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I think are real, I want to share this here.
Rudolf Höss to his wife:
11 April, 1947.
My dear good Mutz!
My path through life is now coming to a close. Fate has worked out a truly sad ending for me. How fortunate were the comrades who were allowed to die an honest soldier's death.
Calmly and composed I look toward the end. From the beginning I was completely clear about the fact that I would perish with the world to which I had pledged myself with all my body and soul when that world was shattered and destroyed. Without realising it, I had become a cog in the terrible German extermination machine. My activities in performing my task were out in the open. Since I was the Kommandant of the extermination camp Auschwitz, I was totally responsible for everything that happened there, whether I knew about it or not. Most of the terrible and horrible things that took place there I learned only during this investigation and during the trial itself. I cannot describe how I was deceived, how my directives were twisted, and all the things they had carried out supposedly under my orders. I certainly hope that the guilty will not escape justice.
It is tragic that, although I was by nature gentle, good natured, and very helpful, I became the greatest destroyer of human beings who carried out every order to exterminate people no matter what. The goal of the many years of rigid S.S. training was to make each S.S. soldier a tool without its own will who would carry out blindly all of Himmler's plans. That is the reason why I also became a blind, obedient robot who carried out every order.
My fanatic patriotism and my most exaggerated sense of duty were good prerequisites for this training.
At the end it is difficult to have to admit to myself that I have chosen a very wrong path and, because of it, I have brought about my own destruction.
But what good does all the weighing and balancing do? Was it right or was it wrong? In my opinion all our paths through life are predestined by fate and a wise providence, and are unchangeable.
Painful, bitter, and heavy hearted is the separation from all of you, from you, dearest best Mutz, and from all of you, my dear good children, and that I have to leave you behind, poor unfortunates, in poverty and misery.
On you, my poor unfortunate wife, destiny has put the heaviest burden of us through our sad fate. For in addition to our unlimited pain of being torn apart, there is the burdensome worry about your future life and the worry about the children. But dearest, be consoled! Don't despair!
Time has a way of healing even the deepest, most serious wounds, which you cannot believe you can survive in the first painful moments. Millions of families have been torn apart or have been destroyed by this wretched war.
But life goes on. The children grow up. I only hope that you, dearest, best Mutz, may be given the strength and health so that you can care for all of them until they all can stand on their own two feet.
My misspent life places on you, dearest, the holy obligation to educate our children so that they have, in their deepest heart, a true humanity. Our dear children are all naturally good natured. Nurture all of these good impulses in their hearts in every way. Make them sensitive to all human sorrow. What humanity is, I have only come to know since I have been in Polish prisons. Although I have inflicted so much destruction and sorrow upon the Polish people as Kommandant of Auschwitz, even though I did not do it personally, or by my own free will, they still showed such human understanding, not only by the higher officials, but also by the common guards, that it often puts me to shame. Many of them were former prisoners in Auschwitz or other camps. Especially now, during my last days, I am experiencing such humane treatment I never could have expected.
In spite of everything that happened, they still treat me as a human being.
My dear good Mutz, I beg you, don't become hardened by the heavy blows fate has dealt us! Keep your good heart for yourself! Don't be led astray by troubles or hardship and misery through which you are forced to endure! Don't lose your faith in humanity.
Try, as soon as possible, to get away from those dreary surroundings.
Start the proceedings to change your name. Take back your maiden name again. Now there should not be any more difficulties about that! My name is now disgraced throughout the whole world, and you, my poor ones, have suffered unnecessary problems time and again because of my name, especially the children, who will be held back from future advancement. Certainly Klaus would have had an apprenticeship long ago if his name had not been Höss. It is for the best that my name disappears with me.
I also received permission to enclose my wedding ring in this letter to you.
With sadness and happiness I think of that time in the spring of our life when we exchanged the rings. Who could have guessed this kind of end of our life together?
Days in the sun were not granted us, but instead there were difficult toils, much sorrow, and worry. Only step by step did we get ahead. How happy we were through our children, whom you, dearest, best Mutz happily bore for us time and again. In our children we saw our life's task. Our constant concern was to create a home as a steady foothold for them, and to raise them to be useful human beings. Time and again during my imprisonment I have gone back over our life together, remembering all the events and happenings, over and over. What happy hours we were allowed to experience, but we also had to suffer a great deal of deprivation, illness, grief, and heartbreak.
I thank you with all my heart, my dear good friend, for all the goodness and beauty you brought into my life, and which you, at all times, shared bravely and faithfully with me, and also for your endless love and care for me. Forgive me, you good woman, if I have ever offended you, or hurt you.
How deeply and painfully I regret every hour that I did not spend with you, dearest and best Mutz, and the children because I believed duty would not allow it, or there were other commitments which I thought were more important. A kind fate has allowed me to hear from you, dear ones. I received all eleven letters dated from December 16 to December 31. How happy I was therefore, especially during the days of the trial, to read your dear lines. Your care and love for me and the dear small talk of the children gave me new courage and strength to withstand everything. I am particularly grateful, my dearest, for the last letter, which you wrote Sunday during the early hours. It was as if you had a premonition that these would be the very last words that reached me. How bravely and clearly you write about everything. But what bitter sorrow, what deep pain can be found between the lines. I do know how intimately both our lives are intertwined, how hard this having to leave one another is.
I wrote to you, my dear good Mutz, at Christmas, on January 26, and on March 3, and March 16, and hope you have received these letters. But how little can be said in writing, and especially under these circumstances.
How much has to be left unsaid, which cannot be done in writing. But we have to make the best of it. I am so grateful that I could learn even a little about you, and that I could still tell you, dearest, essentially what moved me.
All my life I have been a reserved person. I never liked to let anyone look into me, to see what moved me in my innermost soul, and I always settled everything inside myself.
