Landsberg Prison

Landsberg Prison is a penal facility located in the town of Landsberg am Lech in the southwest of the German state of Bavaria, about 65 kilometres (40 mi) west-southwest of Munich and 35 kilometres (22 mi) south of Augsburg. It is best known as the prison where Adolf Hitler was held in 1924, after the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, and where he dictated his memoirs Mein Kampf to Rudolf Hess.

The prison was used by the Allied powers during the Occupation of Germany for holding Nazi War Criminals. In 1946 General Joseph T. McNarney, commander in chief, U.S. Forces of Occupation in Germany renamed Landsberg: War Criminal Prison Nr. 1. The Americans closed the war crimes facility in 1958. Control of the prison was then handed over to the Federal Republic of Germany.

Landsberg is now maintained by the Prison Service of the Bavarian Ministry of Justice.

Landsberg Prison
Justizvollzugsanstalt Landsberg am Lech
Entrance to Landsberg Prison (2006)
LocationLandsberg am Lech, Bavaria, Germany
Coordinates48°03′15″N 10°52′00″E / 48.05417°N 10.86667°ECoordinates: 48°03′15″N 10°52′00″E / 48.05417°N 10.86667°E
Population~724 average
Former nameWar Criminal Prison Nr. 1
Managed byBavarian Ministry of Justice

Early years

Landsberg prison, which is in the town's western outskirts, was completed in 1910. The facility was designed with an Art Nouveau frontage by Hugo Höfl. Within its wall, the four brick-built cell blocks were constructed in a cross-shape orientation. This allowed guards to watch all wings simultaneously from a central location (based on the Panopticon style).

-Adolph Hitler Leaving Landsberg Prison- MET DP275747 (cropped)
Adolf Hitler leaving Landsberg Prison 20 December 1924

Landsberg, which was used for holding convicted criminals and those awaiting sentencing, was also designated a Festungshaft (meaning fortress confinement) prison. Festungshaft facilities were similar to a modern protective custody unit. Prisoners were excluded from forced labor and had reasonably comfortable cells. They were also allowed to receive visitors. Anton Graf von Arco-Valley who shot Bavarian prime minister Kurt Eisner was given a Festungshaft sentence in February 1919.

In 1924 Adolf Hitler spent 264 days incarcerated in Landsberg after being convicted of treason following the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich the previous year. During his imprisonment, Hitler dictated and then wrote his book Mein Kampf with assistance from his deputy, Rudolf Hess.

Numerous foreign political prisoners of the Nazis were deported to Germany and imprisoned in Landsberg. Between early 1944 and the end of the war, at least 210 prisoners died in Landsberg as a result of mistreatment or execution.[1]

United States Army

American soldiers liberating Landsberg am Lech on 30 April 1945.
Georg Schallermair
Record card of former SS-Hauptscharführer Georg Schallermair who worked at the Mühldorf subcamp. After he was sentenced to death at the Dachau Trials, Schallermair was hanged at Landsberg in 1951.
Karl Morgenschweis prays for Franz Strasser
War criminal Franz Strasser shortly before being hanged at Landsberg prison. German Catholic priest Karl Morgenschweis is praying for him.

During the occupation of Germany by the Allies after World War II, the US Army designated the prison as War Criminal Prison No. 1 to hold convicted Nazi war criminals.[2] It was run and guarded by personnel from the United States Army's Military Police (MPs).

The first condemned prisoners arrived at Landsberg prison in December 1945. These war criminals had been sentenced to death for crimes against humanity at the Dachau Trials which had begun a month earlier.

Between 1945 and 1946, the prison housed a total of 110 prisoners convicted at the Nuremberg trials, a further 1416 war criminals from the Dachau trials and 18 prisoners convicted in the Shanghai trials. (These were military tribunals conducted by the American forces in Japan between August 1946 and January 1947 to prosecute 23 German officials who had continued to assist the Japanese military in Shanghai after the surrender of Nazi Germany.) [3]

In five and half years, Landsberg prison was the place of execution of nearly 300 condemned war criminals. 259 death sentences were conducted by hanging and 29 by firing squad.[4] Executions were carried out expeditiously. In May 1946 twenty eight former SS guards from Dachau were hanged within a four-day period.[5] Bodies that were not claimed were buried in unmarked graves in the cemetery next to the Spöttingen chapel.


