Ernst Kaltenbrunner

Ernst Kaltenbrunner (4 October 1903 – 16 October 1946) was an Austrian-born senior official of Nazi Germany during World War II. An Obergruppenführer (general) in the Schutzstaffel (SS), between January 1943 and May 1945 he held the offices of Chief of the Reich Main Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; RSHA). He was the highest-ranking member of the SS to face trial at the first Nuremberg trials. He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and executed by hanging.

Dr.

Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Ernst-Kaltenbrunner-72-916A
Director of the Reich Main Security Office
In office
30 January 1943 – 12 May 1945
Appointed byAdolf Hitler
Preceded byReinhard Heydrich / Heinrich Himmler (acting)
Succeeded byOffice abolished
President of the ICPC
In office
30 January 1943 – 12 May 1945
LeaderOskar Dressler as Secretaries-general
Preceded byArthur Nebe
Succeeded byFlorent Louwage
State Secretary of Public Security
In office
11 March 1938 – 13 March 1938
ChancellorArthur Seyss-Inquart
Personal details
Born4 October 1903
Ried im Innkreis, Austria-Hungary
Died16 October 1946 (aged 43)
Nuremberg, Allied-occupied Germany
Cause of deathExecution
NationalityAustrian
Political partyNazi Party (NSDAP)
Spouse(s)
Elisabeth Eder (m. 1934)
Domestic partnerGisela Gräfin von Westarp (née Wolf) mistress
Children5
Alma materUniversity of Graz
ProfessionLawyer
CabinetSeyss-Inquart government
Signature
Ernst Kaltenbrunner's signature
Flag of the Schutzstaffel.svg SS paramilitary career
Allegiance Nazi Germany
Years of service1931–1945
RankSS-Obergruppenführer

Biography

Born in Ried im Innkreis, Austria, Kaltenbrunner was the son of a lawyer, and was educated at the Realgymnasium in Linz. Raised in a nationalist family, Kaltenbrunner was childhood friends with Adolf Eichmann, the infamous SS officer who played a key role in implementing the Nazis' Final Solution against Europe's Jews.[1] After Gymnasium, Kaltenbrunner went on to obtain his doctorate degree in law at Graz University in 1926.[2] He worked at a law firm in Salzburg for a year before opening his own law office in Linz.[3] He had deep scars on his face from dueling in his student days, although some sources attribute them to an automobile accident.[4]

On 14 January 1934, Kaltenbrunner married Elisabeth Eder (b. 1908) who was from Linz and a Nazi Party member. They had three children. In addition to the children from his marriage, Kaltenbrunner had twins, Ursula and Wolfgang, (b. 1945) with his long-time mistress Gisela Gräfin von Westarp (née Wolf). All the children survived the war.[5]

SS career

On 18 October 1930, Kaltenbrunner joined the Nazi Party with NSDAP member number 300,179.[6] In 1931, he was the Bezirksredner (district speaker) for the Nazi Party in Oberösterreich. Kaltenbrunner went on to join the SS on 31 August 1931, his SS number was 13,039.[2] He first became a Rechtsberater (legal consultant) for the party in 1929 and later held this same position for SS Abschnitt (Section) VIII beginning in 1932.[7] That same year, he began working at his father's law practice and by 1933 was head of the National-Socialist Lawyers' League in Linz.[7]

In January 1934, Kaltenbrunner was briefly jailed at the Kaisersteinbruch detention camp with other National Socialists for conspiracy by the Engelbert Dollfuss government. While there he led a hunger strike which forced the government to release 490 of the party members. In 1935, he was jailed again on suspicion of high treason. This charge was dropped, but he was sentenced to six months imprisonment for conspiracy and he lost his license to practice law.[8]

From mid-1935 Kaltenbrunner was head of the illegal SS Abschnitt VIII in Linz and was considered a leader of the Austrian SS. To provide Heinrich Himmler, Reinhard Heydrich and Heinz Jost with new information, Kaltenbrunner repeatedly made trips to Bavaria. Hiding on a train and on a ship that traveled to Passau, he would return with money and orders for Austrian comrades.[9] Kaltenbrunner was arrested again in 1937, by Austrian authorities on charges of being head of the illegal Nazi Party organisation in Oberösterreich. He was released in September.[10]

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-45534-0005, Kz Mauthausen, Besuch Heinrich Himmler, Franz Ziereis
Kaltenbrunner (on the far left), Heinrich Himmler and August Eigruber inspect Mauthausen concentration camp in 1941, in the company of camp commander Franz Ziereis.

