Edward Roschmann

Edward Roschmann (also "Eduard Roschmann") (25 August 1908 - 10 August 1977) was an SS commander, holding the rank of "Hauptsturmführer" and one of the heads of the concentration camp at Riga, used to persecute German Jews. Infamous as "The Butcher of Riga," [http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Latin_America/ClockworkOrange_COTP.html Roschmann hiding in South America] ] Roschmann was sought for war crimes and remained a fugitive for the rest of his life. Hiding for the most part in Argentina, Roschmann is speculated to have been a leader of the post-war ODESSA network of fugitive SS officers.

Early life

Roschmann was born on August 25, 1908 in Graz, Austria. Failing in his attempt to become a lawyer, Roschmann worked at a brewery and became active in the Austrian Nazi Party. [cite book
last = Forsyth
first = Frederick
title = The Odessa File
pages = 126
year = 1972
publisher = Viking Press
] Following the annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938, Roschmann was inducted into the Schutzstaffel (SS) and later promoted to the rank of hauptsturmführer #152681.

Riga concentration camp

In 1941, Roschmann was placed in second-in-command of the concentration camp [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE1DF133FF930A25756C0A966958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2 Eduard Roschmann in the SS] ] in Riga, Latvia, which held German Jews during World War II. It is reported that Roschmann had many women, children and elderly exterminated on their arrival to the camp, claiming them to be more valuable dead. The clothes, hair and fillings of the dead were treated as a cash asset, to be utilized for production of various materials. During his tenure, Roschmann supervised the killing of an estimated 35,000 people. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE1DF133FF930A25756C0A966958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2 Eduard Roschmann in the SS] ] The Riga Camp inmates labored eighteen hours a day at the camp workshops, with their suffering exacerbated by hunger and cold. Roschmann would strip prisoners of their clothes and huddle them together before execution. He also liked watching dogs feed on them while they were still breathing. The exposure of his activities earned him the infamous title of Butcher of Riga.

Escape and death

The advance of the USSR's Red Army prompted Roschmann to move westwards with his SS unit, taking along the living inmates of the camp. The grueling retreat claimed the lives of thousands of the remaining inmates, who had virtually no food or clothing and being marched through snow-laden routes in freezing cold. With the approaching defeat of Germany, Roschmann escaped from the Soviet and Allied authorities in the guise of an army corporal. Sheltering amongst friends in Austria, he was twice apprehended by Allied authorities, but managed to escape both times. [cite book
last = Forsyth
first = Frederick
title = The Odessa File
pages = 152-56
year = 1972
publisher = Viking Press
] Making contact with an organization of SS fugitives, he was smuggled to a monastery in Rome, which served as a major hiding place under the auspices of the monk Alois Hudal. [cite book
last = Forsyth
first = Frederick
title = The Odessa File
pages = 172
year = 1972
publisher = Viking Press

Roschmann then travelled to Juan Peron's Argentina, where the sympathetic government gave him citizenship. Roschmann was forced to leave Argentina in 1977 after West Germany requested his extradition. Shifting to Paraguay, Roschmann died of a heart attack later in the year.


Roschmann is believed to have remained active in the ODESSA network, which aided SS refugees and attempted to re-infiltrate the institutions of modern Germany. He was featured as the main antagonist in Frederick Forsyth's novel, "The Odessa File", and later in the 1974 film based on the novel. His character was played by the Academy Award-winning Austrian actor Maximilian Schell. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE1DF133FF930A25756C0A966958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2 Wiesenthal suggests use of Roschmann in novel] ] The novel describes much of Roschmann's actual life and deeds; the use of the character was suggested by the Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal, who believed that Forsyth's book could help track down the fugitive. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE1DF133FF930A25756C0A966958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2 Wiesenthal suggests use of Roschmann in novel] ]


External links

* [http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=3454 Roschmann Photo and biography]
* [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE1DF133FF930A25756C0A966958260&sec=&pagewanted=1 New York Times article with information about Roschmann's post-war movements]
* [http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Latin_America/ClockworkOrange_COTP.html Post War Movement]

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