Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg

15.11.1907 - 21.07.1944
German officer who attempted to assassinate Hitler

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Claus Schenk von StauffenbergColonel von Stauffenberg worked in the German Army headquarters in Berlin. He was one of the main conspirators in an attempt to kill Hitler and take control of the government, to end World War II. Von Stauffenberg planted a bomb in a conference room at Hitler's headquarters on July 20, 1944. The bomb went off, causing severe damage to the building and killing and wounding several officers, but Hitler escaped with only minor injuries. In the meantime, von Stauffenberg had flown back to Berlin to help with the coup, but when word came that Hitler had survived, von Stauffenberg and the other main conspirators were rounded up and summarily executed in the courtyard of Army headquarters on Bendlerstrasse, just after midnight. Von Stauffenberg's last words were "Long live our sacred Germany." He became a German national hero after the war, and Bendlerstrasse was renamed Stauffenbergstrasse.

Adolf Hitler

20.04.1889 - 30.04.1945
Leader of the German Nazi party and dictator of 3rd Reich 

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Adolf Hitler

Leader of the German Nazi party and, from 1933 until his suicidal death in 1945, dictator of Germany

He rose from the bottom of society to conquer Germany and then most of Europe. Riding on a wave of European fascism after World War I, he built a Fascist regime unparalleled for barbarism and terror. His rule resulted in the extermination of about six million Jews. On April 30, 1945, on Hitler's orders, he and Eva Braun were cremated with diesel fuel in the Reich Chancellery garden above his bunker.

Heinrich Himmler

7.10.1900 - 23.05.1945
German Nazi leader and chief of police 

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The son of a pious, authoritarian Roman Catholic schoolmaster who had once been tutor to the Bavarian Crown Prince. Himmler served as an officer cadet in the Eleventh Bavarian Regiment at the end of World War I, later obtaining a diploma in agriculture from Munich Technical High School where he studied from 1918 to 1922. After working briefly as a salesman for a firm of fertilizer manufacturers, the young Himmler joined a paramilitary, nationalist organization and participated in the Munich Beer-Hall putsch of November 1923 as standard-bearer at the side of Ernst Rohm, Secretary to Gregor Strasser. Both Rohm and Strasser were mentors to the young firebrand Hitler, but they too became victims of Hitler's paranoia and were later imprisoned and executed for dissension. He joined the Nazi Party in 1925, and in 1929 was made head of the SS (Schutzstaffel, protective force), which he developed from Hitler's personal bodyguard into a powerful Party weapon.

He also directed the secret police (Gestapo), and initiated the systematic liquidation of Jews. In 1943 he became minister of the interior, and in 1944 commander-in-chief of the home forces. Himmler was in fact the chief architect for the "final solution", the extermination of all European Jews. It was Himmler's master stroke that he succeeded in indoctrinating the SS with an apocalyptic 'idealism' beyond all guilt and responsibility, which rationalized mass murder as a form of martyrdom and harshness towards oneself. Nowhere was this more apparent than in Himmler's notorious speech on October 4th, 1943 to the SS Group Leaders in Poznan, Germany. Here is a quoted excerpt from that speech that emphasizes his belief in the final solution:

"We Germans, who are the only people in the world who have a decent attitude to animals, will also adopt a decent attitude to these human animals, but it is a crime against our own blood to worry about them and to bring them ideals."

Himmler once said that it didn't matter that ten thousand Russian women died while digging a ditch. It was more important that the ditch was dug to the required specifications and the job to be completed in the allotted time schedule. In April 1945 he was captured by the British army and was scheduled to stand trial with the other German leaders as a major war criminal, but on May 23, 1945 he committed suicide shortly after his arrest by swallowing a poison pellet which he had hidden in his mouth. In a gesture to forever dishonor and condemn their past lives, most Nazi war criminals were cremated and their ashes thrown into German rivers or other common places. Such is reputed to be the disposal of Himmler's body, but the actual whereabouts of his ashes or their disposition remain a mystery to this day. (bio by: Ron Greenberg)

 

Adolf Heusinger

4.08.1897 - 1.12.1982
German general 

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From 1940 to 1944 in senior positions in Bundeswehra, head of German land troops operating departament.

In the years 1945-48 in U.S. captivity.

