Ernst Kaltenbrunner : biography
Ernst Kaltenbrunner (4 October 190316 October 1946) was an Austrian-born senior official of Nazi Germany during World War II. Between January 1943 and May 1945, he held the offices of Chief of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA, Reich Main Security Office), President of Interpol and, as a SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei und Waffen-SS, he was the highest-ranking Schutzstaffel (SS) leader to face trial at the first Nuremberg Trials. He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and executed.
Summary of his SS career
Dates of rank
- SS-Mann – 31 August 1931
- SS-Oberscharführer – c. 1932
- SS-Sturmhauptführer – 25 September 1932
- SS-Standartenführer – 20 April 1936
- SS-Oberführer – 20 April 1937
- SS-Brigadeführer – 12 March 1938
- SS-Gruppenführer – 11 September 1938
- SS-Untersturmführer d.R. – 1 July 1940
- Generalleutnant der Polizei – 1 April 1941
- SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei – 21 June 1943
- General der Waffen-SS – 1 December 1944
Nazi awards and decorations
- Honour Dagger of the SS
- Honour Chevron for the Old Guard
- SS-Membershipspin Nr. 160,180
- SS-Honour Ring
- Honour Sword of the Reichsführer-SS
- SS Long Service Award For 4, 8, and 12 Years Service
- NSDAP Long Service Award in Bronze and Silver
- Anschluss Medal (1938)
- Sudetenland Medal (1938) with Prague Castle Bar (1939)
- Golden Party Badge (1939)
- Blood Order (1942)
- War Merit Cross Second (1942) and First (1943) Classes with Swords
- German Cross in Silver (1943)
- Knights Cross of the War Merit Cross with Swords (1944)
Born in Ried im Innkreis, Austria, Kaltenbrunner was the son of a lawyer, and was educated at the State Realgymnasium in Linz and at Graz University. He obtained a law degree in 1926, and briefly worked as a lawyer in Linz and Salzburg. He was a very tall man, standing just over 6′ 7" (201 cm) tall, and had deep scars on his face from dueling in his student days. However, according to some sources, these "dueling scars" were actually the result of an alcohol-related driving accident.
Kaltenbrunner joined the Nazi Party and his NSDAP number was 300,179. In 1932, he joined the SS in Austria. His SS number was 13,039.Biondi, Robert, ed., SS Officers List: SS-Standartenführer to SS-Oberstgruppenführer (As of 30 January 1942), Schiffer Military History Publishing, 2000, p. 9 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, Ursula and Wolfgang, (b. 1945) with his long-time mistress Gisela Gräfin von Westarp (née Wolf). All of his children survived the war.
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 ). He was also a member of the Reichstag from 1938.
World War II
In July 1940, he was commissioned as a SS-Untersturmführer in the Waffen-SS Reserve. Later in April 1941, he was promoted to Major General (Generalleutnant) of the Police. On 30 January 1943 Kaltenbrunner was appointed Chief of the RSHA, composed of the SiPo (Sicherheitspolizei: the combined forces of the Gestapo and Kripo) along with the SD (Sicherheitsdienst: Security Service).Lumsden, Robin (2002), A Collector’s Guide To: The Allgemeine – SS, p 83. He replaced Reinhard Heydrich, who was assassinated in June 1942. Kaltenbrunner held this position until the end of the war. He was promoted to SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei on 21 June 1943. He also replaced Heydrich as President of the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC), the organization today known as Interpol.