Franz Stangl: Wikis

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Franz Stangl
March 26, 1908(1908-03-26) – June 28, 1971 (aged 63)
Franz Stangl.jpg

Franz Stangl
Place of birth Altmünster, Austria
Place of death Düsseldorf, West Germany
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Flag Schutzstaffel.svg Schutzstaffel
Rank Obersturmführer, SS
Commands held Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps

Franz Stangl (March 26, 1908 – June 28, 1971) was a commandant of the Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps in the rank of SS-Obersturmführer.[1]

Contents

Biography

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Early life

The son of a night watchman, he was born in Altmünster, Austria. His relationship with his natural father was not a good one; he was deeply frightened by his father, who Stangl claimed died of malnutrition in 1916. Through this relationship, Stangl claimed that he developed a "hate" for his father's Dragoon uniform. He learned to play the zither and earned money giving zither lessons.

In his teens he secured an apprenticeship as a weaver and became a master weaver by age 23. Concerned that his career as a weaver offered few opportunities for advancement and having observed the poor health of his co-worker, Stangl looked for a new career. He was accepted into the Austrian police service. Later, he claimed that he liked the security and cleanliness that the Austrian police uniforms appeared to offer.

Early Nazi affiliation

After leaving his job as a weaver, Stangl joined the Austrian police and became a member of the illegal NSDAP in 1931.[2] Stangl claimed later that he had not been a member but that his name had been entered on the list later as a way to avoid arrest after the Germans had seized power in the Anschluss in 1938. Stangl also contributed to a Nazi aid fund at the time; he said that he was misled in terms of what the funds were for.

Stangl was promoted up the ranks of the German/Austrian police force, on the way pressured to sign documents acknowledging his dissolution of his affiliation with the Catholic Church. The organisation also appointed new men right up the top, arresting and mistreating old leaders of the Austrian civilian police force.

Superintendent of T-4 Euthanasia Program

After Anschluss, Stangl was quickly promoted further through the ranks. In 1940, through a direct order from Heinrich Himmler, Stangl became superintendent of the T-4 Euthanasia Program at the Euthanasia Institute at Schloss Hartheim where mentally and physically handicapped people were sent to be killed. It was here that Stangl first encountered Christian Wirth.

In 1942, he was transferred to Poland where he worked under Odilo Globocnik.

Commandant of Sobibor camp

Stangl was commandant of Sobibor extermination camp from March to September 1942. Stangl claimed that Globocnik told him that Sobibor was a supply camp for the army, and that the true nature of the camp only became known to him when he discovered a gas chamber hidden in the woods. He said, later Globocnik advised him that if the Jews "were not working hard enough" Stangl was fully permitted to kill them off and that Globocnik would send in the "new ones".

Around this time Stangl also had further dealings with Wirth, who was at the time running fully operational camps at Belzec and Chelmno. On either May 16 or May 18, 1942, Sobibor became fully operational. While Stangl was the administrator, around 100,000 Jews are believed to have been killed there until the machinery broke down in October, by which time Stangl had left.

During the time he was at Sobibor, his wife heard about what was happening there, and questioned him. Stangl allegedly told her, "you know this is a service matter and I can’t discuss it. All I can tell you, and you must believe me: whatever is wrong—I have nothing to do with it."

Commandant of Treblinka camp

KZ Treblinka, by Franz Stangl

In September 1942 Stangl began his role as the Kommandanten of the Treblinka extermination camp. During his time at Treblinka, Stangl grew accustomed to the killings, even eventually regarding the Jewish prisoners as "cargo". He is quoted as saying, "I remember [Christian] Wirth standing there, next to the pits full of black-blue corpses.... Wirth said 'what shall we do with rotting garbage?' I think unconsciously that started me thinking of them as cargo." At about this time, Stangl began drinking heavily.

Post-war escape

At the end of the war, Stangl concealed his identity and, although detained by the American Army in 1945 and briefly imprisoned in Austria for his complicity in the Euthanasia program, he escaped to Italy with his colleague from Sobibor, SS officer Gustav Wagner. Catholic Bishop Aloïs Hudal, a Nazi sympathizer, helped him to escape through a "ratline" and reach Syria on a Red Cross passport.[3] Hudal's activities caused a press scandal in 1947, and he resigned in 1951, residing in Rome until his death in 1963. Stangl was joined by his wife and family and lived in Syria for three years before moving to Brazil in 1951. After years of other jobs, Stangl found work at the Volkswagen plant in São Bernardo do Campo (SP) with the help of friends, still using his own name.

