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Franz Paul Stangl (Altmünster, March 26, 1908 – Düsseldorf, June 28, 1971) was a Nazi SS officer and active participant in the Holocaust of World War II. He was commander of the extermination camps of Sobibór and Treblinka during the so-called Operation Reinhard. He was arrested in Brazil in 1967, extradited to West Germany, tried and convicted for the mass murder of 900,000 people.
Born into a devoutly Catholic family in the Austrian Salzkammergut region, Franz Stangl completed his studies in public school in 1923. At the beginning of 1931 he was accepted into the Academy of the Austrian Federal Police, in Linz, and for two years he was training at the Academy.
Stangl was already an officer of the Austrian Police when the Austrian annexation (Anschluss) took place in Nazi Germany in March 1938. By that time – since 1931 – he was already a member of the Nazi Party with the number of 6,370. 447; in May of 1938 he joined the SS, with the number of record 296,569, where he reached the hierarchy of SS-Hauptsturmführer (Captain). After the annexation of Austria, Stangl was assigned to the Schutzpolizei (which had been under the control of the Gestapo) in Linz, being assigned to the Jewish Office (in German: Judenreferat) and recruited to the Euthanasia Program known as Aktion T4, serving at the Hartheim and Bernburg Centers helping the Euthanasia program where he showed great efficiency.
In 1942 he was appointed commander of the Sobibor extermination camp. Stangl previously studied the operation and operations of the Bełżec extermination camp, and accelerated the completion of Sobibor’s construction work, which is why the camp was considered a model by the Nazis. It is estimated that around 100,000 Jews would have been killed during the period when Stangl was head of the Sobibor camp, until October 1942, when he left office, and then took over the Treblinka extermination camp, which that moment was crowded with prisoners and with a chaotic administration. There he returned to implant the model already tested in Sobibor. In his management he was helped by his subordinate, Gustav Wagner. In Treblinka, Stangl effectively industrialized the mass killing at the rate of 3,000 prisoners in two hours, with a maximum of 12,000-15,000 dead per day. It is believed that there were times when the ratio of prisoners killed was 22,000 in 24 hours.
Stangl directly supervised the death of at least one million people between these two camps and for his efficiency he was awarded the first class iron cross. After the closure of Treblinka for lack of prisoners, he was sent to fight against the partisans in Trieste with the remaining personnel of the Reinhard operation, under the command of SS General, Odilo Globocnik, overseeing the death of Jews captured in the San Saba area, Italy. Towards the end of the war he returned to Vienna, where he served in the so-called Alpine Fortress (Alpenfestung).
After the war, Stangl was captured by US troops in northern Italy and brought before the international military courts for his participation in the euthanasia program, but managed to escape from the Gleisenbach prisoner of war camp in 1948. With the help of Catholic Bishop Alois Hudal and the so-called ODESSA group, Stangl managed to travel first to Syria and after living for a few years in Damascus, he later moved to Brazil in 1951, again through Italy. Installed in Brazil with his family, Stangl worked at the Volkswagen factory in São Paulo.
Capture and trial
In the middle of the 1960s, his residence in that country was discovered by the Nazi-fighter Simon Wiesenthal, who notified him to the West German authorities and pressed for Stangl to be tried. On February 28, 1967, he was arrested by the Brazilian police and extradited on June 23, 1967, to West Germany, to be tried for crimes against humanity.
He faced charges of the direct killing of 400,000 Jews from Bulgaria, Greece, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, Turkey, Austria and Poland, as well as Roma and other groups. He was also accused of having collaborated in the murder of 700,000 people between April 1942 and August 1943. Found guilty, on December 22, 1970 the Düsseldorf Court sentenced him to life imprisonment. After being convicted, Stangl said: “My fault is that I’m still here, that’s my fault.”
Stangl died of a heart attack in prison on June 28, 1971.
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