Former members of the Third Reich who were sent to the US Army's prison at Landsberg included:


By 1948 the Bavarian Ministry of Justice's Association for the Welfare of Prisoners (Vereinigung für die Wohlfahrt von Gefangenen des Bayerischen Staatsministeriums der Justiz) managed the needs of the prisoners held by the American military. With the foundation of the Federal Republic of Germany in May 1949 and its abolition of the death penalty, calls from politicians, the churches, industrialists, and artists resulted in numerous petitions being made to close down War Criminal Prison No. 1. as part of a general effort to bring freedom for all Germans convicted of war crimes.[6]:177–178 In the last half of 1950 and the first half of 1951, thousands of Germans took part in demonstrations outside Landsberg prison to demand pardons for all the war criminals while the German media coverage was overwhelmingly on the side of the condemned, who were depicted as the innocent victims of American "lynch law".[6]:156–159 Though the protestors at Landsberg claimed to be motivated only by opposition to the death penalty and not to have any pro-Nazi or anti-Semitic feelings, their actions belied their words. When a group of Jewish protestors arrived at Landsberg demanding the execution of the 102 war criminals on 7 January 1951, the German protestors demanding amnesty began to chant the Nazi-era slogan "Juden raus! Juden raus!" ("Jews out! Jews out!") and then proceed to beat up the Jewish protestors.[6]:158 The German historian Norbert Frei observed that most of the politicians who demanded freedom for condemned prisoners at Landsberg at various protest rallies outside the prison, such as Richard Jaeger of the CSU, later on became prominent advocates of restoring the death penalty, which strongly suggested that what people like Jaeger objected to was not so much the death penalty, but rather the use of the death penalty against Nazi war criminals.[6]:158 Another politician who spoke at the protest rallies outside Landsberg prison was Gebhard Seelos of the Bavaria Party, who called the prisoners of Landsberg together with Heligoland - which was being used as target practice by the RAF - to be "beacons of the German Volk in their struggle for justice, peace and the reconciliation of nations".[6]:158 Seelos went on to compare the suffering of the condemned prisoners at Landsberg with that of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust, and argued that to execute the prisoners on death row at Landsberg would be an act every bit as "inhumane" as the Holocaust.[6]:158 Seelos's speech drew loud applause from the crowd.[6]:158 Frei called Seelos's speech, with its claim that the war criminals facing execution at Landsberg were just as much victims as the Jews that they killed in the Holocaust, a "breathtaking" exercise in moral equivalence.[6]:158

In early 1951 the Bavarian parliament passed a resolution declaring that all military prisoners at Landsberg, Werl, and Wittlich should be recognized as POWs, making them the financial responsibility of the Federal German government. On 2 January 1951, the West German Chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, met the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John J. McCloy, to argue that the status of the Landsberg prisoners was not so much a legal question as a political one, and that to execute the Landsberg prisoners would ruin forever any effort at having the Federal Republic play its role in the Cold War.[6]:157 On 31 January 1951 McCloy, under very strong pressure from German public opinion, agreed to review the sentences from the Nuremberg and Dachau trials. Out of 28 prisoners condemned to death, seven death sentences were confirmed. Some, like the industrialist Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, were pardoned by McCloy.[6]:164–165 The other sentences were reduced to terms of imprisonment. The seven death sentences confirmed by McCloy were the so-called "worst of the worst" at Landsberg, namely Oswald Pohl, Paul Blobel, Otto Ohlendorf, Werner Braune, Eric Naumann, Georg Schallermair (an SS sergeant at Mühldorf, a Dachau sub-camp), and Hans Hermann Schmidt (adjutant of Buchenwald).[6]:165 Neither Adenauer nor German public opinion was satisfied by McCloy's decision, and as a result, throughout the first half of 1951 the Federal Republic continued to lobby McCloy to pardon the seven condemned men while the huge demonstrations for amnesty continued at Landsberg, demanding freedom for the "Landsberg Seven".[6]:168–169 The final executions were conducted on 7 June 1951.