How often have you, dearest, regretted that, and found it painful, that you yourself, who stood nearest me, could be only such a small part in my inner life. And so I dragged with me all my doubts and depressions for many years about whether what I was doing was right or wrong, and whether the harsh orders given to me were necessary. I could not and was not allowed to express my opinions to anyone. You, dearest good Mutz, can now understand why I became more and more reserved, and more and more unapproachable. And you, dearest Mutz, and all of you loved ones, inadvertently had to suffer from that, and could not explain to yourselves my discontent, my absentmindedness, and my often grumpy manner. But that's the way it was; I regret it painfully. During my long and lonely imprisonment I've had enough time on my hands to think exhaustively about my life. I have thoroughly reviewed every aspect of my actions. Based on my present knowledge I can see today clearly, severely and bitterly for me, that the entire ideology about the world in which I believed so firmly and unswervingly was based on completely wrong premises and had to absolutely collapse one day.
And so my actions in the service of this ideology were completely wrong, even though I faithfully believed the idea was correct. Now it was very logical that strong doubts grew within me, and whether my turning away from my belief in god was based on completely wrong premises. It was a hard struggle. But I have again found my faith in my god. Dearest, I cannot write more about these things. It would just lead to too much.
Should you in your misery, my dear good Mutz, find through the Christian faith strength and consolation, then follow the urge of your heart. Don't be led astray by anything. Also, you don't have to do what I have done. You should make your own decision about your lord. The children will in any case, because of school, walk a different path than the one we have taken. Klaus may later wish to decide for himself, after he has matured, and maybe find his own way.
And so there is only a pile of rubble left from our world from which the survivors have to build a new and better world with great difficulty.
My time has come.
Now it is time to say the final goodbyes to you loved ones, you who were dearest to me in all the world!
How hard and painful this parting is. You, dearest best Mutz, I thank with all my heart once more for all your love and care and for all that you brought into my life! Through our dear and good children I will always be with you, you my poor, unfortunate wife. I leave with confident hope that after all the difficulty and sadness, you, my loved ones, will be allowed to find a small spot on the sunny side of life, and that you will find a modest chance at life and that you, my dear good Mutz, will be accorded through our children a quiet and content happiness.
All my intimate good wishes accompany all of you dear ones on your life's journey to come. I thank with all my heart all of the dear, good people who stood by you in your hour of need and helped you, and I send my best regards.
My last dear greetings go to my parents, to Fritz and to all our dear old friends.
For the last time I send to you loved ones my regards, to you all my dear good children, my Annemäusl, my Burling, my Püppi, my Kindi and my Klaus, and to you, my dearest best Mutz.
Oh you, my poor, unfortunate wife, most, most dear and with a heavy heart.
Keep me in loving remembrance.
Until my last breath, I remain with all my loved ones.
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You, my dear, good children!
Your daddy has to leave you now. For you, poor ones, there remains only your dear, good Mummy. May she remain with you for a good long time yet! You do not understand yet what your good Mummy really means to you, and what a precious possession she is to you. The love and care of a mother is the most beautiful and valuable thing that exists on this earth. I realised this a long time ago, only when it was too late; and I have regretted it all my life.
To you, my dear good children, I address therefore my last, beseeching request: Never forget your dear good mother! She has constantly taken care of you with such sacrificing love. Her life concerned only you. How much of the good things in life has she sacrificed for your sake. How she feared for you when you were ill, and how painfully and untiringly did she nurse all of you. She was never at ease when all of you were not around her. Only for your sake must she suffer now all of the bitter misery and poverty. Don't ever forget this throughout your whole life.
Help her now to carry her painful fate. Be loving and good to her. Help her as well as you can with your limited strength. In this manner pay her part of the thanks for the love and care she gave you during the days and nights.
Klaus, my dear good boy!
You are the oldest. You are now going out into the world. You have to now make your own way through life. With your own strength you must now shape your life. You have good aptitudes. Use them! Keep your good heart. Become a person who lets himself be guided primarily by warmth and humanity.
Learn to think and to judge for yourself, responsibly. Don't accept everything without criticism and as absolutely true, everything which is brought to your attention. Learn from life. The biggest mistake of my life was that I believed everything faithfully which came from the top, and I didn't dare to have the least bit of doubt about the truth of that which was presented to me.
Walk through life with your eyes open. Don't become one sided; examine the pros and cons in all matters.
In all your undertakings, don't just let your mind speak, but listen above all to the voice in your heart. Much, my dear boy, will not be understood by you as yet. But always remember my last advice.
I wish you, my dear Klaus, all the luck in your life. Become a competent, straightforward person who has his heart in the right place.
Kindi and Püppi.
You, my big girls!
You are yet too young to learn the extent of the hard fate dished out to us. But you especially, my dear good girls, are specially obligated to stand at your poor unfortunate mother's side, and with love assist her in every way you can. Surround her with all your childlike love from your heart, and show her how much you love her, and show her how much you want to help her in her need. I can only beseech you, listen to your dear good mother! She will now in her devoted love and care show you the right way, and will bestow on you those lessons you will need for life in order to become good and capable human beings.
As fundamentally different as you two are in your character, you both, my dear Püppi, and you, my dear Hausmütterle, have, however, soft and feeling hearts. Retain these throughout your later life. This is the most important thing. Only later will you understand that and will you remember my last words.
My Burling, you dear little guy! Hang on to your happy child disposition. The cruel life will tear you, my dear boy, soon enough away from your child's world. I was happy to hear from your dear mother that you are progressing so well in school.
Your dear father is unable to tell you anything more. You, poor little guy, have now only your dear good Mummy left who will care for you. Listen to her with love and kindness and so remain Daddy's dear Burling.
My dear Annemäusl!
How little was I permitted to experience your dear little personality. Your dear good Mummy will have to take you, my dear Mäusl, for us into her arms and tell you of your daddy, and how very much he loved you.
May you be for a long time Mummy's little ray of sun, and continue to give her much joy. May you, with your sunny ways, help your poor dear Mummy through all the dreary hours.
Once more from my heart, I ask you all, my dear good children, take to heart my last words. Think of them again and again.
Keep in loving memory,
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To the First States Attorney of the Highest National Court at Warsaw.
