Kaltenbrunner, Ernst

Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Ernst Kaltenbrunner

Ernst Kaltenbrunner (4 Oct. 1903 – 16 Oct. 1946) was Higher SS and Police Leader in Austria from 1938 until early 1943. On 30 January 1943, after Reinhardt Heydrich had been assassinated the previous summer, Kalten­brunner replaced him as chief of Germany’s Department for Homeland Security (Reichssicherheitshauptamt, RSHA).

However, all matters concerning the SS and its vast network of forced-labor industries and labor as well as concentration camps were integrated under the SS’s Economic and Administrative Main Office headed by Oswald Pohl (Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungs-Hauptamt). Therefore, Kaltenbrunner had nothing to do with the Third Reich’s camp system.

In addition, the activities of the Ein­satz­grup­pen in terms of mass executions also petered out around the time of Kaltenbrunner’s appointment. As a result of all this, Kaltenbrunner’s name is completely absent from the entire documentation in the context of the so-called Holocaust. Orders on concentration-camp matters went directly from Himmler to Pohl or Richard Glücks. Kaltenbrunner was simply not involved.

In spite of all this, with Hitler, Himmler and Heydrich dead, Kaltenbrunner became the Allies’ scapegoat during the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal (IMT). Kurt Becher framed him by falsely claiming that Himmler had issued a “stop extermination” order to Kaltenbrunner. Such an order implies that a prior “start extermination” order must have existed, and that Kaltenbrunner had the power to start and stop such a program.

Kaltenbrunner was also framed by former Mauthausen inmate Hans Maršálek, who made outrageous claims about Kaltenbrunner in a post-war affidavit.

During Kaltenbrunner’s defense at the IMT, his lawyer tried in vain to take advantage of the false affidavit and testimony of Rudolf Höss, the former commandant of the Auschwitz Camp. Höss had claimed that he had received an extermination order orally from Himmler directly in June of 1941, hence a year prior to Kaltenbrunner’s promotion to chief of the RSHA. Höss also claimed that he had been told by Himmler to keep this order a secret even from any superiors. However, since Kaltenbrunner’s appointment to chief of the RSHA, SS matters were no longer within the RSHA’s jurisdiction. (For more on this, see Mattogno 2020b, index entries on Kaltenbrunner; see also IMT, Vol. 11, esp. pp. 231-386 [Kaltenbrunner’s testimony], 396-422 [Höss’s testimony].)

It was all to no avail. Kaltenbrunner was sentenced to death for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was hanged on 16 October 1946, at the age of just 43.

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