Glossary of Names
For information about Righteous Gentiles, please see The Righteous During the Holocaust.
Bormann, Martin (1900-1945)
A close associate of Hitler, Bormann was appointed chief of staff of Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy, in 1933. After Hess fled to Great Britain in 1941, Bormann became head of the Party Chancellory and Hitler's secretary in 1943. In this position he was involved in matters pertaining to the Holocaust such as the euthanasia program, forced labor programs and signing deportation orders. Bormann died as he tried to flee Berlin during the last days of World War II, but at the time was thought to still be alive. He was then tried in absentia at Nuremberg and sentenced to death.
Brandt, Karl (1904-1948)
A member of the SS and a medical doctor, Brandt became Hitler's personal physician in1934. Brandt was one of two (the other being Phillipp Bouhler) whom Hitler placed in charge of the T4 (euthanasia) program in the fall of 1939. In 1942, Brandt was also appointed Reich Commissioner for Health and Sanitation. On May 23, 1945 he was placed under house arrest by the British. He was tried at the Doctors' Trial, charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity and executed on June 2, 1948.
Dönitz, Karl (1891-1980)
A career naval officer, Dönitz was a submarine officer in the Kriegsmarine [German Navy] at the outbreak of World War II and became Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine in January 1943. Following Adolf Hitler's suicide on April 30, 1945, Donitz succeeded Hitler as the German head of state. On May 7, he ordered Alfred Jodl to sign the Allied terms for Germany's surrender, thereby ending World War II in Europe. Dönitz was convicted of planning, initiating and waging a war of aggression and crimes against the laws of war at Nuremberg and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Eichmann, Adolf (1906-1962)
Lieutenant-colonel and head of the "Jewish Section" of the Gestapo. Instrumental in implementing the Final Solution, organizing the transportation of Jews from all over Europe to the death and concentration camps. He participated in the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942, during which the program for the extermination of the Jews was organized. Eichmann was arrested at the end of World War II in the American zone, but escaped, went underground and disappeared. On May 11, 1960, members of the Israeli Secret Service discovered him living in Argentina, captured him and smuggled him to Israel. Under intense international scrutiny, he was tried in Jerusalem (between April and December 1961), convicted and sentenced to death. He was executed on May 31, 1962.
Eicke, Theodor (1892-1943)
Eicke joined the Nazi party and the SA in 1928. He transferred to the SS in 1930. Appointed commandant of Dachau in 1933, Eicke later became the Inspector of Concentration Camps, and instituted a reorganization of the camp system. He was known for his cruel treatment of prisoners, which became the norm in concentration camps. In 1939 Eicke was given command of the Death's Head division of the Waffen-SS. He was killed on the eastern front on February 16, 1943.
Frank, Hans (1900-1946)
The legal expert of the Nazi party and Hitler's personal legal adviser, Frank was an early supporter of Hitler and participated in the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. He served as Governer General of the Generalgouvernement in Poland from 1939-1945 and as such he controlled Europe's largest Jewish population and oversaw the Nazis' major killing centers. When tried at Nuremberg, he admitted his guilt:"a thousand years will pass" he said, "and still this guilt of Germany will not have been erased." Frank was sentenced to death and hanged on October 16, 1946.
Ganzenmüller, Albert (1905-1996)
While secretary of the Reich Transportation Ministry from 1942-1945, Ganzenmüller was responsible for overseeing the German railway system and directly involved in the deportation of approximately three million Jews who were transported to the death camps by rail. After the war he escaped to Argentina, but was able return to Germany in 1955. In 1973 Ganzenmüller was brought to trial, but the case was dismissed in 1977.
Gerstein, Kurt (1905-1945)
Gerstein joined the SS in 1941 and became a member of the Institute for Hygiene of the Waffen-SS. Because of his position in the institute he was called upon to assist in implementing the Holocaust. He was responsible for deliveries of Zyklon-B and while inspecting the killing center at Belzec, personally witnessed a mass gassing of Jews. Gerstein claimed that this event made him determined to tell the world of the horrors of the Holocaust, however, his statements made little impact. In April 1945 he surrendered himself to French forces. While in prison he wrote of his experiences in the Gerstein Report. He died on July 25, 1945, most likely a suicide.