By way of the First State's Attorney at the Court of Wadowice.
I most respectfully request that the enclosed last letter and the wedding ring be delivered officially to my wife.
I have submitted this request to the Highest National Court during my final summation.
Wadowice, on the 12th of April, 1947.
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S.S. Captain Karl Fritzsch was the first Camp Commander of Auschwitz. Fritzsch came from Regensburg in Bavaria, and was employed for years by the Danube Steamship Company. He was an early member of the National Socialist German Workers' Party and the S.S. When the concentration camp at Dachau was first opened, he reported for duty to the guard troops there. Because he had such a low S.S. number, he was promoted to S.S. officer. Until 1935 he was a platoon leader in a machine gun company of the guard troops. After that, when he became too old for the guard troop, he was transferred to become director of the Mail Censorship Bureau. In 1940 he came to Auschwitz as the first Camp Commander.
Although he had been on duty in concentration camp service for more than seven years, I did not understand how the old guard walked all over him after the first eight days. Fritzsch was of limited intelligence, yet stubborn and always quarrelsome. He had to be right about all things. He wouldn't let anyone forget that he was an officer. The fact that he was the deputy of the Kommandant made him particularly proud. Right from the beginning I complained to the Inspector Of The Concentration Camps about Fritzsch because I knew enough about him when we were in Dachau together. His limited intelligence, his narrow mindedness, and his stubbornness were reasons not to expect anything good from him. But Glücks ignored any complaints and said to try my luck for a while! And I later complained extensively; I was just as unsuccessful. Fritzsch was good enough for Auschwitz.
Fritzsch made it a point to do everything the way he wanted to. He only obeyed my orders and directives when they coincided with his viewpoint. However, he never actually refused an order because he was afraid of the consequences. But he was clever enough to brush up or cover up when he gave contrary orders to my directives. If, in spite of this, his behaviour was discovered, he was ready to maintain that he simply misunderstood my orders or that his subordinates went behind his back.
This last excuse was his favourite, and he always put the blame on his subordinates. Since I was away a great deal from the camp during the early days, he often used my absence to carry out the things that I had refused or even forbidden him to do. During that time he became a master in camouflage where I was concerned. And he educated the whole camp to the motto: Make sure the old man doesn't find out. That was his creed.
He had no understanding on how to deal with prisoners. He still had Eicke's teachings in his mind: The enemies of the state have to be treated harshly! He followed that motto and he also educated his block leaders to do so. Those prisoners he liked could do whatever they wanted, and he protected them. But, woe to those prisoners who got on his bad side! Fritzsch was also the protector of his kapos and block leaders. If they were aligned with his ideas, he overlooked everything. Those who did not do as he wished or had tried to contact the Kommandant wound up, by reason of a crazy punishable offence, in the punishment company, or were put into sick bay where they died either from spotted fever or typhus! I have often called Fritzsch to account, but he denied everything and felt grossly insulted and could not be convicted of his offences. He was clever enough to always cover himself. And if an incident finally was reported to me, he just blamed one of his subordinates for it.
By this behaviour he raised his men to be untruthful, particularly against me. The prisoners knew that by bypassing him it would lead to very bad results. And that's why no prisoner ever dared to come to me. Even when I tried to learn something from the prisoners directly, I always found resistance and evasive answers. The terror that was instituted by Fritzsch in Auschwitz could not be gotten rid of! This terror was handed down from the Officer Of The Day, from the block leader to block leader, from kapo to kapo and so on. A bad inheritance with terrible consequences. But Fritzsch never took notice of the results. He wanted to be the ruler himself. He considered Auschwitz to be his camp. Everything that was done and was built was his work and his idea.
It was difficult to work together with Fritzsch. I have tried time after time to point out his impossible behaviour in a nice way. All for nothing. I was very strict with him officially, and I often bawled him out, but to no avail. On the contrary, he then became more stubborn and obstinate. In my absence he took liberties I could never approve.
He issued directives and orders in my name which were directly opposite to my views. I never could catch him nor did I have the time to spend on these disagreeable acts. I repeatedly pointed out very clearly to the Inspector Of The Concentration Camps how impossible it was to continue working this way -- all without results.
Fritzsch remained at Auschwitz and worked the way he wanted. He considered the camp and everything connected with it as his complete personal field of activity in which no one had any say except him. He took no advice even from me and would not listen. He was in constant warfare with the building director, the administration, the doctors, and especially with the Political Department. With all the work I had, I was saddled with trying to settle all these arguments. Everyone in charge of a department constantly complained to me about the underhanded, malicious conduct of Fritzsch. Even though he was trying to be quite the good guy when he was off duty, he was no one's friend, and was the opposite when on duty. Even today, I cannot remember any more details, but there were numerous little things which formed a regular chain of opposition. I also don't remember anymore which occurrence finally caused his transfer.
In any case, it was the end of 1941 and our working together came to an end, as Glücks finally had to admit that Fritzsch could not remain at Auschwitz.
Instead of removing him completely from concentration camp duty, he was transferred to Flossenburg, and was exchanged for Aumeier. This occurred in spite of the fact that in my evaluation of him I persistently recommended not to put him in any concentration camp.
In Flossenburg he continued his activities just as before. It was easier to keep him under observation there because Flossenburg was situated on more open terrain, and it was smaller. But he wasn't there for long either. He was transferred again, to Mittelbau as a Camp Commander. But he had to leave there too because no one could work with him. Finally in 1944 Glücks let him go. He came under the auspices of the Main Operations Staff, and ended up in the Moslem Division of the S.S. Just imagine all the things that could have been avoided if Eicke had gotten rid of him for his incompetence when he was at Dachau.
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S.S. Lieutenant Colonel Hartjenstein had first served in the regular army, and transferred to the Waffen S.S. in 1938. I have known him since then. At first he was a platoon leader, then a company commander of the guard troop at Sachsenhausen. For a time he was Commando Leader of the work camps in Niederhagen and Wewelsburg. In 1940 he came to the Death's Head Division, where he was given different duties by the various departments. Because Eicke could not find any more assignments for him, and because he repeatedly failed as a unit leader, he finally ended up assigned to concentration camp duty, as was the usual case. Glücks sent him to Auschwitz with praise for him as an outstanding Guard Troop Leader. Hartjenstein relaced S.S. Major Gebhardt, who had really compromised his position.
