Rudolf Lange: Wikis


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Rudolf Lange
November 18, 1910 – February 23, 1945
Rudolf Lange
Place of birth Weißwasser, Prussian Silesia
Place of death uncertain, but said to be Posen, West Prussia
Service/branch Schutzstaffel and Sicherheitsdienst
Rank Standartenführer (Colonel)
Commands held Einsatzgruppe A
Other work One of the persons most responsible for carrying out The Holocaust in Latvia.

Rudolf Lange (18 April 1910 – 23 February 1945) was a prominent Nazi official. He served as commander of the SD and SIPO in Riga, Latvia. He participated in the Wannsee Conference, and was largely responsible for implementing the extermination of Latvia's Jewish population (Einsatzgruppe A killed over 250,000 people in little less than six months).


Early life and career

Lange was born in Weißwasser, Prussian Silesia, in 1910. He studied law and became a member of the Gestapo. He joined the SS and NSDAP in 1937. He then served for a time as deputy head of police for Berlin.


Lange was said to have been a favorite student of Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Himmler.[1] He demanded unconditional obedience from his subordinates.[1] Joseph Berman, a survivor of one of the concentration camps administered by Lange, described him as follows:

As far as Lange is concerned, he was the biggest murderer I have ever known. To write a book about him would definitely not be enough. As he is dead, it is no use talking about him. I would, however, mention that he was one of the most notorious anti-Semites in the twentieth century. He hated Jews so much that he could not look at them; one never wanted to pass him either in the motor pool or anywhere else.[2]

Mass murder in Latvia

In 1941, Lange was Sturmbannführer in the SS (Major).

Lange was a Teilkommando (detachment) leader in Einsatzkommando 2, or EK2.[1] Lange was one of the few people to be aware of the Führerbefehl or "fundamental orders" for the so-called "Jewish problem" in Latvia.[3] According to Lange himself:

From the very beginning, the goal of EK2 was that radical solution of the Jewish problem by killing all Jews.[4]

On December 3, 1941, he was promoted to command all of EK2, replacing Eduard Strauch.[1] At the same time, Lange was also the chief of the Nazi Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst or SD with the title Kommandant des Sicherheitsdienst, or KdS. Lange was in charge of Department IV of the SD in Latvia.[1] Department IV of the SD was the "hub of the whole SD organization in Latvia, the other departments served it."[5] Matters of formal rank and titles were never clear in the Nazi occupation regime for Latvia, as the lines of authority within agencies, and the relationship between one agency and others, was "ambiguous, overlapping, and unclear".[5] Nevertheless, Lange is widely recognized as one of the primary perpetrators of the Holocaust in Latvia.[6]

His headquarters was in Riga, on Reimersa street.[7] From the very beginning of his involvement in Latvia, Lange gave orders to squads of Latvians whom the Germans had organized to carry out massacres in the smaller cities, such as the Arājs commando.[1] According to one historian Victors Arājs was "held on a short leash" by Lange.[8] Another local organization receiving orders from Lange was the so-called Vagulāns commando, which was responsible for the Jelgava massacres in July and August, 1941.[9]

Lange also personally supervised executions conducted by the Arājs commando.[10] He appears to have ordered that all the SD officers should personally participate in the killings.[11]

Lange was responsible for the Latvian part of the decision by the Nazi regime to deport Jews from Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia to Riga. In this connection, on November 8, 1941, he issued detailed orders to Hinrich Lohse, who was ostensibly the ruler of Latvia in his capacity as "Reichskommissar Ostland", regarding the transport of 50,000 Jews to the East, with 25,000 going to Riga and 25,000 to Belarus. At the same time, Lange was organizing the construction of the Salaspils concentration camp, originally intended to accommodate these deportees.[6] Because the Salaspils camp would not be ready by the time the Jews would arrive, Lange made the decision to sent the transports to an abandoned estate near Riga called Jungfernhof or Jumpravmuiza, which would be set up as an improvised concentration camp.[12][6]