Glücks, Richard (1889-1945)
In 1936 Glücks became chief aide to Theodor Eicke and succeeded Eicke as the inspector of concentration
camps in 1939. Glücks was responsible for the construction of Auschwitz and the creation of the gas chambers. In February 1940, Glücks recommended that a concentration camp be established at Auschwitz, and provided slave labor after the camp's opening in June. In 1942 he was made head of an SS Wirtschafts-Verwaltunghauptamt unit. He died in May 1945; his death was presumably a suicide.
Goebbels, Joseph (1897-1945)
Goebbels joined the Nazi party in 1924 and became the party's chief of propaganda in 1930. After Hitler's rise to power in 1933, Goebbels became the Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. He controlled the media and oversaw the "Nazification" of public discourse and written materials. He supervised the publication of Der Stürmer, headed the propaganda campaign against the Jews and was responsible for the book burning of May 10, 1933. On the day following Hitler's death, Goebbels and his wife committed suicide in Hitler's bunker, after first ordering the murder of their six children, all under the age of thirteen.
Göring, Herman (1893-1946)
Göring joined the Nazi party in 1922 and took part in the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. He was one of the men responsible for creating the Gestapo and was the commander of the German Luftwaffe (air force) during World War II. In 1939 Hitler appointed Göring Reichsmarshall and the following year designate him as his successor. During this time, Göring also supervised the confiscation and administration of Jewish wealth. He was tried and sentenced to death at the Nuremberg trials, but he poisoned himself in his cell before the sentence could be carried out.
Hess, Rudolf (1894-1987)
A close aide to Hitler, he was one of the first to join the Nazi party in 1920. He was arrested and imprisoned along with Hitler after the November 1923 Beer Hall Putsch. Hess helped Hitler compose Mein Kampf and acted as his secretary while they were both in prison. After Hitler came to power Hess was named Deputy Fuhrer. In May 1941 Hess flew to Britain in the hope of persuading the British to make peace with Germany. Hess was arrested upon landing and spent the rest of his life in prison. He committed suicide in 1987, the only inmate of the Spandau Prison in West Berlin.
Heydrich, Reinhard (1904-1942)
Head of the Sicherheitspolizei [Security Police, or Sipo], the SD [Sicherheitsdienst, Security Service], Reichssicherheitsdienst [Reich Security Service] and the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Security Main Office, RSHA). In this capacity he recommended that Jews in occupied territories wear distinctive badges, and gave instructions to Einsatzgruppen leaders on how to round up Jews into ghettos. Having chaired the Wannsee Conference, he was the main planner and executor of the Nazis' anti-Jewish policies. On May 27, 1942 he was attacked by Czech resistance fighters and died of his wounds. In retaliation the Germans destroyed the Czech town of Lidice and killed all its male inhabitants.
Himmler, Heinrich (1900-1945)
Reichsfuhrer [Reich Leader] of the SS, Gestapo, and the Waffen-SS and German minister of the interior from 1943-45. Himmler was the most powerful man in Germany after Hitler during World War II. Appointed Reichsfuhrer of the SS in 1929, he secured SS control over the concentration camp system in 1933 and further established the concentration camp system and oversaw the implementation of the Final Solution. Himmler was also appointed Chief of German Police in 1936, he would eventually establish the Reichsicherheitshauptamt to oversee all German law enforcement. After Germany 's surrender he tried to escape but was captured by the British. He committed suicide in May 1945 before he could be brought to trial for his war crimes.
Hindenburg, Paul von (1847-1934)
Chief of Staff of the German Army during World War I, Paul von Hindenburg became President of Germany, replacing Friedrich Ebert, in 1925. He was reelected in 1932. Hindenburg did not show opposition to the rising Adolf Hitler and appointed him Chancellor on January 30, 1933. Hindenburg, because of his role in the First World War, was so popular with the German public that Hitler was unable to completely abolish Germany's constitutional government until after Hindenburg's death on August 2, 1934.
Höss, Rudolf (1900-1947)
A member of the SS, Höss held various positions in Dachau concentration camp under Theodor Eicke before he was assigned to Auschwitz in May 1940, where he became the camp's first commandant. At Auschwitz, Höss oversaw the murder more than one million people. He served as commandant until November 1943, and supervised "Aktion Höss" in May 1944, during which 430,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered in less than two months. At the end of the war, he adopted the name Franz Lang and escaped detection by the Allies. However, in March 1946 he was uncovered and arrested. He was tried in Warsaw, Poland and sentenced to death. Höss was hanged in Auschwitz on April 16, 1947.