Hartjenstein used his experiences from the front lines immediately to begin to whip this disorderly bunch of guard troops into shape and to bend them to his will. He wanted to have strict military order. He especially wanted to train and educate the officers. His main job of guarding the prisoners and camp security were not considered especially important to him. He believed that this was going to be very easy. He started in a very arrogant manner, and it continued that way.
All his grand intentions slowly vanished when he was faced with the terrible conditions in Auschwitz. As always, the number of guard troops was never enough to do the job of guarding the prisoners going to their work details outside the camp. To make matters worse, Hartjenstein wanted to free up entire companies from guard duty so they could perform field drills and basic training. He never could understand that it was necessary to have the whole roster of the guard battalion on duty. This was the cause of our disagreements right from the beginning. He couldn't understand that camp security and guarding the prisoners came before military training. He constantly criticised me for not understanding the military aspects of the guard battalion. The other thing we argued most about was who had the disciplinary powers. If I caught an officer or an S.S. soldier breaking guard rules or some other violation against camp security, I punished the man myself. If I thought that Hartjenstein's punishment was too easy, I turned the man over to the S.S. Court. Hartjenstein was always against this, and arrogantly told the S.S. soldiers who were involved that he would get them off because the punishment was too harsh. The Kommandant had no heart for his soldiers! So he systematically created a wedge between the troops and me. All my protest against his practices failed. While he wanted to be the independent regimental commander, I wanted to build fewer but stronger companies. It didn't matter if they consisted of 150 or 250 men. That way I could save on administrative personnel and free up more men for guard duty. He absolutely wanted to have twelve companies in order to show the need for a regiment and then divided them into battalions. Over my objections, he succeeded in convincing Glücks and got his regiment. He also got a few more officers which Glücks had refused to give me for the camp.
Hartjenstein trained his officers so that their first obligation and love was to the regiment; the camp came second. I desperately needed those officers to supervise the work commandos which were spread far from the camp. I could get them sparingly, since they were needed for regimental service. He had an understanding with his comrades and camp officers that any violations by officers or soldiers would first be reported to him, and if he thought it necessary he would then report it to me. He expected me to report any violations by the administrative personnel to him. It goes without saying that with an attitude like that most of the violations were covered up.
Hartjenstein loved to celebrate with his officers. Because I had little time and also was little inclined to join in, he took advantage by convincing the officers of his views and to turn them against me. All this in the name of camaraderie! It is understandable that the entire service suffered from these intrigues. There were constant disputes about construction matters. He could not see that it was much more important to improve the camp, especially the sanitary conditions, as far as the building program was concerned. He absolutely could not understand that it was necessary to speed up construction in the prisoner camp in order to ease the terrible conditions of the prisoners. Later, when he was Kommandant of Birkenau, he felt the bitter results of his attitude.
Hartjenstein was too short sighted, narrow minded, pig headed, and two faced. He worked tirelessly against my orders and directives behind my back. I told Glücks often enough about this and even proved certain accusations to him -- without success. Glücks always felt that it was my fault that I couldn't get along with any of my officers. Hartjenstein never complied with my demands to have continuous training on how to handle the prisoners using real life examples. He said that he could never get all his regimental officers together, and besides, you couldn't expect the men to be at instruction after they had put in fourteen or sixteen hours on duty. Another thing he didn't do was to instruct the guard troops about the most important things before they went on duty. The officers didn't like this either, because they had to get up too early, but they were very busy during the evenings having regimental parties -- to practice camaraderie!
The troops had absolutely no understanding of the camp as a whole, although I always made it clear enough at the officers' meetings, and pointed out the state of distress in the camp. There were a few officers who took their jobs and duties seriously, and who taught their men and tried to educate them. Hartjenstein didn't like to see this and got rid of them at the first opportunity.
I would rather not say anything about him as Camp Commander of Birkenau, since I had no personal observations of him then. He hardly cared about the camp itself. He was busy enough during his six months just creating new administrative staff positions. After Birkenau he was Kommandant of Natzweiler Concentration Camp. He evacuated that camp so poorly that all the important things, especially the secret papers, fell into the hands of the French. In February, Pohl released him for front line service after he saw the mess he made at Natzweiler.
Hartjenstein was the right officer for a concentration camp!
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S.S., Major General and Lieutenant General of the Police Müller was the chief of Bureau IV of the State Security Main Bureau, and Deputy Of The Chief Of The State Security Police And Of The Secret Service. Müller was an officer during World War I, and afterward, when Hitler came to power, was transferred to the Bavarian Political Police and served under Best, who took him to Berlin in the Secret State Police Headquarters.
He soon became a leading figure in this office under Heydrich, and finally became the chief of the Berlin office himself.
Müller was a policeman by nature. He didn't join the police until Hitler came to power, and was taken relatively late into the S.S. His specialist knowledge in police work, his continued experience in an executive position, and his talents came in handy in the development and improvement of Secret State Police Headquarters. He was also influential in organising the Secret State Police.
Müller always remained in the background. He did not like to be connected to any events or actions. Yet, he was the one who organised and led all of the important police actions and made certain they were carried out.
After Heydrich's death he became the leading figure in the Security Headquarters. Kaltenbrunner was only the chief and occupied himself primarily with the Security Service.
Müller was always well informed about all the important political occurrences in Germany. He had many undercover agents in all possible government positions, mainly in the economic sector. He kept in touch with his agents only through intermediaries. He was a master in camouflaging his work.
Müller visited the concentration camps only a few times, but not all of them. Nevertheless he was always well informed about all of them. It wasn't for nothing that each chief of the Political Department was also a member of the State Police.
Eicke and Müller understood each other very well, even as far back to the time when Eicke was Kommandant of Dachau.
