2 December 1906|
Ried im Traunkreis, Austria
|Died||3 January 1944
|Years of service||1937—1944|
|Commands held||Sobibór, 1 September 1942 — 17 October 1943|
Franz Karl Reichleitner (2 December 1906 — 3 January 1944) was an Austrian SS-Hauptsturmführer (Captain) who served in Operation Reinhard during the Holocaust. Reichleitner served as the second and last commandant of Sobibór extermination camp from 1 September 1942 until the camp's closure on or about 17 October 1943. As the commanding officer of the camp, Franz Reichleitner directly perpetrated the genocide of Jews.
Reichleitner joined the Nazi Party in 1936 as member number 6,369,213 and the Schutzstaffel in 1937 as member number 357,065. He began his career as a Kriminalsekretär of the Gestapo in Linz. Later Reichleitner was assigned to work in the Action T4 euthanasia program at the nearby Hartheim Euthanasia Centre. He first served as an assistant supervisor (together with Franz Stangl) under officer Christian Wirth before assuming Wirth's position of chief supervisor at Hartheim. Reichleitner was also partly responsible for getting Stangl a supervising job in T-4.
On 1 September 1942, at the rank of SS-Obersturmführer (First Lieutenant), on the orders of Wirth and Odilo Globocnik, Reichleitner took command of the Sobibór extermination camp with Franz Stangl's departure to Treblinka. Reichleitner rarely showed his face in the camp, and it has been claimed that he was a heavy drinker, but his reign of Sobibór was even more strict than that of his predecessor. Moshe Bahir, a camp inmate, wrote:
Reichleitner, a man in his late forties, with an Austrian accent, was dressed always with great elegance and wore gloves. He did not have direct contact with the Jews and the transports. He knew that he could rely on his subordinates, who were very frightened of him. He ran the camp with German precision. During his time the Aktionen went smoothly, and all the transports that arrived on a certain day were liquidated. He never left them for the following day....
On one occasion, when an old man from the transports slapped SS officer Karl Frenzel, Reichleitner took the man aside and shot him on the spot in front of his family and the entire convoy of people.
After Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler visited Sobibór on 12 February 1943, he promoted Reichleitner to SS-Hauptsturmführer (Captain). Reichleitner was on leave on the day of the successful Sobibór revolt, 14 October 1943. With about 300 of the 600 prisoners having escaped, the remainder were shot dead and, per the direct orders of Himmler, Sobibór was closed within a few days and the Nazis attempted to remove any traces of its existence.
In autumn 1943, like so many of the perpetrators of Operation Reinhard, Reichleitner was then transferred to the Fiume area of Italy to kill Jews and quell the partisan resistance movement there. Franz Reichleitner was killed by partisans on 3 January 1944 at Fiume, Italy.
- Biographies of SS men at Sobibor
- The Holocaust: Lest we forget: Extermination camp Sobibor
- Ernst Klee: Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945?. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Zweite aktualisierte Auflage, Frankfurt am Main 2003 ISBN 3-10-039309-0
- Henry Friedlander (1995). The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, pp. 100, 204-206. ISBN 0-8078-2208-6
- Gitta Sereny. Into That Darkness: from Mercy Killing to Mass Murder, a study of Franz Stangl, the commandant of Treblinka (1974, second edition 1995)
- Yitzhak Arad (1987). Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 188-189.
SS-Obersturmführer Franz Stangl
|Commandant of Sobibór extermination camp
1 September 1942 — 17 October 1943