Walter Reder (4 February 1915 – 26 April 1991) was an Austrian SS commander and war criminal during World War II. He served with the SS Division Totenkopf and the SS Division Reichsführer-SS. He and the unit under his command committed the Marzabotto massacre in Italy in 1944. After the war, he was convicted of war crimes in Italy.
Walter Reder was born in Freiwaldau, Moravia, Austria-Hungary. He joined the SS-Verfügungstruppe and was granted German citizenship in December 1934. During World War II, he served in the Waffen-SS. In December 1943, Reder was transferred to the newly formed 16th SS Panzergrenadier Division Reichsführer-SS and served in Italy until 1945. In 1943, Reder became the commander of the SS-Panzer-Aufklärungsabteilung 16, which committed several massacres in 1944. In March 1945 his division withdrew to Hungary and later to Austria, where Reder surrendered, together with the rest of the Reichsführer-SS Division, to British forces near Klagenfurt.
Trial and conviction
Reder was extradited to Italy in May 1948 to stand trial for war crimes. He was tried by an Italian military court in Bologna for ordering the destruction of town of Marzabotto and other villages near Bologna in August and September of 1944 during so-called anti-partisan sweeps, and for ordering the execution of 2,700 Italian civilians in Tuscany and Emilia during the same period. In October 1951 he was sentenced to life imprisonment at a fortress prison in Gaeta, on the coast north of Naples.
The citizens of Marzabotto and survivors of the massacre voted 237 to 1 against freeing Reder. Local officials had stated that as many as 1,830 civilians died in massacres in and around Marzabotto.
Years later, a group of SS men whom Reder had commanded in 1944 were tried and convicted for their role in the Sant'Anna di Stazzema massacre. Their convictions and sentencing were conducted in absentia.
Reder was paroled in January 1985, after which he returned to Austria. He died in 1991.