Charles H. Dameron Report on Hartheim Euthanasia Institute

War Crimes Investigation

alkoven postcard 659

Alkoven Postcard - Schloss Hartheim

When this team arrived in Hartheim, Austria and was directed to the address Hartheim 1, it found a large building which apparently, at least at one time, had been a castle. It is referred to throughout the investigation as “Schloss Hartheim” and for the purposes of this report will, therefore, be designated as the “Castle.” The building is presently being used as an orphanage housing 70 young children and 10 Catholic nuns and has been so used since 12 January 1945. According to one witness the building is between 300 and 500 years old.It was operated by the German Welfare Institute for the insane from 1903 to 1938. In approximately May 1940 the building was taken over by the SS and a crematory was installed. The witness Ignaz Schuhmann, present Burgermeister in Hartheim, personally saw the materials brought in for such use.

At this time there was installed on the ground floor of the building a receiving room, photography room, a room in which to undress patients, a gas chamber, a mortuary, a room equipped with a cremating oven, and one room to be used for dissecting. This part of the building was concealed from view by the erection of a board wall around two sides of the courtyard in the centre of the building. An electrical bone crushing machine was also part of the equipment and there is some evidence that there were two ovens instead of one in the crematory. The purpose of the renovation was to make the building suitable for disposing of weak-minded and insane people in the German Reich, in accordance with what was explained to the employees as a “Secret German Law which would be made public after the War.”

Prominently exhibited in a framed plaque hanging on the wall near the main entrance to the castle was the printed admonition: “Whoever is not healthy and worthy in body and soul, is not permitted to immortalise his ailments in the body of his child.” Immediately adjacent thereto was to be found a plaque with the further admonition: “Respect for great men must be impregnated upon the German youth as a holy inheritance.”

Of the documents which were left behind and found by this team in the castle, books on Euthanasia predominated. In short, the purpose of the establishment was to put to death by gassing such mentally weak and insane persons of Germany, as were directed by higher authority and to then cremate their bodies. One of the witnesses was reluctant to use the word death in this connection and preferred to use the word “redeem.” Even in the report on the number of persons executed the execution of these idiots is referred to as “disinfection.”

The entire institution was operated under the direction of what was known as the “Foundation for Asylum Care,” Headquarters Berlin 35 Tiergatenstrasse 4. Most of the employees arrived in Hartheim during April and May 1940 and were either from the SS or SA or were employed by the former. All of the employees interviewed from the director’s secretary to the scrub woman were required to sign an oath to keep secret anything they might see or hear in the establishment under penalty of death or confinement in a concentration camp.The exact date on which operations began is not definitely known, but it is known that some victims arrived as early as May 1940. This date coincides with that found in the unidentified statistical report recovered from the premises. In the beginning they were brought from insane asylum such as Linz-Niedernhart, Baumgartenberg, Gallneukirchen, Wien-Steinhof, Graz- Feldhof, Wiesengrund and others. The victims were brought to the castle in Hartheim in large busses, the capacity of which has been estimated at between 50 and 90. The number of such busses which arrived each day has been variously estimated at 2-3, six.

The witness Ignaz Schuhmann stated that he has seen as many as 7 or 8 busses arrive in one day. The victims were always accompanied by male or female nurses depending upon their sex. The busses were driven to a slide door and unloaded within the confines of a wooden wall which entirely obscured the process from view. The victims were then led through an enclosed corridor into a room, a room in which their case histories were checked. They were then taken into another room where they were undressed by the nurses and sent immediately into a photographic room, where most of them were photographed. The next step was the gas room into which the victims were herded in groups of about 60. Here they were subjected to gas which caused their death in from 10 to 15 minutes. No definite evidence was obtained from employees at the castle with reference to the types of gas used but there is evidence that at least during the later years of operation, the type used was carbon-monoxide.

