The Info List - Walter Rauff

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WALTER RAUFF (19 June 1906 – 14 May 1984) was a mid-ranking SS commander in Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
. From January 1938 he was an aide of Reinhard Heydrich firstly in the Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst or SD,), later in the Reich Security Main Office or RSHA. Between 1958 and 1962 he worked for the Federal Intelligence Service of West Germany (Bundesnachrichtendienst). His funeral in Santiago
, Chile was attended by a crowd of old Nazis.

Rauff is thought to have been responsible for nearly 100,000 deaths during World War II
World War II
. He was instrumental in the implementation of the Nazis’ genocide by mobile gas chamber . His victims included Communists , Jews
, Roma and the disabled . In the late 1970s and the 1980s, he was arguably the most wanted Nazi fugitive still alive.


* 1 From the Navy to the SS * 2 Gas van engineering * 3 Persecution in Vichy-North Africa * 4 Chief of secret police in Northern Italy
* 5 Spy officer in the Middle East
Middle East
* 6 Final refuge in Chile
* 7 Death * 8 See also

* 9 References

* 9.1 Citations * 9.2 Bibliography

* 10 External links


According to the MI5 file on Walter Rauff
Walter Rauff
released in 2005:

Rauff joined the Kriegsmarine (the German Navy) in 1924 as a young cadet. After a period of training as a midshipman he was promoted to Lieutenant in 1936 and given command of a minesweeper. He was a friend of Reinhard Heydrich, who also served in the Navy in the 1920s. Heydrich was hired by SS chief Heinrich Himmler in 1931 to serve as the head of the SS counter-intelligence system, and when Rauff resigned from the Navy in 1937, Heydrich took him under his wing. Rauff was given the job of putting the SS and its security service, the Sicherheitsdienst, onto a war footing.

During his thirteen years in the Navy, Rauff became acquainted with Reinhard Heydrich, and saw service in South America and Spain
, as a young officer in 1924.

On 1937 Rauff left the Navy following an adultery scandal, but he was discharged "with all honours", as he said in a 1972 deposition before a German prosecutor in Santiago
de Chile.

Between 1940 and 1941 Rauff went back to the Navy as a volunteer, commanding a mine sweeper flotilla in the English Channel . He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander (Korvettenkapitän) in April 1941, shortly before he was discharged from active service, he then returned to the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA). During early 1940 he headed the SD in German-occupied Norway for few months.


Wikisource has original text related to this article: OVERHAULING OF GAS VANS

In 1941-1942 Rauff was involved in the development of gas vans , mobile gas chambers used to kill, by poisoning or suffocation, those people deemed enemies of the German state: Jews, disabled people, communists and others. According to declassified CIA

As an official of the Criminal Technical Institute of the Reich Security Main Office, Rauff designed gas vans used to murder Jews
and persons with disabilities.

The MI5 file is more explicit concerning Rauff's "technical" skills:

Rauff supervised the modification of scores of trucks, with the assistance of a Berlin
chassis builder, to divert their exhaust fumes into airtight chambers in the back of the vehicles. The victims were then poisoned and/or asphyxiated from the carbon monoxide accumulating within the truck compartment as the vehicle travelled to a burial site. The trucks could carry between 25 and 60 people at a time.

In 1972, in Santiago
de Chile, Rauff made a deposition as a witness before a German prosecutor. On the subject of the extermination of Jews
in Poland and Russia , asked whether at that time he had any doubts concerning the use of gas vans, Rauff answered:

Ob ich damals Bedenken gegen den Einsat der Gaswagen hatte, kann ich nicht sagen. Für mich stand damals im Vordergrund, dass die Erschiessungen für dei Männer, die damit befasst wurden, eine erhebliche Belastung darstellten und dass diese Belastung durch den Einsatz der Gaswagen entfiel.

Rauff delegated the task of keeping the gas vans operating in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
and other Nazi-occupied areas to an SS chemist, August Becker , who kept Rauff fully informed on the gas van killing operations.


