Josef Klehr

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Josef Klehr (born October 17, 1904 in Langenau , Upper Silesia , † August 23, 1988 in Leiferde ) was a German SS Oberscharführer and SS medical officer (SDG) in the Auschwitz I concentration camp .


Klehr was born the son of an educator. After attending primary school, he learned the carpentry trade . Until 1934 he worked as a carpenter journeyman. At the end of 1934 (after a vain attempt to find a place as an educator in the same institution where his father worked) he became a nurse in the sanatorium in Leubus . From 1938 he took on a position as auxiliary sergeant in the Wohlau prison .

Klehr had already joined the SS and the NSDAP in autumn 1932 . In August 1939 he was drafted into the Waffen SS . He came to the Buchenwald concentration camp guard . In 1940 Klehr was transferred to the Dachau concentration camp as an SS medic , where he worked both in the prisoner infirmary and in the SS precinct. In October 1941 he was promoted to SS-Unterscharführer and posted to Auschwitz concentration camp . There it was first used in the prisoner infirmary of the main camp as an SDG.

Klehr was notorious for “hosing down” ( murder by injecting phenol into the heart muscle) from inmates.

“After the camp doctor had examined the sick prisoners, Klehr loved selecting other prisoners in the wards of the prisoner infirmary to be killed with phenol as soon as the camp doctor had left the camp. He walked through the hospital blocks and randomly selected Jewish prisoners [...] [He] had a preference for even numbers. He wanted to 'round up' the number of inmates selected to be killed by the camp doctor. "

As head of the disinfection command from the summer of 1943, Klehr was directly involved in the mass murders in the gas chambers . In a number of cases in Birkenau he had poured Zyklon B into the gas chambers after " Jewish people who came with a transport from the Reich Security Main Office were locked up there."

On April 20, 1943, Klehr was awarded the War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords for his “merits” . From July 1944 he was in charge of the prisoner infirmary in the Gleiwitz I subcamp and was responsible for the sanitary facilities of the Gleiwitz I to IV subcamps. During the evacuation of Auschwitz between January 17 and January 23, 1945, Klehr guarded a column of prisoners and accompanied the death march to the Groß-Rosen concentration camp . There he was attached to an SS task force and came to Austria via Czechoslovakia towards the end of the war .

After 1945

In Austria , Klehr was taken prisoner by the Americans in May 1945. He was taken to the prisoner-of-war camp in Böblingen and sentenced by a camp court to three years in a labor camp for belonging to the SS .

In March 1948 he was released from the labor camp in Braunschweig . There he worked as a carpenter until he was arrested again in September 1960. At this point he was married and had two children.

In the first Auschwitz trial , which began on December 20, 1963 before the jury court in Frankfurt am Main , he was sentenced to life in prison in August 1965 and a further 15 years in prison for murder in "at least 475 cases" and accessory to murder in several thousand cases sentenced. In addition, he lost his civil rights for life. On January 25, 1988, the execution of the sentence was suspended due to unfit for execution, and on June 10, 1988 the remainder of the sentence was suspended. Klehr died a few months later.

In the film report “ Three German Murderers. Notes on the Banality of Evil ”(1978/99) by Ebbo Demant were interviewed fourteen years after the Auschwitz trial and during their imprisonment, Klehr, Oswald Kaduk and Josef Erber about Auschwitz and their self-image as former members of the SS camp staff.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Ebbo Demant (ed.): Auschwitz - "Straight away from the ramp ...". Kaduk, Erber, Klehr: Three perpetrators put on record . Rowohlt, Hamburg 1979, ISBN 3-499-14438-7 .
  2. Text version: Ebbo Demant (ed.): Auschwitz - "Straight from the ramp ..." Kaduk, Erber, Klehr: Three perpetrators on record , Hamburg 1979.