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Helmut Knochen

Helmut Knochen
Born 14 March 1910 (2010-03-14T19:10)
Died 4 April 2003 (2010-04-04T20:04)
Motive Nazism
Conviction(s) War crimes
Penalty Sentenced to death by hanging, commuted to life imprison, released 1958.
Occupation Nazi official.

Helmut Knochen (March 14, 1910 – April 4, 2003) was the senior commander of the Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police) and Sicherheitsdienst in Paris during the Nazi occupation of France during the World War II.


Early life

He was born in Magdeburg, Germany. Before joining the Nazi Party in 1932, he worked as a teacher and editor.

Nazi career

In 1936, he joined the SS and became involved in the SD administration. In 1940, he was appointed the senior commander of security in Paris. In 1942, the jurisdiction under his control stretched from northern France to Belgium. He was promoted to the rank of Standartenführer in the same year. Knochen was involved in the deportation of French Jews to concentration camps and was responsible for the execution of thousands of Frenchmen.

On the plot to assassinate Hitler of July 20, 1944, together with the top security man in Paris, Karl Oberg, he was arrested by Army troops under the command of Paris military governor, General Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel. He was released after the coup collapsed. Following the liberation of Paris, Knochen was transferred to the 1st SS Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler.

Post-war trials, sentences, and reprieve

In June 1946, a British Military Tribunal sentenced Knochen to death for the murder of British pilots. However, the sentence was never carried out. He was extradited to France in 1954 and sentenced to death. The sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. After presidential pardon gotten in 1958, Knochen was released on Nov. 28 1962 by President Charles de Gaulle, simultaneously with his former chief Gal Carl Oberg. Back to Germany he retired to Baden-Baden and died free in 2003. Knochen himself appeared in the documentary film L'oeil de Vichy, (The Eyes of Vichy), directed by Claude Chabrol. [1]

Cultural portrayal

Helmut Knochen is a character in Jonathan Littell's Les Bienveillantes, where he has a meeting with the main character Maximilian Aue.



  • (German) Brunner, Bernhard, Der Frankreich-Komplex. Die nationalsozialistischen Verbrechen in Frankreich und die Justiz der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Wallstein, Göttingen 2004, ISBN 3-89244-693-8
  • (German) Klee, Ernst, Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Zweite aktualisierte Auflage, Frankfurt am Main 2005, S. 320.
  • (French) Moisel, Claudia, La France et les criminels de guerre allemands. Politique et pratique de la poursuite pénale après la deuxième guerre mondiale, Éd. Norbert, 2004, ISBN 3-89244-749-7.
  • (French) Magazine Historia, N° 337, décembre 1974 par Philippe Aziz.
  • (French) Magazine Historia, Hors Série N° 20, 1971, Les SS. 1 - L'ordre noir.
  • (French) Magazine Historia, Hors Série N° 26, 1972, par Serge Klarsfeld.
  • (French) Magazine Historia, Hors Série N° 27, 1972, La Gestapo en France. 2.
  • L'oeil de Vichy, (The Eyes of Vichy), documentary film directed by Claude Chabrol, L'oeil de Vichy at the Internet Movie Database
  • (French) Delarue, Jacques, SS et Gestapo s'imposent à la Wehrmacht, in Le Journal de la France de l'occupation à la libération, les années 40, Historia-Tallandier, n° 47, p. 1289-1290.

External links

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