Hans-Adolf Asbach

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Hans-Adolf Asbach (born September 18, 1904 in Demmin ; † March 31, 1976 in Eutin ) was a German lawyer and politician ( GB / BHE ). In the era of National Socialism Asbach served as District Chief in the enforcement of the German policy in occupied Poland and in Galicia involved. From 1950 to 1957 he was Minister of Social Affairs for Schleswig-Holstein . A preliminary investigation initiated in 1961 on suspicion that Asbach was involved in the murder of Jews involved did not result in a charge.


After graduating from high school in Demmin, the son of a vice-principal studied law at the universities of Freiburg and Kiel , which he completed in 1930 with the first state examination and in 1934 with the second state examination . During his studies, Asbach became a member of the Arminia Kiel fraternity in 1926, and a member of the Hansea Hamburg fraternity in 1951 . Hans-Adolf Asbach was married to Waltraut geb. Heidemann and had three children.

Asbach joined the NSDAP at the end of May 1932 or May 1933 ( membership number 2,251,967). From 1934 he worked as a legal advisor for the German Labor Front in Stettin ; from 1939 he headed the local social welfare office . Between 1934 and 1935 he was a member of the SA .

District chief in the General Government

After the German invasion of Poland , Asbach moved to the government of the Generalgouvernement in Krakow at the beginning of January 1940 . In October 1940 he was appointed as District Chief chief civilian administrator of the district Janow Lubelski . As a district chief, Asbach had a penal camp set up in March 1941 for “work-shy” people and people who were said not to have complied with orders or who were said to have failed to fulfill their duties. In February and June 1941 he initiated the evacuation of around 2,200 Polish Jews from the town of Kraśnik . According to his own notes, made at the end of the 1940s, Asbach had already sought the position of a district chief when he applied for a position in the Generalgouvernement, since he could “be of great use to my home country in a not unimportant position”. As the head of the district, he had an "independent, independent, almost autocratic sphere of activity," said Asbach.

In August 1941 Asbach became district chief of Bereschany (Polish: Brzeżany), a town in the Galicia district that had become part of the Government General after the German attack on the Soviet Union . In Bereschany, Asbach was subordinate to a good 20 German and around 30 to 40 Polish or Ukrainian employees, with whom he was supposed to enforce the German occupation policy against the approximately 350,000 inhabitants of the district.

In October 1941 Asbach ordered a gathering of the Jews living in Bereschany. 600 of the congregation were held; For her release, Asbach levied a contribution from the city's Jewish community for which there was no legal basis. Despite the contribution paid, the detained Jews were shot the next day.

Asbach used part of the contribution for the preparation of plans for the redesign of the city of Bereschany, which had been badly damaged in the war. According to his own later statements, Asbach wanted “to turn my town Brzezany into an architectural gem of the East [...]”; He saw himself in the tradition of the “German builders of the Middle Ages in Krakow and Warsaw”. Asbach commissioned two Dresden architecture professors with urban planning and the design of buildings. In the course of the construction planning, a district of Bereschany was completely demolished. About 250 to 400 Jews who were housed in a forced labor camp were used for the work . According to witnesses, Asbach's building plans and his lavish lifestyle met with criticism from the higher authorities on several occasions.

In Bereschany there was already a permanent residential area for Jews; the establishment of a ghetto was delayed by the war damage and Asbach's construction plans. After repeated requests from the superior authorities, a ghetto was set up in autumn 1942, which was completely cordoned off at the end of 1942. The living conditions in the ghetto were characterized by hunger, illness and death; between 150 and 200 Jews lived in individual houses. Asbach's behavior towards the Jews in Bereschany is described as that of a staunch anti-Semite “who was extremely thorough in driving the Jews out of his circle. However, this was done using their labor and financial resources. "

In February 1943 Asbach was drafted into the Wehrmacht . After the end of the war, Asbach claimed that he had volunteered for the armed forces against the will of his superiors because of disputes between the civil administration and the security forces. According to witnesses, Asbach's successor had already arrived in Bereschany in January 1943, but was unable to take over his position as district chief because Asbach refused to vacate his post. A possible background to Asbach's resignation are disputes between the civil administration and the security forces, in which the civil administration criticized the methods used to systematically murder the Jews . Administrative agencies turned against “manhunts” in public, as they feared a loss of reputation among the Polish and Ukrainian population. There were also differences over the repatriation of Jews who were needed as slave labor.

At the end of the war, Asbach was captured by British troops near Wismar in April 1945. In June 1945 he was released from Allied captivity . Asbach moved to Schleswig-Holstein and initially worked as a farm worker in Rixdorf . From March 1946 he completed an apprenticeship as a bricklayer , which he completed in April 1948 with the journeyman's examination. Initially working as a bricklayer, he became unemployed at the end of 1948. During the denazification in 1947, Asbach was classified in category V ("unencumbered"). Because of Asbach's activity as district chief of Janów Lubelski, the People's Republic of Poland had applied for extradition .