Acting on orders from Hermann Göring, Kaltenbrunner assisted in the Anschluss with Germany in March 1938, and was awarded the role as the state secretary for public security in the Seyss-Inquart cabinet.[11] Controlled from behind the scenes by Himmler, Kaltenbrunner still led, albeit clandestinely, the Austrian SS as part of his duty to 'coordinate' and manage the Austrian population.[12] Then on 21 March 1938, he was promoted to SS-Brigadeführer.[13] He was a member of the Reichstag from 10 April 1938 until 8 May 1945.[13] Amid this activity, he helped establish the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp near Linz.[14] Mauthausen was the first Nazi concentration camp opened in Austria following the Anschluss.[15] On 11 September 1938, Kaltenbrunner was promoted to the rank of SS-Gruppenführer, equivalent to a lieutenant general in the army while holding the position of Führer of SS-Oberabschnitt Österreich (re-designated SS-Oberabschnitt Donau in November 1938). Also in 1938, he was appointed High SS and police leader (Höherer SS- und Polizeiführer; HSSPF) for Donau, which was the primary SS command in Austria (he held that post until 30 January 1943).[10]

World War II

In June 1940, Kaltenbrunner was appointed Police President of Vienna and held that additional post for a year. In July 1940, he was commissioned as a SS-Untersturmführer in the Waffen-SS Reserve.[16] Throughout the course of his many duties, Kaltenbrunner also developed an impressive intelligence network across Austria moving south eastwards, which eventually brought him to Himmler's attention for the assignment as chief of the RSHA in January 1943.[17] The RSHA was composed of the SiPo (Sicherheitspolizei; the combined forces of the Gestapo and Kripo) along with the SD (Sicherheitsdienst, Security Service).[18] He replaced Heydrich, who was assassinated in June 1942. Kaltenbrunner held this position until the end of the war.[19] Hardly anyone knew Kaltenbrunner and upon his appointment, Himmler transferred responsibility for both SS personnel and economics from the RSHA to the SS Main Economic and Administrative Office.[20] Nonetheless, he was promoted to SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei on 21 June 1943. He also replaced Heydrich as President of the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC), the organization today known as Interpol.[16]

Fear of a collapsing home-front due to the Allied bombing campaigns and that another "stab-in-the-back" at home could arise as a result, caused Kaltenbrunner to immediately tighten the Nazi grip within Germany.[21] From what historian Anthony Read relates, Kaltenbrunner's appointment as RSHA chief came as a surprise given the other possible candidates like head of the Gestapo, Heinrich Müller, or even SD foreign intelligence chief, Walter Schellenberg.[22] Historian Richard Grunberger also added the name of Dr. Wilhelm Stuckart, the future minister of the German Interior as another potential candidate for head of the RSHA; however, he suggests that Kaltenbrunner was most likely selected since he was a comparative "newcomer" who would be more "pliable" in Himmler's hands.[23]

Like many of the ideological fanatics in the regime, Kaltenbrunner was a committed anti-Semite. According to former SS-Sturmbannführer Hans Georg Mayer, Kaltenbrunner was present at a December 1940 meeting among Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler, and Heydrich where it was decided to gas all Jews incapable of heavy physical work.[24] Under Kaltenbrunner's command, the persecution of Jews picked up pace as "the process of extermination was to be expedited and the concentration of the Jews in the Reich itself and the occupied countries were to be liquidated as soon as possible."[25] Kaltenbrunner stayed constantly informed over the status of concentration camp activities, receiving periodic reports at his office in the RSHA.[26]

In an effort to combat homosexuality across the greater Reich, Kaltenbrunner pushed the Ministry of Justice in July 1943 for an edict mandating compulsory castration for anyone found guilty of this offense. While this was rejected, he still took steps to get the army to review some 6,000 cases to prosecute homosexuals.[27]

Bundesarchiv Bild 192-029, KZ Mauthausen, Himmler, Kaltenbrunner, Ziereis
Kaltenbrunner with Himmler and Ziereis at Mauthausen in April 1941

During the summer of 1943, Kaltenbrunner conducted his second inspection of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp. While he was there, 15 prisoners were selected to demonstrate for Kaltenbrunner three methods of killing; by gunshot to the neck, hanging, and gassing. After the killings were performed, Kaltenbrunner inspected the crematorium and later the quarry.[28] In October 1943, he told Herbert Kappler, the head of German police and security services in Rome, that the "eradication of the Jews in Italy" was of "special interest" for "general security." [29] Four days later, Kappler's SS and police units began rounding up and deporting Jews by train to Auschwitz concentration camp.[29]

In 1944 when Hitler was in the process of strong-arming Admiral Horthy into submitting Hungary to the Nazis during an arranged meeting in Klessheim Castle in Salzburg, Kaltenbrunner was present for the negotiations and escorted him out once they were over. Accompanying Horthy and Kaltenbrunner on the journey back to Hungary was Adolf Eichmann, who brought with him a special Einsatzkommando unit to begin the process of "rounding up and deporting Hungary's 750,000 Jews."[30]

It was said that even Himmler feared him, as Kaltenbrunner was an intimidating figure with his 1.94 metres (6 ft 4 in) height, facial scars and volatile temper. Kaltenbrunner was also a longtime friend of Otto Skorzeny and recommended him for many secret missions, allowing Skorzeny to become one of Hitler's favorite agents. Kaltenbrunner was also responsible for heading Operation Long Jump, a plan to assassinate Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt in Tehran.[31][a]

Immediately in the wake of the 20 July Plot on Hitler's life in 1944, Kaltenbrunner was summoned to Hitler's wartime headquarters at the Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair) in East Prussia to begin the investigation into who was responsible for the assassination attempt.[32] Once it was revealed that an attempted military coup against Hitler had been launched, Himmler and Kaltenbrunner had to tread carefully, as the military was not under the jurisdiction of the Gestapo or the SD. Since the attempt failed, the conspirators were soon identified.[33] An estimated 5,000 people were eventually executed, with many more sent to concentration camps.[34]

Bundesarchiv Bild 151-17-03, Volksgerichtshof, Dr. Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Kaltenbrunner (front row, second from left) as spectator at a People's Court show trial following the failed 20 July plot.