By the middle of the fifties, these inmates began to be seen not as war criminals but as political prisoners or prisoners of war. For instance, in 1955, the Landsberg city council asked their mayor "to work for the overdue release of the political prisoners" in the Landsberg prison. Moreover, the FRG government in Bonn decided the convictions of war criminals by military courts were to be regarded as foreign convictions and therefore did not become part of an individual's criminal record.

In May 1958, the United States Army relinquished control of Landsberg Prison when the last four prisoners were released from custody. These were all former SS high-ranking officers who had been convicted during the Einsatzgruppen Trials between 1947 and 1948.

Management of the facility was transferred to the civilian Bavarian Ministry of Justice.

Modern day

The prison is now run as a progressive correctional facility that provides training, skills and medical help for prisoners. There are 36 courses in the central training centre which provide training for occupations such as bakers, electricians, painters, butchers, carpenters, tailors, shoemakers, heating & ventilation workers and bricklayers. Uli Hoeneß served his sentence for tax fraud in Landsberg Prison.

See also


  1. ^ Landsberg Prison / Frank Falla Archive
  2. ^ The Landsberg Prison for War Criminals Archived 2004-10-28 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Marcia Reynders Ristaino (2009-08-29). "Port of Last Resort: The Diaspora Communities of Shanghai". Missing or empty |url= (help)
  4. ^ "Case closed". 1951-06-18. Retrieved 2014-03-08.
  5. ^ "14 More Die for Crimes at Dachau". The Montreal Gazette. 1946-05-30. Retrieved 2010-10-12.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Frei, Norbert (2002). Adenauer's Germany and the Nazi Past The Politics of Amnesty and Integration. New York: Columbia University Press.

External links

Media related to Prison in Landsberg am Lech at Wikimedia Commons

1928 German federal election

Federal elections were held in Germany on 20 May 1928. The Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) remained the largest party in the Reichstag after winning 153 of the 491 seats. Voter turnout was 75.6%.The only two parties to gain significantly were the SPD, who polled almost a third of votes, and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), completing a thorough victory of the left wing. However, although the SPD now had 153 seats, it still failed to gain a clear majority, resulting in another coalition government led by Hermann Müller. Following his appointment, Müller, who had already been Germany's Chancellor for 4 months in 1920, created a grand coalition of members of the SPD, the German Democratic Party, the Centre Party and the German People's Party. The coalition was plagued by internal divisions right from the beginning, with each party more concerned with their self-interest than the interest of the government and eventually Müller asked President Paul von Hindenburg for emergency powers. When Hindenburg refused, Müller resigned, marking the end of the 'last genuinely democratic government of the Weimar Republic' on 27 March 1930.The recently reformed Nazi Party contested the elections after the ban on the party was lifted in 1925. However, the party received less than 3% of the vote and won just 12 seats in the Reichstag. Adolf Hitler, who had been incarcerated in Landsberg prison for his involvement in the Beer Hall Putsch until Christmas 1924, had concentrated on re-establishing himself as the leader of the Nazi Party following his release rather than on the party's electability.

Adolf Zutter

Adolf Zutter (10 February 1889 in Zweibrücken–Landsberg Prison 27 May 1947) was a German SS-Hauptsturmführer at Mauthausen Concentration Camp, who was tried and executed for war crimes.

Zutter, a member of the NSDAP (membership 3,543,330) and the SS (Membership 226 911), was from 27 September 1939 to the beginning of May 1945 a member of the camp staff of KZ Mauthausen. From September 27 1939 to the spring of 1942 he worked as Kommandoführer in Wien Graben and then as commander of the guards to June 1942. From June 1942 to early May 1945, he was adjutant under the Nazi concentration camp commandant Franz Ziereis in Mauthausen concentration camp.

