Adolf Hitler in World War I

Hitler WWI

This World War I postcard from Germany, which shows a burial of German soldiers during the war.  On the reverse, the card is postmarked November 18, 1915.  Most importantly, it is also marked as coming from the 10th Company of the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment in the 6th Bavarian Reserve Division.  The religious leader in the white cassock appears to be Father Norbert (Norbert Stumpf.)  The soldiers with the armbands are medical personnel.  While at full strength, a German infantry company fielded about 240 men, companies were rarely anything close to full strength, so an average of about 100 might be more accurate.  There seem to be about 50 men present in this photograph.

Why is this photograph anything more than one of the hundreds of thousands of routine depictions of World War I ?

Probably because by this date in 1915, Corporal Adolf Hitler was assigned to the 10th Company shown here, according to several expert sources.

I have looked at the photo for hours under magnification and am not able to say that I have found Hitler in the formation.  As his duties also consisted as a message carrier, or runner, to regimental headquarters, it is quite possible he did not attend this burial.

Adolf Hitler WWI Sample 1

This is a known photo of Hitler during the war.  Unfortunately, it seems that many men in his unit sported flourishing mustaches, so that feature does not narrow down identification.  Below is a second known photo.  When Hitler was in a small group having its picture taken, he often stood or sat near the edge of the group.  But the men at the funeral service probably had no idea that the group was having its picture taken.

Adolf Hitler WWI Sample 2

If you can identify the future dictator of Nazi Germany in the top photograph, please let me know who you believe it is!


Adolf Hitler in World War I2016-07-31T16:48:01-05:00

Theodor Dannecker

Theodor Danneker

Theodor Danneker

Theodor Dannecker, SS-Hauptsturmführer, born 27 March 1913 in Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, assigned to Office IV B 4 (Jewish Affairs) of the RSHA (Reich Security Main Office) under Adolf Eichmann, leader of the Judenreferat at the Sicherheitsdienst post in Paris that oversaw the deportation of 13,000 Jews to Auschwitz, in charge of deporting all Jews from Bulgaria to extermination camps, assisted in the deportation of more than a half a million Hungarian Jews between early 1944 and summer of the same year to Auschwitz and other death factories, committed suicide after being taken prisoner by the U.S. Army on 10 December 1945 in Bad Tölz, Bavaria.

Theodor Dannecker2016-03-29T20:56:26-05:00

Ilse Koch

Ilse Koch

Ilse Koch

Ilse Koch, wife of Karl Koch (Buchenwald commandant), born 22 September 1906 in Dresden, worked as a guard and secretary at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, reportedly collected items made of human skin, nicknamed: “the Bitch of Buchenwald”, arrested with her husband by SS authorities in 1943 on charges of private enrichment, embezzlement, and the murder of prisoners to prevent them giving testimony but charges dismissed due to lack of evidence,[convicted of crimes against German nationals in 1951, sentenced to life imprisonment by a West German court, committed suicide in prison by hanging herself with a bed sheet 1 September 1967 at the Aichach prison near Dachau, Bavaria, buried in an unmarked and untended grave in the cemetery at Aichach, reported last words on the day of her death were:

“Death is the only deliverance.”

Ilse Koch2016-03-29T11:52:10-05:00

Klaus Barbie

Klaus Barbie

Klaus Barbie

Klaus Barbie, SS-Hauptsturmführer, born 25 October 1913 in Bad Godesberg, Gestapo officer, brutal interrogator of resistance fighters, sentenced to death in absentia in 1952 and 1954, known as the “Butcher of Lyon,” joined the SS in 1935, captured in Bolivia in 1982, convicted in Lyon, France of murder, sentenced to life imprisonment, died in prison of cancer 25 September 1991 (He was quickly cremated and his ashes secretly scattered,) said of the quality of personnel in the SS:

“The SS soldier is a superman whose blood can be traced back four generations before being allowed to join.  Any idiot can’t join the SS.”


Klaus Barbie2016-03-28T20:20:19-05:00

Erich Kempka

Erik Kempka

Erik Kempka

Erich Kempka, SS-Sturmbannführer, born 16 September 1910 in Oberhausen, Hitler’s personal chauffeur and bodyguard, winner Nazi Golden Party Badge, after Hitler’s suicide, carried Hitler’s body out of the bunker and burned it, (although despite claims made to the contrary during his interrogation, Kempka later admitted that when Hitler and Eva Braun locked themselves in a room of the Führerbunker, he was not near by and was only present after the event had occurred,) author I Burned Hitler, died 24 January 1975 at Freiberg am Neckar (Ostfriedhof,) said of Eva Braun:

“…The unhappiest woman in Germany.”


