Kurt Franz (SS member)

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Kurt Franz as SS-Untersturmführer

Kurt Hubert Franz (born January 17, 1914 in Düsseldorf ; † July 4, 1998 in Wuppertal ) worked as a cook in the “ Euthanasia ” institutions Grafeneck , Brandenburg , Hartheim and Sonnenstein as part of Aktion T4 and then deputy at Aktion Reinhardt and finally the last camp commandant of the Treblinka extermination camp .

Youth and education

Kurt Hubert Franz was born on January 17, 1914 in Düsseldorf as the son of a businessman and had a sister. After eight years of attending primary school in Düsseldorf, he worked as a messenger before he began an apprenticeship as a cook in the Düsseldorf restaurant “Hirschquelle” in 1929. He continued this in the "Wittelsbacher Hof" without taking an assistant examination.

His mother remarried after the death of her first husband in 1928. His stepfather was a German nationalist man, while his mother was considered a devout Catholic.

After six months as a member of the Kyffhäuser Youth (see Kyffhäuserbund ), Franz reported in October 1932 to a camp of the voluntary labor service in Ratingen set up by the “ Stahlhelm ” . In the same year he joined the NSDAP . In the spring of 1934 he came to the Honnef camp , where he left the labor service in October 1934 with the rank of troop leader.

Until October 1935 he worked as a trainee with the master butcher Stollmann in Düsseldorf-Oberkassel . He was then drafted into the 6th Artillery Regiment in Minden to do his military service. During his two years of military service, he was last used as a cook with the rank of chief gunner.

With the SS-Totenkopfverband

While he was still doing military service, Franz applied to the SS skull and crossbones associations . At the end of 1937 he was included in the 3rd SS-Totenkopfstandard "Thuringia" (SS-No. 319.906). Here too he was used as a cook after completing his basic training. He also worked as a recruit trainer.

He was promoted to SS-Sturmmann on January 30, 1938, to SS-Rottenführer on November 9, 1938 and to SS-Unterscharführer on January 30, 1940. During this time, Franz was temporarily assigned to the Buchenwald concentration camp guard duty . In 1941 he served as an SS squad leader in the SS clothing store.

With the T4

Together with another like-minded person, Franz became the office of the Reichsärzteführer Dr. Leonardo Conti ordered to Vossstrasse in Berlin. Here he was informed about the so-called “euthanasia” campaign by the SA standard leader and head of the Office IIa of the Führer’s office , Werner Blankenburg , and assigned to the “non-profit foundation for institutional care”, one of several cover organizations of Hitler’s chancellery.

He was one of seven participants who, under the direction of SS-Standartenführer and Oberdienstleiter of the Chancellery of Führer Viktor Brack, carried out a preview of the Grafeneck Samaritan Sanatorium on October 17, 1939, in order to check its suitability as a "euthanasia" institution. Grafeneck was then also the first of a total of six such institutions to be "put into operation" for this purpose from January 1940. Franz himself was employed as a cook as part of the T4 campaign in the “euthanasia” institutions in Grafeneck , Brandenburg , Hartheim and Sonnenstein .

In 1940 he married. The marriage remained childless. However, Franz and four other women had four illegitimate children.

At the turn of 1941/42 he was ordered back to Hitler's office and worked in the kitchen of this office at Wilhelmstrasse 40.

At the Reinhardt campaign

After his promotion to SS-Oberscharführer on April 20, 1942, Franz was appointed " SS and Police Leader for the Lublin District", SS Brigadefuehrer Odilo Globocnik , and assigned to the Belzec extermination camp's guards for Aktion Reinhardt . He stayed here until the middle of 1942. He then went to the Treblinka extermination camp , where he was deployed as deputy to camp commandant Franz Stangl . On June 21, 1943 he was promoted to SS-Untersturmführer . After Stangl was recalled, Franz headed the extermination camp as commandant from August to November 1943.