There is undisputed evidence that the gas was the immediate cause of death. The cremators then went into the gas room and removed the dead victims to the adjoining morgue, where they were held to await cremation. Those who were marked by the doctors were dissected for experimental purposes. The brains were preserved and sent to Vienna. The final step in disposing of the bodies was accomplished by the cremators who threw the remains in an oven which used coke for fuel. One witness stated that between four and five hours elapsed between the time the victims first entered the castle and the time their bodies were cremated. After the process of execution and cremation was completed the relatives of the victims were notified of the death provided they lived within the borders of Germany. No notices were sent to relatives living in foreign countries.These notices were prepared from the information contained on the death certificates which had previously been prepared. The correct cause of death was never entered on the death certificate and the victim was usually recited as having died from diseases. The time of death was generally post dated anywhere from 14 to 20 days and in many instances the victim was recited as having died at some other institution. The ashes of the victim were taken out of the ovens indiscriminately and sent to the relatives. In the words of one witness: “They never cared if they were the right ashes or not.”    

There is a wide variance among the witnesses as to the number of mentally ill persons who were executed in Hartheim. One witness even estimates the number as high as one thousand per week. A booklet reputedly compiled by one E.Brant was found in a steel file cabinet in the castle and purports to portray the number of idiots disinfected at Hartheim, as well as other institutions of similar nature. It is true that E.Brant has not been identified nor has his work been otherwise connected with the case except its presence among the other books and records found in the castle. It is noteworthy, however, that this booklet correctly show the month when executions began at Hartheim, viz May 1940 and the month when executions of insane persons was terminated, viz August 1941. During that period of sixteen months a figure of 18,269 is represented as the number of insane persons disinfected at Hartheim. In August 1941 Adolph Hitler ordered that no more insane persons were to be executed and, from that time forward, operations at the Hartheim Castle ceased insofar as the disposing of mentally ill persons was concerned.

In the meantime, however, viz: in July 1941 prisoners from Mauthausen Concentration Camp began to arrive at the castle and were there executed. Apparently the names and nationalities of the prisoners were at first recorded as one witness states that she personally saw photostatic copies of these records. At this time the prisoners executed in Hartheim included Russians, Poles, Ukrainians, Spaniards and Germans, according to said records. The total number of concentration camp prisoners executed in July and August 1941 was estimated at between 10 and 15 bus loads of 60 persons each, or, between 600 and 900 prisoners. No notice of death was sent to the relatives of the prisoners as had been true in the case of insane persons.

In August 1941 as a result of Adolph Hitler’s order to cease the executions a question arose at Hartheim with reference to whether the order applied only to insane persons or whether it also applied to the Concentration Camp prisoners. After a telephone conversation with the Berlin office it was determined that the order applied to all persons. As a result the crematory ceased operation entirely between August 1941 and sometime during the year 1942.

During the year 1942 Concentration Camp prisoners from Mauthausen begin to arrive again at the castle to be executed. The exact date of this resumption of operations is not definitely known. One witness describes the date as several months after January 1 1942. Another describes it as the latter part of 1942. Nevertheless, the fact that prisoners from Mauthausen were again transported to the castle is established without question. Many of the witnesses personally viewed transports arriving carrying persons dressed in stripped uniforms. These persons were always escorted by SS men in uniform. These SS men were recognised as being from Mauthausen Concentration Camp. One former employee, after making a false statement, finally stated under oath that prisoners were executed at Hartheim in the same manner as the insane had formerly been “redeemed.” All witnesses who saw the Concentration Camp prisoners brought into the castle agree that they were not see to leave. The nationalities of the prisoners brought in during this period have not been definitely established in as much as there is an indication that no records were kept at this time.

There is evidence of probative value that they were Russians, Poles, Ukrainians, Spaniards and Germans. There is no evidence that any American personnel was involved. (In this connection it should be mentioned that this investigating team discovered in the room formerly used as a crematory, a box of coins of many nations, including American, British, Canadian, French and others. These coins have not been connected with the case in any other manner, but are being preserved with the thought that some of the witnesses who have not been apprehended may be able to later identify them).

No evidence has been obtained as to whether or not Adolph Hitler personally gave the “green light” to these executions subsequent to his having prohibited them in August 1941. However, as will appear more fully hereafter, these executions were actually directed and supervised by the Berlin offices at Tiergartenstrasse 4.