Historian Heinz Höhne counted Kaltenbrunner among fanatical Hitler loyalists and described him as being committed "to the bitter end."[35] Field reports from the SD in October 1944 about deteriorating morale in the military prompted Kaltenbrunner to urge the involvement of the RSHA in military court-martial proceedings, but this was rejected by Himmler who thought it unwise to interfere in Wehrmacht (army) affairs.[36] In December 1944, Kaltenbrunner was granted the additional rank of General of the Waffen-SS. On 15 November 1944 he was awarded the Knights Cross of the War Merit Cross with Swords. In addition, he was awarded the NSDAP Golden Party Badge and the Blutorden (Blood Order).[37] Using his authority as Chief of the RSHA, Kaltenbrunner issued a decree on 6 February 1945 that allowed policemen to shoot "disloyal" people at their discretion, without judicial review.[38]

On 12 March 1945, a meeting took place in the Vorarlberg between Kaltenbrunner and Carl Jacob Burckhardt, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (1945–48).[39] Just over a month later, Himmler was informed that SS-Obergruppenführer (general) Karl Wolff had been negotiating with the Allies for the capitulation of Italy.[40] When questioned by Himmler, Wolff explained that he was operating under Hitler's orders and attempting to play the Allies against one another. Himmler believed him,[41] but Kaltenbrunner did not and told Himmler that an informant claimed Wolff also negotiated with Cardinal Schuster of Milan and was about to surrender occupied Italy to the Allies.[42] Himmler angrily repeated the allegations and Wolff, feigning offense, challenged Himmler to present these statements to Hitler. Unnerved by Wolff's demands, Himmler backed down, and Hitler sent Wolff back to Italy to seek better terms with the U.S. forces.[43]

In mid-April 1945, three weeks before the war ended, Himmler named Kaltenbrunner commander-in-chief of those remaining German forces in Southern Europe. Kaltenbrunner attempted to organize cells for post-war sabotage in the region and in Germany, but accomplished little.[44] Hitler made one of his last appearances on 20 April 1945 outside the subterranean Führerbunker in Berlin, where he pinned medals on boys from the Hitler Youth for their bravery.[b] Kaltenbrunner was among those present, but realizing the end was near, he then fled from Berlin.[45]

Arrest

On 12 May 1945 Kaltenbrunner was apprehended along with his adjutant, Arthur Scheidler, and two SS guards in a remote cabin at the top of the Totes Gebirge mountains near Alt Aussee by a search party initiated by the 80th Infantry Division, Third U.S. Army. Information had been gained from Johann Brandauer, the assistant burgermeister of Alt Aussee, that the party was hiding out with false papers in the cabin. This was supported by an eyewitness sighting by the Alt Aussee mountain ranger five days earlier. Special Agent Robert E. Matteson from the C.I.C. Detachment organized and led a patrol consisting of Brandauer, four ex-Wehrmacht soldiers, and a squad of US soldiers to effect the arrest. The party climbed over mountainous and glacial terrain for six hours in darkness before arriving at the cabin.[46] Matteson confronted the suspects alone and unarmed.[47] After a short standoff, all four men exited the cabin and surrendered without a shot fired. Kaltenbrunner claimed to be a doctor and offered a false name. However, upon their arrival back to town his mistress, Countess Gisela von Westarp,[48] chanced to spot him as he was being led away, called out his name and rushed to hug him. This action resulted in his positive identification and arrest by US troops.

In 2001, Ernst Kaltenbrunner's personal Nazi security seal was found in an Alpine lake in Styria, Austria, 56 years after he had thrown it away in an effort to hide his identity. The seal was recovered by a Dutch citizen on vacation. The seal has the words "Chef der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD" (Chief of the Security Police and SD) engraved on it. Experts have examined the seal and believe it was discarded in the final days of the war in May 1945.[49]

Nuremberg trials

Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Kaltenbrunner wheeled into court during the Nuremberg trials after a brain haemorrhage during interrogation.

