Udo von Woyrsch
|Udo von Woyrsch|
SS-Obergruppenführer von Woyrsch
|Born||Udo Gustav Wilhelm Egon von Woyrsch
July 24, 1895
Schwanowitz, Silesia, Prussia, Germany
|Died||January 14, 1983
Biberach an der Riss, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany
|Criminal penalty||Sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, released early|
|Conviction(s)||Crimes against humanity|
Udo Gustav Wilhelm Egon von Woyrsch (24 July 1895 – 14 January 1983) was a high-ranking Nazi, who rose to the rank of SS Obergruppenführer and was responsible for numerous murders during The Holocaust.
Early life and family
Udo von Woyrsch was born in Schwanowitz (modern Zwanowice, Brzeg County, Poland) in Silesia in 1895. His family owned an estate there. His family had originally come from Southern Bohemia, and had established themselves around 1500 in Troppau / Opava (Moravian Silesia). The family were recognised minor nobility : one ancestor had even served as a Prussian royal chamberlain and his uncle was the Prussian General Field Marshal Remus von Woyrsch (1847–1920).
Woyrsch married his first wife Marie-Eva von Eichborn (* 5 March 1902; †?) on 25 June 1924 at Gut Pisch Kowitz in Lower Silesia. She was the daughter of the landowner Wolfgang von Eichborn Kowitz. Together they had a daughter, Tatjana Marie Eva Cäcilie. This marriage was dissolved on 19 May 1933 in Brzeg (Lower Silesia). His second marriage was to Inez Freiin Tschammer und Quaritz (* December 21, 1908 in Lower Tschirnau, Guhrau District, Lower Silesia; †?) on 21 September 1934 in Bad Salzbrunn (Lower Silesia). She was the daughter of the landowner Siegfried Freiherr von Tschammer und Quaritz (of the House Stephanshain). The second marriage resulted in four children, three boys and one girl.
First World War
From early 1914 to 9 February 1919 Udo von Woyrsch served with the Germany Army as an Oberleutnant (first lieutenant) in the Great War. From 10 February 1919 to 23 August 1920 he was associated with an organization called the Grenzschutz ("Border Defense"). He was awarded a variety of medals during the war, including the Iron Cross (First Class) and later the Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918 for Combatants.
According to Richard Grunberger Woyrsch had been involved in the Freikorps during the 1920s. Early on Woyrsch joined the NSDAP (Membership number 162,349) and the SS (Member Number 3,689). Himmler charged him with organising the SS in the Nazi Gau Silesia; as such von Woyrsch became the first commander of the SS-Oberabschnitt Südost.
In 1933 von Woyrsch was elected to the Reichstag. He was the SS and Police Leader in Elbe, and in 1934 Von Woyrsch participated in the Night of the Long Knives, ordering the execution of his SS rival Emil Sembach. On 30 June 1934 "he took command in Silesia, and on the orders of Göring arrested a number of SA leaders, disarmed all SA headquarters' guards and occupied the Breslau police headquarters. Von Woyrsch's men murdered some of the SA officers as a result of an on-going private feud."
Udo von Woyrsch had a close friendship with Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich, and was on Himmler's personal staff. On 1 January 1935 he was promoted to SS Obergruppenführer (then the second-highest rank in the SS).
In September 1939 Woyrsch commanded the Einsatzgruppe ("Special Purpose Operational Group") specifically charged with, and adept at, terrorizing and murdering the Jewish population of Poland. Woyrsch was responsible for some of the deadliest Jewish massacres in Poland in 1939, where in East Upper Silesia he led the group that murdered 500 Jews in Kattowitz, Będzin, and Sosnowiec. The brutality of this Einsatzgruppe in Kattowitz was such that some Wehrmacht officers interceded with the Gestapo to have it withdrawn. However many junior military commanders actively supported Woyrsch's campaign.
Between 20 April 1940 and February 1944 Woyrsch was the Higher SS and Police Leader in military district IV and district leader in Dresden. Woyrsch was removed from office in 1944 for incompetence. According to Richard Grunberger Woyrsch was part of Himmler's entourage trailing about northern Germany in 1945.
Woyrsch was a POW of the British from 1945 to 1948. In 1948, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the "Night of the Long Knives" in 1934. However, he was released in 1952. He was tried again in 1957 and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
- (German) Reichstag official records digital database
- Grunberger, Richard, Hitler's SS (1970), p. 42.
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- Matthäus, Jürgen; Böhler, Jochen; Mallmann, Klaus-Michael (2014-04-18). War, Pacification, and Mass Murder, 1939: The Einsatzgruppen in Poland. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781442231429.
- Grunberger, Richard, Hitler's SS (1970), p. 102.
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