It has been impossible to determine the actual number of Concentration Camp prisoners who were executed subsequent to August 1941 in the absence of any records on the subject. However, one witness definitely states that “most of the people were brought here in 1942 and 1943.” (after execution of the insane had ceased).

The only available record indicates that 18,269 insane persons were executed from May 1940 to August 1941. Hence, since most of the victims arrived in 1942 and 1943 a number of concentration camp prisoners far in excess of 18,269 arrived between 1942 and the latter part of 1944, especially considering the greater period of time involved. There is some evidence that concentration camp prisoners from Dachau and Buchenwald were also brought to Hartheim for execution, but there is nothing in the record to definitely corroborate this statement.The execution of prisoners continued until October 1944. On 13 December 1944, 20 prisoners from Mauthausen Concentration Camp were sent to Hartheim and worked for a period of 8 days to restore the castle to its former condition.

One of these prisoners Adam Golebski states that, among other things, were found clothing of men, women and children, tin numbers of prisoners from Mauthausen, as well as the remains of human bones. The doors from the disrobing room to the gas chamber and from the gas chamber to the mortuary were plastered over. The crematory and the chimney used in connection therewith were torn down. Some records were sent to a paper mill to be destroyed and the others (with the exception of a few found by this team) were sent to Bad Schoenfliess near Berlin. The last act in connection with the destruction of records was performed by Frederick W. Lorent, who returned at Easter time in 1945 and was seen burning films and a few remaining papers.

On 12 January 1945 the castle was first used to house the Orphanage which presently occupies it. In addition to the concentration camp prisoners mentioned above there were also other foreigners executed at Hartheim. During the middle of the year 1941 between 50 and 60 persons from the Lower Stiermark (both male and female) were brought to the castle and executed. About half of these were Yugoslavs who were taken over following the occupation of Yugoslavia by Germany.

Additionally, from July to September 1944 an undetermined number of slave labourers from Poland and Russia were brought to Hartheim and executed. This is, in a measure confirmed by the statement of Ignaz Schuhmann when he stated that he saw political prisoners dressed in civilian clothes brought to Hartheim. No explanation is given for the execution of these persons except that “they were mentally ill and not able to work any more”. There is evidence that the orders for the execution of both the Yugoslavs and slave labourers mentioned above came directly from the office at Tiergartenstrasse 4 in Berlin.

The evidence shows that the following named persons were implicated in the manner indicated in the operation of the crematory at Hartheim:

1. The evidence is to the effect that institutions such as that which existed at Hartheim were nominally under the Ministry of the Interior in Berlin, but were actually supervised by representatives from the office of the Fuehrer himself. The officer responsible to Hitler in this regard was Reichsleiter Philip Bouhler, who is described as an office manager in Hitler’s office.

He had authority to issue orders to the Foundation for Asylum Care (sometimes referred to as the Office of Cure and Care Institutions) at Tiergartenstrasse 4 in Berlin, from which office orders for the executions at Hartheim emanated.

2. In the direct chain of command in this respect were two individuals who are shown to have been employed in Hitler’s office and to have exercised command functions over the office for “Foundation for Asylum Care” at Tiergartenstrasse 4.

The first of these was Oberreichleiter Victor Brack, alias Jenerwein. He was known as Victor Brack in Hitler’s office, but when he exercised duties at Tiergartenstrasse 4 he assumed the name of Jenerwein.

The evidence is clear that he had authority to and actually did issue orders in connection with the operation of the Hartheim Castle. In addition there is ample proof of the fact that he personally made inspection tours to the castle during the time when concentration camp prisoners were being executed.

3. Occupying much the same position as Victor Brack and, in fact substituting for him on many occasions was Werner Blankenberg, alias Brenner. He was known as Blankenberg in Hitler’s office, but when he exercised command functions over the office for “Foundation for Asylum Care” at Tiergartenstrasse 4, he assumed the name of Brenner.

Like Brack the evidence is clear that he had authority to and actually did issue orders in connection with the operation of establishments such as existed at the Hartheim Castle.

There is ample proof that he actually made tours of inspection at Hartheim while executions of Concentration Camp prisoners were being carried out.