From 1947, Asbach wrote extensive autobiographical records about his life until the post-war period. With regard to the expulsion of the Germans , he denied Poland the moral right to name German war criminals . In view of statements by politicians and representatives of the Church on the question of guilt, such as the Stuttgart confession of guilt of October 1945, Asbach claimed that "self-tearing and self- accusation [...] would be elevated to a system". According to the historian Markus Roth, Asbach's notes reveal a thinking in polarities, in "subsequently imagined or appropriately sharpened opposites", for example between the civil administration and the SS , where Asbach was "always on the right side". In doing so, Asbach takes real reference points and bends them "through omissions, shifts and absolute settlements into an exculpating fact". “Asbach, if you follow his notes, knew nothing, did nothing bad and had to watch helplessly what others were doing. He completely ignored the question of his own guilt or responsibility, ”said Roth. In a revision made in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Asbach tried to defuse anti-Semitic passages in his notes, "but with only moderate success." Roth attributes this more to an “outward adjustment process” than to a change in attitudes.

Minister of Social Affairs in Schleswig-Holstein

During the period of his unemployment from 1949, Asbach was involved in organizations of expellees: He was active as a legal advisor for refugees and expellees and became a social officer for the Pomeranian Landsmannschaft . In January 1950 he was a founding member of the party for displaced persons, the Federation of Expellees and Disenfranchised (BHE), and was then a member of the state executive in Schleswig-Holstein. In the state elections in July 1950 , the BHE achieved 23.4 percent; Asbach received a direct mandate in the constituency of Eutin-Ost and received 39.9 percent of the vote, the best BHE result in a constituency. After the election, a coalition of CDU , DP , FDP and BHE was formed; the CDU politician Walter Bartram was elected Prime Minister and on September 5, 1950 appointed Asbach to the state government as Minister for Social Affairs, Labor and Refugee Issues.

The formation of the Bartram cabinet was accompanied by sharp criticism, as five out of six ministers were former members of the NSDAP. The Frankfurter Rundschau spoke of a "renazification on a grand scale in Schleswig-Holstein"; the SPD party newspaper Neuer Vorwärts described the government as a "coalition of SA, SS and NSDAP". According to a November 23, 1950 report by the New York Herald Tribune , Asbach was suspected of having committed mass murders in Ukraine. In the British House of Commons , Labor MP Horace King made a request to the Schleswig-Holstein state government four days later, referring to Asbach's function in Ukraine.

In state politics, Asbach became - according to the historian Robert Bohn  - the " impresario of the Schleswig-Holstein denazification process" after the state parliament had passed the "law to end denazification" in March 1951. The law put those classified in category III (“less polluted”) and IV (“fellow travelers”) on an equal footing with those classified in category V and thus went far beyond the framework previously decided by the Bundestag. In the election campaign for the 1953 Bundestag elections , Asbach called denazification a “sniffing around” that brought “injustice and misfortune”. In January 1956, Asbach described the decision of a Berlin ruling chamber to confiscate parts of the property of Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz , who was imprisoned in the Spandau war crimes prison , as a “ kin bond ” for Dönitz's wife.

Asbach's State Secretary was Hans-Werner Otto (DP), who was regional commissioner in the Reichskommissariat Ukraine between 1942 and 1944 , a position comparable to that of the district chief. Asbach and Otto, who was considered a confidante of the minister, together specifically influenced personnel policy in Schleswig-Holstein's social area. Preference was given to hiring employees, "whose Nazi exposure was seen more as a qualification than an obstacle," according to historian Markus Roth. This group of people included Max Timm , who from 1942 was significantly involved in coordinating the deployment of “ foreign workers ” in the Reich Labor Ministry . In 1950 Timm became head of the Ministry's Labor Department and from 1954 was also responsible for the social courts. Hartmut Gerstenhauer , from autumn 1939 to September 1940 district chief in the Generalgouvernement, was hired as a lawyer at the Upper Insurance Office Schleswig in 1950 and took over the management of the local social court in 1954.

Asbach remained in office as Minister of Social Affairs under Prime Minister Friedrich Wilhelm Lübke (from July 1951) and Kai-Uwe von Hassel (from October 1954). He was Deputy Prime Minister in the Hassel cabinet . In his party, renamed GB / BHE in 1952, Asbach took over the state chairmanship in 1954; he was also the regional chairman of the Pomeranian Landsmannschaft.

