Erich Koch


Erich Koch

Infobox Officeholder
name = Erich Koch


imagesize =
small

caption =
order = Gauleiter of East Prussia
term_start = 1928
term_end = 1945
leader = Adolf Hitler
predecessor = Bruno Gustav Scherwitz
successor = none
order2 = Reichskommissar of Ukraine
term_start2 = August 20, 1941
term_end2 = October 6, 1943
appointed2 = Adolf Hitler
predecessor2 = none
successor2 = Curt von Gottberg
birth_date = January 16, 1896
birth_place = Elberfeld, Rhine Province, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
death_date = November 12, 1986 (aged 90)
death_place = Barczewo, People's Republic of Poland
constituency =
party = NSDAP
spouse =
children =
profession =
education =
religion =


footnotes =

Erich Koch (June 19, 1896 – November 12, 1986) was a Gauleiter of the Nazi Party (NDSAP) in East Prussia from 1928 until 1945, and Reichskomissar in Ukraine from 1941 until 1944.

Early life and First World War

Koch was born in Elberfeld, today part of Wuppertal, as the son of foreman. A skilled trader, Koch joined the railway service as an aspirant for the middle level of the civil service. In World War I he was a soldier from 1915 till 1918 and later fought as a member of "Freikorps Rossbach" in Upper Silesia.

Rise in the Nazi Party

Koch joined the NSDAP in 1922. During the Occupation of the Ruhr, he was a member of Albert Leo Schlageter's group and was imprisoned several times by the French authorities. In 1927 he became Bezirksführer of the NSDAP in Essen and later the deputy Gauleiter of NSDAP-Gau Ruhr. Koch belonged to the left wing of the party and was a supporter of the faction led by Gregor Strasser.

In 1928 Koch became Gauleiter of the Province of East Prussia, and from September 1930 a member of the Reichstag. After the "Machtergreifung", he became Oberpräsident of East Prussia. In 1938 Koch was appointed SA-Obergruppenführer.

econd World War

At the commencement of World War II Koch was appointed Reichsverteidigungskommissar for East Prussia. On October 26, 1939, after the end of the Invasion of Poland, he was transferred from East Prussia to the new Reichsgau Westpreußen, later renamed to Danzig-West Prussia. East Prussia was compensated with Regierungsbezirk Zichenau. These new areas lay approximately between the rivers Vistula and Narew. Soon after the invasion of the Soviet Union, Koch was appointed Zivilkommissar on August 1, 1941, and later as Chief of Civil Administration in Bezirk Bialystok. On September 1, Koch became Reichskomissar of Reichskommissariat Ukraine. His domain was extended from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea; it comprised ethnic German, Polish, Belarus and Ukrainian areas. His brutality is best pronounced in his remark, "If I meet an Ukrainian worthy of being seated at my table, I must have him shot." [Norman Davies: "Europe at War", Macmillan, 2006.]

As the Red Army advanced into his area during 1945, Koch escaped through the Baltic Sea between April 23, 1945, and May 7, 1945, on the icebreaker "Ostpreußen". From Pillau through Hel Peninsula, Rügen, and Copenhagen he arrived at Flensburg, where he hid himself. He was captured by British forces in Hamburg in May 1949.

Trial and imprisonment

The Soviet Union demanded Koch's extradition, but the British government decided to pass him on to the Polish government instead. Extradited to Poland, he was sentenced to death on March 9, 1959, for war crimes against the Poles, but was never put on trial for crimes committed in Ukraine. His death sentence was never carried out, and many people believed that he traded his life for information about art looted by the Nazis during the war, including parts of the famous Amber Room, although there is no evidence to support this claim. Koch appeared in a television report on Königsberg's history in 1986, interviewed by West German journalists in his Polish prison cell. He died of natural causes in prison at Barczewo, Poland.

References

Sources

* Медведев Д.Н. Сильные духом /Вступ. ст. А. В. Цессарского; Ил. И. Л. Ушакова. — М.: Правда, 1985. — 512 с, ил.
* Hans-Erich Volkmann (Hrsg.), Das Russlandbild im Dritten Reich (Образ России в Третьем Рейхе), Köln 1994.


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