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Auschwitz Perpetrators

Last Update 21 February 2006

AUMEIER, Hans SS-Sturmbannführer
1906 - 1948
Schutzhaftlagerführer (Deputy Commandant)

Aumeier was born in Amberg (Bavaria) in 1906, the son of a factory worker. He left school after only six years, which meant that he was almost illiterate and suffered periods of unemployment. In 1929 he became a member of the Nazi party and in 1931 he joined the SA, where he was employed as a driver. The same year he changed to the SS. After service in KZ Dachau he was transferred to KZ Flossenbürg, where he stayed from August 1938 until January 1942.

In January 1942, he succeeded Karl Fritzsch as Schutzhaftlagerführer (Deputy Commandant) of the main camp in Auschwitz. His transfer could be seen as a result of his good connections to Höß, as they both had gone to the so called “Eicke-School” in Dachau. However, it soon became clear that the work was far in excess of Aumeier’s capabilities and he therefore gave even more power to the mostly green (criminal) Kapos, which resulted in even greater terror. Aumeier was responsible for mass executions and selections in the main camp. He also took part in the mass killing of the survivors of the attempted escape from the penal-company on 10 June 1942.

In autumn 1943, he was sent as Commandant to the Vaivara concentration camp in Estonia. From January until the end of the war he served as Commandant of the small Norwegian camp of Mysen, where he totally changed character and behaved in a humane manner, even conducting negotiations with the Norwegian Red Cross.
In early summer 1945 he was taken prisoner and interrogated by the British. In his testimonies he at first denied any knowledge of gas chambers in Auschwitz; later he gave very detailed descriptions of the gassings in Bunkers 1 and 2. Strangely, his statements, kept in the British Public Record Office, were not unearthed until 1992 by David Irving, who did not immediately make his findings public.

Aumeier was extradited to Poland and in the Auschwitz-Trial in Krakow was condemned to death and executed in 1948.

Photo: Auschwitz Museum

Dixon, Jeremy: Commanders of Auschwitz, Atglen 2005
Czech, Danuta: Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989
van Pelt, Robert Jan: The Case for Auschwitz, IUP Bloomington 2002

BAER, Richard SS-Sturmbannführer
1911 - 1963

Baer was born in Floss, a Bavarian village. He was a skilled confectioner and worked in several German towns. In 1931 he became a member of the NSDAP. In 1932 he joined the general SS. After his arrest in 1960, Baer declared that he had not joined the Party and the SS for political reasons, but because he liked to ”play soldier”.

In 1933 he became a member of the SS-guard in the KZ Dachau, where he served under Theodor Eicke. From here he moved to the Totenkopf division ”Brandenburg” at the KZ Sachsenhausen. His superiors were little impressed by his skills, for which reason his career only grew slowly. From the time of the campaign against France onward, it accelerated. He was wounded in Russia. During his recovery at KZ Neuengamme he was temporarily made the camp’s deputy commandant. In November 1942, he became the right hand man of SS-Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl, chief of the WVHA, and in that same year he was appointed as chief of Amt D I, the central bureau of the Inspektorat der Konzentrationslager.

From 11 May 1944, he became Liebehenschel’s successor as Kommandant of Auschwitz, which position he held until the evacuation of the camp, an operation he led in January 1945. It is possible that Baer, with his widespread knowledge of the affairs of others, obtained this position as Kommandant of the largest KZ by means of machinations. It was he who delivered the message that Berlin would not approve of Liebehenschel’s new marriage, thus providing Liebehenschel with the final reason to cease fighting against the various plots and. intrigues.

After Höß was relieved following the Hungarian Aktionen, Baer was appointed as Standortältester (Senior Local Chief), the head of the entire Auschwitz complex. Baer was considered to be more brutal than Liebehenschel by the prisoners who had contact with him, but as less harsh than Höß. Although Baer attracted less attention than his two predecessors, it should not be forgotten that Auschwitz under his command was just as effective and murderous a place as it was under Höß, and that the deadly evacuation marches during the winter of 1945 took place by his command.

After the evacuation of Auschwitz he became Kommandant of the KZ Mittelbau-Dora, where he stayed until April 1945. He fled to the American Zone of Austria , but returned to Germany where he lived unrecognized and undiscovered as Karl Neumann in the Hamburg area and worked as a forester. On 20 December 1960 he was arrested. He would have been the main suspect in the Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt, but he died in July 1963 in detention during the investigations.

Dixon, Jeremy: Commanders of Auschwitz, Atglen 2005
Czech, Danuta: Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989
Tom Segev: Die Soldaten des Bösen, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1992
Bezwinska, Jadwiga und Czech, Danuta: KL Auschwitz in den Augen der SS, Katowice 1981

BISCHOFF, Karl SS-Sturmbannführer
1897 - 1950
Chief Architect

Bischoff was born in Neuhemsbach near Kaiserslautern. He joined the German air force in 1917 and left two years later as a pilot. He never joined the NSDAP. He studied building procedures and from 1935 obtained a job at the Luftwaffe Construction Bureau. During the early years of WW II he was involved in the building of airports in France. In this position he met SS-Gruppenführer Hans Kammler, who was responsible for the SS-Amt II (Building), later to become Amtsgruppe C of the WVHA. Kammler offered Bischoff a leading post at Auschwitz.

On 1 October 1941 Bischoff arrived in Auschwitz, where he became chief of the special section that had to implement the planned enlargement of the concentration camp by the creation of a POW camp, which itself later became part of the Birkenau camp. He showed his effectiveness and ambition shortly after his arrival by claiming the enormous budget of 20 million Reichsmark. Unlike his predecessor, Bischoff was an extremely competent and dynamic bureaucrat. Despite all of the difficulties caused by the war, the building activities deemed necessary during the next years were all carried out by Bischoff and his staff of the “Zentralbauleitung der Waffen-SS und Polizei Auschwitz O/S” (O/S = Oberschlesien), as the department was officially named. The giant Birkenau camp, the four big crematoria, the technically complicated central sauna, the new reception building in the Stammlager and hundreds of other buildings, were planned and realized.

Bischoff had a crucial role in the building of the crematoria, the creation of which had a favourable impact on his career. At the end of 1942, Kammler forwarded a proposal to promote Bischoff with these words:
...Bischoff has, in addition, in day- and night-work provided the technical conditions for the execution of the special action which was ordered by the Reichsführer-SS...
On 28 June 1943 the chief builder of the crematoria was able to inform his superiors in Berlin about the success of the operation: when the old crematorium in the Stammlager was included, 4,756 persons could be burned within 24 hours in five crematoria. Six months later Bischoff was honoured with the “Cross for Special Contributions to Warfare, 1st class with Swords”, but shortly afterwards was informed that further plans for Auschwitz had to be reduced to those which were considered absolutely necessary. The position at the front did not favour further building in the area.