Erich Kempka2016-07-24T12:29:20-05:00

Dr. August Hirt

Dr. August Hirt

Dr. August Hirt

Dr. August Hirt, SS-Sturmbannführer, born 29 April 1898 in Mannheim, Nazi anthropologist and surgeon, collector of pathological specimens of inmates at Natzweiler concentration camp as well as performing experiments with mustard gas on inmates, winner of Iron Cross 2nd Class and wounded in the upper jaw by a bullet in World War I, studied medicine at the University of Heidelberg, committed suicide 2 June 1945 at Schluchsee, Baden-Württemberg, said the following on collecting specimens for study:

“By procuring the skulls of the Jewish-Bolshevist Commissars, who represent the prototype of the repulsive but characteristic sub-human, one has the chance to obtain palpable scientific data.  The best practical method is to turn over alive all such individuals.  Following induced death of the Jew, the head, which should not be damaged, should be separated from the body and sent in a hermetically sealed tin can filled with preservative fluid.”

Dr. August Hirt performing an examination

Dr. August Hirt performing an examination

Dr. August Hirt2016-03-28T19:19:49-05:00

Heinrich Müller

Heinrich Müller

Heinrich Müller was born in Munich, Bavaria, 28 April 1900, the son of working-class Catholic parents.  In the final year of World War I, he served as a pilot for an artillery spotting unit, during which he was decorated several times for bravery, to include the Iron Cross 2nd Class, the Iron Cross 1st Class, the Bavarian Military Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords and the Bavarian Pilots Badge.

Müller joined the Bavarian Police in 1919.   During the immediate post-war years, Müller was involved in the suppression of attempted Communist risings in Bavaria (He became a lifelong enemy of Communism after witnessing the shooting of hostages by the revolutionary “Red Army” in München, during the Bavarian Soviet Republic.)  During the Weimar Republic, Müller served as the head of the München Police Department, where he acquainted with many members of the Nazi Party including Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich.

After the 1933 Nazis rise to power, Heydrich – as head of the Security Service – recruited Müller to the SS.  In 1936, as head of the Gestapo, Heydrich named Müller that organization’s Operation’s Chief.  Heinrich Müller quickly rose to the ranks, achieving the grade of SS-Gruppenführer in 1939.  With the consolidation of law enforcement agencies under Heydrich in the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), Müller became the chief of the RSHA “Amt IV”  (Office #4 or Deptartment #4.)  At about the same time, he acquired the nickname “Gestapo Müller” to distinguish him from another SS general of the same name.  The nickname would soon bring an aura of dread associated with Müller for many.  He was also called “Bloody Müller.”

Photo supposedly of Heinrich Müller hunting

Photo supposedly of Heinrich Müller hunting

As the Gestapo chief, Heinrich Müller played a leading role in the detection and suppression of all forms of resistance to the Nazi regime, succeeding in infiltrating and destroying many  underground networks of the Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party.  Müller was also active in resolving the Jewish question; Adolf Eichmann headed the Gestapo‘s Office of Resettlement and then it’s Office of Jewish Affairs (the Amt IV section called Referat IV B4), as Müller’s subordinate.  Müller attended the Wannsee Conference in Berlin in January 1942 that formalized responsibilities for the destruction of Europe’s Jews.

In 1942, Müller successfully infiltrated the “Red Orchestra” network of Soviet spies and used it to feed false information to the Soviet intelligence services.  While not the commander of any Einsatzgruppe, he received regular reports on their progress in Russia.  In February 1943, he presented Heinrich Himmler with firm evidence that Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, chief of the German Abwehr Military Intelligence Organization, was involved with the anti-Nazi resistance; however, Himmler told him to drop the case.  During the war, Müller received the Knights Cross of the War Service Cross.

After the failure of the July 20, 1944 Bomb Plot to assassinate Hitler, Müller assumed responsibility, for arresting and interrogating anyone suspected of involvement.  Müller’s agents arrested over 5,000 people during the next six months.  In April 1945, Müller was among the last group of Nazi loyalists assembled in the Führer Bunker, as the Soviet Army fought its way into Berlin.  One of his last tasks was to interrogate SS-Gruppenführer Hermann Fegelein in the basement of the Church of the Trinity, near the Reichs Chancellery.  Fegelein was Himmler’s liaison officer to Hitler and after Müller’s interrogation, he was shot on April 28, 1945 on Müller’s evidence that Fegelein was attempting to flee Berlin.