It was never learned what Müller's views were concerning the concentration camps and the prisoners. All his remarks concerning these questions always started with: Himmler wishes that ..... or: Himmler has ordered ..... It was never possible to find out what his views were.
When I was Adjutant at Sachsenhausen, then Kommandant of Auschwitz, and later Director Of Inspections, I had to conduct business with him very often. But I never experienced him saying even once that: I'm deciding that ..... or: I order this ..... or: I want ..... He always covered himself and hid behind Himmler or the Chief Of The Security Police or the Secret Service, even though everyone who knew the situation realised that he was the one making the decisions, and that Himmler and Kaltenbrunner depended completely upon him in all matters concerning prisoners. Müller decided who was sent into the camps and who would be released. He was the only one who decided on executions, as far as those ordered by the Security Headquarters. In important cases he presented the execution orders to Himmler for his signature.
He had numerous and very sensitive cases of the special prisoners precisely in his memory. He knew exact data about every single one of these countless prisoners and he knew where they were kept and their weaknesses.
Müller was an incredible, versatile, and tenacious worker. He made very few official trips, but we could always reach him, even on Sundays or holidays, either in his office or at home.
He had two adjutants and two secretaries whom he kept busy by alternating them in day and night shifts. Every inquiry was always promptly answered by him, mostly by telegram, because he always had to ask Himmler for his decision first!
From Eichmann and Günther, who worked more intensely with him than I did, I learned that Müller made all the important decisions concerning the roundups of the Jews, even though he let Eichmann have a pretty free hand.
As I have stated before, he was well informed about all the concentration camps, including Auschwitz, which he personally never saw. He knew all the details, whether it concerned Birkenau, or the crematories, or the number of prisoners, or the death figures. He knew the facts so exactly that I was often astounded.
All of my personal complaints to him to slow down the roundups in order to ease the terrible conditions were always unsuccessful because he always hid behind Himmler's order: The ordered roundups are to be carried out ruthlessly and without consideration! I tried everything with him to convince him, but it was useless, although I got a lot accomplished through him where I had never succeeded with the others. Especially later, when I was Director Of Inspections, he relied on my judgment a great deal. Today I believe that those who were higher up did not want to alleviate the terrible conditions in Auschwitz, in order to increase the number of deaths in a cold way rather than by the gas chambers.
Müller had the power to stop the roundups or at least slow them down. He would also have been able to convince Himmler. He did not do it, although he knew the exact consequences. It just was not wanted. This is the way I see it today. At that time I was unable to understand the behaviour at headquarters.
Müller told me repeatedly: Himmler is of the opinion that the discharge of prisoners during wartime must be refused because of security and political reasons. That's why discharge petitions have to be limited to an absolute minimum and only considered in special cases. Müller also said: Himmler issued orders that all prisoners of foreign nationality categorically must be denied discharge for the duration of the war!
Himmler wants foreign prisoners executed for even the smallest attempt at sabotage in order to intimidate the other prisoners!
After reading the above it isn't hard to guess who was behind these orders and wishes.
All in all, one can say that Müller was the real hand behind all the consequences caused by S.S. Headquarters, or rather, their executives.
Personally, Müller was a correct person, very obliging and full of camaraderie. He never acted like a boss or insisted on rank, and yet, it was never possible to become friendly with him. This was confirmed again and again by his coworkers, who had been with him for years.
Müller was the ice cold executive and organiser of all the necessary measures ordered by Himmler for the security of Germany.
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S.S. Lieutenant Arthur Liebehenschel came from the province of Posen. He served twelve years in the army, and then joined the S.S. In 1934 he was Adjutant in Concentration Camp Lichtenburg, where he became seriously ill. In 1936 he came to the Bureau Of Concentration Camp Inspections in Berlin, where he worked under Colonel Tamaschke in the Political Department. After Tamaschke left, Liebehenschel became the Director of that department, which later was known as Bureau D I, after which he was transferred to Auschwitz in November 1943.
He was a quiet person and was very good natured. He also had to be very careful because he had a very bad heart.
Liebehenschel lived through the entire development of the concentration camps under Eicke, from his desk, of course. He knew the basics and the entire organisation of the concentration camps from the correspondence, and from the orders and directives by Eicke, who always worked on the most important things himself. Later, when he worked for Glücks, he became more independent and handled most of the correspondence on his own. He also took care of the orders and directives to the Kommandants and, through Glücks, signed everything.
He hardly knew the camps from a personal perspective, even though he was in one or another of the camps a few times. Glücks repeatedly wanted to send him into the camps as his representative, but he always managed to get out of it.
He was in Auschwitz only once, and that was before he was transferred. This is why neither Glücks nor Liebehenschel knew anything about the grim reality of the concentration camps. Sadly, the orders and directives regarding the camps, which often were of far reaching importance, originated from the view of a desk -- far removed from reality. As Glücks's Deputy, Liebehenschel each day received all the incoming mail for the concentration camps and distributed it. He saw most of the correspondence that was prepared for Glücks's signature. Thus he saw all the correspondence to and from the camps and routed much of it himself because he influenced Glücks easily. Liebehenschel never had much use for Auschwitz because it forced him into an entirely different routine than that of the other camps and caused too much commotion. There was always something going on in Auschwitz, and the Kommandant wanted too much help and too many improvements. Besides that, Himmler was always worrying about Auschwitz. Liebehenschel could have done many things for Auschwitz. Later on he was sorry, when he had to swallow the bitter pill, when he became Kommandant of Auschwitz.
