Theodor Heinrich Bongartz, born 25-December 1902 in Krefeld, was a German SS Oberscharführer supreme leader and head of the Crematorium in the Dachau concentration camp, responsible for the killing of many prisoners, including Georg Elser, a German carpenter who tried a bomb attack on Adolf Hitler.
Theodor Bongartz was trained as a plasterer and worked as such from 1922 to 1930 in Krefeld. After passing the master’s examination, he entered the SA in 1928 and the SS in 1932 and NSDAP (member number 1.270.287). Subsequently, he worked as a heater and a machinist at Krefeld’s Army District Administration. In November 1939 he became a member of the Brünner Totenkopf-Standarte . From 1940 he belonged to the commandant staff of the Dachau concentration camp and was first employed at the guard battalion. He then directed the Krematorium Command in Dachau Concentration Camp. Bongartz’s wife, with whom he had four daughters, committed suicide in 1941.
On 9 April 1945 around 23:00 Bongartz assassinated the Hitler assassin Georg Elser by a neck shot. The order was issued personally by Adolf Hitler; it should look as if Elser had perished in an air attack.
Another victim was the Dachau doctor Dr Sigmund Rascher, who was executed by Bongartz. Mrs. Rascher was arrested while attempting to kidnap a baby and an investigation revealed that her other three children had been either purchased or kidnapped. Himmler felt betrayed by this conduct, and Rascher was arrested in April 1944. He and other prisoners were then taken to Dachau where Rascher was executed by SS-Oberscharführer Theodor Heinrich Bongartz on 26 April 1945, three days before the camp was liberated by American troops.
After the march of the prisoners in five murders and the explosion of the crematorium, Bongartz, disguised as a military sergeant, took flight with the other SS men of the Dachau concentration camp on 28 April 1945 to escape from the advancing US army. He was, however, discovered by US soldiers in Wurttemberg and taken to the prisoner of war in Heilbronn-Böckingen. Bongartz died there on May 15, 1945. The cause of death is officially called tuberculosis, but Bongartz may have been affected by hepatitis or liver cirrhosis.
His gravestone at the Kriegsgräberstätte at Heilbronn-Böckingen cemetery was removed from the administration in 2001 and has been in the Georg-Elser-Gedenkstätte Königsbronn since 2008.