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Biographies of SS-men

Franz Stangl and Franz Reichleitner were the successive commanders of Sobibor. In charge of the everyday running of the camp, however, was Lagerspiess Gustav Wagner and his deputy Karl Frenzel, who was also the head of the Bahnhofkommando and the commander of Lager I. Many of the German SS who served in Sobibor came from one of the euthanasia centres where the mentally disabled were killed. They can be divided into five groups:

  • those who served in Sobibor from its establishment in April 1942 until the uprising on 14 October 1943 (Bauer, Beckmann, Bredow, Floss, Frenzel, Getzinger, Gomerski, Groth, Nowak, Rehwald, Steubl, Vallaster and Wagner). Bauer was the only one among them who had not previously worked in a Euthanasieanstalt.
  • those who had served in Sobibor for more than one year (Graetschus, Dachsel, Klier and Reichleitner). All of them had previously worked in a Euthanasieanstalt.
  • those who had served in Sobibor between eight months and one year (Bauch, Richter, Steffl, Wendland, Lachmann, Grömer, Konrad, Ludwig, Michel, Niemann, F. Wolf and J. Wolf). The latter seven had previously worked in a Euthanasieanstalt.
  • those who served in Sobibor only in the starting period and for less than eight months (Barbl, Bolender, Fuchs, Ittner, Schütt, Stangl and Weiss). Of this group Fuchs and Stangl had previously worked in a Euthanasieanstalt.
  • those who served less than eight months or only the final months in Sobibor (Haulstich, Kamm, Müller, Ryba, Stengelin, Bree, Dubois, Hödl and Unverhau). Four of them had previously worked in a Euthanasieanstalt.

 

BARBL, Heinrich (3 March 1900 Sarleinsbach, Austria)
Barbl was transferred from Hartheim euthanasia centre to Belzec. As he would later in Sobibor, he installed gas pipes. He called himself Hausklempner (plumber) and boasted that he had made the gas chambers look like neat shower rooms.
BAUCH, Ernst (30 April 1911; † 4 December 1942 Berlin)
There is no information about Bauch’s period in Sobibor. He committed suicide and Frenzel attended his funeral.
BAUER, Hermann Erich (26 March 1900 Berlin; † 4 February 1980 Berlin)
Bauer was the Gasmeister of Sobibor and he occasionally worked as a lorry driver. In 1946 he worked in Berlin clearing up debris. On the street Samuel Lerer and Esther Raab recognized him and he was jailed. On 8 may 1950 he was sentenced to death, but this sentence was commuted into life imprisonment in November 1971. He died in the Berlin Tegel prison.
Erich Bauer
BECKMANN, Rudolf (20 February 1922 Osnabrück; † 14 October 1943 Sobibor)
In Lager II Beckmann was in charge of the sorting barracks and horse stables. He also kept the records in the Forsthaus, where he was killed during the uprising by Chaim Engel and Kapo Pozycki.
BOLENDER, Heinz Kurt (21 May 1912 Duisburg; † 10 October 1966 Hagen)
Bolender arrived in Sobibor on 22 April 1942, at the same time as Stangl, Frenzel and Gomerski. He had previously worked in the euthanasia centres of Brandenburg and Hartheim. He supervised the Jewish work details in Lager III: ‘I assigned the Arbeitsjuden to different groups: some had to empty out the gas chamber after the cremation was completed; others had to transport the dead bodies to the graves’. In July 1942 he was arrested for inciting a witness to perjure himself during his divorce. An SS-court martial sentenced him on 19 December 1942, and he subsequently ended up in the SS Straflager Matzkau near Dantzig. After the uprising he returned to Sobibor to dismantle the camp. He was awarded the Iron Cross on 18 January 1945. After the war his wife had him declared dead so he could assume a new identity. For many years he lived as Heinz Brenner, as he was known in Hartheim. He was nonetheless arrested in May 1961. Just before being convicted at the Hagen trial he committed suicide.
Kurt Bolender
BREE, Max (Lübben; † 14 October 1943 Sobibor)
In June 1943 Bree was stationed in Sobibor from Treblinka. He supervised the Ukrainian guards and the Jews in the sorting barracks. He was killed during the uprising.
