Karl Frenzel

SS – Oberscharführer Karl August Wilhelm Frenzel 1 3 ( 20 of August of 1911 – 2 of September of 1996 ) 4 was the section commander Lager I the death camp of Sobibor , which was the section for Sonderkommando prisoners forced laborers, Who also crowded the victims in the gas chambers . After World War II , he was sentenced and sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes and spent 16 years in prison, but was released for health reasons.

Early years

Frenzel was born in Zehdenick , in the district Oberhavel ( Brandenburg ) on 20 of August of 1911 . His father had worked as a railroad and was a local official of the Social Democratic Party of Germany . Karl completed elementary school from 1918 to 1926 in Oranienburg and then became an apprentice carpenter . During this time, he was a member of the socialist union of carpenters; However, after passing the exam that qualified him as a carpenter in 1930 he found himself unemployed. Later, he found work for a short time as a butcher . The Nazi Party promised that there would be more jobs after taking power, a reason that motivated Frenzel when he joined the Party and the Sturmabteilung (SA) in August 1930. His brother, a student of theology , had enrolled in the Party Nazi the previous year. His father would join the Party in 1934. Karl argued that anti-Semitism was an aspect of politics, to which they were indifferent. Later, I would say that he was overwhelmed by the early persecution of the Jews in Germany . 5 6

In 1929, at the age of 18, Frenzel met his first girlfriend, who was Jewish . Their relationship ended after two years when the father of his girlfriend learned that Frenzel was a member of the Nazi Party. She and her family emigrated to the United States in 1934 . 2 5

Frenzel served in the auxiliary police force in the SA during the summer of 1933. Through his party connections, he obtained jobs, first, as a carpenter and then as a janitor . 7

In 1934 , Frenzel married his wife. Both were German Christians and were married by the Church. They attended the temple “if not every Sunday, at least every two or three weeks.” His five children were baptized. They bought the furniture for their new home from a Jewish merchant. 2 5 Towards the end of the war, in 1945 , Frenzel’s wife, like millions of German women raped by soldiers Soviets , developed typhus and died shortly afterwards. 5

Aktion T4

Main article: Aktion T4

At the beginning of World War II, Frenzel was recruited in the Labor Service of the Reich ; However, he was released shortly afterwards because he had many children to support. His brothers were in the army and Karl felt he was away from the action. In response to a call loyal to the Party members, Frenzel enrolled for military special service via its unit SA, but instead was assigned to Action T4 , the Nazi state program to kill all people with disabilities . When the Wehrmacht requested its services, T4 avoided its transfer. 7

Along with other recruits, Frenzel reported to Columbus House in late 1939, where his political reliability was first investigated and then he saw a film about the supposed degeneration of the disabled. First, he worked in the laundry and as a guard at Grafeneck Castle; Lueho, worked in construction in Bernburg and, finally, was transferred to the Hadamar Euthanasia Center. There, he was responsible for removing the corpses from gas chambers , extracting gold teeth and burning bodies, as well as various tasks related to gas chambers and crematoria . 7 It has also been speculated that Frenzel would have helped in designing the gas chambers in Hadamar. Like his colleagues, this was Frenzel’s first experience with gassing and the incineration of bodies, a knowledge that would be useful in the death camps. The 20 of April of 1942 , was assigned to Operation Reinhard and was sent to the death camp of Sobibor . 3 8


Frenzel stated that when he received his orders, he was told that Sobibor was a simple field of work to supervise. When he learned of the true nature of the camp, he was forbidden to discuss it with anyone, since it was to be kept as a state secret. The penalty for violating this rule was imprisonment in a concentration camp or capital punishment . 5

Frenzel was the commander of Camp I, which was the forced labor camp at Sobibor. He was also in charge of the Bahnhofkommando . Frenzel served as the replacement for Gustav Wagner as field sergeant, every time Wagner attended appointments somewhere else or while on vacation. During these periods, Frenzel selected which prisoners of the newly arrived transport would work on and off the field (in fact, it also selected the vast majority to go directly to the gas chambers). 3 In this position, Frenzel carried out a genocide by participating in the industrial-scale extermination of thousands of inmates as part of Operation Reinhard .

Frenzel freely used his whip on the inmates without reserve. Erich Bauer , one of Field III’s commanders, stated, “He [Frenzel] was one of the most brutal members of the permanent staff in the camp.” 8 For example, in the spring of 1943, when a laboring prisoner tried to commit suicide and Was found agonizing, Frenzel shouted that the Jews did not have the right to kill himself, only the Germans had the right to kill. Frenzel struck the dying man and shot him off with a bullet. Referring to Fig.

