Commanders of the Chelmno Death Camp

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Chelmno Death Camp


Dramatis Personae


The Commanders of Sonderkommando Kulmhof




Lange, Herbert



SS – Hauptsturmführer


Born in Menzlin, Pomerania on 29 September 1909. He studied law, but failed to obtain a degree and he joined the NSDAP on 1 May 1932, with the party number 1159 583. He then enlisted in the SA (Sturmabteilung) three months later and the following year on 1 March 1933 he joined the SS, and his SS Number was 93501.

In 1938 he was promoted to the rank of SS-Untersturmführer and in August 1939 he went to Frankfurt – on – Oder the assembly point for Einsatzgruppe Vl, commanded by SS-Oberführer Erich Naumann, prior to the invasion of Poland. On 12 September 1939 Einsatzgruppe Vl was stationed in Poznan (Posen), in the Warthegau. A Sonderkommando ( special command) of the above unit was formed under Lange’s leadership. He received orders from Arthur Greiser, the Gauleiter, to create a concentration camp in Poznan.


The KZ Posen was established at Fort Vll (Fort Colomb) one of the bastions belonging to the huge Prussian built fortifications that encircle Poznan. Lange was only the Commandant of Fort Vll for only a short time, his role being to select the site, recruit the camp staff, and admit the first prisoners. Immediately Lange was involved as the head of “Sonderkommando Lange” , which was responsible for carrying out a series of “Euthanasia Aktions”, in the Wielkopolska region, using mobile gas vans, and shootings.

His accomplishments in the “Euthanasia Aktion” in Poland was highly regarded and as a result of this he was promoted to SS- Obersturmführer.


Later Lange was responsible for mass killing activity in the Konin region, but officially from the end of November 1940 to late 1941 he was head of the Economic Crimes department of the Criminal Police. Lange was the first Commandant of Chelmno which received its first transport in November 1941.


In February 1942 he was ordered to serve in the Reich Main Security Office, where he served under Artur Nebe, as a Criminal Investigator (Kriminalrat) and in 1944, he assisted in catching the conspirators of the attempt on Hitler’s life in July 1944. For his work on this he was promoted to SS- Sturmbannführer.


Lange was killed in action during the Battle of Berlin in 1945



Bothmann, Hans


SS – Hauptsturmführer and Kriminalrat


Born in Dittmarschen (Holstein) on 11 November 1911, He stood 187 centimeters tall, thin blond hair, characteristic high- pitched voice, blue eyes.


Commanded Chelmno death camp from March 1942 to April 1943 and after the unit was dissolved in mid- April 1943, served in the “Prinz Eugen” division, until he was recalled in 1944 to become Commandant of Chelmno death camp for the second time. Bothmann was a brutal figure personally killing 300-400 people during his time at Chelmno.


When the commando was ceased Bothmann reported to the Poznan Gestapo, where he served as a liaison officer of the security police to Heinrich Himmler in Walcz

Bothmann hanged himself in a British internment camp at Heide, April 1946.



Lower Ranking SS and Police who served in the Chelmno Death Camp


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The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team

Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2011

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