Vienna’s wartime Gestapo chief worked for West German intelligence, records show

Franz Huber

THE HEAD OF THE secret police in Nazi-occupied Vienna, who oversaw the mass deportation of Austrian Jews to concentration camps, worked for West Germany’s postwar spy agency, according to newly released records. Starting his career as a police officer in Munich during the Weimar Republic, Franz Josef Huber joined the Nazi Party in 1937. Due to his prior law enforcement work, he was immediately appointed to the office of Heinrich Müller, who headed the Gestapo —Nazi Germany’s secret police.

Following the German annexation of Austria in 1938, the Nazi Party sent Huber to Vienna, where he oversaw all criminal and political investigations by the Gestapo. He remained head of the Nazi secret police in the Austrian capital until December of 1944. Under his leadership, the Vienna branch of the Gestapo became one of the agency’s largest field offices, second only to its headquarters in Berlin, with nearly 1000 staff members. Huber himself was in regular communication with Adolf Eichmann, who was the logistical architect of the Holocaust. Nearly 66,000 Austrian Jews, most of them residents of Vienna, perished in German-run concentration camps under Huber’s watch.

In May of 1945, following the capitulation of Germany, Huber surrendered to American forces and was kept in detention for nearly four years. During his trial in the German city of Nuremburg, Huber admitted to having visited German-run concentration camps throughout his tenure in the Gestapo. But he claimed that he had not noticed signs of mistreatment of prisoners. He was eventually cleared of all charges against him and released in 1949, allegedly because allied forces wanted to concentrate on more senior members of the Nazi Party, including Huber’s boss, Heinrich Müller.

Last week, German public-service broadcaster ARD said it found Huber’s name in records belonging to the Federal Intelligence Service —Germany’s external intelligence agency. It turns out that, following his release from detention in 1948, Huber joined the Gehlen Organization —named after the first director of the BND, Reinhard Gehlen. Gehlen was a former general and military intelligence officer in the Nazi Wehrmacht, who had considerable experience in anti-Soviet and anti-communist operations. In 1956, as the Cold War was intensifying, the United States Central Intelligence Agency, which acted as the BND’s patron, appointed Gehlen as head of the BND, a post which he held until 1968. During his tenure, Gehlen staffed the BND with numerous Nazi war criminals, who had considerable expertise on the Soviet Union and anti-communism.

According to the ARD, Huber worked for the BND under Gehlen until 1967, when he retired along with other former Nazi BND officers. His retirement occurred at a time when the BND, under popular pressure, tried to cut ties with some of the most notorious former Nazis in its ranks. However, Huber was given a state pension, which he kept until his death in 1975. Following his retirement from the BND, he allegedly worked for an office equipment supplier in his hometown of Munich, without ever facing any prosecution for his wartime role in the Gestapo. In an article published on Monday, The New York Times claimed that the United States government was fully aware of Huber’s Nazi past.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 07 April 2021 | Permalink

One Response to Vienna’s wartime Gestapo chief worked for West German intelligence, records show

  1. Juan F says:

    It looks like a resume of the next Bernie Gunther fiction book until one realizes Philip Kerr passed away in 2018

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