Years later in an interview, Frenzel maintained that he was always fair in apportioning “punishments.” 2 5 In the spring of 1943, after two Jews of Chelm escaped from the camp, Frenzel announced that every tenth prisoner in the morning taking care would be executed. Frenzel personally walked along the ranks and pulled the victims out of them to be killed in Field III. Twenty prisoners were shot in retaliation for the two who escaped. 10

Unlike many SS officers, Frenzel supposedly had its limits. He testified that he tried to avoid participating in the most murderous actions of the camp. For example, when he was in charge of the train that transported the Jews to the gas chambers, he protested. Frenzel stated that

After disembarking the train, the weaker children and Jews were forcibly thrown off the train. Terrible scenes happened then. People were separated from their families, pushed with rifle butts whipped with whips. They screamed atrociously, so they can not cope with this task. Reichleitner agreed to my order and named Bredow to escort the train. Referring to Fig.

After the revolt of prisoners of 14 of October of 1943 , Frenzel helped dismantle the camp. He was then sent to participate in the Sondertruppe R in Trieste and Fiume , which confiscated the houses of Jews deported in Italy. 3

Arrest and Trial

When the war ended, he was arrested by troops Americans in a field of prisoners of war near Munich , but was soon released. Frenzel found a job in Frankfurt as an electrician. The 22 of March of 1962 , he was again identified, arrested and brought to trial along with other former SS officers in the judgments of Sobibor the 6 of September of 1965 . 2

The official charge against Frenzel was the personal murder of 42 Jews and the participation in the murder of approximately 250,000 Jews. 1 11

The justification of Frenzel for his activity in Sobibor was the following:

As I have already indicated, under the prevailing war conditions, which are now difficult to understand, I unfortunately believed that what was happening at Sobibor was legal. Much to my regret, I was then convinced of his need. I was surprised that during the war, when I wanted to serve my country, I had to be in such a terrible extermination camp. But then I often thought of enemy bomber pilots, who probably did not ask them if they wanted to carry out their murderous flights against the German people in their homes in such a way. Referring to Fig.

The 20 of December of 1966 , Frenzel was sentenced to life in prison for killing six Jews personally and for their participation in the mass murder of 150,000 Jews and other camp commandant I Sobibor. 1 November He was released on a technicality in 1992 , he was again convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment on 4 October as as 1985 . Due to his advanced age and poor health, the sentence was not imposed and was released. 1

Sobibor survivor Thomas Blatt was among those called to testify against Frenzel. When Blatt traveled to the trial host city, he met with Frenzel in a hotel to discuss historical issues and technical details about the field operation for the history of the revolt that Blatt was then writing; The event is presumably the only time a supervisor of a Nazi extermination camp was interviewed by a prisoner of an extermination camp.

In the years after the war, Frenzel often expressed remorse for his actions, but explained that he had simply done his duty. He renounced his belief in the Nazi Party:

Since 1945, I’ve been cursing the Nazis – for everything, for what they did, and everything they represented. I’ve fought the devil. Since 1945, I have abstained from any involvement in politics. 5

Karl Frenzel spent his last years in a retirement home in Garbsen , near Hanover , where he died on 2 of September of 1996 at the age of 85 years.


  1. ↑ Jump to:a b c d e Sobibor – The Forgotten Revolt
  2. ↑ Jump to:a b c d e Interview with Frenzel
  3. ↑ Jump to:a b c d Sobibor Interviews: Biographies of SS-men
  4. Back to top↑ Schelvis, Jules (2007). Sobibor: A History of a Nazi Death Camp , Berg: Oxford, p. 250
  5. ↑ Jump to:a b c d e f g Blatt, Thomas (1997). From the Ashes of Sobibor . Northwestern University Press, pp. 235-242.
  6. Back to top↑ Klee, Ernst (2003). Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945? . Frankfurt: Fischer, 2nd edition updated, ISBN 3-10-039309-0
  7. ↑ Jump to:a b c Friedlander, Henry (1995). The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution , Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, p. 241. ISBN 0-8078-2208-6
  8. ↑ Jump to:a b c d Arad, Yitzhak (1987). Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps , Bloomington: Indiana University Press, p. 192.
  9. Back to top↑ Klee, Ernst; Dressen, Willi and Riess, Volker. The Good Old Days: The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders , p. 243. ISBN 1-56852-133-2 .
  10. Back to top↑ Arad, Yitzhak (1987). Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka: The Operation Reinhard Death Camps . Bloomington: Indiana University Press, p. 266.
  11. ↑ Jump to:a b