Amon Göth


Amon Göth

Infobox Military Person
name=Amon Göth
lived=11 December, 1908 - September 13, 1946


caption=Amon Göth
nickname=
placeofbirth=Vienna, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Austria)
placeofdeath=Kraków, Poland
allegiance=
branch=Schutzstaffel (SS)
serviceyears=1930-1945
rank=Hauptsturmführer
unit=
commands=Płaszów Labor Camp
battles=
awards=
relations=
laterwork=

Amon Leopold Göth (11 December, 1908 – September 13, 1946) was a "Hauptsturmführer" of the SS and was the commandant of the Nazi concentration camp at Płaszów, General Government (German occupied area of Poland).

Early life and career

Göth was born in Vienna, then the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to a family in the printing industry. At the age of 22, Göth became a member of the Austrian branch of the Nazi Party. In 1930 he was assigned the Party Number 510764. Göth simultaneously joined the Austrian SS and was appointed an "SS-Mann" with the SS Number 43673.

Göth's early SS activities are little known, largely because the Austrian SS was an illegal and underground organization until the Anschluss of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938. Between 1932 and 1936, Göth was a member of an Allgemeine-SS company in Vienna and, by 1937, had risen to the rank of "SS-Oberscharführer". Between 1938 and 1941, he was a member of "SS-Standarte" (Regiment) 11 operating from Vienna and was commissioned an "SS-Untersturmführer" on July 14, 1941.

Płaszów

In August 1942, Göth left Vienna to join the staff of the SS and Police Leader of Kraków. He was appointed as a regular SS officer of the Concentration Camp service, and on February 11, 1943 was assigned to construct and command a forced labour camp at Płaszów. The camp took one month to construct using slave labour and, on March 13, 1943, the Jewish ghetto of Kraków was closed down with the surviving inhabitants imprisoned in the new labor camp. Approximately 2,000 people died during the evacuation, many of whom Göth personally executed.

On September 3, 1943, Göth was further tasked to close down the ghetto at Tarnów, where an unknown number of people were killed on the spot. On February 3, 1944, Göth shut down the concentration camp at Szebnie by ordering the inmates to be murdered on the spot or deported to other camps, again killing several thousand people.

On April 20, 1944, Göth was promoted to the rank of "SS-Hauptsturmführer", having received a double promotion and thus skipping the rank of "SS-Obersturmführer". He was also appointed a regular officer of the Waffen-SS. His assignment as Commandant of the Płaszów Labor Camp continued, now under the direct authority of the SS Economics and Administration Office.

It was Göth's firm belief that the Jews themselves should pay for their own execution, and it was wholly in this spirit when on May 11, 1942, in the small town of Szczebrzeszyn, the Gestapo ordered the Jewish council to pay 2,000 zloty and 3 kilos of coffee to cover the expenses for the ammunition used to kill the Jews. [ www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/belzec1/bel070.html]

In Płaszów, Göth tortured and murdered prisoners on a daily basis. During his time at Płaszów, Göth allegedly shot over 500 Jews himself; Poldek Pfefferberg, one of the Schindler Jews, famously said, "When you saw Göth, you saw death." Göth spared the life of a Jewish prisoner Natalia Hubler, later famous as Natalia Karp, after hearing her play a Nocturne by Chopin on the piano the day after she arrived at the Płaszów camp.

Later military career

On September 13, 1944, Göth was relieved of his position as Commandant of Płaszów and was assigned to the SS Office of Economics and Administration. Shortly thereafter, in November 1944, Göth was charged with theft of Jewish property (which, according to Nazi legislation, belonged to the "Reich"), and was arrested by the Gestapo. He was scheduled for an appearance before SS judge Georg Konrad Morgen, but due to the progress of World War II, and Germany's looming defeat, a tribunal was never assembled and the charges against him were summarily dismissed.

He was next assigned to Bad Tölz, Germany, where he was quickly diagnosed by SS doctors as suffering from mental illness and diabetes. He was committed to a sanitarium where he was arrested by American troops in May 1945. At the time of his arrest, Göth claimed to have been recently promoted to "SS-Sturmbannführer" and, during later interrogations, several documents listed him as "SS-Major Göth". Rudolf Höß was also of the opinion that Göth had been promoted and, when called to give testimony at Göth's trial, indicated that Göth was an SS-Major in the Concentration Camp service.

Göth's service record, however, does not support the claim of a late war promotion and he is listed in most texts as having held the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer equivalent of a Captain .

Execution

After the war, the Supreme National Tribunal of Poland at Kraków found Göth guilty of murdering tens of thousands of people. He was hanged on September 13, 1946, aged 37, not far from the former site of the Płaszów camp. At his execution, Göth's hands were tied behind his back. The executioner twice miscalculated the length of rope necessary to hang Göth, and it was only on the third attempt that the execution was successful. [Isabelle Clarke and Danielle Costelle, " La Traque des Nazis 1945-2005, soixante ans de traque" (film documentary) fr icon ]

In 2002, an interview book with Göth's daughter, Monika, was published in Germany under the name "Ich muß doch meinen Vater lieben, oder?" ("But I must love my father, mustn't I?"). For the first time, Göth's daughter spoke of her mother, who unconditionally glorified her father until faced with his role in the Holocaust, and had committed suicide after giving an interview in the 1980s. [cite book|last=Kessler|first=Matthias|date=2002|language=German|publisher=Eichborn|title=Ich muß doch meinen Vater lieben, oder?|isbn=978-3821839141]

Depiction in "Schindler's List"

Göth's career at Płaszów Labour Camp became internationally known through his depiction by Ralph Fiennes in the movie "Schindler's List"; Fiennes earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and his portrayal ranked 15 on AFI's list of the top 50 film villains of all time. Notably, he ranks as the highest non-fiction villain. This grim portrayal showed only a subset of Göth's crimes. When Mila Pfefferberg, a surviving Schindler Jew, was introduced to Fiennes while on the set of the film, she began to shake uncontrollably in terror, as Fiennes - while in full SS-Hauptsturmführer regalia - reminded her of the real Göth. [cite news
author= RICHARD CORLISS
title=The Man Behind the Monster
date=1994-02-21
work=Time Magazine
url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,980191-2,00.html
accessdate=2008-08-14
] At the end of the film, he is shown just before his hanging, smoothing his hair back and saying "Heil Hitler" with almost no apparent emotion just before a Polish soldier kicks the chair out from under him. [cite web|first=Louis|last=Bülow|last-Louis|date=2007|url=http://www.auschwitz.dk/goeth.htm|title=The Nazi Butcher: Amon Göth|accessdate=2007-03-12]

References

External links

* [http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/WCC/goeth.htm The Trial of Amon Göth]
* [http://motlc.learningcenter.wiesenthal.org/pages/t026/t02625.html Wiesenthal Center Information Page]


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