Silberbauer, Karl Josef, born 21-06-1911 in Vienna , served in the Austrian military before following his father into the police force in 1935. Four years later, he joined the Gestapo , moved to the Netherlands, and in 1943 transferred to the Sicherheitsdienst SD in The Haque. He was then assigned to Amsterdam and attached to “Sektion IV B 4”, a unit recruited from Austrian and German police departments and which handled arrests of hidden Jews throughout the occupied Netherlands.
On 04-08-1944, Silberbauer, here his ID card, was ordered by his superior, SS- Julius Dettmann, who committed suicide, age 51, on 25-07-1945, to investigate a tip-off that Jews were being hidden in the upstairs rooms at Prinsengracht 263
. He took a few Dutch policemen with him and interrogated Victor Kugler about the entrance to the hiding place. Miep Gies and Johannes Kleiman who died age 62 on 28-01-1962 in Amsterdam, were also questioned, and while Kugler and Kleimann were arrested, Gies was allowed to stay on the premises. Both Otto Heinrich Frank
and Karl Silberbauer were interviewed after the war about the circumstances of the raid, with both describing Silberbauer’s surprise that those in hiding had been there more than two years. Frank recalled Silberbauer confiscating their valuables and money, taking these spoils away in Otto Frank’s briefcase, which he had emptied onto the floor scattering out the papers and notebooks which made up the diary of Anne Frank
Soon after, Gentile protectors Kugler and Johannes Kleiman, together with Otto Frank, Edith Frank-Holländer, Margo and Anne Frank, Herman van Pels who served in the German Army during the First World War and received the Iron Cross , Auguste van Pels, Peter Pels, and Fritz Pfeffer, were arrested and taken to Gestapo headquarters in Amsterdam. From there the eight who had been in hiding were sent to the Westerbork transit camp, and then to the Auschwitz camp. Victor Kugler and Jo Kleiman were sent to work camps. Of the ten, only Otto Frank, Kugler, and Kleiman survived.
Silberbauer returned to Vienna in April 1945 and served a fourteen month prison sentence for using excessive force against members of the Communest Party of Austria. After his release, Silberbauer was recruited by the West German Federal Intellgence Service, BDN, and spent ten years as an undercover operative. According to Der Spiegel reporter Peter-Ferdinand Koch, who learned of his postwar activities while researching BND employment of former Nazis, Silberbauer infiltrated neo-Nazi and Pro-Soviet organizations in West Germany and Austria. His BND handlers believed, correctly, that Silberbauer’s past membership in the SS would blind neo-Nazis to his true loyalties.
Possibly due to BND pressure, Silberbauer was reinstated by the Viennese Kriminalpolizei, Kripo in 1954, four years after the German publication of Anne Frank’s diary and was promoted to the rank of Inspektor.
Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter, Simon Wiesenthal began searching for Silberbauer in 1958, upon being challenged by Austrian Holocaust deniers to prove that Anne Frank actually existed. One Holocaust denier stated that, if Anne Frank’s arresting officer were found and admitted it, he would change his mind.
During the 1948 Dutch police investigation into the raid on the Secret Annex, Silberbauer’s name had been disclosed as “Silvernagel”. The Dutch police detectives who had assisted with the raid were identified by Miep Gies. Hermine “Miep ” Gies was Austrian by birth, but in 1920, at the age of eleven, she was taken in as a foster child by a Dutch family to whom she became very attached. Although she was initially only to stay for six months, this stay was extended to one year because of frail health, after which she chose to remain with them, living the rest of her life in the Netherlands. Gies became a close, trusted friend of the family and was a great support to them during the two years they spent in hiding. She retrieved Anne Frank’s diary after the family was arrested and kept the papers safe until Otto Frank returned from Auschwitz in 1945 and learned of his younger daughter’s death.
Miepwho recalled their commander as having a blue collar Vienna accent. The Dutch policemen claimed to remember nothing except an erroneous form of their superior’s surname. Miep Gies died old age 100 on 11-01-2010 in Hoorn.
Silberbauer’s memories of the arrest were notably vivid – he in particular recalled Otto and Anne Frank. When he asked Otto Frank how long they had been in hiding, Frank answered, “Two years and one month.” Silberbauer was incredulous, until Otto stood Anne against the marks made on the wall to measure her height since they had arrived in the annex, showing that she had grown even since the last mark had been made. Silberbauer said that Anne “looked like the pictures in the books, but a little older, and prettier. ‘You have a lovely daughter’, I said to Mr. Frank”.
Although he disclosed what he knew, Silberbauer was unable to provide any information that could help further the Dutch police’s investigation into the Dutch collaborator who provided the tip. He explained that the call was taken by his commanding officer, SS Obersturmführer Julius Dettmann , who said only that the information came from “a reliable source”. As Dettmann had committed suicide on 31-07-1945 in a POW camp after the end of the war, the second investigation also hit a dead end. Julius Dettmann was SS Obersturmführer and boss of, among others Karl Silberbauer, in his office at the Euterpestraat in Amsterdam , on 04-08-1944 Dettmann gets a phone call that the Prinsengracht Jews are in hiding, he gives one of his sergeants, Silberbauer, the order to go there with some men and the people in hiding to arrest. Miep Gies went to the SD twice, on 5 and on 07-08-1942, to buy her friends, she knew who she should be; Karl Silberbauer, but he sent her away with the message to come back the next day. So Silberbauer was not just willing to help her recover the eight. Silberbauer was later confronted twice with the lecture by Miep Gies, he denied ever having seen her on the Euterpestraat, but he knew her of course because during the invasion at the Prinsengracht he spoke to her, they both came from Vienna and conversed in local dialect. Probably that was also the reason why he left her undisturbed
Although the Austrian government stated that the arrest of Anne Frank “did not warrant Silberbauer’s arrest or prosecution as a war criminal”, the Vienna Police convened a disciplinary hearing. Among the witnesses was Otto Frank, who testified that Silberbauer had “only done his duty and behaved correctly” during the arrest. Otto Frank added, however, “The only thing I ask is not to have to see the man again.”
As a result, the police review board exonerated Silberbauer of any official guilt. His unpaid suspension was lifted and the Vienna police assigned him to a desk job in the “Identification Office”, or Erkennungsamt. The role of Silberbauer is considered smaller than it actually was. One of his bosses was the SD man, Willy Paul Franz Lages (one of the four from Breda) who left a lot to Silberbauer. Silberbauer was charged with tracking down Jews, their helpers and English fliers and their helpers. Lages then signed all transport and execution orders, but Silberbauer mainly acted on its own.The fact that his capacities did not go unnoticed turned out, after the war, from the fact that he quickly started working as a secret agent and had the task of tracking down criminals and bringing them to justice. Unmistakably, ‘hunting’ was one of Silberbauer’s greatest abilities.
Willy Paul Franz Lages was the German chief of the Sicherheitsdienst in Amsterdam during the Second World War. From March 1941 he led the so-called Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung (Central Bureau for the Jewish Emigration). As such he was responsible for the deportation of Dutch Jews to the concentration camps in Germany and occupied Poland.
Lages was sentenced to life in prison in the Netherlands. He was imprisoned in Breda, along with Joseph Kotälla, Ferdinand aus der Fünten and Franz Fischer (the “Vier van Breda”/”The Breda Four” group). In 1966 he was released from prison for humanitarian reasons as he appeared to be seriously ill. The decision taken by the minister of justice Ivo Samkalden provoked a public outcry.
Lages was sentenced to life in prison in the Netherlands. He was imprisoned in Breda, along with SS Oberscharführer Joseph Kotälla, SS Hauptsturmführer Ferdinand aus der Fünten and SS Sturmscharführer Franz Fischer (the “Vier van Breda”/”The Breda Four” group). In 1966 he was released from prison for humanitarian reasons as he appeared to be seriously ill. The decision taken by the minister of justice Ivo Samkalden provoked a public outcry. Lages received medical treatment in Germany after which he lived for another five years until 02-04-1971, age 70..
Death and burial ground of Silberbauer, Karl Josef.
Inspektor Karl Joseph Silberbauer died in Vienna on 02-09-1972, at the age of 61 and is buried on the Cemetery Mauer, Friedensstrasse in Vienna. Radek Hroch from the Czech Republic sent me kindly the grave pictures. On 11-01-2010, Miep Gies died in Hoorn after suffering from a fall. She outlived her husband, Jan Gies, by 17 years. She was survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Paul and Lucie, and her three grandchildren, Erwin, Jeanine, and David.