At the Nuremberg trials, Kaltenbrunner was charged with conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity.[50] Due to the areas over which he exercised responsibility as an SS general and as chief of the RSHA, he was acquitted of crimes against peace, but held responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.[51]

Ernst Kaltebrunner in Nurnberg
Kaltenbrunner as a defendant in the Nuremberg trials

During the initial stages of the Nuremberg trials, Kaltenbrunner was absent because of two episodes of subarachnoid hemorrhage, which required several weeks of recovery time.[52] After his health improved, the tribunal denied his request for pardon. When he was released from a military hospital he pleaded not guilty to the charges of the indictment against him. Kaltenbrunner said all decrees and legal documents which bore his signature were "rubber-stamped" and filed by his adjutant(s). He also said Gestapo Chief Heinrich Müller had illegally affixed his signature to numerous documents in question.[53]

Kaltenbrunner argued in his defense that his position as RSHA chief existed only theoretically and said he was only active in matters of espionage and intelligence. He maintained that Himmler, as his superior, was the person actually culpable for the atrocities committed during his tenure as chief of the RSHA. Kaltenbrunner also asserted that he had no knowledge of the Final Solution before 1943 and went on to claim that he protested against the ill-treatment of the Jews to Himmler and Hitler.[54] Further denials from Kaltenbrunner included statements that he knew nothing of the Commissar Order and that he never visited Mauthausen concentration camp, despite documentation of his visit.[55] At one point, Kaltenbrunner went so far as to avow that he was responsible for bringing the Final Solution to an end.[56]

Conviction and execution

On 30 September 1946, the International Military Tribunal found Kaltenbrunner not guilty of crimes against peace, but guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity (counts three and four). On 1 October 1946, the IMT sentenced him to death by hanging.[57]

Dead ernstkaltenbrunner
Kaltenbrunner's body after execution by hanging on 16 October 1946

Kaltenbrunner was executed on 16 October 1946, around 1:15 a.m., in Nuremberg. His body, like those of the other nine executed men and that of Hermann Göring (who committed suicide the previous day), was cremated at the Eastern Cemetery in Munich and the ashes were scattered in a tributary of the River Isar.[58][59]

Dates of rank

Awards and decorations

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ This mission was thwarted by Soviet intelligence agent Gevork Vartanian. See the following article:"Armenian intelligence agent, hero of the Soviet Union Gevorg Vardanian passed away".
  2. ^ See: "Hitler - Last Known Film Footage". AwesomeStories.com.

Citations

  1. ^ Gerwarth 2012, p. 100.
  2. ^ a b Miller 2015, pp. 393, 394.
  3. ^ Snyder 1976, p. 189.
  4. ^ "The Nuremberg Trials". Archived from the original on 2001-03-12. Retrieved 2016-04-18.
  5. ^ Miller 2015, pp. 408, 409.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Miller 2015, p. 393.
  7. ^ a b Miller 2015, p. 394.
  8. ^ Miller 2015, pp. 394, 395.
  9. ^ Rosmus 2015, p. 52.
  10. ^ a b Miller 2015, p. 395.
  11. ^ Zentner & Bedürftig 1991, p. 487.
  12. ^ Read 2005, pp. 461.
  13. ^ a b Miller 2015, pp. 393, 395.
  14. ^ Stackelberg 2007, p. 215.
  15. ^ Weale 2012, p. 107.
  16. ^ a b Miller 2015, pp. 393, 396.
  17. ^ Wistrich 1995, p. 135.
  18. ^ Longerich 2012, pp. 470, 661.
  19. ^ Longerich 2012, p. 661.
  20. ^ Höhne 2001, p. 553.
  21. ^ Gerwarth 2012, p. 289.
  22. ^ Read 2005, p. 798.
  23. ^ Grunberger 1993, p. 98.
  24. ^ Breitman 1994, pp. 81–82.
  25. ^ Yahil 1990, p. 406.
  26. ^ Kahn 1978, p. 270.
  27. ^ Evans 2010, p. 536.
  28. ^ Miller 2015, pp. 396–398.
  29. ^ a b Miller 2015, p. 398.
  30. ^ Read 2005, p. 825.
  31. ^ West 2013, pp. 140–141.
  32. ^ Read 2005, p. 833.
  33. ^ Read 2005, pp. 833–837.
  34. ^ Graber 1978, p. 180.
  35. ^ Höhne 2001, p. 511.
  36. ^ Höhne 2001, pp. 542–543.
  37. ^ Miller 2015, pp. 393, 406, 407.
  38. ^ Overy 2010, p. 388.
  39. ^ Moorehead 1999, pp. 458–460.
  40. ^ Höhne 2001, p. 572.
  41. ^ Höhne 2001, p. 573.
  42. ^ Höhne 2001, pp. 573–574.
  43. ^ Höhne 2001, p. 574.
  44. ^ "The Last Days of Ernst Kaltenbrunner — Central Intelligence Agency". www.cia.gov.
  45. ^ Read 2005, pp. 891–892.
  46. ^ "The Last Days of Ernst Kaltenbrunner — Central Intelligence Agency". www.cia.gov.
  47. ^ Janes, Terry D. "The Nazi Redoubt-Patton's Troubleshooters By Terry D. Janes". www.thetroubleshooters.com.
  48. ^ ": Gräfin Gisela von Westarp". 1 March 1947 – via Spiegel Online.
  49. ^ Leidig, Michael (16 November 2001). "Nazi chief's seal found in Alpine lake" – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  50. ^ Snyder 1976, p. 190.
  51. ^ Marrus 1997, pp. 64–70.
  52. ^ Conot 2000, pp. 95–96.
  53. ^ Conot 2000, pp. 367–368.
  54. ^ Marrus 1997, p. 214.
  55. ^ Conot 2000, pp. 364–365.
  56. ^ Conot 2000, p. 370.
  57. ^ Marrus 1997, p. 237.
  58. ^ Thomas Darnstädt (2005), "Ein Glücksfall der Geschichte", Der Spiegel, 13 September (14), p. 128
  59. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 2011, p. 393.
  60. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Miller 2015, pp. 406, 407.

