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Karl Chmielewski

(1903 - 1991)

Karl Chmielewski

Karl Chmielewski  was a German SS officer and concentration camp commandant. Such was his cruelty that he was dubbed Teufel von Gusen, or the Devil of Gusen.

Chmielewski joined the SS whilst unemployed in 1932 and joined the Nazi Party the following year. After initially serving in the office of Heinrich Himmler, he was transferred to the Columbia concentration camp in 1935 before moving to Sachsenhausen the following year. He was promoted to Untersturmführer in 1938 and attached to the Schutzhaftlagerführung (the Protective custody units of the SS-Totenkopfverbände).

From 1940 to 1942, Chmielewski, by then a Hauptsturmführer, served as Schutzhaftlagerführer at Gusen where he developed a reputation for extreme brutality. He subsequently became commandant of the newly established Herzogenbusch camp.

Amongst the claims made against him was that he scalding prisoners with boiling water and ordered the drowning of prisoners in buckets of water during inspections. Fellow camp commandant Franz Ziereis claimed after the war that Chmielewski had used the skin of prisoners to make wallets, book binding etc., something Ziereis claimed was strictly forbidden by the Nazi authorities. Chmielewsk also gained a reputation for corruption while at at Herzogenbusch and he was eventually tried for enriching himself by stealing diamonds from prisoners. He was deprived of his position and rank, being succeeded as commandant by Adam Grünewald in 1943, and ended the war as an inmate at Dachau.

Having disappeared in Austria after the war, Chmielewski was not tried until 1961 when he was found, convicted of causing the deaths of prisoners, and sentenced to a life sentence of hard labor.  He was released in March 1979 on mental health grounds and spent his last years in an institution at Chiemsee.

Source: Karl Chmielewski, Wikipedia.