Hermann Langbein

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Hermann Langbein (born May 18, 1912 in Vienna , Austria-Hungary , † October 24, 1995 in Vienna) was an Austrian communist resistance fighter against National Socialism and a historian . The former concentration camp inmate was a co-founder of the International Auschwitz Committee in 1954 .


After graduating from high school, Hermann Langbein worked as an actor at the Deutsches Volkstheater . He joined the KPÖ in 1933 , fled the so-called " Greater German Reich " after the Anschluss and then fought in the International Brigades against the establishment of a dictatorship under Franco during the Spanish Civil War . After the defeat of the Republicans and the flight to France in early 1939, he was interned in France and - after the occupation of France - was extradited to Germany in 1941.

Immediately afterwards Langbein was sent to the Dachau concentration camp , where he was employed as a prisoner clerk in the infirmary for most of the time . From there, Langbein was transferred to Auschwitz I concentration camp (main camp) on August 19, 1942 , and was given prisoner number 60,355. There he acted as a prison officer in the position of prisoner clerk for the SS medical officer Eduard Wirths . In the camps, Langbein was a member of the leadership of the international resistance movement, including the Auschwitz combat group . In August 1944 Langbein was transferred to the Neuengamme concentration camp and from there to the Neuengammer satellite camp Lerbeck near Minden. On the evacuation transport to Fallersleben, east of Hanover, he jumped off the train in mid-April 1945 and fled to Austria by bicycle on May 5, where he arrived in his hometown of Vienna in May 1945. During this journey of more than 800 km he was “on a bicycle for the first time”, was afraid of the columns of vehicles overtaking him and was overtaken behind Halle (Saale) when the war ended on May 8th.

Hermann Langbein Tree in Yad Vashem

At first he worked full-time at the KPÖ and was a member of the party's central committee. Langbein was involved in setting up party schools and left his camp experience written down in 1947 under the title The Strongers. Publish a report from Auschwitz and other concentration camps in 1949 in the party's own publishing house. In the early 1950s, his re-election to the Central Committee failed. After conflicts with the party, Langbein was transferred to Budapest , where he edited German-language radio broadcasts for Hungarian radio . He returned to Austria in 1954 with his wife and daughter.

Langbein co-founded the International Auschwitz Committee (IAC) in 1954 and became its first general secretary. From 1955 to the early 1960s he was secretary of the Austrian camp community Auschwitz. In these functions he brought the concentration camp crimes to the public and fought for compensation payments for former concentration camp inmates. He was expelled from the KPÖ in 1958 when he began to question and criticize Stalinism in the course of the 1956 uprising in Hungary . Due to his estrangement from the KPÖ, Langbein was released from his post as general secretary of the IAK in 1960 and also excluded from its leadership in the following year. From 1963 he was secretary of the "Comité International des Camps".

On October 18, 1961, Westdeutscher Rundfunk broadcast the three-hour feature Auschwitz designed by Langbein and HG Adler . Topography of an extermination camp .

In the mid-1960s, along with Fritz Bauer, he played a key role in bringing about the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials and also appeared there as a witness. He then worked as a writer and publicist. Langbein was named Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 1967 .

From 1989 to 1995 he organized the seminar "Ideology and Reality of National Socialism" for teacher training together with Johannes Schwantner . Since 1996 the seminar in Memoriam Hermann Langbein has been called the “Hermann Langbein Symposium” and takes place annually in Linz . Langbein was also a member of the Museum Council of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and was involved in redesigning the exhibition.

The author and writer Kurt Langbein is his son, the actor Daniel Langbein his grandson.




The Fritz Bauer Institute has been running a research project since 2011: Hermann Langbein and the political debates of the post-war era .


  • Brigitte Halbmayr : Throughout her life consistently - Hermann Langbein - A political biography. Verlag Braumüller , Vienna 2012, ISBN 978-3-9910006-5-5 .
  • Johannes Schwantner, Thekla Schwantner, Andreas Schwantner (eds.): Ideology and Reality of National Socialism. Hermann Langbein Symposium 2007 . Experts4you, Vienna et al. 2008, ISBN 978-3-9502339-0-2 . ( Experts4you Edition Politics and Society )
  • Bruno Baum : Resistance in Auschwitz. VVN, Berlin 1949, DNB 450267032 .
  • Anton Pelinka , Erika Weinzierl (ed.): Hermann Langbein on the 80th birthday. Festschrift . Braumüller, Vienna 1993, ISBN 3-7003-1007-2 .
  • Katharina Stengel (ed.): Victims as actors. Interventions by former Nazi victims in the post-war period . Published on behalf of the Fritz Bauer Institute. Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2008, ISBN 978-3-593-38734-5 . ( Yearbook on the history and impact of the Holocaust 2008)
    • in this:
    • Thomas Irmer: Your long silence is certainly a deep resignation. Norbert Wollheim , Edmund Bartl, Hermann Langbein and the dispute over compensation for Nazi forced labor after 1945. pp. 87–105.
    • Katharina Stengel: Auschwitz between East and West. The International Auschwitz Committee and the genesis of the Auschwitz anthology. Certificates and reports. Pp. 174-196.
  • Katharina Stengel: Activism, Witness and Historiography. Hermann Langbein on his 100th birthday . In: Journal of History . Volume 60, Issue 5 (2012), pp. 397–416.
  • Katharina Stengel: Hermann Langbein. An Auschwitz Survivor in the Political Remembrance Conflicts of the Post-War Period , Frankfurt am Main, New York 2012, ISBN 978-3-593-39788-7
  • Thomas Fatzinek: The Strongers - A Report by Hermann Langbein. Graphic novel. bahoe books , Vienna 2017, ISBN 978-3-903022-49-2

Web links

supporting documents

  1. Brigitte Halbmayr: Time life consistently: Hermann Langbein: A political biography. Vienna 2012, ISBN 978-3-99100-065-5 , pp. 70 f . (Halbmayr prints the transfer list, on which 17 "Revierpfleger" are listed, including Langbein).
  2. 41 days, end of war 1945, intensification of violence . Exhibition by the Austrian Academy of Sciences / Institute for Cultural Studies and Theater History and the University of Graz / Institute for History in cooperation with the Federal Ministry for Defense and Sport in Graz from October 13, 2015, accessed on October 13, 2015.
  3. ^ HG Adler, Hermann Langbein: Auschwitz. Topography of an extermination camp . 3 CDs. DAV, Berlin 2014.
  4. Hermann Langbein on the website of Yad Vashem (English)
  5. readable and searchable at google.books and in online bookshops
  6. cf. Willy Buschak : The cloud of hope flew quickly above us. Bibliography of German-language publications on the Spanish Civil War, Klartext, Essen 2007, ISBN 978-3-89861-636-2 , p. 53.
  7. ^ Johanna Kirchner Medal. on: frankfurt.de
  8. in this edition, pp. 8 & 23 as well as in exp. Edition 1957. In the 2nd edition of the extended. The 1962 edition is missing Langbein's name, in the longer section about him his name was replaced by Baum by the word "der Schreiber", sc. Of the camp doctor Eduard Wirths . Langbein turned away from the KPÖ after the Hungarian uprising in 1956.