From 1951 years military adviser to the government of West Germany

From 1955 Chairman of the Supreme Military Council in the Ministry of Defence. From 1957-61 General inspector of the Bundeswehr.

Martin Bormann

17.06.1900 - 1945
World War II Nazi German War Criminal 

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He served as head of the Nazi Party Chancellery and and as private secretary to Adolph Hitler, and by the end of World War II had become second only to Hitler himself in terms of real political power. Born in Halberstadt in 1900, he is one of the most mysterious and sinister figure in the Third Reich. He signed Hitler's political testament, acted as the witness to his marriage to Eva Braun and watched Hitler commit suicide in the Chancellery bunker.

Ordered by Hitler 'to put the interests of the nation before his own feelings' and to save himself, Martin Bormann left the Fuhrer-bunker on April 30, 1945. Accounts of what happened afterwards vary widely. According to Erich Kempka (Hitler's chauffeur), Bormann was killed trying to cross the Russian lines by an anti-tank shell which hit the tank in which they were trying to escape, causing it to burst into flames. Kempka, who was temporarily blinded at the time, claimed nonetheless to have seen Bormann's dead body. Hitler Youth Leader Artur Axmann, on the other hand, believed that Bormann committed suicide and claimed to have seen Bormann's body on May 2, 1945 in the Invalidenstrasse, north of the River Spree in Berlin. Doubts, however, have persisted and numerous sightings of Bormann have been reported, beginning in 1946 when his presence in a North Italian monastery was announced. In the same year, his wife Gerda (a rabid Nazi and daughter of Supreme Party Judge, Walter Buch) died of cancer in South Tyrol, though his ten children survived the war. It was then alleged that Bormann had escaped (like other loyal Nazis) via Rome to South America. Rumored to have settled in Argentina where he was living secretly as a millionaire, allegedly spotted in Brazil and also in Chile, Bormann's traces proved as elusive as the anonymity in which he first rose to power. Having been sentenced to death in absentia at Nuremberg on October 1, 1946, he was formally pronounced dead by a West German court in April 1973. The circumstances of this death are very controversial, but a body discovered in Berlin in late 1972 was positively identified through forensic investigation as being Bormann's. He had committed suicide by cyanide poisoning, early on the morning of May 2, 1945. Along with his companion Dr. Stumpfegger, he was buried in a hasty unmarked grave during the cleanup of Berlin in May 1945. Following the identification of his body in 1973, the remains were cremated and the ashes were scattered in an undisclosed location.

Fritz Todt

04.08.1891 - 08.02.1942
German Nazi Minister for Armaments and Munitions 

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Todt joined the Nazi Party in 1923 and served as an SS Colonel on the staff of Heinrich Himmler. He founded the Organization Todt, which handled construction of fortifications such as the Westwall and Atlantikwall, and the autobahn superhighways.

After his death, his responsibilities passed to Albert Speer. Todt was buried with military honors in the Invaliden Cemetery in Berlin, but his grave was hidden by the Soviets after the war. The photo shows the plaque at the entrance to the cemetery.

 

Joachim Ribbentrop

30.04.1893 - 16.10.1946
Chief (reichsleiter) of NSDAP, War Criminal 

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One of the leading activists of Third Reich.

He was a spokesperson for the mass extermination of the population in the occupied territories by the Soviet Union withdrawing Wehrmacht.

After years of war his diplomatic capabilities were no longer needed by Hitler and Ribbentrop gradually began to lose influence.

Sentenced to death by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, was executed 16 October 1946

 

Wilhelm Keitel

22.19.1882 - 16.10.1946
Field-Marshal of German forces 

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Supported the wholesale massacres carried out by German forces in occupied Soviet territories.

Found guilty at Nuremberg of war crimes and crimes against humanity. His remains were cremated in the oven at Dachau concentration camp along with many other Nazi criminals. The ashes were raked out and scattered in an unknown river.