Jodl, Alfred (1890-1946)
Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command from August 1939 until the end of World War II. As such, Jodl was responsible for military planning, including the brutal methods that the German armed forces utilized during the war. He was also believed to have had a hand in deportations. Jodl signed the instruments of surrender at the end of World War II as Karl Donitz's representative. He was conviced at Nuremburg and executed on October 16, 1946.
Kaltenbrunner, Ernst (1903-1946)
An Austrian, Kaltenbrunner was the head of the SS in Austria from 1935-1938, when Germany formally annexed the country. After the takeover he became undersecretary of state for public security. After Reinhard Heydrich's death, Kaltenbrunner became Chief of the Reich Main Security Office and Chief of the Security Police. After the war, Kaltenbrunner was tried at Nuremberg and sentenced to death. He was hanged on October 16, 1946.
Keitel, Wilhelm (1882-1946)
Head of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces during World War II. He was a primary planner of the Wehrmacht's operations on both fronts. As such, he was responsible for crimes committed by the armed forces during the war, including the murder of Jews. On trial at Nuremberg, Keitel claimed that he was merely following orders, but his defence was rejected. He was convicted and executed by hanging on October 16, 1946.
Koch, Ilse (1906-1967)
Wife of Karl-Otto Koch, commandant of Buchenwald (1937-1941). She came to Buchenwald when Karl became commandant, and she herself was made Chief Overseer of the few female guards in 1941. Her infamity arising from her brutal treatment of prisoners earned her the dubious epithet "The Witch of Buchenwald." Both her and her husband were arrested in 1943 for embezzlement, but Ilse was released in 1944. She was rearrested by American authorities on June 30, 1945 and was charged at the American military court at Dachau in 1947. She was sentenced to life imprisonment, but that was later reduced to four years.
Luther, Martin (1895-1945)
Luther attended the Wannsee Conference, representing the German Foreign Ministry. After the conference, during 1942, Luther was tasked with convincing German satellites to hand over or deport their Jewish populations to the death camps. The following year, he tried to supplant Joachim von Ribbentrop as Foreign Minister, but failed and was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He died shortly after the Soviets liberated the camp in May 1945. A year later, copies of Luther's notes from the Wannsee Conference were discovered in the archvies of the German Foreign Ministry, the only surviving record of the conference.
Mengele, Josef (1911-1979)
An SS physician at Auschwitz, notorious for his pseudo-medical experiments on camp inmates and especially on twins and Gypsies. Inmates called him the "Angel of Death" because he was one of those who determined if new arrivals would live or die in the gas chambers. A simple gesture of his hand pointing to the left or right would seal an arrival's fate. After the war Mengele spent a few years working on a German farm, then was able to flee, first to Argentina, then to Paraguay. Mengele succeeded in avoiding arrest and trial for his crimes. He is reported to have died in Brazil in 1979.
Müller, Heinrich (1900-1945)
Chief of Operations of the Gestapo (secret police) from 1936 and head from September 1939. In this position, Müller played a key role in the suppression and perseuction of the Reich's actual and perceived enemies. The subordinate of Himmler (head of the SS) and the supervisor of Eichman (head of the Gestapo Office of Jewish Affairs), Müller was responsbile for the deportation and murder of the Jews of Europe. Müller was last seen in Berlin on May 1, 1945 and his subsequent whereabouts were never confirmed.
Mussolini, Benito (1883-1945)
Leader of the Italian National Fascist Party and ruler of Italy from 1925 until 1943. He signed a treaty of friendship with Hitler in 1936, establishing the "Rome-Berlin axis." The Pact of Steel and Triparite Pact signed in 1939 and 1940 respectively solidified the alliance and made Germany and Italy's war aims the same. Though he initially did not go along with Hitler's anti-Semitism, Mussolini began passing anti-Semitic legislation in 1938. As the tide turned against Italy in World War II, and the Allies invaded Sicily, Mussolini was removed from power and arrested in July 1943. He was then set up by the Germans as a puppet ruler of German-occupied areas of Italy. On April 27, 1945, Mussolini and his mistress were apprehended as they tried to flee Italy and were executed the following day.
