The original SS Soldbuch of SS-Hauptsturmführer Willfried Segebrecht
The 16th SS Panzergrenadier Division “Reichsführer-SS” (German: 16. SS-Panzergrenadier-Division “Reichsführer SS”) was a motorised infantry formation in the Waffen-SS of Nazi Germany during World War II.
The division, during its time in Italy, committed a number of war crimes, and, together with the 1st Fallschirm-Panzer Division Hermann Göring, was disproportionally involved in massacres of the civilian population. One possible reason for the division’s increased involvement in war crimes has been identified by the fact that much of its leadership originally came from the SS-Totenkopfverbände.
Formed in November 1943 when Volksdeutsche recruits were added to the Sturmbrigade Reichsführer SS, which was used as the cadre in the formation of the new division. A Kampfgruppe (“battle group”) from the division fought at the Anzio beachhead, while the rest of the division took part in the occupation of Hungary. It fought in Italy as a division from May 1944, until being transferred to Hungary in February 1945.
On 27 June 1944 the 16th SS-Panzergrenadiers command post in San Vincenzo, Italy was overrun by the U.S. 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry, 34th Infantry Division (Red Bulls). The command post was a town centre apartment which had been commandeered; when the owners returned to their apartment they found a signed large leather-bound Stielers Handatlas which had been left behind.
In late summer 1944, a part of this division, SS-Panzer-Aufklärungsabteilung 16 (Reconnaissance Battalion 16), commanded by Major Walter Reder, was withdrawn from engagement with the American 5th Army then advancing on the Gothic Line to deal with an Italian Communist partisan unit, the Red Star Brigade (Brigata Stella Rossa). Operating out of a mountain complex centered on Monte Sole, just southeast of the town of Marzabotto, and sitting astride communications to Bologna, the Red Star was seen as a significant threat to the German rear, both in terms of cutting communications and obstructing a possible route of retreat. Major Reder completed his assignment and destroyed this guerrilla force.
A Kampfgruppe of the 16th Training and Replacement Battalion was based in Arnhem and took part in Operation Market Garden. The division surrendered to British forces near Klagenfurt, Austria, at the end of the war.
The division was involved in many war crimes while stationed in Italy during World War II.Together with the 1st Fallschirm-Panzer Division Hermann Göring the 16th SS Panzergrenadier is estimated to be responsible for about one third of all civilians killed in massacres in Italy during the war. In regards to these war crimes the 16th SS Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion and its commander, Walter Reder, have been identified as one of the main culprits. The division is estimated to have killed up to 2,000 Italian civilians during its time there.
In August 1944 alone, in the Versilia and Lunigiana areas of Tuscany, there were three large massacres. 560 civilians were massacred at Sant’Anna di Stazzema on 12 August 1944,159 civilians executed at San Terenzo Monti on 17 August and 173 civilians murdered at Vinca starting on 24 August. The division was also responsible for the Marzabotto massacre, where at least 770 Italian civilians were executed, the worst massacre committed by the German Army on Italian civilians during World War II.
Major Walter Reder, the SS commander who signed the order to execute the civilians at San Terenzo, was extradited to Italy in 1948 and tried in Bologna in 1951 for war crimes in Tuscany and at Marzabotto in Emilia-Romagna, where 770 people were massacred, making it the worst massacre of civilians committed by the Waffen-SS in Western Europe during the war. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. However, he was released in 1985, and he returned unrepentant to his native Austria, where he was received with full military honors. He died in 1991.
In a case filed decades late due to misplaced evidence, ten SS officers of the 16th SS Panzergrenadier Division were convicted of murder in absentia in 2005 at La Spezia for the slaughter at Sant’Anna di Stazzema. German prosecutors declined to proceed on the grounds that there was a lack of evidence tying specific murders to specific defendants.
The Marzabotto massacre, or more correctly, the massacre of Monte Sole, was a World War II war crime consisting of the mass murder of at least 770 civilians by Nazi troops, which took place in the territory around the small village of Marzabotto, in the mountainous area south of Bologna. It was the largest massacre of civilians committed by the Waffen SS in western Europe during the war. It is also the deadliest mass shooting in the history of Italy.
The operation began at dawn on September 29th. At 9:00 a.m. there was a fierce firefight with partisans near Cadotto, with the company involved losing 20 men. These were the Reder Battalion’s only losses during the entire operation. While the fight with the partisans in Cadetto dragged on, other fighting groups broke into the houses and evacuated them. Women, children and old men, around 30 in number, were lined up against the wall and shot with machine guns on the orders of SS Obersturmführer Segebrecht. They made no distinction between armed partisans and civilians.
The soldiers then moved on, in Casoncella they arrested all the civilians they encountered on their march and brought them to San Giovani. When they arrived around 11 a.m., they drove the residents there out of an air-raid tunnel where they had been hiding. They brought both groups together and shot a total of 49 civilians with machine guns, including 19 children under the age of 13.
At the Casaglia cemetery they rounded up 80 people who were shot, including 39 children. After this massacre, a group of soldiers moved on to Caprara, where they rounded up around 35 to 50 residents and locked them in a chapel. They then threw hand grenades into the room and shot into it with small arms. Later, a group of around 40 people on a higher farm remained unmolested. When a group of 10 people, two women and eight children or infants, descended into the valley from there, they were picked up and shot.
On the morning of September 30, 1944, the killing continued as planned. SS-Obersturmführer Max Saalfrank, who had been commissioned by Reder to lead the combat groups, held a briefing with the SS-Obersturmführer Wilfried Segebrecht, leader of the 1st company, Friedrich Schmidkonz, leader of the 3rd company and Rudi Vysek, who was from the SS-Flakabteilung 16 Reder had been assigned for the duration. At the meeting it was decided to fight the partisans in the Monte Caprara area. But these had already been withdrawn. As the combat groups descended unsuccessfully from the mountains to the town of San Martino, they encountered a group of 30 to 40 women and children who were being escorted by soldiers from another unit. They were immediately shot. A company moved again to Cerpiano and from there fanned out into areas they had not yet reached. The SS Rottenführer Meyer, who had taken part in the murder in the chapel the day before, now shot those who were still living in the chapel. Anyone who was in the immediate vicinity of the city of Marzabotto was shot there by the SS. 53 people lost their lives.
On the evening of that day, the measure was considered over. The Panzer Aufk Abt 16 was withdrawn because it was needed in other areas of combat.
This sort of item should be in a museum in Italy, there is nothing quite like this on the open market. He was awarded the following medals as seen in his Soldbuch, Eastern Front Medal, Iron Cross Second Class, Silver Panzer Badge, Wounds Badge, Close Combat Clasp. He was on his capture sent to Dachau, but he was never prosecuted for his part in shooting innocent people. A website focused on recording all the information about this war criminal can be found here: