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Arthur Liebehenschel
[[File:Liebehenschel, Arthur.jpg|frameless|alt=|]]
Born (1901-11-25)25 November 1901
Posen, German Empire
Died 24 January 1948(1948-01-24) (aged 46)
Montelupich Prison, Kraków, Polish People's Republic
Motive Nazism
Conviction(s) Crimes against humanity
Penalty Death
Children 5

Arthur Liebehenschel (German: [ˈaʁtuːɐ̯ ˈliːbəhɛnʃl̩]; 25 November 1901 – 24 January 1948) was a commandant at the Auschwitz and Majdanek concentration camps during the Holocaust. After the war, he was convicted of war crimes by the Polish government and executed in 1948.

SS career

Liebehenschel was born on 25 November 1901 in Posen (now Poznań). He studied economics and public administration. Too young to serve in World War I, in 1919 he enrolled in the Freikorp "Grenzschutz Ost"; he served as a sergeant major in the German armed forces (Reichswehr) afterwards. In 1932, he joined the Nazi Party and in 1934 the SS, where he served in the Death's Head Units. Liebehenschel became the adjutant in the Lichtenburg concentration camp, and two years later was transferred to the Concentration Camps Inspectorate in Berlin. In 1942, when the SS Main Economic and Administrative Office was founded, Liebehenschel was assigned to the Department D (Concentration Camps) as head of DI (Central Office).

On 1 December 1943, Liebehenschel was appointed commandant of Auschwitz I concentration camp, succeeding Rudolf Höss. While continuing mass executions, he made some minor "improvements" including removing the standing cells and halting the selections to gas chambers among regular prisoners. According to Hermann Langbein, a prisoner at Auschwitz infirmary: "in general one could establish that even those SS members who were very bloodthirsty before became a bit more reserved because they realized that their fanaticism would not necessarily be tolerated anymore."

On 8 May 1944 Höss returned to Auschwitz replacing Liebehenschel, who was appointed commandant of the already emptied Majdanek camp on 19 May 1944, succeeding Martin Gottfried Weiss. The camp was evacuated because of the Soviet advance into German-occupied Poland. Liebehenschel relocated to Trieste, Italy to the office of Odilo Globocnik, the SS and Police Leader for Operational Zone Adriatic Coast (OZAK). Liebehenschel became head of the SS Manpower Office there.


Liebehenschel had one son and three daughters by his first wife, Gertrud, the youngest of whom, Barbara Cherish (born 1943), now lives in the United States.

In 2009, Cherish published her book My Father, the Auschwitz Commandant, in which she outlined actions by Liebehenschel that improved the prisoners' lives, but also discussed his participation in a genocidal system. Together with another daughter, Antje, she was interviewed in 2002 by ZDF, the German television channel, about living with their father's guilt. Liebehenschel had a son by his second wife, Anneliese. .....

See also

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