In April 1944 he left Auschwitz and became chief of the building bureau of the Waffen-SS in Silesia and Bohemia. He remained there until the end of the war. Although almost all of the archives of the Auschwitz building office unknowingly fell into Soviets hands, Bischoff remained in the shadows after the war, his involvement at Auschwitz unrecognized. He died in 1950.

Czech, Danuta: Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989
van Pelt, Robert Jan: The Case for Auschwitz, IUP Bloomington 2002
Dwork, Deborah und van Pelt, Robert Jan: Auschwitz 1270 to the Present, New York 2002
Dixon, Jeremy: Commanders of Auschwitz, Atglen 2005
Pressac, Jean-Claude: Die Krematorien von Auschwitz, München 1995

CLAUBERG, Carl SS-Brigadeführer (honorary title)
1898 - 1957

Clauberg was born in Wuppertal to a lower-middle-class family. He participated in WW I, studied medicine after the war and made a career as a gynaecologist (Chief Physician at the Women’s Hospital of Kiel University). Being a convinced National-Socialist he joined the party in 1933 and became Professor of Gynaecology in Königsberg that same year.

On 30 May 1942, in a letter to Himmler, he asked for permission to practice large scale sterilization experiments in Auschwitz. No doubt Clauberg was aware of Himmler’s strong interest in this field, as the main issue was to preserve the working capacity of the “Untermenschen” while at the same time preventing them from reproducing. In early July 1942, together with Himmler, he took part in a conference on “Sterilization”.

At the end of 1942 he arrived in Auschwitz, where he began his experiments in Block 30 in the women’s camp B I a. In April 1943 he was offered Block 10 in the Stammlager for this purpose. Between 150 and 400 women were housed there, who were listed in the status reports as “prisoners for scientific purposes“.

His methods were extremely cruel. For example, without using any anaesthesia he injected chemical irritants into the womb of the test women, in order to devastate the Fallopian tubes. This caused infections and severe pain for the victims. Clauberg and his assistants often undertook this 3 to 6 times with the same person. He also conducted experiments on young Jewish girls aged between 14 and 16.

Because Clauberg was still operating his clinic in Königshütte, he could not personally practice his experiments in Auschwitz on a continuous basis. Therefore he arranged for a number of assistants, whom he chose from prisoners who were also physicians, to continue with the experiments in his absence.

Many women who survived the experiments were murdered directly afterwards by means of phenol injections, or in the gas chamber. In May 1944 his undertaking was moved once more, this time to Block 1 of the so-called “camp extension.”
On 7 June 1943 Clauberg had already written to Himmler about his “successes”:
"The method I invented to sterilize the female organism without operating, has been elaborated almost completely."
He ended his letter by presenting Himmler with the prospect of 10 skilled men being able to sterilize 1,000 women every single day. Clauberg celebrated too early.

With the war in its final stages, Clauberg arrived at KZ Ravensbrück, where he continued his experiments. It is not known exactly how many victims he maltreated and how many of them lost their lives, but a number of 700 women has been mentioned. In 1948 he was put on trial in the Soviet Union and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment. He was favoured by the treaties between the FRG and the Soviet Union which granted him amnesty and expulsion to West Germany in 1955. In December of that year he was arrested as the result of a report from the Central Jewish Council in Germany. Shortly before his trial was due to commence, he died in August 1957.

Czech, Danuta: Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989
Langbein, Hermann: Menschen in Auschwitz, Frankfurt a/M 1980
Dlugoborski, Waclaw und Piper, Franciszek: Auschwitz 1940-1945, vol.II, Oswiecim 1999
Klee, Ernst: Auschwitz. Die NS-Medizin und ihre Opfer, Frankfurt a/M 2002

FRITZSCH, Karl SS-Hauptsturmführer
1903 - 1945
Schutzhaftlagerführer (Camp Deputy)

Fritzsch was born the son of a stove builder in Bohemia, and since the family had to move very often in search of work, he never received a normal school education. For some years Fritzsch worked on ships plying the Danube. His marriage in 1928 produced three children, but ended in divorce in 1942. In 1930 he joined the Nazi Party and the SS. He wanted to make a career in the SS and therefore served at KZ Dachau in 1934.

In May 1940 he became the first Schutzhaftlagerführer (Deputy Commander) to Höß at Auschwitz. Here he very quickly obtained a reputation as the camp horror. Together with Höß, on more than one occasion he was responsible for the selection of prisoners to die of hunger as a punishment for the escape of a fellow prisoner. The condemned prisoners were locked in a cell in the basement of the Bunker (the camp prison in Block 11) until they died of starvation.
For example, it was Fritzsch who, on 29 July 1941, chose 15 prisoners for the hunger cells as a reprisal for an escape. He reprieved one of the condemned because a fellow prisoner offered to take his place. This volunteer was the Franciscan priest Maksymilian Kolbe, who thus surrendered his own life in order to save that of another. According to Höß, it was also Fritzsch who first arrived at the idea of using Zyklon B gas for the purpose of mass murder. While Höß was away on an official journey in late August 1941, Fritzsch tried out the effect of Zyklon B on Russian POWs, who were locked up in cells in the basement of the Bunker for this experiment. In the following days Fritzsch repeated the tests with the gas on further victims in the presence of Höß. Thus the future method for the mass murders in Auschwitz was devised.

On 15 January 1942 Fritzsch was transferred to KZ Flossenbürg as Schutzhaftlagerführer. From early August until October 1942 he was temporary substitute commander of the camp. In October 1943, he was arrested as a part of an internal SS investigation into corruption. An SS court charged him with illegal murder. As a punishment he was transferred to front line duty (SS-Panzergrenadier-Ersatzbatallion 18).

It is assumed that he fell during the battle of Berlin in May 1945.

Photo: Yad Vashem

Dixon, Jeremy: Commanders of Auschwitz, Atglen 2005
Tom Segev: Die Soldaten des Bösen, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1992
Czech, Danuta: Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989
Mitteilungen der Gedenkstätte Flossenbürg

GRABNER, Maximilian SS-Untersturmführer
1905 - 1948
Chief of the Political Department (Gestapo)

Born in Wien, Grabner received a restricted school education. He joined the Austrian police in 1930 and became a member of the illegal Nazi party two years later. After the “Anschluß” of Austria in 1938, he joined the SS and was accepted as a member of the Gestapo.