Franz's area of ​​responsibility in Treblinka is described in the judgment of the Düsseldorf Regional Court of September 3, 1965 as follows (judgment, p. 49f.):

“In Treblinka, where due to the inability of the first camp commandant, Dr. Irmfried Eberl the entire annihilation machinery was mixed up and everything went haywire, the accused first took over the leadership of the Ukrainian guards and first taught this 'wild bunch', as he put it, military discipline and order. But he did not leave it at that, but soon took care of the entire warehouse operations, which he rebuilt and thoroughly reorganized with and under the direction of Wirth . He took care of everything that was going on in the camp and was soon promoted to deputy to the camp commandant. In this capacity he had all the reins in hand and had an unrestricted influence over the entire course of the camp, especially since the successor of Dr. Eberl, who later became SS-Hauptsturmführer Stangl, paid little or no attention to external operations and was hardly seen outside. Franz took an active part in all the work in the camp, inspected the camp facilities in the lower and upper camps as well as the various work details.

On the arrival of transports, the defendant not only took measures to increase security, but also personally intervened in the unloading of the trains, the selection of the old, sick and infirm people, selected working Jews among the new arrivals and supervised the handling of the transports at the transshipment point , the undressing of the victims and their transfer through the hose to the gas chambers . If the Jews did not obey his orders quickly enough or if there was any other resistance, he would brutally beat the unfortunate victims with a whip or fist, set the dog Barry on the people or use a pistol to get his words and will necessary emphasis. All in all, the accused, who, because of his handsome face, good figure and well-groomed appearance, had the Polish nickname Lalka among the Jewish prisoners, which means doll in German, used the abundance of power at his disposal in a terrible and unrestrained manner in order to help achieve the ultimate goal set by the Führer of the complete annihilation of the Jewish people in his sphere of influence and to turn the short span of their lives that was still available to them here into an agonizing hell for the Jews deported to Treblinka. In doing so he revealed such sadism and such disregard for all Jewish life that human imagination is hardly sufficient to even imagine the crimes committed by him or under his direction and cooperation. He described the Jews in the camp as 'assholes', 'filth', 'shit' and 'dogs', which should be disposed of as soon and as thoroughly as possible. Any respect for the life and personality of his victims was completely alien to him. He abused, boxed, beat and killed when he enjoyed it and when he felt like it. He found nothing about it when his dog, Barry, rushed at the helpless Jews at his call, threw them to the ground, and injured and tore them in his presence. If a prisoner was no longer able to work as a result of this mistreatment, Franz shot him on the spot or had him taken to the hospital for liquidation if for whatever reason he did not feel like shooting himself.

Accordingly, the defendant Franz was the terror of the whole camp. As soon as he showed himself around the camp on foot, on horseback, or on a bicycle, one of them warned the other before he was coming, because they knew that some more mistreatment or killing would now be due. Every prisoner, however ill or weak, increased his zeal for work and tried to make as favorable an impression as possible so as not to attract attention. Nevertheless, the defendant repeatedly found reasons to mistreat and torment Jewish prisoners and even to kill them on the spot or to send them to the hospital to be shot. His presence at the daily roll-calls was particularly feared, where he very often made large-scale selections in order to select the sick and no longer fully able to work for liquidation in the hospital or in retaliation for any attempt to escape, violations of camp discipline or other trivialities. In numerous cases he also imposed the flogging sentence and carried it out himself on the beating box provided for it . In doing so, he insulted and threatened both the unfortunate victims and the driven work prisoners in the meanest and most filthy manner and made a great show of everything that spread fear and terror and in which the accused wanted to confirm himself.

How many people in Treblinka were killed by the hand of the defendant Franz or by his direct cause can no longer be determined with certainty. The only thing that is certain is that this number is not small and that the defendant, through his behavior in the camp, has been guilty of blood. A large part of the rivers of blood and tears that have flowed in Treblinka can be attributed to him alone. "

When fighting partisans

After the Treblinka extermination camp was closed, SS-Untersturmführer Franz came to the Triest State Protection School as a trainer and then to Gorizia, where he was to set up a new school of this type. Franz was wounded while fighting partisans at the end of 1944 and, after his recovery, was used as a security officer for the Gorizia-Trieste railway line.

