Franz Suchomel

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Franz Suchomel
Suchomel, Franz.jpg
Born(1907-12-03)3 December 1907
Krumau, Austro-Hungarian Empire
Died 18 December 1979(1979-12-18) (aged 72)
AllegianceFlag of German Reich (1935-1945).svg  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Flag Schutzstaffel.svg Schutzstaffel
Rank Unterscharführer

Franz Suchomel (3 December 1907 – 18 December 1979) [1] was a Sudeten German Nazi war criminal. He participated in the Action T4 euthanasia program, in Operation Reinhard, and the Einsatzgruppen actions in the Adriatic operational zone. He was convicted at the Treblinka trials in September 1965 and spent four years in prison.

Operation Reinhard Code name for the creation of German extermination camps in Poland in World War II

Operation Reinhard or Operation Reinhardt was the codename of the secretive World War II German plan to exterminate Poland's Jews in the General Government district of German-occupied Poland. This deadliest phase of the Holocaust was marked by the introduction of extermination camps.

<i>Einsatzgruppen</i> Nazi paramilitary death squads, part of the SS

Einsatzgruppen were Schutzstaffel (SS) paramilitary death squads of Nazi Germany that were responsible for mass killings, primarily by shooting, during World War II (1939–45) in German-occupied Europe. The Einsatzgruppen were involved in the murder of much of the intelligentsia, including members of the priesthood, and cultural elite of Poland, and had an integral role in the implementation of the so-called "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" in territories conquered by Nazi Germany. Almost all of the people they killed were civilians, beginning with the intelligentsia and swiftly progressing to Soviet political commissars, Jews, and Romani people as well as actual or alleged partisans throughout Eastern Europe.

Operational Zone of the Adriatic Littoral World War II district

The Operational Zone of the Adriatic Littoral ; Italian: Zona d'operazioni del Litorale adriatico; Croatian: Operativna zona Jadransko primorje; Slovene: Operacijska zona Jadransko primorje) was a Nazi German district on the northern Adriatic coast created during World War II in 1943. It was formed out of territories that were previously under Fascist Italian control until its takeover by Germany. It included parts of present-day Italian, Slovenian, and Croatian territories. The area was administered as territory attached, but not incorporated to, the Reichsgau of Carinthia. The capital of the zone was the city of Trieste.



Franz Suchomel was born in Krumau, Bohemia in 1907, when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After leaving school he worked as an apprentice in his father's tailor shop and took over the family business in 1936. At the end of the 1920s, and again briefly in the fall of 1938, he served in the Czech Army. Suchomel joined the Sudeten German Party (SdP) in 1938. After the incorporation of the Sudetenland to the Third Reich as a result of the Munich Agreement, he became a member of the National Socialist Motor Corps (NSKK), a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party. [2] At the beginning of the Second World War, Suchomel was a tailor in the German Army and served in the Battle of France in 1940. [2] In March 1941 he became a photographer at the Hadamar Euthanasia Centre in the Action T4 headquarters in Berlin, where he took photographs of victims before their killing. [3]

Český Krumlov Town in Czech Republic

Český Krumlov is a town in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic. Its historic centre, centred around the Český Krumlov Castle, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992 and was given this status along with the historic Prague castle district.

Bohemia Historical land in Czech Republic

Bohemia is the westernmost and largest historical region of the Czech lands in the present-day Czech Republic. In a broader meaning, Bohemia sometimes refers to the entire Czech territory, including Moravia and Czech Silesia, especially in a historical context, such as the Lands of the Bohemian Crown ruled by Bohemian kings.

Sudeten German Party political party

The Sudeten German Party was created by Konrad Henlein under the name Sudetendeutsche Heimatfront on 1 October 1933, some months after the First Czechoslovak Republic had outlawed the German National Socialist Workers' Party. In April 1935, the party was renamed Sudetendeutsche Partei following a mandatory demand of the Czechoslovak government. The name was officially changed to Sudeten German and Carpathian German Party in November 1935.

Operation Reinhardt

In August 1942, Suchomel was transferred to the Treblinka extermination camp. [2] There he was responsible for handling incoming transports of Jewish victims as well as the confiscation and collection of valuables. He urged Jewish women on their way to the gas chambers disguised as showers: [4] "Dear ladies, quickly, quickly, quickly, the water is getting cold." [3]

Treblinka extermination camp German extermination camp near Treblinka, Poland in World War II

Treblinka was an extermination camp, built and operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II. It was located in a forest north-east of Warsaw, 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) south of the Treblinka train station in what is now the Masovian Voivodeship. The camp operated between 23 July 1942 and 19 October 1943 as part of Operation Reinhard, the deadliest phase of the Final Solution. During this time, it is estimated that between 700,000 and 900,000 Jews were killed in its gas chambers, along with 2,000 Romani people. More Jews were killed at Treblinka than at any other Nazi extermination camp apart from Auschwitz.

In October 1943 he served at the Sobibor extermination camp for a short time. After Operation Reinhard ended in November 1943, Suchomel was transferred along with the rest of Globocnik's staff to Operational Zone of the Adriatic Littoral in Trieste. Here he was a member of Sonderabteilung Einsatz R (English: "Special Action Unit R"), involved in extermination of Jews, confiscation of Jewish assets, and fighting partisan activity. [3] As the end of the war approached, the "Special Unit" withdrew from northern Italy at the end of April 1945. Suchomel wound up in American captivity there as a prisoner of war and was released in August 1945. [5] After 1949 Suchomel lived in Altötting, Bavaria. There he was again employed as a tailor, and served in five amateur orchestras as well as in the Catholic church choir. [3]

Trieste Comune in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy

Trieste is a city and a seaport in northeastern Italy. It is situated towards the end of a narrow strip of Italian territory lying between the Adriatic Sea and Slovenia, which lies almost immediately south and east of the city. It is also located near Croatia some further 30 kilometres (19 mi) south.