Asbach resigned on October 21, 1957. He thus anticipated the dismissal by Prime Minister von Hassel. Von Hassel said that he wanted to fire Asbach because he had promised construction work in Segeberg, although the budget for this was already exhausted. The background to the planned dismissal were statements by Asbach after the federal elections in 1957 , in which the GB / BHE failed for the first time because of the five percent hurdle . Asbach had described the right to vote in the Bundestag election as "unfair and undemocratic" and declared that since the GB / BHE no longer represented the interests of the expellees in the Bundestag, the parliament was "not sufficiently legitimized [...] to make decisions about East German problems" . In addition, there had been disputes within the GB / BHE, in which the parliamentary group advocated close ties to the CDU, while the regional association under Asbach advocated radical opposition to the federal government.

Asbach remained a member of the state parliament until 1962; after the 1958 election he became deputy chairman of the parliament's committee for food, agriculture and forestry. As GB / BHE state chairman, he was replaced by Herbert Beer in 1960 . With the merger of GB / BHE and DP , Asbach became a member of the All-German Party (GDP) in 1961 . From 1959 to 1964 he was the managing director of the Nordmark housing association and then worked as a seminar leader.

Investigation proceedings for violent National Socialist crimes (NSG proceedings)

In June 1961 a Jewish doctor who had lived in Bereschany during the German occupation filed a complaint against Asbach. According to the ad, Asbach is said to have actively participated in the murder of Jews. The Ludwigsburg Central Office initiated a preliminary investigation into murder or aiding and abetting murder, which was submitted to the Kiel public prosecutor in February 1964. In September 1964, the Kieler Nachrichten reported on the investigation against Asbach. The Kiel Ministry of Justice had previously advised the newspaper that early reporting could damage the proceedings, as Asbach had not yet been questioned. According to the report in the Kieler Nachrichten , which was picked up by other newspapers, Asbach wrote to politicians such as the GDP chairman Hermann Ahrens and the Prime Minister Helmut Lemke , demanding that he do everything possible to honor and prestige a former minister restore.

In a first interrogation in May 1965, Asbach denied having been responsible for Jewish policy as district chief and emphasized conflicts between the civil administration and the SS. Asbach's time specifications were vague and made it difficult for investigators to assign allegations to the accused. Asbach's lawyer urged the interrogation of Ludwig Losacker , who had temporarily been Asbach's superior in the Generalgouvernement and who had acted as a witness in numerous proceedings against former officials in the Generalgouvernement. Since in the 1960s there was hardly any knowledge about the structure and work of the civil administration in the Generalgouvernement and the files of the civil administration had largely been destroyed or lost, the investigators evaluated the laws, ordinances and newspaper reports of the time. The evaluation of further investigations against district chiefs showed that the relationship between civil administration and security forces was individually different, depended on the assertiveness of those involved and changed over time, but was far less determined by conflicts than was shown by the accused in testimony. For a murder charge it was necessary to prove that Asbach knew at the time of the deportation of the Jews that their murder was planned. As in other proceedings against district chiefs, this evidence could hardly be provided without the accused's confession.

House searches carried out near Asbach in April 1965 yielded little information on the allegations; However, letters that documented Asbach's participation in earlier witness agreements were confiscated: In 1955, Asbach, his former secretary and Ludwig Losbacher denied in compensation proceedings before the Stuttgart Regional Court that there had been forced labor camps and ghettos in Bereschany and Janow-Lubelski. A house search carried out in September 1966 at Asbach's deputy in Bereschany, Fritz Tichy, confirmed the investigators' suspicions that Losacker played a central role in witness agreements in the proceedings against Asbach. It also became known that Tichy and another witness were working for the Federal Intelligence Service (BND). Since the BND had requested files from the investigative proceedings against Asbach in June 1965, the investigators no longer ruled out "that the files at that time fell into the wrong hands with the Federal Intelligence Service". This was denied in November 1966 by the President of the BND, Reinhard Gehlen . In 1968 Asbach's former secretary admitted that, under pressure from Asbach, she had given incorrect information in earlier interrogations and withheld information. As a result, an investigation was initiated against Asbach for inciting false testimony.

In July 1968, the Kiel prosecutor Hans Hadeler presented the 500-page final report of the investigation, which contained massive allegations against Asbach. Hadeler recommended that the subsequent preliminary judicial investigation be limited to seven out of 19 offenses for which there would be enough sound evidence. Before Hadeler could complete the application for a preliminary investigation, he was transferred to the Federal Motor Transport Authority in Flensburg - Mürwik , of which he later became president. According to the historian Markus Roth, it is reasonable to assume that the transfer was an attempt to "let the process run cold in a cold way"; Compared to other proceedings, Hadeler investigated violent Nazi crimes with “great commitment”. In 2007, Hadeler himself considered it very possible to influence the procedure, but could not provide any evidence.

In October 1969 the Lübeck Regional Court opened the preliminary investigation against Asbach. According to the opening order, he was accused of

“Through seven independent acts, some acting jointly with Hitler , Himmler and other perpetrators, a total of at least 3,148 Jewish people and one Pole were killed for low motives, namely out of racial hatred, sometimes also insidious or cruel and at least in one case acting with deliberation to have."

