Martin Gottfried Weiss
|Martin Gottfried Weiss|
SS-Obersturmbannführer Weiss in custody 1945
3 June 1905|
Weiden in der Oberpfalz
|Died||29 May 1946
Dachau Trials execution
|Years of service||until 1945|
SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) Martin Gottfried Weiss alternatively spelled Weiß (3 June 1905 – 29 May 1946) was the Commandant of Dachau concentration camp in 1945 at the time of his arrest. He also served from April 1940 until September 1942 as the commandant of Neuengamme concentration camp, and later, from November 1943 until May 1944, as the fourth commandant of Majdanek death camp.
Weiss was born in Weiden in der Oberpfalz. His father worked for the Bavarian railway. He had two sisters and was raised catholic. After school he continued his education at a mechanical engineering school in Landshut. He finished school in 1924 and worked as intern in an ironworks. Later he was about 3,5 years at electric company Oberpfalz. In summer 1926 he joined the Nazi party and founded a chapter of the SA and of the HJ with two friends in Weiden. Later he studied electrical engineering in Bad Frankenhausen, he finished in 1930. His grades were good, so he worked as an assistant at the school until April 1932, when he was released. He went back to Weiden area and joined the SS.
From April 1933 he served with the guards of KZ Dachau; from November 1933 till February 1938 he was engineer of the camp. In March he became adjutant to camp commander Hans Loritz and Alex Piorkowski. He married in 1934, and he had at least two children.
In April 1940 he received an order to build out Konzentrationslager Neuengamme and became camp commander that November. The Neuengamme camp was tasked to deliver building materials for the Führerbau in Hamburg. From April 1942 till July 1942 Weiss was also commander of KZ Arbeitsdorf.
Commander at Dachau
On 1 September 1942 Weiss became commander of KZ-Dachau. Soon after this, Oswald Pohl criticised him severely, about the poor condition of the prisoners. Weiss therewith made conditions in the camp a bit more humane. Weiss had taken some of his kapos from Neuengamme to Dachau. A last action of Aktion 14f13 was made by him, this brought death to 342 people in the Hartheim Euthanasia Centre. Weiss worked in Dachau until 31 October 1943.
During his time as a commander in Dachau 35 people were hanged and 18 people were shot. Before the trial Weiss insisted that these people were not KZ prisoners, but prisoners of the Gestapo. He said they were sentenced to death by order of Heinrich Himmler and the Reich Main Security Office. This contradicted the statement of Johann Kicks, and was also a violation of the rules of the concentration camps Lagerordnung.
Commander at Majdanek
He was appointed commandant of Majdanek after his predecessor Hermann Florstedt was charged with wholesale stealing from the Third Reich to become rich. He started as commander of Lublin-Majdanek on 4 November 1943. On 3 November 1943 one of the most terrible massacres happened there; more than 17.000 Jewish people were murdered during Aktion Erntefest in one day. Historians believe, Weiss was present this day in Lublin-Majdanek, to incorporate with his new position. It is sure that on the first day of his work he had to clear off the results of the massacre.
On 18 May 1944 SS-Obersturmbannführer Weiß was promoted. On 1 November 1944 he was sent to Mühldorf subcamp. There Organisation Todt built with prisoners of KZ Dachau two underground plants for the production of fighter planes. Because German Luftwaffe was worse in the air war against the British Airforce, the labour was forced very hard. Jewish prisoners who worked there were afraid of being killed by gas, if they did not work enough. Some died of the hard work, some from typhus. Those who could not work any longer were sent to Auschwitz. The position of Weiß in Mühldorf is not absolutely clear. Anyway, from all people involved in Mühldorf, he had the highest rank.
At the end of April 1945 he was in Dachau, maybe to relieve commander Eduard Weiter. On 28 April he talked with SS-Standartenführer Kurt Becher how to hand over the camp to the US-Army (not sure, Becher later remembered only that the name of the man he talked to, started with "W" ). On 28 April or 29 April Weiß flew from Dachau.
Conviction and execution
Weiss was apprehended in Munich on 29 April 1945 by corporal Henry Senger of the US Army 292nd Field Artillery Observation Battalion, and was tried during the Dachau Trials beginning 13 November 1945. After being found guilty of "violating the laws and usages of war," Weiss was executed by hanging at Landsberg prison on 29 May 1946.
- Jan Erik Schulte: Zwangsarbeit und Vernichtung. Das Wirtschaftsimperium der SS. Oswald Pohl und das SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt 1933-1945. Paderborn 2001, ISBN 3-506-78245-2.
- Karin Orth: Die Konzentrationslager-SS. dtv, München 2004, ISBN 3-423-34085-1.
- Karin Orth: Das System der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager. Pendo Verlag, Hamburg 2002, ISBN 3-85-842-450-1.
- Ernst Klee: Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich: Wer war was vor und nach 1945. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-596-16048-8.
- Case No. 000-50-2 (US vs. Martin Gottfried Weiss et al.) Tried 13 Dec. 45 in eng. Sprache (pdf-datei; 40,9 MB)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Martin Gottfried Weiss.|
- Zámečník, Stanislav (2002), Das war Dachau, Luxemburg: Comité International de Dachau, pp. 254–255
- Chris Webb, Carmelo Lisciotto (2007). "Majdanek Concentration Camp (a.k.a. KL Lublin)". H.E.A.R.T, Holocaust Research Project.org. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
- Karin Orth: Die Konzentrationslager-SS, München 2004, S. 95
- Karin Orth: Die Konzentrationslager-SS, München 2004, S. 96
- Ernst Klee: Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich: Wer war was vor und nach 1945. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2007, S. 664
- Karin Orth: Die Konzentrationslager-SS, München 2004, S. 137
- Karin Orth: Die Konzentrationslager-SS, München 2004, S. 181f.
- Quelle: Aussagen des Zeugen der Verteidigung H.Bickel (NOR 4, S.5335-5359 G) und des Angeklagten Mummethey, leitender Geschäftsführer der DEST (NOR 4, S.5588-5589 G), Quelle entnommen aus: Stanislav Zámečník: (Hrsg. Comité International de Dachau): Das war Dachau. Luxemburg, 2002., Unterkapitel „Der Lagerkommandant Martin Weiß“
- Vgl. Dachau-Prozess, „Weiß-Kreuzverhör“,Vol. 3, S.895
- The massacre is described in a book written by Józef Marszalek: Majdanek. Geschichte und Wirklichkeit des Vernichtungslagers, Reinbek bei Hamburg, 1982. S.138-144
- "How a teenage corporal nabbed commandant of Dachau". ucsb.edu.
- Henry C. Senger. "The Capture of SS Colonel Commandant Martin Gottfried Weiss, The Last Commandant of Dachau Concentration Camp". ucsb.edu.
- Tomaz Jardim, The Mauthausen Trial - American Military Justice in Germany (Harvard, 2012) 46.
SS-Sturmbannführer Walter Eisfeld
|Commandant of Neuengamme concentration camp
April 1940 – September 1942
SS-Obersturmbannführer Max Pauly
SS-Obersturmführer Hermann Florstedt
|Commandant of Majdanek concentration camp
1 November 1943 – 5 May 1944
SS-Obersturmbannführer Arthur Liebehenschel
SS-Hauptsturmführer Eduard Weiter
|Commandant of Dachau concentration camp
26 April 1945 – 28 April 1945
SS-Untersturmführer Johannes Otto