A partisan is a member of an irregular military force formed to oppose control of an area by a foreign power or by an army of occupation by some kind of insurgent activity. The term can apply to the field element of resistance movements, examples of which are the civilians who opposed Nazi German, Fascist Italian and Ustaše Croatian rule in several countries during World War II.

Prisoner of war person who is held in custody by a belligerent power during or immediately after an armed conflict

A prisoner of war (POW) is a person, whether combatant or non-combatant, who is held in custody by a belligerent power during or immediately after an armed conflict. The earliest recorded usage of the phrase "prisoner of war" dates to 1660.

Trial, conviction, later life

Twenty years after the end of the war, in the framework of first official investigations into crimes against humanity at the Treblinka extermination camp, German authorities collected evidence of Suchomel's participation in the Holocaust. He was arrested on 11 July 1963. [5] The Treblinka trials took place from 12 October 1964 until 3 September 1965 against ten defendants before the 3rd District Court of Düsseldorf. The charges consisted of the murder of at least 700,000 mainly Jewish people in the gas chambers, as well as deadly assault, shootings, and hangings of individual prisoners. Suchomel was convicted of accessory to murder and sentenced to six years in jail. [4] Suchomel was released from prison on 20 December 1967. [1]

Crimes against humanity deliberate attack against civilians

Crimes against humanity are certain acts that are deliberately committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian or an identifiable part of a civilian population. The first prosecution for crimes against humanity took place at the Nuremberg trials. Crimes against humanity have since been prosecuted by other international courts as well as in domestic prosecutions. The law of crimes against humanity has primarily developed through the evolution of customary international law. Crimes against humanity are not codified in an international convention, although there is currently an international effort to establish such a treaty, led by the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative.

The Holocaust Genocide of the European Jews by Nazi Germany and other groups

The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was a genocide during World War II in which Nazi Germany, aided by local collaborators, systematically murdered some six million European Jews—around two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe—between 1941 and 1945. Jews were targeted for extermination as part of a larger event during the Holocaust era, in which Germany and its collaborators persecuted and murdered other groups, including Slavs, the Roma, the "incurably sick", political and religious dissenters such as communists and Jehovah's Witnesses, and gay men. Taking into account all the victims of Nazi persecution, the death toll rises to over 17 million.

Treblinka trials

The two Treblinka trials concerning the Treblinka extermination camp personnel began in 1964. Held at Düsseldorf in West Germany, they were the two judicial trials in a series of similar war crime trials held during the early 1960s, such as the Jerusalem Adolf Eichmann trial (1961) and the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials (1963–65), as a result of which the general public came to realize the extent of the crimes that some two decades earlier had been perpetrated in occupied Poland by Nazi bureaucrats and their willing executioners. In the subsequent years, separate trials dealt with personnel of the Bełżec (1963–65), Sobibor (1966), and Majdanek (1975–81) extermination camps.

Franz Suchomel was secretly recorded during the interview for the documentary film Shoah , directed by Claude Lanzmann and released in 1985. During the interview at the Hotel Post in Braunau am Inn he provided details of Treblinka criminal operations. He also performed the Treblinka song which prisoners had to learn upon arrival at the camp. The lyrics in English translation were: "We know only the word of our Commander. We know only obedience and duty. We want to serve, to go on serving until little luck ends it all. Hurray!" [6] He died on 18 December 1979. [1]

<i>Shoah</i> (film) 1985 film by Claude Lanzmann

Shoah is a 1985 French documentary film about the Holocaust, directed by Claude Lanzmann. Over nine hours long and 11 years in the making, the film presents Lanzmann's interviews with survivors, witnesses and perpetrators during visits to German Holocaust sites across Poland, including extermination camps.

Claude Lanzmann French journalist, film director, writer and screenwriter

Claude Lanzmann was a French filmmaker known for the Holocaust documentary film Shoah (1985).

Braunau am Inn Place in Upper Austria, Austria

Braunau am Inn  is a town in Upper Austria. Located on the border with Germany, it is the largest town in the Upper Austrian Innviertel region. Braunau is known for being the birthplace of Adolf Hitler.

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  1. 1 2 3 Samuel Willenberg: Treblinka Lager. Revolte. Flucht. Warschauer Aufstand. Anm. 9, p. 217. Unrast-Verlag, Münster 2009, ISBN   978-3-89771-820-3
  2. 1 2 3 Henry Friedländer: The Origins of Nazi Genocide – From Euthanasia to the Final Solution, Chapel Hill 1995, p. 240.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Ernst Klee: Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich: Wer war was vor und nach 1945., Frankfurt am Main 2007, p. 615
  4. 1 2 Treblinka Trial at (in German)
  5. 1 2 Short Biography of Franz Suchomel at, retrieved 07-May-2012
  6. Micha Brumlik: Der zähe Schaum der Verdrängung , in Der Spiegel, Edition 8/1986, 17 February 1986, pp. 192-197.