Martin Weiss (Nazi official)

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Martin Weiss

Martin Weiss (21 February 1903 – 1984) [1] was a Nazi official and de facto commander of the Vilna Ghetto and a Holocaust perpetrator. He was also the commander of the notorious Nazi-sponsored Ypatingasis būrys killing squad, which was largely responsible for the Ponary massacre where approximately 100,000 people were shot.

Vilna Ghetto Ghetto for Jews in Vilnius during the Holocaust

The Vilna Ghetto was a World War II Jewish ghetto established and operated by Nazi Germany in the city of Vilnius in the territory of Nazi-administered Reichskommissariat Ostland.

Ypatingasis būrys or Special SD and German Security Police Squad (Lithuanian: Vokiečių Saugumo policijos ir SD ypatingasis būrys, Polish: Specjalny Oddział SD i Niemieckiej Policji Bezpieczeństwa, also colloquially strzelcy ponarscy was a Lithuanian killing squad also called the "Lithuanian equivalent of Sonderkommando", operating in the Vilnius Region. The unit, primarily composed of Lithuanian volunteers, was formed by the German occupational government and was subordinate to Einsatzkommando 9 and later to Sicherheitsdienst and Sicherheitspolizei.

Ponary massacre

The Ponary massacre or Paneriai massacre was the mass murder of up to 100,000 people, mostly Jews, by German SD and SS and their Lithuanian collaborators, including Ypatingasis būrys killing squads, during World War II and the Holocaust in Reichskommissariat Ostland. The murders took place between July 1941 and August 1944 near the railway station at Ponary, a suburb of today's Vilnius, Lithuania. Some 70,000 Jews were murdered at Ponary, along with up to 20,000 Poles, and 8,000 Russian POWs, most of them from nearby Vilna (Vilnius), and its newly-formed Vilna Ghetto.

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Early life and military service

He was born to a well-to-do Protestant family in Karlsruhe. Weiss followed his father's steps and received education in plumbing and heating installation. He was an apprentice in his father's shop. [2] In 1923–1927 Weiss lived in South America, helping his brother to establish a farm. After his father's death in 1928, Weiss took over the family business. Two years later he got married. Weiss and his wife had three children. [2]

Karlsruhe Place in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Karlsruhe is the second-largest city of the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg after its capital of Stuttgart, and its 309,999 (2016) inhabitants make it the 21st largest city of Germany. On the right bank of the Rhine, the city lies near the French-German border, between the Mannheim/Ludwigshafen conurbation to the north, and the Strasbourg/Kehl conurbation to the south. It is the largest city of Baden, a region named after Hohenbaden Castle in the city of Baden-Baden. Karlsruhe is also the largest city in the South Franconian dialect area, the only other larger city in that area being Heilbronn. The city is the seat of the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht), as well as of the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof) and the Public Prosecutor General of the Federal Court of Justice.

He was not particularly interested in politics and joined Reiter SS, a branch of Schutzstaffel (SS) that focused on horsemanship and equestrianism, in 1934. [2] In 1937, he also joined the National Socialist German Workers Party. When Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, he was drafted into the Wehrmacht. Because of his SS membership, he was placed in a Waffen-SS mechanical supply unit, with which he took part in the Battle of France. In August 1940, he returned to his hometown and resumed the family business. [2]

<i>Schutzstaffel</i> Major paramilitary organization of Nazi Germany

The Schutzstaffel was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party (NSDAP) in Nazi Germany, and later throughout German-occupied Europe during World War II. It began with a small guard unit known as the Saal-Schutz made up of NSDAP volunteers to provide security for party meetings in Munich. In 1925, Heinrich Himmler joined the unit, which had by then been reformed and given its final name. Under his direction (1929–45) it grew from a small paramilitary formation to one of the most powerful organizations in Nazi Germany. From 1929 until the regime's collapse in 1945, the SS was the foremost agency of security, surveillance, and terror within Germany and German-occupied Europe.

Equestrianism The use of horses for sport or work

Equestrianism, more often known as horse riding or horseback riding, refers to the skill and sport of riding, driving, steeplechasing or vaulting with horses. This broad description includes the use of horses for practical working purposes, transportation, recreational activities, artistic or cultural exercises, and competitive sport.

Wehrmacht unified armed forces of Germany from 1935 to 1945

The Wehrmacht was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer (army), the Kriegsmarine (navy) and the Luftwaffe. The designation "Wehrmacht" replaced the previously used term Reichswehr, and was the manifestation of the Nazi regime's efforts to rearm Germany to a greater extent than the Treaty of Versailles permitted.

