The Third Reich, which lasted from 1933 to 1945, was one of the most, if not the evilest regime in history.
It attracted some of the most wicked characters who, given unprecedented power over life and death, made the killing of millions of people into state policy.
Some of the most infamous and evil Nazis that were responsible for the Holocaust include:
In December 1944, Kramer was transferred from Birkenau to Bergen-Belsen. Belsen had originally served as a temporary camp for those leaving Germany, but during the war had been expanded to serve as a convalescent depot for the ill and displaced people from across northwest Europe. Although it had no gas chambers, Kramer’s rule was so harsh that he became known as the “Beast of Belsen.”
With the collapse of administration and many guards fleeing to escape retribution, roll calls were stopped, and the inmates were left to their own devices. Corpses rotted everywhere, and rats attacked the living too weak to fight them off.
Kramer remained even when the British arrived to liberate the camp, and took them on a tour of the camp to inspect the “scenes”. Piles of corpses lay all over the camp; mass graves were filled in, and the huts were filled with prisoners in every stage of emaciation and disease.
He was convicted after the war and hanged in Hameln prison.
In 1937, she came to Buchenwald when her husband was made Commandant. While at Buchenwald, Koch engaged in a gruesome experiment when she ordered selected tattooed prisoners to be murdered and skinned to retrieve the parts of their tattooed bodies.
Ilse Koch remained at Buchenwald until 24 August 1943.
Goring was a veteran of World War I and was the head of the Luftwaffe and founder of the Gestapo. He stole millions of dollars worth of Jewish art and amassed a personal fortune. He took part in the beer hall putsch in 1923. After being shot in the groin, he became addicted to morphine.
After helping Adolf Hitler take power in 1933, he became the second-most powerful man in Germany. He founded the Gestapo in 1933 but later gave command of it to Heinrich Himmler.
In July 1941, Göring issued a memo to Reinhard Heydrich ordering him to organize the practical details of a solution to the “Jewish Question”. By the time that this letter was written, many Jews and others had already been killed in Poland, Russia, and elsewhere. At the Wannsee Conference, held six months later, Heydrich formally announced that genocide of the Jews of Europe was now official Reich policy. Göring did not attend the conference, but he was present at other meetings where the number of people killed was discussed.
Goring was the highest ranking defendant at the Nuremberg trials and was sentenced to hang. However, he committed suicide by taking cyanide the night before his hanging.
Goebbels was known for his public speaking and deep and virulent antisemitism, which led to his supporting the extermination of the Jews in the Holocaust.
After the Nazi Seizure of Power in 1933, Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry quickly gained and exerted controlling supervision over the news media, arts, and information in Germany. He was particularly adept at using the relatively new media of radio and film for propaganda purposes. Topics for party propaganda included antisemitism, attacks of the Christian churches, and attempting to shape morale.
As the war drew to a close and Nazi Germany faced defeat, Magda Goebbels and the Goebbels children joined him in Berlin. They moved into the underground Vorbunker, part of Hitler’s underground bunker complex, on 22 April 1945. Hitler committed suicide on 30 April. In accordance with Hitler’s will, Goebbels succeeded him as Chancellor of Germany; he served one day in this post. The following day, Goebbels and his wife committed suicide, after poisoning their six children.
Eichmann was mainly in charge of organizing the mass deportation of the Jews from all countries. He made sure they were all put into the ghettos and concentration camps. He was made a lieutenant colonel in the SS. Although the Jews had heard of Eichmann and the horrors he could carry out, he learned Hebrew to manipulate the Jews into an agreement to the mass deportations.
After World War II, he fled from Germany to Austria, and from there he fled to Argentina. However, he was captured in 1960 by an Israeli spy who worked for the Mossad. He was taken to Israel and executed by hanging in 1962 after a major, publicized trial.
Kaltenbrunner was born in Austria and was chief of security in the Third Reich. He replaced Reinhard Heydrich after he was killed by partisans. He was president of the RSHA, Reich Main Security Office from the years 1943-1945. He was given the duty to destroy any enemies that were within the Reich.
