Josef Wagner (Gauleiter)

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Josef Wagner

Josef Wagner (born January 12, 1899 in Algringen (Algrange) , Diedenhofen district in Alsace-Lorraine ; † April 22 or May 2, 1945 in Berlin [?]) Was NSDAP - Gauleiter of Gaus Westphalia from 1928 or (from 1931 ) Westphalia-South and from January 1935 also the district of Silesia .

Parental home and First World War

Josef Wagner was born on January 12, 1899 in Algringen, Lorraine, as the son of the miner Nikolaus Wagner. Wagner was Catholic. He attended the teachers' college in Wittlich from the summer of 1913 and had been a soldier on the Western Front from June 1917 . There he was wounded and taken prisoner by the French . In 1919 he returned to Germany after fleeing via Switzerland . He finished his training as a primary school teacher and initially worked as a tax officer in Fulda and from 1921 at the Bochumer Verein .

Turning to the NSDAP

From 1922 Wagner was active in National Socialist groups. In 1923 he founded a local branch of the NSDAP in Bochum . After the banning of the NSDAP following the attempted coup in November 1923, Wagner was district leader of the Völkisch-Soziale bloc in Westphalia and the Ruhr area, and after the re-admission and reorganization of the NSDAP he returned to work there from 1925. In 1927, after various non-professional activities, he was hired as a teacher for a short time, but dismissed in the same year as a constitutional opponent. In 1927 he became district manager in Bochum. In 1928 he was appointed Gauleiter of the Gau Westphalia and after the division of the Gau received the office of Gauleiter for Westphalia-South from 1931, based in Bochum. From 1928 to 1930 Wagner was one of the first twelve Reichstag members of the NSDAP in Berlin .

In 1930 he founded the National Socialist weekly newspaper Westfalenwacht , in 1931 the daily newspaper Rote Erde and in 1932 the University of Politics of the NSDAP Westphalia-South in Bochum, of which he was the first director.

Rise and Fall in National Socialism

After the seizure of power by the Nazis in 1933, he was briefly a member of the county council of the province of Westphalia . This elected him in April 1933 to the Prussian State Council , to which he was a member until its dissolution on July 10, 1933 as first deputy chairman. In 1935 Wagner - since September 1933 National Socialist Prussian Council of State - was also appointed Gauleiter in Silesia by Hitler . There he replaced Helmuth Brückner , who was suspected of belonging to the Röhm wing "because of various statements and his homosexual tendencies" , which is why he was arrested, released and expelled from the NSDAP.

In Silesia he was also given the relevant state offices: in 1935 he was appointed Upper President for the Prussian Province of Lower Silesia in Breslau and took on the business of Upper President for the Province of Upper Silesia . At the same time, the University of Munich did his doctorate in 1934 with a political science topic (The Reich Index Number of Cost of Living) .

After the merger of the two Silesian provinces, Wagner was from 1938 Oberpräsident of the Province of Silesia in Breslau until it was divided again in January 1941.

On October 29, 1936, Wagner was appointed " Reich Commissioner for Pricing ". Since the beginning of the war on September 1, 1939, he was " Reich Defense Commissioner " for Silesia ( Military District VIII).

Bormann , Himmler and Goebbels rejected Wagner. His deputy in Silesia, Fritz Bracht , as well as the higher SS and police leader there, Udo von Woyrsch , intrigued against him and prepared his overthrow from 1939. They imputed a kind of "protection policy" to the Polish population in Silesia. His denominational ties - Wagner was Catholic - as well as the management of the official business as President of the Province of Silesia and as Gauleiter in Westphalia-South were the subject of criticism.

The plot directed against Josef Wagner used a letter from Wagner's wife to her daughter in November 1941, which could be interpreted as pro-Catholic. Himmler and Bormann played it into Hitler's hands.

On November 9, 1941, Hitler removed him from all offices. His successors as NSDAP Gauleiter were Fritz Bracht in Silesia and Paul Giesler in South Westphalia. On October 12, 1942, Wagner was expelled from the NSDAP. From autumn 1943 he was monitored by the Gestapo on Himmler's instructions .

Wagner initially lived withdrawn again in Bochum. After the assassination attempt on July 20, 1944 , he was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in the house prison of the Gestapo headquarters in Berlin. On April 22, 1945, Wagner is said to have been murdered by the Gestapo in Berlin. Isa Vermehren writes about him: “His deepest wish was to be able to start the same career all over again in order to root out everything that he had so laboriously sown. He openly confessed the work of the last twenty years as an error that turned into a crime, and also refuted the widespread error that the 'good' leader had known nothing and only failed because of the badness of his employees. Adolf Hitler was the engine of the whole machine, was the diabolical force itself and chose the employees according to this standard. Bormann had to come because Himmler was too soft. "

According to another account, Wagner was one of the last seven inmates of the Gestapo house prison to survive and was liberated by Red Army soldiers on the morning of May 2, 1945, together with the other inmates; a shot is said to have accidentally been fired, fatally injuring Wagner.


On July 2, 1937, he was made an honorary citizen of Iserlohn .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Peter Hüttenberger: The Gauleiter. Study on the change in the power structure in the NSDAP. Stuttgart 1969, p. 200.
  2. Isa Vermehren : Journey through the last act. Reinbek 2005, ISBN 3-499-24007-6 , p. 175 f.
  3. ^ Antony Beevor : Berlin 1945. The end. Pantheon 2012 (German first publication 2002), ISBN 978-3-570-55148-6 , p. 420 f.


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