Odilo Globocnik

Ernst Lerch

Ernst Lerch at time of trial

Ernst Lerch at time of trial

Ernst Lerch, SS-Sturmbannführer, born 19 November 1914 in Klagenfurt, Austria,  employed in his father’s Café Lerch in his home town in the 1930s, adjutant to SS and Police Leader Odilo Globocnik in Lublin, Poland, participant in Operation Reinhard (Aktion Reinhard)– the operation to kill the Jews of Poland, winner of the Iron Cross 1st Class, served as chief of Globocnik’s personal staff in the OZAK (Operationszone Adriatisches Küstenland), tried in Austria in 1972 but trial adjourned without verdict, died in 1997, said of SS-Obergruppenführer Odilo Globocnik, the chief of Operation Reinhard:

“Globocnik has two souls: one sincere and pleasing one; he really was sociable and fun loving, even witty, and then there was another, completely reversed aspect – the harshness and unbending behavior in his work.  The orders, which came from above, were executed in each particular case; an order could not be discussed.  He had the extraordinary ability, sometimes like that of a priest, to obey these orders.”

Ernst Lerch2016-03-29T11:35:04-06:00

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 Wirth2016-03-28T16:24:01-06:00

Hermann Höfle

Hermann Höfle

Hermann Höfle served as the chief-of-staff and right hand man to Odilo Globocnik during Operation Reinhard, the killing of at least 1,700,000 Jews in eastern Poland.  Born in Salzburg, Austria on June 19, 1911, Höfle joined the Nazi Party on August 1, 1933.  He had previously been an auto mechanic and a taxi driver, rising to ownership of a cab company.  Prior to the German takeover of Austria, Höfle was convicted of anti-government crimes and spent time in a Salzburg police prison.

Immediately after the Polish Campaign, he was assigned to the Sicherheitsdienst in southern Poland.  Beginning in November 1940, Höfle worked as an overseer of Jewish work camps southeast of Lublin.  Workers from these camps built a large number of anti-tank ditches.  Married with four children, he worked in the Lublin area for several years, not including a short stint at Mogilev, Russia, emerging from obscurity to become a leading figure in the “Final Solution.”

With his headquarters at the Julius Schreck Barracks in Lublin,  SS-Hauptsturmführer Höfle procured Ukrainian guards for the three major extermination camps and instructed SS personnel – to include Action T4 gassing experts from Berlin – in their duties and responsibilities, including administering an oath of secrecy.  He coordinated the deportations of Jews from all areas of the General Government and directed them to one of the death camps.

Beginning on the morning of July 22, 1942, now SS-Sturmbannführer, Höfle began the deportation of Jews from the Jewish Warsaw Ghetto, an operation that ended with the deaths of several hundred thousand people at Treblinka extermination camp.  He also played a key role in the “Harvest Festival” massacre of 42,000 Jewish inmates of the various labor camps in the Lublin district in early November 1943.  Months after the end of Operation Reinhard, Hermann Höfle joined Globocnik in Trieste, ostensibly to hunt partisans.

After the war, Höfle was in and out of various confinement facilities as numerous proceedings against him were begun but then dropped.  He also spent three years living under an alias in Italy.  Authorities arrested Hermann Höfle a final time in 1961.  He committed suicide in an Austrian prison in Vienna on August 21, 1962, while awaiting trial, by hanging himself.

Hermann Höfle2016-03-28T21:00:23-06:00

Grave of SS-Untersturmführer Gottfried Schwarz, Belzec

Grave for SS-Untersturmführer Gottfried Schwarz at Costermano German Military Cemetery. Were Operation Reinhard officers put in harm's way after serving at extermination camps to ensure their silence?

Grave of SS-Untersturmführer Gottfried Schwarz, Belzec2015-08-31T20:04:12-06:00

Officers and Non-commissioned Officers at the Belzec Extermination Camp

 

Belzec Extermination Camp Staff

Belzec Extermination Camp Staff

(1) SS-Rottenführer Fritz Tauscher, (2) SS-Rottenführer Karl Gringer, (3) SS-Rottenführer Ernst Zierke, (4) SS-Hauptscharführer Lorenz Hackenholt, (5) Polizei-Wachtmeister Artur Dachsel, (6) SS-Rottenführer Heinrich Barbl.

 

Officers and Non-commissioned Officers at the Belzec Extermination Camp2016-03-30T16:52:12-06:00

The “Final Solution” in Lublin, Poland – “Operation Reinhard” Headquarters

The “Final Solution” in Lublin, Poland – “Operation Reinhard” Headquarters

Lublin was a large center for the Nazi killing machine and in many ways remains similar in architecture to World War II.  This photo was taken in 2001.  In a very obscure area of the city is the remnants of the Lublin Airfield Camp used “Operation Reinhard.”  There is a small building there that is used as a workshop today.  During the operation, SS men used it to melt the gold out of teeth taken from the dead victims and formed the gold into small ingots to ship to Berlin.  It was widely rumored that not all valuables made it to the German capital.  An old building nearby served as the SS officers’cassino in 1942-1943.

The “Final Solution” in Lublin, Poland – “Operation Reinhard” Headquarters2016-03-02T21:24:57-06:00

Belzec Officers

Belzec Officers

The Nazis murdered between 430,000 and 500,000 people at the Belzec extermination camp, part of “Operation Reinhard.”  These two SS men were on the staff at the camp.  The Camp Men identifies many of the perpetrators of the Final Solution from old photographs, to include the names of these two men.

Belzec Officers2015-09-09T19:54:01-06:00

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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