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The SS Men - Masters of Death November 03, 2005 1:59 PM

The SS Men wore black uniforms with a skeleton's head on their hats, the motto Unsere Ehre heisst Treue on their belts and their symbol was the double S-rune. They had sworn eternal faith to Adolf Hitler and they were his most ruthless henchmen, men often seen as the very personifications of evil. A violent group who rose to power in a democracy and established institutions of legitimized terror. These masterminds of death were found to be quite psychologically normal. They were men of fine standing, husbands who morning and night kissed their wives, fathers who tucked their children into bed. But murders, brutalities, cruelties, tortures, atrocities, and other inhuman acts were an everyday occurrence. The Nazis believed the German people were a 'master race', who were superior to others. They even created a league table of 'races' with the Aryans at the top and with Jews, Gypsies and black people at the bottom. These 'inferior' people were seen as a threat to the purity and strength of the German nation. When the Nazis came to power they persecuted these people, took away their human rights and eventually decided that they should be exterminated. Source: http://www.deathcamps.info/Nazis/Default.htm ar  [ send green star]
 
Heinrich Himmler November 03, 2005 2:02 PM

SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler was head of the entire Nazi police force including SD and the Gestapo, he was Minister of the Interior and commander of the Waffen SS and the Home Army. One of Hitler's most sinister henchmen, he was also in charge of the death camps in the East. The account of Himmler's life and his impact on the rise and fall of the Nazi state make a gripping and horrifying story. Although Adolf Hitler held the ultimate responsibility for what became the Holocaust, it was Heinrich Himmler who essentially laid the plans and devised the schemes that led to the killings of six million Jews. Heinrich Himmler was born October 7, 1900, as the son of a secondary school instructor and strict Roman Catholic. By the end of World War I, Himmler had completed secondary school instruction and went on to receive a diploma in agriculture from the Munich Technical High School in 1922. Himmler worked as a salesman for a firm of fertilizer manufacturers before joining a paramilitary organization in 1923. In 1925 he joined the Nazi party, 1927 he worked as a Poultry farmer but his future would be imbued following his appointment in January 1929 as leader of the SS, an elite guard of Hitler. Himmler quickly moved up the ranks, and once Hitler became Chancellor in 1933 Himmler became the head of the Munich police. From this position he organized the first concentration camp at Dachau and began to organize the Nazi political police throughout Germany. In April of 1934 he was named assistant chief of the Prussian Gestapo, the secret police, and in June of 1934, Himmler successfully crushed the paramilitary SA, headed by Ernst Röhm, making the SS the dominant organization in Germany. Two years later, a power-thirsting Himmler got full control of the SS, and became SS Reichsführer.  From a number of letters and speeches of Himmler it becomes clear, that he referred to the annihilation of the Jews in Europe - the Holocaust - as a task which he had to carry out on the behalf of the highest authority in the Third Reich - Adolf Hitler. In 1941, Himmler summoned Rudolf Hoess, SS Commandant of the largest killing center ever created, the death camp Auschwitz. He told him that "the Führer had given the order for a Final Solution of the Jewish Question" and that "we, the SS, must carry out that order In 1943, Himmler became Interior Minister, and in July of 1944, he attained the rank of chief of the army's home organization - now second only to Adolf Hitler. But Himmler's empire was already crumbling from within and under attack from without. Weakened on all fronts, he was attacked after 1944 by Martin Bormann, who tried to revitalize the party organization as a rival of the SS. Bormann emerged victorious in April 1945, when Hitler ordered Himmler's arrest because he had tried to propose peace to the Allies. The chief of the SS sought to win asylum for himself and 200 leading Nazis in the final days of World War II by offering cash and the freedom of 3,500 Jews, according to British intelligence documents released last year. According to the documents, details of which have been held in the secret files of Britain's MI5 intelligence agency, the concentration camp inmates were to be sent to Switzerland in two trainloads. The offer was made by Himmler and orchestrated by his intelligence chief, Walter Schellenberg. But the arrangement was aborted after the first trainload of 1,700 left Germany - Hitler ordered the plan halted immediately. Heinrich Himmler fled Berlin after the German surrender in the disguise of a discharged Gestapo agent with moustache shaved and wearing an eye patch. After being captured by the Allies, Himmler committed suicide by biting a vial of cyanide that he had hidden in his mouth. The doctors attempted to remove the poison from his stomach by causing him to vomit, but with no success. After a 12-minute long death throes, he died.  Three days later, the British buried anonymously his remains somewhere in a forest near Lüneburg .. ar  [ send green star]
 
