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This SS-General if someone tears up opinions, was he a war criminal or a clever organizer with a good side? If you read post-war literature, the veterans seem to have praised him highly. They gave him the epithet “Papa” early on.
the fact is that he was the one who organized how a German concentration camp was built, why I write in German is that concentration camps were not a German invention, but created by the English during the war in South Africa, the so-called Boer war.
Eicke’s organization meant that a concentration camp had 6 departments, as well as a guard unit in the form of an SS-Totenkopfverbände. Ab I. In was the commandant’s and its adjutant’s department. Abt II, the camp was the “Gestapo”, this was independent of the commandant and other staff. Abt III. Where the camp itself in German was called “Schutzhaftlager” this department had its own commandant who had the title “Schutzhaftlagerführer”. Department IV was the administration and had everything to do with the camp’s economy. Dept. V was the domain of the doctors. They were often also responsible for the troops that were around the camp. Department VI was the political unit responsible for ensuring that the troops at the camp received the right training in National Socialism. The unit that guarded the camp was first called “Wachsturmbann” to later get the title SS-Totenkopfverbände, there were four such units 1, 2, 3 and 4 these four were responsible for guarding the camp. Before the war, the soldiers in the SS-TV units were on a rolling schedule, one week in the towers or around the fence and three weeks of military exercises. During a conversation with a veteran who admitted that he had served in KL Buchenwald between 1938-1940, when asked what it was like to guard the camp, the simple answer was “it was really boring”.
But enough about the camps, after Eicke created this model, in 1936 he was appointed supreme director of the SS-TV and Concentration Camps, his new position meant that he settled just south of KL Sachsenhausen (the villa remains and is today a youth hostel). They also built a large complex in the shape of a T, hence the name “T-Gebäude”, this building also remains, it contains a small museum otherwise the Finance Department of the state of Brandenburg takes possession of the rest of the building.
At the end of the war in 1939, parts of the SS-TV participated in the battles in Poland, mainly 2.SS-TV Brandenburg, were involved and they are said to have committed one of the first war crimes of the war. For Eicke this meant little and he praised all his soldiers. Eicke was a leader who in duty he demanded blind obedience, while in his spare time he was one of his soldiers and there are plenty of pictures of Eicke sitting in the middle of his unit smoking his pipe and saying hello to all his soldiers, which even they could do under the relaxed forms. But pity the one who had the nerve to say hello to his general in the service. Then they quickly risked having to put on the striped clothes and see themselves as prisoners in one of the camps.
I have documents where soldiers had to leave their post at 1.SS-TV Oberbayern (Dachau) to see themselves transported under guard to KL Buchenwald to see themselves there as prisoners.
Eicke’s leadership was not looked upon kindly by other senior leaders within the SS and the party, he often got into arguments with his superiors and not infrequently RFSS Himmler had to step in, either to reprimand Eicke, but also sometimes to give him the right and with a try to get Eicke to accept that certain things must work in certain ways. This was something of a common thread in Eicke’s life. But still he was admired by his soldiers, both privates and officers.
in October 1939, the SS-Totenkopf Division was formed in Dachau, which had been emptied of prisoners only to accommodate all the new recruits and soldiers. The prisoners were mainly transferred to KL Mauthausen. They began training hard for upcoming battles, and the SS-Totenkopf Division received its baptism of fire in the Battle of France. There, the SS-Totenkopf committed a war crime that echoed far up among the generals of the regular army. What happened was that Fritz Knöchlein executed a unit from the English army at La Paradis, Eicke protected his soldiers and thought it was not so remarkable. But after pressure from both the RFSS and others, Fritz Knöchlein was withdrawn from the front. One might think that this Knöchlein would fall out of favor, but no he was later decorated with the Knight’s Cross and reached the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Waffen-SS (SS-Obersturmbannführer).
After the Battle of France, the SS-Totenkopf Division had a relatively quiet period, being used as garrison troops in France while training under the watchful eye of Eicke.
When the Battle of Barbarossa began, the SS-Totenkopf Division was part of the attack and they advanced through Poland (the Russian occupied territories) Lithuania, parts of Latvia towards the great Lake Ilmensee, a lake that would become very associated with the SS-Totenkopf Division and Theodor Eicke.
Even times Eicke was transferred to Hitler’s headquarters, he constantly requested transfers to return to his soldiers who were enclosed in what came to be known as the “Demjansk Pocket”. After eternal nagging from Eicke, who kept sending telegrams to SS-Gruf Simon and others. so he finally got to return to his beloved Division. he regained the lead and immediately launched a mass counterattack against the Russians. Under Eicke’s leadership, many soldiers and officers received high honors in the battles that followed. Fritz Christen who was part of the SS-Totenkopf-Pz.Jg.Abt was the first private to be awarded the Knight’s Cross. But countless others received this high distinction.
