Ernst Kaltenbrunner

Infobox Officeholder
name = Ernst Kaltenbrunner

imagesize =

caption =
order = Director of the Reich Security Head Office
term_start = 1942
term_end = 1945
appointed = Adolf Hitler
predecessor = Reinhard Heydrich
successor = (none)
birth_date = 4 October 1943
birth_place = Ried im Innkreis, then Austro-Hungary, now Austria
death_date = 16 October 1946 (aged 43)
death_place = Nuremberg, Germany
constituency =
rank = Obergruppenführer
party = NSDAP
spouse =
children =
profession = Lawyer
education =
religion =

footnotes =

Ernst Kaltenbrunner (4 October 1903 – 16 October 1946) was a senior Nazi official during World War II. He was the highest ranking SS leader to face trial. He was executed for war crimes and crimes against humanity.


Early life

Born in Ried im Innkreis, Austria, Kaltenbrunner was the son of a lawyer, and was educated at the State Realgymnasium in Linz and Graz University. He obtained a law degree in 1926. He worked as a lawyer briefly in Linz and Salzburg and from 1928 in Linz. He was a very tall man, standing just over 6' 7" (201 cm) tall. He had deep scars on his face from dueling in his student days. [ [ Ernst Kaltenbrunner] ] However, according to some sources, these "duelling scars" were actually acquired in an alcohol-linked driving accident. [ [ The Nuremberg Trials ] ]

Kaltenbrunner joined the Nazi Party and the SS in Austria in 1932. He was the "Gauredner" (district speaker) and "Rechtsberater" (legal consultant) of the SS Division VIII. In January 1934, Kaltenbrunner was briefly jailed by the Engelbert Dollfuss government with other National Socialists at the Kaisersteinbruch concentration camp. In 1934, he was jailed again on suspicion of High Treason in the assassination of Dollfuss. This accusation was dropped, but he was sentenced to six months for conspiracy.In 1934, Kaltenbrunner married Elisabeth Eder (b. 1908) and they had three children.In addition to the children from his marriage, Kaltenbrunner had twins (b. 1945) with his long-time mistress Gisela Gräfin von Westarp (née Wolf). All of his children survived the war.

Kaltenbrunner rises to a major Nazi figure

From mid-1935 Kaltenbrunner was the leader of the Austrian SS. He assisted in the "Anschluss" and Hitler promoted him to SS "Brigadeführer" on the day the "Anschluss" was completed. On 11 September 1938 he was promoted to the rank of SS "Gruppenführer" (see [ Video of Kaltenbrunner in Vienna January 1939] ). He was also a member of the "Reichstag" from 1938. In April 1941 was promoted to Major General of the Police. On 30 January 1943 Kaltenbrunner was appointed Chief of the RSHA, comprising both the Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei, or Sipo) and the SD, replacing Reinhard Heydrich, who had been assassinated in June 1942. Kaltenbrunner held this position until the end of the war. Also he became President of the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC), the organization today known as Interpol.

Toward the end of the war, Kaltenbrunner's power increased greatly, especially after the attack on Hitler of 20 July 1944, upon which he gained direct access to the Führer. He was also responsible for conducting kangaroo trials and calling for the execution of all the people who were accused of plotting against Hitler. It was often said that even Heinrich Himmler feared him and he managed to be an intimidating figure with his height, facial scars and volatile temper. It was rumored that he was responsible for Adolf Eichmann's failure to attain the rank of SS-Colonel. Kaltenbrunner was also long-time friends with Otto Skorzeny and recommended him for many secret missions, allowing Skorzeny to become one of Hitler's prized achievements. Kaltenbrunner was also responsible for heading Operation Long Jump, the attempt to assassinate Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt.

Following Himmler's appointment as Minister of the Interior in August 1943, Kaltenbrunner sent him a letter wherein he argued that Himmler's new powers must be used to reverse the party cadre organisation's annexation On 9 December 1944 he was awarded the War Merit Cross with Swords. By then his full title was SS "Obergruppenführer" and General of the Police Dr. Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Chief of the Security Police and the SD. In addition he held the Golden Insignia of Honor and the "Blutorden".

