Wolfgang Flügel

July 3, 1921, Leipzig - February 13, 1945, near Piliscsaba

Wolfgang Flügel, born on 3 July 1921 in Leipzig, died on 13 February 1945 near Piliscsaba, was the son of the superintendant of Leipzig Racecourse. He joined the Nazi movement, which strongly supported horse-racing. Flügel himself was obviously influenced by his parents in leaving the church on 1 May 1934. He joined the Nazi party (NSDAP) on 1 September 1939. As an Imperial Labour Service employee, he acted in a haulage unit during the Polish campaign. Having completed imperial labour service, he applied on 1 October 1939 for the SS officer-training school at Tölz, after which he was sent to the equestrian college at Munich/Riem, headed by Hermann Fegelein. He hoped to qualify as an equestrian in the Olympics due in 1940, which were aborted by the war.

He marched to the Soviet front with the 1st SS Cavalry Regiment. This unit was subordinated to the SS Cavalry Brigade, which in the summer of 1941 received orders from Himmler to shoot male members of the "nationally hostile or racially and humanly inferior" [sic!] population. Regarding the Jews, they wrote that "they must be dealt with largely as looters." Himmler was dissatisfied with the speed of execution, so on August 1, 1941, he radioed an order that "all Jews should be shot, Jewish women should be driven into the swamp." Cavalry regiments combing the villages and small towns of Polesje reported 13,788 Jews shot dead in 12 days, while their own casualties were two people killed by mine explosions. The mass murders continued from the end of August 1941 and claimed more than 10,000 lives. Due to the large number of victims and the size of the area searched, it is inconceivable that this series of actions would have affected only a few SS riders. The most cautious claim is that anyone who was a member of the SS Cavalry Division in 1941 could at least hear, see and smell the consequences of these murders.

Flügel’s role in the mass murders is unclear. He was transferred on 30 January 1942 to the 3rd company of the 2nd SS cavalry regiment. On 7 March 1942 he was slightly injured near Rusev. From May 1942 to April 1943 he was with the Munich reserves. There he met his future wife in a café and married her the same year. The wedding was not simple: his future wife’s family loathed the Nazis, while and his father were convinced believers in the Nazi system. Having married, Flügel took a short officer-training course at Bromberg and then joined the cadres of the Warsaw SS cavalry. On 25 July 1943 he was placed in the air-defence training force in Munich.

In June 1944 Flügel was a platoon leader in Pécsvárad working to reinstate the 4th company of the 15th brigade of the 8th SS cavalry regiment. By 26 July 1944 he was a company commander taking part in the ensuing battles, which for him started in North Transylvania early in September. His unit in November and December defended posts on the Attila I line on the Maglód-Pécel line. He suffered a slight hand wound on 4 November 1944 from grenade shards. In a letter home at the time he hoped he’d “soon get a special honour.” Two weeks later he wrote, “Sadly my appointment as Hauptsturmführer was blocked by my youth. But it’ll happen later. There’ll be more too, probably. I had to hand some battle reports into the division.” Early in December he was again out of the front line for a time, with diphtheria.

Then came two fairly quiet weeks for his unit on the Pécel-Maglód front line, but then Flügel too had to cross into Buda on Christmas Day. He and his unit held the stretch before the Pálvölgy stalagmite cave. Dénes Vass of 1st university assault battalion recalls Flügel as “a tough soldier: he shot dead a sad Óbuda Swabian SS boy as an example . The body was laid out by Szépvölgyi út with a notice in German and Hungarian on its chest. I once took an informative paper to Flügel at his command post, about 100 metres from Lieutenant Babinszky’s. It was very cold and I shivered in a thin jacket and my teeth chattered. On my arrival, Flügel asked laughingly, ‘Not afraid are you, Volunteer?’ I tried to put it in perfect German that I wasn’t afraid, just very cold. With a laugh he took a bottle of pálinka from the table and filled a tumbler: “Drink up!”

There is hardly anything to be had about Flügel after that. Gyula Kokovay remembers him holding the front at Ostrom utca on the Breakout day. He again was the last to see Flügel alive in the Buda Hills on 12 February 1945, north of Nagykovácsi: “The Germans halted in front of us and so did we, and as we didn’t know what was doing, we moved up with the captain.

The elder of the Germans, Platoon Leader Flügel, was lying in the snow and yelled that he’d had enough of this madness, hopeless, he wasn’t going a step further, etc. The men just stood about him.”

Thereafter there is no sure basis for the events. Hearsay that reached the family had Flügel collecting himself after his brainstorm. He went on further and then took his own life with his pistol in a railway tunnel. If that is true, it could only have happened in the Piliscsaba tunnel.

Flügel’s son was born in October 1944, while he was fighting in North Transylvania. After 1945, his widow found it hard to track of memories of her husband. His Waffen-SS membership became a family stigma to be concealed. Decades went by before the orphaned son learnt details of his father’s death. The physical absence of a father darkened his childhood and left later traces as well. Wolfgang Flügel could never answer the questions of whether his father had joined in the mass murders, and if so, why he had done so or what he had thought of the matter at the time.