Mauthausen Staff Members

Left to right: Heinrich Himmler, Ziereis, and Ernst Kaltenbrunner

The last Commandant of Mauthausen, Franz Ziereis, is shown in the center of the photo above. Ziereis was sent from the Buchenwald camp to Mauthausen on February 9, 1939, to replace the previous Commandant, Albert Sauer. On August 25, 1939, Ziereis was promoted to SS-Sturmbannführer (SS major), and on April 20, 1944, as a reward for "special achievements" as camp commandant, he was promoted to the rank of SS-Standartenführer (SS colonel).

Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the man on the right in the photo, had the ultimate authority over the concentration camp system. He was tried as a war criminal at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal and was hanged. Himmler was captured by the British after the war and allegedly committed suicide.

Staff officers at Mauthausen concentration camp

In the photograph above, the third man from the left is Franz Ziereis, the Commandant of Mauthausen. On the far left is Hauptsturmführer Erich Wasicky, the camp apothecary or chemist; the man on his right is Sturmbannführer Eduard Krebsbach, the camp doctor until June 1943. Wasicky and Krebsbach were both tried by an American Military Tribunal at the former Dachau concentration camp; both were found guilty of participating in a common plan to commit war crimes and both were hanged in 1947 at the Landsberg am Lech prison in Bavaria. Wasicky was scheduled to be hanged on May 27, 1947, which was his birthday. He requested that his execution be delayed until the next day, May 28, 1947, and his wish was granted. Wasicky was a talented artist, as were many of the accused SS men, and he was allowed to draw cartoons about the camp while he was in prison, awaiting his execution.

Commandant Franz Ziereis was never brought before a Military Tribunal. He died at the Mauthausen camp, where he was brought after he was "shot while attempting to escape."

In a movie shown at the Mauthausen Memorial Site in May 2003, a former prisoner who worked for Ziereis in the camp described him as being "nice to his wife" when she visited him in the camp, but at the same time, he would order the murder of prisoners.

In his book "The Redemption of the Unwanted," Abram L. Sachar paints a picture of Ziereis as a monster, although he also says that the prisoners had dubbed him "Baby Face."

Quoted below is an excerpt from page 16 of "The Redemption of the Unwanted," written by Abram L. Sachar:

He (Ziereis) always appeared immaculately uniformed and bemedaled. Since Himmler had taken him from a mental asylum, Ziereis imitated his mentor by drawing the members of his personal staff from among vicious criminals. He conducted seminars to refine techniques in brutality and never denied that he shared in the satisfactions of maltreating the prisoners. He confessed to the charge that book covers and screens had been made from the skins of the camp victims, but claimed that this was the work of two of his demented fellow officers. To Ziereis it was apparently entertaining to have the kitchen staff overturn pots of watery soup so that the starved creatures who shambled up for their "meal' would be forced to lick the spillage before it was absorbed into the filthy floor. He had the SS brothels secretly equipped with motion picture cameras, to monitor the possibility that messages might be passed during coitus. In his confessions, he noted that he gave fifty Jews for target practice as a birthday present to his son.

Ziereis did not mention the fifty Jews that he gave to his son for target practice in the confession, which he allegedly gave to Hans Marsalek, a prisoner at Mauthausen, as he lay dying of gunshot wounds on the night of May 22 and May 23, 1945.

Left to right: Kaltenbrunner, Ziereis, Himmler, Karl Chielewski

Karl Chielewski, shown on the far right in the first row, became the first Commandant of the Gusen camp in March 1940. He was relieved of his duties in 1943.

The second in command at Mauthausen was Hauptsturmführer Xavier Strauss, an adjutant who was the commander in chief of the garrison and administrator general of the camp, according to Christian Bernadac, a French journalist who wrote a book entitled "The 186 Steps." Other top officials in the camp were Hauptsturmführer Zoller and Obersturmführer Adolf Zutter. Both Zoller and Zutter were convicted by an American Military Tribunal and hanged.

The confession of Franz Ziereis


This page was last updated on July 13, 2011