SS-Sturmbannführer Arthur Liebehenschel
November 25, 1901|
Posen, German Empire
|Died||January 28, 1948
Auschwitz, 1 December 1943 — 8 May 1944Majdanek, 19 May 1944 — 22 July 1944
Arthur Liebehenschel ( listen (help·info); 25 November 1901 – 28 January 1948) was a commandant at the Auschwitz and Majdanek death camps during World War II. He was convicted of war crimes by the Polish government following the war and executed in 1948.
Liebehenschel was born in Posen (now Poznań). He studied economics and public administration. Too young to serve in World War I, in 1919 he was in the Freikorps "Grenzschutz Ost"; he served as a sergeant major in the German Reichswehr afterwards. In 1932, he joined the Nazi Party (member number 39 254), and in 1934 was commissioned in the SS, where he served in the Totenkopfverbände. Liebehenschel became the adjutant in the Lichtenburg concentration camp, and two years later was transferred to the inspectorate of the concentration camps in Berlin. In 1942, when the SS- Wirtschaftsverwaltungshauptamt (WVHA - Office of economic policy) was founded, Liebehenschel was assigned to the new Amtsgruppe D (Concentration Camps) as head of Office D I (Central Office).
On December 1, 1943, Liebehenschel was appointed commandant of Auschwitz extermination camp, succeeding Rudolf Höß. He made improvements including removing the standing cells and halting the selections to gas chambers among regular prisoners. According to Hermann Langbein, a prisoner at Auschwitz infirmary, "in general one could establish that even those SS members who were very bloodthirsty before became a bit more reserved because they realized that their fanaticism would not necessarily be tolerated anymore." When Höß returned to Auschwitz, Liebehenschel was replaced as commandant on May 8, 1944, and appointed commandant of the Majdanek extermination camp on 19 May 1944, succeeding Martin Gottfried Weiss. The camp was evacuated because of the Soviet advance into the German-occupied Poland. Liebehenschel relocated to Trieste, Italy to the office of Odilo Globocnik, Höhere SS- und Polizeiführer (HSSPF) for Operational Zone Adriatic Coast (OZAK). Liebehenschel became head the SS Manpower Office there.
At the war's end, Liebehenschel was arrested by the American Army and was extradited to Poland. After being convicted of crimes against humanity at the Auschwitz Trial in Kraków, he was sentenced to death and subsequently executed by hanging on January 28, 1948.
Liebehenschel had one son and three daughters by his first wife, Gertrud, the youngest of which, Barbara Cherish (born 1943), now lives in the United States. In 2009, she published My father, the Auschwitz commandant, in which she outlined actions by Liebehenschel that improved the prisoners' lives, but also discussed his participation in a genocidal system. Together with another daughter, Antje, she was interviewed in 2002 in ZDF about living with their father's guilt. Liebehenschel had a son by his second wife, Anneliese. Lebehenschel's first wife, whom he left during the war, suffered from mental health issues after the war and died by her own hand in a hospital for the mentally ill in 1966.
- David Bankier; Dan Mikhman (2008). Holocaust Historiography in Context: Emergence, Challenges, Polemics and Achievements. Berghahn Books. pp. 560–. ISBN 978-965-308-326-4. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
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