Bibliography

  • Breitman, Richard (1994). "Himmler, the Architect of Genocide". In David Cesarani (ed.). The Final Solution: Origins and Implementation. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-41515-232-7.
  • Conot, Robert E. (2000). Justice at Nuremberg. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers. ISBN 978-0-88184-032-2.
  • Evans, Richard (2010). The Third Reich at War. New York: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14311-671-4.
  • Gerwarth, Robert (2012). Hitler's Hangman: The Life of Heydrich. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-30018-772-4.
  • Graber, G. S. (1978). The History of the SS. New York: D. McKay. ISBN 0-679-50754-X.
  • Grunberger, Richard (1993). Hitler’s SS. New York: Dorset Press. ISBN 978-1-56619-152-4.
  • Hildebrand, Klaus (1984). The Third Reich. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-0494-3033-5.
  • Höhne, Heinz (2001). The Order of the Death’s Head: The Story of Hitler’s SS. New York: Penguin Press. ISBN 978-0-14139-012-3.
  • Kahn, David (1978). Hitler’s Spies: German Intelligence in World War II. New York: MacMillan. ISBN 0-02-560610-7.
  • Longerich, Peter (2012). Heinrich Himmler: A Life. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-959232-6.
  • Manvell, Roger; Fraenkel, Heinrich (2011). Goering: The Rise and Fall of the Notorious Nazi Leader. New York: Skyhorse Publishing. ISBN 978-1-61608-109-6.
  • Marrus, Michael R. (1997). The Nuremberg War Crimes Trial, 1945–46: A Documentary History. Boston: Bedford Books. ISBN 978-0-31213-691-8.
  • Miller, Michael (2015). Leaders of the SS and German Police, Vol. 2. San Jose, CA: R. James Bender. ISBN 978-19-329-7025-8.
  • Moorehead, Caroline (1999) [1998]. Dunant's Dream: War, Switzerland and the History of the Red Cross. Carroll & Graf Publishing. ISBN 978-0786706099.
  • Overy, Richard (2010). The Third Reich: A Chronicle. New York: Quercus Publishing Inc. ISBN 978-1-62365-456-6.
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  • Rosmus, Anna (2015). Hitlers Nibelungen: Niederbayern im Aufbruch zu Krieg und Untergang (in German). Grafenau: Samples Verlag. ISBN 978-3-93840-132-3.
  • Snyder, Louis L (1976). Encyclopedia of the Third Reich. London: Robert Hale. ISBN 978-1-56924-917-8.
  • Stackelberg, Roderick (2007). The Routledge Companion to Nazi Germany. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-41530-861-8.
  • Weale, Adrian (2012). Army of Evil: A History of the SS. New York; Toronto: NAL Caliber (Penguin Group). ISBN 978-0-451-23791-0.
  • West, Nigel (2013). Historical Dictionary of World War II Intelligence. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press). ISBN 978-0-81085-822-0.
  • Wistrich, Robert (1995). Who's Who In Nazi Germany. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-41511-888-0.
  • Yahil, Leni (1990). The Holocaust: The Fate of European Jewry, 1932–1945. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-504522-X.
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External links

Government offices
Preceded by
Heinrich Himmler (acting)
Director of the Reich Main Security Office
30 January 1943 – 12 May 1945
Succeeded by
None
Preceded by
Arthur Nebe
President of Interpol
30 January 1943 – 12 May 1945
Succeeded by
Florent Louwage
Military offices
Preceded by
None
Commander-in-Chief of Southern Germany
18 April 1945 – 2 May 1945
Succeeded by
Albert Kesselring
Arajs Kommando

The Arajs Kommando (also: Sonderkommando Arajs), led by SS commander and Nazi collaborator Viktors Arājs, was a unit of Latvian Auxiliary Police (German: Lettische Hilfspolizei) subordinated to the German Sicherheitsdienst (SD). It was a notorious killing unit during the Holocaust.

Edmund Veesenmayer

Edmund Veesenmayer (12 November 1904 in Bad Kissingen – 24 December 1977 in Darmstadt) was a German politician, officer (SS-Brigadeführer) and war criminal. He significantly contributed to The Holocaust in Hungary and Croatia. He was a subordinate of Ernst Kaltenbrunner and Joachim von Ribbentrop; and collaborated with Adolf Eichmann.