I became acquainted with Liebehenschel during a visit in Dachau, but by living together for two years in the S.S. settlement at Sachsenhausen I got to know him better. Although we were together quite often, we really didn't become close. We were of different temperaments and our interests were too far apart. Liebehenschel was a creature of habit who did not want to disturb his daily quiet and ordinary lifestyle. He preferred to meet things as they came. However, his divorce shattered his quiet manner of living. For years he had not gotten along with his wife, who was very quarrelsome and petty. He got to know Glücks's receptionist and in her he found himself a woman who understood him and didn't mind his idiosyncracies. Finally there was the divorce and he could not stay in the inspection office. That's why he was transferred to Auschwitz. He personally would have preferred a different camp. Shortly after he became Kommandant he married again and even had a child from this marriage. There were four children from the first marriage, and after the divorce he was given custody of the oldest boy, who came to live with him at Auschwitz. When Lublin was later evacuated, his son fell into the hands of the Russians and he is most likely dead.
Liebehenschel was transferred to Auschwitz because of his divorce, and he felt that Glücks and Pohl treated him indifferently. He also expected a promotion to colonel.
When he took up his position at Auschwitz he felt he was shunned by god and man, and he was also quite deteriorated physically. His heart problem had become worse and he looked for his salvation in champagne, but it wasn't noticeable while he was on duty.
When Auschwitz was divided into three camps, Pohl decided that Liebehenschel would be in charge of the garrison and also be the Kommandant of the original Auschwitz camp, which now numbered about eighteen thousand prisoners. Liebehenschel felt that it was unfair that he should be given the smallest camp. Besides that he lost money because Pohl dropped the factory director's bonus. Then too Liebehenschel also lost his chief of office allowance and the minister's allowance, which was paid to all members of headquarters staff. In addition to all that, his divorce demanded support of his first wife and three children because he was the guilty party, and on top of all that he was starting a new marriage. It is easy to see that he was experiencing serious financial difficulties.
With all these burdens he took up his new job at Auschwitz.
Since he had always been in a position of authority, he thought he would just come in and play Camp Kommandant. In his opinion I had done everything absolutely wrong, and he proceeded to change everything from the way it had been done. His adjutant, Zoller, whom he had brought along from Mauthausen, showed him the mistakes made by the previous Kommandant.
Just then the Special Commission Of The S.S. Court suddenly appeared on an official visit to search for those S.S. members who had stolen prisoner belongings from the Reinhardt Action. At the same time Grabner was arrested because he arbitrarily had prisoners executed without any authorisation.
Liebehenschel always welcomed these investigations because he believed them to be proof of how wrong things had been managed in Auschwitz.
He was unable to make any improvements in his whole sphere of command.
He appointed S.S. Sergeant Hofmann as his Camp Commander. Hofmann was no match for the hard boiled old timers among the prisoners.
In a short time they were walking all over him and they did whatever they wanted. Liebehenschel had no idea of how to run a camp and let Hofmann do whatever he wanted, and so was very popular with all the prisoners. He also gave speeches to the prisoners in which he promised that now everything would get better and that he would change the murder camp to the way a concentration camp should be run.
He gave his word of honour to the prisoners that no more selections would be made for the gas chambers. A few days later when a truck loaded with prisoners selected from sick bay drove to the gas chambers, the word went through the camp like a bullet: There goes the word of honour of the Kommandant.
He constantly did such stupid things and he wasn't even aware of it.
Soon he realised that in the light of reality, a concentration camp took on a different appearance than from behind a desk, especially Auschwitz. And this, in spite of the fact that Sachsenhausen was practically at the front door of the headquarters in Oranienburg. But from headquarters and from behind the desk one sees everything differently; mostly better!
At Auschwitz Liebehenschel was almost always in his office, dictating order after order and writing reports. He had conferences with his garrison officers for hours on end while the general condition of the camp declined. But he did not see this.
During the early part of his new marriage it came to light that his second wife had been accused by the Security Service to have associated with Jews for quite a long time, even after the Nürnberg laws went into effect. These facts became known in Auschwitz and Liebehenschel became intolerable.
Pohl made short of this matter and transferred him to Lublin in June 1944. He didn't like that at all, since his second wife lived in the town of Auschwitz. Liebehenschel was on more official trips to Auschwitz than actually in Lublin. He escaped another almost certain transfer because of his behaviour when Lublin was evacuated. Away from Lublin he finally got beyond the close reach of headquarters and ended up with Globocnik in Triest. They were fighting bandits there. This is the same Liebehenschel who couldn't harm a fly.
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S.S. Major Richard Baer came from Bavaria, and in 1933 became a member of the guard troop at the Dachau Concentration Camp. Later on he was also in other camps. In 1939 he went to the Death's Head Division, where he remained until he was wounded. Since he was unable to return to the fighting troops, he was transferred to concentration camp duty at Neuengammen in 1942, where he became adjutant. In 1943, through Maurer's prompting, he was transferred to Auschwitz to become my adjutant. Three days later, however, he was called back again because Pohl wanted him as his adjutant. Pohl had again become tired of his adjutant and gave the order to find the best adjutant in all the Economic Headquarters. In Glücks's and Maurer's opinion, Baer was the best, subsequently he was stationed with Pohl. Baer soon learned how to gain Pohl's complete trust and confidence, and was able to get himself into such a position of trust that no other adjutant had been able to do before. He skilfully led Pohl by the hand and influenced him. He knew how to get his ideas and opinions across to Pohl in such a manner that Pohl thought they were his own!
Baer was skilful, could speak well, and knew how to get his way. He handled the various department heads and office managers as if they were his subordinates, always very skilfully, so as not to offend. The word soon got around that if you wanted to get something from Pohl, you had to get into the good graces of Baer, and it didn't matter what rank the person held. Because of all this, Baer became very spoiled, power hungry, and eccentric. He also started to spin his own webs. But Pohl had the greatest confidence in him and called him his friend! Attempts to call Pohl's attention to Baer's intrigues not only bounced off Pohl, but reflected badly on those making the attempt. Later Glücks and Maurer bitterly regretted having recommended Baer as adjutant and even later as the success›r to Liebehenschel. When Liebehenschel had to leave Auschwitz, Baer was proposed as his successor. Baer realised that if he continued as he had been doing, he would one day run into conflict with Pohl. Baer preferred, therefore, to retreat to a safe position which at the same time meant a promotion for him and a chance to advance himself. He was promoted to Major. It was amazing for anyone to be promoted to Major after such a short time and at his age. This normally would have been strictly refused by Pohl. Incidentally, Baer behaved very rudely toward Liebehenschel and his second wife when he was transferred. Anyone else but Liebehenschel would surely have made Baer account for this. In June 1944, Baer assumed his position as senior officer and Camp Commander of Auschwitz I. I myself had the honour to install him and to show him how the camp was run. In his opinion, it was unnecessary because he had had enough experience in concentration camps. Anyway, I had very little time to make him acquainted with the existing indescribable conditions. He said he had seen everything for himself and would have no trouble managing things. In almost three weeks while I was in Auschwitz, he improved absolutely nothing and did not make any effort to do so. He had other interests. He often went hunting and fishing, or went for walks. Baer believed that he had worked enough when he was Pohl's adjutant, and that he was now in need of a rest. He also became arrogant and very unfriendly.