BREDOW, Paul (1902; † December 1945 Göttingen)
In daily life he was waiter but in the euthanasia centres he burned corpses. From the Rampe Bredow escorted invalids to the wooden chapel where he and a group of Ukrainians shot and killed them. Among the Jewish prisoners he was known as a brute. Later 1945 he died in an accident in Göttingen.
Paul Bredow
DACHSEL, Arthur (11 March 1890; † 10 November 1958)
At first Dachsel was orderly at the psychiatric ward at the Heilanstalte Hubertusburg en Wermsdorf. In Euthanasieanstalt Sonnenstein he burned corpses. In the early summer of 1942 he came from Belzec to Sobibor as a police sergeant. He was promoted in recognition of his merits.
Arthur Dachsel
DUBOIS, Werner (26 February 1913 Wuppertal-Langenfeld; † 22 October 1971 Münster)
Dubois worked in the Grafeneck, Hadamar and Brandenburg euthanasia centres until he was put in charge of the gas chambers of Belzec in 1942. After this extermination camp was closed down, he came to Sobibor in the summer of 1943. He was in charge when five prisoners escaped from the Waldkommando on 27 July 1943. During the uprising an attack with an axe and a knife in the armoury left him severely injured. In 1963 he was acquitted in the Belzec trial, but in the Sobibor trial in Hagen in 1966 he was sentenced to three years detention.
Werner Dubois
FLOSS, Herbert (25 August 1912 Reinholdsheim; † 22 October 1943 Zawadówka)
Before entering service in Sobibor Floss was stationed in Buchenwald and several euthanasia centres. In the early period of Sobibor Floss was the acting commander for a few weeks until he was succeeded by Gustav Wagner. Before the victims went into the gas chambers, he took their last possessions from them. He also trained the Ukrainian guards. One week after the uprising he accompanied a group of them to Lublin. When the train was near Chelm he was overpowered and shot with his own machine pistol.
Herbert Floss
FRENZEL, Karl August Wilhelm (20 August 1911 Zehdenick-am-Havel; † 2 September 1996 Garbsen/Hanover)
Late 1939 Frenzel, an NSDAP and SA member from the very beginning, responded to an appeal to loyal party members for special service. In Euthanasieanstalt Grafeneck he was a guard, in Hadamar he helped design gas chambers. Here he had his first experience gassing and burning people. On 20 April 1942 he was posted to Sobibor where he was put in charge of Lager I and the Bahnhofkommando. After the uprising he helped dismantle the camp. He was then sent to Sondertruppe R, which confiscated the houses of deported Jews in Italy. On 22 March 1962 he was arrested and four years later he was sentenced to life imprisonment. This sentence was upheld in the retrial in 1985, but he was released due to his advanced age and poor health.
Karl Frenzel
FUCHS, Erich Fritz Erhard (9 April 1902 Berlin; † 25 July 1980 Koblenz)
He was present when the patients were gassed in the Bernburg and Wiesloch euthanasia centres. As the technical leader of the T4-programme he was responsible for the construction of the gas chambers in Belzec. Early April 1942 he brought the Russian diesel engine from Lemberg, and subsequently he and Bauer got it in working order. During the trial in Hagen he was sentenced to four years in prison on 20 December 1966.
GETZINGER, Anton (24 November 1910 Oeblarn, Austria; † early October 1943 Sobibor)
Getzinger was one of the guards in Lager III. Just before the uprising he was killed in Lager IV when a grenade exploded prematurely. An NSDAP-report mentions as the official cause of death that he died in Serbia, fighting the partisans.
GOMERSKI, Hubert (11 November 1911 Schweinheim; † 28 December 1999 Frankfurt am Main)
After working in the Hartheim and Hadamar euthanasia centres in 1940, he was posted to Sobibor late April 1942. Initially he was in charge of a group of Ukrainian guards, but later he worked in Lager III together with Bolender and Vallaster. When transports arrived he would select the sick and invalids and take them to the execution area. Just before the uprising he went on leave for several days. On 25 August 1950 he was sentenced to life imprisonment, but he was released in the 1970s.