He was one of the main perpetrators of the Holocaust and was hanged after the Nuremberg trials on October 16, 1946, and was the highest ranked SS man to be hanged.
Stangle was born in Austria and was a commandant of the Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps. In 1940, Heinrich Himmler gave Stangl an order to become the superintendent of the T-4 Euthanasia Program.
This program was for mentally and physically handicapped people to be killed. Stangl once admitted that he had grown accustomed to killing Jews. He did not see prisoners as humans but as cargo. He began seeing them as cargo when another Jew asked how to dispose of the “garbage” (dead Jews).
Stangl ended up escaping Germany after the war and was arrested in Brazil in 1967. He was tried for the deaths of 900,000 people. He was given a life sentence and died in prison of heart failure in 1971.
Jeckeln was in charge of one of the largest collections of Einsatzgruppen. He, alone, was responsible for over 100,000 Jew deaths as well as the murder of Slavs, Roma, and other undesirables of the Third Reich.
Jeckeln used his methods to kill the large numbers of people; they were eventually called the Jeckeln System. It was primarily used during the Rumbula, Babi Yar, and Kamianets-Podilskyi Massacres.
At Rumbula, Jeckeln watched on both days of the massacre as 25,000 people were killed before him. Jeckeln proved to be an effective killer who cared nothing about murdering huge numbers of unarmed and even naked men, women, children and the elderly
After the war, he was tried and hanged in Russia on February 3, 1946.
Dirlewanger was a WWI veteran and led the SS Dirlewanger Brigade. The brigade was made up of some of the worst, most vicious criminals in the Reich. Dirlewanger raped two 13-year-old girls on separate occasions in the 1930s. He ended up losing his doctor title after being imprisoned.
He volunteered for the SS when WWII started and eventually was given his battalion. His unit was in charge of the operations against partisans in the Soviet Union. It is believed he and his soldiers tortured, raped, and murdered civilians – men, women, and children alike. It is also said that he fed female hostages strychnine and made soldiers watch them die for entertainment.
Dirlewanger was captured in a French hospital after he was injured leading his soldiers into battle. The French handed him to Poland, which then locked him up, beat him, and tortured him for several days. He ended up dying on June 5, 1945, from the injuries he endured from the Polish guards.
Blobel was in charge of Sonderkommando 4a of Einsatzgruppe C during the German invasion of Soviet Union. Following the troops into Ukraine, the Einsatzgruppen would have the responsibility of liquidating the political and racial undesirables.
One of the main massacres Blobel was in charge of was the Babi Yar in Kiev. There were almost 60,000 executions. At his trial, he admitted to having killed 10,000-15,000 people.
He was sentenced to death by the Nuremberg Military Tribunal during the Einsatzgruppen Trials. He was hanged in the Landsberg Prison on June 8, 1951.
Globocnik was a well-known Austrian Nazi and was later given the title of SS leader. He was responsible for the murders of millions of people during the Holocaust. He was mainly known for liquidating the Warsaw Ghetto, which at one time had over 500,000 Jews.
That ghetto happened to be one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe and the second in the world, with New York being the first. He also liquidated the Bialystok Ghetto, which stood out for its resistance to German occupation. He was in charge of the supervision of the Lublin Ghetto to where 95,000 Jews were deported. Adjacent to the reservation was a network of labor camps, and thus, he was also in charge of over 45,000 Jewish laborers.
A few days after being captured he committed suicide by cyanide, which he had hidden in a capsule inside his mouth.
Heydrich was the Protector of Bohemia and Moravia. In August 1940, he was given the job of President of RSHA, Reich Main Security Office.
In October 1941, Heydrich was the senior officer at a “Final Solution” meeting of the RHSA in Prague that discussed deporting 50,000 Jews from the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia to ghettos in Minsk and Riga. Given his position, Heydrich was instrumental in carrying out these plans since his Gestapo was ready to organize deportations in the West and his Einsatzgruppen were already conducting extensive killing operations in the East.
