Rudolf Querner, 1893-1945
Higher SS and Police Commander in Military District X 1941 - 1943
Rudolph Querner was born on 10 June 1893 in Lehnsdorf, Brandenburg, as the son of a manorial family. After attending a cadet academy and attaining university qualifications, he became an officer and took part in the First World War. After being released from a French prisoner-of-war camp, he entered the police service and started making a name for himself as an energetic careerist. In September 1937, he became a commander in Hamburg's uniformed police. Querner complained to Himmler that among prospective police recruits, the "human material is seriously inferior." In 1937 he became an inspector in the SS uniformed police, and did preparatory work for the SS Upper Section Chief Hans Adolf Prützmann, who was also serving as the HSSPF for Military District X. In October 1938, Querner assisted with police surveillance during the annexation of the Sudeten territories, before he was posted to the head office of the SS uniformed police in October 1940.
When, in early May 1941, Himmler appointed Prützmann to be the HSSPF for the North-East (East Prussia) Querner became HSSPF for Hamburg. AS Himmler's immediate deputy for the region, he became the most important representative of the SS and police apparatus in northern Germany. However, he was hardly able to challenge the power of Hamburg's formidable Reichsstatthalter and Gauleiter Karl Kaufmann. Even in making vacation plans, Querner was dependent on Kaufmann. In the end, his conflict turned out to be with Hamburg's Police President Hans Kehrl, who felt himself subordinated by Querner.
Within SS and police circles, Querner was notably jovial; he maintained faithful contacts with many superiors and subordinates, even after personnel transfers. He went far beyond the norm in nurturing internal connections (an important pillar of the SS system, which was based on mutual obligations). Querner took care of requests from not only his staff, the SS, and the police, but also played a kind of godfather figure for the general populace (including helping strangers in search of university placements, missing persons, or foreign exchange). At the same time, in his role as the regional SS and police Jurisdiction's supreme authority, he was equally as strict as Pützmann once was, pursuing his goal of maintaining discipline.
As HSSPF, Querner was a key figure involved with in deportation of Hamburg's Jews. In late October 1941, he joined Himmler on a trip to Mogilev (Belorussia), where the delegation's tour included a forced labour camp recently established by Erich von dem Bach, the HSSPF for Central Russia. On the day they visited 279 people were executed there. Querner appeared impressed. He subsequently wrote to Karl Kaufmann that the next transport of Hamburg Jews was postponed. Apparently, the context of the tour involved plans for installing a gas chamber at Mogilev for the extermination of the Jews.
Querner's replacement as Hamburg's HSSPF in early 1943 by Georg Henning Graf von Bassewitz-Behr was an indirect result of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in May 1942. Himmler finally appointed Ernst Kaltenbrunner as Heydrich's successor in the office of "Chief of the Security Police and Security Service", which had been vacant for months; Rudolf Querner then assumed Kaltenbrunner's previous posting as the HSSPF for the Danube SS Upper Section, based in Vienna. Later, from October 1944 until the end of the war, Querner was an HSSPF in Braunschweig, where he was responsible for various crimes connected to the evacuation of concentration camps and prisoner-of-war camps during the final months of the war.
After his arrest by allied armed forces, Querner committed suicide on 27 May 1945.