Josef Oberhauser

Josef Oberhauser ( Munich , 20 of September of 1915 – Munich , 22 of November of 1979 ) was a German military officer in the SS during the Nazi Germany . He participated in the Jewish Holocaust during World War II and was the only person convicted of war crimes carried out in the extermination camp in Belzec .


Josef Oberhauser was born in Munich during the First World War . After completing his studies at the Volksschule , he found employment on his uncle’s farm in Markt Schwaben . In 1934, Oberhauser enlisted for eighteen months in the Reichswehr and was assigned to the 19th Infantry Regiment in Munich.

Race in the SS

In November 1935 he joined the Nazi Party (NSDAP) and the Schutzstaffel (SS), one being assigned to Sachsenhausen concentration camp ( Oranienburg ) where he was stationed until 1936. Oberhauser was assigned to the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler in 1939 and participated in The campaign of Poland . The Polish campaign saw Oberhauser being promoted to the rank of SS-Oberscharführer .

In December 1941, Oberhauser returned to Bełżec with building materials from a team of Ukrainian Trawnikis. At that moment he was subordinate to Field commander Christian Wirth and also to Wirth’s superior Odilo Globocnik . 2 In 1942, he entered the service as Commander of the Bełżec Extermination Camp , where he was promoted directly to officer, with the rank of SS-Obersturmführer for his participation in Operation Reinhard . Between 1942 and 1943, he worked in the Air Field Lublin in occupied Poland .

Between 1943 and 1945, he was stationed in northern Italy, participating in the suppression of Communist guerrillas and the extermination of Jews in the area, which he sent to the San Saba camp . He received the 1st and 2nd class Iron Cross for this.

Persecution after the war

Oberhauser was captured by the Soviets, tried and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment by a Soviet military court in East Germany on charges related to the practice of euthanasia . It was provided with an admonition on April 28, 1956. Following his release, Oberhauser worked as a temporary trader and as a waiter in Munich.

In 1963, when the trial for the crimes perpetrated in the Bełżec camp began, Oberhauser was one of eight accused of the crimes committed there. On January 30, 1964, all the defendants including Oberhauser were acquitted due to the collapse of the prosecution of the case, but detained again shortly thereafter. Oberhauser appealed to the court again in January 1965, was found guilty and sentenced to 4 years and 6 months imprisonment. Oberhauser was released after serving half his sentence and died in 1979.

He gave an interview for the documentary of Claude Lanzmann , Shoah , released in 1985.


  1. Back to top↑ Ernst Klee, Willi Dressen, Volker Riess (1991). “The Good Old Days”: The Holocaust as Seen by its Perpetrators and Bystanders , Free Press, p. 228
  2. Back to top↑ Christopher Browning (2004). The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939 – March 1942 , Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, pp. 419-42