Eduard Weiter

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Eduard Weiter (18 July 1889, Eschwege – 2 May 1945, Itter) was a German bureaucrat who became a Schutzstaffel Obersturmbannführer and concentration camp commandant.

Early years[edit]

The son of a horsewhip maker, Weiter worked as a book salesman whilst studying part-time until he joined the German Imperial Army at the age of twenty. He served as a soldier for ten years, seeing action on the Eastern, Western and Balkan fronts during the course of World War I.[1] He served as divisional and then regimental paymaster and following the reductions in the German military that followed the Treaty of Versailles he took up a similar position in the Bavarian police.[1]

SS career[edit]

The main gate at Dachau concentration camp, marked with the slogan, Arbeit macht frei

Weiter continued as an anonymous bureaucrat until in 1936 he retired from his paymaster role, the Bavarian police having been incorporated as a unit into the Wehrmacht.[1] He then took a role with the SS, although once again as a paymaster and even at this point Weiter wrote that he had no particular political beliefs or identity.[2] Indeed he did not join the Nazi Party until 1937.[1] Weiter did win the favour of Oswald Pohl but his ambivalence to politics slowed down his advancement and even when, during the Second World War, he was put in charge of administering Dachau concentration camp it was still a bureaucratic role away from the actual camp.[3]

A stamp with Elser's portrait and the German text '"Ich hab den Krieg verhindern wollen" Georg Elser 4.1.1903 am 9.4.1945 im KZ Dachau ermordet".
German commemorative postal stamp for dissident Georg Elser, allegedly killed by Eduard Weiter, 2003

Despite this Weiter succeeded Martin Gottfried Weiss as camp commandant on 30 September 1943. Inmate accounts suggest that Weiter's regime was characterised by the same anonymity that had defined his career as he was rarely seen around the camp.[3] Conditions did decline however, notably due to overcrowding as other more easterly camps were closed but Weiter made little attempt to expand Dachau to cope with this influx.[3] It is also likely that Weiter personally killed the dissident Georg Elser, whose death was officially announced by Weiter as having been caused by an air raid. After the war a letter to Weiter from Heinrich Müller was discovered in which the order was given that Elser was to be killed and that the death was to be blamed on a bombing raid.[4] Inmate leaders would later testify that Weiter had spoken to them shortly before leaving Dachau in an attempt to get them to testify to his lack of direct cruelty at any subsequent trial.[3]

Death[edit]

Weiter did not face trial as he fled Dachau immediately before its liberation and made it to Austria where he died in mysterious circumstances, possibly being killed by a fellow SS member angry at his lack of ideological conviction.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Tom Segev, Soldiers of Evil, Berkley Books, 1991, p. 133
  2. ^ Segev, Soldiers of Evil, pp. 133-134
  3. ^ a b c d e Segev, Soldiers of Evil, p. 134
  4. ^ James P. Duffy, Vincent L. Ricci, Target Hitler: The Plots to Kill Adolf Hitler, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1992, p. 33