Operation Reinhard

Amon Göth

Amon Göth

Amon Göth

Amon Leopold Göth, SS-Hauptsturmführer, born 11 December 1908 in Vienna, Austria, assigned to Operation Reinhard in Lublin in the summer of 1942, commandant of the Płaszów concentration camp, in charge of the liquidation of the Tarnów ghetto, and the liquidation of the Szebnie concentration camp, relieved of his position and charged by the SS with theft of Jewish property in 1944, diagnosed Göth as suffering from mental illness and he was committed to a mental institution in Bad Tölz , Bavaria, found guilty in Poland after the war of homicide, sentenced to death, hanged at Montelupich prison at Krakow on 13 September 1946, last words were “Heil Hitler,” remains cremated and the ashes scattered in the Vistula River.

Amon Göth2016-03-29T13:10:41-06:00

Franz Stangl

Franz Stangl shortly before his death

Franz Stangl shortly before his death

Franz Stangl, SS-Hauptsturmführer, born 26 March 1898 in Altmünster, Austria, served as the Police Superintendent of the T-4 Euthanasia Program at Hartheim Euthanasia Center, and later of the Bernburg Euthanasia Center, kommandant of the Sobibór and Treblinka extermination camps of Operation Reinhard, winner of the War Service Cross 1st Class, arrested in Sao Paulo in 1967, convicted of crimes against humanity, sentenced to Life Imprisonment, died of a heart attack 28 June 1971 in prison at Düsseldorf, on the Treblinka extermination camp:

“It was Dante’s Inferno.  It was Dante come to life.”

Franz Stangl2016-03-29T12:19:01-06:00

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

Grave of SS-Hauptsturmführer Franz Reichleitner, Sobibór


Grave of SS-Hauptsturmführer Franz Reichleitner (who served at Sobibór) at the German military cemetery in Costermano, Italy. Graves of Operation Reinhard officers were discovered after The Camp Men was published. The book postulates that officers in this operation were far more likely to die later in combat.


Grave of SS-Hauptsturmführer Franz Reichleitner, Sobibór2015-09-09T19:43:55-06:00

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
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