Theodor Eicke

Theodor Eicke ( Hampont , 17 of October of 1892 – Kharkiv , 26 of February of 1943 ) was a leading Nazi known for directing the Nazi concentration camps, and participated there (next to Michael Lippert) in the assassination of Nazi leader Ernst Röhm , during the Night of the Long Knives .

He held the position of SS-Obergruppenführer, commanded the 3rd SS Totenkopf Division of the Waffen SS.

Biographical synthesis

Eicke was born in Hampont, near Château-Salins, in German-occupied Lorraine, on October 17, 1892. His father was a stationmaster. After dropping out of school at the age of seventeen, he volunteered for the 23rd Bavarian Infantry Regiment. Later, during the First World War, he was appointed officer of the 3rd, and already in 1916, of the 22nd Bavarian infantry regiment.

He was awarded the Iron Cross, but had no hope of finding work after the end of the war, so he returned to his studies in Ilmenau, his wife’s hometown, but dropped out in 1920 to pursue a career in the police force. .

His project failed, due not only to his lack of school training, but also to his hatred of the Weimar Republic and his repeated participation in political and violent demonstrations, prohibited by police officers. In 1923, he was finally hired by IG Farben, where he quickly became the head of internal security.

From 1928 to 1933

In December 1928 , Eicke joined the NSDAP and the Sturmabteilung (SA) at the same time, leaving it in 1930 to join the SS. His qualities as a recruiter, which he later displayed in the Waffen SS, made him stand out, especially for his contribution to organizing the SS in Bavaria. In 1931, Heinrich Himmler elevated him to the position of Standartenführer.

His political activities attracted such attention that Eicke was fired by IG Farben in 1932.

He was suspected of preparing bomb attacks against Bavarian political adversaries, for which he was sentenced in July 1932 to two years in prison. Thanks to the protection of the Minister of Justice, Franz Gürtner, he escaped conviction and, following instructions from Heinrich Himmler, took refuge in Italy.

Eicke returned to Germany in March 1933 , after Hitler’s rise to power on January 30, 1933.

In June 1933, he was appointed Commander of the Dachau Prison Camp by Himmler. His results made a pleasant impression on Himmler, who appointed him SS-Brigadeführer on January 30, 1934.

Eicke demonstrated a radical anti-Semitism and anti-Bolshevism. He proclaimed “his hatred against everything that is non-German and non-National Socialist.” He imposed on the guardians a blind and unconditional obedience towards himself, as the leader of the camp, but also towards the SS and the Führer. These qualities impress Heinrich Himmler, who appointed him, on July 4, 1934, inspector of the prison camps and commander of the 3rd SS Totenkopf Division unit (Inspekteur des Konzentrationslager und Führer des SS Totenkopfverbände). As inspector of the fields, he depended on the RSHA led by Reinhard Heydrich, and more particularly on the Gestapo; As commander of the Totenkopfverbände, he left the SS headquarters, the SS-Hauptamt, and began taking orders directly from Himmler.

Eicke also participated in the Night of the Long Knives : with some guards, carefully chosen from the Dachau prison camp, he helped Sepp Dietrich, commander of the SS-Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, to imprison the main leaders of the Sturmabteilung.

On this occasion, on July 1, 1934, he proved his total loyalty to Himmler and Hitler by participating (along with Michel Lippert) in the assassination of Ernst Röhm .

He was promoted to SS-Gruppenführer, which made him rank second in the SS hierarchy.

In his role as inspector of prison camps, Eicke carried out a profound reorganization, completed in 1939. At the beginning of 1935, he abolished the small prison camps to preserve only six of them, which concentrated about 3,500 detainees, including Dachau prison camp.

In 1940, control of the prison system was entrusted to the Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungshauptamt, one of the central offices of the  SS (SS Hauptamt), led by Oswald Pohl and directly dependent on Heinrich Himmler.

Eicke was highly regarded by his troops, which probably explains his nickname. He systematically developed a politics of compadreo, in opposition to the military traditions that he detested: Eicke asked his men to get acquainted, he merged the dining room for the non-commissioned officers and the officers, he protected his men; he sought human contact with his men, outside of his frequent inspection magazines and in the absence of his superiors.

He died on 26 February of of 1943 near Oryol , in the Socialist Republic of Ukraine in the framework of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II (1939-1945) – when his plane was shot down by the Red Army .

He died on February 26, 1943, in the course of an air reconnaissance mission in the airspace of the Soviet Union


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