Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Kaltenbrunner, Ernst (1903–1946)

Leader of the Austrian Schutzstaffel (SS) and chief of the Reich Main Security Office in 1943. Born in Ried/Innkreis, Austria, on 4 October 1903, Ernst Kaltenbrunner earned a doctorate in law at the University of Graz in 1926 and entered practice in Linz. He joined the Austrian Nazi Party in 1930 and worked to destabilize the Austrian Republic. He became head of the SS at Linz in 1934 but was arrested and accused of being involved in the assassination of the Austrian chancellor, Engelbert Dollfuss, on 25 July 1934. Following the Anschluss (the union between Germany and Austria) in March 1938, Kaltenbrunner became minister for state security as well as police chief in Vienna. During the next three years, he served as commander of the SS in the former Austria.

Kaltenbrunner impressed the SS chief, Heinrich Himmler, who, on 30 January 1943, appointed him to succeed Reinhard Heydrich as head of the Reich Main Security Office and SS intelligence. Kaltenbrunner not only controlled the Gestapo (the secret police) but was also responsible for carrying out the "final solution" (the Holocaust).

Kaltenbrunner held his position until the end of the war and was promoted to SS Obergruppenführer and general of police on 21 June 1943. He took personal interest in the different methods used to kill the inmates in the extermination camps. Besides supervising the hunting down of Jews, he was also responsible for the murder of some Allied prisoners of war.

Kaltenbrunner's power increased greatly after the 20 July 1944 attempt on Hitler's life. He directed the Gestapo's investigation into the plot and was in charge of administering Hitler's policy of retribution against the conspirators. When the Allies were closing in on Germany, he gave orders for all prisoners to be killed. Then, he fled south. He was captured in the Austrian mountains on 15 May 1945. Charged with conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, Kaltenbrunner was found guilty and was hanged on 16 October 1946.

Martin Moll


Further Reading
Black, Peter. Ernst Kaltenbrunner: Ideological Soldier of the Third Reich. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984.; Koehl, Robert Lewis. The Black Corps: The Structure and Power Struggles of the Nazi SS. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983.
 

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