Rauff was later involved in the persecution of Jews
in Vichy France controlled Tunisia
during 1942 and 1943, by implementing the antisemitic Statute of the Jews
enacted by pro-Nazi metropolitan Vichy state. A month after German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel ’s defeat of the British at Tobruk in June 1942, the SS set up a special extermination unit to follow in the wake of Rommel’s Afrika Korps
Afrika Korps
. The unit, commanded by Rauff, was empowered to carry out "executive measures on the civilian population", the Nazi euphemism for mass murder and enslavement. But his mission to exterminate the Middle East 's Jewish population was brought to an abrupt halt by the British 8th Army 's defeat of Rommel at El Alamein
El Alamein
in October 1942. Rommel was forced to withdraw the remnants of his army to Tunisia
, where it sustained a bridgehead until May 1943, enabling Rauff's SS to start lower scale persecutions of local Jews
.The MI5 file records that Rauff was posted to Vichy- Tunisia
in 1942 as head of the Security Service (SD), where he led a mobile killing squad ( Einsatzkommando ) which conducted a "well-organised persecution campaign against the Jews
and partisans ".

According to Mallmann "> Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal holding a picture of Nazi war criminal Walter Rauff
Walter Rauff
in May 1973

After settling in Chile
in 1958, Rauff worked as the manager of a king crab cannery in Punta Arenas
Punta Arenas
, one of the southernmost towns in the world. He was also a merchant in Quito
, Ecuador

From 1958 to 1963 Rauff earned 70.000 DM from the Federal Intelligence Service of West Germany ( Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND). To cover up his South-American spy activity, he acted as export manager and agent for Importadora Goldmann, a company in Santiago
de Chile. His contact was Wilhelm Beissner, aka Bertram, a paymaster for BND, who knew Rauff since the times when both were employed in the Reich Security Main Office. He was warned (and removed from the BND) before his detention in Chile. Nevertheless he was able to partially recover the lawyer's fees from the BND for an amount of 3,200 DM. He was also given 15,000 DM for the start-up of a new company. Initially the recruitment of the well-travelled Rauff seemed promising. Instead his reports turned out to be for the most part worthless. Rauff was dismissed from BND in October 1962, although some line of communication remained open until July 1963.

He was evaluated as "untrustworthy" (charakterlich äußerst unzuverlässig), "intriguer" (er konspirierte nach allen Seiten) and drunkard (eng mit dem Alkohol befreundet).

In 1960 he traveled to Germany in order to claim his pension for the time served in the Reichsmarine , and didn't have any trouble with the German authorities. In December 1962 he was arrested by the Chilean authorities after Germany requested his extradition, but was freed by a Chilean Supreme Court decision five months later in 1963. Salvador Allende 's election as Chilean president in 1970 did not change the situation. In a friendly letter to Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, Allende wrote that he could not reverse the Supreme Court's 1963 decision.

Rauff’s case has been looked at in Stahl 2013 . When Hans Strack, the German ambassador to Chile, was ordered to request his extradition, Strack, a supporter of exiled war criminals, forwarded the application for Rauff’s extradition only 14 months later. The delay allowed Chile
to refuse the extradition request because the time elapsed from his murders overran the country’s statute of limitations.

Under Augusto Pinochet 's military dictatorship, Rauff may have served as an advisor in Chilean secret police, DINA . Allegedly, CIA officials could not determine Rauff's exact position. General Pinochet's regime resisted all calls for his extradition to stand trial in West Germany or Israel
. In the meantime Rauff disappeared and was discovered by the documentary filmmaker William Bemister in Los Pozos, Santiago
de Chile, in 1979, and interviewed.

The last request to extradite Rauff to West Germany was presented by renowned Nazi hunter Beate Klarsfeld
Beate Klarsfeld
in 1983, but was flatly rejected by the Pinochet regime, which alleged that Rauff had been a peaceful Chilean citizen for over twenty years and that the case was closed since the Supreme Court's 1963 decision. Klarsfeld organised protests in Chile
and was twice arrested for causing disturbances. Following her brief detention, the director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs , David Kimche , officially requested Rauff's outright expulsion in a meeting with Chilean Foreign Minister Jaime del Valle, but the request was turned down.


Suffering from lung cancer Rauff died in Santiago
on 14 May 1984 from a heart attack . His funeral was the occasion of a Nazi celebration. According to his MI5 file, "he never showed any remorse for his actions, which he described as those of "a mere technical administrator". A German-language biography on Rauff was written in 2013 by Martin Cüppers .


* List of Nazi Party leaders and officials
List of Nazi Party leaders and officials