Scrapbookpages Blog

May 22, 2010

Martin Sommer, the infamous “hangman of Buchenwald”

Filed under: Buchenwald, Dachau, Germany, Holocaust, World War II — furtherglory @ 10:37 am

Martin Sommer was the SS man who was in charge of the bunker, which was the camp prison at Buchenwald. Sommer is famous as the alleged innovator of the hanging punishment in which prisoners were hung by their arms from the trees in the forest surrounding the Buchenwald camp. In 1942 Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, the man in charge of all the Nazi concentration camps, had decreed that the guards were forbidden to “lay violent hands on the prisoners.”

Martin Sommer was put on trial by SS judge Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen in a Nazi court in 1943 at the same time that Buchenwald Commandant Karl Otto Koch and his wife Ilse were put on trial for embezzlement and abuse of the prisoners at Buchenwald. Karl Otto Koch was convicted and executed, but his wife was acquitted of all charges. Martin Sommer was transferred to  the Russian front after the trial.

Martin Sommer escaped punishment for his alleged crimes until 1958, when he was put on trial in Bayreuth district court in West Germany and convicted of the murder of 25 prisoners by injection.  Sommer received a life sentence; the case was upheld in May 1959 by the Federal Court.  (more…)