The Holocaust

In spring 1941, he was drafted again and assigned to Einsatzkommando 3, part of the Einsatzgruppe stationed in Bad Düben. [2] In October 1941, he was assigned to work in the Office of the Commander of Security Police ( Sicherheitsdienst or SD) and Security Police ( Sicherheitspolizei or Sipo) in Vilnius, then part of the Reichskommissariat Ostland. Weiss held this position until July 1944. [2] He was responsible for all aspects of the repression against the Jewish population of Vilnius, which is estimated to have been around 50,000 during the Holocaust. Despite his low rank of technical sergeant (SS-Hauptscharführer ), he was in charge of the Vilna Ghetto and nearby Lukiškės Prison, [2] as well as commanded the Ypatingasis būrys killing squad responsible for the Ponary massacre until 1943. [3] he personally supervised 13 to 15 executions at the site. [2] In July 1943, Weiss became chief of the Gestapo prison in Vilnius. [1]

<i>Einsatzkommando</i> organization

During World War II, the Nazi German Einsatzkommandos were a sub-group of five Einsatzgruppen mobile killing squads – up to 3,000 men total – usually composed of 500–1,000 functionaries of the SS and Gestapo, whose mission was to exterminate Jews, Polish intellectuals, Romani, homosexuals, communists and the NKVD collaborators in the captured territories often far behind the advancing German front. After the outbreak of war with the Soviet Union with Operation Barbarossa, the Red Army began to retreat so rapidly that the large Einsatzgruppen had to be split into dozens of smaller commandos (Einsatzkommandos), responsible for systematically killing Jews and, among others, alleged Soviet partisans behind the Wehrmacht lines. After the war several Einsatzkommando officers were tried, in the Einsatzgruppen trial, convicted of war crimes and hanged.

Bad Düben Place in Saxony, Germany

Bad Düben, until 1948 Düben is a town in the district of Nordsachsen in the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated at the southern end of the Düben Heath Nature Park, between the rivers Elbe and Mulde, which runs through the city center.

Sicherheitsdienst, full title Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS, or SD, was the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. Originating in 1931, the organization was the first Nazi intelligence organization to be established and was considered a sister organization with the Gestapo through integration of SS members and operational procedures. Between 1933 and 1939, the SD was administered as an independent SS office, after which it was transferred to the authority of the Reich Main Security Office, as one of its seven departments/offices. Its first director, Reinhard Heydrich, intended for the SD to bring every single individual within the Third Reich's reach under "continuous supervision".

Weiss was noted by the inmates of the ghetto for his merciless cruelty and frequent beatings. In one instance he shot a man on the spot for trying to bring a few potatoes and a bit of fish through the ghetto gates. There are reports of other German soldiers willing to pardon a Jew, but being afraid to do so knowing that Weiss would certainly not approve such an action. [2] Because of his cruel and capricious conduct in sending Jews of the ghetto to the killing grounds at Ponary, Weiss was known in the ghetto by the paradoxical nickname "Weiss, das Schwarz" or "White, the Black". [4]

Criminal conviction

Weiss was arrested in May 1949. In February 1950, a court in Würzburg found him guilty of war crimes and sentenced him to life imprisonment. In 1970, his sentence was suspended and revoked in 1977. [1]

Würzburg Place in Bavaria, Germany

Würzburg is a city in the region of Franconia, northern Bavaria, Germany. Located on the Main River, it is the capital of the Regierungsbezirk of Lower Franconia. The regional dialect is East Franconian.

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References

  1. 1 2 3 "Martin Weiß (1903 – 1984)". Gedenkorte Europa (in German). Studienkreises Deutscher Widerstand 1933-1945. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Langerbein, Helmut (2003). Hitler's Death Squads: The Logic of Mass Murder. Texas A&M University Press. pp. 66–68. ISBN   1-58544-285-2.
  3. Bubnys, Arūnas (2004). Vokiečių ir lietuvių saugumo policija (German and Lithuanian security police: 1941-1944) (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Lietuvos gyventojų genocido ir rezistencijos tyrimo centras . Retrieved 2006-06-09.
  4. Rabinovici, Schoschana (1998). Thanks to My Mother. Puffin Books, Penguin Books. p. 56. ISBN   0-14-130596-7.