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Siegfried Seidl, Commandant of the Theresienstadt concentration camp.

20-05-2017

Siegfried Seidl, was an Austrian career officer and Commandant of the Theresianstadt concentration camp located in the present-day czech Republic. He  also was commandant of the Bergen Belsen, and later served as staff officer to Adolf Eichmann. After the war, in 1947, he was tried in Austria and convicted as a war criminal; sentenced to death, he was executed by hanging.

Siegfried Seidl, born 24-08-1911 in Tulln an der Donau, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now in Lower Austria. After completing his secondary schooling at the Oberschule, Seidl started law study. After three semesters, he interrupted his studies and took on various odd jobs.

From 1935 until 1938, Seidl studied history and German studies at the University of Vienna. He obtained his PhD in 1941. This title was taken away from him in 1947 after he was convicted as a war criminal. On 2 March 1939 Seidl  married Elisabeth Stieber, a former teacher in a kindergarten. She was a member of the NSDAP (Nazi Party) and its NS Frauenschaft (NSF: National Socialist Women’s League, literally NS-Womanship)   ,  and supporting member of the SS.

Nazi career

On 15 October 1930 Seidl also joined the Nazi Party (registered as member number 300,738). From September 1931 until May 1932, he was active in the SA. The same day that he left the SA, Seidl was assigned to the 11th SS Standarte (SS-regiment) as Oberscharführer, member number 46,106.

In late 1939, Seidl was called into the police result of his SS membership. As of January 1940, he was attached to the SS-Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) – Department IVB4 under Adolf Eichmann‘s command – and posted to the SS lead section in Posen. On 30 October 1941, Seidl was charged by Adolf Eichmann with establishing the Theresienstadt ghetto and concentration camp, Czechoslovakia.

From November 1941 until 3 July 1943, he was the ghetto’s Commandant. He was responsible for thousands of people being ill treated and murdered. In November 1942, Seidl was promoted to SS-Hauptsturmführer. As commandant Seidl reported directly to Obersturmführer Hans Günther , chief of the Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung (Central office for Jewish emigration) in Prague. Günther in turn reported to Adolf Eichmann at the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) IV B 4 in Berlin. Günther was in charge of the deportation of Czech Jews to death camps during the Holocaust. He was killed by Czech partisans 5th May 1945, age 44.

On orders of Eichmann, Seidl was on 3 July 1943 reassigned as Commandant of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. He was succeeded at Theresienstadt by SS-Obersturmführer Anton Burger.  Burger born in Neunkirchen, Austria and Sturmbannführer in the SS. He died 25 December 1991 (aged 80) in Essen Germany. He was the second commander of Theresienstadt. After the war he dived down and took a different name. His real identity was discovered only in 1994, three years after his death.

In March 1944 Seidl met with the Wehrmacht in Budapest, where he joined the 5th Einsatzgruppe SS paramilitary death squad, under command of Standarteführer Martin Sandberger  . Sandberger was arrested after the war and sentenced to death. His punishment was then transformed into life. Through interference with his father – retired director of IG Farben – a lobby for grace eventually resulted in unconditional liberation in 1958. Sandberger died on March 30, 2010 at the age of 98 in Stuttgart.

As leader of the Debrecen outpost, Seidl was part of the Sondereinsatzkommando-Eichmann (SEK). The SEK organised the largest and quickest deportation of the Holocaust. From 15 May to 9 July 1944, in 56 days, the Germans deported 437,402 Jews from Hungary, according to their records. With the exception of 15,000 people, all were taken to the death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, where most were murdered.

In July 1944, when the deportation of the Jews of Hungary was finished, Seidl was appointed as acting leader of the SS Special Deployment Command, Outpost Vienna. There he exercised control over the remaining Hungarian Jews in forced-labour camps, which had been built in Vienna and Lower Austria.

After the war, Seidl escaped and laid low. He was arrested and tried in Austria. After his conviction, on 14 November 1946 in Vienna, Seidl was sentenced to death by the Volksgericht (Austrian People’s Court – established to prosecute Nazi war crimes). He was executed on 4 February 1947, age 35.

 

 

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