In 1939 he arrived at the Gestapo in Katowice. Because Auschwitz was part of this police district, Grabner was transferred in June 1940 to Auschwitz as Chief of the Political Department (the Gestapo section of the camp), where he soon earned a reputation as one of the most feared individuals.
As Gestapo chief he was responsible, among other things, for the fight against the resistance movement in the camp, as well as for the prevention of escapes and of all contact with the outside world. These tasks were carried out with horrendous cruelties against the prisoners and a large number of incarcerations in the bunker in Block 11. Grabner’s staff members, such as Wilhelm Boger, who was only brought to justice in the early 1960s, carried out so-called “sharpened interrogations”, during which the victims were systematically tortured.

Grabner, together with the commander of the Schutzhaftlager, initiated, on a regular basis, clearings of the bunker: the inmates were examined and many of them were sent directly to the inner courtyard between blocks 10 and 11, where they were shot.

Grabner, who also was responsible for the fight against theft and corruption, enriched himself to such an extent, that he was arrested in the autumn of 1943, during the campaign led by SS-Judge Konrad Morgen against corruption in concentration camps.
In early autumn 1944 he was put on trial in Weimar. The prosecutor requested 12 year’s corrective confinement because of serious theft and murder in at least 2,000 cases. The charges only took into account murders that were not connected to the RSHA-deportations or summary justice sentences. However, the most powerful SS leaders frustrated this process in every way that they could. For example, Grabner’s superior, Heinrich Müller, refused all co-operation. The process was postponed and never reached a satisfactory conclusion.
On 6 October 1944 the resistance movement in Auschwitz was able to smuggle out the news to Krakow of the sentencing of one of the most feared murderers in the camp .Yet Grabner returned to Katowice and later to Wroclaw.

A detailed description of Grabner was given by his former assistant, Perry Broad, in his Auschwitz report to the Allies. Of course Broad did not mention that the source of his widespread knowledge was his own co-operation in the political department.

On 4 August 1945 Grabner was arrested in Austria. He was extradited to Poland in 1947. In the process in Krakow he was charged with the murder of at least 25,000 people. He was sentenced to death and hanged in January 1948.

Photo: Auschwitz Museum

Dixon, Jeremy: Commanders of Auschwitz, Atglen 2005
Czech, Danuta: Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989
Bezwinska, Jadwiga und Czech, Danuta: KL Auschwitz in den Augen der SS, Katowice 1981
Langbein, Hermann: Menschen in Auschwitz, Frankfurt a/M 1980

HÖß, Rudolf SS-Obersturmbannführer
1900 - 1947

Höß was the only child of a strict Catholic family from Baden-Baden. At 15 years of age he volunteered for military service, rising to become the youngest non-commissioned office in the German army as well as being decorated several times. After WW I he was an active member of the "Freikorps Rossbach". In October 1922 he joined the Nazi Party (NSDAP number 3240). In 1923 he was involved in a political murder and was sentenced to ten years imprisonment, but he was released in 1928 as part of an amnesty. In 1933 he became a candidate for the SS and joined fully in 1934. He was then posted to KZ Dachau. He probably joined the SS because Himmler encouraged him to do so; Himmler had noticed Höß because they both were members of the Artamanen-movement (a Nationalistic-Romantic agricultural society). In 1935 he was appointed Blockführer (Head of a Prisoners’ Barrack) in Dachau and from that moment he was promoted both rapidly and continuously. On 1 August 1938 he became adjutant at KZ Sachsenhausen and one year later was appointed Schutzhaftlagerführer (Deputy Commandant). In spring 1940 he was the leader of a commission that was ordered to inspect the former Polish military barracks at Auschwitz to see if they were fit for the establishment of a concentration camp.

On 4 May 1940 Höß was appointed the first Commandant of Auschwitz. From this moment until he was sent back to Berlin in autumn 1943, he supervised the building of the camp and, through his continuous interventions, was largely responsible for the living conditions in the camp. He moved into a large villa at the south-eastern corner of the camp with his wife and their four children, where the family led an almost luxurious life.

In many ways Höß was the perfect commandant for the sort of camp Auschwitz was going to become. From his early years he was used to obeying orders without asking questions. As a so-called “old fighter” he was completely devoted to the party and its policy and as a pupil of Theodor Eicke in Dachau he knew and accepted the role of the SS and the concentration camps in the “fight” against communists, Jews, criminals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others deemed “enemies of the State”.

In the beginning Auschwitz was a “normal” concentration camp. This changed with the order from Himmler to turn Auschwitz into a centre of the “Final Solution.” While Höß was away on an official journey at the end of August 1941, the Schutzhaftlagerführer Karl Fritzsch conducted the first experiment in killing human beings using the gas Zyklon B in the prison block in Auschwitz. At the beginning of September the tests with the gas on further victims were repeated by Fritzsch in the presence of Höß. In his memoirs Höß speaks about the relief he felt that they had found a suitable poison. He writes that he was called to Berlin by Himmler in summer 1941 and that Himmler told him that Auschwitz was to be the centre of the programme to exterminate the European Jews (this dating by Höß is strongly disputed by some scholars).

Full of energy, Höß supervised the construction of the camps at Birkenau and Monowitz, as well as that of many sub-camps.
He was known for his very close contact with all events in the camp. In this way he totally shared the responsibility for the cruel reprisals against the camp inmates in connection with attempted escapes. More than once he ordered that innocent prisoners were picked out to die from hunger in Block 11.
As the Commandant he was responsible for the miserable conditions in the camp, although in his memoirs, which to some extent are astonishing because of the awareness of his guilt they display, he blames his staff members in many ways. In these memoirs he also rages against the vast amount of corruption and theft within the administration, but when the special SS-commission started its investigations in autumn 1943 at Auschwitz, Höß was also suspected of criminal actions. For example, he was accused of having had an illegal affair with a female prisoner (the case was never completely solved but some facts indicate that Höß really did have such an affair). During the investigations some high ranking staff members were arrested, even including the head of the Auschwitz Gestapo, as a consequence of which Höß was subjected to criticism and could no longer be permitted to hold his position as Commandant. He was ordered to the Inspektorat der Konzentrationslager (The Inspectorate of the Concentration Camps) in Oranienburg, where he took over the post previously held by Arthur Liebehenschel. However, this not should be regarded as a punishment.

Höß had organized and carried out the extermination of the Jews down to the smallest detail. He made frequent inspections throughout the camp and took part in every way in the extermination process. He was the leader of a study tour to Chelmno, a visit arranged in order to evaluate the methods used there to burn corpses. He also visited Treblinka, to assess the use of exhaust fumes in the gas chambers. He found himself in constant competition with Globocnik as to which of them used the most effective method of murder. He was proud of the results achieved by his sophisticated gas chambers and the use of Zyklon B gas.