After the war and sentencing

After the end of the war, he left with his wife, who had been evacuated to Arnstadt in Thuringia . He was able to escape from American captivity and return to Düsseldorf. There he registered on June 26, 1945 with his real name at the employment office. Until the end of 1948 he worked as a bridge construction worker. From 1949 until his arrest at his home in Düsseldorf on December 2, 1959, he worked as a cook again.

In the Treblinka trial , Franz was ruled by the Düsseldorf Regional Court on September 3, 1965 (Az .: 8 I Ks 2/64) for collective murder of at least 300,000 people, for murder in 35 cases of at least 139 people and for attempted murder Sentenced to prison. The court accused him of “almost satanic cruelty”, “extremely high criminal energy” and “ruthlessness towards the victims” in the sentencing considerations. Because of his age and health reasons, Franz was released in mid-1993 after he had been outdoors since the late 1970s. He lived with his wife in Ratingen and died on July 4, 1998 in an old people's home in Wuppertal.

In his 1998 documentary Der Judenmord - Germans und Austrians report , the Belgian filmmaker Michel Alexandre succeeded in interviewing Kurt Franz, who was released from prison at the Remscheid-Lüttringhausen prison, in front of the camera about his time in the Treblinka extermination camp. In the accompanying book, the interview with Franz in the film was also printed in full.

Franz's private photo album, which was seized during a search of his apartment in the course of his arrest in 1959, became famous. Contrary to the official ban, Franz had created it for his time at Aktion Reinhardt and in Trieste and titled it on one page with “Schöne Zeiten”.


  • Michel Alexandre: The murder of Jews - Germans and Austrians report. Cologne 1998, ISBN 3-8025-2610-4 .
  • Ernst Klee , Willi Dreßen , Volker Rieß: Nice times. Frankfurt a. M. 1988, ISBN 3-10-039304-X .
  • Ernst Klee: What they did - what they became. Frankfurt a. M. 1986, ISBN 3-596-24364-5 .
  • Volker Rieß: 20 years after “Nice Times”. A look back with pictures. In: Mitteilungen des Bundesarchivs Vol. 16 (2008), Issue 3, pp. 103–111 (PDF; 35.8 MB) .
  • Irene Sagel-Grande, Adelheid L. Rüter-Ehlermann, HH Fuchs, CF Rüter : Crimes of mass destruction in camps. Subject of the proceedings: gassing of at least 700,000 predominantly Jewish men, women and children and, in a minority, also of gypsies. Fatal abuse, shooting, killing and hanging of individual prisoners as well as being mangled by 'Barry', the camp commandant's dog. Court decisions: LG Düsseldorf 650903 and BGH 700630. In: Justice and Nazi crimes . Collection of German criminal judgments for Nazi homicides 1945–1966, Vol. XXII, No. 596. University Press, Amsterdam 1981, pp. 1–238.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Samuel Willenberg: Treblinka - Treblinka. Camp, revolt, escape, Warsaw uprising., P. 217, annot. 8., Hamburg / Münster: Unrast 2009, ISBN 9783897718203
  2. Torsten Thissen: The forgotten trial of Treblinka . In: Rheinische Post October 18, 2014, p. D7.
  3. Two thousand and one. Film lexicon FILMS from AZ - The murder of Jews - Germans and Austrians report. Retrieved February 9, 2018 .
  4. ^ A b Kurt Franz from Ratingen - last commandant of the Treblinka extermination camp. Retrieved February 9, 2018 .
  5. Michel Alexandre: Der Judenmord - Germans and Austrians report . Egmont VGS, Cologne 1998, ISBN 3-8025-2610-4 , p. 138-143 .
  6. Volker Rieß: 20 years after "Schöne Zeiten". A look back with pictures. In: Mitteilungen des Bundesarchivs Vol. 16 (2008), Issue 3, pp. 103–111 (PDF; 35.8 MB) .