Eicke, Theodor

Eicke, Theodor
   Eicke was the inspector of the concentration camps during the Nazi period. Having been awarded the Iron Cross (Second Class) during World War I, he joined the police administration of Thuringia following the war. During the 1920s, he lost various jobs because of his anti-Weimar politics but joined the Nazi Party in 1928. In March 1932, he was sentenced to two years penal servitude for terrorist acts.
   Described as a “dangerous lunatic” by the Nazi Gauleiter of the Rhine-Palatinate, Eicke, nevertheless, was appointed the new commandant of Dachau in 1933. Under Eicke, the prisoners in Dachau were shown no mercy and were treated with great severity. This included the shooting of inmates who were considered to be agitators, beatings, and solitary confinement for the slightest infraction of his rules. Under Eicke, Dachau became the model for the German concentration camp system.
   Eicke also played a prominent role in the purge of the Sturmabteilung (SA), when he personally murdered the SA chief, Ernest Rohm. Following this deed, Eicke’s star rose dramatically among the party leadership. A brutal and coarse person who warned his Schutzstaffel (SS) guards against displaying any softness toward the prisoners, Eicke soon won promotions. Subsequently, he was placed in charge of the SS Death’s Head Formation, which saw action in Poland. At the time of his death in a plane crash on the eastern front in 1943, he had advanced to the rank of SS general and general of the Waffen-Schutzstaffel (SS).
   Eicke’s attitude toward the Jews is best understood in a speech he gave to the commandants of the concentration camps at the beginning of the war. He argued that the obligation to destroy an internal enemy of the state (the Jews) was in no way different from the obligation to kill your enemies on the battlefield.

Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. . 2014.

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