Franz Ziereis

Franz Ziereis ( Munich , 13 of August of 1905 – Gusen , 24 of maypole of 1945 ) was the commander of the concentration camp of Mauthausen-Gusen between 1939 and 1945, until the moment of their liberation by the Americans.


Early years

He was born on 13 August 1905 in Munich , capital of the Bavarian region . His father worked as a driver of a carriage horse and died during the First World War . Franz studied for eight years in elementary school and then began working as an apprentice and errand boy in a commercial warehouse. During the nights he studied commerce. In 1922 he began to work in a carpentry shop.

During several periods of his life he was unemployed. For this reason, in 1924 decided to sign a contract for 12 years in the Reichswehr , entering on April 1 of the same year. The 30 of September of 1936 left the army after fulfilling its contract.

Race in the SS

Shortly after he received an offer of employment in the SS-Totenkopfverbände with the rank of first lieutenant of the SS-Obersturmführer with opportunities of ascent and accepted. He joined the Schutzstaffel (SS) and the Nazi Party (NSDAP), leaving the Church.

At first he received military instructions and his superiors praised him for his ability as a training instructor. In 1937 he became the leader the 22. Hundertschaft of the SS-Totenkopfverbände in the department of Brandenburg . That same year he was seriously injured in the knee during a training and required a prolonged hospitalization.

In the year 1938 Franz Ziereis was transferred to recently annexed Austria , where it trained several young soldiers of the SS of the regiment Thuringia of the SS.

The field of Mauthausen-Gusen

Following orders from his superiors he assumed the position of commander of the concentration camp of Mauthausen-Gusen 9 of February of 1939, replacing to Albert Sauer . On 25 August 1939 he was promoted to SS-Sturmbannführer (major) and on 20 April 1944, due to his “special achievements” to field commander with rank of SS-Standartenführer (colonel).

After the liberation of the concentration camp of Mauthausen 5 of May of 1945, fled with his wife and son. US soldiers found them at their Austrian hunting lodge on Phyrn Mountain in Austria on 23 May. Franz Ziereis tried to escape from them disguised as Tyrolean, but was discovered and after an exchange of shots with his pursuers was seriously injured. He was taken to the American hospital in Gusen, where he died the next day. His body was hanged by former prisoners at the Gusen I camp gate.


  • Ernst Klee (2007). Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich – Wer war was vor und nach 1945 , Frankfurt am Main, 2. Auflage, ISBN 978-3-596-16048-8