 

Albert Speer

19.03.1905 - 1.09.1981
German Architect, Minister of Armaments and Production for Nazi Germany 

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He was the only major Government minister of the Third Reich to plead guilty to the charge of war crimes during the Nuremberg Trials of 1945-46, for which he was given a 20-year sentence, instead of a death sentence. Born in Mannheim, Germany, he studied architecture in Karlsruhe and Munich, receiving his architectural license in 1927. In late 1930, he heard Hitler speak at a Berlin rally, and joined the Nazi Party in January 1931, for which his architectural firm was awarded with construction contracts for leading party members. In 1933, he was awarded the contract to construct Joseph Goebbels' official residence, and in 1934, the Nuremberg Stadium in support of the official celebrations of the Nazi's rise to power. His efficiency and talent attracted Hitler's attention, and he later became a close friend of Der Fuehrer, enjoying a relative freedom of action that other members of Hitler's entourage never had. In return, Speer gave Hitler total loyalty and dedication. In 1935, he drew up a plan for the reconstruction of Berlin, creating large (and in some people's eyes, megalomaniac) massive building plans. In 1937, Hitler personally appointed Speer Inspector General for Construction for the Reich. When Fritz Todt died in an airplane accident in 1942, Speer succeeded him as Minister of Armaments and War Production. Using forced and slave labor, Speer was able to increase armaments production to an incredible quantity, while dispersing his factories to lessen their destruction from allied bombing. Using his personal friendship with Hitler, he was able to avoid problems from other Nazi leaders. Towards the end of the war, Hitler ordered Speer to destroy all factories, city utilities (water and electricity), and transportation means (railroads and bridges). Recognizing these would be needed in the post-war Germany, Speer began countermanding Hitler's orders for complete destruction. He would visit field commanders, arguing to spare a historic bridge or other important building, arguing that it would be "recaptured in the inevitable counterattack", and thus avoiding charges of defeatism (this charge was punishable by death). After the war, Speer was placed on trial at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg for war crimes of employing slave laborers. Breaking from other top Nazi defendants, Speer pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to 20 years in Spandau prison. Upon his release in 1966, Speer published his memoirs, "Inside the Third Reich" (1970), considered the best portrait of conditions inside the Nazi hierarchy. (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson)

 

Hermann Göring

12.01.1893 - 15.10.1946
2nd in succession in Nazi Germany behind Hitler, German Marshal 

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Decorated WWI combat pilot (Iron Cross First Class and Pour le Merite), air ace (shooting down 22 allied aircraft) and last commander of the German "Flying Circus", Richtofen Fighter Squadron in World War I. Barnstormer and show flier in Scandinavia after WWI and before becoming involved with Nazi Party. Commander-in-chief-of-Luftwaffe, President of the Reichstag, Prime Minister of Prussia and 2nd in succession in Nazi Germany behind Hitler.

He spent two years in a mental asylum (1925-7), became a lifelong morphine addict, was responsible with Himmler and Heydrich for setting up the first concentration camps, directed the purge which led to the murder of Rohm and the SA leaders, ordered the elimination of Jews from the German economy, stole their possessions (and those of countries occupied by the Nazis) to build an immense wealth of his own, and instructed Heydrich in 1941 to 'carry out a general solution of the Jewish question' in territories occupied by the Nazis. Convicted for crimes against humanity with other Nazi leaders in the 1946 Nuremberg Trials, he was sentenced to death. However, he was somehow smuggled cyanide in his prison cell, which he used to commit suicide just hours before his scheduled execution. His remains were cremated in the oven at Dachau concentration camp along with many other Nazi criminals. The ashes were raked out and scattered in an unknown river.

 

Joseph Goebbels

29.10.1897 - 1.05.1945
Propoganda leader under Hitler 

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He was initially buried along with his wife and children in East Germany. These remains were removed in 1982 (some reports say this happened as early as 1970) by the request of Yuri Andropov, Secretary General of the USSR, 1982-84. Andropov, former KGB chief, fearing that Neo-Nazi's may discover the location, had the graves opened. All remains (still in a state of decomposition) were ground-up and put into a nearby Danube River tributary.

 

Alfred Jodl

10.05.1890 - 16.10.1946
Head of Operations Staff of the German Army 

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A professional soldier and Hitler's principal military adviser. Found guilty at Nuremberg of war crimes, and crimes against humanity. However in 1953 a de-nazification court found that he had been wrongfully accused as his operational activities did not transgress international law. He was therefore posthumously acquitted. His remains were cremated in the oven at Dachau concentration camp along with many other Nazi criminals. The ashes were raked out and scattered in an unknown river. He has a cenotaph in the family plot in the Fraueninsel Cemetery, Chiemsee, Germany.