He did not care for the program against the Jews. He left all that to me.
He also did not involve himself much in the transports of able bodied prisoners. He only got involved from time to time if Pohl had something important for him. In fact, I had to personally get involved with the Reich Train Authority in order to untangle a tie up of railroad cars and get them rolling again. In any case, it was an unpleasant working relationship. He hardly ever saw his other two camp commanders, Krause and Schwartz. They heard from him only through camp orders. He cared very little about the prisoners and had hardly any time for them. Because he was very moody, he constantly changed his point of view. As far as the prisoners were concerned, the Officer Of The Day and the Camp Commander were responsible for them.
He looked at the orders and directives from Group D only if they interested him. He could afford to neglect these things without any repercussions. Glücks took no action against him and Maurer overlooked things after he received a few severe reprimands regarding Baer.
According to Pohl's orders, the evacuation of Auschwitz was to be thoroughly prepared. I had to write the precise evacuation plan in great detail, which had to be observed. Baer had over two months time to make all the preparations. He did nothing. The proof of this now came to light. When the evacuation order came from Maurer, Baer immediately climbed into the biggest and best car he could find and transferred himself to Gross Rosen Concentration Camp so that he could prepare things there! The evacuation and the cleanup he left to Kraus and Hössler. He left it up to them to find a way to carry out all the orders. Had he planned and thought out the evacuation well, we would never have seen the conditions that existed on the streets and railways in Silesia and the Sudeten area four days later. I had been ordered there by Pohl to take action in case Baer couldn't solve the difficulties and because Pohl had received no reports from Baer. I no longer had authority in this situation, and I could only observe and report. When I returned, I reported to Pohl without colouring the facts. I also harshly criticised Baer and his behaviour. Pohl became silent and did not say a word. A few days later Baer was appointed Kommandant in Mittelbau. Schwartz, who was originally scheduled to go there, was honoured to command the sorry leftovers from Natzweiler. It became increasingly dangerous in Mittelbau as the air raids steadily increased in intensity. Baer sprained his foot and went to Steiermark in Austria to recuperate. Hössler was left behind and, according to his orders, had to fight his way to Bergen Belsen. In short sketches, these were Baer's activities as camp commander at Auschwitz and Mittelbau.
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The second Inspector Of The Concentration Camps was S.S. General Glücks. Glücks came from Düsseldorf, and had lived in Argentina for several years before World War I. When the war broke out, he smuggled himself aboard a Norwegian ship through British control points and reported for duty in the armed forces. He was an artillery officer for the entire war. After the war he was liaison officer with the Armistice Commission. He later became a member of the Free Corps in the Ruhr area. He was a clerk for a business when Hitler took power in 1933.
Glücks joined the National Socialist German Workers' Party and the S.S. in the early days. For several years he was Chief Of Staff, Group West of the S.S., then he led a battalion of regular S.S. in Schneidemühl. In 1936 he joined Viecke as Chief Of Staff Of Concentration Camp Inspectors. Glücks was the typical bureaucrat, and had no sense for practical things. He believed he could direct everything from his desk. He was hardly noticeable as far as the concentration camps were concerned when Viecke was Chief. Even though he accompanied Viecke now and again to various camps, he really never noticed anything, and he never learned what to look for. Since he was only Chief Of Staff, he didn't have much influence with Eicke because Eicke took care of almost everything with the Kommandants during his inspections. But Eicke held him in high esteem, and as far as personnel matters were concerned, Glücks made all the decisions, much to the disappointment of the staffs of the Kommandants. Several of the Kommandants tried to prevent Glücks from having all that influence, but his position with Eicke was unshakeable.
As I mentioned earlier, when the war broke out, the active guard soldiers were transferred to the front lines and were replaced with reservists from the General S.S. New units of the Death's Head Division were formed from the younger age groups of the S.S. At first they were supposed to be supplements to the police and also the occupation troops. Eicke became Inspector General Of The Death's Head Units And Of The Concentration Camps, while Glücks was his Chief Of Staff. When Eicke was given the job of organising the Death's Head Division, the post of Inspector General was taken over by the Command Bureau of the Waffen S.S., so Glücks became Inspector Of Concentration Camps. He was subordinate to the Main Command Bureau of the S.S., which later became Operations Main Office. In 1941, the Inspectorate Of The Bureau Of Concentration Camps became Administration Group 2 in the Army Administration Main Office.
Himmler never really trusted Glücks and quite a few times had intended to use him in another position. But Eicke and Pohl always spoke up for him, and this is how he remained Inspector Of The Camps.
After Glücks became Inspector, nothing at all changed in the camps. Glücks believed that anything that Eicke had ordered could not be changed, even if it was completely out of date. He didn't want to rock the boat, but more so he didn't want to ask Himmler to change anything. He also thought that his position as Inspector was only temporary. He did not think he was authorised to make even the smallest change about the concentration camps without Himmler's permission. All requests for changes from the Kommandants to Glücks were denied without his even considering them, or if they were sent in writing, they were answered as evasively as possible. During the entire time he held office, he had a pathological fear of Himmler. If Himmler called him, Glücks became confused; and if he had to see Himmler in person, he was no use to anyone for days before the meeting.
