- Walter Rauff
Walter Rauff (
June 19, 1906– May 14, 1984), was an SSofficer in Nazi Germany, attaining the grade of Colonel ( Standartenführer) in June 1944 [Axis Biographical Research [http://www.geocities.com/~orion47/SS-POLIZEI/SS-Staf_Q-T.html] ] . From January 1938 he was an aide of Reinhard Heydrichfirstly in the Sicherheitsdienstor SD, the SS security service, later in the Reichssicherheitshauptamtor RSHA, the Reich Security Main Office, a department created by Himmlerin 1939 grouping the Gestapo, SD and Kripo, the criminal police.
Rauff is thought to be responsible for nearly 100,000 deaths during the
Second World War. In the late 70s and early 80s, he was arguably the most wanted Nazi fugitive still alive.
From the navy to the SS
According to the
British Security Service(or MI5) file on Walter Rauff released in 2005:
:"Rauff joined the Reichsmarine (the German Navy) in 1924 as a young cadet. After a period of training as a midshipman he was promoted to Lieutenant in 1936 and given command of a minesweeper. He was a friend of Reinhard Heydrich, who also served in the Navy in the 1920s. Heydrich was hired by SS chief Heinrich Himmler in 1931 to serve as the head of the SS counter-intelligence system, and when Rauff resigned from the Navy in 1937, Heydrich took him under his wing. Rauff was given the job of putting the SS and its security service, the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), onto a war footing." ["Walter Rauf" in "5 September 2005 releases: German intelligence officers", "MI5-Security Service" [https://www.mi5.gov.uk/textonly/Page265.html] . Rauff left the Navy following an adultery scandal, but he was discharged "with all honours", as he said in a 1972 deposition before the German prosecutor in Santiago de Chile [http://www2.ca.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/r/rauff.walter/Rauff-deposition-translation] .]
Between 1940 and 1941 Rauff went back to the navy service as a volunteer, commanding a mine sweeper flotilla in the Channel. He was promoted corvette capitan ("Korvettenkapitän") in April 1941, shortly before he was discharged from the active service [Axis Biographical Research, above cited.] , then he returned to the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA).
Gas van engineering
In 1941-1942 Rauff was involved in the development of
Gas vans, mobile gas chambers used to fatally poison Jews, persons with disabilities, communists, etc., who were considered by the SS as enemies of the German State. According to declassified C.I.A.documents:
:"As an official of the Criminal Technical Institute of the Reich Security Main Office, Rauff designed gas vans used to murder Jews and persons with disabilities." ["Walter Rauff" in "Disclosure", Newsletter of the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group, November 2002 issue, [http://www.archives.gov/iwg/about/disclosure-newsletter/disclosure-nov-2002.pdf] .]
The MI5 file looks more explicit concerning Rauff's "technical" skills:
:"Rauff supervised the modification of scores of trucks, with the assistance of a Berlin chassis builder, to divert their exhaust fumes into airtight chambers in the back of the vehicles. The victims were then poisoned and / or asphyxiated from the carbon monoxide accumulating within the truck compartment as the vehicle travelled to a burial site. The trucks could carry between 25 and 60 people at a time." [MI5 file, above cited .]
In 1972, in
Santiago de Chile, Rauff made a deposition as a witness before a German prosecutor. On the subject of the extermination of Jewsin Polandand Russia, asked whether at that time he had any doubts concerning the use of gas vans, Rauff answered:
:"I cannot say. The main issue for me at the time was that the shootings were a considerable burden for the man who were in charge thereof and that this burden was taken off them through the use of the gas vans." [Walter Rauff's deposition before the Public Prosecutor, West German Embassy, Santiago de Chile, 28 June 1972 (English translation) [http://www2.ca.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/r/rauff.walter/Rauff-deposition-translation] .]
Persecutions in North Africa
Rauff was later involved in the persecution of Jews in North Africa during 1942 and 1943, as part of the Nazis' long-term aim to export the
Jewish Holocaustto the Near and Middle East(including the British Mandate of Palestine, British-occupied Iraq, French-occupied Syria, the Lebanon, Egypt, and Libya), and capture the region’s oil fields.
A month after German Field Marshal
Erwin Rommel’s defeat of the British at Tobrukin June 1942, the SS set up a special extermination unit to follow in the wake of Rommel’s Afrika Korps. The unit was commanded by Rauff who was empowered to carry out "executive measures on the civilian population", the Nazi euphemism for mass murder and enslavement.
According to a 2007 German national television series, "Rauff’s mission to exterminate the
Middle East's Jewish population was brought to an abrupt halt by the British 8th Army's defeat of Rommel at El Alameinin October 1942. Rommel was forced to withdraw the remnants of his army to Tunisia, where it sustained a bridgehead until May 1943, enabling Rauff 's SS to start the persecutions locally. [Tony Paterson, "'Chivalrous' Rommel wanted to bring Holocaust to Middle East", "The Independent" (London), May 25, 2007, reporting on a two-part documentary series then being broadcast on Germany's ZDF television channel, entitled "Rommels Krieg, Rommels Schatz" authored by Jörg Müllner and Jean-Christoph Caron.] The MI5 file records that Rauff was posted to Tunisin 1942 as head of the Sicherheitsdienst, where he led an "Einsatzkommando" (an SS task force) which conducted a "well-organised persecution campaign against the country's Jews and Partisans". The Jewish community was particularly hard hit:
:"More than 2,500 Tunisian Jews died in a network of SS slave labor camps before the Germans withdrew. Rauff's men also stole jewels, silver, gold, and religious artifacts from the Tunisian Jews. Forty-three kilograms of gold were taken from the Jewish community on the island of Djerba alone." [Tony Paterson, article cited.]
ecret police boss in Northern Italy
Rauff was then sent to
Milanin 1943 where he took charge of all Gestapoand Sicherheitsdienstoperations throughout northwest Italy. The MI5 file states: :"In both these postings [Tunisia and northern Italy] Rauff rapidly gained reputation for utter ruthlessness. In Tunis he was responsible for the indiscriminate execution of both Jewsand local Partisans. His work in Italyinvolved imposing total German control on Milan, Turinand Genoa. His success in this task earned him the congratulations of his SS superior, who described it as 'a superb achievement'". [MI5 file, above cited .]
