Gustav Adolf Scheel

Gustav Adolf Scheel (22 November 1907 – 25 March 1979) was a German physician and Nazi politician. As a SS member and Sicherheitsdienst employee, he became a "multifunctionary" in the time of the Third Reich, including posts as leader of both the National Socialist German Students' League and the German Student Union, as an Einsatzgruppen commander in occupied Alsace, as well as Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter in Salzburg from November 1941 until May 1945. As Einsatzgruppen commander, he organized in October 1940 the deportation of Karlsruhe's Jews to the extermination camps in the east.

Gustav Adolf Scheel
RStF Scheel.jpg
Governor of Salzburg
In office
29 November 1941 – 4 May 1945
Preceded byFriedrich Rainer
Succeeded byAdolf Schemel
Personal details
Born(1907-11-21)21 November 1907
Rosenberg (Baden), German Empire
Died25 March 1979(1979-03-25) (aged 71)
Hamburg, West Germany
Political partyNSDAP


Born as a Protestant pastor's son in Rosenberg, North Baden, Scheel attended classical Gymnasium schools in Freiburg, Tauberbischofsheim and Mannheim. While still a schoolboy, he became involved in nationalist circles of the German Youth Movement and Nazi groups after World War I.

Beginning in the summer semester of 1928, he studied law, political economy and theology at Heidelberg University to become a minister like his father. Scheel intensified his activities in right-wing student circles and in the winter semester of 1928-29 became a member of the Verein Deutscher Studenten (VDSt), an umbrella organization of German Studentenverbindung fraternities. A year later he was the league's chairman.

Nazi careerEdit

In 1929 he joined the National Socialist German Students' League (NSDStB), on 1 October 1930 the SA and on 1 December 1930 the Nazi Party (NSDAP). He moved for a short time to Tübingen University to begin studies in medicine. He continued his studies again in Heidelberg, where he quickly rose to become one of the main propagandists of the Nazis at the college. As NSDStB College Group Leader (Hochschulgruppenführer), he led the Nazi student rallies against the mathematics professor and pacifist Emil Julius Gumbel (1891–1966) which led to the removal of Gumbel's teaching entitlement in 1932.

In 1933, Scheel became chairman of the Heidelberg General Students' Board (AStA). During this time, he also became Hanns-Martin Schleyer's mentor, getting him to join the NSDAP and the SS. Furthermore, Scheel exerted influence over the university's appointments and personnel policy in his capacity as student leader and member of the vice chancellor's leadership staff. In May 1933, he was one of the main speakers at the Heidelberg book burning.

In 1934, Scheel sat his State medical examination, was appointed to the NSDStB leadership, and (in September) became a SS and a full-time Sicherheitsdienst (SD) employee. He rose swiftly in this secret Nazi organization. Between 1935 and 1939 he led the local SD Section Southwest in Stuttgart and, as a former student official, he brought along with him to the SD a great many young Nazi academics who went on to mass murder. Among them were Walter Stahlecker, Martin Sandberger, Erwin Weinmann [de], Albert Rapp [de], Erich Ehrlinger, and Eugen Steimle, all of whom went into various divisions of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) to become leaders of murder squads of the various Einsatzgruppen.

Scheel speaking at the Charles University in Prague, 1939

Scheel, who had in 1933 fought vehemently for the exclusion of "students of Jewish lineage" from the "benefits of social institutions at the university" became, during the 1940 Battle of France, commander of the Sicherheitspolizei in Alsace. In October 1940, he organised the deportation of Karlsruhe's Jews to their certain deaths in the east.[1]

Scheel's further rise within the Nazi repression apparatus kept on unabated. In 1941, he rose to the rank of a SS Brigadeführer and a Police Major General. SS and police leader Alpenland from 1 May 1941, he was installed as Gauleiter and Reich Governor (Reichsstatthalter) in the Reichsgau of Salzburg in November of the same year, succeeding Friedrich Rainer. After the discovery of resistance groups in Salzburg, he organized a widespread wave of arrests and had a number of railwaymen put to death.

In 1943, he declared in his capacity as a student leader that the members of the White Rose (Weiße Rose) resistance group should be "executed not as students", but rather as "antisocial former Wehrmacht members". Scheel's point of view was that these "criminals" should not be allowed to stain the student body's image. From this time also came Scheel's declaration:

"German student, it is not necessary for you to live, but, to be sure, to fulfil your duty to your people."

In 1944, Scheel succeeded Walter Schultze as leader of the National Socialist German Lecturers League and was appointed member of the Reichsforschungsrat executive board. In August he was elevated to the rank of SS-Obergruppenführer. As a Nazi "multifunctionary", Scheel held the following functions (other than those mentioned above):

  • Leader of the Heidelberg Student Body
  • Honorary Senator of the University of Heidelberg
  • Leader of the Berlin SD School
  • Inspector of the Security Police and the SD in Stuttgart
  • Leader of the Nazi Old Gentlemen's Federation
  • Chairman of the Reich Student Works
  • President of the German Study Works for Foreigners
  • Member of the Reich Labour Chamber
  • Commander of the Security Police and the SD under Chief of the civil administration in Alsace
  • Member of the Reichstag
  • Leader of the SD Upper Division South (Munich)
  • Inspector of the Security Police and the SD under the higher SS and Police leaders South and Main
  • Higher SS and Police leader
  • Leader of the SS-Oberabschnitt Alpenland (Salzburg)

As Nazi Germany's defeat loomed in 1944-45, Scheel was made leader of the Volkssturm in the Gau of Salzburg. On 29 April 1945, Adolf Hitler, in his will, assigned Scheel to the position of Reich Minister for Science, National Education and Culture.

After 1945Edit

After Salzburg's bloodless handover to the Americans on 4 May, Scheel initially fled but ten days later placed himself to the disposal of the US forces and was interned. After spending time in many camps and prisons, he was released on 24 December 1947. After once again being interned, he was transferred to Heidelberg to undergo denazification. A local court sentenced him in 1948 to five years in a labour camp, and classified him as a Hauptschuldiger (literally "main culprit"). He was however released on 24 December 1948 as a result of several testimonies in his defence stating that he had ignored Hitler's commands to defend the City of Salzburg against the approaching US forces.

Afterwards, he first worked as a night worker at the Port of Hamburg, and as of summer 1949, he was a doctor in a Hamburg hospital, then an assistant doctor at Rautenberg Hospital in Hamburg.

After an appeal proceeding in 1952, Scheel was classified as a Belasteter ("incriminated one"). From 1951 to 1953, he belonged, along with other former Nazi leaders such as Werner Best and Werner Naumann, to the neo-Nazi "Naumann Circle" and so was arrested in January 1953 by British police, who suspected him of building up a secret organization; he was later handed over to German authorities. He was released on 17 June 1953. On 3 December 1954, his trial was suspended for lack of any adequate suspicion of wrongdoing. From February 1954 to 8 April 1977, he was the owner of a medical practice in Hamburg.


  1. ^ Bartrop, Paul R.; Grimm, Eve E. (2019). Perpetrating the Holocaust: Leaders, Enablers, and Collaborators. Santa Barbara, Denver: ABC-CLIO. p. 247. ISBN 978-1-4408-5896-3.

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