Martin Gottfried Weiss was born in Weiden in der Oberpfalz. His father worked for the Royal Bavarian State Railways. He had two sisters and was raised as a Catholic. After school he continued his education at a mechanical engineering school in Landshut. He finished school in 1924 and worked as intern in an ironwork. Later he worked for about three and a half years for the electric company Upper Palatine. In summer 1926 he joined the Nazi party and founded a chapter of the SA and of the Hitler Youth with two friends in Weiden. Later he studied electrical engineering in Bad Frankenhausen, he finished in 1930. His grades were good, so he worked as an assistant at the school until April 1932, when he was released. He went back to the Weiden area and joined the SS.
From April 1933 he served with the guards of Camp Dachau; from November 1933 till February 1938 he was the engineer of the camp. In March he became adjutant to camp commander SS Oberführer Hans Loritz and SS Schutzhaftlagerführer. Alexander Piorkowski. here with SS Reichsführer Heirnrich Himmler He married in 1934, and he had at least two children. After the war, Loritz was arrested and imprisoned at the internment camp in Neumünster to await trial by the Soviets. Loritz committed suicide in 31 January 1946, age 50. Piorkowski was sentenced to death. He made futile petitions for a pardon. Alexander Piorkowski was hanged in the Landsberg Prison for war criminals on 22 October 1948, age 44..
In April 1940 Weiss received an order for the construction of Konzentrationslager Neuengamme. In November he became the camp commandant. The Neuengamme camp was tasked to deliver building materials for buildings in Hamburg. From April 1942 till July 1942 Weiss was also commandant of Arbeitsdorf.Commandant in Dachau.
On 1 September 1942 Weiss became commandant of Dachau concentration camp. Soon after this, Oswald Pohl criticized him severely, about the poor condition of the prisoners. Weiss thereafter made conditions in the camp a bit more humane. Weiss had taken some of his kapos from Neuengamme to Dachau. A last special action of Action 14f13 was carried out on his orders bringing death to 342 people in the Hartheim Euthanasia Centre. Weiss worked in Dachau until 31 October 1943.
During his time as commandant in Dachau, 35 people were hanged and 18 people were shot. Before his post-war trial, Weiss insisted that these people were not KZ prisoners, but prisoners of the Gestapo. He said they were sentenced to death by order of Heinrich Himmler and the Reich Main Security Office. This contradicted the statement of SS-Obersturmführer Johann Georg Kicks , and was also a violation of the rules of the concentration camps Lagerordnung. SS-Obersturmführer Johann Georg Kicks was hanged in Landsberg Prison on 25-05-1946, age 44.
Weiss was appointed commandant of Majdanek after his predecessor SS-Standartenführer Hermann Florstedt was charged with wholesale theft from the Third Reich in order to enrich himself. He took up his position as commander of Majdanek concentration camp on 4 November 1943. On 3 November 1943, one of the worst massacres happened there; more than 17.000 Jewish people were murdered during Aktion Erntefestover the course of one day. Historians believe that Weiss was present at the time in Lublin-Majdanek to prepare himself for his new position. It is certain that on the first day of his new position as commandant, he was responsible for having to clean up the consequences of the massacre. SS-Standartenführer Hermann Florstedt was charged with corruption (wholesale stealing from the Third Reich); he had access to valuables stolen from Holocaust victims killed at death camps of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. These valuables were stored and processed at Majdanek.
He was replaced by the interim commander Martin Gottfried Weiss. SS-Standartenführer Hermann Florstedt was executed by the SS on 15 April 1945, age 50.
On 18 May 1944, SS-Obersturmbannführer Weiß was promoted. On 1 November 1944 he was sent to Mühldorf subcamp. There Organisation Todt built two underground plants for the production of fighter planes with the forced assistance of prisoners from KZ Dachau. Because the Luftwaffe was suffering severe losses in the air war against the RAF, the forced labour contingent was driven hard. Jewish prisoners who worked there were afraid of being gassed, if they did not work hard enough. Some died of the hard work, some from typhus. Those who could not work any longer were sent to Auschwitz. The position of Weiß in Mühldorf is not absolutely clear. In any event, of all the command staff at Mühldorf, he had the highest rank.
At the end of April 1945, Weiss was in Dachau, perhaps in order to relieve the commandant, SS-Obersturmbannführer Eduard Weiter . On 28 April he discussed with SS-Standartenführer Kurt Becher how to hand over the camp to the US-Army (uncertain, Becher later remembered only that the name of the man he talked to started with “W” ). On 28 April or 29 April Weiß fled from Dachau. SS-Obersturmbannführer Eduard Weiter did not face trial as he fled Dachau immediately before its liberation and made it to castle Schloss Itter in Austria where he died in mysterious circumstances. According to Paul Reynaud on Wednesday May 2, 1945, after drunkenly bragging about the recent executions he had ordered at Dachau, Weiter shot and killed himself. He was unceremoniously buried outside the walls of the castle in an unmarked grave. However Tom Segev states that he may have been killed by a fellow SS member angry at his lack of ideological conviction.
Weiss was apprehended in Munich on 29 April 1945 by corporal Henry Senger of the US Army 292nd Field Artillery Observation Battalion, and was tried during the Dachau Trials beginning on 13 November 1945. After being found guilty of “violating the laws and usages of war,” Weiss was executed by hanging at Landsberg prison on 29 May 1946, age 40.