World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Theodor Eicke

Article Id: WHEBN0000409071
Reproduction Date:

Title: Theodor Eicke  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Waffen-SS, Hermann Prieß, Georg Keppler, Hellmuth Becker, The Holocaust
Collection: 1892 Births, 1943 Deaths, Dachau Concentration Camp Personnel, German Military Personnel Killed in World War II, German Military Personnel of World War I, Holocaust Perpetrators, Lichtenburg Concentration Camp Personnel, Members of the Reichstag of Nazi Germany, Military Personnel of Bavaria, Military Personnel Referenced in the Wehrmachtbericht, Nazi Concentration Camp Commandants, Nazis Killed in Action, Nazis Who Served in World War I, People from Alsace-Lorraine, Recipients of the Clasp to the Iron Cross, 1St Class, Recipients of the Golden Party Badge, Recipients of the Honour Cross of the World War 1914/1918, Recipients of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Recipients of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Recipients of the Military Merit Cross (Bavaria), Recipients of the Sword of Honour of the Reichsführer-SS, Recipients of the War Merit Cross (Brunswick), SS and Police Leaders, SS-Obergruppenführer, Waffen-SS Personnel
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Theodor Eicke

Theodor Eicke
Born 17 October 1892
Hudingen, Alsace-Lorraine, German Empire now Hampont, Moselle, France
Died Did not recognize date. Try slightly modifying the date in the first parameter. (aged 50)
near Kharkov, Soviet Ukraine, Soviet Union now Kharkiv, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine
Service/branch Schutzstaffel
Years of service 1909–43
Rank SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS
Service number NSDAP #114,901
SS #2,921
Commands held 3rd. SS-Division Totenkopf
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Ritterkreuz des Eisernes Kreuz mit Eichenlaub
Spouse(s) Bertha Schwebel (m. 1914)

Theodor Eicke (17 October 1892 – 26 February 1943) was an SS-Obergruppenführer (German General), commander of the SS-Division (mot) Totenkopf of the Waffen-SS and one of the key figures in the establishment of concentration camps in Nazi Germany. His Nazi Party number was 114,901 and his SS number was 2,921. Together with SS-Obersturmbannführer Michael Lippert, Eicke executed SA Chief Ernst Röhm following the Night of the Long Knives purge.[1]


  • Early Life — World War I 1
  • Nazi activist 2
  • Rise in the SS 3
  • Totenkopf Division 4
  • Death 5
  • Personal life 6
  • Summary of his military career 7
    • Dates of rank 7.1
    • Notable decorations 7.2
  • See also 8
  • References 9
    • Footnotes 9.1
    • Citations 9.2
    • Bibliography 9.3
  • External links 10

Early Life — World War I

Eicke, the son of a station master, was born in Hudingen (Hampont), near Salzurg (Château-Salins) (then in the German province of Elsass-Lothringen) into a lower-middle-class family.. The youngest of 11 children, he did not do well in school and dropped out at the age of 17 before graduation. He joined the 23rd Bavarian Infantry Regiment as a volunteer; later on, in World War I, he took the office of paymaster for the 3rd — and, from 1916 on, the 22nd Bavarian Infantry Regiment. He won the Iron Cross, Second Class in 1914 for bravery.[2]

Eicke resigned from his position of army paymaster in 1919.[3] He began studying in his wife's hometown of Ilmenau. However, he dropped out of school again in 1920 intending to pursue a police career. He initially worked as an informer and later as a regular policeman. His career in the police came to an end because of his fervent hatred for the Weimar Republic and his repeated participation in violent political demonstrations.[3] He finally managed to find work in 1923 at IG Farben.

Nazi activist

Eicke's views on the palatinate. In 1931, Eicke was promoted to the rank of SS-Standartenführer (colonel) by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler.[3]

His political activities caught the attention of his employer and in early 1932 he was laid off by IG Farben. At the same time, he was caught preparing bomb attacks on political enemies in Bavaria for which he received a two-year prison sentence in July 1932.[3] However, due to protection received from Franz Gürtner, who would later serve as minister of justice under Adolf Hitler, he was able to flee to Italy on orders from Heinrich Himmler.

