Schmidt, Hans Hermann Theodor.

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Schmidt, Hans Hermann Theodor, born 25-12-1899 in Höxter, the son of a cement manufacturer and building materials wholesaler, Hermann Otto Schmidt and his wife Käthe.. Hans finished school in his hometown at the König-Wilhelm-Gymnasium with the Abitur. Hans took part in World War I between 1917 and 1918 and joined a Freikorps after the end of the war. From 1919 to 1920 he did military service in the Reichswehr. He then completed a commercial apprenticeship and then worked as a businessman in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Schmidt joined the NSDAP and the SS in 1932. In 1935 he moved to neighboring Holzminden. After switching to the Waffen-SS, Schmidt served in the SS special camp in Hinzert from 1940 to 1941. In November 1941 he was transferred to the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar. Here Schmidt acted from April to September 1942 as an adjutant in the guard battalion. When Schmidt’s former superior at the Hinzert camp, Hermann Franz Josef Pister, Pister, Hermann Franz Josef took over as Karl Otto Koch’s Koch, Karl Otto. successor, Karl Koch was married with Ilse Koch, born Köhler,   “The Bitch of Buchenwald”. though Ilse Koch had no official position in the Nazi state, she became one of the most infamous Nazi figures at war’s end.  Following the war, she was accused of having selected tattooed prisoners to be killed, in order to have decorative objects such as lampshades and book bindings made from their skins. For example, two inmates, Josef Ackermann and Gustav Wegerer, testified in 1950 that they had witnessed (circa August 1941) a lampshade being prepared from human skin to be presented to Ilse Koch. This crime, however, has been said to be apocryphal.While various objects fashioned from human skins were discovered in Buchenwald’s pathology department at liberation, their connection to Koch was tenuous, given that she had not been at the camp since the summer of 1943. The more likely culprit was SS doctor Erich Wagner, who wrote a dissertation while serving at Buchenwald on the purported link he saw between habitual criminality and the practice of tattooing one’s skin.

That the wild claims were dismissed as lacking evidence did little to sway public opinion. She was known as “The Witch of Buchenwald” (Die Hexe von Buchenwald) by the inmates because of her suspected cruelty and lasciviousness toward prisoners. She has been nicknamed “The Beast of Buchenwald”, the “Queen of Buchenwald”, the “Red Witch of Buchenwald”, “Butcher Widow”, and “The Bitch of Buchenwald” She died by suicide at Aichach women’s prison on 01-09-1967 at age 60.

Schmidt became adjutant to the camp commandant in September 1942 and remained in this position until Buchenwald was liberated in April 1945. In 1944 he retained the rank of SS until the end of the war – SS Hauptsturmfuhrer. In May 1945, Schmidt was arrested by members of the US Army. On 14-09-1945 he was taken from the Bad Aibling POW camp in Bavaria to the Civil Internment Camp office in Freising and on 17-09-1945 to a US office in Oberursel.

From 11-04-1947, Schmidt was a defendant in the Buchenwald main trial as part of the Dachau trials. The other 30 accused included the Higher SS and Police Leader Fulda-Werra responsible for Buchenwald, Josias Georg Wilhelm Adolf Fürst von zu Waldeck and Pyrmont,

the camp commandant Hermann Pister and other members of the camp staff. Because of his responsibility for overseeing and directing all executions between 1942 and 1945, Schmidt was sentenced to death by hanging on 14-08-1947.

Schmidt’s death sentence was one of two confirmed by the Commander-in-Chief of US Forces in Europe, Thomas Troy Handy, on 31-01-1951 (the other being SS-Hauptscharführer Georg Schallermair). Handy commuted 11 other death sentences to life imprisonment at the same time. In his justification, he referred to Schmidt’s high position in the camp administration, who had deputized for Commander Hermann Pister in his absence. According to Pister, Schmidt took a very active part in the riots in the concentration camp and assumed greater authority than he was entitled to. Handy then addressed the murders committed in the Buchenwald concentration camp’s neck shooting facility:

“Hans Schmidt was admittedly an adjutant in the Buchenwald concentration camp for about three years. He was in charge of all the executions of camp inmates; among them were several hundred prisoners of war who were killed by a special unit known as Commando 99. These executions took place in what used to be a horse stable, designed to look like a hospital pharmacy. When the unsuspecting victims were placed against a wall, seemingly to measure their height, they were shot in the back of the head with a powerful air pistol concealed in the wall. Sometimes up to thirty victims were killed in this way at once. Other executions overseen by Schmidt took place in the camp crematorium; the victims were hung from hooks on the wall and slowly choked to death. I can find no reason for mercy in this case.”

Death and burial ground of Schmidt, Hans Hermann Theodor.

On 07-07-1951, Hans-Theodor Schmidt, age 51, was executed in the prison yard of the Landsberg prison for war criminals and then on 09-06-1951 in his hometown of Höxter on the Buried at Wall Cemetery. More than 5,000 people are said to have attended the funeral, including many former SS members. 800 police officers were present to prevent the Socialist Reich Party (SRP) from exploiting the funeral service. In the state elections in Lower Saxony in 1951 in Holzminden, the SRP received around 30 percent of the votes cast.

On 12-06-1951, the Federal Press Office received the death notice from Holzminden with the words protesting his innocence:

“I declare that I have done nothing other than what you, gentlemen, are doing right now. I have carried out orders lawfully given to me. I am retiring as the last of the Landsberg death row inmates. I die innocent.”]

Schmidt and his wife came from Holzminden, were married and had two children. Ellen Schmidt (936–2013) and Helga Schmidt 

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