Demjansk would also mean that the story of Theodor Eicke would end, during a reconnaissance flight with his Fiesler Storch, his aircraft was shot down by the Russians and all on board died. This happened on February 26, 1943. The soldiers of the SS-Totenkopf Division did not believe it was true and a rescue operation was put in place, if not to recover the bodies. Eicke hated the Russians and letting him fall into the hands of the Russians was completely out of the question for the soldiers of the “SS-Totenkopf”
Theodor Eicke left behind a wife and daughter, his son had died a year earlier as a lieutenant in a Panzer unit. his daughter was also married to SS-Ostubaf Karl Leiner. Eicke’s wife was given permission to continue living in their villa south of KL Sachsenhausen.
If Theodor Eicke would have survived the war, he sure would have been prosecuted and condemed for warcrimes.
The first grave for Theodor Eicke and the two other men who died in the same plane after they was shot down,
On the forum and the subforum SS u polizei, member Orlov have started a topic were he list biographical data and info regarding Doctors of different positions of the SS and Waffen-SS, as an example we show the story of Johann Paul Kremer. You can see the thread here – Medical Officers of the SS
Johann Paul Kremer (26 December 1883 – 8 January 1965) was born in Stellberg. He studied in Heidelberg, Strassburg as well as Berlin; he received his philosophy degree in 1914 and his medical degree in 1919. He also studied natural science and mathematics. He was the “assistant surgeon at the surgical clinic of the University, Charité, the ward of internal diseases of the Municipal Hospital Berlin-Neukölln, the surgical clinic of the University of Cologne and prosector in the Institutes of Anatomy in Bonn and Münster. He became Dozent of anatomy in 1929 and was promoted there in 1936 to be professor in commission. At the same time, he was commissioned to lecture on the science of human hereditariness”. He also did some writing: he mentions two articles that he wrote in the diary he kept, the first being “Inherited or Acquired? A Noteworthy Contribution to the Problem of Hereditariness of Traumatic Deformations” and the second titled “New Elements of Cell and Tissues Investigations”.
Medical experiments in KZ Auschwitz
The main priority of SS doctors at concentration camps throughout German-occupied Europe was not to provide basic medical services to prisoners, but rather to give the appearance of competent medical care. Following the full-scale implementation of the Final Solution, much of their time was occupied with concentration camp exterminations, sorting/selection of the newly-arrived (primarily Jewish) prisoners (e.g. for work, experimentation, or immediate extermination), direct observation of executions and gassings, experimentation, and the fabrication of causes of deaths on prisoner death certificates. The experiments conducted by SS doctors were done for three main reasons:
1) to research methods to improve the health and survivability of soldiers;
2) to lay the groundwork for post-war scientific research and
3) to carry out the dictates of the racial policies of the National Socialist Party. Some experiments were also done at the behest of pharmaceutical companies and medical institutes, for the doctors’ own research interests, and to benefit the doctors’ personal careers.
Kremer was particularly interested in the effects of starvation on the human body, especially on the liver, and because Kremer was responsible for examining the prisoners that sought admission to the camp infirmary, he was able to personally select the prisoners that he believed would make good test subjects for his experiments. He often performed autopsies in order to extract samples from the liver, spleen and pancreas. On several occasions in his diary, he mentions the extraction of organs and tissues (which he called “living-fresh material”) from living victims.
On 3 October 1942 SS doctor Johann Paul Kremer wrote in his diary: “Today fresh living material from the human liver and spleen as well as pancreas fixed, along with lice from typhus patients fixed in pure alcohol. In Auschwitz (city), whole streets are struck down with typhus. So today I had the first serum injection against abdominal typhus administered to me. SS-Obersturmführer Schwarz is sick with typhus!”.
Also on October 15, 1942 he writes, “Living-fresh material of liver, spleen and pancreas taken from an abnormal individual.” Kremer’s diary contains descriptions of at least five more similar instances. At his hearing on July 30, 1947, Kremer stated that “I observed the prisoners in this group [to be liquidated] carefully and whenever one of them particularly interested me because of his advanced stage of starvation, I ordered the medical orderly to reserve him and to inform me when this patient would be killed by injection”.
All SS doctors were required to be present at what were called “special actions”, which was when the mass gassings took place. The most common victims were children, the elderly, mothers with young children and any others considered unfit to work. During his trial, Kremer described how a gassing was conducted and what his role as doctor was. The gassings were conducted in cabins located on the outskirts of the camp; the victims were transported by railway, and after they arrived, prisoners “were first driven to barracks where the victims undressed and then went naked to the gas chambers. Very often no incidents occurred, as the SS men kept people quiet, maintaining that they were to bathe and be deloused. After driving all of them into the gas chamber the door was closed and an SS man in a gas mask threw the contents of a Zyklon-B tin through an opening in the side wall.” Kremer’s role was to sit in a van along with a medical orderly ready to treat any officers that might succumb to the gas.
