Cogs in the Killing Machine #2

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Cogs in the Killing Machine #2


Dr Leonardo Conti 

Leonardo Conti (1900-1945) was an early supporter of Htler.  German on his mother's side, and who studied medicine. He became a member of the Sturmabteillung (the SA) in 1923, and later enrolled within the Sturmstaffel (SS).  He helped to set up the National Socialist German Doctors League.  He was also heavily involved in the T4 Euthanasia Pogramme as well as using concentration camp inmates as human guinea pigs in experiments.  Hitler appointed him 'Reich Health Leader'.  Captured by the Allies and imprisoned.  Committed suicide on 6th October 1945 whilst awaiting trial.


Dr Karl Franz Gerhard 

SS-Gruppenführer Gerhard (1897-1948) was an medical officer within the Sturmstaffel (SS) and Himmler's private physician.  Was primarily based at the Hohenlychen Sanatorium.  Gerhard carried out numerous experiments on concentration camp inmates.   He was hanged at Landsberg prison, Bavaria on 2nd June 1948 for crimes he committed during the war. 


Dr Ernst-Robert Grawitz 

SS-Oberstgruppenführer Grawitz (1899-1945) was a medical doctor and member of the T4 Euthanasia Pogramme.  His area of interest was trying to find ways to cure homosexuals of their homosexuality within the Third Reich.  He experimented in concentration camp inmates in an effort to achieve his aim.  Spent his last days working in Hitler's bunker in Berlin in 1945, after requesting permission to leave the führer bunker was turned down, Grawitz commited suicide on 24 April, with a hand grenade taking out his wife and children at the same time.  


Franz Stangl

Franz Stangl (1908-1971) Stangl was born in Austria and became a police officer in later life. Became a member of the Austrian Nazi party, and joined the SS reaching the rank of Haupsturmführer (captain). Stangl would become heavily involved in the Nazis T4 Euthanasia Pogramme and then later sent to Poland as first Commandant of Sobibor death camp. At this time the first Commandant at the Treblinka death camp, Irmfried Erbel, was making such a hash of the killing process, Stangl was transferred to replace him and run the camp in a more efficient way. His next assignment saw him in Yugoslavia helping to eradicate partisans and Jews. But was back in the Reich due to health issues by the beginning of 1945. Later he was captured by American troops and imprisoned whilst his background was being investigated (because of his link to the euthanasia proramme) he managed to escape in 1948. In Italy, Bishop Alois Hudal, a Nazi sympathiser helped him escape justice by using the Rat-line which had been set up to help war criminals to avoid arrest. He ended up in Syria prior to escaping to Brazil. An arrest warrant was issued for him in 1961, and was finally apprehended in February 1967 and extradited to West Germany for trial. In December 1970, a Düsseldorf court sentenced Stangl to life imprisonment. He dies of a heart attack on 28 June 1971 whilst in custody. 


Irmfried Eberl

SS-Obersturmführer (Brit: Lieutenant) Irmfried Eberl was born in Austria on 8th September 1910 and became a psychiatrist by trade. He became the medical director in the Brandenburg Institute that became a nerve centre for the T4 (euthanasia) programme. He helped established the death camp at Treblinka, Poland and became its first commandant on 11 July 1942. Due to immense problems at the camp, he was removed as commandant on 26 August 1942. Eberl wasa rrested after the war, but he chose to commit suicide on 16 February 1948 rather than face trial.


Kurt Hubert Franz 

Untersturmführer (2nd Lieutenant) originally served within the Belzec death camp within Poland before being transferred to Treblinka.  There he served as Deputy Commandant, before finally taken over as  Commandant. After the war he worked in a couple of jobs before finally being arrested on 2nd December 1959.  At the Treblinka Trials he was found guilty of being complicit in the murder of some 300,000 men, women and children and for personally murdering over 100 others.  He was sentenced to life imprisonment but was released in 1993 because of health issues.  He died on 4th July 1998.



Hermine Braunsteiner 

Born in 1919 or 1920, in Vienna, Austria.   Braunsteiner was a notorious female guard , first in Ravensbruck, and then in the extermination camp of Majdanek (prisoners there dubbed her the "Stomping Mare") in German-occupied Poland.  In 1949, she was found guilty of murder, including infanticide in an Austrian court and sentenced to only three years imprisonment.  In 1959, she married an American by the name, Russell Ryan and immigrated to the US, and became an American citizen in 1963.  She was detained after some survivors of the holocaust identified her as one of their tormentors and a deportation hearing was conveyed. She was accused of murder, torture and assisting in the selection process for which women and children were condemned to the gas chambers. One allegation stated how she attacked a female prisoner who died the next day of her injuries. She was also accused of whipping women to death; that she grabbed children by their hair and threw them into the gas chambers, and that she had "stomped" the life out of an old female prisoner.   She was stripped of her US citizenship in 1971on the grounds that she had failed to disclose her activities during the war.  On 14 March, 1973, a Dusseldorf court issued an extradition warrant, and at the same time as this warrant was issued, the US also received a request from the Polish government also requesting extradition. She was taken into custody and sent to West Germany to stand trial for her war crimes. 


In June, 1981, she was sentenced to life imprisonment after the court case which had been held in Dusseldorf (This trial was known as 'The Third Majdanek Trial), but was released from prison on 19 April, 1996 on health reasons (she suffered from diabetes and had a leg amputated).  She died in 1999. 


Heinrich Muller

Muller was born in Munich, Baveria in 1900.  Where, when or how he died is not known, but he may have been killed whilst trying to flee Berlin in 1945.

