Franz Ziereis

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Franz Ziereis
Ziereis cropped.JPG
Camp Commandant
Flag of the German Reich (1935–1945).svg
Born 13 August 1905
Died 24 May 1945(1945-05-24) (aged 39)

Franz Xaver Ziereis (13 August 1905 – 24 May 1945) was the commandant of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp from 1939 until the camp was liberated by the Americans in 1945.

Early life[edit]

Ziereis was born on 13 August 1904 in Munich, Germany, where he spent 8 years in elementary school and then began as an apprentice and messenger boy in a department store. In the evenings he studied commerce. In 1922 he went to work as a labourer in a carpentry shop.

Military career[edit]

Ziereis joined Germany's Reichswehr (army) on 1 April 1924, for a period of 12 years. He was discharged with the rank of sergeant in 1936 and joined the SS on September 30 of the same year. He attained the rank of SS-Obersturmführer and was assigned as a training instructor to the SS-Totenkopfverbände. In 1937 he was given command of the 22nd Hundertschaft (hundred-man-unit) of SS-Totenkopf-Standarte 2 "Brandenburg". On 1 July 1938, he was transferred to the SS-Totenkopf-Standarte 3 "Thüringen" as a training instructor.

Concentration camp commandant[edit]

August Eigruber (far left), Franz Ziereis (left), Himmler (front), Karl Wolff (right) and Franz Kutschera (far right) in KZ Mauthausen (April 1941)

Zeireis replaced Albert Sauer as commandant of Mauthausen on 9 February 1939 by order of Theodor Eicke, Inspector of Concentration Camps. On 25 August 1939, Ziereis received a promotion to the rank of SS-Sturmbannführer and, on 20 April 1944 he received his final promotion to SS-Standartenführer.

Post-war flight and death[edit]

Ziereis fled with his wife on 3 May 1945. He attempted to hide out in his hunting lodge on the Pyhrn mountain in Upper Austria. He was discovered and arrested on 23 May 1945, by an American army unit. He was shot three times in the stomach while trying to escape and brought to a U.S. military hospital set up in Gusen I where he eventually died shortly after interrogation by a former inmate of Mauthausen, Hans Marsalek. His corpse was later hung on the fence of Gusen I by former prisoners of Gusen.[1]


  1. ^ Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich - Wer war was vor und nach 1945, Frankfurt am Main, 2. Auflage, Juni 2007, ISBN 978-3-596-16048-8