The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Operation Reinhard:
Command Staff - Sobibor

Bauer, Erich

Bolander, Karl (Kurt Balender? - get pub/places/poland/wlodawa/Wlodawa.015) Some confusion exists in my mind about Bolander - or Balender - since both names have appeared, they may be one and the same, or there may have been two men with similar names.. I do not know yet.

Bredov, SS Sgt. Paul

Frenzel, SS Sgt. Karl When the Germans learned of a planned revolt, they chose 72 men and sent them to the crematorium - Frenzel supervised this action, and "Returning from the scene of the murder he ordered the quick erection of a temporary stage out of some planks, called for the orchestra, gathered the women and told them to sing and dance."(Testimony from the Sobibor Trials, as related in Wlodawa.016) During the trials, Frenzel has also accused of shooting a young boy for the crime of eating sardines...

Gomerski, SS Sgt. Hubert

Groth, Paul (Sgt)

Hering, SS-Hauptsturmführer Gottlied - Replaced Wirth as Camp Commandant after Wirth appointed Inspector of the Reinhard death camps in August, 1942.

Lampert, Erwin

Michel, SS Sgt. Hermann ("The Preacher")

Neiman, Oberltnt. Designated as deputy commander by Razgonayev. See pub/people/r/razgonayev.mikhail.a/RAZGONAYEV.001 for Soviet interrogation of same.

Poul, ? SS Obersturmführer (1st. Lt.)

Rashke's work (Escape from Sobibor) provides some insight into the mentality of the German staff regarding their attitude towards their victims. He notes that the flow of transports into the camp during the winter of 1942 had slowed to a trickle, primarily because most of the Polish Jews were already dead, and because the trains were needed to support the crumbling Eastern Front. This, he comments, along with the isolation of the nearly snowbound camp, made them edgy and bored:

They took it out on the Jews. Sergeant Paul Groth made up little games. He'd order four Jews to carry him around the yard like a king while he'd drop burning paper on their heads. Or he'd make prisoners jump from roofs with umbrellas, or scale roof beams until they fell to the floor. Those who sprained ankles and broke legs were shot in Camp III. Or he'd organize a flogging party, forcing Jews to run the gauntlet past Ukrainians with whips. Or he'd order a thin prisoner to gulp vodka and eat two pounds of sausage within minutes. They he'd force open the Jew's mouth and urinate in it, roaring with laughter as the prisoner retched in the snow. Groth softened briefly. Three beautiful girls came to Sobibor on a transport from Vienna. Groth took Ruth as his servant and mistress. Seageant Poul, the drunk, smuggled the other two into the Merry Flea. Groth fell in love with the dark-eyed teen-ager and, almost as a favor to her, or so it seemed, stopped beating the other Jews. But the truce was short-lived. It was against SS regulations to molest Jewesses - an insult to the master race. Himmler was quite adamant on that point. So while Groth and Poul were on leave, Kommandant Reichleitner transferred both of them. Groth ended up at Belzec. The Sobibor Jews were delighted to see the two Nazis go, but Groth and Poul were easily replaced, and life went on as usual. The empty winter days also got to Kurt Bolander and Erich Bauer. Because there was little to do in Camp III without Jews to gas, Bauer turned to vodka. He kept a private bar in his room in the Swallow's Nest, and there Jews would come to mix drinks or make eggnog. The short Nazi - he was under five feet six inches - would sit in his armchair, facing a photograph of his wife and children and a portrait of the Führer ... and drink himself into oblivion. If a prisoner spilled any liquor or broke a bottle, the former street-car conductor would make him wipe the floor with his tongue. Bolander took out his frustration on the ten Jews who carried the swill buckets from Camp I to the gate to Camp III. Bolander would make them run, and if, as sometimes happened, the Jews in Camp III opened the gate before the Jews from Camp I had left, Bolander would shoot the swill carriers. Somehow, the Nazis had deluded themselves into believing that the Camp I Jews didn't know what went on in Camp III. And they wanted to keep it that way. (Rashke, 101-102)

Reichsleitner, SS-Obersturmführer Franz. Replaced Stangl as commander at the end of August, 1942. Stangl was transferred to Treblinka.

Stangl, Franz, Oberleutnant (Camp Commandant)

Franz Stangl, the commander of Sobibor and Treblinka, was stationed in northern Italy, in the areas of Fiume and Udine, from the autumn of 1943 and engaged in actions against partisans and local Jews. After the war he escaped to Brazil; in 1967 he was discovered there, arrested, and extradited to the Federal Republic of Germany. He was tried in Dusseldorf in 1970 and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He died in prison a few months after the end of the trial. (Arad, Belzec)

Stangl was sent to command Sobibor after construction fell behind schedule in the Spring of 1942. His commanding officer sent him to meet with Wirth at Belzec, and he described his visit thus:
"I went there by car. As one arrived, one first reached Belzec railway station... Oh, God, the smell! It was everywhere. Wirth wasn't in his office. I remember they took me to him... he was standing on a hill next to the pits... the pits.... full...they were full. I cannot tell you; not hundreds, thousands, thousands, thousands of corpses... that's where Wirth told --- he said that was what Sobibor was for... Wirth told me I should definitely become the commander of Sobibor. I answered that I was not qualified for such a mission.... I received from Globocnik the task to erect the camp. That it was not to be an ammunition camp but a camp for killing Jews I learned finally from Wirth. ... Actually, I was not relieved [of my post]. I stayed in Sobibor. Transports arrived and were liquidated..."
When asked during his trial how many people could be murdered in one day, Stangl answered:
"Regarding the question of what was the optimum amount of people gassed in one day, I can state: according to my estimation a transport of thirty freight cars with 3,000 people was liquidated in three hours. When the work lasted for about fourteen hours, 12,000 to 15,000 people were annihilated. There were many days that the work lasted from the early morning until the evening." (Arad, Belzec)

Thomalla, SS-Obersturmführer Richard. SS Construction Office, Lublin

Wagner, Gustav (Quartermaster-Sergeant) - the man who supervised the daily life at Sobibor. Moshe Bahir described him thus:

He was a handsome man, tall and blonde -- a pure Aryan. In civilian life he was, no doubt, a well-mannered man; at Sobibor he was a wild beast. His lust to kill knew no bounds. I saw such terrible scenes that they give me nightmares to this day. He would snatch babies from their mothers' arms and tear them to pieces in his hands. I saw him beat two men to death with a rifle, because they did not carry out his instructions properly, since they did not understand German.

I remember that one night a group of youths aged fifteen or sixteen arrived in the camp. The head of this group was one Abraham. After a long and arduous work day, this young man collapsed on his pallet and fell asleep. Suddenly Wagner came into our barrack, and Abraham did not hear him call to stand up at once before him.

Furious, he pulled Abraham naked off his bed and began to beat him all over his body. When Wagner grew weary of the blows, he took out his revolver and killed him on the spot. This atrocious spectacle was carried out before all of us, including Abraham's younger brother. (Museum, 37, as cited in Arad, Belzec)

Wagner's ruthless behavior toward the Jews is mentioned in some other testimonies of Sobibor survivors. Ada Lichtman writes that on the fast day of Yom Kippur, Wagner appeared at the roll call, took out some prisoners, gave them bread and ordered them to eat. As the prisoners ate the bread, he laughed loudly; he enjoyed his joke because he knew the Jews he had forced to eat were pious. (Lichtman, 36-37, as cited in Arad, Belzec)

Gustav Wagner escaped after the war to Brazil, where he lived openly. The Brazilian Supreme Court refused to extradite him. In October 1980 his attorney announced that Wagner had committed suicide. (Arad, Belzec)

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.