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Career in the Nazi Party
In 1934, Dannecker became a member of the SS-Verfügungstruppe, a special combat support force, and a year later in 1935, he also became a member of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) (SD, Security Service was primarily the intelligence service of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany). In March 1937 came Dannecker's transfer to the Judenreferat ("Jew Unit") in the SD's main office. From September 1940 until July 1942, Dannecker was leader of the Judenreferat at the SD post in Paris, where he ordered and oversaw the French Police roundup of more than 13,000 Jews who were deported to Auschwitz, where they were murdered.
The Final Solution
Owing to misuse of his position, partially due to his theft of German confiscated property, he was ordered back to Berlin in August 1942. From January 1943 Dannecker was the highest German official in charge of the Final Solution, in all the Bulgarian territories. During March 1943 11,343 Jews were deported from the German occupied Bulgarian annexed territories of Greece and Yugoslavia to Auschwitz and Treblinka. Only 12 survived. His attempt to deport Jews with Bulgarian citizenship from old Bulgaria, a collaborationist ally, failed due to widespread opposition led by heads of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Bishops Stephan and Kiril from Sofia and Plovdiv, and by prominent politicians such as vice-president of the parliament, Dimiter Peshev. Danecker continued to deport Italian Jews between September 1943 and January 1944, when Italy surrendered to the Allies and Germans occupied Italy. Before the occupation Benito Mussolini refused to turn over Jews to the Nazis except those areas annexed or occupied by the Italians in the Balkans. After Hungary switched to the Allied side and Germany occupied Hungary, Dannecker and the Hungarian Arrow Cross deported more than a half a million Hungarian Jews between early 1944 and summer of the same year, despite knowing by that time that the war was lost. Hungary's regent had outlawed the Arrow Cross and repeatedly refused to hand over "his" Jews.
Dannecker developed under Adolf Eichmann into one of the SS's most ruthless and experienced experts on the "Jewish Question", and his involvement in the genocide of European Jewry was one of primary responsibility.
A passage from a 1942 report by Dannecker illustrates how the “Jewish Question” was handled in France:
Subject: Points for the discussion with the French State Secretary for Police, Bousquet... The recent operation for arresting stateless Jews in Paris has yielded only about 8,000 adults and about 4,000 children. But trains for the deportation of 40,000 Jews, for the moment, have been put in readiness by the Reich Ministry of Transport. Since the deportation of the children is not possible for the time being, the number of Jews ready for removal is quite insufficient. A further Jewish operation must therefore be started immediately. For this purpose Jews of Belgian and Dutch nationality may be taken into consideration, in addition to the former German, Austrian, Czech, Polish and Russian Jews who have so far been considered as being stateless. It must be expected, however, that this category will not yield sufficient numbers, and thus the French have no choice but to include those Jews who were naturalized in France after 1927, or even after 1919.
Ironically, Dannecker's first girlfriend, Lisbeth Stern, was Jewish.
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- Todorov, T. (1999), The Fragility of Goodness: Why Bulgaria's Jews Survived the Holocaust. London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson
- op cit Todorov p9
- www.nizkor.org: Document N° 1224, a report by Dannecker, from the Eichmann trail, Session No.33, 9 May 1961. http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/people/e/eichmann-adolf/transcripts/Sessions/Session-033-01.html
- Steur, C. (1997) Theodor Dannecker: Ein Funktionaer der "Endloesung", Essen, Klartext p15