4. Also, in the Berlin office during various periods were Professors Heyde, Bohne, Nietsche. Each of them was at one time the director of the Foundation for Asylum Care in Berlin, but were under the direction of Brack and Blankenberg.

None of the witnesses were able to definitely fix the dates during which these doctors served in the capacity as directors. In addition, there is no direct evidence that any of them issued orders, with reference to the execution of concentration camp prisoners and, in fact, there is some indication that they did not.

Dr Bohne is said to have left in 1940 before the execution of prisoners began and there is some evidence to the effect that the other doctors confined their activities to the determination of the disposition of insane persons.

5. In the Hartheim Castle itself the original director of the entire establishment was Dr. Rudolph Lonauer of Neuhofen on the Krems. He had complete authority over all employees. The evidence is convincing that he, together with his assistant, checked the case histories of all insane patients brought to the castle.

There is also evidence that he was one of the persons who actually administered gas which caused the death of thousands of victims, including prisoners from Mauthausen Concentration Camp. He also maintained liaison with the Berlin office and made many trips to Berlin for that purpose. Dr Lonauer held this position from 1940 to the middle of 1943. There is evidence that he poisoned himself, his wife and two children shortly after the American occupation.     

6. Beginning in April 1940 Dr. Georg Renno was installed as the assistant to Dr Lonauer in Hartheim. From that time until the middle of 1942 he served as a physician assistant in the castle.

He went to Switzerland for his health but returned to his same position in Hartheim at the beginning of 1943. From the middle of 1943 until December 1944 he occupied the position of Director of the institution at Hartheim. As such he had complete authority over all personnel. His duties at this time paralleled those formerly charged to Dr Lonauer. There is evidence that he, like Dr Lonauer, administered gas to thousands of victims including prisoners from Mauthausen.

Hubert Gomerski, Kurt Bolender and Josef Vallaster were heard to state that they had seen Dr Renno administer gas to the victims and undoubtedly will be able to so testify when apprehended. When Dr Renno left Hartheim he stated that he intended to go to Switzerland and he has not yet been apprehended.

7. In the middle of the year 1943 Jochen Becker came from Berlin and moved with him to Hartheim the Central Accounting Department of the Cure and Care Institutes.

In addition to his duties with that department, however, he was also manager of the establishment in the castle under Dr Renno. There is evidence that he received his orders from Berlin and is stated to have personally told the transport drivers to bring prisoners from Mauthausen to the castle.

His activities can best be summarised by using the words of one of the witnesses, “Jochen Becker was, as far as know responsible for everything.

Dr Renno was considered the director, but in my opinion did not have much authority, because Becker took complete control.” Becker was in Hartheim until November 1944 when the entire establishment was discontinued.

8. From April 1940 to October 1941 Christian Wirth is described as having been “office manager and right hand man” for Dr Lonauer. He issued orders to all the employees including the cremators. It was he who administered the oath of secrecy to all the new employees. He was in constant touch with Berlin. He was a Captain in the protective police and continuously wore his uniform. He is stated to be deceased but there is no proof of that fact.

9.  Franz Reichleitner, a first lieutenant in the protective police (later promoted to Captain) was employed in the castle from June 1940 to April or May 1942. He was at first the assistant to Christian Wirth and later assumed all the authority and duties formerly possessed by Wirth.

10. Otto Schmidtgen was employed as a cremator from 1940 to December 1944. Prior to August 1941 he was engaged in actually picking up the dead bodies of the insane persons who had been gassed to death and throwing them into the cremating ovens. There is evidence that in 1943 and 1944 when only Concentration Camp prisoners were being executed, he also actually administered the gas, which was the immediate cause of death. He even admitted to one witness that he had administered gas to the prisoners.

11. Josef Vallaster was employed at Hartheim as a cremator from May 1940 until the end of 1941.

12. Kurt Bolender served in the capacity of cremator from May 1940 to December 1941. He was a member of the SS.

13. Hubert Gomerski, also a member of the SS, was employed as a cremator from 1940 until the end of 1941.

14. Vinzenz Nohel served as a cremator during the year 1944 and is stated definitely to have burned the bodies of Concentration Camp prisoners.

