KARL AUGUST WILHELM FRENZEL (20 August 1911 – 2 September 1996)
was an SS non-commissioned officer in
Sobibór extermination camp . As
the commandant of _Camp I_, he supervised the _
After World War II he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes, and served 16 years in prison, but was ultimately released.
* 1 Biography
* 2 Depictions * 3 Death * 4 Quotes * 5 References * 6 External links
Frenzel was born in
Templin district on 20 August 1911.
His father had worked for the railroad and was a local official of the
Social Democratic Party of
Nazi Party promised that there would be more jobs after the
seizure of power, a reason which motivated Frenzel when he joined both
the party and the
Sturmabteilung (SA) in August 1930. His brother, a
theology student, had joined the
Nazi Party the previous year. His
father would join the party in 1934. Frenzel claimed that antisemitism
was an aspect of the politics to which they were indifferent. He would
later claim that he was appalled by the early persecution of
In 1929, at the age of eighteen, Frenzel met his first girlfriend,
who was Jewish . Their relationship dissolved after two years when her
father heard that Frenzel was a
Nazi Party member. She and her family
emigrated to the
Frenzel served in the auxiliary police force in the brown shirt SA during the summer of 1933. Through his party connections he then obtained jobs first as a carpenter and later as a custodian .
In 1934, Frenzel married his wife. Karl and his wife were Christians. They were married in a church and they went to church "if not every Sunday, at least every other or third Sunday". All of their five children were baptized. They bought the furniture for their new home from a Jewish merchant. Towards the end of the war, in 1945, Frenzel's wife was raped by Soviet soldiers . She developed abdominal typhus and died soon thereafter.
At the start of the Second World War, Frenzel was drafted into the Reich Labor Service . However, he was soon released because he had many children to support. His brothers were in the army, and he felt left out of the action. Responding to an appeal to loyal party members, Frenzel applied for special service in the military through his SA unit, but instead he was assigned to Action T4 , the Nazi state's program to kill all people with disabilities . When the Wehrmacht later called for his service, T4 prevented his transfer.
Along with other T4 recruits, Frenzel reported to the Columbia Haus in late 1939, where he was first checked for political reliability and then watched a film on the supposed degeneration of handicapped people. First he worked in the laundry and as a guard at Grafeneck Castle , then he worked in construction at Bernburg Euthanasia Centre , and finally became a stoker at Hadamar Euthanasia Centre . As a stoker, he was responsible for removing the dead bodies from the gas chambers, breaking out gold teeth, and burning the bodies, as well as various other tasks around the gas chambers and crematoria.
It has been speculated that Frenzel helped in the design of the gas chambers at Hadamar. Like his colleagues, this was Frenzel's first experience with gassing and burning people, which would be useful later in the extermination camps. On 20 April 1942, he was assigned to Operation Reinhard and sent to Sobibór extermination camp .
Frenzel claimed that when he received his orders, he was told that Sobibór was merely a work camp which he had to guard. When he found out the camp's true nature, he was forbidden from discussing it with anyone, as it was to be kept a state secret. The penalty for violating this was imprisonment at a concentration camp or death.
Frenzel was the commandant of Camp I, which was the forced labor camp, at Sobibór. He also commanded the _Bahnhofkommando_. He served as Gustav Wagner 's replacement as the quartermaster-sergeant of the camp when Wagner was attending to duties elsewhere or was on vacation. During these times, Frenzel selected which prisoners from the newly arrived transports would work in and outside the camp (in effect, also selecting the vast majority that would go to the gas chambers). In this capacity, Frenzel carried out genocide , taking part in the industrial-scale extermination of hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children, as part of Operation Reinhard .
Frenzel freely used his whip on inmates without reservation. Erich
Bauer , one of the commanders of Camp III, stated: "He was one of the
most brutal members of the permanent staff in the camp. His whip was
very loose." For instance, in spring 1943, when a worker prisoner
tried to take his own life and was found dying, Frenzel shouted that
Years later in an interview, Frenzel claimed that he was always fair in doling out "punishments". In the spring of 1943, after two Jews from Chelm escaped from the camp, the staff consulted among themselves and Frenzel announced the verdict that every tenth prisoner at the morning roll call would be executed. Frenzel personally walked along the lines of the roll call and pulled the victims out of line to be shot at Camp III. Twenty prisoners were shot as a reprisal for the two who escaped.
Unlike many SS men, Frenzel supposedly had his limits. He testified
that he tried to avoid participation in the more murderous actions of
the camp. For instance, when he was put in charge of the trolley that
After the disembarking of the train, the children and the feeble Jews were forcibly thrown onto the trolley. Terrible scenes happened then. The people were separated from their families, pushed with rifle butts, lashed with whips. They cried dreadfully, so I could not cope with this task. Reichleitner complied with my request, and he appointed Bredow to escort the trolley.
Erich Bauer would later remark:
I estimate that the number of
After the prisoner revolt of 14 October 1943, Frenzel helped in
dismantling the camp. He was then sent to participate in _Sondertruppe
ARREST AND TRIAL
At war's end, he was arrested by
The official charge brought against Frenzel was the personal murder
Frenzel's justification for his activity at Sobibór:
As I already pointed out, under the prevailing war conditions, which are now difficult to comprehend, I unfortunately believed that what was going on in Sobibor was lawful. To my regret, I was then convinced of its necessity. I was shocked that just during the war, when I wanted to serve my homeland, I had to be in such a terrible extermination camp. But then I thought very often about the enemy bomber pilots, who surely were not asked whether they wanted to carry out their murderous flights against German people in their homes in such a manner.
On 20 December 1966, Frenzel was sentenced to life imprisonment for
personally murdering six Jews, and for his participation in the mass
murder of a further 150,000
Sobibór survivor Thomas Blatt was among those called to testify as a witness against Frenzel at the post-war trial, and when Blatt traveled to the court venue city, Blatt and Frenzel met at a hotel in order to discuss historical questions and technical details about camp operation for the history of the uprising Blatt was then writing; the event is presumed to be the only time that a Nazi death camp supervisor was interviewed by a death camp prisoner. In the years after the war, Frenzel frequently expressed remorse for his actions, but explained that he had simply complied with his duty. He renounced his belief in the Nazi Party.
Ever since 1945, I have been cursing the Nazis — for everything, for what they did, and everything they stood for. I fought against the devil. Since 1945 I have refrained from any involvement in politics.
In the 1987 movie _Escape from
In a 1983 interview, Frenzel — who was at the camp from its inception to its closure — admitted the following about Sobibór:
When my children and friends ask me whether it is true, I tell them yes, it is true. And when they say, but this is impossible, then I tell them again, it is really true. It is wrong to say that it never happened.
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_
Sobibor - The Forgotten Revolt Archived
2008-05-04 at the
Wayback Machine .
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ Frenzel interview Archived July 11,
2006, at the
Wayback Machine .
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_
Sobibor Interviews: Biographies of SS-men
* ^ Schelvis, Jules : _Sobibor: A History of a Nazi Death Camp_,
Berg: Oxford 2007, p. 250
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ _G_ _H_
Thomas Blatt . _From the Ashes
of Sobibor_, pp. 235-42. Northwestern University Press, 1997.
* ^ Klee, Ernst : _Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Wer war
was vor und nach 1945?_. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Zweite