- Eicke, Theodor
SS Obergruppenführer, Kommandeur. Totenkopf" Division. Murdered Ernst Röhm in 1934.
- 17-10-1892, Solingen, Lotheringen.
- 26-02-1943, crashed, age 50, near Orelka.
Orelka in Russia, Field grave.
Theodor Eicke, born on 17-10-1892 in Solingen, Lothringen, youngest of 11 children of the railway stationmaster Heinrich Eicke, attended Volkschule and Realschule in Hampont. A poor student, he left and joined the German Army in 1909 and during the First World War won the Iron Cross for bravery. Eicke was active in the Freikorps before becoming an inspector in the Thuringian police force. He joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) in 1928 and two years later took command of a Schutzstaffel (SS) Regiment of the Rhine-Palatinate. He joined the SS on 29-07-1930 and became SS Truppenführer shortly thereafter. The same year he became his next promotion, SS Sturmführer. In the beginning of 1931 he became SS Sturmbahnführer and he was Führer der II/10 SS Brigade. Theodor Eicke was a person who makes quick promotions and after be the Verwaltungsofficier der 10 SS Standarte and Führer der 10 SS Standarte, he makes his next promotion in October 1932 to SS Oberführer. Suspected of carrying out bomb attacks on political opponents, Heinrich Himmler (see Himmler) advised him to go and live in Italy in 1932. However, due to protection received from Franz Gürtner, who would later serve as minister of justice under Adolf Hitler, he was able to flee to Italy. Gürtner died age 59, on 29-01-1941 in Berlin. After Adolf Hitler, (see Adolf) (see Alois Hitler) came to power Eicke returned to Germany In March 1933, less than three months after Hitler's rise to power, Eicke had political quarrels with Gauleiter Joseph Bürckel, who had him arrested and detained for several months in a mental asylum. Bürckel died, at about 11.04 hours in Neustadt-an-der-Weinstrasse on 28-09-1944, age 49. A report from Bürckel's personal physician, since 1936, Gaugesundheitsführer Ewig, dated 28-09-1944, stated that Bürckel was physically and mentally worn out, spending all of his time at work because of the deteriorating situation in his Gau. He suffered an inflammation of the intestine with diarrhea, eventually becoming too ill to continuedied. Himmler set up the first official concentration camp at Dachau. Hitler had stated that he did not want it to be just another prison or detention camp. In June 1933, Himmler obtained the release of Eicke from the asylum and promoted him to an SS-Oberführer. On 26-06-1933, Himmler appointed him commandant of Dachau after complaints and criminal proceedings against former and first Dachau commandant SS-Sturmbannführer Hilmar Wäckerle following the murder of several detainees under the "guise of punishment". Wäckerle was killed, age 41, on 02-07-1941, near Lemberg. Eicke requested a permanent unit and Himmler granted the request; the SS-Wachverbände, Guard Unit, was formed. In May 1934 Eicke was given responsibility of reorganizing Germany's concentration camp system. One of his recommendations was that guards should be warned that they would be punished if they showed prisoners any signs of humanity. In the same year he became SS Brigadeführer on 30-01-1934 and SS Gruppenführer on 11-07-1934. During the Night of the Long Knives, Eicke was given personel the task of killing Ernst Röhm (see Röhm) in his cel, together with SS-Obersturmbannführer Michael Lippert, Lippert died age 72, on 01-09-1969 in Wuppertal and is described as "filled with a dangerous and unrepentant
fanaticism" Other leaders of the Sturm Abteilung (SA) were also killed, Edmund Heines (see Heines) and Johannes Schweighart (see Schweighart). Three days after the purge Eicke was appointed Inspector of Concentration Camps and head of Death's Head Units. On the outbreak of the Second World War Eicke was placed in command of the Totenkopf Division of the Waffen SS. He fought without distinction but committed several war crimes including the execution of over 100 prisoners of war in the 2nd Royal Norfolk Regiment . He became his next promotion in 1941, Generalleutnant der Waffen SS and his last one in 1942, SS Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen SS. He received the Oak Leaves on 20-02-1942. During Operation Barbarossa Eicke fought in the Soviet Union, with the Totenkopf Division The Totenkopf Division went on to become one of the most effective German fighting formations on the Eastern Front, often serving as "Hitler's firemen", rushed to the scene of Soviet breakthroughs. During the course of the war, Eicke and his division became known for brutality and several war crimes, including the murder of 97 British POWs in Le Paradis in 1940 , the murder of captured Soviet soldiers and the plundering and pillaging of several Soviet villages. The Totenkopf continued to show ferocity, during the advance in 1941 as well as the summer offensive in 1942, the conquest of Kharkov, the defense of the Demyansk Pocket, the defense of Warsaw, and Budapest in 1945. Eicke was killed on 26-02-1943, age 50, several months after being promoted to SS-Obergruppenführer. While performing a battlefield reconnaissance during the opening stages of the Third Battle of Kharkov, his Fieseler Fi 156 Storch was shot down by Soviet troops 1 kilometre southwest of Artelnoje, near Lozovaya. An assault group from the division recovered the bodies of Eicke, the pilot and SS-Hauptsturmführer Friedrich from enemy territory. Eicke was portrayed in the Axis press as a hero, and soon after his death one of the Totenkopf's infantry regiments received the cuff-title "Theodor Eicke". Eicke was originally buried at a German military cemetery near Orelka, Russia. Later, Himmler ordered Eicke's remains dug up and reburied at the Hegewald German military cemetery in Zhitomir. In 1944, the Germans were pushed back and forced to retreat yet again. Eicke's corpse was left where it had been re-buried. Eicke married Bertha Schwebel on 26-12-1914. They had two children, Irma, born 05-04-1916 and Hermann, born 04-05-1920, killed in action as Leutnant of the Wehrmacht on 02-12-1941, age 20.