Ernst Kaltenbrunner

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Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Ernst Kaltenbrunner 2.jpg
Full Name: Ernst Kaltenbrunner
Origin: Ried im Innkreis, Archduchy of Austria above the Enns, Austria-Hungary
Occupation: Director of the Reich Main Security Office (1943 - 1945)
Goals: See The Holocaust through to its conclusion (failed)
Crimes: War crimes
Crimes against humanity
Crimes against peace
Mass murder
Ethnic cleansing
Type of Villain: Corrupt Official

Oppression is the essence of power.
~ Kaltenbrunner to Heinrich Himmler.

Ernst Kaltenbrunner (October 4th, 1903 – October 16th, 1946) was an Austrian-born senior official of the Nazi Party during World War II. An Obergruppenführer (general) in the Schutzstaffel (SS), between January 1943 and May 1945 he held the offices of Chief of the Reich Main Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt; RSHA). He was a childhood friend of Adolf Eichmann.


Kaltenbrunner attended public schools at Linz and obtained a doctorate degree in law at the University of Graz. He joined the Austrian Nazi Party in 1932 and became leader of the SS (elite guards) in Austria in 1935. After the Anschluss (union of Austria with Germany) he became the official head of the Austrian storm troopers. In 1938 he was appointed minister of state security in Austria, holding this post until 1941. 

A committed anti-Semite and fanatical Hitler loyalist, Kaltenbrunner oversaw a period in which persecution of Jews intensified. He is considered a major perpetrator of the Holocaust during the final years of the war.

Due to his high rank within the SS, Kaltenbrunner worked directly with many members of Adolf Hitler's inner circle, including Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Himmler. For most of World War II, Kaltenbrunner was the leader of the SS in Austria and was also responsible for establishing Mauthausen, the first Nazi concentration camp in Austria. He was primarily known as the Nazi Party's lead official in criminalizing homosexuality and was responsible for a Nazi edict mandating compulsory castration of homosexuals.

In the closing weeks of World War II, Himmler named Kaltenbrunner commander-in-chief of the remaining German forces in Southern Europe. Kaltenbrunner attempted to organize cells for post-war sabotage in the region and Germany but accomplished little. Hitler made one of his last appearances on 20 April 1945 outside the subterranean Führerbunker in Berlin, where he pinned medals on boys from the Hitler Youth for their bravery. Kaltenbrunner was among those present, but realizing the end was near, he then fled from Berlin.

On 12 May 1945 Kaltenbrunner was apprehended along with his adjutant, Arthur Scheidler, and two SS guards in a remote cabin at the top of the Totes Gebirge mountains near Altaussee, Austria, by a search party initiated by the 80th Infantry Division, Third U.S. Army. Information had been gained from Johann Brandauer, the assistant burgermeister of Altaussee, that the party was hiding out with false papers in the cabin. After a short standoff, all four men exited the cabin and surrendered without a shot fired.

On 30 September 1946, the International Military Tribunal found Kaltenbrunner not guilty of crimes against peace, but guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity (counts three and four). On 1 October 1946, the IMT sentenced him to death by hanging.

Kaltenbrunner was executed on 16 October 1946, around 1:15 a.m., in Nuremberg. His body, like those of the other nine executed men and that of Hermann Göring (who committed suicide the previous day), was cremated at the Eastern Cemetery in Munich and the ashes were scattered in a tributary of the River Isar.

Dates of rank

  • SS-Mann – 31 August 1931[6]
  • SS-Truppführer - 1931[6]
  • SS-Sturmhauptführer – 25 September 1932[6]
  • SS-Standartenführer – 20 April 1936[6]
  • SS-Oberführer – 20 April 1937[6]
  • SS-Brigadeführer – 21 March 1938[6]
  • SS-Gruppenführer – 11 September 1938[6]
  • SS-Untersturmführer d.R. der Waffen-SS – 1 July 1940[6]
  • Generalleutnant der Polizei – 1 April 1941[6]
  • SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei – 21 June 1943[6]
  • General der Waffen-SS und Polizei – 1 December 1944[6]

Awards and decorations

  • Honour Chevron for the Old Guard (1934)[67]
  • SS Honour Ring (1938)[67]
  • Sword of honour of the Reichsführer-SS (1938)[67]
  • Anschluss Medal (1938)[67]
  • Sudetenland Medal (1938) with Prague Castle Bar (1939)[67]
  • Golden Party Badge (1939)[67]
  • SS Long Service Award For 4, 8, and 12 Years Service[67]
  • Nazi Party Long Service Award in Bronze and Silver[67]
  • Blood Order (31 May 1942)[67]
  • German Cross in Silver (1943)[67]
  • Knights Cross of the War Merit Cross with Swords (1944)[67]