Arrest, trial and death

His role in the mass murder of men, women and children was known to the Austrian authorities but Austria did not issue a warrant for Stangl's arrest until 1961. In spite of his registration under his real name at the Austrian consulate in Brazil,[4] it took another six years before he was tracked down by Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal and arrested by Brazilian federal police. He never used an assumed name during his escape, and it is not clear why it took so long to apprehend him. His ex-son-in-law may have informed Wiesenthal of Stangl's presence in Brazil.

After extradition to West Germany by Brazilian federal justice, he was tried for the deaths of around 900,000 people. He admitted to these killings but argued: "My conscience is clear. I was simply doing my duty ...". The philosopher John Kekes discusses Stangl and the degree of his responsibility for war crimes in chapter 4 of his book, The Roots of Evil.[5] Found guilty on October 22, 1970, Stangl was sentenced to life imprisonment. He died of heart failure in Düsseldorf prison on June 28, 1971.

References and footnotes

  1. ^ Yad Vashem: History of Sobibor Retrieved on 2009-04-09
  2. ^ "SOME SIGNIFICANT CASE - Franz Stangl". Simon Wiesenthal Archiv. Simon Wiesenthal Center. http://www.simon-wiesenthal-archiv.at/02_dokuzentrum/02_faelle/e02_stangl.html. Retrieved 2009-11-30.  
  3. ^ Michael Phayer, The Catholic Church and the Holocaust
  4. ^ Sereny, Gitta Into That Darkness: from Mercy Killing to Mass Murder, a study of Franz Stangl, the commandant of Treblinka 1974
  5. ^ Kekes, John. Roots of Evil.

All quotes taken from Into that Darkness, 1974, by Gitta Sereny. Franz Stangl was interviewed by her while in prison in 1970.

Bibliography

See also

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Franz Stangl (March 26, 1908June 28, 1971) was an SS officer, commandant of the Sobibór and of Treblinka extermination camp. His role in the mass murder of men, women and children was known to the Austrian authorities but Austria did not issue a warrant for Stangl's arrest until 1961. In spite of his registration under his real name at the Austrian consulate in Brazil, it took another six years before he was tracked down by Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal and arrested in Brazil. After extradition to West Germany he was tried for the deaths of around 900,000 people. He admitted to these killings and was found guilty on October 22, 1970. Stangl was sentenced to life imprisonment. He died of heart failure in Düsseldorf prison on June 28, 1971.

Sourced

  • My guilt is that I am still here...I should have died. That is my guilt.
    • Quoted in "Into that Darkness: From Mercy Killing to Mass Murder" - Page 364 - by Gitta Sereny - History
  • I rarely saw them as individuals. It was always a huge mass...they were naked, packed together, running, being driven with whips.
    • When asked how he felt about the execution of children. Quoted in "The Healing Wound: Experiences and Reflections on Germany" - Page 125 - by Gitta Sereny - History - 2001
  • No, no, no. This was the system. Wirth had invented it. It worked. And because it worked, it was irreversible.
    • When asked if he could have gone against his orders. Quoted in "The Healing Wound: Experiences and Reflections on Germany" - Page 125 - by Gitta Sereny - History - 2001
  • Cargo. They were cargo. I think it started the day I first saw the Totenlager in Treblinka. I remember Wirth standing there, next to the pits full of blue-black corpses. It had nothing to do with humanity-it couldn't have; it was a mass-a mass of rotting flesh. Wirth said, 'What shall we do with this garbage?' I think unconsciously that started me thinking of them as cargo.
    • About the victims. Quoted in "Good and Evil After Auschwitz: Ethical Implications for Today" - Page 96 - by Jack Bemporad, John Pawlikowski, Joseph Sievers - History - 2000
  • He was a Dragoner (one of the imperial elite regiments). Our lives were run on regimental lines. I was scared to death of him.
    • About his father. Quoted in "The Healing Wound: Experiences and Reflections on Germany" - Page 96 - by Gitta Sereny - History - 2001
  • My conscience is clear. I was simply doing my duty...
    • Quoted in "The Bormann Brotherhood" - Page 182 - by William Stevenson - 1973

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