15. Paul Groth served as a cremator during 1941 at the time Concentration Camp prisoners were being executed.

16. Paul Bredow, was also employed as a cremator but prior to August 1941. There is therefore no definite evidence that he served as a cremator during the period when Concentration Camp were destroyed in Hartheim.

Likewise there is no evidence that he actually engaged in burning the bodies of the Yugoslavs mentioned elsewhere in this report. Consequently, unless it is determined that the execution of insane German nationals is a war crime, it is not believed that Bredow can be convicted as a war criminal on the evidence now available.

17. The names of the other known persons who were formerly employed at the castle in Hartheim, together with their last known addresses, where known, and the respective positions occupied, by each, are as follows:

Name Last Known Home Address Position in Castle

Helene Hintersteiner Hartheim 1 Secretary for Dr Lonauer

Rudolf Haase Unknown Book –keeper

Arnold Behrens Unknown Office employee

Hans Raeder- Grossman Unknown Office manager

Friedrich W. Lorent Unknown Office worker

Werner Becher Unknown Driver

Hans Lothaler Ostermeithing Upper Austria Driver

Heinrich Barbl Unknown House Supt

Linchen Harmann Unknown Chambermaid

Maria Klausecker Unknown Chambermaid

Martin Rentzsch Unknown Finance office

Friedl Haus Unknown Personnel office

Arnold Oels Unknown Personnel office

Walter Rose Unknown Messenger

Gerhard Schnieder Unknown Messenger

Erich Fettke Unknown Messenger

Karl Krugesmann Unknown Messenger

Gertrud Blanke Witterstoch Dasse Nurse

Gertrud Klahn Unknown Nurse

Elizabeth Vallaster Berlin Nurse

Maria Raab Ybbs on the Danube Nurse

Mareia Hammelsboech Ybbs on the Danube Nurse

Maria Gruber Ybbs on the Danube Nurse

Maria Wittmann Ybbs on the Danube Nurse

Lotte Zeitz Berlin Nurse

Grete Heider Ybbs on the Danube Nurse

Anton Schrottmeier Ybbs on the Danube Male Nurse

Franz Gindl Alkoven Male Nurse

Karl Steubel Niederhart Linz Male Nurse

Karl Harrer Niederhart Linz Male Nurse

Hermann Michel Berlin Male Nurse

Herman Wentzel Berlin Male Nurse

Bruno Kochan Berlin Male Nurse

Liesel Freudenberg Stuttgart Office worker

Charlotte Schaber Berlin Office Worker

Franz Thiel Saxony Office Worker

Hans Anzinger Linz Driver  

Franz Hoedl Linz Driver

Anton Getzinger Gallneukirchen Driver

Franz Mayrhuber Neumarkt – Kallham Driver  

Franz Wagner Krumau, Czechoslovakia Photographer

Bruno Bruckner Linz Photographer

Frau Reichenbaecher Unknown Photographer’s helper

Mr Steffens Krumau, Czechoslovakia Photographer

Mr Vollmann Rhineland House Manager

Miss Weber Cologne House Manager’s Asst

Hans Lenz Hartheim Housekeeping Dept  

Friedl Muckenhuber Gmunden Office worker

Arthur Walther Saxony House manager

Charlotte Heck Unknown Office worker

Hans Hereth Bavaria Office worker

Franz Stangl Wels Asst to Capt Wirth

Gustl Wagner Vienna Asst to Capt Wirth

Hans Girtzig Berlin Office

Anne Marie Gruber Linz Personnel Office

Lilli Burner Steyr Office worker  

Traudl Dirnberger Linz Office worker

Else Lego Linz Office worker

Ridie Hirsch Linz Office worker

Otto Hirsch Linz Office worker, Male Nurse

Loidl Rudolf Linz Office worker, Guard

Ronals Resch Munich Office worker  

Magda Thalwitzer Frankfurt Office worker

Hanni Pfeiffer Frankfurt Office worker

Irmgard Schwab Berlin Office worker

Imgard Ladwig Berlin Office worker

Lotte Bartel Berlin Office worker

Ilse Market Berlin Office worker

Annalisa Gindl Alkoven Office worker

Marianne Lenz Hartheim Office worker

Gudrun Freeze Berlin Office worker

Helmut Fischer Saxony Office worker

Emil Reisenberger Linz House Supt  

Edith Herbst Linz Office worker

Charlotte Hochhaeusler Berlin Office worker

Elfie Bergsmann Steiermark Office worker

Rosa Haas Hartheim Scrub woman  

 Wanted Reports are being prepared on some of the more important witnesses listed above and will be forwarded upon completion.