Hubert Gomerski
GRAETSCHUS, Siegfried (9 June 1916 Tilsit; † 14 October 1943 Sobibor)
After serving in Bernburg and Treblinka Graetschus was posted to Sobibor in August. He succeeded Lachmann as commander of the Ukrainian guards. He was killed during the uprising; his head was crushed with an axe, probably by Arkady Wajspapir and another prisoner.
Siegfried Graetschus
GRÖMER, Ferdl (7 April 1903 Eberschwang, Austria)
Initially Grömer was a cook in Sobibor, but he also attended the gassings and the transportation of the corpses to the burial pits. A fellow-SS called him a "drunk who frequently used violence".
GROTH, Paul Johannes (21 Januari 1818 Zoppot/Danzig)
The first months of his time in Sobibor Groth supervised the sorting of clothes in Lager II. Although the prisoners considered him one of the most sadistic guards, he had an intimate relationship with a Jewish girl. In 1951 his wife had him declared dead because of her widows’ pension, but he was still listed as missing in 1962.
Paul Groth
HAULSTICH, Friedrich († 14 October 1943 Sobibor)
Haulstich (or Gaulstich) probably did not arrive in Sobibor until a few weeks or months before the uprising. He was killed during the uprising, possibly by Schlomo Lajtman.
HÖDL, Franz, (1 August 1905 Achbach, Austria)
From April 1939 to January 1942 he served in Hartheim euthanasia centre. After that he accompanied injured soldiers from the Eastern front back to Germany. After completing training in training camp Trawniki he was posted to Sobibor where he operated the gas chamber’s diesel engine. He was also camp commander Reichleitner’s driver. After the uprising he was involved in the dismantlement of the camp. In Italy he witnessed his former commander Reichleitner being killed in his car.
Franz Hödl
ITTNER, Jakob Alfred (13 January 1907 Kulmbach; † 3 November 1976 Kulmbach)
Before the T4 euthanasia programme Ittner worked as a bookkeeper in Berlin until he was posted to Sobibor on 28 April 1942. He was the person the Jews had to hand their valuables to when they went in a line from Lager II to the gas chamber. He later became a guard in Lager III where he supervised the prisoners who had to collect the gold teeth from the dead bodies and dig the burial pits. Late June 1942 he managed to get a transfer to Berlin. In 1966 he was sentenced to four years in prison.
Alfred Ittner
KAMM, Rudolf (19 January 1905 Rauscha/Görlitz)
In Sonnenstein euthanasia centre he burned corpses. In the autumn of 1942 Kamm came to Sobibor from Belzec. He supervised the sorting barracks. After about five months he was transferred to an unknown location.
Rudolf Kamm
KLIER, Johann (15 July 1901 Stadt Steinach; † 18 February 1955)
After serving in euthanasia centre Hadamar Klier was transferred to Sobibor in early August 1942. He was in charge of the bakery and supervised the sorting and repair of the shoes of the victims. He went on leave just before the uprising. Prisoners judged him to be relatively humane. After his trial in Frankfurt am Main he was acquitted on 25 August 1950.
KONRAD, Fritz (21 September 1914 Gudellen; † 14 October 1943 Sobibor)
After working in the euthanasia centres of Sonnenstein and Grafeneck Konrad was transferred to Sobibor in March 1943. He was an overseer in the sorting barracks and in Lager III. According to survivor Zelda Metz he was killed during the uprising by one of the cobblers.
Fritz Konrad
LACHMANN, Erich Gustav Willie (6 November 1909 Liegnitz; † 23 January 1973 Wegscheid)
From September 1941 he trained Ukrainian volunteers in Trawniki. According to his own statement he was in Sobibor as commander of the Ukrainian guards since August 1943. However, witnesses state that he was in the camp a year earlier. A fellow SS called him a "thieving drunk" and prisoners saw him rape young girls. When Reichleitner took over from Stangl in Sobibor, Lachmann was sent back to Trawniki, unfit for duty. From there he deserted with a girlfriend. In 1966 the Hagen court acquitted him by reason of mental incompetence.