The preliminary investigation did not produce any significant new findings until it was completed in August 1974. In November 1975, the responsible public prosecutor's office came to the conclusion that none of the cases accused of Asbach contained sufficient evidence for a main trial. The public prosecutor's office assumed that Asbach must have known by spring 1942 at the latest that the purpose of recording and concentrating the Jews was their murder. At the same time, the public prosecutor assumed that from June 1942 sole responsibility for "Jewish affairs" lay with the SS and police leader Fritz Katzmann . This meant that Asbach could only be held responsible for acts between spring and June 1942. The Lübeck district court agreed on March 25, 1976, a few days before Asbach's death.

See also


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Biographical information in: Sandkühler: Endlösung , p. 453; Musial: civil administration , p. 380 f .; Bewersdorf: Asbach , p. 72; Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 457.
  2. ^ Helge Dvorak: Biographical Lexicon of the German Burschenschaft. Volume I: Politicians. Sub-Volume 1: A-E. Winter, Heidelberg 1996, ISBN 3-8253-0339-X , p. 29.
  3. ^ Sand cooler: Final solution , p. 453; Musial: civil administration , p. 380 f.
  4. ^ Bewersdorf: Asbach , p. 72; Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 457.
  5. Hans-Adolf Asbach in the Munzinger Archive , accessed on August 22, 2012 ( beginning of the article freely accessible)
  6. Musial: civil administration , pp. 54, 135.
  7. Quoted in Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 101.
  8. ^ Bewersdorf: Asbach , p. 78.
  9. ^ Bewersdorf: Asbach , p. 79.
  10. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 53 f.
  11. Asbach's autobiographical notes from the late 1940s, quoted in Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 53.
  12. ^ Bewersdorf: Asbach , p. 79 f.
  13. a b Bewersdorf: Asbach , p. 82.
  14. ^ Bewersdorf: Asbach , p. 90.
  15. This assessment by Bewersdorf: Asbach , p. 89 f. See also Roth: Herrenmenschen p. 233 f.
  16. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 285.
  17. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 255.
  18. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 270.
  19. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 254.
  20. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 257.
  21. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 256.
  22. Roth: Herrenmenschen , pp. 25, 255. Quotation p. 255.
  23. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 255 f.
  24. ^ Quotations from Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 397.
  25. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 398; Bewersdorf: Asbach , p. 73.
  26. Ministers, Schleswig-Holstein, November 27, 1950 from Hansard (accessed on August 19, 2012). See also Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 398.
  27. Robert Bohn: "Schleswig-Holstein states that there was never a National Socialism in Germany." On the exemplary failure of denazification in the former model district. (PDF, 561 kB) In: Democratic history. Yearbook for Schleswig-Holstein. ISSN  0932-1632 17 (2006), pp. 173-186, here p. 182.
  28. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 399 f.
  29. a b Quoted in Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 401.
  30. This assessment by Klaus-Detlev Godau-Schüttke: The Heyde / Sawade affair. How lawyers and medical professionals covered the Nazi euthansia professor Heyde after 1945 and remained unpunished. 2nd edition, Nomos, Baden-Baden 2001, ISBN 3-7890-7269-9 , p. 122.
  31. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 405.
  32. Roth: Herrenmenschen , pp. 394, 404, 474.
  33. ^ Erich Maletzke, Klaus Volquartz: The Schleswig-Holstein Landtag. The President of the Schleswig-Holstein State Parliament, Press Office and Public Relations Department, Kiel (1986), p. 86 f.
  34. Quoted in Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 406.
  35. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 407. See also: Party tactics. What you learn in Bonn . In: Der Spiegel . No. 47 , 1957, pp. 13–16 ( online - here p. 15).
  36. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 354 f .; Bewersdorf: Asbach , p. 73.
  37. For example: Once upon a time there was a minister. Kiel has a new scandal - the Asbach case . In: Die Zeit , No. 38/1964.
  38. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 355 f.
  39. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 358 f.
  40. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 362; Bewersdorf: Asbach , pp. 94-96.
  41. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 359; Bewersdorf: Asbach , pp. 76, 83.
  42. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 361.
  43. Roth: Herrenmenschen , pp. 344, 357.
  44. Quoted in Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 367. On Tichy and BND: Ibid., P. 365–369; Bewersdorf: Asbach , pp. 105-108.
  45. ^ Bewersdorf: Asbach , p. 93.
  46. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 369 f .; Bewersdorf: Asbach , p. 97 f.
  47. a b Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 370.
  48. Roth: Herrenmenschen , p. 355.
  49. Opening order of the Lübeck Regional Court of October 10, 1969, quoted in Bewersdorf: Asbach , p. 100.
  50. ^ Bewersdorf: Asbach , p. 100 f.