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At the beginning of his career as NCO, Palitzsch served as a sentry in the concentration camps of Lichtenburg, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen, where he was Blockführer (head of a prisoners’ barrack). From Sachsenhausen he was transferred to Auschwitz in 1940.
He brought with him 30 prisoners from Sachsenhausen who were to take over posts as Funktionshäftlinge (prisoners with special functions). Palitzsch was the first Rapportführer and in this position he practised extensive terror. Moreover he very often took part in the executions at the black wall. Palitzsch claimed to a fellow SS member, that he was responsible for shooting some 25,000 people in the back of the head. Like other concentration camp personnel he enriched himself by stealing the property robbed from the victims and because of this he was a subject of SS investigations into theft and corruption. His transfer in 1943 to a sub-camp at Brünn, Germany, where he was made the Commandant, may have been a penal transfer.
Some prisoners in more trusted jobs in Auschwitz fought back against the camp, one of the means of attack was to breed lice infected with Typhus in the camp infirmary and then put these lice into clothes given to SS personnel. Because of his notoriety, Palitzsch was given such an item, although he did not get typhus, his wife Luise died from it. After that, he was believed to have started sexual relations with a female prisoner.
Shortly after his transfer to Brünn he was arrested, sent back to Auschwitz, and interred in the prison in Block 11. Accused of “Race Defilement”, i.e. sexual relations with "non-Aryans") and theft, Palitzsch was sentenced to death, but reprieved and instead sent to a penal unit. In June 1944, he was thrown out of the SS. His later fate is unknown; he is said to have fallen during the battle of Budapest.
In a letter from the resistance movement, smuggled out of Auschwitz, he was described as “the greatest bastard of Auschwitz”. His colleague, Perry Broad, wrote about him in his report that “he enjoyed taking part in the mass executions”. Rudolf Höss, who was not hesitant in his criticism of his staff, wrote in his memoirs: “Palitzsch was the most cunning and sly creature I ever got to know during my long, many-sided duty in the various concentration camps. He literally climbed over dead bodies in order to satisfy his lust for power.”