Eduard Hedvicek

Eduard Hedvicek (Czech: Eduard Hedvíček) was born in 1878 in Kojetín, Moravia, Austria-Hungary, now in the Czech Republic, and died 1947 in Vienna, Austria. He was the secretary of Engelbert Dollfuß, the Austrian Chancellor before the Anschluss. On 25 July 1934 he unsuccessfully tried to prevent Dollfuß's assassination by Otto Planetta. He testified at the trial of the murderers as a "Crown" (prosecution) witness and was awarded the Gold Medal of Merit Signum Laudis by the Austrian government for his heroic efforts. He was imprisoned by the Nazis after Germany annexed Austria. His imprisonment was a matter of personal revenge for Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the SS-Obergruppenführer and Chef der Reichssicherheitshauptamtes of the Nazi government and a famous Austrian Nazi, who himself was involved in Dollfuß's assassination and was for this and other crimes hanged after the war.

Eduard Hedvicek died after the war in 1947.

Eduard Strauch

Eduard Strauch (17 August 1906 – 15 September 1955) was an SS-Obersturmbannführer, commander of Einsatzkommando 2, commander of two Nazi organizations, the Security Police (German: Sicherheitspolizei), or Sipo, and the Security Service (German: Sicherheitsdienst, or SD), first in Belarus – then called White Russia or White Ruthenia – and later in Belgium. In October 1944, he was transferred to the military branch of the SS (Waffen-SS).

Erich Ehrlinger

Erich Ehrlinger (14 October 1910 in Giengen an der Brenz, Kingdom of Württemberg – 31 July 2004 in Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg) was a member of the Nazi Party (number: 541,195) and SS (number: 107,493). As commander of Special Detachment (Sonderkommando, also known as Einsatzkommando or EK) 1b, he was responsible for mass murder in the Baltic states and Belarus.

He was also the commander of the Security Police (SiPo) and the Security Service (SD) for central Russia as well as a department chief in the Reich Main Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt or RSHA). He did not hold a doctorate degree, as is sometimes reported. He would eventually rise to the rank of SS-Standartenführer.

Friedrich Panzinger

Friedrich Panzinger (1 February 1903 – 8 August 1959) was a German SS officer during the Nazi era. He served as the head of the Reich Main Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; RSHA) Amt IV A, from September 1943 to May 1944 and the commanding officer of Einsatzgruppe A in the Baltic States and Belarus. From 15 August 1944 forward, he was chief of RSHA Amt V, the Kriminalpolizei (Kripo; Criminal Police), also known as the Reichskriminalpolizeiamt (RKPA). After the war he was a member of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND; Federal Intelligence Service). He committed suicide after being arrested for war crimes.

Gevork Vartanian

Gevork Andreevich Vartanian (Armenian: Գևորգ Վարդանյան, Russian: Гево́рк Андре́евич Вартаня́н; February 1924 – 10 January 2012) was a Soviet intelligence officer.He was primarily responsible for thwarting Operation Long Jump, concocted by Adolf Hitler, headed by Ernst Kaltenbrunner, and led by Otto Skorzeny, which was an attempt to assassinate Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt at the Tehran conference in 1943.

Heinrich Fehlis

Heinrich Fehlis (1 November 1906 in Wulften am Harz – 11 May 1945 in Porsgrunn) was an SS officer during World War II, most noted for his command of the Sicherheitspolizei and Sicherheitsdienst in Norway during the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany.

Born in Wulften am Harz, Germany, Fehlis was a newly educated attorney when he joined the SA in 1933 and shortly thereafter became a member of the Nazi Party. He moved to the SS in 1935 and rose through their ranks. He was active in the Einsatzgruppen during Operation Weserübung. In November 1940 he succeeded Walter Stahlecker in the dual command of the SD and Sicherheitspolizei for Norway and Oslo, reporting to Reinhard Heydrich and Ernst Kaltenbrunner in Berlin and Josef Terboven in Norway.Fehlis and other German Gestapo officials tried to escape capture after Germany had capitulated, taking over a German military camp (Lager Franken) near Porsgrunn, Norway, impersonating one lieutenant "Gerstheuer" in the German Alpine Corps. Commanded by his superior in Sandefjord (Hauptmann Walter) to surrender, he asked for an hour to organize the surrender. During that time he found the means to first poison, then shoot himself.

Joachim Hamann

Joachim Hamann (18 May 1913 in Kiel – 13 July 1945) was an officer of the Einsatzkommando 3, a killing unit of Einsatzgruppe A, responsible for thousands of Jewish deaths in Lithuania. Hamann organized and commanded Rollkommando Hamann, a small mobile killing unit composed of 8–10 Germans and several dozens of local Lithuanian collaborators.Hamann was of Baltic German parentage. Trained as a chemist, he had difficulties finding a job due to the Great Depression. He joined SA in August 1931, NSDAP in December 1932, and SS in July 1938. He served in the Wehrmacht during the invasion of Poland and Battle of France as a paratrooper (Fallschirmjäger). He returned to Berlin where he joined the SS and completed training courses. In March 1941, he was promoted to SS-Obersturmführer (First Lieutenant). After the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Hamann organized and commanded Rollkommando Hamann which killed at least 39,000 Jews in various locations across Lithuania and 9,102 people, almost all of whom were Jews, from the Daugavpils Ghetto. Hamann's superior, Karl Jäger, documented these killings in the Jäger Report. Nevertheless Martin C. Dean sets the death toll of Rollkommando Hamann to 60.000 murdered people in Lithuania alone.Hamann left Lithuania in October 1941 and continued his SS career. In 1942, SS-Hauptsturmführer Hamann participated in the Operation Zeppelin, a scheme to recruit Soviet POWs for espionage behind Russian lines. From 1943 he worked at Amt IV of RSHA (Gestapo). He was involved in apprehending and executing suspected members of the 20 July plot to assassinate Hitler. He was appointed aide to Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Director of the Reich Main Security Office. In January 1945, Hamann was promoted to SS-Sturmbannführer.