On 8 May 1944 Höß returned to Auschwitz as Standortältester (Garrison Commander), and at the same time Liebehenschel was replaced by Richard Baer as Commandant. The system needed skilled and experienced people for the extermination of the Hungarian Jews, which started a few days later. This mass murder, that reached an until then unimaginable magnitude, was named after the founder of Auschwitz: “Aktion Höß”.
In order to murder and burn 320.000 - 400.000 Jews within 7 weeks, all four crematories had to function to their limit and Bunker 2 had to be reactivated (it was now given the official name "Bunker V"). In addition, in order to manage the enormous task large open pits for burning corpses had been dug behind crematorium V. After ending the action in July 1944 Höß’ family stayed in Auschwitz in the villa until November, although he himself returned to Berlin.

In April 1945 he fled from Oranienburg to Flensburg in order to join Himmler, but he was very disappointed when "his Reichsführer” recommended to him that he hide and go under cover. Höß obtained false papers, which identified him as a harmless sailor called "Franz Lang". After being arrested he was held for a short time in custody, but then released because his true identity could not be established. He then worked under a false name on a farm near Flensburg until he was finally arrested by the British on 11 March 1946.

At the Nürnberg IMT he appeared as a witness for the defence of Heydrich's successor, Ernst Kaltenbrunner. Subsequently he was extradited to Poland on 25 May 1946 and put on trial in Warsaw (3 - 29 March 1947). During the pre-trial proceedings he wrote his so-called memoirs as well as several portraits of members of his staff in Auschwitz and of his superiors and other leading SS men.
On 2 April 1947 he was condemned to death and shortly afterwards, on 16 April 1947, he was hanged in the former Stammlager, next to crematorium I.

Czech, Danuta: Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989
Dixon, Jeremy: Commanders of Auschwitz, Atglen 2005
Segev, Tom: Die Soldaten des Bösen, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1992
Langbein, Hermann: Menschen in Auschwitz, Frankfurt a/M 1980
Deselaers, Manfred: und Sie hatten nie Gewissensbisse?, Leipzig 2001
Höß, Rudolf: Kommandant in Auschwitz, München 1983

HÖSSLER, Franz SS-Obersturmführer
1906 - 1945

Hössler was born in Oberdorf (Schwaben). In the early 1930s he was unemployed, and joined the NSDAP and SS in 1932. He served from the inception of the camp at Dachau, at first as a guard, later as a cook. In June 1940, he was ordered to Auschwitz. He was sent to Birkenau during the construction works there and worked as a cook. In 1941 he became Rapportführer.

On 28 July 1941 he accompanied a transport of about 575 prisoners who, after a selection by a commission of doctors, were sent to the euthanasia centre Sonnenstein. There all were gassed. Hössler wrote a report about that event for Höß.

Hössler, together with Moll and Aumeier, took part in the killing of the survivors of the uprising of the punishment company on 10 June 1942. He also participated in the gassings in the old crematory in the Stammlager. On 16 September, together with Höß and Walter Dejaco from the Zentralbauleitung, he drove to Chelmno to study the methods of SS-Standartenführer Paul Blobel concerning the elimination of mass graves.

Afterwards, among other things, he supervised the Sonderkommando which emptied the mass graves in Birkenau and cremated an estimated 107,000 corpses. This task lasted from September until the end of November 1942. At its conclusion the Jewish members of the commando were killed (only two survivors are known). At the same time gassings were also occurring in the bunkers. Hössler was in command of several gassings in these bunkers, e.g. on 12 October 1942 when about 1,600 Belgian Jews were gassed in Bunker 2. This event was described in the diary of the camp doctor involved, Johann Kremer.

In August 1943 Hössler became Schutzhaftlagerführer in the women’s camp at Birkenau, where he took part in several selections for the gas chambers.

One week before the liberation of the camp, he arrived at Bergen-Belsen on 8 April 1945 with a transport from KZ Dora-Mittelbau.

Hössler was captured by British troops and was put on trial in Lüneburg, together with other captured SS members. Because of crimes committed in Auschwitz as well as in Bergen-Belsen, where he had shot prisoners, he was sentenced to death and executed in December 1945.

Photo: USHMM

Dixon, Jeremy: Commanders of Auschwitz, Atglen 2005
Bezwinska, Jadwiga und Czech, Danuta: KL Auschwitz in den Augen der SS, Katowice 1981
Czech, Danuta: Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989
Friedler, Eric Zeugen aus der Todeszone, Lüneburg 2002

KLEHR, Josef SS-Oberscharführer
1904 - 1988
Medical Orderly, Head of the Disinfectors

Klehr was born in Langenau (Upper Silesia). His father worked as a guard in a reformatory. Klehr attended a Catholic elementary school, after leaving which he became a carpenter. In 1933 he married and became the father of two sons. In 1932 he became a member of the SS. In 1934 he found a job as a psychiatric nursing assistant in a mental hospital. In 1938 he worked as an assistant guard in a prison. In August 1939 he was drafted into the Waffen-SS and was sent to perform sentry duty in KZ Buchenwald. In 1940 he was transferred to KZ Dachau as a medical orderly and from there he was posted to Auschwitz in 1941.

In Auschwitz he was the leading medical orderly of the Häftlingskrankenbau (the sick prisoners’ barracks) where he was extensively involved in the killing of prisoners by means of phenol injections. Several witnesses stated that Klehr not only killed those sick prisoners selected by the SS-doctors, but also made selections of his own in the sick barracks and thereafter killed the victims.
In spring 1943 he became head of the disinfection command and so was directly involved in the mass murders in the gas chambers with Zyklon B. On 20 April 1943 Klehr was decorated with the “Kriegsverdienstkreuz 2. Klasse“, which only could be a result of his contribution to the gassings and the killings in the sick barracks. In July 1944 he was transferred to the sub-camp Gleiwitz I, where he became leader of the sick prisoners’ barracks.

After the evacuation of the sub-camps around Gleiwitz in January 1945, he was sent for front line duty in Czechoslovakia.
In May 1945 he was arrested by the Americans, but was released in 1948. Then he worked as a carpenter in Braunschweig until he was arrested again in 1960.
In the Auschwitz-process in Frankfurt in 1965 he was sentenced to life imprisonment. The court assumed that he had killed thousands, but could only prove him guilty of 475 murders. In 1988 he was released and died the same year.