Rise in the SS

In March 1933, less than three months after Hitler's rise to power, Eicke returned to Germany. Eicke had political quarrels with Gauleiter Joseph Bürckel, who had him arrested and detained for several months in a mental asylum.[4] Also during the same month, Himmler set up the first official concentration camp at Dachau.[5] Hitler had stated that he did not want it to be just another prison or detention camp. In June 1933, Himmler obtained the release of Eicke from the asylum and promoted him to an SS-Oberführer. On 26 June 1933, Himmler appointed him commandant of Dachau after complaints and criminal proceedings against former commandant SS-Sturmbannführer Hilmar Wäckerle following the murder of several detainees under the "guise of punishment".[6] Eicke requested a permanent unit and Himmler granted the request; the SS-Wachverbände (Guard Unit) was formed.[7]

Promoted on 30 January 1934 to SS-

Military offices
Preceded by
SS-Standartenführer Hilmar Wäckerle
Commander of K.L. Dachau
26 June 1933 – 4 July 1934
Succeeded by
SS-Oberführer Alexander Reiner
Preceded by
Commander of 3. SS-Panzer Division Totenkopf
14 November 1939 – 6 July 1941
Succeeded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Matthias Kleinheisterkamp
Preceded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Georg Keppler
Commander of 3. SS-Panzer Division Totenkopf
21 September 1941 – 26 February 1943
Succeeded by
SS-Obergruppenführer Hermann Prieß

External links

  • Ailsby, Christopher (1997). SS: Roll of Infamy. Motorbooks Intl.  
  • Evans, Richard J. (2005). The Third Reich in Power. New York: Penguin Group.  
  • Hamilton, Charles (1984). Leaders & Personalities of the Third Reich, Vol. 1. R. James Bender Publishing.  
  • Kershaw, Ian (2008). Hitler: A Biography. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.  
  • Ripley, Tim (2004). The Waffen-SS at War: Hitler's Praetorians 1925-1945. Zenith Press.  
  • Lumsden, Robin. The Allgemeine-SS, Vol. 266.  
  • McNab, Chris (2009). The SS: 1923–1945. Amber Books Ltd.  
  • Mollo, Andrew. A Pictorial History of the SS, 1923–1945.  
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2003). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe I Abraham – Huppertz [Oak Leaves Bearers 1940 – 1945 Contemporary History in Color I Abraham – Huppertz] (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite.  
  • Sydnor, Jr., Charles W. (1990). Soldiers of Destruction: the SS Death's Head Division, 1933-1945. Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-00853-1
  • Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag.  
  • Ullrich, Karl (2002). Like a Cliff in the Ocean: A History of the 3rd SS-Panzer-Division Totenkopf. JJ Fedorowicz.  
  • Williams, Max (2001). Reinhard Heydrich: The Biography, Volume 1—Road To War. Church Stretton: Ulric Publishing.  
  • Yerger, Mark C. (1997). Allgemeine-SS: The Commands, Units and Leaders of the General SS. Schiffer Publishing Ltd.  


  1. ^ Kershaw 2008, p. 312.
  2. ^ a b c Ailsby 1997, p. 40.
  3. ^ a b c d Hamilton 1984, p. 261.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g McNab 2009, p. 137.
  5. ^ Evans 2003, p. 344.
  6. ^ Padfield 2001, pp. 128–129.
  7. ^ Padfield 2001, p. 129.
  8. ^ a b Evans 2005, p. 84.
  9. ^ Evans 2005, pp. 84–85.
  10. ^ a b Hamilton 1984, p. 263.
  11. ^ Kershaw 2008, pp. 306–309.
  12. ^ Kershaw 2008, pp. 308–314.
  13. ^ Evans 2005, pp. 31–35, 39.
  14. ^ a b Williams, Max, Reinhard Heydrich: The Biography: Volume 1 (2001) p. 51
  15. ^ McNab 2009, pp. 66–68, 73.
  16. ^ Ullrich 2002.
  17. ^ Ripley 2004, p. 59.
  18. ^ a b Thomas 1997, p. 149.
  19. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 171.
  20. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 59.


  1. ^ Eicke was an Unterzahlmeister, assistant paymaster in World War I; this is the class customary for his rank, but sources offer bad translations such as "Bayerische Order of Merit 2. Klasse (WW I)"



See also

Notable decorations

Dates of rank

Summary of his military career

Eicke married Bertha Schwebel on 26 December 1914. They had two children, Irma (born 5 April 1916) and Hermann (born 4 May 1920, killed in action as Leutnant of the Heer on 2 December 1941).

Personal life

Eicke was portrayed in the Axis press as a hero, and soon after his death one of the Totenkopf's infantry regiments received the cuff-title Theodor Eicke. Eicke was originally buried at a German military cemetery near Orelka, Russia.[17] Later, Himmler ordered Eicke's remains disinterred and reburied at the Hegewald German military cemetery in Zhitomir. In 1944, the Germans were pushed back and forced to retreat yet again. Eicke's corpse was left where it had been re-buried.