He also chaired the 1942 Wannsee Conference, which discussed the deportation and extermination of all Jews on German territory.
He was given the unofficial title of the mastermind of the Holocaust. Heydrich was attacked in Prague on 27 May 1942 by a British-trained team of Czech and Slovak soldiers who had been sent by the Czechoslovak government-in-exile to kill him. He died from his injuries a week later.
After Heydrich’s death, the policies formalized at the Wannsee conference he chaired were carried out. The first three true death camps, designed for mass killing with no legal process or pretext, were built and operated at Treblinka, Sobibór, and Bełżec. The project was named Operation Reinhard after Heydrich.
Mengele gained his “fame” by being one of the SS physicians who supervised the transporting of prisoners. He also was the one who had the final say in determining who would be killed and who would be forced into labor.
He is most known for all of the terrible experimentation done on the prisoners. After he had begun doing the experiments, he was given the name of Angel of Death. When a hospital reported that every one of the prisoners had lice, he decided to gas all of the 750 women who had it.
Mengele used Auschwitz to continue his research and used the prisoners to test out his theory of heredity. He took a particular interest in identical twins. One particular experiment included taking out one twin’s eyeballs and putting them in the other, and vice versa. He also injected different colors into children’s eyes, amputated limbs, and performed other horrible surgeries.
He ended up surviving the war and hiding in Germany. He eventually fled to South America where he lived out his life, uncaptured.
Adolf Hitler was the leader of the Nazi Party (NSDAP); he was the Führer, dictator, of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945. He was at the center of World War II in Europe and the Holocaust.
Hitler sought Lebensraum (“living space”) for the German people. His aggressive foreign policy is considered to be the primary cause of the outbreak of World War II in Europe. He directed large-scale rearmament and on 1 September 1939 invaded Poland, resulting in British and French declarations of war on Germany. In June 1941, Hitler ordered an invasion of the Soviet Union.
Under Hitler’s leadership and racially motivated ideology, the Nazi regime was responsible for the genocide of at least 5.5 million Jews and millions of other victims whom he and his followers deemed sub-humans and socially undesirable. Hitler and the Nazi regime were also responsible for the killing of an estimated 19.3 million civilians and prisoners of war. Also, 29 million soldiers and civilians died as a result of military action in the European Theatre of World War II. The number of civilians killed during the Second World War was unprecedented in warfare and constitutes the deadliest conflict in human history.
On 30 April 1945, he committed suicide to avoid capture by the Red Army, and his corpse was burned.
Although many believe Hitler to be the biggest mass murderer of the Holocaust, Himmler was worse. It is believed that the Holocaust would not have even happened if it had not been for Himmler.
Himmler was a main architect of the Holocaust, using his deep belief in the racist Nazi ideology to justify the murder of millions of victims.
On Hitler’s behalf, Himmler formed the Einsatzgruppen and built extermination camps. After Heydrich was killed, Himmler took over leadership of the RSHA and stepped up the pace of the killing of Jews in Operation Reinhard, named in Heydrich’s honor. He ordered the Aktion Reinhard camps—the first extermination camps—to be constructed at Bełżec, Sobibór, and Treblinka.
Thus, as facilitator and overseer of the concentration camps, Himmler directed the killing of some six million Jews, between 200,000 and 500,000 Romani people, and other victims; the total number of civilians killed by the regime is estimated at eleven to fourteen million people. Most of them were Polish and Soviet citizens.
The Nazis wanted to breed a master race of racially pure Nordic Aryans in Germany. As an agronomist and farmer, Himmler was acquainted with the principles of selective breeding, which he proposed to apply to humans. He believed that he could engineer the German populace, for example, through eugenics, to be Nordic in appearance within several decades of the end of the war.
Himmler was captured after the war, and when he unsuccessfully tried to negotiate with the West, he was shocked to be treated as a criminal.
He ended up committing suicide by cyanide he had hidden.
Image source: Wikipedia / Bundesarchiv