Josef Bürckel

Joseph Bürckel (30 March 1895, in Lingenfeld, Germersheim – 28 September 1944, in Neustadt an der Weinstraße) was a Nazi Germany politician and a member of the German parliament (the Reichstag). He was an early member of the Nazi Party and was influential in the rise of the National Socialist movement.

Joseph Bürckel
Josef Bürckel.jpg
Joseph Bürckel circa 1938.
Reich Commissioner of Austria
In office
23 April 1938 – 31 March 1940
LeaderAdolf Hitler
ReichsstatthalterArthur Seyss-Inquart
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Reichsstatthalter of Austria
In office
1 April 1940 – 2 August 1940
LeaderAdolf Hitler
Preceded byArthur Seyss-Inquart
Succeeded byBaldur von Schirach
Gauleiter of Vienna
In office
30 January 1939 – 2 August 1940
Preceded byOdilo Globocnik
Succeeded byBaldur von Schirach
Gauleiter of Westmark
In office
13 March 1926 – 28 September 1944
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byWilli Stöhr
Reichsstatthalter of Westmark
In office
11 March 1941 – 28 September 1944
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byWilli Stöhr
Member of the German Reichstag
In office
14 September 1930 – 28 September 1944
Personal details
Born(1895-03-30)30 March 1895
Lingenfeld, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire
Died28 September 1944(1944-09-28) (aged 49)
Neustadt an der Weinstraße, Nazi Germany
Political partyNazi Party (NSDAP)
Military service
Allegiance German Empire
Branch/service Imperial German Army
Years of service1914-1916
UnitBavarian Field Artillery Regiment 12
Battles/warsWorld War I


Joseph Bürckel was born in Lingenfeld, in the Bavarian Palatinate, as the son of a tradesman. From 1909 to 1914 he studied to become a teacher in Speyer.[1]

He volunteered for service with Bavarian Field Artillery Regiment 12 in the First World War. He served with several different field artillery regiments and was honorably discharged in May 1916. After the war, he continued his training as a teacher and graduated in 1920. He was employed as a teacher, and eventually as a headmaster, until September 1930 when he was elected to the Reichstag from electoral constituency 27 (Pfalz).[2]

From 1921 onwards, he was engaged in nationalist groups, fighting separatism in the Palatinate. An energetic organizer in the National Socialist movement of the Bavarian Palatinate from 1925, Bürckel rose through the ranks to become Gauleiter (Nazi Party leader) for the region in 1926 and continued in this position when the area was merged with the Saarland in March 1935.[3]

On 13 March 1938, Bürckel was appointed acting head of the Party to carry out the referendum on the Anschluss (Austria's absorption into Germany). From 23 April 1938 to 31 March 1940, he worked as Reichskommissar for the union of Austria with the German Reich, in charge of fully integrating it as the Ostmark politically, economically and culturally into the latter. He declared: "This is a revolution. The Jews may be glad that it is not of the French or Russian pattern."[4] Saying Vienna was "overfilled with Jews", he stated his aim to leave them with no more than five percent of their property.[5] On 20 August 1938, he established the Central Agency for Jewish Emigration in Vienna, at first responsible for the forced emigration of Jews, and later for the subsequent deportation and murder of at least 48,767 Austrian Jews out of Vienna.

Bürckel served as Gauleiter of Vienna and Reichsstatthalter (governor) of the region from 30 January 1939 to 7 August 1940, working to further unification with Nazi Germany, including promoting anti-Jewish decrees and seizing Jewish property. He frequently embezzled confiscated money and property instead of turning it over to the state, earning him the displeasure of the Nazi hierarchy and he was eventually removed from his post in Vienna. Upon his return to the Westmark, he continued his previous lifestyle and spent large sums on purchasing artworks.[6]

Following his service as Gauleiter, Bürckel headed the civil administration in Lothringen and from March 1941 was Reichsstatthalter (governor) of the Gau Westmark, composed of the Bavarian Palatinate district, the Prussian Saar territory and the annexed département of Moselle.

From 9 November 1937, he also held the rank of general (Gruppenführer) in the Schutzstaffel (SS) and was on the staff of the Reichsführer-SS, Heinrich Himmler. On 30 January 1942, he was promoted to SS-Obergruppenführer.[7]

Bürckel died at about 11:04 a.m. in Neustadt-an-der-Weinstrasse on 28 September 1944. A report from Bürckel's personal physician (since 1936), Dr. Ewig, dated 28 September 1944, stated that Bürckel was physically and mentally worn out, spending all of his time at work because of the deteriorating situation in his Gau. He suffered an inflammation of the intestine with diarrhoea, eventually becoming too ill to continue. Ewig was called in on 26 September 1944. Bürckel soon contracted pneumonia and blood failure. Josef Rowies, another physician, stated on 23 October 1944 that the report of Bürckel's death sent to the SS-Personalhauptamt (the personnel records office) by Himmler's personal staff office on 9 October 1944 had been "doctored" to conceal his mental breakdown. On 8 September 1944, in a letter to Martin Bormann (with whom Bürckel did not get along), Bürckel opined that the lack of combat-ready troops to occupy the defensive line of the Moselle from the boundary of Gau Westmark via the arsenal of Metz-Diedenhofen, south of Saint-Avold (part of the Maginot Line), to Sarralbe made construction of defensive positions useless. Bormann responded by dispatching Willi Stöhr (who was to succeed Bürckel after his death) to oversee the construction work.

On 3 October 1944, Hitler posthumously awarded him the German Order, the highest decoration that the Party could bestow on an individual, for his services to the Reich.[8]

Decorations and awardsEdit


  1. ^ Josef Bürckel - Gauleiter der Westmark Archived 15 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine (in German) Josef Bürckel biography, accessed: 10 February 2009
  2. ^ Michael D. Miller and Andreas Schulz. Gauleiter: The Regional Leaders of the Nazi Party and Their Deputies, 1925-1945, Vol. 1. R. James Bender Publishing. pp. 95-97. ISBN 1932970215.
  3. ^ Michael D. Miller and Andreas Schulz. Gauleiter: The Regional Leaders of the Nazi Party and Their Deputies, 1925-1945, Vol. 1. R. James Bender Publishing. pp. 97-100. ISBN 1932970215.
  4. ^ MacDonogh, G. 1938: Hitler's Gamble. New York: Basic Books, 2009. p 137.
  5. ^ MacDonogh 2009, p. 137.
  6. ^ Google book review: Art As Politics in the Third Reich author: Jonathan Petropoulos, publisher: UNC Press, page: 239-240, accessed: 10 February 2009
  7. ^ Karl Höffkes: Hitlers Politische Generale. Die Gauleiter des Dritten Reiches: ein biographisches Nachschlagewerk, Grabert-Verlag, Tübingen, 1986, p. 42. ISBN 3-87847-163-7.
  8. ^ a b Angolia 1989, p. 224.
  9. ^ a b c d e Miller 2015, p. 344.


  • Angolia, John (1989). For Führer and Fatherland: Political & Civil Awards of the Third Reich. R. James Bender Publishing. ISBN 978-0912138169.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Miller, Michael (2015). Leaders Of The Storm Troops Volume 1. England: Helion & Company. ISBN 978-1-909982-87-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External linksEdit