Karl Chmielewski

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Karl Chmielewski (1940s)

Karl Chmielewski (born 16 July 1903 in Frankfurt am Main; died 1 December 1991 in Bernau am Chiemsee) was a German SS officer and concentration camp commandant. Such was his cruelty that he was dubbed Teufel von Gusen or the Devil of Gusen.[1]

Chmielewski joined the SS whilst unemployed in 1932 and joined the Nazi Party the following year.[1] After initially serving in the office of Heinrich Himmler he was transferred to the Columbia concentration camp in 1935 before moving to Sachsenhausen concentration camp the following year. He was promoted to Untersturmführer in 1938 and attached to the Schutzhaftlagerführung (the 'Protective custody' units of the SS-Totenkopfverbände).[1]

From 1940 to 1942 Chmielewski, by then a Hauptsturmführer, served as Schutzhaftlagerführer at Gusen concentration camp and it was here that he developed a reputation for extreme brutality.[2] He then became commandant of the newly established Herzogenbusch concentration camp, where he further became a by-word for cruelty.

Amongst the claims made against him was that during inspections he ordered the drowning of prisoners in buckets of water.[3] Fellow camp commandant Franz Ziereis claimed after the war that Chmielewski had used the skin of prisoners to make wallets, book binding etc., something Ziereis claimed was strictly forbidden by the Nazi authorities.[4] Chmielewski's reign at Herzogenbusch also garnered a reputation for corruption and he was eventually tried for personally enriching himself through stealing diamonds from prisoners. He was deprived of his position and rank, being succeeded as commandant by Adam Grünewald in 1943, and ended the war as an inmate at Dachau concentration camp.[5]

Having disappeared in Austria, Chmielewski was not tried until 1961 when he was found and received a life sentence of hard labour.[6] The trial pronounced him a sadist who took pleasure in killing prisoners, whom he did not see as human, by scalding them with boiling water.[7] He was ultimately found guilty of causing the deaths of prisoners through his brutality.[8] He was eventually released in March 1979 on mental health grounds and spent his last years in a care institution at Chiemsee.[9]


  1. ^ a b c "Sagel-Grande, et.al.: Justiz und NS-Verbrechen - Strafverfahren gegen Chmielewski Karl (Lage, Aufbau und personelle Besetzung des Lagers Gusen und Lebensbedingungen seiner Häftlinge. Band XVII, Amsterdam 1977. p. 160 ff.
  2. ^ Schiffkorn Elisabeth: "Zur Forschungsgeschichte des urnenfelderzeitlichen Gräberfeldes von Gusen". In: EuroJournal Mühlviertel-Böhmerwald, 2.Jg, Sonderheft 1, Linz 1996.
  3. ^ Tom Segev, Soldiers of Evil, Berkley Books, 2001, p. 137
  4. ^ Segev, Soldiers of Evil, p. 145
  5. ^ Segev, Soldiers of Evil, p. 153
  6. ^ Michael Bar-Zohar, The Avengers, Hawthorn Books, 1969, p. 254
  7. ^ Segev, Soldiers of Evil, p. 203
  8. ^ Segev, Soldiers of Evil, p. 33
  9. ^ "Chmielewski, Karl.". Retrieved 18 October 2015.