Nuremberg Trials

At the Nuremberg Trials, Kaltenbrunner was charged with conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, war-crimes and crimes against humanity. The most notable witness in this trial was Rudolf Hoess, the camp commander of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Kaltenbrunner's close control over the RSHA meant that direct knowledge of and responsibility for the following crimes was ascribed to him:

*Mass murders of civilians of occupied countries by "Einsatzgruppen".
*Screening of prisoner of war camps and executing racial and political undesirables.
*The taking of recaptured prisoners of war to concentration camps, where in some cases they were executed.
*Establishing concentration camps and committing racial and political undesirables to concentration and annihilation camps for slave labor and mass murder.
*Deportation of citizens of occupied countries for forced labor and disciplining of forced labor.
*The execution of captured commandos and paratroopers and protection of civilians who lynched Allied fliers.
*The taking of civilians of occupied countries to Germany for secret trial and punishment.
*Punishment of citizens of occupied territories under special criminal procedure and by summary methods.
*The execution and confinement of people in concentration camps for crimes allegedly committed by their relatives.
*Seizure and spoliation of public and private property.
*Murder of prisoners in SIPO and SD prisons.
*Persecution of Jews.
*Persecution of the churches.

During the trial, Kaltenbrunner's lawyer attempted to bring out the worst in direct examination but only served to make things worse for him. He told his guards to relay to the prosecution that thanks were in order "for bringing him such a stupid attorney." He also denied his signed name so many times that his own attorneys referred to him as "Der Mann ohne Unterschrift" - "the man without a signature."


Kaltenbrunner was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to death. He was executed by hanging at around 1:40 a.m. on 16 October 1946. Kaltenbrunner's last words were:

Further evidence

In 2001, Ernst Kaltenbrunner's personal Nazi security seal was found in an Alpine lake, 56 years after he threw it away in an effort to hide his identity. The seal was recovered by a Dutch citizen on vacation. The seal has the words "The Head of the Security Police and the SD" engraved on it. Experts have examined the seal and believe it was thrown in the final days of the war in May 1945. It was one of Kaltenbrunner's last acts as a free man. Kaltenbrunner gave himself up claiming to be a doctor and offering a false name. However, his mistress spotted him, and by chance occurrence, she called out his name and rushed to hug him. This action tipped off the Allied troops, resulting in his capture, trial, and execution. [ ['s-seal-found-in-Alpine-lake.html Nazi chief's seal found in Alpine lake] ]

Portrayal in popular culture

Film and television

Ernst Kaltenbrunner has been portrayed by the following actors in film, television and theater productions.cite web | url = | title = Ernst Kaltenbrunner (Character) | accessdate = May 8 | accessdaymonth = | accessmonthday = | accessyear = 2008 | author = | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | date = | year = | month = | format = | work = | publisher = | pages = | doi = | archiveurl = | archivedate = | quote = ]
* Christopher Heyerdahl in the 2000 Canadian/U.S. T.V. production "Nuremberg"
* Hans Meyer in the 1982 United States television production "Inside the Third Reich".
* John Moffatt in the 1981 British television series "Private Schulz".
* Hans Meyer in the 1978 United States T.V. miniseries "Holocaust".
* Mikhail Zharkovsky in the 1973 Russian T.V. mini-series "Semnadtsat mgnoveniy vesny" ("Seventeen Moments of Spring").cite web | url = | title = "Semnadtsat mgnoveniy vesny" (1973) | accessdate = May 8 | accessdaymonth = | accessmonthday = | accessyear = 2008 | author = | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | date = | year = | month = | format = | work = | publisher = | pages = | doi = | archiveurl = | archivedate = | quote = ]
* Alain Nobis in the 1972 French television production "La Tragédie de Vérone".
* Branko Plesa in the 1971 Yugoslavian television production "Nirnberski epilog".
* Edward Underdown in the 1958 British film "The Two-Headed Spy".A character in the movie "The Return of the Living Dead" is named "Ernie Kaltenbrunner" after him.


In the book "", Harry Turtledove creates an alternate history where Kaltenbrunner is the successor of Himmler as the third Führer and Reich Chancellor of the Greater German Reich and triggers a war between Nazi Germany and alien settlers, a war that results in the destruction of the Reich and the death of Kaltenbrunner himself.

ee also

* Reich Security Main Office ("Reichssicherheitshauptamt", or RSHA)
* Sicherheitsdienst
* Nuremberg Trials


External links

* [ Video of a Parade with Kaltenbrunner in January 1939]
* [ Audio recording of Kaltenbrunner at Nuremberg Trial]
* [ Kaltenbrunner defense broadcast during Nuremberg Trial]
* [ Testimony of Rudolf Hoess in the Nuremberg Trial]
* [ Kaltenbrunner's seal found in Alpine lake]
* [ Nuremberg film]
* [ Seventeen Moments of Spring film]
* [ The Return of the Living Dead]
* [ Holocaust miniseries]
* [ Colonization: Down to Earth]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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