Berlin. Rising through the ranks in Stuttgart and Frankfurt, he gained a reputation for skill and was promoted to SS-Sturmbannführer in April 1940. He then taught a course for police officers until he was ordered to Norway as part of Operation Weserübung.
German occupation of Norway
Georg Wilhelm Müller (front row, to the left) Reinhard Heydrich
(centre), and Heinrich Fehlis (to the right) visiting a war cemetery in Oslo, Norway, in 1941.
On 21 April 1940, Fehlis became leader of the Einsatzkommando in Oslo and in November he succeeded Walter Stahlecker in the dual command of the SD and SiPo in Norway and Oslo. He rose to the rank of SS-Standartenführer, reporting to Reinhard Heydrich and Ernst Kaltenbrunner in Berlin and Wilhelm Rediess and Josef Terboven in Norway. In June 1944 he was promoted to SS-Oberführer.
Together with his subordinate, Hellmuth Reinhard, Fehlis regulated the use of torture and sentenced prisoners to death in so-called "office judgements". 151 Norwegians were executed without trial, the majority on direct orders from Fehlis.
General Nikolaus von Falkenhorst (Commander of the Wehrmacht in Norway) gave the following description of Fehlis: "[he] was really a quiet, modest man and always very polite to me. By the way, I am fully aware that he has had me and my staff under close supervision for all these years".
It has been suggested that Fehlis took a milder approach towards the end of the war, possibly fearing reprisals in the case of a German defeat. Despite already having a family in Germany, he entered a relationship with a Norwegian woman named Else Johanne Schaug, who gave birth to his daughter Venke Fehlis in January 1945.
German capitulation and suicide
Following the German surrender on 8 May 1945 and the end of World War II in Europe, Fehlis and other SS officials attempted to escape capture by Milorg. He arranged for Gestapo members to be hidden among ordinary soldiers in the Wehrmacht, personally leading a force of around 75 men disguised in Gebirgskorps Norwegen uniforms to a military camp near Porsgrunn. Following a tip-off, the camp fell under suspicion and was surrounded. During negotiations, Fehlis (who impersonated a lieutenant named "Gerstheuer") requested an hour to prepare for surrender. Milorg agreed, but when they finally entered the camp it was in a disorderly condition with many of the Germans in a state of intoxication. Fehlis' body was discovered in one of the camp rooms; he had found the means to first poison, then shoot himself. He was buried in Eidanger.
Else Schaug escaped to Sweden with her and Fehlis' daughter Venke. In 2012, Venke released a book about her experience growing up as the child of a war criminal.
- ^ a b c d e f g Nøkleby, Berit (2020-02-25), "Heinrich Fehlis", Norsk biografisk leksikon (in Norwegian Bokmål), retrieved 2021-04-15
- ^ a b Fehlis's biographical information is described as a footnote, citing information from the SS Personalhauptamt in: Bohn, Robert (2000). Reichskommissariat Norwegen (in German). Oldenbourg. p. 74. ISBN 3-486-56488-9.
- ^ Baden-Württemberg, Haus der Geschichte. "Virtueller Ort - 1928-1945 – Vom Polizeipräsidium zur Gestapo - Die Stellvertreter". Geschichtsort Hotel Silber (in German). Retrieved 2021-04-15.
- ^ Nøkleby, Berit (2020-02-25), "Hellmuth Reinhard", Norsk biografisk leksikon (in Norwegian Bokmål), retrieved 2021-04-15
- ^ a b "Faren beordret 151 nordmenn henrettet". www.vg.no (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 2021-04-16.
- ^ Cohen, Maynar (2000). A Stand Against Tyranny: Norway's Physicians and the Nazis. Wayne State University Press. p. 273. ISBN 0-8143-2934-9.
Heinrich Fehlis, head of the Gestapo in Norway, took refuge with seventy of his men in a German military base near Porsgrunn. When Milorg units demanded he be turned over, Fehlis first swallowed poison, then shot himself.
- ^ August Schrumpf (district physician) (1970-02-10). "Fehlis affæren i Porsgrunn" (in Norwegian). Porsgrunn folkebibliotek. Retrieved 2008-02-19.
- ^ Frits Klykken (regional commander of Milorg) (1970-02-10). "Saken Fehlis" (in Norwegian). Porsgrunn folkebibliotek. Retrieved 2008-02-19.