Otto, Wolfgang Gunther Klaus.

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Otto, Wolfgang Gunther Klaus, born 23-08-1911 in Katowice; grew up in the district of Katowice Eichenau and was raised strictly Catholic. After the successful completion of his schooling Otto took the profession of teacher and taught after the 1936 passed first teacher’s examination in 1937 at a normal two-speed elementary school. Otto, a member of the general SS since 1933, also joined the NSDAP  and became a member of the motorized SS   On 01-09-1939, the beginning of World War II, Otto was called to the Waffen-SS  and used in the Buchenwald concentration camp. There he passed as a trainer of young SS reservists and his second teaching exam. First, he performed as a member of the SS Totenkopf Sturmbann Buchenwald Wachaufgaben. From summer 1941 to November 1941 he served as accountant and then as a clerk in the camp commandant until the summer of 1943. Then he became a “spit” of the camp commandant Karl Otto Koch   and headed the Kommandanturschreibstube until 11-04-1945.

Karl Otto Koch first married in 1924 and had one son; however, his marriage ended in divorce in 1931, due to his infidelity. On 25-05-1936 Koch married Ilse Koch (born Margarete Ilse Köhler), with whom he had a son and two daughters. Ilse later became known as “The Witch of Buchenwald” (Die Hexe von Buchenwald), usually rendered more alliteratively in English as “The Bitch of Buchenwald.”  When Koch was transferred to Buchenwald, Ilse was appointed an Oberaufseherin (overseer) by the SS and thus had an active, official role in the atrocities committed there. She was known for extreme cruelty towards prisoners

Otto was head of Command 99, the execution squad of the concentration camp, and was present as a “spit” of the camp commandant in the official executions. Eight times he participated as a shooter in executions of foreign agents, led at 35 hangers the protocol and was also a participant in the execution commando, who shot the first camp commandant of Buchenwald Karl Otto Koch on 05-04-1945. A charge of incitement to murder was lodged by Prince Waldeck von Pyrmont   and SS blood judge Dr Konrad Morgen , against Koch, to which were later added charges of embezzlement. Other camp officials were charged, including Koch’s wife. The trial resulted in Koch being sentenced to death for disgracing both himself and the SS. Koch was executed by firing squad on 05-04-1945, age 47, one week before American allied troops arrived to liberate the camp

During the executions Otto turned the radio louder to drown out the sound of gunfire. His job was to ensure the scheduling, compliance, trace wiping and ensuring a smooth execution of the executions. He also took care of cigarettes, coffee and sausages for the members of the firing squad after the executions.  After the war Otto denied involvement in the murder of the KPD chairman Ernst “Teddy” Thalmann, age 58,

on 18-08-1944.

Otto, who was in charge of the hangings, said about the procedure during the Krefeld Thälmann process in 1985:

“In the process, I first had to ascertain the personal details of the person to be arrested, by reading the name from the documents and asking whether the person to be hanged was. The person concerned announced either by sign or by an intelligible sound that he was. ”

To the executions on wall hooks in the cellar of the crematorium Otto explained:

“This sight was even less aesthetic than that of an execution by knitting and falling stairs.”

The prisoners “were in fact lifted, then they put the rope around their necks and thus came to the hook hanging to death.”

After the war, Otto was arrested and charged in the context of the Dachau trials in the main Buchenwald process with 30 other accused. On 14-08-1947 Otto was sentenced to 20 years in prison for assistance and participation in violent crimes in the Buchenwald concentration camp, which were later reduced to ten years in prison.

While imprisoned in the war criminal prison Landsberg Otto worked as a liturgically trained organist in the prison services. Otto was released early on 06-03-1952 for good conduct from the war criminal prison Landsberg. He had several Persilscheine, for example, he had received in 1947 by the former Buchenwald detainee Léon Blum one due to his connection between the camp commandant and the prisoners. Otto applied as a teacher in North Rhine-Westphalia and received in 1954 due to his Persilscheine, despite his work in Buchenwald, a teaching position at the Catholic elementary school in Goch near Kleve. Otto, who also taught the subject of religion, moved in 1959 to a Catholic elementary school after Geldern. He also did not conceal his past from the school board, but prettified her by pretending that he only did paperwork and accounting in Buchenwald. On 01-06-1962 Otto was with immediate effect prohibited the exercise of his official business, and because it was known that there are allegations against him in connection with crime in Buchenwald. Otto received in the episode a lifelong pension for 1,700 DM monthly, which he won over a lawsuit against the Ministry of Culture in North Rhine-Westphalia before the Administrative Court by means of comparison inmate, that he had been executed by Otto, and moreover, the crimes against Allied prisoners had already been tried in the Buchenwald trial.

Death and burial ground of Otto, Wolfgang Gunther Klaus Otto.

The former Buchenwald prisoner Marian Zgoda from Poland had brought in 1947 in a broadcast on the Deutschlandradio report the assassination Ernst Thalmanns in connection with a perpetrator Wolfgang Otto. With this statement, Ludwig Landwehr, the chairman of the Association of the persecuted of the Nazi regime in Lower Saxony, in 1962 a campaign in the GDR due to Otto’s perpetration ignited. As a result, the resident of East Berlin widow Thälmanns, Rosa Thälmann, who died age 72 on  21-09-1962 in Berlin, refunded over their lawyer Friedrich Karl Kaul in Geldern a criminal complaint against Otto for aiding and abetting murder. As of 1962, seven investigations were filed against Otto in the following 25 years and, due to lack of evidence and once again because of statute of limitations, reinstated. The extradition requests of the GDR were not granted by the Federal Republic of Germany. The daughter Thälmanns, Irma Gabel-Thälmann, who died 10-12-20, age 81

put on her lawyer Heinrich Hanover on 24-02-1982, a petition before the Higher Regional Court of Cologne, which led in 1985 to a main proceedings before the District Court Krefeld, which on 15-05-1986 with the sentencing of Otto to four years imprisonment for aiding and abetting murder ended. However, on 25-03-1987, the Federal Court of Justice appealed and annulled the judgment. Before the district court of Dusseldorf finally passed on 29-08-1988, the acquittal for Otto. The exact circumstances of the Thälmann murder could never be clarified without doubt despite testimonies. Wolfgang Gunther Klaus Otto died in 26-11-1989, age 79 in Geldern and is buried on the local cemtery of Gelderen, Section 35, grave 129-130..

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