Photo: Fritz Bauer Institut

Bedzwinsk, Jadwiga and Czech, Danuta: KL Auschwitz in den Augen der SS, Katowice 1981
Czech, Danuta: Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989
Naumann, Bernd: Auschwitz, Frankfurt a/M 1965

KLEIN, Fritz SS-Obersturmführer
1888 - 1945
Camp Doctor

Klein was born in Rumania, where he was a member of the German minority. He studied medicine and completed his military service in Rumania, finishing his studies in Budapest after WW I. He lived as a doctor in Siebenbürgen, becoming a member of the Nazi Party very early. In 1940 he served again in the Rumanian army. In 1943 he chose to become a German citizen and in May 1943 he joined the Waffen-SS and was posted to Jugoslavia.

On 15 December 1943 he arrived in Auschwitz, where he at first served as a camp doctor in the women’s camp in Birkenau. Subsequently he worked as a camp doctor in the Gypsy camp. He also participated in numerous selections on the ramp. For some time he was a camp doctor in the Stammlager.
In Auschwitz he was known as the “correct murderer”: He seldom shouted and was capable of both sending victims to the gas chamber without any show of emotion, as well as saving others from gassing.

In December 1944 he was transferred to KZ Neuengamme, from where he was sent to KZ Bergen-Belsen in January 1945.

On the liberation of Bergen-Belsen on 15 April 1945 he was arrested by the British.
Klein was put on trial in Lüneburg and confessed to his participation in selections at Auschwitz. He was condemned to death and hanged on 13 December 1945.

Photo: USHMM

Dixon, Jeremy: Commanders of Auschwitz, Atglen 2005
Langbein, Hermann: Menschen in Auschwitz, Frankfurt a/M 1980

KRAMER, Josef SS-Hauptsturmführer
1906 - 1945
Commandant of Birkenau

Kramer was born in München, the only child of a middle class family. He spent his childhood in Augsburg. He worked as an accountant, but lost his job and saw his only hope in the Nazi Party. In 1931 he became a member of the NSDAP, and in 1932 of the SS. From 1934 he served in different concentration camps, where he worked entirely in the administrative departments. In August 1937 he was transferred to KZ Sachsenhausen. In 1938 he was sent to KZ Mauthausen where he was appointed adjutant to the Commandant.

In May 1940 Kramer came to Auschwitz as adjutant to Höß. He stayed in this job until the end of October 1940, when he was sent back to KZ Dachau for further training. From here he was sent to KZ Natzweiler, where he first served as Schutzhaftlagerführer (Deputy Commandant), then from July 1942 as Commandant.

As Commandant of Natzweiler he was responsible for gassings, including that of at least 130 Jewish men and women, whose skeletons had been ordered by the Institute for Anatomy at Strasbourg University. The victims for this crime had been selected in Auschwitz.

At the beginning of May 1944 he returned to Birkenau, probably because Höß wanted a more skilful man for the murder of the Hungarian Jews than the then actual Commandant of Birkenau, Friedrich Hartjenstein, who in turn was transferred to Natzweiler to act as Commandant there. Kramer eagerly took part in all that happened in Birkenau during the hectic summer months of 1944.

His transfer on 1 December 1944 as the new Commandant of Bergen-Belsen may be considered as an appreciation of his “work” in Birkenau. Kramer arrived at Bergen-Belsen when it began to turn into one of the worst camps. This was due in part to massive overcrowding in the camp because of the many evacuation transports from other camps which had been directed to Bergen-Belsen, and partly because of Kramer’s lack of interest in improving the chaotic conditions.

On the liberation of the camp Kramer was arrested by the British troops. On 17 September 1945 he was put on trial together with 43 other SS men and women in Lüneburg. He was sentenced to death and executed on 13 December 1945.

Czech,Danuta: Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989
Bezwinska, Jadwiga and Czech, Danuta: KL Auschwitz in den Augen der SS, Katowice 1981
Dixon, Jeremy: Commanders of Auschwitz, Atglen 2005
Segev, Tom: Die Soldaten des Bösen, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1992

KREMER, Johann P. SS-Obersturmführer
1883 - 1965
Camp Doctor from 30 August - 18 November 1942

Kremer was born in the Rhineland to a lower middle class family. After one year of voluntary military duty, 1909 -1910, he commenced his studies, mainly of philosophy and medicine. He obtained a degree in both subjects. In 1932 he became a member of the NSDAP and in 1934 of the SS. In 1936 he qualified as a Professor with a study in “The Alteration of Muscle Tissue under Conditions of Hunger”. After that he was made a Professor of the Institute for Anatomy at the University of Münster.

On 30 August 1942, he began his work as a camp doctor at Auschwitz, where he had been sent to replace a colleague who had fallen ill. By 2 September he had already taken part in his first selection. Not only did he participate in numerous selections and gassings, he also used the opportunity to refresh his interest in the symptoms of hunger. Kremer examined specially chosen prisoners and after his examinations he often had them killed with phenol injections in order to study their inner organs more closely. In the diaries that he kept very carefully, he talks about “live fresh material”.

Shortly after his transfer back from Auschwitz in November 1942 he rejoined the university.

In June 1945, he was arrested by the British. His diaries, which represent important documents, were seized. In 1946, he was extradited to Poland and put on trial in Krakow, where on 22 December 1947 he was sentenced to death. Because of his age, the penalty was reduced to imprisonment for life.
As a result of his good behaviour he was released in January 1958 and returned to West Germany. Here he was arrested and sentenced to ten years imprisonment, but the sentence was commuted due to the time he had spent in jail in Poland. Because of his crimes in Auschwitz he was deprived of his degrees by the university.

Kremer was a witness at the Auschwitz-process in Frankfurt (1963-1965). He died in 1965 in Münster.

Bezwinska, Jadwiga: KL Auschwitz in den Augen der SS, Katowice 1981
Czech, Danuta: Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989
Dixon, Jeremy: Commanders of Auschwitz, Atglen 2005

LIEBEHENSCHEL, Arthur SS-Obersturmbannführer
1901 - 1947

Liebehenschel was born in Poznan (Posen), joined a Freikorps and after that the Reichswehr. After 12 years of service he left the military in 1931, joined the NSDAP in February 1932, and became a member of the SS on 9 November 1933.

From summer 1934 until the beginning of 1936 he served in the SS-camp at the Columbiahaus in Berlin. From here he went as an adjutant to the concentration camp Lichtenburg, and was transferred from there to the Inspectorate of the Concentration Camps (Inspektorat der Konzentrationslager) in Berlin on 1 August 1937. Later the Inspectorate moved to the so-called T-building in Oranienburg, close to the concentration camp Sachsenhausen. In 1942 he took over the leadership of Department DI of the Wirtschaftsverwaltungshauptamt (WVHA, the economic and administration department), which was responsible for the concentration camps. In this way he became the deputy of SS-Brigadeführer Richard Glücks, the chief of all concentration camps.

