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SS-chief Ernst Kaltenbrunner, head of the Nazi security apparatus, second only to Heinrich Himmler in the SS.

Kaltenbrunner was born in Ried im Innkreis, Austria. He spent his youth in Hitler's native district. Later he moved to Linz, where he attended the State Realgymnasium. He studied law and obtained a law degree in 1926. He spent the first year as apprentice lawyer at Linze-on-Danube and then worked as a lawyer-candidate, first at Salzburg and after 1928 at Linz.

He joined the Nazi Party in 1932, and became leader of the Austrian SS 1935. He agreed with Himmler on the establishment of gas-chambers for execution 1942, became head of the security police 1943, and sent millions of Jews and political suspects to their deaths in concentration camps. He was also responsible for orders sanctioning the murder of prisoners of war.

Toward the end of the war, Kaltenbrunner's power increased greatly, especially after the attack on Hitler of 20 July 1944. He gained direct access to Hitler. He was very friendly with Fegelein and his wife, who was the sister of Eva Braun. So powerful had Kaltenbrunner become toward the end that even Heinrich Himmler feared him ...

Ernst Kaltenbrunner was a life-long fanatical Nazi. He had much to do with developing Mauthausen concentration camp and visited it frequently. On at least one occasion he observed the gas chamber in action.

With this knowledge and background he accepted in January 1943 appointment as chief of the very agencies which sent such victims to their deaths.

He held that office to the end, rising to high prominence in the conspiracy, receiving honors from Hitler and gaining Hitler's personal confidence.


Ernst Kaltenbrunner was captured by U.S. troops on May 15, 1945 and was indicted for war crimes by the International Military Tribunal at Nuremburg and sentenced to death. He was hanged on October 16, 1946.