1. Approximately 25 unknown Yugoslavs who were gassed to death and their bodies cremated in the middle of the year 1941.

2. Between 600 and 900 unknown Russians, Poles, Spaniards, Ukrainians and Germans from Mauthausen Concentration Camp who were gassed to death and their bodies cremated in July and August 1941.

3. More than 18,000 prisoners of various nationalities whose names are unknown who were brought from Mauthausen Concentration Camp, gassed to death and their bodies cremated between July and September 1944.

4. An undetermined number of unknown slave labourers from Poland and Russia gassed to death and their bodies cremated between July and September 1944.

No bodies have been found or identified in connection with this investigation inasmuch as the evidence shows that all bodies were cremated and even the ashes were removed.

No identification of the names of the victims has been possible in view of the fact that, as the evidence shows, no records were kept of the victims names after August 1941. The records which had been kept prior to August 1941 were destroyed six months before this investigation was initiated.

List of Enemy Individuals Accused

Philip Bouhler

SS- Reichsleiter and former employee in Adolf Hitler’s office, physical description and address unknown

Victor Brack

Alias Jenerwein, SS-Oberführer and former employee in the office of Adolf Hitler: physical features, age 42, weight 150, height 5’ 7’’ blonde thin hair turning grey, pointed face, thin legs, long pointed nose, blue squint eyes, ruddy freckled complexion, and is a nervous type individual. Home address somewhere in Bavaria

 Werner Blankenberg

Alias Brenner, SS-Oberführer and former employee in the office of Adolf Hitler, physical features, age 40, weight 145, height 5’4’’ black hair, brown eyes, which are crossed requiring the wearing of thick lenses, round face with pale complexion, gold filled teeth, hooked noose, impediment in speech. Home address unknown

Georg Renno

Psychiatrist, SS Obersturmführer physical features, age 38, weight 146, height 5’ 10’’ slender small face, is said to have left for Switzerland shortly before American occupation.  

Jochen Becker

A member of the SA, physical features, age 37, weight 160, height 5’9,” flat feet, thick neck, big eyes, broad face, outstanding ears, slender. Home address Kassel, Germany.

Christian Wirth

Captain in Protective Police and member of the SS, physical features, Age 47, weight 180, height 5’11,” slightly bald headed, brown eyes, wears glasses, fair complexion, wears a moustache, stout neck. Home address, Stuttgart, Germany

Franz Reichleitner

Austrian, Captain in Protective Police and member of SS. Physical features, age 40, weight 180, height 5’7’’ stout neck, big head. Home address,Steyr, Austria.

Otto Schmidtgen

Civilian occupation bookkeeper, physical features, age 49, weight 140, height 5’6,” dark complexion, bow legged, gold filled teeth, wears reading glasses, slender and has a deformity of one hand.

Josef Vallaster

Austrian, physical features, age 34, weight 150, height 5’9,” black hair, brown eyes, wears glasses, dark complexion, long pointed nose, slender build, small face. Home address Voralberg, Austria

Kurt Bolender

Member of the SS, physical features, age 32, weight 180, height 6,’ light hair, blue eyes, fair complexion, round full face, bow legged, heavy build. Home address believed to be either Duisburg or Dusseldorf, Germany.

Hubert Gomerski

Physical features, age 34, weight 146, height 5’6,” blue eyes, slender build. Home address unknown.

Vinzenz Nohel

Physical features, age 45, weight 155, height 5’6,” brown hair turning grey, dark complexion, round broad face, false teeth, has bad feet and walks in a peculiar manner. Last known home address Linz, Austria

Paul Groth

Physical features unknown. Home address unknown.


