Army Group South Rear Area

Army Group South Rear Area (Rückwärtiges Heeresgebiet Süd) was one of the three Army Group Rear Area Commands, established during the 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union. Commanded by General Karl von Roques, it was an area of military jurisdiction behind Wehrmacht's Army Group South.

Army Group South Rear Area
Rückwärtiges Heeresgebiet Süd
Country Nazi Germany
BranchArmy (Wehrmacht)
Part ofArmy Group Centre and Army High Command
EngagementsWorld War II
Karl von Roques
Erich Friderici
Joachim Witthöft
Friedrich Mieth

The Group South Rear Area's outward function was to provide security behind the fighting troops. It was also a site of mass murder during The Holocaust and other crimes against humanity targeting the civilian population. In the words of historian Michael Parrish, the army commander "presided over an empire of terror and brutality".[1]


The commander of the Army Group South Rear Area, General Karl von Roques, was responsible for the rear area security. Its headquarters was subordinated to Army Group South, while also reporting to the Wehrmacht's Quartermaster General Eduard Wagner, who had the overall responsibility for rear area security.[2]

Roques controlled three Security Divisions (213th, 444th, and 454th) and oversaw the units of Secret Field Police of the Wehrmacht. He operated in parallel, and in cooperation, with Friedrich Jeckeln, the Higher SS and Police Leaders appointed by the head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler.[2]

Security warfare and crimes against humanityEdit

The area commanders' duties included security of communications and supply lines, economic exploitation and combatting guerillas (partisans) in Wehrmacht's rear areas, which were the primary tasks of the security divisions.[3] In addition, security and police formations of the SS and the SD (SS Security Service) operated in the areas, being subordinated to the respective Higher SS and Police Leaders. These units included multiple Einsatzgruppen death squad detachments, Police Regiment South and additional Order Police battalions. These units perpetrated mass murder during The Holocaust and other crimes against humanity. While under military jurisdiction, the area was the site of the massacres at Babi Yar and Kamianets-Podilskyi.[4]

The security formations, often in coordination with or under the leadership of the Wehrmacht, conducted security warfare targeting the civilian population. The so-called anti-partisan operations in "bandit-infested" areas amounted to destruction of villages, seizure of livestock, deporting of able-bodied population for slave labour to Germany and murder of those of non-working age.[5]




  1. ^ a b Parrish 1996, p. 127.
  2. ^ a b Megargee 2007, p. 36.
  3. ^ Shepherd 2003, p. 70.
  4. ^ Brandon & Lower 2008, p. 276.
  5. ^ Shepherd 2004, p. 63.
  6. ^ Megargee 2007, p. 95.
  7. ^ a b Pohl 2008, p. 100.


  • Brandon, Ray; Lower, Wendy (2008). The Shoah in Ukraine: history, testimony, memorialization. Indiana University Press. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-253-35084-8.
  • Beorn, Waitman Wade (2014). Marching into Darkness: The Wehrmacht and the Holocaust in Belarus. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-72550-8.
  • Megargee, Geoffrey P. (2007). War of Annihilation: Combat and Genocide on the Eastern Front, 1941. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-7425-4482-6.
  • Parrish, Michael (1996). The Lesser Terror: Soviet State Security, 1939–1953. Praeger Press. ISBN 978-0-275-95113-9.
  • Pohl, Dieter (2008). Die Herrschaft der Wehrmacht: Deutsche Militärbesatzung und einheimische Bevölkerung in der Sowjetunion 1941–1944. Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag. ISBN 978-3486580655.
  • Shepherd, Ben H. (2003). "The Continuum of Brutality: Wehrmacht Security Divisions in Central Russia, 1942". German History. 21 (1): 49–81. doi:10.1191/0266355403gh274oa.
  • Shepherd, Ben H. (2004). War in the Wild East the German Army and Soviet Partisans. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674043553.