After the war, Hamann committed suicide.

Military Administration in Belgium and Northern France

The Military Administration in Belgium and Northern France (German: Militärverwaltung in Belgien und Nordfrankreich) was an interim occupation authority established during the Second World War by Nazi Germany that included present-day Belgium and the French departments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais. The administration was also responsible for governing the zone interdite, a narrow strip of territory running along the French northern and eastern borders. It remained in existence until July 1944. Plans to transfer Belgium from the military administration to a civilian administration were promoted by the SS, and Hitler had been ready to do so until Autumn 1942, when he put off the plans for the time being. The SS had suggested either Josef Terboven or Ernst Kaltenbrunner as the Reich Commissioner of the civilian administration.

Nuremberg executions

The Nuremberg executions took place on 16 October 1946, shortly after the conclusion of the Nuremberg Trials. Ten prominent members of the political and military leadership of Nazi Germany were executed by hanging: Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Alfred Jodl, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Wilhelm Keitel, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Alfred Rosenberg, Fritz Sauckel, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, and Julius Streicher. Hermann Göring was also scheduled to be hanged on that day, but committed suicide using a potassium cyanide capsule the night before. Martin Bormann was also sentenced to death in absentia, but reportedly had committed suicide while attempting to escape Berlin on 2 May 1945.

The sentences were carried out in the gymnasium of Nuremberg Prison by the United States Army using the standard drop method instead of long drop.The executioners were Master Sergeant John C. Woods and his assistant, military policeman Joseph Malta. Woods may have miscalculated the lengths for the ropes used for the executions, such that some of the men did not die quickly of an intended broken neck but instead strangled to death slowly.Some reports indicated some executions took from 14 minutes to 28 minutes. The Army denied claims that the drop length was too short or that the condemned died from strangulation instead of a broken neck.Additionally, the trapdoor was too small, such that several of the condemned suffered bleeding head injuries when they hit the sides of the trapdoor while dropping through.The bodies were rumored to have been taken to Dachau for cremation, but were instead incinerated in a crematorium in Munich and the ashes scattered over the river Isar.Kingsbury Smith of the International News Service wrote an eyewitness account of a reporter watching the hangings. His historical press account of it appeared with photos in newspapers.

Otto Thorbeck

Dr. Otto Thorbeck (26 August 1912 in Brieg, Silesia – 10 October 1976 in Nuremberg) was a German lawyer and Nazi SS judge in the Hauptamt SS-Gericht.

In 1941, Sturmbannführer (Major) Thorbeck was appointed the chief judge of the SS and police court in Munich for which SS Standartenführer (Colonel) Walter Huppenkothen was the prosecutor. On 8 April 1945, under orders from Ernst Kaltenbrunner he presided over a drumhead court-martial without witnesses, records of proceedings or a defence in Flossenbürg concentration camp, that condemned Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, General Hans Oster, Army chief judge Dr. Karl Sack, Captain Ludwig Gehre and Admiral Wilhelm Canaris to death. They were all hanged on 9 April, two weeks before the United States Army liberated the camp.

After the war Thorbeck worked as an attorney in Nuremberg. In 1955, he was convicted by a court of assizes in Augsburg for assisting in murder and sentenced to four years' imprisonment. On 19 June 1956, the Federal Court of Justice of Germany exonerated him on grounds that the killings were 'legal' because the Nazi regime had the right to execute "traitors". The decision was rescinded by the Berlin State Court in 1996.

Paul Dittel

Paul Dittel (14 January 1907 in Mittweida, Saxony – 1976?) was a German historian and Anglicist who was also an Obersturmbannführer in the Schutzstaffel (SS). He played a central role in the Nazi German policy of confiscating libraries and literary collections from occupied countries.

Within the SS, Dittel was affiliated with the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) intelligence service and he was chief of that body's museum, library and research department. In late 1939 he was one of a number of Ahnenerbe members selected by Wolfram Sievers to travel to Poland in order to raid its museums and collections.In 1943, Dittel succeeded Franz Six as chief of the SS-Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) office, Amt VII, the "written records" section which had responsibility for ideological research. In this role his activities soon came to focus on the topic of Freemasonry and he was involved in the looting of collections, devoted to this topic. Dittel oversaw the publication of a number of anti-Masonic books from the collection of material that he had gathered as well as the establishment of a Masonic Library. He was also responsible for the development of a special collection of books on occult topics such as theosophy and astrology, a project that had been devised by Ernst Kaltenbrunner and in which Heinrich Himmler took a keen interest.Dittel was imprisoned after World War II. Following his release he moved to Mönchengladbach where he was employed as a clerk until at least 1973.

