Josef Bürckel
Joseph Bürckel was a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 politician and a member of the German parliament (the Reichstag
Reichstag (Weimar Republic)
The Reichstag was the parliament of Weimar Republic .German constitution commentators consider only the Reichstag and now the Bundestag the German parliament. Another organ deals with legislation too: in 1867-1918 the Bundesrat, in 1919–1933 the Reichsrat and from 1949 on the Bundesrat...

). He was an early member of the NSDAP party and was influential in the rise of the National Socialist movement.


Joseph Bürckel was born in Lingenfeld, in the Bavarian Palatinate, as the son of a tradesman. From 1909 to 1914 he studied to become a teacher in Speyer
Speyer is a city of Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany with approximately 50,000 inhabitants. Located beside the river Rhine, Speyer is 25 km south of Ludwigshafen and Mannheim. Founded by the Romans, it is one of Germany's oldest cities...


He took part in the First World War as a volunteer. After the war, he continued his training as a teacher and graduated in 1920. From 1921 onwards, he was engaged in nationalist groups, fighting separatism in the Palatinate.

An energetic organizer in National Socialist movement of the Saar-Palatinate since 1925, the former schoolmaster rose through the ranks to become Gauleiter
A Gauleiter was the party leader of a regional branch of the NSDAP or the head of a Gau or of a Reichsgau.-Creation and Early Usage:...

 (Nazi Party
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

 leader) for the region in 1934.

On March 13, 1938 Bürckel was appointed acting head of the Party to carry out the referendum on the Anschluss
The Anschluss , also known as the ', was the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938....

Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

's absortion into Germany). From April 23, 1938 to March 31, 1940, he worked as Reichskommissar
Reichskommissar , in German history, was an official gubernatorial title used for various public offices during the period of the German Empire and the Nazi Third Reich....

 for the union of Austria with the German Reich
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, in charge of fully integrating it as the Ostmark
Ostmark is a German term meaning either Eastern march when applied to territories or Eastern Mark when applied to currencies.Ostmark may refer to:...

 politically, economically and culturally into the latter. He declared: "This is a revolution. The Jews may be glad that it is not of the French or Russian pattern." Saying Vienna was "overfilled with Jews" he stated his aim to leave them with no more than five percent of their property.

Bürckel served as Gauleiter of Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 and Reichsstatthalter
The term Reichsstatthalter was used twice for different offices, in the imperial Hohenzollern dynasty's German Empire and the single-party Nazi Third Reich.- "Statthalter des Reiches" 1879-1918 in Alsace-Lorraine :...

 (governor) of the region from January 30, 1939 to August 7, 1940, working diligently to further unification with Germany, including promoting anti-Jewish decrees and seizing Jewish property. His extravagant lifestyle, financed through confiscated Jewish money and property, earned him the displeasure of the Nazi hierarchy and he was eventually removed from his post in Vienna. Upon his return to the Westmark, he continued his previous lifestyle and spent large sums on purchasing artworks.

Following his role as Gauleiter, Bürckel headed up the civil administration in Lothringen
Lorraine (province)
The Duchy of Upper Lorraine was an historical duchy roughly corresponding with the present-day northeastern Lorraine region of France, including parts of modern Luxembourg and Germany. The main cities were Metz, Verdun, and the historic capital Nancy....

 and from 1941 was governor of the Gau Westmark
Gau Westmark
The Gau Westmark was an administrative division of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. Previous to that, since 1926, it was the regional subdivision of the Nazi Party.-History:...

, composed of the Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

n Palatinate district and the Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

n Saar territory
Saarland is one of the sixteen states of Germany. The capital is Saarbrücken. It has an area of 2570 km² and 1,045,000 inhabitants. In both area and population, it is the smallest state in Germany other than the city-states...

. From November 9, 1937 he also held a leading position (Gruppenführer
Gruppenführer was an early paramilitary rank of the Nazi Party, first created in 1925 as a senior rank of the SA.-SS rank:...

) in the Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

 and the staff of the Reichsführer-SS
was a special SS rank that existed between the years of 1925 and 1945. Reichsführer-SS was a title from 1925 to 1933 and, after 1934, the highest rank of the German Schutzstaffel .-Definition:...

, Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...


He, along with his wife, died on 28 September 1944, apparently by their own hands, although there is some question as to whether Bürckel may have been killed as a result of power struggles that followed the attempt on Hitler's life
July 20 Plot
On 20 July 1944, an attempt was made to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Führer of the Third Reich, inside his Wolf's Lair field headquarters near Rastenburg, East Prussia. The plot was the culmination of the efforts of several groups in the German Resistance to overthrow the Nazi-led German government...

 at the Wolf's Lair. He was also blamed for the unauthorised evacuation of the party headquarters in Metz
Metz is a city in the northeast of France located at the confluence of the Moselle and the Seille rivers.Metz is the capital of the Lorraine region and prefecture of the Moselle department. Located near the tripoint along the junction of France, Germany, and Luxembourg, Metz forms a central place...

 in 1944.

Five days after Bürckel's death, Hitler awarded him the German Order
German Order (decoration)
The German Order was the most important award that the Nazi Party could bestow on an individual for "duties of the highest order to the state and party". This award was first made by Adolf Hitler posthumously to Reichsminister Fritz Todt at his funeral in February, 1942...

, the highest decoration that the Party could bestow on an individual, for his services to the Reich.

External links

  • Farewell to Gauleiter Bürckel Translation of the Berliner Morgenpost
    Berliner Morgenpost
    Berliner Morgenpost is a German newspaper, based and mainly read in Berlin, where it is the second most read daily newspaper. Founded in 1898 by Leopold Ullstein, it was taken over by Axel Springer AG in 1959. The paper had a circulation of 145,556 issues in 2009, with an estimated 322,000 readers...

    , 5 October 1944


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