Open main menu

Franz Murer (24 January 1912 – 5 January 1994),[1] was an Austrian SS NCO (SS-Oberscharführer). Also known as the "Butcher of Vilnius", he created and ruled the Vilna Ghetto until July 1943, shortly before its liquidation.[2]

Murer was born in Sankt Georgen ob Murau, Austria in 1912, and joined the NSDAP at the age of 26. He trained with Hitler Youth in Nuremberg[3] before being transferred to Vilnius, where between 1941 and 1943 he was the deputy of Territorial Commissioner (Gebietskommissar) Hans Christian Hingst in charge of "Jewish affairs".[4] He was known as a sadist who showed special cruelty towards the Jews. Vilnius, which was known as "the Jerusalem of Lithuania" before the war, had a Jewish population of about 80,000. After the war around 250 Jews were living there. The rest had been murdered by the SS and Murer was instrumental in organizing these killings. On July 1, 1943, Murer was replaced by Gestapo Oberscharführer Bruno Kittel, who was brought in to liquidate the ghetto.[5]

After the war, Murer moved to Steiermark in Austria. Near his residence in Admont there was a camp for displaced persons. In 1947 one of these DPs recognized Murer and British forces arrested Murer. In December 1948 he was deported to the Soviet Union since Vilnius had been under Soviet jurisdiction. He was found guilty of having murdered Soviet citizens and sentenced to 25 years of hard labor.[6] As a part of the Austrian State Treaty, he was released in 1955 and thus returned to Austria. Simon Wiesenthal managed to get him prosecuted again in 1963.[7] The trial that took place in Graz, Austria, lasted for a week and ended with the acquittal of Murer.[6] The trial was the subject of the 2018 film Murer – Anatomie eines Prozesses (Murer – Anatomy of a Trial).[8]

Murer died in Gaishorn am See, Austria in 1994.


  1. ^ (in Russian) Добрый дедушка Франц из Гайсхорна, или удивительные метаморфозы Франца Мурера
  2. ^ Ilya Ehrenburg; Vasily Grossman (2003). David Patterson (ed.). The Complete Black Book of Russian Jewry. Transaction Publishers. p. 370. ISBN 9781412820073.
  3. ^ Ilya Ehrenburg; Vasily Grossman (2003). David Patterson (ed.). The Complete Black Book of Russian Jewry. Transaction Publishers. p. 249. ISBN 9781412820073.
  4. ^ Michael Good (2005). The Search for Major Plagge. Fordham University Press. p. 36. ISBN 9780823224401.
  5. ^ Manus I. Midlarsky (2005). The Killing Trap. Cambridge University Press. p. 301. ISBN 9781139445399.
  6. ^ a b Eugene Davidson (2000). Reflections on a Disruptive Decade. University of Missouri Press. p. 174. ISBN 9780826262950.
  7. ^ "Strategies in Facing Antisemitism: An Educational Resource Guide" (PDF). Yad Vashem.
  8. ^ Grierson, Tim (2018-06-28). "'Murer – Anatomy Of A Trial': Munich Review". Screen Daily.