Förschner, Otto, born 04-11-1902 in the town of Dürrenzimmen, Bavaria and was raised on a farm owned by his family. In 1922 he enlisted in the Reichsheer and would remain a soldier for the next twelve years. Following his departure from the army in 1934 he became a member of the SS and was assigned to its military-wing, the SS Verfügungstruppe, the organization that would eventually become the Waffen SS Between April, 1934 and December, 1936 Förschner attended the SS Officers School in Bad Tolz and became a member of the Nazi Party in 1937.
During the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, Förschner served as an officer with the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking under command of SS Obergruppenführer Felix Steiner. After being wounded in action and declared medically unfit for combat duty, he was transferred to the SS Totenkopfverbände. taking over as Schutzhaftlagerführer of the Buchenwald concentration camp in the spring of 1942.
In September, 1943 Förschner was given command over the newly built concentration camp of Mittelbau Dora,
which at this time functioned as a sub-camp of the much larger Buchenwald. The purpose of Mittelbau-Dora was to provide slave laborers from among its inmate population to the nearby V weapon production facility of Mittelwerk In addition to his position as commandant at Dora, Förschner was also technically the managing director of Mittelwerk GMbH, the front company created by the German government for V-weapons production. He would hold this post until April,1944 when he was replaced by the general director Georg Johannes Rickhey. Arrested in 1945, Rickhey was taken by the U.S Army to live at Wright Patterson Air force Base in Ohio, where he worked under the terms of Operation Paperclip. He was subsequently indicted as part of the Dachau Trials of 1947 under accusations that he had worked closely with the SS and Gestapo and witnessed executions. He was acquitted due to a lack of evidence and died age 68 in 1966..
Förschner had a contentious relationship with the various Nazi security services (the SD and the Gestapo ) that operated in and around Mittelbau-Dora. His leadership was regularly criticized by them as being too “soft” on both the camp’s prisoners and personnel. Of particular concern for them was Förschner’s practice of selecting prisoners funtionaries almost exclusively from among the camp’s German Communist inmates.
Förschner’s reputation in the Nazi party was badly damaged in November, 1944 when many of the prisoner functionaries he had appointed were rounded up by the Gestapo and revealed to have been involved in resistance activities inside the the camp most notably, the sabotage of V-weapons during the production process. After it was revealed that Förschner had failed to report a bonus payment of 10,000 Reichsmarks he had received from Mittelwerk GmbH, he was dismissed as commander of Mittelbau-Dora in February, 1945 and replaced by former Auschwitz commandant Richard Baer here with SS Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl. After being relieved of command at Mittelbau-Dora, Förschner was transferred to Dachau, where he served briefly as commandant of the sub-camp of Kaufering.
Death and burial ground of Förschner, Otto.
In April, 1945 Förschner was taken prisoner by the US Army. He was a defendant in the Dachau concentration camp trial in which he was indicted for war crimes stemming from his tenure at Kaufering. Namely, Förschner was charged with responsibility for the brutal conditions which prevailed in the camp and his role in the management of prisoner executions.
Otto Förschner was convicted by a US military tribunal and sentenced to death, along with 35 other co-defendants, on December 13, 1945. He was hanged in Landsberg prison by the English hangman Albert Pierrepoint on 28-05-1946, age 43. It is believed that Pierrepoint executed at least 433 men and 17 women, including seven US soldiers at Shepton Mallet and 202 Nazi war criminals after the Second World War. Pierremont himserlf had a long life and died 10-07-1992, aged 87 in Southport, Merseyside, England.
Otto Förschner is buried on the Landsberg prison cemetery: Spöttinger Friedhof.between many war criminals, like his friend Oswald Pohl.