After the war Zutter was accused by a military court in the Mauthausen-Gusen camp trials under the Dachau trials and condemned on May 13, 1946 to death by hanging. The judgment believed, that the ordering and implementing of executions and participation in gas chamber (mass murder) were considered as individual excess deeds of Zutter. The sentence was enforced on May 27, 1947 in the Landsberg prison for war criminals.

August Eigruber

August Eigruber (16 April 1907 – 28 May 1947) was an Austrian-born Nazi Gauleiter of Reichsgau Oberdonau (Upper Danube) and Landeshauptmann of Upper Austria. He was convicted of crimes against humanity at Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp and hanged.

Beer Hall Putsch

The Beer Hall Putsch, also known as the Munich Putsch, and, in German, as the Hitlerputsch, Hitler-Ludendorff-Putsch, Bürgerbräu-Putsch or Marsch auf die Feldherrnhalle ("March on the Field Marshals's Hall"), was a failed coup d'état by the Nazi Party (NSDAP) leader Adolf Hitler—along with Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff and other Kampfbund leaders—to seize power in Munich, Bavaria, which took place from 8 November to 9 November 1923. Approximately two thousand Nazis were marching to the Feldherrnhalle, in the city center, when they were confronted by a police cordon, which resulted in the deaths of 16 Nazis and four police officers. Hitler, who was wounded during the clash, escaped immediate arrest and was spirited off to safety in the countryside. After two days, he was arrested and charged with treason.The putsch brought Hitler to the attention of the German nation and generated front-page headlines in newspapers around the world. His arrest was followed by a 24-day trial, which was widely publicised and gave him a platform to publicise his nationalist sentiment to the nation. Hitler was found guilty of treason and sentenced to five years in Landsberg Prison, where he dictated Mein Kampf to his fellow prisoners Emil Maurice and Rudolf Hess. On 20 December 1924, having served only nine months, Hitler was released. Hitler now saw that the path to power was through legal means rather than revolution or force, and accordingly changed his tactics, further developing Nazi propaganda.

Dachau trials

The Dachau trials were held for all war criminals caught in the United States zones in occupied Germany and Austria, as well as for those individuals accused of committing war crimes against American citizens and its military personnel. The trials, which were held within the walls of the former Dachau concentration camp, were conducted entirely by American military personnel whose legal authority had been conferred by the Judge Advocate General's Department within the U.S. Third Army.

The Dachau Military Tribunal's chief prosecutor was 32 year-old William Denson, a U.S. Army lawyer. The chief defence counsel was Lieutenant Colonel Douglas T. Bates Jr., an artillery officer and lawyer from Centerville, Tennessee.

Erich Wasicky

Erich Wasicky (born May 27, 1911 in Vienna – died May 28, 1947 at Landsberg Prison, Landsberg am Lech, Allied-occupied Germany) was a pharmacist at the Mauthausen concentration camp in charge of gassing victims.

Wasicky was a physician. He joined the NSDAP and was a member of the SS. Between 1941 and 1944, he worked as a pharmacist at Mauthausen concentration camp. It was his duty to select victims to die in the gas chamber. The exact number of his victims is not known, but more than 3,100 died in neighboring Hartheim concentration camp, which fell under Wasicky's jurisdiction. After the Nazis started using the poison Zyklon B, Wasicky was put in charge of establishing this process in both Mauthausen and Hartheim.

After the end of World War II, Wasicky was charged with murder by a U.S. military tribunal. On May 13, 1946, he was found guilty. On May 28, 1947, he was hanged in Landsberg Prison.

Franz Strasser

Franz Strasser (1899 – 10 December 1945) was an Austrian-German former NSDAP Kreisleiter and convicted murderer.

