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Karl-Friedrich Höcker (11 December 1911 – 30 January 2000) was a SS-Obersturmführer (First Lieutenant) and the adjutant to Richard Baer, who was a commandant of the Auschwitz death camp.

The youngest of six children, Höcker was born in the village of Engershausen (now part of Preußisch Oldendorf), Germany. His father was a construction worker.

Following an apprenticeship as bank teller he worked at a bank in Lübbecke before being made redundant. After having been unemployed for two and a half years, he joined the SS in October 1933 and the Nazi Party in May 1937.

On 16 November 1939 he joined the 9th SS Infantry Regiment based at Danzig and, in 1940, became the adjutant to the commanding SS officer of Neuengamme concentration camp, Martin Gottfried Weiss. In 1942 Weiss was also commanding officer of Arbeitsdorf concentration camp with Höcker serving as his adjutant. Before being transferred in May 1943 to Majdanek concentration camp, again as adjutant to Weiss, Höcker followed a course at the SS military academy (Junkerschule) in Braunschweig. During the same period he also received some military training.

In 1943, he became the adjutant to the commandant at Majdanek-Lublin during the Operation Reinhardt mass deportations and murders. Afterward, he became adjunct to Baer, in 1944, who was previously deputy to WVHA (SS Main Economic-Administrative Office) chief Oswald Pohl in Berlin. Hoecker remained in Auschwitz until evacuation, when he was transferred to the Dora-Mittelbau camp along with Baer. The two men administered the camp until the Allies arrived. He used false papers to flee the camp and avoid being identified by the British when they captured him.

He married before the war and had a son and daughter during the war, with whom he was reunited after his release from a POW camp in 1946. Early in the 1960s he was apprehended by West German authorities in his hometown, where he was a bank official.

At his trial in Frankfurt, Höcker denied having participated in the selection of victims at Birkenau or having ever personally executed a prisoner. He was proved to have knowledge of the genocidal activities at the camp, but could not be proved to have played a direct part in them. In postwar trials, Höcker denied his involvement in the selection process. While accounts from survivors and other SS officers all but placed him there, no conclusive evidence could be located proving the claim, thus sparing him from a likely death sentence.

He was imprisoned for aiding and abetting over 1,000 murders, but was released in 1970 and was able to return to his bank post as a chief cashier.

In 2006, a photo album created by Höcker came to the attention of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; the album contains rare images of the life of German functionaries at Auschwitz while the camp remained in operation, including some of the few photos of Josef Mengele at Auschwitz.


{"Nazi Scrapbooks from Hell" National Geographic Channel 11/30/08}

Hoecker died in 2000, still claiming that he had nothing to do with the death camp at Birkenau. During his final statement at the Frankfurt Trial in 1965, he said, “I only learned about the events in Birkenau…in the course of time I was there… and I had nothing to do that. I had no ability to influence these events in any way…neither did I want them, nor carry them out. I didn’t hurt anybody…and neither did any one die at Auschwitz because of me.” Hoecker had testified that he never set foot on the ramp during the selection process, despite one survivor recalling an officer with the surname Hoecker being present on the ramp.

In the fall of 2007, photographs of Hoecker, his measurements, and a photograph from the Auschwitz Album were compared by experts. The goal was to determine whether a man depicted on the train ramp was Hoecker. The man stood with his back to the camera; however, if modern investigative techniques could discern Hoecker was indeed this man, his previous testimony would be stricken as false. The photographs showed extremely similar measurements—i.e., size of head, length of forearm and inseam, width of waist and shoulders, and height of knees. Further measurements of the actual Auschwitz ramp remnants were added into the computer model. This allowed for a 3-D study to ascertain the exact height of the man photographed on the ramp. The unknown man had the same height measurement as Hoecker. The experts concluded the unknown man photographed was Karl Hoecker. However, the show also pointed out that the unknown man in the photograph appeared to be wearing a Tech Sergeants uniform instead of that of an Obersturmführer like Karl Hoecker. While the show pointed out that Hoecker could have been wearing a different uniform, it seems unlikely, due to the notoriously strict nature of the SS.


Sources

"Nazi Scrapbooks from Hell" National Geographic Channel 11/30/08 http://isurvived.org/2Postings/karl_hoecker.html

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