On 11 November 1943 he succeeded Höß as Commandant in Auschwitz, which resulted in a considerable improvement in conditions for the prisoners. At this time the camp complex was split up into three camps with their own commandants. But the commandant of the Stammlager, the old main camp, still remained Standortältester (Head Garrison Officer). The random selections in the Bunker of the Stammlager (in the cellar of Block 11) and the following mass executions at the black wall were stopped and the wall torn down. However, the executions continued on a smaller scale in the crematoria at Birkenau. The Bunker cells in which the prisoners could only stand were demolished and Liebehenschel permitted action against the informer system in the camp. At the same time the camp selections were clearly reduced.

In a unique act, the Commandant even had talks with representatives of the camp resistance movement. All of this brought some hope into the camp, but it must be emphasized that more than ever it had become important to preserve manpower for German industry, so that the prisoners in all camps were treated a little better at that time. The selections of incoming RSHA-transports of Jews on the ramp in Birkenau went on unchanged. The mass murder of the Jews was not reduced under Liebehenschel’s command.

Because Liebehenschel was regarded as weak and had fallen into disfavour as a result of his second marriage (his wife was accused of having committed “Rassenschande” (“Racial Defilement” – engaging in sexual relations with a "non-Aryan"), he was relieved immediately before the Hungarian action and transferred to Majdanek.

After the evacuation of Majdanek in July 1944, Liebehenschel arrived on 25 August in Trieste (Italy), where he was part of the staff of the Höherer SS- und Polizeiführer Odilo Globocnik. This transfer may indicate a connection between the Aktion Reinhard camps and Auschwitz, since almost all personnel from the Reinhard camps were transferred to this command.

After the war Liebehenschel was arrested by the Americans and extradited to Poland. With some of the other main criminals from Auschwitz he was put on trial in Krakow, sentenced to death and hanged in 1948.

Czech, Danuta: Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989
Dixon, Jeremy: Commanders of Auschwitz, Atglen 2005
Langbein, Hermann: Menschen in Auschwitz, Frankfurt a/M 1980

MENGELE, Josef SS-Hauptsturmführer
1911 - 1979
Camp Doctor

Mengele was born in Günzburg (Bavaria), the son of a prosperous middle-class family. As a student his main interests were philosophy and medicine, particularly anthropology and genetics. In 1936 he became a doctor and one year later he joined the NSDAP. In 1939 he joined the SS and served from June 1940 as a doctor in the SS-division “Wiking”.
From November 1940 until May 1941, he worked as a specialist in genealogy in the RuSHA (“Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt” - The Department for Race and Resettlement). From June 1941 until the end of 1942 he served at the front, and among other decorations was awarded the Iron Cross Class 1 for bravery. He again served within the RuSHA for a few months, until he was transferred voluntarily to Auschwitz. Here he could work without limit on his main interest: research on twins, a subject he had made the subject of his medical thesis in 1938.

On 30 May 1943 he was officially appointed camp doctor in the “Gypsy Camp” and thus had almost unhindered access to an unlimited quantity of “human material “. His so-called “studies” covered many aspects of medicine and genetics. His particular interests were research into twins and deformity.
Mengele served in several different posts as a doctor in Auschwitz. His enormous energy and his methods soon gave him the name: “Angel of Death” (in Hebrew/Yiddish: “Malach ha'Mavet”).
There is no doubt that numerous witnesses have accused Mengele of many crimes that he did not commit, but at the same time it must be emphasized that no doctor in Auschwitz was as feared as he. In August 1944 his superior, Standortarzt Eduard Wirths, certified that Mengele had “common sense, endurance and energy”, probably because during the chaotic weeks of summer 1944 Mengele reached the peak of his power. With the transports from Hungary a vast number of twins arrived, whom he abused for his anthropological examinations and experiments. Jewish and Gypsy children were his especial victims, but thousands of adults were selected by him for death, both on the ramp and within the camp. His ruthless methods fighting typhus in the camp were particularly infamous. On one occasion he sent all of the prisoners of one block to the gas chambers so that the whole block could be simultaneously deloused.

Mengele remained in Auschwitz until 17 January 1945 when the evacuation began. Despite orders to burn everything incriminating, he tried to save his written material. He served as a camp doctor at KZ Gross-Rosen for one month, and then hid himself in a Wehrmacht unit. In June 1945 he was arrested by the Americans, but since he was not recognized he was released one month later.

Because his name was often mentioned in the ongoing Nazi trials, he lived under a false identity until 1948. He finally left Europe and emigrated to Argentine in 1949. In South America he lived in several different countries, always on the run until his death in 1979.
His fate after the war and the myths connected to his person resulted in the formation of a British team of doctors in 1992, which identified his body beyond all doubt using DNA tests. Mengele had drowned in Brazil whilst swimming.

Dixon, Jeremy: Commanders of Auschwitz, Atglen 2005
Czech, Danuta: Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989
Klee, Ernst: Auschwitz, die NS-Medizin und ihre Opfer, Frankfurt a/ M 2002
Langbein, Hermann: Menschen in Auschwitz, Frankfurt a/M 1980
Völklein, Ulrich: Josef Mengele. Der Arzt von Auschwitz, Göttingen 2000

MOLL, Otto SS-Hauptscharführer
1915 - 1946
Head of the Crematoria in Birkenau

Moll served in Auschwitz from May 1941, initially in the agricultural sub-camps. Later he became the infamous leader of the punishment company in Birkenau. In this capacity he took a decisive part in the mass murder of the prisoners after the attempted escape from the unit on 10 June1942. For a period he commanded the Sonderkommando (special command) that burned the bodies in the pits at bunkers 1 and 2 in Birkenau. His work here was characterized with extreme brutality, but in the eyes of his superiors it was so valuable that he was honoured with a high decoration and promoted Schutzhaftlagerführer (Deputy Commandant).
He worked as such in the sub-camp “Fürstengrube” from September 1943 until March 1944. For some months, until May 1944, he was Deputy Commandant of the sub-camp "Gleiwitz I". From here he was recalled by Höß, who wanted Moll to be part of the new team for the "Hungarian Action". Moll was to be the leader of all crematoria in Birkenau.

