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Josef Fitzthum in 1938
|Birth name||Josef Fitzthum|
September 14, 1896|
|Died||January 10, 1945
Austro-Hungarian Empire (to 1918)Nazi Germany (1936–1945)
|Years of service||
1916 — 19181936 — 1945
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||See Awards Section|
Josef Fitzthum (September 14, 1896, Loimersdorf, Lower Austria — January 10, 1945, Wiener Neudorf) was a senior SS Gruppenführer, Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS und Polizei, politician, and Beauftragter des Reichsführer-SS Albanien (special representative of the Reichsführer SS in Albania) during World War II.
Josef Fitzthum was born in 1896 on the Austrian-Hungarian frontier, the son of Josef Fitzthum, an administrative official from western Bohemia. Fitzhum undertook his education at the Austrian Militärunterrealschule and the oberrealschule. From 1916 he served as a Leutnant (lieutenant) in the 3rd Regiment of the Tiroler Kaiserjäger of the Austro-Hungarian Army and was the first junior officer to be awarded the Order of the Iron Crown. In 1917 he was promoted to Oberleutnant (senior lieutenant) and was deployed to the war on the Italian front.
In mid-January 1919 he was dismissed from the much reduced Austrian army (Volkswehr) and from 1920 he worked in the civil service. From 1923 to 1933 he worked as a secretary at the Vienna School of Applied Arts.
Fitzthum joined the NSDAP (the Nazi party) in 1931 (Membership Number 363,169) and in 1932, the SS (Membership Number 41,936). In 1933 he was sentenced to two and a half years in political detention, from which he twice escaped. In April 1932 he joined the XI. SS Standard in Vienna, which he led from September 1932 for six months. After his expatriation from Austria, starting in March 1936, he was appointed a full-time SS Standartenführer (colonel). In May 1936 he was posted to the SS Germania, and led the 58th SS regiment in Cologne from the beginning of January 1937 until the end of September 1937.
From October 1937 to March 1938 he was involved in SD activities. Following the Anschluss he was appointed Deputy Chief of police in Vienna from 12 March 1938 to March 1940. In March 1938 he was involved in several high profile meetings and public ceremonies with Heinrich Himmler, Kurt Daluege, Karl Wolff, Reinhard Heydrich and Ernst Kaltenbrunner reviewing Austrian police forces in Vienna. In 1940 he was removed from his post following accusations of corruption.
In 1940 Fitzthum was transferred to the Waffen SS and appointed as an infantry commander in the SS-Totenkopfverbände. Between mid-April 1942 and May 1943 he was in the Netherlands as a commander for the establishment of the Aufstellung von Freiwilligen-Verbänden der Waffen-SS (voluntary associations of the Waffen SS).
From October 1943 to 1 January 1945 SS Brigadeführer und Generalmajor der Waffen-SS und Polizei Josef Fitzthum was appointed Politiker sowie Beauftragter des Reichsführer-SS Albanien by Heinrich Himmler to act as his personal plenipotentary in Albania. As a former Vienna police chief Fitzthum's main stated task was to rebuild the Albanian police force. However he soon conceived the idea of raising some kind of Albanian Legion as the Austrians had done here during World War I but within the Waffen SS. Consequently from April to June 1944 Fitzthum was involved in the recruitment and training of the 21st Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Skanderbeg (1st Albanian).
Inside Albanian wartime politics he was a vocal opponent of collaborating with the Zogist / Royalist faction. An experienced political infighter, Fitzthum rapidly monopolized both the Reich powers in Albania (usurping even those of the German Foreign Ministry) and the local Albanian political systems of administration. In August 1944 he was promoted SS Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS and granted very broad powers. In September 1944 he directly appointed a three man "control committee" for Tirana including Prengë Previzi (an obscure collaborating politician), the formal head of the Albanian secret police under the Nazis, and General Gustav von Myrdacz (an Austrian military officer who had retired to Tirana after World War I).
"Regular army officers decried Fitzthum's rash of arrests as well as the transporting of some 400 Albanian prisoners out of Albania, directly contravening existing agreements.".
By 2 October 1944, when the Germans decided to formally evacuate Albania, Fitzthum was perhaps the most powerful man in the entire country. During the withdrawal, Fitzthum helped Xhafer Deva set up, arm and equip a local administration and defence force in Kosovo.
Upon returning to the Third Reich he was posted to the 18th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division Horst Wessel as a commander from 3 to 10 January 1945.
Fitzthum died in a car accident in Wiener Neudorf on 10 January 1945. He was buried in Vienna.
- November 1932 – SS Sturmbannführer
- November 1933 – SS Obersturmbannführer
- March 1936 – SS Standartenführer
- March 1938 – SS Oberführer
- April 1940 – SS Hauptsturmführer der Reserve (Waffen-SS)
- January 1941 – SS Sturmbannführer der Reserve (Waffen-SS)
- April 1942 – SS Obersturmbannführer der Reserve (Waffen-SS)
- November 1942 – SS Standartenführer der Reserve (Waffen-SS)
- October 1943 – SS-Brigadeführer und Generalmajor der Waffen-SS und Polizei
- August 1944 – SS Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS
- Wound Badge (Verwundetenabzeichen) in Black (1918)
- Blood Order (Blutorden), No 2354
- Iron Cross (Eisernes Kreuz), 1st (7 January 1942) and 2nd class (8 October 1941)
- War Merit Cross (Kriegsverdienstkreuz)2nd class with swords (1939)
- Infantry Assault Badge (Infanterie-Sturmabzeichen)
- "SS Honour Sword" (Ehrendegen des RFSS)
- "SS Honour Ring" (Totenkopfring der SS)
- Birn, Ruth Bettina (1986). Die Höheren SS- und Polizeiführer. Himmlers Vertreter im Reich und in den besetzten Gebieten. Droste. ISBN 3-7700-0710-7
- Bishop, Chris (2005). Hitler's Foreign SS Divisions. ISBN 1-8622-7289-1 or ISBN 978-1-862-27289-7
- Fischer, Bernd Jürgen (1999). Albania at War, 1939–1945. Purdue University Press, West Lafayette. ISBN 1-55753-141-2 or ISBN 978-1-557-53141-4
- Klee, Ernst (2007). Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Frankfurt am Main, S. Fischer (Aktualisierte 2. Auflage). ISBN 978-3-596-16048-8
- Malcolm, Noel (2000). Kosovo: A Short History. New York University Press. New Update edition.
- Neubacher, Hermann (1956). Sonderauftrag Sudost. Musterschmidt.
- Sarner, Harvey (1997). Rescue In Albania: One Hundred Percent Of Jews In Albania Rescued From Holocaust. Brunswick Press, California. ISBN 1-8885-2111-2
- Josef Fitzthum in der Datenbank der Reichstagsabgeordneten
- Josef Fitzthum auf web.genealogie.free.fr
- Ernst Klee: Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007. ISBN 978-3-596-16048-8. (Aktualisierte 2. Auflage), p. 154.
- Bernd Jürgen Fischer: Albania at War, 1939–1945. Purdue University Press, West Lafayette 1999, ISBN 1-55753-141-2 p. 212.
- Bernd Jürgen Fischer: Albania at War, 1939–1945. Purdue University Press, West Lafayette 1999, ISBN 1-55753-141-2 p. 226.