Erich Bauer

Erich Hermann Bauer 1 ( Berlin , 26 March as as 1900 – 4 as February as 1980 ), sometimes called “Gasmeister” or “Badmeister” was an SS – Oberscharführer . He participated in the Aktion T4 program in Nazi Germany and later in Operation Reinhard . Erich Bauer was one of the people who directly perpetrated the Holocaust , since he was operator of the gas chamber in the Sobibor extermination camp .

Early years

In 1933 , Erich Bauer joined the Nazi Party and the SA , while working as a conductor of a tram . 2

World War II

Aktion T4

In 1940 , he joined the Aktion T4 euthanasia program , where the physically and mentally disabled were exterminated by means of gassing or lethal injection. At first, he worked as a driver, but was quickly promoted. Erich Bauer stated as one of his first mass murders:

A pipe connected the exhaust pipe of a car to a laboratory in the asylum. Some patients were locked in the room and I turned on the engine of the car. This killed the patients in eight minutes. 3


In early 1942 , Bauer was transferred by Odilo Globocnik , the SS- und Polizeiführer of Lublin in Poland. They gave Bauer an SS uniform and Oberscharfuhrer rank . In April of that year, it was despatched to the Sobibor extermination camp , where it remained until the liquidation of the field in December of 1943 . 2

In Sobibor, Erich Bauer was in charge of the field gas chambers . At that time, the Jews called him Badmeister “Bath Master”, 4 while after the war he became known as the Gasmeister (“Gas Master”). 2 It was described as a short, stocky man known drinker who regularly exceeded. He kept a private bar in his room. While other SS guards were well dressed, Bauer was different: he was always dirty and sloppy, with a smell of alcohol and chlorine emanating from him. In his room, he had an image of him on the wall and an image of his entire family with the Führer . 5

In addition to beatings, scourges and random shots at the prisoners, Bauer enjoyed launching attack dogs at the Sobibor Jewish prisoners. Among these dogs was an immense resemblance to a St. Bernard , by the name of Barry. Barry was trained to attack prisoners from a variety of orders. Bauer’s favorite order was ” Mensch, fass den Hund ” (translated, “Man, catch the dog.”) The word play here was the exchange of the words ‘man’ and ‘dog’: the first concerned Barry and the second to the victim. After the order, Barry attacked the Jewish prisoner chosen. 2

The 14 of October of 1943 , the day of the uprising at Sobibor, Bauer had addressed Chełm to search for supplies. The uprising was almost postponed, as Bauer was at the top of the list of SS guards for being killed before the escape, which was created by the leader of the revolt, Alexander Pechersky . The revolt must have started earlier because Bauer had returned sooner than expected. There, he discovered that SS-Oberscharführer Rudolf Beckmann was dead and began firing at the two Jewish prisons unloading his van. The sound of the shot led Pechersky to begin the most agitated revolt. 6

After the war

At the end of the war, Bauer was arrested in Austria by the Americans and confined to a prisoner of war camp until 1946 . Shortly thereafter , he returned to Berlin where he found employment as a laborer cleaning the debris of the war. 7

Erich Bauer was arrested in 1949 , when two former Sobibor Jewish prisoners, Samuel Lerer and Esther Raab, recognized him during a chance encounter in Kreuzberg . When Esther Raab confronted Erich Bauer, he would have replied: “How come they are still alive?” 2 Soon after, he was arrested and his trial began the following year.

During his trial, Bauer stated that in Sobibor he only worked as a road driver, collecting the necessary supplies for the country inmates and the German and Ukrainian guards. He admitted to being aware of the mass killings in Sobibor, but said he never participated in them or carried out acts of cruelty. The former Sobibor guards SS-Oberscharführer Hubert Gomerski and Untersturmführer Johann Klier testified in their favor; However, the court condemned Erich Bauer on the basis of the testimony of four Jewish witnesses who managed to escape from Sobibor. They identified Bauer as the former Gasmeister of Sobibor, who not only operated the gas chambers on the field, but also executed mass killings by firing or in a variety of especially cruel and random acts against the prisons of the camps and victims On the way to the gas chambers. 2

On May 8, 1950, the Berlin-Moabit Schwurgericht court sentenced Erich Bauer to death for crimes against humanity . 8 Since capital punishment was abolished in West Germany , Bauer’s sentence was automatically commuted to life imprisonment. He served 21 years in the Alt-Moabit prison in Berlin . During his imprisonment, he admitted his involvement in mass murder at Sobibor and even testified occasionally against his former SS colleagues.

Bauer died in prison on 4 February as as 1980 . 2 7


  1. Back to top↑ The Holocaust: Lest we forget: Extermination camp Sobibor
  2. ↑ Jump to:a b c d e f g de Mildt, Dick (1996). In the Name of the People: Perpetrators of Genocide . Brill, p. 381-383.
  3. Back to top↑ Burleigh, Michael (2002). Death and deliverance . Pan Books, p. 188.
  4. Back to top↑ Nikzor Web Site Sobibor Archive Accessed on April 9, 2009
  5. Back to top↑ Testimony of Eda Lichtman . Retrieved on 2009-04-09
  6. Back to top↑ Blatt, Thomas (1997). From the Ashes of Sobibor . Northwestern University Press, p. 128.
  7. ↑ Jump to:a b Sobibor Interviews: Biographies of SS-men
  8. Back to top↑ Klee, Ernst; Dressen, Willi, Riess, Volker. The Good Old Days: The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders . ISBN 1-56852-133-2 .