Many survivors of the Sonderkommando described Moll as an extremely cruel and barbaric person, who even threw living children into the open pits where the bodies were being burned.
One of Moll’s last major crimes in Auschwitz was his participation in the murder of 210 members of the Sonderkommando on 23 September 1944. They had been told that they were going to be transferred to Gleiwitz, which made sense to them since they knew that Moll had been Deputy Commandant of that camp. Instead of being taken there, they were brought by Moll and other SS men to a delousing facility in "Kanada I" near the main camp and gassed. This mass murder resulted in a decision by the Sonderkommando that at the next selection in the company they would revolt - and so they did on 7 October 1944.
After the "Hungarian Action", Moll returned to his position in Gleiwitz. A plan for killing all prisoners and destroy all buildings at Auschwitz-Birkenau was named after its inventor: the "Moll-Plan". If it should come to an evacuation of the camps, Moll’s plan was to have the Luftwaffe bomb the whole complex. This plan was not carried out.

Even after the evacuation of Auschwitz, Moll continued his career as a mass murderer, this time in KZ Ravensbrück and KZ Sachsenhausen. He and his gas chamber specialists probably made a sort of shuttle between the two camps. In both camps he supervised and took part in both gassings and mass executions by shooting during the last months of the war.

Towards end of war Moll arrived at KZ Dachau and was responsible for the evacuation of the sub-camp Kaufering II. For crimes in this camp he was sentenced to death by an American court at Dachau in 1945 and hanged in Landsberg on 28 May 1946.

Morsch, Günther, (ed.): Mord und Massenmord im Konzentrationslager Sachsenhausen 1936-1945, Berlin 2005
Strebel, Bernhard: Das Konzentrationslager Ravensbrück, Paderborn 2003
Langbein, Hermann: Menschen in Auschwitz, Frankfurt a/M 1980
Bezwinska, Jadwiga and Czech, Danuta: KL Auschwitz in den Augen der SS, Katowice 1981

PALITZSCH, Gerhard SS-Hauptscharführer
1913 - ?
Rapportführer in the Stammlager

At the beginning of his career, Palitzsch served as a sentry in the concentration camps Lichtenburg, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen, where he was Blockführer (head of a prisoners’ barrack). From Sachsenhausen he was transferred to Auschwitz, where he arrived on 20 May 1940.

He brought with him 30 prisoners from Sachsenhausen who were to take over posts as Funktionshäftlinge (prisoners with special functions). Palitzsch was the first Rapportführer and in this position he practised extensive terror. Moreover he very often took part in the executions at the black wall. Like many other SS men he enriched himself by stealing the property robbed from the victims and because of this he was a subject of SS investigations into theft and corruption. It may be assumed that his transfer in autumn 1943 to a sub-camp at Brno (Brünn), where he was made the Commandant, was in fact a penal transfer.

After the death of his wife, who had come with him to Auschwitz, numerous rumours circulated in Auschwitz that Palitzsch had enjoyed several relationships with female prisoners, including, among others, some with inmates of the Gypsy Camp. Shortly after his transfer to Brno he was arrested, sent back to Auschwitz, and interred in the prison in Block 11. Accused of “Rassenschande” (“Race Defilement”, i.e. sexual relations with "non-Aryans") and theft, Palitzsch was sentenced to death, but reprieved and instead sent to a penal unit. On 1 June 1944, he was thrown out of the SS. His later fate is unknown; he is said to have fallen during the battle of Budapest.

Among the many statements about Palitzsch, three that are typical should be mentioned as they clarify the portrait of one murderer among many:
In a letter from the resistance movement, smuggled out of Auschwitz, he was described as “the greatest bastard of Auschwitz”.
His colleague, Perry Broad, wrote about him in his report that “he enjoyed taking part in the mass executions”.
Höß, who was not hesitant in his criticism of his staff, wrote in his memoirs: “Palitzsch was the most cunning and sly creature I ever got to know during my long, many-sided duty in the various concentration camps. He literally climbed over dead bodies in order to satisfy his lust for power.”

Bezwinska, Jadwiga and Czech, Danuta: KL Auschwitz in den Augen der SS, Katowice 1981
Czech, Danuta: Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989
Langbein, Hermann: Menschen in Auschwitz, Frankfurt a/M 1980

1906 - 1983

Schumann was born in Halle, the son of a Nationalistic-Conservative doctor. By 1930, during his time at university, he had already joined the Nazi Party and in 1932 he became a member of the SA. He obtained his medical degree in 1933 and began working for the health authorities in Halle, until in 1939 he was called-up for military duty in the Luftwaffe.
A few months after the outbreak of the war he was invited by Victor Brack from T4 to join his euthanasia organisation. After a short time for reflection Schumann accepted, and in 1940 he was sent to Grafeneck in Württemberg as leader of the institution. In early summer 1940 he was transferred to another killing institution, becoming the leader of Sonnenstein (near Dresden).
Schumann had no psychiatric education whatsoever. He had only spent a short period of “supplementary training” with the medical leader of the T4 programme, Dr. Werner Heyde, in Würzburg.
Schumann also belonged to the doctors’ commission that travelled through the concentration camps and selected especially weak prisoners unfit for work. This was called "Aktion 14f13". The selected prisoners were sent to the killing institutions to be gassed.

In connection with this work Schumann came to Auschwitz for the first time on 28 July 1941. He selected 575 prisoners who were all held in the so called “Schonungsblock” (block for the very weak). After the selection they were all taken to Sonnenstein and gassed.

On 2 November 1942 Schumann returned to Auschwitz but this time he had a different function. Schumann, who was now an Oberleutnant in the Luftwaffe, did not belong to the Auschwitz garrison; with the strong support of Himmler he worked directly under Victor Brack. He now proposed undertaking sterilization experiments on men and women. The experiments were intended to find a method for the mass sterilization of oppressed people, so that their working capacity could be exploited whilst at the same time they could be prevented from having children. An experimental station was put up in Block 30 in the women’s camp in Birkenau (B Ia) and here Schumann experimented with X-rays as a mean of sterilization. He also carried out castrations in the Stammlager, first in Block 21, later in the experimental Block 10, where Clauberg also worked on sterilization methods.
To some extent Schumann personally picked out his subjects, mainly very young Jewish men and women. He then irradiated the testicles and ovaries. In order to find the right level of irradiation he had to use different timing periods and dosages. This led to severe burns for many victims and very serious harm to their inner organs. Not only were they forced to work immediately after the painful treatment, but many of them were irradiated several times. In order to know whether he had been successful with the men, Schumann needed samples of sperm. These were taken from the victims in an unbelievably humiliating and painful manner. One testicle was removed from some of the male subjects and one ovary was cut out from some of the females. Both kinds of samples were sent to the University of Breslau (today Wroclaw) for examination. The subjects very often had to stay in the sick prisoners’ block for a long time, some because the wounds would not heal, others because of inflammation of the wounds due to the fact that the instruments were not cleansed. After some time the victims were released into the camp and had to work normally. This fact alone led to numerous deaths, as many of the victims attracted attention because of their wounds and were therefore sent to the gas chamber. Doctors amongst the camp prisoners took part in the operational castrations, since Schumacher did not have any surgical knowledge at all.

