Birth of Erich von Zelewski, SS General

Birth of Erich von Zelewski, SS General

Erich Julius Eberhard von Zelewski
Source: Deutsche Bundesarchiv

Erich Julius Eberhard von Zelewski is born in Pomerania, Germany. He adds "von dem Bach" to his name in 1933 and has "Zelewski" removed in 1941 because it sounds too Polish. As an Obergruppenführer (General) in the SS, Zelewski will be responsible for anti-partisan efforts on the Eastern Front during World War II.

Zelewski commits many atrocities, including for example the executing of 35,000 people in Riga after which he declares "There is not a Jew left in Estonia." He orders the massacre of Jews in Minsk and other places in the east, as well as ruthlessly suppressing an uprising in Warsaw in 1944. He also helps see to the creation of a concentration camp in in the Zasole suburb of O wi cim (Auschwitz).

After the defeat of Nazi Germany he offers to testify against other high-ranking Germans in exchange for immunity. As a consequence he's never put on trial and never extradited to Poland or Russia. In 1958, though, he will be tried, convicted, and sentenced to 10 years in prison for his participation in the Knight of the Long Knives and murder of Anton von Hohberg und Buchwald. In 1961 he is sentenced to another 10 years for killing Communist prisoners in the 1930s.

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