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Rudolf Lange (18 April 1910 ÔÇô 23 February 1945) was a prominent Nazi official. He served as commander of the SDmarker and SIPOmarker in Rigamarker, Latviamarker. He participated in the Wannsee Conferencemarker, and was largely responsible for implementing the extermination of Latvia's Jewish population (Einsatzgruppe A killed over 250,000 people in little less than six months).

Early life and career

Lange was born in Wei├čwassermarker, Prussian Silesiamarker, in 1910. He studied law and became a member of the Gestapomarker. He joined the SSmarker and NSDAP in 1937. He then served for a time as deputy head of police for Berlinmarker.

Character

Lange was said to have been a favorite student of Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Himmler. He demanded unconditional obedience from his subordinates. Joseph Berman, a survivor of one of the concentration camps administered by Lange, described him as follows:

Mass murder in Latvia

In 1941, Lange was Sturmbannf├╝hrer in the SS (Major).

Lange was a Teilkommando (detachment) leader in Einsatzkommando 2, or EK2. Lange was one of the few people to be aware of the F├╝hrerbefehl or "fundamental orders" for the so-called "Jewish problem" in Latvia. According to Lange himself:

On December 3, 1941, he was promoted to command all of EK2, replacing Eduard Strauch. At the same time, Lange was also the chief of the Nazi Security Service (Sicherheitsdienstmarker or SD with the title Kommandant des Sicherheitsdienst, or KdS. Lange was in charge of Department IV of the SD in Latvia.Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at pages 147-151. Department IV of the SD was the "hub of the whole SD organization in Latvia, the other departments served it."Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at pages 152 and 153. Matters of formal rank and titles were never clear in the Nazi occupation regime for Latvia, as the lines of authority within agencies, and the relationship between one agency and others, was "ambiguous, overlapping, and unclear". Nevertheless, Lange is widely recognized as one of the primary perpetrators of the Holocaust in Latvia.

His headquarters was in Rigamarker, on Reimersa street.Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at page 313. From the very beginning of his involvement in Latvia, Lange gave orders to squads of Latvians whom the Germans had organized to carry out massacres in the smaller cities, such as the Ar─üjs commando. According to one historian Victors Ar─üjs was "held on a short leash" by Lange. Another local organization receiving orders from Lange was the so-called Vagul─üns commando, which was responsible for the Jelgava massacres in July and August, 1941.Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at pages 50 and 320.

Lange also personally supervised executions conducted by the Ar─üjs commando. He appears to have ordered that all the SD officers should personally participate in the killings.

Lange was responsible for the Latvian part of the decision by the Nazi regime to deport Jews from Germany, Austriamarker, and Czechoslovakiamarker to Rigamarker. In this connection, on November 8, 1941, he issued detailed orders to Hinrich Lohse, who was ostensibly the ruler of Latvia in his capacity as "Reichskommissar Ostland", regarding the transport of 50,000 Jews to the East, with 25,000 going to Riga and 25,000 to Belarusmarker. At the same time, Lange was organizing the construction of the Salaspils concentration camp, originally intended to accommodate these deportees. Because the Salaspils camp would not be ready by the time the Jews would arrive, Lange made the decision to sent the transports to an abandoned estate near Riga called Jungfernhof or Jumpravmuiza, which would be set up as an improvised concentration camp.markerEzergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at pages 352 to 356

In November 1941 Lange was deeply involved in the planning and carrying out the murder of 24,000 Latvian Jews from the Riga ghettomarker which occurred on November 30 and December 8, 1941. This crime has come to be known as the Rumbula massacre.Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at pages 243-247. In addition to the Latvian Jews, another 1,000 Jews from Germany were also murdered. They had been brought to Latvia on the first train of deportees, which arrived on November 29, 1941. Following the November 29 train, more rail transports of Jews began arriving in Riga from Germany began arriving, starting on December 3, 1941. The Jews on the first few transports were not immediately housed in the ghetto, but rather they were left at a Jungfernhof concentration campmarker.Schneider, Journey into Terror, at pages 11 to 15.

Due to his role in Latvia, Lange was called to the Wannsee Conferencemarker in January 1942.

Lange made himself one of the most feared officials among those responsible for the Riga ghettomarker.Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at pages 322-321. Lange supervised the arrival of the transports in Riga, aided by Obersturmbannf├╝hrer Gerhard Maywald, whom historian Gertrude Schneider, herself a survivor of the Riga ghettomarker, describes as Lange's "sidekick". Lange personally shot a young man, Werner Koppel, whom he felt was not opening a rail car door fast enough. Scheider described Lange's appearance:

In May 1942, Lange issued orders to Obersturmf├╝hrer G├╝nter Tabbert to murder the surviving Jews in the Daugavpils ghetto. Only about 450 Jews survived in Daugavpils after this action, which involved among others the killing of the sick, children (including infants) and hospital workers. In addition to Tabbert, the Ar─üjs commando of native Latvians was responsible for a major part of these killings.Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at pages 279-280

In 1942, Lange became a Obersturmbannf├╝hrer (Lt. Colonel) in the head office in Riga until 1945, when he became Head of Reichsgau Wartheland's SD and SIPO. He was promoted to Standartenf├╝hrer (Colonel) in the SSmarker in 1945.

Disappearance

Lange was said to be killed in action in Posenmarker, West Prussia in February 1945; he may have committed suicide, but records are unclear. He was one of the few SS officers to receive the German Cross in Gold medal on 6 February 1945.

Fictional portrayal

In the 2001 HBO film Conspiracy, he was played by Barnaby Kay.

Notes

  1. Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at page 207/
  2. Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at page 184
  3. Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at page 190.
  4. Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia, at page 223.
  5. Lumans, Latvia in World War II, at pages 236, 249, 251, 253-255
  6. Patzwall


References

  • Ezergailis, Andrew, The Holocaust in Latvia 1941-1944 -- The Missing Center, Historical Institute of Latvia (in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) Riga 1996 ISBN 9984-9054-3-8
  • Lumans, Valdis O., Latvia in World War II, New York : Fordham University Press, 2006 ISBN 0823226271
  • Patzwall, Klaus D. and Scherzer, Veit. Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 - 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II. Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall, 2001. ISBN 3-931533-45-X.
  • Peter Klein: Dr. Rudolf Lange als Kommandant der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD in Lettland. Aspekte seines Dienstalltags, in Wolf Kaiser (Hrsg.): T├Ąter im Vernichtungskrieg. Der ├ťberfall auf die Sowjetunion und der V├Âlkermord an den Juden. Propyl├Ąen-Verlag, 2002, ISBN 3-549-07161-2
  • Schneider, Gertrude, Journey into terror: story of the Riga Ghetto, Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 2001 ISBN 0275970507


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