Born on October 30th, 1906, in Ansbach, Hermann Fegelein spent his childhood working in his father’s riding school. He became an excellent equestrian, something that allowed him to rise quickly through the ranks of the Nazi Party.
He joined the party in 1930 and became a member of the SS in 1933. His father’s Reitinstitut Fegelein (Riding Institute Fegelein) became the meeting place for the local SS and young Fegelein was appointed the leader of SS-Reitersturm, SS cavalry unit that was based at the Institute.
He was heavily involved in the preparation of the equestrian disciplines of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He even tried to compete but never made it past the qualifying round.
When the war started, Fegelein found himself at the head of SS Totenkopf Reiterstandarte (Death’s-Head Horse Regiment), with the rank of SS-Standartenführer (SS equivalent of colonel). His unit was involved in several massacres in Poland committed against civilians. After Poland, Fegelein saw action in Belgium and France.
In June 1941, Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of Soviet Union, started and Fegelein was again in charge of the SS cavalry regiment. He and his units were the forerunners of the Holocaust and in charge of exterminating entire Jewish communities in Byelorussia. His promotions were often marred with accusations of improper behavior and even theft of military supplies. Himmler himself had to intervene on several occasions to stop investigations that threatened to send Fegelein to prison or even in front of the firing squad.
In 1943, Hermann Fegelein was severely wounded in action while commanding the SS cavalry division. He decided that he had enough of the front and accepted a position in the SS headquarters in Berlin. Himmler also secured him the position of the SS representative in Hitler’s entourage. It was there that he came in contact with Gretl Braun, Eva Braun’s sister. Both Hitler and Eva were eager to find a husband for Gretl, whose promiscuous behavior was becoming damaging to the Nazi leader. Sensing another opportunity, Fegelein volunteered, disregarding the fact that Gretl was pregnant with another man’s baby at the moment of their wedding in June 1944, which was witnessed by Hitler, Himmler, and Martin Borman, Hitler’s powerful secretary.
Unfortunately for Hermann Fegelein, he didn’t get to enjoy his new position too long, as Third Reich was collapsing. Soon, Soviet troops were at the Berlin’s gates and he quickly realized that if he wanted to survive the war, he needed to leave the city. He told his friends he had no desire of joining the suicide pact, referring to Hitler and Eva’s promise to kill each other rather than fall into the hands of the Soviets. His attempt to escape to Sweden, laden with cash and gold, was discovered by his former comrades from the SS and he was brought back to enraged Hitler, who ordered a military tribunal to be convened. The trial was swift and Hermann Fegelein was taken outside the Hitler’s bunker and shot in the head.