Georg Konrad Morgen

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Georg Konrad Morgen (8 June 1909 – 4 February 1982) was an SS judge and lawyer who investigated crimes committed in Nazi concentration camps. He rose to the rank of SS-Sturmbannführer (major). After the war, Morgen continued his legal career and died on 4 February 1982.

Life[edit]

Born to a railwayman in Frankfurt, Morgen graduated from the University of Frankfurt and the Hague Academy of International Law, before becoming a judge in Stettin. Considered a pacifist by many, Morgen published the book War Propaganda and the Prevention of War in 1936, a year after first meeting Adolf Hitler, arguing against the militarization of Germany. It was published by the Reich.

As a SS-Sturmbannführer (major), he was ordered to serve in the Wiking Division on the Eastern Front as punishment for insubordination. In 1943, now a Judge-Advocate in the Hauptamt SS-Gericht while retaining his military rank, Morgen was sent to investigate other SS members on charges of corruption. He had no difficulty gaining access to the concentration camps in eastern Germany, which held primarily anti-Nazi Germans and other political prisoners, but during a mid-1943 attempt to enter the Jewish extermination camp at Treblinka in central Poland, he and his associates were thrown out.

During October–November 1943, Morgen looked into rumors that SS-General Odilo Globocnik, former commandant of Jewish labor camps in the Lublin district of eastern Poland, had assembled an enormous personal trove of valuables confiscated from the inmates.[1] Though unable to bring charges, he became in the course of this investigation an accidental eyewitness to part of Operation Harvest Festival: the liquidation of three large (Majdanek, Poniatowa, and Trawniki) and several smaller Jewish labor camps in the Lublin area. The operation, a pre-emptive security measure, was ordered by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler after learning that the inmates had obtained weapons and made contact with communist partisans active in the surrounding forests.[2] Taken by surprise, the Jews in each camp were disarmed with little resistance and no casualties; during the mass executions which followed, carried out on the spot over a two-day span, some 43,000 male and female prisoners were shot. At Poniatowa on 4 November, Morgen witnessed the entire drama, as the camp inmates - "6,000 Jews and 9,500 Jewesses" - reported to the execution site, surrendered their personal effects and clothing, then went naked to self-prepared trenches where they were shot one-by-one: "the men went first, filing into one trench, and later the nude women had their own separate trenches....all passed silently and methodically through the trenches, so the executions went very quickly."[3] When Walter Toebbens, owner of the factories at Poniatowa, arrived during the operation and attempted to protest the liquidation of his workforce, he was "stopped by Morgen and ordered not to interfere", and the executions continued without incident.[4]

Though he discovered early on that the Final Solution of the Jewish problem through physical extermination was beyond his jurisdiction, and advanced no legal objections to large-scale, centrally-authorized anti-Jewish operations like Harvest Festival, Morgen went on to prosecute so many Nazi officers for individual violations that by April 1944, Himmler personally ordered him to restrain his cases.[5]

Nonetheless, he went on to investigate Auschwitz camp commandant Rudolf Höss on charges of having "unlawful relations" with a woman prisoner, Eleanor Hodys; Höss was, for a time, removed from his command and these proceedings gained Hodys a brief stay of execution; sent to Berlin by Morgen, then transferred to Buchenwald, she was shot by the SS shortly before the end of the war.[6] During the same period of the investigation, though, Morgen's assistant Gerhard Putsch disappeared. Some theorized that this was another warning for Morgen to ease up on his activities as the building where the evidence was stored was burned down shortly thereafter.[5]

Among others he investigated was the commandant of Buchenwald and Majdanek, Karl-Otto Koch, husband of Ilse Koch, as well as the Buchenwald concentration camp's doctor Waldemar Hoven, who was accused of murdering both inmates and camp guards who threatened to testify against Koch. Koch was also accused of embezzlement of at least 100,000 marks. Morgen later testified at the Nuremberg trials where he claimed the stories of Koch's fetish with lampshades made of human skin were merely a legend. Indeed, he kept denying this while being threatened with beatings and while actually being beaten twice by his Allied investigators after the war.[7] Later Morgen stated that he fought for justice during the Nazi era, and cited his long list of 800 investigations into criminal activity at concentration camps during his two years of activity. Morgen's "tenacity" in prosecuting corruption and murder earned him the nickname "The Bloodhound Judge" during the war.[8]

Indicted[edit]

Post-War[edit]

After the war, Morgen was a witness at the trial of Nazi war criminals at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg; also the trial of SS WVHA members, and the 1965 Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt–am–Main. Thereafter, he continued his legal career in Frankfurt. He died on 4 February 1982.[8]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Gregory Douglas (1995). Gestapo Chief - The 1948 Interrogation of Heinrich Mueller, Vol. I, pp. 90-102, 255-57
  2. ^ Samuel Hoffenberg (1988).Le Camp de Poniatowa - la Liquidation des Derniers Juifs de Varsovie, p. 117-18
  3. ^ IMT (Red Volume series), Supplement Vol. B, pp. 1309-11
  4. ^ Dan Kurzman (1976). The Bravest Battle - the Twenty-Eight days of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, p. 345
  5. ^ a b SS-Hauptscharfuehrer Konrad Morgen - the Bloodhound Judge on h2g2
  6. ^ http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/camps/auschwitz/alphabet/judge.html
  7. ^ John Toland (1976). Adolf Hitler, pp. 845-846
  8. ^ a b holocaustresearchproject.org: "Konrad Morgen, 'The Bloodhound Judge', Investigating corruption within the SS" [1]

References[edit]

  • Morgen's testimony at the Nuremberg Trial of German Major War Criminals, Day 197, Aug 7 1946. From the Nizkor Project website.
  • facsimile of Morgen's testimony from Special Collections of the Institute of Documentation in Israel (German)