The commandants oversaw the Auschwitz concentration camp throughout its existence.
They were the ones who decided what was going on in the camp, of course by order of the
authorities of the Third Reich. Who were the commandants of KL Auschwitz and what
happened to them after the liberation of the camp and the end of the war?
Three commanders had passed through Auschwitz since its inception. The first in command
was Rudolf Hoss. Before that, he worked in the camps in Dachau and Sachsenhausen. It was
him who Heinrich Himmler entrusted the construction and command of the largest of the
concentration camps. He has been awarded several times for his services. After he was
removed from the post of director, he managed the receivership chief for concentration
camps. After the war, he was sentenced to death and hanged on the gallows in KL
Auschwitz, next to the Death Block.
Not much is known about the next commandant, Arthur Liebehenschel. He took part in both
world wars and worked in several concentration camps. After being removed from
Auschwitz, he worked at Majdanek, and then was transferred to Trieste. After the war, he
was sentenced to death, which was carried out in the Montelupich prison in Kraków.
Richard Baer was a pastry chef by profession. He served in Dachau, then took part in front-
line battles, where he was wounded. After this incident, he served in the Neuengamme camp
and then was assigned to serve in Auschwitz. There, he performed the function until the
liberation of the camp. He went into hiding after the war but was exposed in the 1960s. He
was supposed to be one of the main accused during the second Auschwitz trial but died
suddenly in prison.
The sub-camps Auschwitz-Birkenau and Auschwitz-Monowitz had separate commanders.
The leaders of the second sub-camp were Friedrich Hartjenstein and Josef Kramer. The first
of them was the commandant of the Niederhagen-Wewelsburg camp, then fought at the
front, after which he was sent to Auschwitz. There, he first worked in the main camp, and
then, after the division, he became the head of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Later, he was transferred
to the Natzweiler-Struthof camp. After the war, he was sentenced by the Allied courts to life
imprisonment and two death sentences. He died while waiting for his execution.
Josef Kramer, sometimes referred to as „The Beast of Bergen-Belsen”, was famous above all
for his cruelty. He had served in various isolation and work camps since 1934. There, he
gained experience, which he then used in managing and making the lives of prisoners in the
camps in Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen difficult. He was arrested during the liberation of the
latter and sentenced to death by hanging.
The commandant of Auschwitz-Monowitz was Henrich Schwarz. A German who was a
printer by profession. He became involved with the Nazis as early as 1931. After the war
broke out, he was sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. It was the first
extermination camp established outside the Third Reich. Then, in 1941, he was sent to
Auschwitz, where he was quickly promoted and soon became the commandant of
Monowitz. After the war, he was sentenced to death and executed by shooting.