 The following analysis of the evidence is predicted on the premise that the execution of insane German nationals, indiscriminately and without regard to race or religion, however reprehensible, is not considered a war crime.

In the event it is so considered by higher headquarters additional names should be added to the list of accused, including many of the nurses, both male and female, who were employed at Hartheim.

Reichsleiter Philip Bouhler, Oberiechleiter Victor Brack, Werner Blankenberg, Dr Rudolph Lonauer, Dr Georg Renno, Jochen Becker, Christian Wirth and Franz Reichleitner have all been named as war criminals in this report on the theory that the evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt that they, and each of them, had authority to and did issue orders and instructions resulting directly in the mass murder of thousands of persons from Mauthausen Concentration Camp.

Dr Lonauer and Dr Renno have also been named because there is convincing evidence that they, and each of them, were instrumental in actually administering gas, which was the immediate cause of death of these persons.

Otto Schmidtgen , Josef Vallaster, Kurt Bolender, Hubert Gomerski and Vinzenz Nohel have been named on the theory that, though all of them may not have actually administered the gas, which caused the death of said persons, they in their capacities as cremators, are shown by the evidence to have personally handled the disposition of the bodies of the murdered persons.

In this connection consideration has been given to the fact that ordinary cremation is a perfectly legal manner in which to dispose of a dead body. However, in spite of the fact that one witness, Hans Lenz stated that the bodies were cremated to prevent the spread of disease; the remainder of the evidence in the record does not lend support to this theory.

On the contrary, the evidence is convincing that the purpose of the cremations was to dispose of the evidence of crime. The record is replete with references to the secrecy with which operations at Hartheim were conducted. In cases where any records at all were kept they were falsified as to cause and date of death. What few records were kept were destroyed but the complete destruction of the bodies by cremation was the most effective step taken to forever obliterate evidence of the crimes. The record when read as a whole is convincing that this, and not sanitation, was the motive behind the cremations. The evidence on this theory, proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the cremators were accessories to the crime of murder and are indicted and should be tried as principals.

In addition there is evidence that Otto Schmidtgen personally administered gas to prisoners from Mauthausen Concentration Camp as a direct result of which said prisoners died. There is also evidence that he, himself, has admitted such facts to the witness Franz Wagner. That the other cremators also personally administered gas is indicated in the testimony of Heinrich Barbl.

By way of final summary, it is, of course correct that the record contains no testimony of an eye witness who actually saw any individuals executed. That is definitely shown by direct eye witness evidence is the fact that prisoners were sent by the Commanding Officer of Mauthausen, “to be executed,” that these prisoners actually arrived at Hartheim during a period when the crematory was still in operation (and no more insane German nationals were being executed); and they were never were seen to leave the castle alive.

The other evidence with reference to the actual murders, though not direct, is definitely of probative value and all of the evidence considered together excludes any reasonable hypothesis of innocence insofar as the persons named as accused are concerned.


It is recommended that the following named persons be apprehended, if alive, and tried as war criminals for the murder of the persons listed in paragraph v of this report.

1. Philip Bouhler

2. Victor Brack , alias Jenerwein

3. Werner Blankenberg, alias Brenner

4. Dr. Georg Renno

5. Jochen Becher

6. Christian Wirth

7. Franz Reichleitner

8. Otto Schmidtgen

9. Josef Vallaster

10. Kurt Bolender

11. Hubert Gomerski

12. Vinzenz Nohel

13. Paul Groth

The reason for the lack of testimony from witnesses to the actual process of gassing is obviously the fact that, considering the secrecy of this process, all persons who would have had an opportunity to witness this operation are included in the list of accused and are still at large (as are many of the other former employees of Hartheim Castle).

Wanted Reports have been filed on all of these persons. If, and when they are apprehended and interrogated, new leads are developed not covered by this investigation, it is recommended that the case be returned for further investigation and report.

Charles H. Dameron – Signed

Major CMP

Investigator – Examiner

WCIT No. 6824


NARA – Washington DC

Thanks - Carmelo Lisciotto and Cameron Munro

Photograph - Chris Webb Archive


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