Josef Hirtreiter

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Josef Hirtreiter
Treblinka - Bredow Mentz Möller Hirtreiter.jpg
At the Treblinka extermination camp (left to right):
Paul Bredow, Willi Mentz, Max Möller, Josef Hirtreiter
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Flag Schutzstaffel.svg Schutzstaffel
Rank SS-Scharführer Collar Rank.svg SS-Scharführer (Sergeant)
Unit 3rd SS Division Logo.svg SS-Totenkopfverbände
Commands held Treblinka extermination camp

SS-Scharführer Josef Hirtreiter (1 February 1909 - 27 November 1978) nicknamed "Sepp", was a member of the German SS in World War II and a Holocaust perpetrator who worked at Treblinka extermination camp during the Operation Reinhard phase of the Holocaust in Poland.[1][2]


Hirtreiter was born in Bruchsal. After elementary school, he worked as unskilled construction worker and bricklayer. On 1 August 1932 he became member of the Nazi Party and Sturmabteilung (SA). After the invasion of Poland, in October 1940 he was assigned to the Hadamar Euthanasia Centre where he worked in the kitchen. In summer 1942 he joined the army. Four weeks later he was sent back to Hadamar, and then to Berlin where Christian Wirth transferred him to Lublin reservation camp complex in occupied Poland. There, he became an SS-Unterscharführer in rank and was assigned to Treblinka extermination camp. Hirtreiter served at Treblinka II from October 1942 till October 1943 at the Camp 2 Auffanglager receiving area. Later, he served at the Sobibór extermination camp.[3]

After the closing of Treblinka in October 1943, Hirtreiter was ordered to Italy where he joined an anti-partisan police unit (his superior Franz Stangl went there in order to set up the Risiera di San Sabba killing centre).[4]


Hirtreiter was arrested by the Allies in July 1946 for having served at the euthanasia centre in Hadamar, but was released due to lack of incriminating evidence. He was re-arrested in 1951 after testimony of Treblinka prisoner Szyja (a.k.a. Sawek,[5] or Jeszajahu)[6] Warszawski,[7] who survived in a burial pit wounded and slipped away under the cover of night, but in 1946 misspelled his name as Hitreider.[5][8] Hirtreiter was charged, and pronounced guilty in Frankfurt am Main, as the first of the Treblinka extermination camp men, tried over a decade later at Düsseldorf in West Germany. He was sentenced to life imprisonment on 3 March 1951 for killing children; many aged one to two, during the unloading of the transports notably, by grabbing them by their feet and smashing their heads against the walls of boxcars.[5][9] Hirtreiter was released from prison in 1977 due to illness. He died 6 months later at an old folks home in Frankfurt.[3]


  1. ^ Kopówka, Edward; Rytel-Andrianik, Paweł (2011), "Treblinka II – Obóz zagłady" [Monograph, chpt. 3: Treblinka II Death Camp] (PDF file, direct download 20.2 MB), Dam im imię na wieki [I will give them an everlasting name. Isaiah 56:5] (in Polish) (Drohiczyńskie Towarzystwo Naukowe [The Drohiczyn Scientific Society]), ISBN 978-83-7257-496-1, retrieved September 9, 2013, with list of Catholic rescuers of Jews imprisoned at Treblinka, selected testimonies, bibliography, alphabetical indexes, photographs, English language summaries, and forewords by Holocaust scholars. 
  2. ^ Arad, Yitzhak (1987). Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka. The Operation Reinhard Death Camps (Google Books preview). Bloomington, Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253213053. 
  3. ^ a b ARC (23 September 2006). "The Treblinka Perpetrators". An overview of the German and Austrian SS and Police Staff. Aktion Reinhard Camps ARC. Retrieved 22 October 2013. Sources: Arad, Donat, Glazar, Klee, Sereny, Willenberg et al. 
  4. ^ Michael Bryant (15 May 2014). Eyewitness to Genocide: The Operation Reinhard Death Camp Trials, 1955–1966. Univ. of Tennessee Press. pp. 84–85. ISBN 1621900495. 
  5. ^ a b c The Treblinka Death Camp Trials, S.J., H.E.A.R.T 2007.
  6. ^ Sprawiedliwi z powiatu wołomińskiego (Righteous from Wolomin). Jeszajahu (Szyja) Warszawski rescued by Serafinowicz family. Fakty.wwl, 24 February 2012.
  7. ^ Anna Poray, Saving Jews: Polish Righteous. Jewish refugees from the Treblinka uprising: Szloma Helman and Szyja Warszawski. Rescued by Julian & Stanislawa Serafimowicz (Tel-Aviv, 1951. Grynberg.)
  8. ^ "Die Treblinka-Prozesse." Geschrieben von: Dr. iur. Christian Hofmann.
  9. ^ Szyja Warszawski H.E.A.R.T 2007. Evidence to the United Nations War Crimes Commission presented by the Polish Main Commission for the Investigation of German Crimes in Poland (now IPN). Excerpts in English, Warsaw, 1946. Vol. I, p. 196.