Reinhard Heydrich November 03, 2005 2:03 PM

Reinhard Heydrich was one of Hitler's most ruthless Nazis and second in importance only to Heinrich Himmler in the Nazi SS organization and the principle planner of the Final Solution. There was even talk of his one day succeeding Adolf Hitler. At a villa on the shores of a suburban Berlin lake called the Wannsee, mid-level bureaucrats from a number of Nazi agencies assembled January 20, 1942, at the request of Heydrich. Heydrich and his boss, Heinrich Himmler were in the process of assuming leadership in the Final Solution of the Jewish Question, i.e., the murder of Europe's Jews by the Nazis. This meeting was a part of that process, as bureaucratic coordination would be required for the massive efforts to be undertaken throughout Europe to kill the 11,000,000 Jews described in the document. The Nazis ultimately succeeded in killing six million of Europe's Jews, with hundreds of thousands already dead by the time of this meeting. By mid 1942, mass gassing of Jews using Zyklon-B began at Auschwitz in occupied Poland, where extermination was conducted on an industrial scale with some estimates running as high as three million persons eventually killed through gassing, starvation, disease, shooting, and burning. The ever-ambitious Heydrich had achieved favored status with Hitler and was appointed Deputy Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia in former Czechoslovakia and set up headquarters in Prague. Soon after his arrival, he established the Jewish "model" ghetto at Theresienstadt. In 1942 Heydrich was assassinated in Prague and the Nazis destroyed an innocent Czech village - Lidice - to avenge the assassination. On June 9, just five days after Heydrich's death, ten truckloads of the Security Police came and quickly surrounded the village. No one was allowed to leave - a 12 year old boy and a peasant woman were shot as they tried to escape. All the men and boys over 16 years old, 172 in all, were rounded up and locked in a barn. They were shot the next day in groups of ten, which lasted from dawn until 4 in the afternoon. 19 men who were working in the mines during the shooting were also rounded up and sent to Prague where they were killed. The women as a whole fared better than the men, but still faced cruel situations. Seven of the women were taken to Prague where they were shot. The rest, numbering 195, were sent to the Ravensbrück KZ camp in Germany. 49 of the women died - 7 by gassing, and the rest from cruel treatment. The children, 90 in all, were taken to a KZ camp at Gneisenau. They were selected according to the "racial experts" and distributed to German people with new German names to be raised as their own. The village itself was completely destroyed - it was burned, the remains dynamited, and bulldozed so that no structure was left standing. Lidice became a symbol of Nazi barbarism. ar  [ send green star]
 
Adolf Eichmann November 03, 2005 2:05 PM

One of the most feared and hated Nazi leaders of World War II, Adolf Eichmann was responsible for the deaths of millions of Jews. He was born in Solingen on 19 March 1906. Later the family moved to Linz, Austria, where Adolf Eichmann spent his youth. A member of the Austrian Nazi party, he quickly rose through the ranks. 1938 he headed the Austrian office for Jewish emigration where he brought together all the bureaucratic agencies needed for Jewish expulsion. In December 1939 Eichmann was transferred to Amt IV dealing with Jewish affairs and evacuation, and for the next six years Eichmann's office was the headquarter for the implementation of the Final Solution - his assignment was to murder all the Jews in Europe. Eichmann oversaw the deportation to the concentration camps and his efficient organization rounded up and transported millions to their deaths at infamous camps such as Auschwitz, Chelmno, Treblinka, Sobibor and Belzec. But only in Budapest after March 1944 did the desk-murderer Adolf Eichmann become a public personality, working in the open and playing a leading role in the massacre of Hungarian Jewry. In August 1944 this Master of Death could report to Himmler that approximately four million Jews had died in the death camps and that another two million had been killed by mobile extermination units. After the war, Eichmann escaped capture and the stage was set for one of the greatest manhunts in history. But Eichmann lived in Germany for five years before moving to Argentina where he would live under an alias for another ten years. Israeli agents finally captured him in 1960 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and he was brought to Israel. May 23, 1960, the Prime Minister Ben Gurion announced to a startled Knesset that Adolf Eichmann was in Israeli hands and was to be put on trial for his life. He described Eichmann as "one of the greatest of the Nazi war criminals". Eichmann was tried for crimes against humanity. In his jailhouse writings, he tried to put distance between himself and the Nazi genocide, claiming he was just a bureaucrat. His only defense was that he was "on the lowest rung," that his "position was too insignificant," and he declared repeatedly, "I had to obey." He showed no reaction to the horrors that were described in court. December 2, 1961, Eichmann was sentenced to death for crimes against the Jewish people and crimes against humanity. On May 31, 1962, the State of Israel carried out the only death sentence in its history on the man whose only defense was, "I was just following orders." Adolf Eichmann was executed in The Ramleh prison. ar  [ send green star]
 
