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Amon Goeth

  

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Born in Vienna Amon Goeth joined a Nazi youth group at seventeen, moved to a nationalist paramilitary group at nineteen, and, in 1930, when he was twenty-two, joined the then outlawed Austrian Nazi Party. He was designated No. 510,964, and in the same year he joined the S.S. Amon Goeth fled to Germany when he was pursued by Austrian authorities for crimes involving explosives. His superior officers admired his devotion and gave him glowing personal evaluations. A son was born in 1939 and died of unexplained causes less than a year later. Amon Goeth was a model officer, and his reward was a posting, in August, 1942, with Aktion Reinhard, the S.S. operation to liquidate more than two million Polish Jews. His posting as commandant at KZ Plaszow was his career zenith.

The conditions of life at Plaszow were made dreadful by Amon Goeth. A prisoner in Plaszow was lucky if he survived more than four weeks. Collective punishment became frequent, torture and death were daily events. Groups passing one another on different work shifts reported the daily number killed. Amon Goeth passed his mornings by using his high-powered, scoped rifle to shoot at children playing in the camp. Rena Finder, one of Oscar Schindler's Jews then 14 years old, later remembered Goeth as " .... the most vicious and sadistic man ...". Another Schindler-Jew, Poldek Pfefferberg, recalled Goeth this way: "When you saw Goeth, you saw death." A survivor, Arthur Kuhnreich, later told about Amon Goeth in his Holocaust Memories: "I saw Goeth set his dog on a Jewish prisoner. The dog tore the victim apart. When he did not move anymore, Goeth shot him."

The 20-year-old Schindler-worker Isak Pila had made the mistake of falling asleep under a table at the factory the same day that Amon Goeth came by for an inspection. When Goeth saw the sleeping boy, he told Oscar Schindler to kill him instantly. Schindler desperately tried to find a way out and hit the boy on one side of the face, then the other. Finally he said to Goeth, 'He's had enough. I need him ...' And Isak Pila survived the Holocaust.

Oscar Schindler somehow managed to outwit Goeth and the Nazis. When he requested that his Jews were moved into their own sub-camp near the plant 'to save time in getting to the job,' Goeth complied. From then on, Schindler found that he could have food and medicine smuggled into the barracks with less danger. The guards, of course, were bribed, and Goeth never was to discover it, though Oscar Schinder was arrested twice.

Amon Goeth was arrested in the autumn of 1944 in connection with an investigation of corruption and black market activities in the camps, the same investigation that brought about the execution of Karl Koch and Hermann Florstedt. Goeth was also suspected of embezzlement, but before he could be put on trial the war ended. He was recuperating in an SS-sanitarium in Bad Tolz when he was arrested by Patton's troops in February 1945. The Americans turned him over to the Poles.

In his memoirs Death Dealer the SS Commandant at Auschwitz, Rudolph Hoess - history's greatest mass murderer - later recalled: 'During that time a crowd had gathered and angrily cursed at us. Major Goeth was recognized immediately. If the car had not arrived when it did, we would have been bombarded with stones ...'

At the trial at the Supreme National Tribunal of Poland, Cracow, August and September, 1946, Goeth was found guilty and convicted of the murders of thousands of people. Goeth appealed for mercy to the President of the State National Council but the President decided not to avail himself of his prerogative of pardon and the sentence was carried out.

Amon Goeth was hanged for his crimes on September 13, 1946, not far from his camp. And even though he is being hanged, Amon Goeth still salutes his Fuhrer in one final act of defiance ...


- Louis Bülow
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