Victor Capesius

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Victor Capesius
Personal details
Born(1907-02-07)7 February 1907
Szerdahely, Austria-Hungary (today Miercurea Sibiului, Romania)
Died20 March 1985(1985-03-20) (aged 78)
Göppingen, West Germany
NationalityGerman/Romanian
Political partyNational Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP)
Children3
EducationUniversity of Cluj, Transylvania (Romania) and University of Vienna, Austria
OccupationDoctor of Pharmacy
Known for"The Druggist of Auschwitz" KZ-Apotheker (Pharmacist) of Dachau Concentration Camp, Sep 1943 and Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Feb 1944—Jan 1945,
Military service
Allegiance Nazi Germany
Branch/serviceFlag of the Schutzstaffel.svg Schutzstaffel
RankSS-Sturmbannführer

Victor Capesius (February 1907 in Szerdahely, Austria-Hungary – 20 March 1985 Göppingen, West Germany) was a Nazi SS-Sturmbannführer (Major) and KZ-Apotheker (concentration camp pharmacist) in the concentration camps of Dachau (1943–1944) and Auschwitz (1944–1945).

Early life[edit]

Born to a Saxon family in Reußmarkt, Transylvania, son of a doctor and pharmacist, Capesius began his academic studies in 1924 at the University of Cluj after graduating from high school. Capesius earned his undergraduate degree in general pharmacology from King Ferdinand I University on June 30, 1930.[1] He worked towards a pharmacy degree and then transferred to the University of Vienna, where in 1933, he received his Doctorate of Pharmacy. He was married in 1934 and worked for a subsidiary of IG Farben selling products to doctors and pharmacists.

World War II[edit]

After the start of World War II in 1939, Capesius joined the Romanian army and rose to the rank of captain while serving at a military hospital's pharmacy. In January 1942, for reasons not made clear in his military records, he was granted leave to restart his civilian job as a national sale representative for IG Farben and Bayer. He traveled so much that at times he lived in both Klausenburg and Sighisoara before finally buying a sixth-floor condominium on Brezoiano Street in an upper-class Bucharest neighborhood. He moved his family there.[2]

As an ethnic German, Capesius moved to the Waffen-SS after Romania joined the Axis powers in 1940.[3] After training at the SS-Zentrale Sanitäranlage (Central Sanitary Facility) in Warsaw, he was sent to Dachau Concentration Camp in September 1943; he worked there until his subsequent transfer to Auschwitz Concentration Camp in December 1943. In Auschwitz, he acted as the chief KZ-Apotheker (pharmacist) starting in February 1944 after his predecessor was executed for "spreading defeatism."[4] Capesius remained as the chief pharmacist until the camp was evacuated in January 1945.[5] Capesius worked closely with Josef Mengele and together they were heavily involved in the selection of inmates for the gas chamber beginning in the spring of 1944 when the Hungarian and Transylvanian Jews were sent to the camp. He was the only SS selector who was recognized at the arrival ramp by Jews who had known him personally or through his pharmaceutical work before the war.[6] [7] In Auschwitz, he had risen to the rank of SS-Sturmbannführer, in November 1944, and was in charge and control of the poisonous chemicals used in the extermination of the Jews, such as phenol and Zyklon B. This was during the mass murder of almost 400,000 Hungarian Jews.[8]

During his time at Auschwitz, Capesius stole valuables from the personal belongings of arriving Jews at the railhead and also secreted away gold pulled from the dental fillings of corpses. He had access to the gold since it was under the control of the camp's dentists, with whom he shared his pharmaceutical dispensary. Capesius sent the stolen gold to his sister for safekeeping until after the war.[9]

Post-War[edit]

After the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, he went into hiding in Schleswig-Holstein and fell into British captivity from which he was discharged after one year. He then began to study electrical engineering at the Technical University in Stuttgart. During a visit to Munich in 1946, Capesius was recognized by a former Auschwitz prisoner and was arrested at the train station by American military police and interned in the camps of Dachau and Ludwigsburg. After U.S. occupation authorities deemed his case unfit for prosecution, he was released in August 1947. He then went through denazification proceedings. He was found to be a major offender but managed to get that overturned by omitting his service at Auschwitz.[10] He found a job in a Stuttgart pharmacy. In October 1950, he used the gold he had stolen from Auschwitz to open a pharmacy in Göppingen and a beauty parlour in Reutlingen.[11]

Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials[edit]

A camp survivor, Hermann Langbein, and Germany's first postwar Jewish prosecutor, Fritz Bauer, were persistent in trying to compile enough evidence to make a case against Capesius. As a result of their work, Capesius was arrested in Göppingen in early December 1959 and remained in custody without bail or bond.[12] On 20 August 1965 he was indicted in the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials by the Landgericht Frankfurt am Main Community for aiding and abetting the murder of at least four cases of 2,000 people. He was convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison.[13][14] Capesius served only two and a half years and was released from prison in January 1968.[15]

Death[edit]

Capesius died from natural causes on 20 March 1985.[16] He was unrepentant until his death.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Patricia Posner The Pharmacist of Auschwitz: The Untold Story Crux, London 2017, ISBN 978-1-909979-41-3
  2. ^ Patricia Posner The Pharmacist of Auschwitz: The Untold Story Crux, London 2017, ISBN 978-1-909979-41-3
  3. ^ Paul Milata: Between Hitler, Stalin, and Antonescu. Romania in the German Waffen-SS. Böhlau, Cologne 2007, ISBN 978-3-412-13806-6
  4. ^ Patricia Posner The Pharmacist of Auschwitz: The Untold Story Crux, London 2017, ISBN 978-1-909979-41-3
  5. ^ Dieter Schlesak Capesius, the Auschwitz pharmacist Dietz, Bonn 2006. ISBN 3-8012-0369-7 .
  6. ^ Patricia Posner The Pharmacist of Auschwitz: The Untold Story Crux, London 2017, ISBN 978-1-909979-41-3
  7. ^ Ernst Klee : The Encyclopedia of persons to the Third Reich. Who was before and what after 1945?. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 3-10-039309-0
  8. ^ degob.org/index.php?showarticle=2023
  9. ^ Patricia Posner The Pharmacist of Auschwitz: The Untold Story Crux, London 2017, ISBN 978-1-909979-41-3
  10. ^ Patricia Posner The Pharmacist of Auschwitz: The Untold Story Crux, London 2017, ISBN 978-1-909979-41-3
  11. ^ Patricia Posner The Pharmacist of Auschwitz: The Untold Story Crux, London 2017, ISBN 978-1-909979-41-3
  12. ^ Patricia Posner The Pharmacist of Auschwitz: The Untold Story Crux, London 2017, ISBN 978-1-909979-41-3
  13. ^ Hermann Langbein : People in Auschwitz, Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Vienna, 1980. ISBN 3-548-33014-2
  14. ^ http://www.stuttgarter-zeitung.de/inhalt.ludwigsburg-vom-schinder-zum-apotheker.b8e9e402-f713-427a-b41a-68e4539ff3e7.html
  15. ^ archive.jta.org/article/1968/01/25/2944304/nazi-convicted-of-auschwitz-murders-released-after-three-years-of-prison
  16. ^ Erich Stockhorst : 5000 heads - who was what in the Third Reich Arndt, Kiel 2000. ISBN 3-88741-116-1
  17. ^ Patricia Posner The Pharmacist of Auschwitz: The Untold Story Crux, London 2017, ISBN 978-1-909979-41-3

External links[edit]

Literature by and about Victor Capesius in the catalog of the German National Library