Müller’s fate has been the subject of speculation; many historians believe that he was killed, while others opine that he worked for the Soviet Union or the United States Central Intelligence Agency after the war.  Other theories speculated that he escaped to South America.  The most intriguing option of Müller’s fate came from Walter Lüders, a former member of the Volkssturm (Peoples’ Defense Force.)  Lüders said that he had been part of a burial unit, which had found the body of an SS General in the garden of the Reich Chancellery, with the identity papers of Heinrich Müller.  The body was subsequently buried in a mass grave at the Old Jewish Cemetery on Grosse Hamburger Strasse, then in the Soviet Occupation Sector.

Was the Gestapo chief buried here ?

Was the Gestapo chief buried here ?

There appears to have been no investigation of this gravesite since the war to assess the validity of this witness.  Speculation continues, with the recent book Grey Wolf postulating that Müller was part of an elaborate escape plot that ended in Argentina.  In any case, “Gestapo Müller” once boasted, “I’ve never had a man in front of me yet whom I did not break in the end.”  Was Müller broken in death at the end of the war or did he escape?

Heinrich Müller2016-04-05T20:52:53-05:00

Christian Wirth

Christian Wirth

SS-Obersturmbannführer Christian Wirth was born on November 24, 1885 in Oberbalzheim, in the Launberg district of Württemberg.  He attended the Volkschule in Oberbalzheim for eight years and then trained as a carpenter before being employed by the Buhler Brothers Timber Works.

Wirth suffered from asthma his entire life, but managed to join the 123rd Grenadier Regiment “König Karl” in 1905.  He served with the unit for five years, before joining the Schutzpolizei in 1910.  For the next fpur years, Wirth progressed through the ranks, elevating to the Kriminalpolizei.  In 1914, Wirth became a corporal in the 246th Reserve Infantry Regiment.  Fighting on the Western Front in Flanders, the Somme and Aisne-Champagne, Wirth won the Iron Cross 2nd and 1st Classes.  He was wounded in the right arm and received the Wound Badge in Black; during the conflict, he rose to become a sergeant and finally an acting officer.

Christian Wirth

Christian Wirth

He subsequently became a police officer in Stuttgart, joining the Nazi Party on January 1, 1931 (He reportedly may have been in the Nazi Party in the early 1920s), the SA in 1933 (where he was a Sturmführer in SA-Sturm 119) and the SS in 1939.  By that time, he was the Head of Kommissariat 5.  Wirth subsequently served in a Gestapo position in Vienna and the Security Police in Prague.

Christian Wirth played a significant role in the Nazi T4 euthanasia program in the late 1930s, personally participating in the first gassing experiments at Brandenburg, Grafeneck Castle and Hartheim Castle.  Wirth then passed the examination at the leadership school of the Security Police and was promoted to Kriminalkommissar.  He was reported to have been in Lublin and Chelmno in the fall of 1941, possibly involved in killing operations.

In late 1941, SS-Gruppenführer Odilo Globocnik encountered difficulties in executing Operation Reinhard and brought Wirth to Lublin to supervise the three major extermination camps – Belzec, Sobibór and Treblinka.  Nicknamed “The savage Christian,” “Christian the Terrible” and “Stuka,” he recruited T4 staff from Germany, conducted efficiency experiments with Zyklon B and carbon monoxide, and in general proved so successful that he received the War Service Cross 2nd and 1st Classes.

As Operation Reinhard drew to a close, Wirth played an instrumental role in Aktion Erntefest — the massacre of remaining Jews workers in the Lublin area work camps.  Wirth then transferred to San Sabba Trieste to work for his old boss Odilo Globocnik, forming and heading Einsatz R, an SS and Police Sonderkommando.

Christian Wirth was killed in action near Kozina, Istria by partisans on May 26, 1944.  British historian Michael Tregenza supposedly located a diary of a Slovenian partisan, who organized the ambush that killed Wirth; other sources are unsure of who actually killed him.  Wirth was initially buried with full military honors at the German Military Cemetery in Opcina (near Trieste.)  Christian Wirth was exhumed in 1959 and is currently buried at the German Military Cemetery at Costermano, Italy.

Funeral for Christian Wirth

Christian Wirth2016-03-28T16:24:01-05:00

Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Höss

Execution of Rudolf Höss

Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Höss served as the first commandant of the Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp from May 4, 1940 to November 1943, where it is estimated that more than a million people were murdered.