Fritz Dietrich (Nazi)

Fritz Dietrich (August 6, 1898 – October 22, 1948) was a German SS officer and member of the Nazi Party. He held a doctoral degree in chemistry and physics. His name is also seen as Emil Diedrich. He was hanged for war crimes.

Hans Möser

Hans Moeser (April 7, 1906 – November 26, 1948) was a German SS functionary during the Nazi era who served at the Neuengamme, Auschwitz and Mittelbau-Dora concentration camps. He was captured at the end of the war and tried by the United States Military Government Court. The only one among 19 defendants at the Dora Trial sentenced to death, Möser was executed at Landsberg Prison in 1948.

Hermann Kriebel

Hermann Kriebel (20 January 1876 in Germersheim – 16 February 1941 in Munich) was a retired lieutenant colonel and former Bavarian staff officer.

He fought with the Freikorps during the German Revolution of 1918–19; according to Time, as a member of the German 1919 Armistice delegation, his parting words were "See you again in 20 years." and in 1923 became the military leader of the Kampfbund, the league of nationalist and fighting societies that included Adolf Hitler's Nazi party and SA; the Oberland League; and Ernst Röhm's Reichskriegflagge. Kriebel was, with Hitler and Erich Ludendorff, the key figure in the 8–9 November 1923 Beer Hall Putsch and was convicted with Hitler in 1924, serving his sentence in the Landsberg prison.

After his release from prison, he maintained his ties with the Nazi party and the Oberland League but did not benefit from Hitler's rise to power. He became the German consul general in Shanghai.

Hermann Priess

Hermann August Fredrich Priess (24 May 1901 – 2 February 1985) was a German general in the Waffen-SS and a war criminal during World War II. He commanded the SS Division Totenkopf ("Death's Head") following the death of Theodor Eicke in February 1943. On 30 October 1944 he was appointed commander of the I SS Panzer Corps and led it during the Battle of the Bulge.

After the war, Priess was convicted of war crimes for his involvement in the Malmedy massacre, and was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. He was released from the Landsberg Prison in 1954.

Joachim Mrugowsky

Joachim Mrugowsky (15 August 1905 in Rathenow, Brandenburg – 2 June 1948 in Landsberg Prison, Landsberg am Lech) was a German hygienist. He was Associate Professor, Medical Doctorate, Chief of Hygiene Institute of the Waffen-SS, Senior Hygienist at the Reich, SS-Physician, SS and Waffen-SS Colonel. He was found guilty of war crimes following the war in the Doctors' Trial and executed in 1948.

Johann Altfuldisch

Johann Altfuldisch (born November 11, 1911, Brückenau, Germany — died May 28, 1947, Landsberg am Lech, Bavaria, Germany) was SS-Obersturmführer and a guard at Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp where temporarily he was vice-chief of its central part.

Altfuldisch was a member of the NSDAP and later on he joined the SS. In 1936 he began working at Sachsenhausen concentration camp. In 1938 he joined the Waffen-SS. Between 1938 and 1945 he held the second highest-ranking position at Mauthausen concentration camp, where he ordered and personally participated in many executions.

Hans Altfuldisch, second Schutzhaftlagerführer in Mauthausen, was accused by the witnesses to beat prisoners and that he was present when certain groups, for example allied prioners of war were killed.

After the end of World War II, he was charged by the U.S. military court at Dachau to have participated in "executions of special ethnic groups or war prisoners". On May 13, 1946, he was found guilty of committing the above-mentioned crimes. He was hanged on May 28, 1947 at the prison for war criminals at Landsberg Prison. His last words had been: "I die for Germany!"

