Friedrich von Rabenau

1884 (Berlin) - 1945 (KZ Flossenbürg)

Officer and Theologian

"What sustains me is thinking of Eva, and the notion of duty which over the six decades of my life has become an inner compulsion. My religious views prevent me from choosing to end my own life."

Friedrich von Rabenau was born in Berlin on 10 October 1884. He served as an officer in the First World War, taking part in the fighting in the Baltic. In 1919 he became secretary of the German National People’s Party in Leipzig. Between 1920 and 1927 he was first a staff officer, then was appointed to the Berlin Truppenamt (Troop Office) of the Reichswehr Ministry, and then from 1927 to 1936 he fulfilled military roles in Königsberg, Kassel, Breslau and Münster. In Breslau he gave lectures and in 1935 was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Breslau. From 1 April 1937 he was director of the military archives at Potsdam, at first in the rank of lieutenant-general and three years later in that of general. He wrote a two-volume biography of Hans von Seeckt, which was published in 1938/40.

Von Rabenau took part in the invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 as commander of the 73rd infantry division. As the leading military archivist he played a part in collecting looted archive material in the states occupied by Germany and removing it to the German Reich. On 1 July 1942 he was transferred to the Führerreserve (Officers Reserve) at the army high command; thirteen months later he retired. On 17 November 1943 he obtained the qualification of Licentiate of Theology at the University of Berlin, and after less than four months he was accorded the right to preach in church.
Von Rabenau had contacts with church and military resistance groups, and he spoke out in favour of depositing the war logs from the Polish campaign in the military archive because of the war crimes recorded in them.

On 25 July 1944 he was arrested by the Gestapo and taken to Fürstenberg Concentration Camp, then to the Moabit prison in Berlin and later the Gestapo prison in Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse. In January 1945 he was taken to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and from there, on 24 February, to Buchenwald, where he was held as a "special inmate" in an SS "detentioan cellar" until 3 April. Friedrich von Rabenau was then transported to Flossenbürg and shot there sometime between 9 and 14 April 1945.