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Born: 8 December 1908 in Graz
Roschmann had been a liquor salesman before the war, and later an employee in a Styrian brewery and distillery. As deputy commander of the Riga ghetto, he was responsible for the murder of at least 3800 Jews, including 800 children under the age of ten. In addition he arranged for the deportation of an indefinite number of Jews to the Auschwitz concentration camp. According to more recent testimony, from 1960, the total number of victims was even higher. Roschmann is held responsible for the murder and deportation of some 35,000 men, women and children.
Shortly after the war a rumour spread that Roschmann had been discovered and killed, but this could not be verified. In 1947 he appeared, very much alive, at his family's place in Graz and was actually arrested. Not, however, for his crimes in Riga, but because of his membership of a neo-Nazi organisation.
Simon Wiesenthal the Nazi hunter, had notified the British, in whose zone of occupation Graz was, and they asked for Roschmann to be delivered to them. At first Roschmann himself wasn't worried by his arrest. He believed that he was suspected of being a meber of neo-Nazis activities. Only when a sergeant & a priavte of the British army stood before him one morning, in order to take him to Dachau, did he realise the danger of the situation. He was taken by rail from Graz to Salzburg, and thought about his future in captivity. When the train stopped at Hallein he asked to be allowed to go to the toilet, his guard let him go, and stood outside the door. Roschmann got out through the window on the far side from the platform and escaped into the winter night.
The British soldier eventually broke down the door and halted the train by pulling the communication cord, the train had by then travelled a few miles & the search for Roschmann's tracks in the snow proved in vain. Roschmann had in fact lain in the snow, in the same spot all through the night, so as not to give himself away. The newspapers did not report Roschmann's escape because the British didn't want to look foolish. This probably helped Roschmann escape further, giving him a good head-start.
Roschmann had made his way from Hallein to a staging post for Nazi fugitives at Ostermiething on the border between Upper Austria and the province of Salzburg. There he was hidden in a brickworks for a few weeks until the next transport was able to smuggle him across the frontier to Italy. There he found asylum at the Franciscan monastery on Via Sicilia, enjoying the protection of Bishop Hudal. Then he was moved to Argentina where he settled with some relations of his wife's. He now had false papers and called himself Frederico Wegener and under that name was employed first in the Aeros travel agency and then he managed a joinery. In 1955 he went through a ceremony of marriage with his secretary Irmtraud Schubert, although he had a wife and children back in Graz. His legal wife heard about this and notified the authorities. Then in 1959 a warrant for his arrest was issued, not however for his activities at Riga ghetto but for bigamy. A warrant for arrest on account of his Riga activities was not issued until a year later.
In 1958 his secretary left him and he returned to Germany, where her marriage was declared null and void by a Hamburg court. Roschmann himself, it was said, had moved to Brazil. For years he remained a free man.
Then in the summer of 1977 the Argentianian police receiveda tip-off and in July of the same year Roschmann was arrrested. The news of his arrest was reported to Germany who immediately demanded his extradition. At first Argentina agreed but later with the fear that others may be extradited too he was discharged on condition that he never showed himself in Argentina again. The authorities in Germany were told that the person detained had not ben Roschmann after all, Roschmann would not be extradited.
Roschmann now headed for Paraguay, with him he had false papers in the name of Frederico Wegener, which had been retruned to him when he was discharged. He stayed on Hurba street, and always paid his rent ten days in advance, and received neither letters nor visitors. He was described by his landlord as an insecure nervous man who often spent days on end in his room without contacting anyone. When he did go outside he would not look at anyone and always wore dark glasses.
After only two weeks, on 25 July, probably due to his nervous disposition he went into cardiovascular shock. He was taken to hospital where he claimed to be Ramon Nahrea, from Uruguay. As soon as he felt better he discharged himself and went back to Hurba street. He now made ready to move again. But soon afterwards he had another heart attack and was readmitted to hospital where he died during the night of 10 August 1977.
A Jew who during the war was in Riga and who had seen Roschmann every day identified Ramon Nehrea, alias Frederico Wegner, as SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Eduard Roschmann, the butcher of Riga.
Security Police and SD official in Riga, Latvia. Deputy commander of Riga ghetto. Responsible for mass deportation of 35,000 Jews. 800 of whom were children. Also arranged murder of 2000 Jews who were sent to Auschwitz. After the war it was reported that he had been killed. In 1947 he appeared alive, and was arrested and put on a train heading for Salzburg. Asked his guard if he could go to lavoratory and when train stopped he got out of window and disappeared. He escaped to Argentina. In 1959 arrested for bigamy. His wartime activities were still unknown.
On 26 October 1976, West Germany formally requested without success Roschmann's extradition from both Argentina & Paraguay. In 1977, while travelling from Buenos Aires to Asuncion on a passport in the name of Federico Wegener, Roschmann complained of chest pains. The 63 year old Roschmann was brought to an Asuncion charity hospital by a man who identified himself as Senor Rios. After 17 days in a ward, Roschmann died of a myocardial infarct. Wegener was identified as Roschmann only after his death, largely because the former SS officer was distinguished by the absence of three toes on his right foot, two from his left. Roschmann ended his time a poor man, and was buried in a paupers grave.
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