SS Standartenführer Hilmar Wäckerle the first commandant of Dachau concentration camp.


Hilmar Wäckerle, born 24-11-1899 in Forchheim, was a commander in the Waffen-SS  of Nazi Germany during World War II. He  was the first commandant of Dachau concentration camp.

The son of a Munich notary public, Wäckerle was sent to the Bavarian Army officer school at the age of 14 in order to pursue his chosen career. Having completed his three years as a cadet he was assigned to the Bavarian Infantry Battalion  in August 1917 and by the following year was a Sergeant on the Western Front. Adolf Hitler as a corporal in the 18th Bavarian Infantry Regiment   Seriously wounded  in September 1918 Wäckerle was not able to return to the front before the armistice and as such his chance to matriculate and become an officer was lost.

Unable to continue in the army, Wäckerle enrolled in the Technical University Munich to study agriculture. Like his classmate Heinrich Himmler he joined the anti-communist Freikorps Oberland   and was an early member of the Nazi Party. Wäckerle was present during the Beer Hall Putsch, as well as the January 1924 assassination attempt on Franz Josef Heinz,  the prime minister of the French-administered Saar. After his graduation aged 25, Wäckerle scaled back his direct involvement in Nazi politics to become manager of a cattle ranch. He rejoined the Nazi Party  in 1925, however, following its reorganisation and he regularly attended party rallies whilst also helping to draft Nazi agricultural policy. He also signed up with the SS volunteer regiment based in Kempten.

In 1933 he was picked by his old ally Himmler to be commandant of the newly established Dachau concentration camp. When the Dachau camp was first opened on 22-03-1933, the guards were police officers with the Munich police, but after only a few weeks, SS soldiers were assigned to guard duty in the camp. Under orders from Himmler, he established ‘special’ rules for dealing with prisoners, ruled that instituted terror as a way of life at the camp. His initiatives included execution of prisoners for ‘violent insubordination’ and ‘incitement to disobedience'[8] for which he was charged criminally. He left the post a few months later, with Theodor Eicke taking his place.

He was an early member of the units that became the Waffen-SS and finally got to be an officer with this group, serving in the Netherlands. He led his SS-battalion during the breakthrough of the Dutch Grebbe-line and was wounded in the process  . He also served in the Soviet Union. His service was spent with the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking, under command of SS Obergruppenführer Felix Martin Steiner.  Wäckerle had reached the rank of Standartenführer by the time he was killed in action near Lviv on 02-07-1941, age 41.

Following Wäckerle’s death, his widow Elfriede moved in with another man, instead of mourning her dead husband. Outraged by this break from protocol, Himmler had the man sent to a concentration camp.

SS Obergruppenführer Theodor Eicke , became the second Commandant at Dachau in 1933  

SS Oberführer Heinrich Deubel  replaced Theodor Eicke as the Commandant of Dachau, but was dismissed after a few months for being too lenient with the prisoners. Deubel survived the war, was interned until 1948 although ultimately no charges were brought against him. He died age 72 on 02-10-1962 in Dingolfing.

Heinrich Deubel was replaced by SS Standartenführer Hermann Baranowski  Baranowsky survived the war and died age 55 on 05-02-1940 after a long illness.

SS Oberführer Hans Loritz  was the 5th Commandant of Dachau, replacing Baranowski. After he was captured by the Allies, he committed suicide on 31-01-1946, age 50, before he could be put on trial.