Höss was born in Baden-Baden into a Catholic family on November 25, 1901.  His father, a former army officer who served in German East Africa, ran a tea and coffee business; Rudolf was the eldest of three children and the only son.  When World War I erupted, Rudolf Höss served briefly in a military hospital.  Then, at the age of just fourteen, he was admitted to his father’s old regiment, the 21st Regiment of Dragoons.  He fought with the Turkish Sixth Army at Baghdad, Kut-el-Amara, and in Palestine, rising to the rank of sergeant – at age seventeen the youngest non-commissioned officer in the army.  Höss was wounded three times and was a victim of malaria.  A brave soldier, he received the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Classes and the Baden Military Bravery Medal.

After the war, Höss completed his high school education, following which joined nationalist paramilitary groups that were forming in the post-war chaos.  He enlisted in the East Prussian Volunteer Corps and then the Freikorps Rossbach in the Baltic area, Silesia, and the Ruhr. During the Silesian Uprisings, he participated in guerrilla attacks against Polish people, and later conducted sabotage against French occupation forces in the Ruhr.  Joining the Nazi Party in 1922, on May 31, 1923, Höss and members of the Freikorps beat suspected Communist Walther Kadow to death as revenge for the French execution of German paramilitary soldier Albert Leo Schlageter five days earlier.  One of the killers unwisely told a local newspaper of the murder; authorities arrested Rudolf Höss, who accepted blame as the leader of the event, found him guilty and sentenced Höss to ten years imprisonment.  As part of a general amnesty, Höss was released in July 1928.

Rudolf Höss was married and had five children, two sons and three daughters  He was accepted into the SS on April 1, 1934 and was assigned to the SS-Totenkopfverbände (Death’s Head Units.)  In December 1934, he assumed duties at Dachau concentration camp.  By 1938, he was promoted to SS-Hauptsturmführer and was made adjutant to Hermann Baranowski at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp outside Berlin.  The following year, he joined the Waffen-SS.

On May 1, 1940, Rudolf Höss was appointed commandant of a prison camp in western Poland, built around an old Austro-Hungarian (and later Polish) army barracks near the town of Oświęcim.  It would be known throughout history by its German name – Auschwitz.  SS-Obersturmbannführer Höss commanded the camp for three and a half years, during which he expanded the original facility into a sprawling complex known as Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.  During this time, Höss lived at Auschwitz in a villa together with his wife and children.  At its peak, Auschwitz was three separate facilities – Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II/Birkenau, and Auschwitz III/Monowitz, which included many satellite sub-camps.  Auschwitz I served the administrative center for the complex and the site where many medical experiments were conducted; Auschwitz II/Birkenau was the extermination camp, where most of the killing took place; and Auschwitz III/Monowitz the slave labor camp for I. G. Farben and other German industries.

In June 1941, Höss attended a meeting in Berlin with Heinrich Himmler to receive instructions.  Himmler told Höss that Adolf Hitler had given the order for the physical extermination of Europe’s Jews.  Himmler had decided on Auschwitz for this purpose due to its easy access by rail and because the extensive site offered space for measures ensuring isolation.  Himmler continued by telling Höss that he would be receiving all operational orders from Adolf Eichmann, warning Höss that the project was to be treated with the utmost secrecy and that no one was allowed to speak about these matters with any person.  Höss said later that he kept that secret until the end of 1942, when he told his wife.

A stickler for efficiency, Höss began to perfect techniques of mass killing, visiting other killing centers whenever he could.  According to Höss, during standard camp operations, two to three trains, each carrying 2,000 prisoners, would arrive daily for periods of four to six weeks. The prisoners were unloaded in the Birkenau camp; those fit for labor were marched to barracks in either Birkenau or one of the Auschwitz camps, while those unsuitable for work were driven immediately into the gas chambers.  Initially, the SS operated small gassing bunkers deep in the nearby woods, to avoid detection.  Later, they constructed four large gas chambers and crematoria in Birkenau to make the killing more efficient and to handle the increasing rate of exterminations.  Studying what was being done at the Treblinka extermination camp, Höss improved on the methods at Treblinka by building his gas chambers ten times larger – so that Auschwitz could kill 2,000 people at once, rather than 200.