Ernst Kaltenbrunner November 03, 2005 2:06 PM

Ernst Kaltenbrunner was born in Ried im Innkreis, Austria. Later the family moved to Linz, where he attended the State Real Gymnasium. He studied law and obtained a law degree in 1926. He spent the first year as apprentice lawyer at Linze-on-Danube and then worked as a lawyer-candidate, first at Salzburg and after 1928 at Linz. He joined the Nazi Party in 1932, and became leader of the Austrian SS 1935.  Ernst Kaltenbrunner was a life-long fanatical Nazi. He had much to do with developing the Mauthausen KZ camp and visited it frequently. He agreed with Himmler on the establishment of gas-chambers for execution 1942, became head of the security police 1943, and sent millions of Jews and political suspects to their deaths in the concentration camps. He was also responsible for orders sanctioning the murder of prisoners of war. Toward the end of the war, Kaltenbrunner's power increased greatly, especially after the attack on Hitler of 20 July 1944, and he gained direct access to The Führer. So powerful had Kaltenbrunner become toward the end that even Heinrich Himmler feared him. Ernst Kaltenbrunner was captured by U.S. troops on May 15, 1945 and was indicted for war crimes by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremburg and sentenced to death. He was hanged on October 16, 1946. ar  [ send green star]
 
Rudolf Hoess November 03, 2005 2:07 PM

Rudolf Hoess was history's greatest mass murderer, the architect and SS Commandant of the largest killing center ever created, the death camp Auschwitz, whose name has come to symbolize humanity's ultimate descent into evil. Responsible for exterminating 2,5 million people in World War II, he was a mild-mannered, happily married Catholic who enjoyed normal family life with his five children despite his view of the crematoria chimney stacks from his bedroom window. At peak efficiency Auschwitz had the capacity to 'get rid of ten thousand people in 24 hours,' as Rudolf Hoess would testify during the War Crimes Trials after WW2. Witness after witness, document after document produced irrefutable evidence of the crimes committed, and no witness was more shocking than Rudolf Hoess, who calmly explained how he had come to exterminate 2,5  million people. Rudolf Franz Hoess was born in 1900 and joined the SS in 1933. In 1934 he was attached to the SS at Dachau, on August 1, 1938, he was adjutant of the Sachsenhausen KZ camp until his appointment as Commandant of the newly-built camp at Auschwitz early 1940, located nearby the provincial Polish town of Oshwiecim in Galacia. May 1941 the SS commander Heinrich Himmler said to Hoess, that Adolf Hitler had given orders 'for the final solution of the Jewish question. I have chosen the Auschwitz camp for this purpose'. Hoess converted Auschwitz into an extermination camp and installed gas chambers and crematoria. Auschwitz became the killing centre where the largest numbers of European Jews were killed. After an experimental gassing there in September 1941 of 850 malnourished and ill prisoners, mass murder became a daily routine. By mid 1942, mass gassing of Jews using Zyklon-B began at Auschwitz, where extermination was conducted on an industrial scale with 2,5 million persons eventually killed through gassing, starvation, disease, shooting, and burning ... At Auschwitz so called camp doctors - German physicians and scientists - performed vile and potentially lethal medical experiments on concentration camps inmates, and tortured Jewish children, Gypsy children and many others. "Patients" were put into pressure chambers, tested with drugs, castrated, frozen to death, and exposed to various other traumas. In late 1943 Rudolf Hoess was appointed chief inspector of the concentration camps and worked hard to improve the efficiency of the other extermination camps. He performed his job so well that he was commended in a 1944 SS report that called him 'a true pioneer in this area because of his new ideas and educational methods.' Hoess fled at the approach of the Red Army and went into hiding in Germany under the name Franz Lang. He was arrested by Allied military police in 1946 and handed over to the Polish authorities, who tried him in 1947. He was sentenced to death, and returned to Auschwitz to be hanged on the one-person gallows outside the entrance to the gas chamber. Rudolf Hoess related before his execution how he often felt weak-kneed at having to push hundreds of screaming, pleading children into the gas chambers: "I did, however, always feel ashamed of this weakness of mine after I talked to Adolf Eichmann. He explained to me that it was especially the children who have to be killed first, because where was the logic in killing a generation of older people and leaving alive a generation of young people who can be possible avengers of their parents and can constitute a new biological cell for the reemerging of this people." ar  [ send green star]
 
