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Josef Blösche

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Josef Blösche
Stroop Report - Warsaw Ghetto Uprising - Josef Blösche.jpg
Born(1912-02-12)12 February 1912
Died29 July 1969(1969-07-29) (aged 57)
Known forAppearance in Stroop Report
Criminal penaltyDeath penalty
SS career
Allegiance Germany
Flag of the Schutzstaffel.svg
Years of service1938–1945

Josef Blösche (12 February 1912 – 29 July 1969) was an Austrian member of the Nazi Party who served in the SS and SD during World War II. Blösche became known to the world because of a famous photograph taken during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising which portrays a surrendering little boy in the foreground, and Blösche as the SS man who is facing the boy with a sub-machine gun in hand. He was sentenced to death and executed in Leipzig on 29 July 1969.


Blösche spent his early life working as a farm hand and as a waiter at his father's hotel. In 1938, he joined the Nazi Party and the SS after the annexation of the Sudetenland.[citation needed] Blösche, who had previously volunteered for local SS was drafted by the Waffen-SS on 4 December 1939 and reported to training the following day at Pretzsch Castle. He completed his training on 14 March 1940 and was assigned to Warsaw, but was shortly assigned to patrolling 6 miles (9.7 km) of the Bug River.[1]

After serving in Warsaw with the SS, he joined the Sicherheitsdienst (SD; Security Service), a division of the SS. In 1941, he was briefly transferred to the Eastern Front, where he served with the Einsatzgruppen mobile death squads and participated in executions in the occupied parts of the Soviet Union, before being transferred back to Warsaw. He served in the SD's Warsaw ghetto outpost in mid-1942, when the mass deportation to the Treblinka extermination camp began. Blösche successfully hunted down many Jews who were hiding from deportation. In January 1943, during another wave of deportations to the death camps, he took part in another search which involved frequent executions. He participated in the shooting of about 1,000 Jews in 1943.[2][better source needed] The Jews gave him the nickname "Frankenstein" for allegedly raping and then killing women in the ghetto.[3][better source needed] Together with other SS members, he would go on expeditions in the ghetto and shoot random Jews to terrorize the residents. He participated in the suppression of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and received the German War Merit Cross for his actions during the uprising. He later took part in the suppression of the Warsaw Uprising.

In May 1945, he surrendered to the Red Army and became a prisoner of war of the Soviet Union. Blösche was sent to a camp administered by GUPVI (Main Administration for Affairs of Prisoners of War and Internees). In early 1946, he was repatriated to East Germany, still as an internee. In August 1946 he suffered a major accident at work which left the side of his face severely deformed. In 1947, his labour camp was dissolved, and Blösche was released. He returned to where his parents dwelled and lived quietly. His facial scars protected him from discovery as one of the SS troops that were pictured in the photos of the Warsaw ghetto. He began living a normal life, was married, and had two children.[citation needed]

Trial and conviction

Erfurt prison, where Blösche was held while on trial in 1969.[4]
Erfurt prison, where Blösche was held while on trial in 1969.[4]

In 1961, a former SS acquaintance who was on trial in Hamburg linked Blösche to the atrocities he had committed in Warsaw. Blösche was eventually found living quietly in the small East German town of Urbach in Thuringia when he was arrested by the Stasi on 11 January 1967.[4] He was then detained in Hohenschönhausen Prison in Berlin.[5][better source needed] He was put on trial in Erfurt in April 1969, and found guilty of crimes against humanity. Witnesses at the trial described him as a callous sadist.[4] He was sentenced to death and executed in Leipzig on 29 July 1969 by a shot through the neck.[5][better source needed]

Gallery: Warsaw Ghetto Uprising


  1. ^ Porat 2010, pp. 50–51.
  2. ^ "The Boy in the Photo?".
  3. ^ Gmyz, Cezary (22 April 2007). "Seksualne niewolnice III Rzeszy".
  4. ^ a b c Voit 2016, p. 36.
  5. ^ a b "A famous Holocaust Photo". Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  6. ^ "Architektura przedwojennej Warszawy". Retrieved 2014-02-25.


Further reading

  • German TV Documentary (2003) and accompanying book "Der SS-Mann Josef Blösche - Leben und Sterben eines Mörders" (The SS figure Josef Blösche - A Murderer's Life and Death) by Heribert Schwan.
  • Richard Raskin. A Child at Gunpoint. A Case Study in the Life of a Photo. Aarhus University Press, 2004. ISBN 87-7934-099-7

External links

This page was last edited on 25 March 2020, at 08:26
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