Typical Nazis, an Unusual Friendship, &
[Photos added to enhance the text]
They met sometime in 1933. They worked together and became friends they stayed together until the Gotterdamerung when death finally separated them. When one committed suicide with his cyanide capsule, the other stepped over his body and marched off to prison and eventual execution.
They were typical Austrian Nazis, but their lasting friendship made them unusual in Hitler’s fiefdom, their concern for German purity was their common bond.
Friedrich Rainer and Odilo Globocnik are important for any number of reasons, their story affirms the major, and not infrequently, sinister role Austro- Nazis played in the Third Reich, especially in East and South East Europe. They were part of the Austrian contingent who scattered throughout the Reich and its conquests and did the Fuhrer’s bidding.
Their story also depicts two images commonly associated with the National Socialists. Rainer was intelligent, well educated, articulate, capable and principled. He was able to make the transition from the streets to government.
He fits a pattern much like fellow Austrians Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Arthur Seyss- Inquart or colleague Josef Burckel from the Saar. Globocnik, on the other hand, was a bully, an opportunist, a fawner, a bureaucratic mass murderer surrounded by corruption, and incapable of changing the streets for public office. He was more akin to the Brown Shirt thugs who fought for the Party and did the bidding of the masters, but had no ability for independent leadership.
Further, the lives of the two men exemplify the importance and intensity of the Grenzland Nazis. Those who were raised and lived on the borders of cultural Germany were frequently the most devoted and active nationalists. Like Hitler, Kaltenbrunner, or Konrad Henlein in the Sudetenland, they came from an environment of fear where non-Germans had challenged the traditional Germanic hegemony. They devoted their lives, therefore, to protecting, if not extending, that hegemony.
Finally, while solid work has been done on the pre and post Anschluss careers of the two men and on Globocnik’s notorious activities in Poland, little has appeared on Rainer, his friendship with Globocnik, or their co-operation in Trieste during the last years of the war.
Colleagues and fast friends, the two had much in common. They were born into middle class families on the fringes of cultural Germany. They worried about race, were ambitious, and played active parts in the illegal Austrian Nazi Party. As early members of the SS, they collaborated as lieutenants of Hubert Klausner, the captain of the Carinthian Nazis. They climbed the Party ranks to positions of national prominence, becoming Gauleiter in the post-Anschluss Austria. And they served as key members of the Hitler hierarchy in the occupied lands, Globocnik in Poland and Rainer in Slovenia and Italy.
Yet their differences were significant. Rainer was a thinker; Globocnik, a worker. The first was able and intelligent while the other was average and frequently incompetent. One was principled; the other, opportunistic. One was confident while his friend was uncertain, always scrambling. Rainer easily made the transition to official power; Globocnik could not break the pattern of free-wheeling illegality. The former eventually becomes the protector; the latter the protected. And if it mattered, one was Protestant while the other was Catholic.
The more capable Friedrich Rainer (Friedl) Rainer was first and foremost a Carinthian, born to a middle class family on 28 July 1903 in St. Veit an der Glan, he traced his regional lineage back several centuries.
He followed the usual educational route for the middle class, eventually graduating in 1926 with a Doctorate in Law from Graz. A great sports enthusiast, especially as an active gymnast and an avid skier, he joined one of the duelling fraternities at university, acquiring a scar on his left cheek, which along with his blonde hair, fair skin, blue eyes and medium frame gave him the German – Aryan look.
Rainer was a pronounced nationalist from his youngest days and an early supporter of National Socialism. At sixteen he worked to protect Carinthia from the Slavic threat to the south; at twenty he joined one of the first Brown Shirt (SA) groups.
After 1930 his Party activity intensified, he served on the local executive, became head of the Nazi sports union for Carinthia, began working with Gauleiter Hubert Klausner, joined the SS, and took over the provincial news service (i.e. gathering intelligence).
But his big opportunity came following the failed July 1934 putsch. Klausner asked Rainer to help rebuild the shattered party organisation in Carinthia. For the next months, as one of two deputies, Rainer played a key role with the Gau news service, press, propaganda and training. The other deputy, his new colleague was Odilo Globocnik.
While Rainer came from the border of the German Reich, Globocnik was form the fringe of the German – Austrian sphere. Born in Trieste on 21 April 1904, his father was a retired cavalry officer and a senior postal official. The paternal family was professional and middle class while the maternal side came from generations of farmers.
The family name was originally Globotschnig, but in 1825 a priest had Slovanised it to Globocnik. The family, however, spoke German as the mother tongue. The young Globocnik was also conversant in Italian, a by-product of growing up in Trieste.
Globocnik was originally educated to follow his father into the military, after attending elementary school in Trieste, he was sent in 1915 to a military school in Lower Austria.
The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
Copyright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2010