In November 1941 Lange was deeply involved in the planning and carrying out the murder of 24,000 Latvian Jews from the Riga ghetto which occurred on November 30 and December 8, 1941.[6] This crime has come to be known as the Rumbula massacre.[13] In addition to the Latvian Jews, another 1,000 Jews from Germany were also murdered. They had been brought to Latvia on the first train of deportees, which arrived on November 29, 1941. Following the November 29 train, more rail transports of Jews began arriving in Riga from Germany began arriving, starting on December 3, 1941. The Jews on the first few transports were not immediately housed in the ghetto, but rather they were left at a Jungfernhof concentration camp.[14]

Due to his role in Latvia, Lange was called to the Wannsee Conference in January 1942.[6]

Lange made himself one of the most feared officials among those responsible for the Riga ghetto.[15] Lange supervised the arrival of the transports in Riga, aided by Obersturmbannführer Gerhard Maywald, whom historian Gertrude Schneider, herself a survivor of the Riga ghetto, describes as Lange's "sidekick".[14] Lange personally shot a young man, Werner Koppel, whom he felt was not opening a rail car door fast enough.[14] Scheider described Lange's appearance:

Even though he was somewhat smaller and darker than the blond, blue-eyed Maywald, he looked very handsome in his fur-collared uniform coat and seemed every inch and officer and a gentleman. It never occurred to the newcomers to suspect such a man of being a murderer.[16]

In May 1942, Lange issued orders to Obersturmführer Günter Tabbert to murder the surviving Jews in the Daugavpils ghetto. Only about 450 Jews survived in Daugavpils after this action, which involved among others the killing of the sick, children (including infants) and hospital workers. In addition to Tabbert, the Arājs commando of native Latvians was responsible for a major part of these killings.[17]

In 1942, Lange became a Obersturmbannführer (Lt. Colonel) in the head office in Riga until 1945, when he became Head of Reichsgau Wartheland's SD and SIPO. He was promoted to Standartenführer (Colonel) in the SS in 1945.


Lange was said to be killed in action in Posen, West Prussia in February 1945; he may have committed suicide, but records are unclear. He was one of the few SS officers to receive the German Cross in Gold medal on 6 February 1945[18].

Fictional portrayal

In the 2001 HBO film Conspiracy, he was played by Barnaby Kay.[19]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at pages 147-151.
  2. ^ Berman, Joseph, Yad Vashem deposition 02/870, as quoted in Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at page 147.
  3. ^ Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at page 207/
  4. ^ Krausnik, Helmet, and Wilhelm, Hans-Heinrich, Die Truppe des Weltandschauungskrieges, at page 535, as quoted in Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at page 204
  5. ^ a b Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at pages 152 and 153.
  6. ^ a b c d e Lumans, Latvia in World War II, at pages 236, 249, 251, 253-255
  7. ^ Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at page 313.
  8. ^ Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at page 184
  9. ^ Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at pages 50 and 320.
  10. ^ Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at page 190.
  11. ^ Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at page 223.
  12. ^ Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at pages 352 to 356
  13. ^ Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at pages 243-247.
  14. ^ a b c Schneider, Journey into Terror, at pages 11 to 15.
  15. ^ Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at pages 322-321.
  16. ^ Schneider, Journey into Terror, at page 24.
  17. ^ Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at pages 279-280
  18. ^ Patzwall
  19. ^ Conspiracy at the Internet Movie Database


  • Ezergailis, Andrew, The Holocaust in Latvia 1941-1944 -- The Missing Center, Historical Institute of Latvia (in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) Riga 1996 ISBN 9984-9054-3-8
  • Lumans, Valdis O., Latvia in World War II, New York : Fordham University Press, 2006 ISBN 0823226271
  • (German) Patzwall, Klaus D. and Scherzer, Veit. Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 - 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II. Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall, 2001. ISBN 3-931533-45-X.
  • (German) Peter Klein: Dr. Rudolf Lange als Kommandant der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD in Lettland. Aspekte seines Dienstalltags, in Wolf Kaiser (Hrsg.): Täter im Vernichtungskrieg. Der Überfall auf die Sowjetunion und der Völkermord an den Juden. Propyläen-Verlag, 2002, ISBN 3-549-07161-2
  • Schneider, Gertrude, Journey into terror: story of the Riga Ghetto, Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 2001 ISBN 0275970507

External links

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