Karl Gebhardt

Karl Franz Gebhardt (23 November 1897 – 2 June 1948) was a German medical doctor and a war criminal during World War II. He served as Medical Superintendent of the Hohenlychen Sanatorium, Consulting Surgeon of the Waffen-SS, Chief Surgeon in the Staff of the Reich Physician SS and Police, and personal physician to Heinrich Himmler.Gebhardt was the main coordinator of a series of surgical experiments performed on inmates of the concentration camps at Ravensbrück and Auschwitz. These experiments were an attempt to defend his approach to the surgical management of grossly contaminated traumatic wounds, against the then-new innovations of antibiotic treatment of injuries acquired on the battlefield.During the Subsequent Nuremberg Trials, Gebhardt stood trial in the Doctors' trial (American Military Tribunal No. I). He was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to death on 20 August 1947. He was hanged on 2 June 1948, in Landsberg Prison in Bavaria.


Landsberg may refer to:

Landsberg (district), Bavaria, Germany

Landsberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Landsberg am Lech, Bavaria, Germany

Landsberg-Lech Air Base, Germany

Landsberg Prison, a prison in Landsberg am Lech

Kaufering I–Landsberg, a Nazi concentration camp

Landsberg an der Warthe, German name of Gorzów Wielkopolski, Poland

Landsberg in Oberschlesien/Upper Silesia, German name of Gorzów Śląski, Poland

Landsberg in Ostpreußen/East Prussia, German name of Górowo Iławeckie, Poland

Château du Landsberg

Landsberg (surname)

Paul Blobel

Paul Blobel (13 August 1894 – 7 June 1951) was a German SS commander and convicted war criminal. He was the key figure in organising and executing the Babi Yar massacre of 1941. In June 1942, Blobel was put in charge of Sonderaktion 1005, with the task of destroying the evidence of Nazi atrocities in Eastern Europe. After the war, he was convicted at the Einsatzgruppen Trial and executed.

Possible monorchism of Adolf Hitler

The possibility that Adolf Hitler had only one testicle has been a fringe subject among historians and academics researching the German leader. The rumour may be an urban myth, possibly originating from the contemporary British military song "Hitler Has Only Got One Ball". Nevertheless, research, eyewitness testimony and historical study have not been able to prove or disprove the suggestion.

Hitler's doctor Erwin Giesing and his personal physician Theodor Morell disregarded the idea of Hitler's monorchism and said there was nothing wrong with Hitler's testicles. In December 2015, it was reported that doctor's notes from Landsberg Prison recorded that Hitler had "right-sided cryptorchidism".

Ulrich Greifelt

Ulrich Heinrich Emil Richard Greifelt (8 December 1896 in Berlin – 6 February 1949 in Landsberg Prison) was a German SS functionary and war criminal during the Nazi era. He was convicted at the RuSHA trial at Nuremberg, sentenced to life imprisonment, and died in Landsberg Prison.

Vinzenz Schöttl

Vinzenz Schöttl (30 June 1905 in Appersdorf – 28 May 1946 in Landsberg am Lech) was a German Schutzstaffel (SS) officer and high-ranking functionary in the Nazi concentration camps.

Schöttl initially joined the Nazi Party in November 1928 before renewing his membership in February 1931, having joined the SS in January 1931. His highest SS rank was Obersturmführer in the Waffen-SS Reserve, a position he gained in 1942.In 1933, he was a member of the guards at Dachau concentration camp. In the summer of 1937, he became the National Director of the Lindenhofs der Herzogsägmühle, a facility for travellers. From 1940 he worked for a short time in the ghetto of Lublin from where he was transferred to Neuengamme concentration camp, and soon afterwards to Majdanek concentration camp. From July 1942 until its evacuation in January 1945 Schöttl was Director of Monowitz concentration camp, otherwise known as Auschwitz concentration camp III. From 3 February 1945 he served under Otto Förschner as deputy commander of Kaufering concentration camp, a subsidiary network of the larger Dachau camp, remaining in that role until the camp's evacuation in late April of the same year.Schöttl was captured by the United States Army and on 15 November was indicted for war crimes as part of the Dachau Trials. Reports of his mistreatment of prisoners, as well as the shooting of another prisoner, were taken into account and, on 13 December 1945, he was one of 36 defendants sentenced to death by hanging. His execution was carried out in Landsberg Prison on 28 May 1946.


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