Arthur Liebehenschel replaced Höss on November 10, 1943.  The two men switched duties, with  Höss assuming Liebehenschel’s former position as the chief of Department D I in the SS Economic and Administration Office, under Oswald Pohl.  Höss was also appointed the deputy of the inspectorate of the concentration camps under Richard Glücks, which was located at Oranienburg, just north of Berlin.   Rudolf Höss returned to Auschwitz on May 8, 1944 to supervise a special action – the murder of 430,000 Hungarian Jews, who were transported to the camp and killed between May and July of 1944.  However, even Höss’ expanded facility could not handle the huge number of corpses and special details of prisoners were pressed into service to dispose of thousands of bodies by burning them in open pits, placing the bodies on wooden railroad ties and using the human fat in the bodies to keep the fires going twenty-four hours per day.  The stench was so great that people could smell it from miles away.

As the war drew to an end in 1945, Heinrich Himmler advised Höss to disguise himself among German Navy personnel.  Höss evaded arrest for nearly a year, but on March 11, 1946, British troops captured Höss – disguised as a farmer and calling himself Franz Lang.  After being questioned and allegedly beaten severely, Höss confessed his real identity.  He appeared as a witness at the International Military Tribunal at Nürnberg in April 1946, where he gave detailed testimony of his crimes.  On May 25, 1946, Polish authorities took control of Höss and handed him over to the Supreme National Tribunal in Poland, which tried him for murder.  The tribunal sentenced Höss to death on April 2, 1947.  The sentence was carried out on April 16, 1947, immediately adjacent to the crematorium of the former Auschwitz I concentration camp, where Höss was hanged on a gallows constructed specifically for that purpose.

Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Höss2016-03-04T20:14:19-06:00

Dr. Rudolf Lange

Dr. Rudolf Lange

SS-Standartenführer Dr. Rudolf Lange was a key figure in the Einsatzkommando and the Wannsee Conference.  The son of a railway construction supervisor, Rudolf was born on November 18, 1910 in Weisswasser, in eastern Saxony.  Lange received a doctorate in law in 1933 at the University of Jena and soon joined the Gestapo.  He served in the Gestapo office in Berlin in 1936, transferring to Vienna, Austria in 1938 to coordinate the annexation of the Austrian police system with the Reich.  In 1939, Lange transferred to Stuttgart.  He ran the Gestapo offices in Erfurt and Weimar in 1939, before returning to Berlin.

On June 5, 1941, Dr. Lange reported to Pretzsch, in the Wittenberg district in Saxony-Anhalt, and the staff of Einsatzgruppe A.  Lange rose to command Einsatzkommando 2 on December 3, 1941; he also held the position of commander of the Security Service in Latvia.  He planned and executed the murder of 24,000 Latvian Jews at the Rumbula Forest near Riga from November 30 to December 8, 1941.

Lange was then invited to attend the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942, to help discuss the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.”  It was held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee, along Lake Wannsee on January 20, 1942.  The three-story villa, in which the meeting was held, was built as a villa residence for factory owner Ernst Marlier, a manufacturer of pharmaceutical preparations, in 1915.  Marlier purchased two plots of land on Grosse Seestrasse (later renamed Am Grossen Wannsee) from the Head Forestry Office in Potsdam and the Royal Prussian Waterway Engineering Authority.  Marlier sold the property in 1921 to the North German Real Estate Company in Berlin for 2,300,000 Reichsmarks.  Friedrich Minoux, a member of the board of this company, obtained the property in 1937.  He was arrested in 1940 for helping to embezzle 8,800,000 Reichsmarks.  While in prison, he sold the property for 1,950,000 Reichsmarks to the  Nordhav Foundation, an organization that had been established in 1939 by Reinhard Heydrich to create and maintain holiday homes for members of the SS security services and their relatives.  It was rumored that Heydrich planned to ultimately keep the property for his own home.

Although Lange was the lowest ranking of the present SS officers, Reinhard Heydrich viewed Lange’s direct experience in conducting the mass murder of deported Jews as valuable for the conference.  Afterward, Lange returned to Riga, where he remained until 1945, when he assumed command of the Security Service and Security Police for the Reichsgau Wartheland, at Posen, Poland.  He was promoted to SS-Standartenführer, but soon after, the Red Army surrounded Posen (now Poznań.)  During the siege, Lange was wounded organizing the security police defenses in the city.  He committed suicide at the Kernwerk core fortress in Posen on February 16, 1945, hours before Soviet troops overran these final defenses.  He was posthumously awarded the German Cross in Gold.

Dr. Rudolf Lange2016-03-04T20:19:17-06:00
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