As Gruppenfuehrer (Lieutenant-General) within the SS,  Muller was chief of the Gestapo and heavily involved within the round up of Jews and other 'undesirables' of the Third Reich to be sent to the death camps. 


He was present at the Wannsee Conference in January 1942, which had been set up by Reinhardt Heydrich to formulate plans for the total and final solution to the Jewish question. 


In 1943, he was dispatched to Rome to find out why so many of Italy's Jews were managing to avoid being captured.  


In the last days of the Reich, Muller was in Berlin and when Hermann Fengelein , Himmler's adjutant to the Fuehrer, was arrested, it was Muller who interrogated him, in an effort to find out about what he knew about Himmler's betrayal. After Berlin fell to the Russians, Muller was nowhere to be found and the search was on to find him.  Reports claimed that he was hiding in and in Argentina but nothing was confirmed.  


Kurt Eimann

SS-Sturmbannführer Kurt Eimann, was an officer in charge of a unit which had been formed in Danzig either a few months before the invasion of Poland or soon after the Polish surrender in October 1939. Eimann was responsible for the murder of some 13,000 patients from clinics and asylums within eastern region of Poland. At his trial in Hanover in 1968, he was accused of leading by example as he personally shooting victims in the back of their heads.


Michel Herman 

An SS-Technical Sergeant at the Sobibor death camp in Poland. He is best known as the officer who's job it was to reassure new arrivals [prisoners] that they had arrived a transit camp. He became known simply as the 'Preacher' due to the lies he kept telling to those new arrivals. 


Irma Ida IIse Grese

Female SS guard at Ravensbrück, Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen Belsen during the war.  Known for her brutality and inhumanity towards inmates.  She was involved in the selection of prisoners earmarked for the gas chambers at Birkenau.  Worked within the woman's subcamp BII/c at Birkenau.  It has been alleged that she had tied a heavily pregnant woman's legs together and watched as the woman painfully tried to give birth [Source: Irma Grese, A True Account of the Holocaust's Deadliest Woman (2016) p8. Stephanie T. McRae]


Leopold Von Mildenstein

Leopold Itz, Edler von Mildenstein (1902 – November 1968) Born in Prague, Austria. Joined the NSDAP in 1929 and the SS in 1932. Mildenstein had a keen interest in 'Zionism' and travelled to Palestine during the early 1930s as well as attending Zionist conferences in an effort to fully understand it's concepts, later he studied Hebrew. He was an active supporter of allowing Germany's Jews to emigrate to Palestine as a way of ridding Germany of its Jews. When Reinhardt Heydrich decided to open a Jewish Desk within the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), he appointed Mildenstein to set it up and run it, this desk. Section II/112 was geared up to to keep an eye on all things Jewish, and help coordinate the removal of Jews from German society and answerable to Heydrich himself. Mildenstein recruited Adolf Eichmann into Section II/112 in 1934. At this stage of his career, Mildenstein was an SS-Untersturmführer (Second Lieutenant). In 1936 he was sacked from his post after a conflict with Heydrich and was transferred to the Foreign Ministry's press. Kuno Schroeder became the new head of Section. After the war, Mildenstein lived for a period in West Germany and then went to work in Egypt for a local radio station. He died in November 1968.


Stefan Baretzki

SS-Rottenführer (Brit: Lance Corporal).  Born: 24 March 1919. Was a Blockführer (block chief) who served within the Auschwitz concentration camp system from 1942-1945. He Took part in selecting prisoners for the gas chambers and was also known for indiscriminate beating if prisoners and indiscriminate murders. He was sentenced to Life (plus 8 years) imprisonment. He died on 21 June 1988, in Bad Nauheim, Germany.


Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski

Born in 1899, he was became an SS General and Police leader who was involved in anti-partisan activities on the Eastern Front.  Bach-Zelewski joined the NSDAP in 1930 and a year later, the SS.  From 1932-44, he was a member of Germany's Reichstag.  He helped suppress the Warsaw rebellion in 1944.  In 1951 he was sentenced to house arrest by a de-nazification court but was rearrested for crimes that he had committed during the Blood Purge against Röhm (Night of the Long Knives) and sentenced to just over 4 years imprisonment. He rearrested in 1962 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of six German Communists in 1933.  He was never charged with war crimes he had committed whilst serving on the Eastern Front.  He died in 1972. 









Heinrich Muller (Below), Chief of the Gestapo

The Little Men of Death

* Preifi (or Preie): was an SS guard at the Treblinka death camp.  Described as looking like a skinny gypsy and was known as 'the Old One' who was regarded as 'sullen and taciturn', and as a personal tonic he used to hang around the camp's refuse dump and wait for a starving inmate to venture in in an attempt to savage for food.  Those whom he caught, he would force the inmate to open their mouth, place the barrel of his pistol into the mouth and pull the trigger. 

* Stumpfe: SS guard at Treblinka who it was said used to break into uncontrollable laughter when he witnessed an inmate being slaughtered. He was given the nickname 'Laughing Death'. 

* Svidersky: Treblinka guard who it was said to have had only one eye.  He was from Odessa and known infamously as the 'Master Hammer' who loved to kill inmates with a hammer.  It has been said that he murdered 15 children from the ages of 8-13:who had been declared 'unfit for work duties'. 

* Rottenführer (UK: Lance Corporal) Stefan Baretzki became a Blockführer (block chief) at Auschwitz who served in the camp from 1942-1945. Was accused of making 'selections' (choosing which inmates were sent to the gas chambers) and murder as well as beating prisoners. He was sentenced to Life plus 8 years imprisonment.


The Notorious Hermine Braunseiner (below), who was known as the "Stomper" by Majdanek prisoners.