Eicke was killed on 26 February 1943, several months after being promoted to SS-Obergruppenführer (equivalent to general in the Waffen-SS). While performing a battlefield reconnaissance during the opening stages of the Third Battle of Kharkov, his Fieseler Fi 156 Storch aircraft was shot down by Soviet troops 1 kilometre southwest of Artelnoje (near Lozovaya). An assault group from the division recovered the bodies of Eicke, the pilot and SS-Hauptsturmführer Friedrich from enemy territory.[16]


The Totenkopf Division went on to become one of the most effective German fighting formations on the Eastern Front, often serving as "Hitler's firemen", rushed to the scene of Soviet breakthroughs. During the course of the war, Eicke and his division became known for brutality and several war crimes, including the murder of 97 British POWs in Le Paradis in 1940, the murder of captured Soviet soldiers and the plundering and pillaging of several Soviet villages. The Totenkopf continued to show ferocity, during the advance in 1941 as well as the summer offensive in 1942, the conquest of Kharkov, the defense of the Demyansk Pocket, the defense of Warsaw, and Budapest in 1945.[15]

After Eicke was reassigned to combat duty, Richard Glücks his deputy, was appointed the new CCI chief by Himmler.[4] Later in early 1942, the CCI became Amt D (Office D) of the SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt (SS Main Economic and Administrative Department or SS-WVHA). Richard Glücks was appointed the head of Amt D and answered to Oswald Pohl the chief of the SS-WVHA. Pohl assured Eicke that the command structure he had introduced would not fall to the jurisdiction of the Gestapo and SD. The CCI and later Amt D were subordinate to the SD and Gestapo only in regards to who was admitted to the camps and who was released.[14] However, what happened inside the camps was under the command of Amt D.[14]

SS-Division Totenkopf was formed from concentration camp guards of the 1st (Oberbayern), 2nd (Brandenburg) and 3rd (Thüringen) Standarten (regiments) of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, and soldiers from the SS-Heimwehr Danzig. Eicke was given command of the division.[4]

At the beginning of World War II, the success of the Totenkopf's sister formations the SS-Infanterie-Regiment (mot) Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler and the three Standarten of the SS-Verfügungstruppe led to Hitler approving Himmler's recommendation for the creation of three Waffen-SS divisions in October 1939.

Theodor Eicke and SS Division Totenkopf on the Eastern Front in 1941.

Totenkopf Division

Further, in 1935, Dachau became the training center for the concentration camps service.[4] On 29 March 1936, the concentration camp guards and administration units were officially designated as the SS-Totenkopfverbände (SS-TV). Eicke's reorganizations and the introduction of forced labour made the camps one of the SS's most powerful tools; this earned him the enmity of Reinhard Heydrich, who had already unsuccessfully attempted to take control of the Dachau concentration camp in his position as chief of the SD. Eicke prevailed with support from Himmler.

In his role as the Concentration Camps Inspector, Eicke began a large reorganisation of the camps in 1935. The smaller camps were dismantled. Dachau concentration camp remained, then Sachsenhausen concentration camp opened in summer 1936, Buchenwald in summer 1937 and Ravensbrück (near Lichtenburg) in May 1939. There were other new camps in Austria, such as Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp, opened in 1938.[4] All SS camps' regulations, both for guards and prisoners, followed the Dachau camp model.[8]

In early 1934, Hitler and other Nazi leaders became concerned that Ernst Röhm, chief of the SA, was planning a coup d'état.[11] Hitler decided on 21 June that Röhm and the SA leadership had to be eliminated. The purge of the SA leadership and other enemies of the state began on 30 June in an action which became known as the Night of the Long Knives. Eicke along with hand-chosen members of the Dachau concentration camp guards assisted Sepp Dietrich's Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler to arrest and imprison SA commanders. After Röhm was arrested, Hitler gave him the choice to commit suicide or be shot. When Röhm refused to kill himself, he was shot dead by Eicke (together with his adjutant, Michael Lippert) on 1 July 1934. Shortly thereafter, Himmler officially named Eicke chief of the Inspektion der Konzentrationslager (Concentration Camps Inspectorate or CCI) and promoted him to the rank of SS-Gruppenführer in command of the SS-Wachverbände. As a result of the Night of the Long Knives, the remaining SA-run camps were taken over by the SS.[4][12][13]

In May 1934, Eicke claimed the title of Concentration Camps Inspector for himself. [10] as well as his insistence on unconditional obedience towards him, the SS and Hitler made an impression on Himmler.bolshevism and anti-anti-semitism Eicke's [10] Eicke detested weakness and instructed his men that any SS man with a soft heart should "... retire at once to a monastery".[9] insignia on their collars.death's head for detainees. Uniforms were issued for prisoners and guards alike; the guards' uniforms had a special disciplinary and punishment regulations, which included rigid discipline, total obedience to orders, and tightening new guarding provisions He established [8]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.