When Himmler demanded reports and position papers, he fell completely apart. This was very surprising because normally nothing could disturb his even tempered nature. Therefore, he avoided everything that could possibly lead to a meeting with Himmler, or, worse, possibly lead to a rejection or even a reprimand from Himmler.
He didn't take the things which occurred in the camps seriously, as long as they didn't have to be reported to Himmler. Prisoner escapes upset him and gave him sleepless nights because they had to be reported to Himmler. Every morning the first question was: How many took off? Auschwitz along with others caused him the most worries. This constant fear of Himmler naturally influenced his whole attitude about concentration camps. So it became: Do what you want. Just don't let Himmler find out. When he became subordinate to Pohl, he breathed more freely. Now a stronger person was put between Himmler and the Kommandants, and he took the heat.
Even then, his deep fear of Himmler never left him because, as before, he still had to appear before Himmler or answer Himmler's questions. Pohl saved him many times. Glücks only inspected the camps if there were necessary reasons, or if Himmler or Pohl urged him to do so.
When he inspected a camp, he saw nothing, and he even said so. He was happy if the Kommandant didn't drag him through the camp for too long a time. It's always the same in every camp. What I'm not supposed to see, I won't see. Everything else I saw so many times already that it isn't interesting anymore. He preferred to sit in the officer's club of the camp and talk about every topic except the problems that bothered the Kommandant.
Glücks had an uncontrollable sense of Rhineland humour, and looked at everything from the bright side of life. He made the worst things appear ridiculous and cracked jokes about them. He remembered absolutely nothing and made no decisions. You couldn't even get angry at him, such was his nature.
He never took me seriously. He believed I overexaggerated my worries and needs about the camp, and he was astounded when he discovered that Pohl and Kammler agreed with me. Yet he never gave me help. He could have been such a great help by transferring the inefficient and unsuitable personnel out of Auschwitz. But because of the other Kommandants, he didn't want to do that. Don't rock the boat! Keep the peace in the Office Of Inspection Of The Concentration Camps. As for Glücks's inspections of Auschwitz, they were of no value and always ended without any changes. He really didn't like Auschwitz at all. Everything was too spread out, too complex, and caused too many difficulties for him. And besides that, the Kommandants had too many requests and complaints.
Twice he wanted to remove me or appoint a higher ranking officer over me, but he really didn't have the courage to do it because of his fear of Himmler. Another reason was that the number of escapes was low at Auschwitz, and high in other camps, for which Himmler gave him a lot of grief. Auschwitz was a constant thorn in Glücks's side because it made him uncomfortable and because Himmler had such a deep interest in Auschwitz.
From the beginning of the extermination of the Jews, he didn't want to have anything to do with Auschwitz. He didn't even want to hear about it. He could never understand that his lack of interest was the very reason that the catastrophic conditions developed later on. He was unable to handle any of the difficult problems in the camps, and was of no help in finding solutions to the problems. He left it up to the Kommandants to find a way to solve their problems. Don't ask so many questions! was the frequent comment during his conferences with the Kommandants. You know much more than I do about these things. He often asked Liebehenschel just before a meeting: What should I say to the Kommandants again? I don't know anything! And that was the Inspector Of All The Concentration Camps, the Supervisor Of All Camp Kommandants. He was supposed to give direction and set the course for the Kommandants whenever difficulties arose, many of which developed because of the war alone. Later they did turn to Pohl for help; this made Glücks very angry at them.
Glücks was too soft and did not want to hurt any of his subordinates, especially when it came to his old comrades, and S.S. officers who were his favourites. He gave into them much too easily. Because of his good heart, he saved S.S. officers who should have been brought before an S.S. court long before, or should have been removed from camp service. His good heart overlooked many of the sins of his staff.
After Liebehenschel left for duty in Auschwitz, Maurer became Glücks's deputy and I became Director Of Inspections. That's when Maurer and I began cleaning house in the staff positions by getting rid of the excess noncommissioned officers and lower staff officers who had been listed as indispensable. This, of course, caused many arguments with Glücks. Maurer finally threatened to go to Pohl, and Glücks gave in reluctantly.
He let Maurer gradually take control of this very loose way of doing things. Glücks's main worry was Himmler, although he did try to slow Maurer down when he thought Maurer was too strict with the men. Glücks had not been healthy for years. He was often absent from duty for weeks on end and never slept well. He ruined himself by taking many different medications.
He was really finished in 1944 when the constant air raids hit the Berlin area As the front lines came closer and closer, his worsening health showed the effect. The only time he felt any relief was when he was drunk!
He lived a very simple life -- withdrawn. He never invited anyone to his house when he was in Oranienburg. His wife was just like him. They had no children.
As far as the prisoners who served as barbers, gardeners, and craftsmen were concerned, he had close relationships with them and was good hearted and generous. He never witnessed an execution or a beating. Permission to administer a beating was left for the most part to his deputy.
Glücks was the exact opposite of Eicke in every respect. Both of them were extreme, and this made the development of the concentration camps a real tragedy!
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Excellent post- truly sheds light on the inner workings of the camps and the personalities of those defective souls who ran them. The terrifying thing is that if I were a layman, unaware of Hoess' role in the SS, I would almost like him based on what I've read here. A mass murderer but one with a conscience and a great deal of insight. Not to mention a great deal of personal courage (youngest EK I recipient in WW I). And a caring husband and father. But regardless, it all comes back to this: He was Kommandant of Auschwitz, and as he says himself, he has to be held responsible for what happened on his watch. I have to see him as exterminator of human beings first, otherwise decent guy second.
This is the sort of story that reminds me that there are really no easy answers in the study of the Third Reich. Much as I'd like to simply close the lid on R.F.F.H., saying- "There- he was a mass-murdering swine and got what he deserved", I just can't.
Thanks for this contribution!
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I find this interesting portrait of Globocnik by Höss, written in January 1947.
http://www.deathcamps.org/reinhard/hoes ... age01.html