Glücks, Richard.

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Glücks, Richard, born 22-04-1889, Odenkirchen, the son of the former teacher and later businessman Johannes Leberecht Ludwig Glücks and his wife Wilhelmine Ida, born Mechelen, completed gymnasium in Düsseldorf, and he worked in his father’s business, a fire insurance agency. In 1909, Glücks joined the army for one year as a volunteer, serving in the artillery. In 1913, he was in England, and later moved to Argentina as a trader. When World War I broke out, Glücks returned to Germany under a false identity as a sailor on a Norwegian ship in January 1915 and promptly joined the army again. During the war, he eventually became the commander of a motorized artillery squad and was awarded the Iron Cross I and II. After the war, he became a liaison officer between the German forces and the Military Inter-Allied Commission of Control, the allied body for controlling the restrictions placed upon Germany in the Treaty of Versailles regarding re-armament and strength of their armed forces. Until 1924, he stayed in that position, before joining the staff of the 6th Prussian Division. He also served in the Freikorps Lichtschlagactive in the Ruhr area, which was formed on 14-12-1918.. Glücks  joined the NSDAP in 1930, number 214.855 and two years later, the SS (-Nr. 58.706). From September 06-09-1933 to 20-06-1935, he was a member of the staff of the SS-Group “West” and rose to the rank of an SS-Sturmbannführer. Subsequently, he became the commander of the 77 th SS-Standarte of the Allgemeine SS with the rank of an SS-Obersturmbannführer. On 01-04-1936, he became the head of staff of Theodor Eicke then Concentration Camps Inspector and head of the SS-Wachverbände, first with the rank of a SS Standartenführer and later rising to SS Oberführer. When Eicke became field commander of the SS Division Totenkopf , which had been created following his instigation, Glücks was promoted to Concentration Camps Inspector and named by Himmler as Eicke’s successor on 18-11-1939. On 20-04-1941, Glücks was promoted to the rank of an SS-Brigadeführer, and on 29-03-1942, he became the head of Amt D: Konzentrationslagerwesen of the newly formed SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt (WVHA), the Economics and Administrative Department of the SS. 

Due to the extremely high death rate in the concentration camps around 1942, which had a negative impact on the use of prisoners as forced laborers, Glücks sent the following message to the camp commanders on 28-12-1942:

“The first doctors must use all the means at their disposal so that the mortality rates in the individual camps fall substantially. […] The doctors have more to monitor the diet of prisoners than before and in accordance with the administration of the camp commanders to submit improvement proposals. These may not only be on paper, but are regularly checked by the doctors afterwards. […] The Reichsführer-SS has ordered that the mortality should definitely be reduced.

On 23-07-1943, Glücks was made SS-Gruppenführer and a Generalleutnant of the Waffen-SS. Close to Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler, he was directly responsible for the forced labour of the camp inmates, and was also the supervisor for the medical practices in the camps. Glücks was described by Rudolf Höss

as a static administrator and bureaucrat, afraid of Himmler and mostly occupied with maintaining the concentration camps as Eicke had set them up. Höss was hanged in Auschwitz age 46, on 16-04-1947. According to Höss’s words, Glücks only found relief when he was drunk. At the same time, Höss described Glücks as a man unable to grasp the consequences of his directives, and claimed Glücks had risen to his high position (and stayed there) only as a protégé of Eicke and Oswald Pohl the head of the WVHA. Glücks’s responsibilities at first mainly covered the use of concentration camp inmates for forced labour. In this phase, he urged camp commandants to lower the death rate in the camps, as it went counter to the economic objectives his department was to fulfill. 

Other orders of his were to ask for the inmates to be made to work continuously. At the same time, it was Glücks who recommended on 21-02-1940, Auschwitz, a former Austrian cavalry barracks, as a suitable site for a new concentration camp to Himmler, Pohl, and Reinard Heydrich.

The camp opened on 14-06-1940, and Glücks was quick to provide slave labour from the camp to the new coal-oil and rubber plant erected nearby by I.G Farben. From 1942 on, Glücks was increasingly involved in the implementation of the “Final Solution”, along with Oswald Pohl. In July 1942, he participated in a planning meeting with Himmler on the topic of medical experiments on camp inmates. From several visits to the Auschwitz concentration camps, Glücks must have been well aware of the dire conditions, and he certainly was aware of the mass murders and other atrocities committed there.  Orders for the extermination went through Glücks’ office and hands; and he specifically authorized the purchase of Zyklon B  for gassing in Auschwitz. When the WVHA offices  in Berlin  were destroyed by Allied bombing on 16-04-1945, the WVHA, SS Main Economic and Administrative Office, was moved to Born on Darss in Pomerania on the Baltic Sea. Owing to the advances of the Russian forces, Glücks and his wife the divorced Alice Klages, they had no children, fled to Flensburg at the end of April.

Death and burial ground of Glücks, Richard.


It is known that Glücks met Heinrich Himmler for the last time there, using the nickname Sonneman. After the capitulation of Germany, he is believed to have committed suicide on 10-05-1945, age 56, by swallowing a capsule of potassium cyanide at the Mürwik naval base in Flensburg , although the lack of official records or photos gave ground to speculations about his ultimate fate and a death certificate signed on this date at 3 p.m. by Dr. Lorentzen. Whatever the case may be, although having been the most important person responsible for the concentration camps, he was never sentenced. Richard Glücks is buried on the cemetery Friedensburg in Flensburg.



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