Papen, Franz von (1879-1969)
Chancellor of Germany from June until December, 1932, Vice-Chancellor (1933-1934), later German Ambassador to Austria (1934-1938) and Turkey (1939-1944). After a brief tenure as Chancellor, Papen convinced President von Hindenburg that he could control Hitler if he were appointed chancellor. As Ambassador to Austria, von Papen played a role in undermining Austrian leadership and setting the stage for the Anschluss, the German annexation of Austria. As Ambassador to Turkey he was unsuccessful in persuading them to join the Axis powers during World War II. Von Papen was brought to trial at Nuremberg, but acquitted of all charges. A West German denazifacation court, however, sentenced him to eight years of hard labor in 1949, but that sentence was commuted.
Ribbentrop, Joachim von (1893-1946)
Hitler's favorite advisor on foreign affairs, Ambassador-at-Large from 1933 until 1936, then Ambassador to Great Britain, von Ribbentrop then became Foreign Minister of Germany from 1938 until 1945. An architect of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between Germany and Russia, which secretly divided eastern Europe into spheres of German and Russian influence. A ferverent anti-Semite, he would go along with Hitler's ideas and to that end worked to persuade other countries to deport their Jewish citizens to Germany. Von Ribbentrop was charged at Nuremberg with crimes against peace, deliberately planning a war of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity, convicted on all counts and executed on October 16, 1946.
Rosenberg, Alfred (1893-1946)
Editor of the Volkischer Beobachter, the NSDAP's official newspaper, in 1921. Rosenberg was the official "philosopher" of the Nazi party and chief racial theorist. During the war he was made head of the "Hohe Schule," the Nazi university of the future. At the university's behest, Jewish libraries were ransacked throughout Europe, pieces of art and furniture were plundered as well. Rosenberg was appointed Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories after Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. In this position he played a significant role in the deportation and murder of the Jews of eastern Europe. Rosenberg was found guilty at Nuremberg and executed on October 16, 1946.
Sauckel, Fritz (1894-1946)
Sauckel joined the Nazi party in 1921 and held senior honorary ranking in both the SA and the SS before World War II. In 1942 he was appointed Plenipotentiary General for the Department of Labor, a position in which he provided millions of forced laborers for the armaments and munitions production program. His harsh treatment of slave laborers caused the deaths of thousands of Jews in Poland. Sauckel was tried and convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity at Nuremberg and was hanged on October 16, 1946.
Schirach, Baldur von (1907-1974)
Schirach joined the Nazi party in 1925. Four years later, Hitler appointed Schirach head of the National Socialst Students Union and in 1933 he took control of the Hitler Youth. In 1940 he was appointed Gauleiter of Vienna; while in this position he was responsible for the deportation of the Jews of Vienna to the death camps in eastern Europe. Schirach was captured by Allied troops at the end of World War II. At Nuremburg he denounced Hitler, but was nonetheless convicted of crimes against humanity and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Speer, Albert (1905-1981)
Hitler's personal architect and the German Minister of Armaments and Munitions from 1942-45, Speer was appointed Minister of Armaments and Munitions after Fritz Todt was killed in 1942. In this position, Speer dramatically increased armaments production through the use of millions of slave laborers. After the war, Speer was tried at Nuremberg, where he admitted his guilt and responsibility for the crimes of the Nazi regime. He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Streicher, Julius (1885-1946)
Having joined the Nazi party in 1921, Streicher also founded the viruently anti-Semitic newspaper, Der Sturmer, in 1923, which would become one of the primary propaganda organs of the NSDAP. A ferverent anti-Semite himself, he was a proliferate publisher of anti-Semitic material in general, including anti-Semitic childrens books. Streicher also helped organize the Nazis' first boycott of Jewish businesses in April 1933. As time wore on, Streicher's credibility and reputation within the Nazi party fell, but he continued to publish der Sturmer and other anti-Semtic material throughout the war years, his propaganda continuing to impact the German public. At Nuremberg he was found guilty of crimes against humanity and executed on October 16, 1946.
Stroop, Jürgen (1895-1952)
A member of the SS from 1932, Stroop is infamous for his role in suppressing the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. After several days of encountering resistance from determined Jewish fighters, Stroop ordered the entire ghetto to be destroyed, building by building, to force the Jews of the ghetto out of hiding. Those found were captured and deported to the death camp at Treblinka. After suppressing the uprising, Stroop prepared a detailed record of his operation, including photographs entitled "The Warsaw Ghetto is no more!" now known as "The Stroop Report," which was used as evidence at Nuremburg. After the war, Stroop was tried and sentenced to death by the American military court at Dachau, and subsequently extradited to Poland, where he was tried again and executed in 1952.