Raab

Raab is a market town (Marktgemeinde) in the district of Schärding in Upper Austria in Austria.

Reich Main Security Office

The Reich Main Security Office (German: Reichssicherheitshauptamt or RSHA) was an organization subordinate to Heinrich Himmler in his dual capacities as Chef der Deutschen Polizei (Chief of German Police) and Reichsführer-SS, the head of the Nazi Party's Schutzstaffel (SS). The organization's stated duty was to fight all "enemies of the Reich" inside and outside the borders of Nazi Germany.

Rollkommando Hamann

Rollkommando Hamann (Lithuanian: skrajojantis būrys) was a small mobile unit that committed mass murders of Lithuanian Jews in the countryside in July–October 1941, with a death toll of at least 60,000 Jews. The unit was also responsible for a large number of murders in Latvia from July through August, 1941. At the end of 1941 the destruction of Lithuanian Jewry was effectively accomplished by the Rollkommando in the countryside, by the Ypatingasis būrys in the Ponary massacre, and by the Tautinio Darbo Apsaugos Batalionas in the Ninth Fort in Kaunas. In about six months an estimated 80% of all Lithuanian Jews were killed. The remaining few were spared for use as a labor force and concentrated in urban ghettos, mainly the Vilna and Kaunas Ghettos.

Rudolf Batz

Rudolf Batz (10 November 1903 – 8 February 1961) was a German SS functionary during the Nazi era. From 1 July to 4 November 1941 he was the leader of Einsatzkommando 2 and as such was responsible for the mass murder of Jews and others in the Baltic states.

Sicherheitsdienst

Sicherheitsdienst (German: [ˈzɪçɐhaɪtsˌdiːnst], Security Service), full title Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS (Security Service of the Reichsführer-SS), or SD, was the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. Originating in 1931, the organization was the first Nazi intelligence organization to be established and was considered a sister organization with the Gestapo (formed in 1933) through integration of SS members and operational procedures. Between 1933 and 1939, the SD was administered as an independent SS office, after which it was transferred to the authority of the Reich Main Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; RSHA), as one of its seven departments/offices. Its first director, Reinhard Heydrich, intended for the SD to bring every single individual within the Third Reich's reach under "continuous supervision".Following Germany's defeat in World War II, the tribunal at the Nuremberg Trials declared the SD a criminal organisation, along with the rest of Heydrich's RSHA (including the Gestapo) both individually and as branches of the SS in the collective. Heydrich's successor, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg trials, sentenced to death and hanged in 1946.

Steyr-Münichholz subcamp

The Steyr-Münichholz concentration camp was one in a number of subcamps of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in Upper Austria. Inmates were drawn from the main camp, in order to exploit their labor for producing arms in Steyr-Daimler-Puch corporation factories, and to build air-raid bunkers in the town of Steyr.

Roughly 300 Mauthausen-Gusen inmates had been doing construction work at the Steyr facilities since spring 1941, being transferred back and forth between Mauthausen and Steyr on a daily basis. Because of growing scarcity of workers skilled for the incipient manufacture of aircraft engines and ball bearings, in fall 1941 the Steyr-Daimley-Puch management began lobbying for the allocation of more aptly skilled concentration camp inmates, and the establishment of a local subcamp. On January 5, 1942, Georg Meindl, general manager of Steyr-Daimler-Puch and SS Brigadeführer wrote to the SS and Police Leader of the region, Ernst Kaltenbrunner:

„(...) should be, if possible, workers specialising in the metal trades, or otherwise workers that can be educated on the work with machines. The daily transfer of these inmates to Mauthausen does not only make necessary larger commitment of guarding personnel, but also diminishes the output of the inmates.“

The establishment of a subcamb on the premises of a detention facility in nearby Garsten was opposed by the prison administration. Therefore, a makeshift camp was established in the vicinity of the factory premises in spring 1942.Most inmates originated from Spain, France, Poland, Italy, Greece, Russia, and Czechoslovakia. Their total number varied between 1,000 and 2,000. In April 1945 however, the number rose to 3,090, as several death marches with inmates from the Wiener Neustadt subcamp went through the town.

Many inmates died from malnutrition, working constantly at a fast pace irrespective of weather conditions, and lack of health treatment. A number were also killed in air raids on the Steyr factories in February and April 1944. The exact total number of deaths, however, remains unknown to this day. The names of 226 inmates show on the records of the city crematory. Inmates who went sick were usually sent back to be killed at the main camp at Mauthausen.

The camp was liberated by US troops on May 5, 1945.

The last remaining barracks (which had contained the camp's dining hall) were demolished by the private owner of the premises in 1993, before explorations into setting up a memorial had come to fruition, sparking outrage among concerned locals.

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