Josef Mengele November 03, 2005 2:09 PM

During the Holocaust Josef Mengele was the chief provider for the gas chambers at Auschwitz - and did well! When it was reported that one block was infected with lice, Mengele solved the problem by gassing all the 750 women assigned to it. The memory of this slightly built man, scarcely a hair out of place, his dark green tunic neatly pressed, his face well scrubbed, his Death's Head SS cap tilted rakishly to one side, remains vivid for those who survived his scrutiny when they arrived at the Auschwitz railhead. Polished boots slightly apart, his thumb resting on his pistol belt, he surveyed his prey with those dead gimlet eyes. Death to the left, life to the right. Four hundred thousand souls - babies, small children, young girls, mothers, fathers, and grandparents - were casually waved to the left hand side with a flick of the cane clasped in a gloved hand. Mengele did a number of medical experiments of unspeakable horror at Auschwitz, using twins. These twins as young as five years of age were usually murdered after the experiment was over and their bodies dissected. Mengele injected chemicals into the eyes of children in an attempt to change their eye color. Unfortunately a strict veil of secrecy over the experiments enabled Mengele to do his work more effectively. Despite international efforts to track him down, Josef Mengele was never apprehended and lived for 35 years hiding under various aliases. He lived in Paraguay and Brazil until his death in 1979. One afternoon, living in Brazil, he went for a swim. While in the ocean he suffered a massive stroke and began to drown. By the time he was dragged to shore, he was dead. ar  [ send green star]
 
Alois Brunner November 03, 2005 2:11 PM

SS Hauptsturmführer Alois Brunner - the last leading Nazi still believed to be on the loose and Eichmann's second in command - was a key figure in the planning and execution of the Final Solution, the murder of 6 million Jews during World War II. He actively participated in the mass murder and was often sent by Eichmann as a trouble shooter to areas such as France to expedite the killings. Alois Brunner bears direct responsibility for the deportation to Nazi death camps of 128,500 Jewish men, women and children from Austria, Greece, France, and Slovakia. The arrest and conviction of Alois Brunner remains the top priority of leading Nazi hunters and war investigators but Brunner has successfully eluded justice. During his many years hiding out reportedly in an apartment on Haddad Street in the Syrian capital of Damascus, he openly assisted the Syrians in establishing their own secret police. The Syrian authorities have covered and continue to cover Alois Brunner and he may never pay for his crimes. Germany, Austria, Slovakia, France and Poland currently seek his extradition, but the Syrians have been totally uncooperative in response to all these requests. Alois Brunner was born in Austria in 1912 and joined the Austrian Nazi Party in 1931 at the age of 19. His anti-Semitism was considered to be so extreme that he was swiftly tapped to be Adolf Eichmann’s private secretary. As head of the Nazi’s Jewish affairs office in prewar Vienna, he organized persecution that forced thousands of Jews to flee to other European countries and the United States. When World War II started, he sent 47,000 Austrian Jews to the KZ camps. After organizing mass roundups in Berlin, he transferred to Greece, where he was responsible for deporting all 43,000 Jews in Salonika within just two months. In June 1943, he was sent to France to take over the Drancy transit camp near Paris from its French administrators. During 14 months in France, Brunner sent an estimated 25,000 men, women and children to their deaths. Brunner also transported the children of Izieu to Auschwitz. After WW2 Alois Brunner found gainful employment courtesy of the CIA and later he escaped to Syria where he became a government adviser. To this day Alois Brunner has successfully evaded capture. He is believed to live in Damascus using the name of his cousin Georg Fischer. German journalists visiting Syria in 1999 said Brunner was living at the Meridian Hotel in Damascus under police protection. He is easily identifiable, having lost an eye and several fingers from letter bombs sent him years ago by French and Israeli security agents. Brunner was interviewed about 15 years ago in the Austrian news magazine Bunte. He said he did not suffer from a bad conscience for, in his own words, "getting rid of that garbage" His one regret was that he hadn't murdered more Jews. In 1987 in a telephone interview Alois Brunner told the Chicago Sun Times: The Jews deserved to die. I have no regrets. If I had the chance I would do it again .. ar  [ send green star]
 