LUDWIG, Karl (23 May 1906)
Initially Ludwig was Reichsleiter Martin Bormann’s driver. He worked in Lager III and repeatedly supervised the Waldkommando. By the end of 1942 he was transferred to Treblinka.
Karl Ludwig
MICHEL, Hermann (20 February 1909 Westerkappeln; † 8 augustus 1984)
In his thirties, Michel was in Sobibor from April until the end of the autumn of 1942. He was friends with camp commander Stangl. He welcomed the Jews who arrived on a new transport with a speech. He pretended to be a doctor and tricked them into believing they were in a labour camp and had to be disinfected. He was transferred to Treblinka and after the war fled to Egypt.
Hermann Michel
MÜLLER, Adolf († 10 March Berlin)
In the summer of 1943 Müller was stationed in Sobibor. In Lager II he supervised the sorting barracks and the Waldkommando. During the uprising he controlled prisoners at gunpoint.
NIEMANN, Johann (4 August 1913 Völlen; † 14 October 1943 Sobibor)
After serving in Belzec Niemann repeatedly acted as deputy commander of Sobibor in 1942. Early 1943 he was given the position permanently. After Himmler’s visit to Sobibor on 12 February 1943 he was promoted. As the highest-ranking SS present he was killed first during the uprising, in the tailor’s barracks. Presumably the Russian Alexander Shubajev split his head with an axe.
Johann Niemann
NOWAK, Anton Julius (22 May 1912 Janów; † 14 October 1943 Sobibor)
As Friseur Nowak supervised the barber’s barracks near the gas chambers. Starting in the winter of 1942 this was where the women were made to undress and had their hair cut off. Occasionally he was also in charge of the Waldkommando. He was killed during the uprising.
Anton Nowak
REICHLEITNER, Franz (2 December 1906 Ried; † Januaryi 1944 Fiume, Italië)
Before he took over from Stangl in August 1942 as commander of Sobibor, Reichleitner was Kriminalsekretär with the Gestapo in Linz. After Himmler’s visit to Sobibor on 12 February 1943 he was promoted to Hauptsturmführer. He rarely showed his face in the camp, but his reign was even stricter than Stangl’s. On the day of the uprising he was on leave. Like so many of the people involved in Aktion Reinhardt he ended up in Italy, where he was killed by partisans.
Franz Reichleitner
REWALD, Fritz
Rewald was sent to Sobibor from euthanasia centre Bernburg. He was in charge of the barracks where the women had to undress. He also supervised the construction of new barracks. During the uprising he held prisoners at gunpoint.
Fritz Rewald
RICHTER, Karl (?; † 13 August 1944 Italy)
From late 1942 Richter was in Sobibor where he led the sick and invalids to Lager III. He also supervised the barracks where the women’s hair was cut. After the uprising he was transferred to Italy, where he was killed by the partisans.
Karl Richter
RYBA, Walter (18 July 1900 Heydebreck; † 14 October 1943 Sobibor)
Ryba’s real name is Walter Hochberg. During the uprising he was killed in the garage.
SCHÜTT, Hans-Heinz (6 April 1908 Dummersdorf)
Schütt headed the administrative department in the euthanasia centres Grafeneck and Hadamar. Between 28 April and mid-August 1942 he was stationed in Sobibor, where he was in charge of paying the garrison. As Verwaltungsführer he collected the victims’ last valuables. He was also in charge of the barracks that housed the Jewish prisoners of the Sonderkommando.
Hans Schütt
STANGL, Franz (26 March 1908 Altmünster, Austria; † 28 June 1971 Düsseldorf)
The first commander of Sobibor served in the euthanasia centres Hartheim and Bernburg between November 1940 and February 1942. Around 22 April 1942 he was posted to Sobibor where he further refined the killing procedure. In August 1942 he was appointed as commander of Treblinka and he was succeeded by Reichleitner. The Americans captured him on 2 June 1945, but he managed to escape on 20 May 1948. Via Italy he fled to Damascus. From 1951 to 1967 he lived in Brazil, where he was recognized by survivor Stanislaw Szmajzner. After his extradition to Germany he was sentenced to life imprisonment on 20 December 1970. He died six months later in the Düsseldorf prison.