SS-Brigadeführer Franz Augsberger
DoB: 10.10.1905 in Wien
DoD: 19.3.1945 Neustadt (KIA)
His grave is located at the homepage of Volksbund
SS-Brigfhr – 21.6.44
SS-Obfhr – 30.1.44
SS-Staf – 1.7.43
SS-Ostubaf – 20.4.42
SS-Stubaf – 1.6.37
SS-Ostuf – 1.7.36
SS-Ustuf – 1.6.35
SS-Brigfhr u Gen.Maj.d.W.-SS – 21.6.44
SS-Obfhr d.W.-SS. – 30.1.44
SS-Staf. d.W.-SS – 1.7.43
SS-Ostubaf d.W.-SS – 20.4.42
SS-Stubaf. d.W.-SS – 1.12.41
Awards: Ritterkreuz, EK I, EK II, Inf.Strumabzeichen, Finnische Freiheits Kreuz, Sudeten Erin.Medaillie, Österreiches Erin.Med., Totenkopfring, Ehrendegen d.SS, Julleuchter, SA-Sportabz. – Bronze, Reichsport Abz. – Bronze.
Franz Augsberger joined the SS in 1932, at that time in his homecountry Austria, when the goverment of Austria forbid the NSDAP and their organisations. Franz Augsberger as many other Austrian SS-Men left their homecountry to join the Österreiches Legion stationied at the SS-Standort in Dachau.
Augsberger was part of that unit until the end of 1934, where he switched unit and became part of the 5.th Kp. of SS.-Standarte “Deutschland” (SS-VT), not even a year later Franz Augsberger was selected to become an Officer of the SS and between 1935 and 1936 he attended the SS-Junkerschule Braunschweig. After finishing the course he was promotod to SS-Untersturmführer, he would remain at the SS-Junkerschule Braunschweig but not as pupil this time but as officer. He remained at SS-JS Braunschweig until 1939 and the outbreak of the II World War.
His new unit as an officer was the SS-Regiment “Der Führer”, with that he had “come home” as many of the officers and soldiers in this unit consisted mostly of men from Austria. At the same time he got appointed as Officer part of the II./90.SS-Standarte (Allgemeine-SS) . His first assignment of the SS-Rgt. “Der Führer” is unfortuantely unknown but later the same year he got his new command as Kp.Chef (Comp.Commander) of the 3 Kp. of the Ersatz.Battalion in the SS-Regiment “Der Führer. He remained at this position until 1940.
In 1940 he was temporarely moved to SS-Regiment “Westland”, but soon he was transfered to attend a course to become Batallion commander. After he finished the course he was moved to III./SS-Inf.Rgt. “Nordland” as its acting commander. He ended this assignment in 1941.
In 1941 he was transfered to I./SS-Inf.Rgt.7 in what later would become 6.SS-Geb.Div. “Nord”, he was its battallion commander until 1942, when he temporarely become Regimental Commander of the SS-Inf.Rgt.7. This was very a very short command.
In 1942 Franz Augsberger would be asssigned to the newly establised SS-Eesti Brigade, constisted of volonteers from Estonia. His first command was at the SS-Übungslager Debica, where the unit was organized. It´s not know exacly what he did in the beginning. But he soon become official Commander of the 1.Regiment of this SS-Brigade. Franz Augsberger first saw action with his new unit in the north part of Belarus. The brigade grew and was soon at a size of an Division, and when Franz Augsberger recieved his last promotion to SS-Brigadeführer and Generalmajor der Waffen-SS his Brigade was official a Division and he became its Commander.
In september 1944 the 20.SS-Freiw.Gren.Division retreated into Germany and it was reorganized at the SS-Übungslager Neuhammer (close to Breslau). After refitting of the Division it was sent to Schlesien to approach the attacking Soviets.
On March 3, 1945 Franz Augsberger was awarded the Ritterkreuz but at this time he and his division was incircled by the Soviets and Augsberger was repetedly asking the Commanding General Schörner if they could break out and retreat to the German lines, Generalfeldamarchall Schörner declined this request several times. But finally on March 19, 1945 did Augsberger the order to break through the Soviet lines and establish contact with German forces.
Different sources give different dates when Franz Augsberger was Killed in Action, but I have stuck to the 19´th as that was the date he was ordered to retreat. His commanding car he was travelling in was hit by an missile and Franz Augsberger was killed instantly.
Franz Augsberger was very liked by his men in the 20. SS-Freiw.Gren.Div. and they held his memory high.
Sources: SSO Augsberger, Franz and http://www.eestileegion.com/