Klaus Barbie November 03, 2005 2:13 PM

Klaus Barbie was born in Bad Godesberg, near Bonn, October 25, 1913. He joined the SS and later began a career in espionage.  In May 1941 Barbie was posted to the Bureau of Jewish affairs, as an intelligence officer. He was then attached the Amsterdam Gestapo and in November 1942 he was posted to Lyon, France. While in France he was to penetrate and destroy the resistance in Lyon and carried out his task with unmatched brutality. Simone Lagrange, a soft-spoken Holocaust survivor whose family was exterminated, later recalled the arrest of her father, mother and herself on June 6, 1944. Denounced by a French neighbor as Jews, Simone and her parents were taken to Gestapo headquarters where a man, dressed in gray and caressing a kitten, said Simone was pretty. Klaus Barbie .. "He was caressing the cat. And me, a kid 13 years old, I could not imagine that he could be evil because he loved animals. I was tortured by him for eight days." During the following week, the man hauled her out of a prison cell each day, he yanked her by her hair, beating and punching at her open wounds in an effort to obtain information. Another survivor, Lise Lesevre, recalled how Klaus Barbie tortured her for nine days in 1944, beating her, nearly drowning her in a bathtub. She told how she was hung up by hand cuffs with spikes inside them and beaten with a rubber bar. She was ordered to strip naked and get into a tub filled with freezing water. Her legs were tied to a bar across the tub and Barbie yanked a chain attached to the bar to pull her underwater. During her last interrogation, Barbie ordered her to lie flat on a chair and struck her on the back with a spiked ball attached to a chain. It broke a vertebrae, and she suffered the rest of her life. Another survivor, Ennat Leger, said Klaus Barbie "had the eyes of a monster. He was savage. My God, he was savage! It was unimaginable. He broke my teeth, he pulled my hair back. He put a bottle in my mouth and pushed it until the lips split from the pressure." A dedicated sadist, responsible for many individual atrocities, including the capture and deportation to Auschwitz of forty-four Jewish children hidden in the village of Izieu, Klaus Barbie owed his postwar notoriety primarily to one of his 'cases', the arrest and torture unto death of Jean Moulin, one of the highest ranking member of the French Resistance. Jean Moulin was mercilessly tortured by Klaus Barbie and his men. Hot needles where shoved under his fingernails. His fingers were forced through the narrow space between the hinges of a door and a wall and then the door was repeatedly slammed until the knuckles broke. Screw-levered handcuffs were placed on Moulin and tightened until they bit through his flesh and broke through the bones of his wrists. He would not talk. He was whipped. He was beaten until his face was an unrecognizable pulp. A fellow prisoner, Christian Pineau, later described the resistance leader as "unconscious, his eyes dug in as though they had been punched through his head. An ugly blue wound scarred his temple. A mute rattle came out of his swollen lips." Jean Moulin remained in this coma when he was shown to other resistance leaders who were being interrogated at Gestapo headquarters. Barbie had ordered Moulin put on display in an office. His unconscious form sprawled on a chaise lounge. His face was yellow, his breathing heavy, his head swathed in bandages. It was the last time Moulin was seen alive. On behalf of his cruel crimes and specially for the Moulin case, Barbie was awarded, by Hitler himself, the 'First Class Iron Cross with Swords'. After the war Klaus Barbie was recruited by the Western Allies and worked for the British until 1947, then he switched his allegiance to the CIA. With the aid of the Americans he fled in 1950 prosecution in France and relocated to South America together with his wife and children. He lived in Bolivia as a businessman under the name Klaus Altmann from 1951. Though he was identified in Bolivia at least as early as 1971 by the Nazi hunters Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, it was only in February 1983 that the Bolivian government after long negotiations extradited him to France to stand trial. Klaus Barbie, nicknamed the 'butcher of Lyon', responsible for the torture and death of thousands of people, was tried in a French court and sentenced to life imprisonment. He died of cancer in prison on September 25, 1991. ar  [ send green star]
 
 November 03, 2005 8:29 PM

Its hard to see how people like this can sleep at night... .how did some live all these years with this weight on there shoulders?

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anonymous  November 04, 2005 4:24 AM

They acted as if they themselves could escape death. But I'm sure death had the last laugh for most of them already if any of them are not still alive.  [report anonymous abuse]  [ accepted]
 
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