In a report from the head of the Surgery Department in the Stammlager covering the period from 15 September until 15 December 1943, 106 castrations by surgery are mentioned. Here it should be remembered that such operations were also carried out in the sick prisoners’ barracks in Birkenau (B II f).
It is not known how many prisoners were mistreated by Schumann, but a number around 1,000 may be assumed. The prisoner who installed and worked the X-ray apparatus was sent to KZ Mauthausen in January 1945 and shot because he was a carrier of secrets.

After having informed Himmler of his rather negative results, Schumann left Auschwitz in spring 1944. Schumann considered the X-ray method to be to too complicated and therefore not worthwhile. Although it is not completely clear what he then did, he probably continued to select victims for the gas chambers. He was evidently seen at a party at Hartheim, the euthanasia killing institution near Linz (Austria). It is a fact however, that in spite of his recommendation to Himmler not to use the X-ray method, he continued with this type of experiment at KZ Ravensbrück. According to his own evidence, he served as a doctor in the Wehrmacht from January 1945.

In October 1945 he showed up in Gladbeck (West-Germany), where his wife was already living. The local authorities hired him as a sports doctor. In April 1946 he reported to the National Registration Office under his real name. In 1949 he opened his own general practice. Not until 1951 did the authorities show any interest in Schumann, who had lived under his real name throughout this period. He had applied for a hunting licence and because of that his personal data was recorded as a matter of routine. It transpired that he was wanted by the police. It is assumed that Schumann was warned by the authorities. When two policemen called to talk to him on 26 February 1951, he was gone.
According to his own statement, he served as a ship’s doctor for 3 years and because he did not have a German passport, he applied for one in Japan in 1954 and received it under his own name. One year later he materialized in Egypt and Sudan. Then he went to Ghana, where he was under the protection of the head of state, Nkrumah, and where he met old friends such as the chemist from the Führer’s Chancellery, Dr. Helmut Kallmeyer, who had been very closely connected to T4 and also had served in Lublin, the headquarters of Aktion Reinhard.
After the fall of Nkrumah, Schumann was extradited to West Germany in 1966.

On 23 September 1970 the process against Schumann began in Frankfurt, but on 10 March 1971 he collapsed and was taken to hospital. His supposed heart attack was probably simulated. Schumann was examined at the university clinic, where doctors thought that he would not be able to follow the process in court. On 14 April 1971 the process was temporarily suspended and on 29 July 1972 Schumann was released from prison. The doctor who suffered so much from a weak heart that he could not appear in court lived in Frankfurt until May 1983.

Langbein, Hermann: Menschen in Auschwitz, Frankfurt a/M 1980
Czech, Danuta: Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989
Klee, Ernst: Was sie taten und was sie wurden, Frankfurt a/M 1986
Dlugoborski, Waclaw and Piper, Frnciszek: Auschwitz 1940-1945, I-V, vol. II, Oswiecim 1999

SCHWARZHUBER, Johann SS-Obersturmführer
1904 - 1947
Schutzhaftlagerführer (Deputy Commander) in Birkenau

Like many other leading SS men who made important careers in the concentration camps, Schwarzhuber came from Bavaria. In March 1933, he joined the SS. He began his career in the KZ Dachau in 1933, where he first performed sentry duty and later worked as a Blockführer (head of a prisoners’ barrack). In 1938, he was transferred to the KZ Sachsenhausen, where he was Rapportführer.

In September 1941, he was assigned to Auschwitz and in March 1942 he was appointed Schutzhaftlagerführer (Deputy Commander) of the Men’s Camp in Birkenau. Schwarzhuber stayed in Birkenau until November 1944. He had probably hoped that the big changes in command that took place as part of the preparations for the "Hungarian Action" in spring 1944 would have promoted him to Commandant of Birkenau; however, this post was given to Josef Kramer.

Survivors described Schwarzhuber in very different ways. He could send thousands to their death without any show of emotion, yet at the same time do anything to save a few. So, for example, during the liquidation of the “Theresienstädter Familienlager” (the Family Camp for Jews from Terezin /Theresienstadt) when it is said of him that he saved about 78 children from a certain death by simply placing them in the Men’s Camp. Witnesses often saw Schwarzhuber drunk at selections and they also mention his love of music. The camp orchestra once arranged a small concert for him on his birthday. His wife and their two children attended the concert.

In November 1944, he was again sent to the KZ Dachau and made responsible for certain sub-camps. On 12 January 1945, he was transferred to the KZ Ravensbrück as Schutzhaftlagerführer. Here he was directly responsible for the gassings that took place during the last months of this camp. Immediately after the liberation of the camp on 29 April 1945, Schwarzhuber was arrested. In the Ravensbrück-process he was sentenced to death and hanged on 3 May 1947.

Photo: Auschwitz Museum

Dixon, Jeremy: Commanders of Auschwitz, Atglen 2005
Langbein, Hermann: Menschen in Auschwitz, Frankfurt a/M 1980
Tillion, Germaine: Frauenkonzentrationslager Ravensbrück, Lüneburg, zu Klampen, 1998

THILO, Heinz SS-Hauptsturmführer
1911 - 1945
Camp physician in Birkenau

Thilo joined the Nazi Party in December 1930 and the SS in 1934. He concluded his medical studies in 1935 in Jena, and then worked mostly as a gynaecologist within the Lebensborn organisation (from April 1938 until the end of 1941). He served at the front for six months in 1942, and at the end of July was posted to Auschwitz.

From November 1942 until October 1944, Thilo was the responsible physician at the prisoners’ infirmary camp in Birkenau. According to Dr. Johann Kremer, Thilo called Auschwitz “anus mundi” (the "asshole of the world” - entry in Kremer’s diary 5 September 1942). Thilo was amongst those doctors who were very often on duty at the ramp. He participated in numerous selections not only here, but also in the blocks of the infirmary camp, where he selected victims for the gas chambers. Furthermore, he took part in the liquidation of the “Theresienstädter Familienlager” (the Family Camp for Jews from Terezin (Theresienstadt): 3.791 Jews were murdered in the gas chambers on 8 March 1944.

In October 1944, he was transferred to KZ Gross-Rosen, where he served as a camp physician until February 1945. He left the camp shortly before its liberation. On 13 April 1945, he committed suicide in Hohenelbe.

Photo: Yad Vashem

Dixon, Jeremy: Commanders of Auschwitz, Atglen 2005
Czech, Danuta: Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989

© ARC 2006