Austrians

Simon Wiesenthal

Simon Wiesenthal in later years

Simon Wiesenthal was born on December 31, 1908, in Buchach, in the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  His father was a wholesaler, who had left Russia in 1905 to escape the anti-Jewish pogroms.  The elder Wiesenthal was called to active duty in 1914 in the Austro-Hungarian Army at the start of World War I; he was killed in action on the Eastern Front in 1915.  Simon, his younger brother and his mother fled to Vienna, when the Russian Army overran Galicia.  In the ebb and flow of war, the family returned to Buchach in 1917, after the Russians retreated.  Simon attended the Czech Technical University in Prague, where he studied from 1928 until 1932.  After graduating, he became a building engineer, working mostly in Odessa in 1934 and 1935.  The next six years are unclear, concerning Wiesenthal’s life; he married in 1936, when he returned to Galicia.

After the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941, Wiesenthal’s mother came to live with him and his wife in Lvov.  Wiesenthal, a Jew, was detained by German authorities on July 6, 1941, but was saved from an Einsatzgruppe firing squad by a Ukrainian man, for whom he had previously worked.  German police deported Wiesenthal and his wife in late 1941 to the Janowska labor and transit camp and forced to work at the Eastern Railway Repair Works.  Every few weeks the Nazis would conduct a selection of Lvov Jewish Ghetto inhabitants unable to work.  In one such deportation, Wiesenthal’s mother was transported by freight train to the Belzec extermination camp and killed in August 1942.  On April 20, 1943, Wiesenthal avoided execution at a sand pit by firing squad, when at the last moment a German construction engineer intervened, stating that Wiesenthal was too skilled to be killed.

On October 2, 1943, the same German warned Wiesenthal that Janowska and its prisoners were about to be liquidated.  Wiesenthal was able to sneak out of camp and remained free until June 13, 1944, when Polish detectives arrested him in Lvov.  With Russian troops advancing, the SS moved Wiesenthal and other Jews by train to Przemyśl, 135 miles west of Lvov, where they built fortifications for the Germans.  In September 1944, the SS transferred the surviving Jews to the Płaszów concentration camp in Krakow.  One month later, Wiesenthal was transferred to the Gross-Rosen concentration camp.  While working at a rock quarry there, Wiesenthal was struck on the foot by a large rock, which resulted in the amputation of the large toe on his right foot.  The advancing Russian Army forced the evacuation of Gross-Rosen; Wiesenthal and other inmates marched by foot to Chemnitz.  From Chemnitz, the prisoners were taken in open freight cars to Buchenwald.  A few days later, trucks took the prisoners to the Mauthausen concentration camp, arriving in mid-February 1945.   When the camp was liberated by American forces in May 1945, Wiesenthal weighed 90 pounds.

Wiesenthal dedicated most of his life to tracking down and gathering information on fugitive Nazis.  His goal was to bring as many conspirators to the “Final Solution” as possible to justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity.  In 1947, Simon Wiesenthal co-founded the Jewish Historical Documentation Center in Linz, Austria, in order to gather information for future war crime trials. He later opened the Jewish Documentation Center in Vienna.  Wiesenthal was instrumental in the capture and conviction of Adolf Eichmann.

The author interviewed Simon Wiesenthal at his small office in the Jewish Documentation Center in central Vienna in July 2002.  Wiesenthal wrote The Sunflower, which describes a life-changing event he experienced when he was in the camp.  He died in Vienna on September 20, 2005; his remains are buried at Herzliya, Israel.

Simon Wiesenthal2016-03-28T21:05:24-06:00

Odilo Globocnik

Odilo Globocnik in 1939

Odilo Globocnik, SS-Gruppenführer, was born in the Imperial Free City of Trieste, Austria on April 21, 1904.  Hailing from a family of Slovene descent, Globocnik was the son of a former cavalry lieutenant, turned postman.  Odilo moved to Klagenfurt, Austria and became an early member of the Austrian Nazi Party and Austrian SS, joining the Austrian Nazi Party in 1922.  He is reported to have been one of the attackers who murdered Jewish Viennese jeweler Norbert Futterweit in 1933.  For his early work in the Nazi Party He joined the German Nazi Party in 1931), Globocnik assumed duties as the Gauleiter for Vienna in 1938, but used his position to speculate in illegal foreign currency exchanges and was stripped of the position.  But Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, knew a ruthless man when he saw one and named Globocnik the SS and Police Leader for Lublin in Poland.

In that capacity, “Globus” assumed command of “Operation Reinhard,” the Nazi plan to kill the two million Jews in Poland at the death camps of Treblinka, Sobibór and Belzec.  It is estimated that the total haul in currency and precious metals from the victims in “Operation Reinhard” approached 178,745,960 Reichsmarks, or $71,200,000 at the existing rate of exchange.  That works out to about $1,036,635,251 in 2012 dollars – over one billion dollars!  However, the real take by the Nazis may have been two or three times that, given the level of corruption at every camp, among the Ukrainian guards and at Lublin, where numerous SS officers from Globocnik on down could have skimmed off a personal fortune.  In fact, Willy Natke, Globocnik’s batman, once mentioned that the “Operation Reinhard” chief had a secret account with an unnamed bank – but possibly the Emission Bank of Poland, located in Lublin – with the account name of “Ordinario.”  This secret account of Globocnik’s has never been uncovered, but has simply disappeared from history.  That amount – reported and unreported, but stolen – would make the theft of these valuable precious metals and gems the largest robbery of all time.

According to British historian Michael Tregenza, Globocnik took part in numerous drunken outings with Oskar Dirlewanger, when Sonderkommando Dirlewanger was assigned to Lublin in 1942.

SS-Standartenführer Odilo Globocnik

Globocnik was horribly successful in this task during 1942 – 1943, when it is estimated that “Operation Reinhard” killed 1,750,000 people, and was subsequently transferred to duties as SS and Police Leader for the Adriatic Coast.  He would receive the German Cross in Gold and German Cross in Silver in 1945.

Odilo Globocnik in 1945

Odilo Globocnik in 1945

In October 1944, Odilo Globocnik married Lore Peterschinegg, the head of the Bund Deutsche Mädel of the Carinthia district in Austria.  They had one son; Lore died in 1974.  Globocnik was a close associate of Dr. Friedrich Rainer, Gauleiter of Carinthia.

But the war ended and Odilo Globocnik was apprehended by British forces.  He committed suicide on May 31, 1945 at Paternion, Austria.  His last words were, “[I am] a poor merchant from Klagenfurt frightened of the possible Yugoslav invasion.”  Then, Odilo Globocnik bit down on a vial of poison.

Reported corpse of Globocnik shortly after suicide; man on the front right is Hermann Höfle

Authorities transported Globocnik’s body to a local churchyard, but the priest reportedly refused to have ‘the body of such a man’ resting in consecrated ground.  Locals dug a hasty grave outside the churchyard, next to an outer wall, and buried the body without a ceremony.  An often overlooked figure in the Final Solution, few publications present the true scope of his monstrous deeds.  The best book on “Globus” Globocnik is Odilo Globocnik, Hitler’s Man in the East by Joseph Poprzecny.

Final Solution, Holocuast, Operation Reinhard, Lublin, Poland

 

Odilo Globocnik2016-03-28T21:06:44-06:00
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