Franz Stangl
STEFFL, Thomas (Krummau; † 14 October 1943 Sobibor)
In February Steffl was stationed in Sobibor. He supervised the sorting barracks. During the uprising he was killed in Lager II by Chaim Engel and Kapo Pozycki.
STENGELIN, Ernst (10 August 1911; † 14 October 1943 Sobibor)
Stengelin came to Sobibor just before the uprising via euthanasia centre Hadamar and Treblinka. He was killed during the uprising.
STEUBL, Karl (25 October 1910; † 24 September 1945 Linz)
When Schütt left in mid-August 1942 Steubl took over the financial affairs of Sobibor. He was present during the execution of the Jews from Treblinka who had dismantled Sobibor. He may have participated. After the war he committed suicide.
UNVERHAU, Heinrich (26 November 1911 Vienenburg)
After serving in the euthanasia centres Grafeneck and Hadamar Unverhau was posted to Belzec in June 1942. When he was hospitalized with typhoid fever, he was guarded closely to prevent him from giving away information about the extermination camp in his feverish dreams. Early June 1943 he was transferred to Sobibor where he supervised the cleaning up of the undressing area in Lager II to make sure the next group would not grow suspicious. He also served in the sorting barracks. One month before the uprising he was sent to Treblinka to make sure the former site of the camp was fully planted. When he returned he found that Sobibor had also been dismantled. He was acquitted in both the Belzec and the Sobibor trials.
Heinrich Unverhau
VALLASTER, Josef (5 February 1910 Silbertal, Oostenrijk; † 14 October 1943 Sobibor)
After serving in the euthanasia centres Hartheim and Hadamar Vallaster became one of the leaders in Lager III. He supervised the gassing and burial, and later burning of the bodies. He often operated the locomotive that took the lorries with the sick and handicapped on the narrow-gauge railway from the Rampe to Lager III. He was killed during the uprising. In the late 1980s a memorial for the local war victims was found in his place of birth. The memorial included Vallaster’s name.
Josef Vallaster
WAGNER, Gustav Franz (18 July 1911 Vienna, Austia; † October 1980 Itabia, Brasil)
After his posting to the Hadamar and Hartheim euthanasia centres Wagner was transferred to Sobibor, where he was the deputy commander. He was one of the most brutal SS and together with Frenzel he selected the prisoners who had to work in or outside the camp from the incoming transports. Although absent during the uprising, he did help dismantle the camp, among other things by executing the Arbeitsjuden from Treblinka who tore down the barracks. After the war he fled to Brazil under the assumed name Günther Mendel. In May 1978 he was exposed by Simon Wiesenthal, and identified in a police station in Sao Paolo by survivor Stanislaw Szmajzner. Extradition requests from Israel en Germany did not have to be considered as Wagner committed suicide in early October 1980, under circumstances which have not yet been fully clarified.
Gustav Wagner
WEISS, Otto
In the early days Weiss was in charge of Lager I, and commander of the Bahnhof-kommando. After Frenzel took over his tasks, he spent a lot of time in Lager III. He wrote satirical songs about the Jews. Early 1943 he left the camp suffering from tuberculosis.
WENDLAND, Willie
Wendland was posted to Sobibor in March 1943, the same time as Konrad and the Wolf brothers. He supervised the sorting barracks and he was one of the guards when five prisoners escaped from the Waldkommando. During the uprising he controlled prisoners at gunpoint.
Willie Wendland
WOLF, Franz (9 Aapril 1907 Krummau)
After serving in the Czech and German armies, Wolf became the photographer in the euthanasia centres Hadamar and Heidelberg where he ‘scientifically’ recorded the mentally ill. Together with his brother Josef he served in Sobibor from early March 1943 until the uprising. He generally supervised the sorting barracks, but he also occasionally led the Waldkommando or he could be found in the barracks where the women’s hair was cut off. In 1966 the court in Hagen sentenced him to eight years in prison.
Franz Wolf
WOLF, Josef (18 April 1900 Krummau; † 14 October 1943 Sobibor)
Wolf arrived in Sobibor early March 1943, together with his brother Franz. He could generally be found in the sorting barracks, where he was killed during the uprising. His wife was told he was shot by partisans.
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