Rauff remained in Italy until the end of the war. The MI5 file states:
:"He narrowly avoided being lynched by an Italian mob, having barricaded himself and a number of other SS officers into the Hotel Regina in Milan. He was arrested by Allied troops and sent to a prisoner of war camp."
According to Rauff's declassified C.I.A. file:
:"Near the end of the war Rauff, then the senior SS and police official in northern Italy, tried to gain credit for the surrender of German forces in Italy, but ended up only surrendering himself. After escaping from an American internment camp in
Rimini, Rauff hid in a number of Italian convents, apparently under the protection of Bishop Alois Hudal".
py officer in the Middle East
In 1948 he was recruited by Syrian intelligence and went to
Damascus[where he served as military adviser to President Hosni Zaim] , only to fall out of favor after a coup there a year later. According to one report, he tortured Jews in Syria. He and his family then settled in Ecuador, later shifting to Chile." ["Walter Rauff" in "Disclosure", above cited.]
Before sailing for Ecuador (December 1949), Rauff is said to have worked for a while with the Israeli intelligence. In 1949 Israeli secret agent Edmond "Ted" Cross wanted to send Rauff to Egypt. The idea was the utilization of former Nazi elements for observation and penetration in the
Arab countries. This attempt having failed, Ted Cross also helped Rauff to get the necessary papers for immigration to South America [Shraga Elam and Dennis Whitehead, "In the service of the Jewish state", "Ha'aretz", 31 March 2007.]
Final refuge in Chile
After settling in Chile in 1958, Rauff worked as a manager of a king crab cannery in
Punta Arenas, one of the southernmost towns in the world. In 1972 he confessed that in 1960 and/or 1962 he had been in Germany. He was arrested by the Chilean authorities in December 1962 after Germany requested his extradition, but was freed by Chile's Supreme Courtfive months later in 1963. Salvador Allende's election as Chilean president in 1970 did not change the situation. In a friendly letter to Nazi hunter Simon WiesenthalAllende wrote that he could not reverse the Supreme Court's 1963 decision. [Shraga Elam and Dennis Whitehead, article above cited.]
Augusto Pinochet's regime, Rauff may have served as an advisor in Chilean intelligence. Allegedly, C.I.A. officials could not determine Rauff's exact position. The government of General Pinochet resisted all calls for his extradition to stand trial in West Germanyor Israel. In the meantime Rauff disappeared and was discovered by the documentary filmmaker William Bemisterin Los Pozos, Santiago de Chile, in 1979, and interviewed on film. This interview was included in the Emmy-winning film "The Hunter and the Hunted" and shown on the PBSNetwork in the United States on October 21, 1981.
The last request to extradite Rauff to West Germany was presented by renowned Nazi hunter
Beate Klarsfeldin 1983, but was flatly rejected by the Pinochet government, which alleged that Rauff had been a peaceful Chilean citizen for over 20 years and that the case was closed since the Supreme Court's 1963 decision. The authorities instead arrested Klarsfeld twice in Santiago de Chile. Following her brief detention, the Israeli government's foreign affairs director David Kimche officially requested Rauff's outright expulsion in a meeting with Chilean Foreign Minister Jaime del Valle, but the request was turned down. ["Rauff case poses serious threat to Pinochet regime", in Council on Hemispheric Affairs(New York), "Press Release", March 19, 1984 [http://www.coha.org/Press%20Release%20Archives/1984/012.pdf] .]
Rauff died peacefully in Santiago in 14 May 1984, of lung cancer. His funerals were the occasion of a Nazi celebration. [ Isabelle Clarke and Danielle Costelle, "La Traque des Nazis, soixante ans de traque" (film documentary) fr icon.] Rauff remained an unrepentant Nazi until his death, aged 77. According to his MI5 file, "he never showed any remorse for his actions, which he described as those of "a mere technical administrator."
Ex-Nazis -- on ex- NSDAPmembers and ex-Nazi officials who after World War II had to go through a denazificationprocess or were subjected to the Nuremberg process, while many others managed to escape trial.
* [http://www.archives.gov/iwg/about/disclosure-newsletter/disclosure-nov-2002.pdf Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group,"Walter Rauff", "Disclosure", Nov 2002] .
* [http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/843805.html Shraga Elam and Dennis Whitehead, "In the service of the Jewish state", "Ha'aretz", 31 March 2007] .
* [http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/843804.html Shraga Elam and Dennis Whitehead, "Rauff vs. the Yishuv", "Ha'aretz", 7 April 2007] .
* [http://www.mi5.gov.uk/output/Page265.html Security Service - MI5, "5 September 2005 releases: German intelligence officers", file ref. KV /1970a, "Walter Rauff"] .
* [http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,484510,00.html Jan Friedmann, "New Research Taints Image of Desert Fox Rommel", "Der Spiegel Online", May 23, 2007] .
* [http://news.independent.co.uk/europe/article2581254.ece Tony Paterson, "'Chivalrous' Rommel wanted to bring Holocaust to Middle East", "The Independent" (London), 25 May 2007] .
* [http://www2.ca.nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/people/r/rauff.walter/Rauff-deposition-translation Walter Rauff deposition before the Public Prosecutor, West German Embassy, Santiago de Chile, 28 June 1972] English translation.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.