Hermann Julius Höfle



hermann julius hoefle

Hermann Julius Höfle


Deputy Head of Aktion Reinhardt

Hermann Höfle was born on 19 June 1911 in Salzburg, Austria. He was a trained mechanic and drove a taxi in Salzburg, and owned a taxi company. He joined the Nazi Party and the SS on 1 August 1933. He led SS – Sturmbann 1/76 after serving a brief prison sentence. He saw 3 months service in Znaim, in the Sudetenland and attended the Führerschule  in Dachau and after the invasion of Poland he served in a Selbstschutz unit in Nowy Sacs (Neu Sandez) and during 1940 as a leader of the labour camps employed on building the border fortifications known as the Bug-Graben near Belzec in the Lublin district. On 17 July 1941, Reichsführer-SS Himmler appointed Globocnik as his Plenipotentiary for the Construction of SS and Police bases in the newly occupied Eastern areas and Hermann Höfle was sent to Mogilev from Lublin to supervise the construction work there.

Höfle was recalled by Globocnik to Lublin and was responsible for the building of the Belzec death camp and he was appointed by Globocnik as the deputy head of Aktion Reinhardt - the mass murder programme of Polish Jewry. SS- Hauptsturmführer Höfle was highly regarded by Globocnik and he was responsible for the mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw ghetto to the Treblinka death camp which commenced on 22 July 1942 and the Bialystok ghetto during the summer of 1943.

Höfle was married and had four children but two of his children who were twins died and at their graveside, lamented “This is the punishment for the children of Warsaw.” Whilst in Lublin Höfle lived and worked in the Julius Schreck Kaserne on at Litauer Srasse 11, according to his associate in Aktion Reinhardt Georg Michalsen:

The staff building was a three storey-house. On the ground floor – immediately by the entrance – there was the transport squad. On the first floor – on one side – there was the administration, accounts and archive (documents) offices. Here the chief-of-staff also had a room and an ante-room. On the second floor there was located the personnel department. Here Hermann Höfle also had his living quarters in one room.

Höfle played a key administrative role in the destruction of the Jewish workers in November 1943, as confirmed by Jakob Sporrenberg, who had replaced Globocnik as the SS und Polizeiführer Lublin, under the name of Aktion Erntefest. This murder action saw over 40,000 Jewish workers from  a number of labour camps in Lublin itself, as well as Poniatowa and Trawniki gunned down over a couple of days.

Höfle left Lublin and briefly served as the commander of a guard unit at Sachsenhausen concentration camp, followed by spells in the Netherlands and Belgium. He was re-united with Globocnik who was now in Trieste.Höfle was among the group of SS men who were captured with Globocnik and witnessed his suicide by swallowing poison at Paternion, Austria on 31 May 1945.  

Hermann Höfle learned in 1948 that the Polish Communist Government wanted to extradite him to Poland to stand trial for the war crimes he had allegedly committed there. With help he fled first to Italy and then returned to Austria. Making his way to Bavaria he worked for the American Counter Intelligence Corp (CIC), as a low level agent. Höfle was arrested and committed suicide on 21 August 1962 in a Vienna prison cell during pre-trial detention.

Sources

J. Poprzeczny, Hitler’s Man in the East – Odilo Globocnik, McFarland, Jefferson 2004

Hermann Höfle – Personnel File NARA Washington DC -Thanks to Michael Constandy, Westmoreland Research Alexandria, USA  

Photograph – Chris Webb Archive


© Holocaust Historical Society 2014