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Christian Wirth

Christian Wirth was a senior SS officer during the program to exterminate the Jewish people.
Christian Wirth was a senior SS officer during the program to exterminate the Jewish people.

Christian Wirth (24 November 1885 - 26 May 1944) was a senior SS officer during the program to exterminate the Jewish people of occupied Poland during the Second World War, known as Operation Reinhard. He was a top aide of Odilo Globocnik, the overall director of Operation Reinhard, and his responsibility was scaling up the T-4 Euthanasia Program, in which disabled people had been murdered by gassing or lethal injection, by developing extermination camps for mass murder.

Wirth was the chief of the Criminal Police (Kripo) in Stuttgart before being transferred to head the T-4 program. As the head of the Kripo he obtained results through the use of force. In one case, a suspect who was known to be responsible for a crime but who would not confess was left alone for a time with Wirth; not only did Wirth get a full confession to this crime, he also obtained confessions to six others.

Franz Stangl, who was the commandant of the Sobibór and Treblinka death camps, described him in a 1971 interview:

In August 1941 he was transferred out of T-4 and in September was sent to Chelmno to start gassing Jews and Gypsies there. By late March 1942, gassing of Jews and Gypsies was conducted daily at Chelmno, in gas vans. After the T-4 Euthanasia program was terminated due to an outcry by the church, Nazi Germany came up with the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question", which was extermination.

The first phase of the "Final Solution" was "Aktion Reinhard", headed by Odilo Globonick. The first out of three Aktion Reinhard death camps was Belzec. Since Wirth had previous experience in killing with gas in the Euthanasia program, Globocnik appointed him as the commandant of Belzec. On August 1, 1942, Globocnik appointed him to the post of Inspector of Aktion Reinhard camps.

During the construction of Sobibor, the second Aktion Reinhard death camp, Wirth visited the incomplete site, and conducted an experimental gassing of 25 Jewish slave-labourers. He liked to carry a whip, and he used it on both Jewish victims and guards. When the last and most efficient Aktion Reinhard death camp, Treblinka, was set up, Wirth took a direct role in reorganizing it when the first commandant, Dr. Irmfried Eberl, was replaced by Franz Stangl. Later he was involved in the "Harvest Festival" operation, the single-day murder of 18,000 remaining Arbeitsjuden (Jewish forced laborers) at Majdanek in November 1943.

'He was a gross and florid man. … When he spoke about the necessity of this euthanasia operation, he wasn't speaking in humane or scientific terms, the way Dr. Werner at T-4 had described it to me. He laughed. He spoke of "doing away with useless mouths", and that "sentimental slobber" about such people made him "puke".'

After Aktion Reinhard (in which 1.4 million Jews and thousands of Gypsies were murdered) was terminated, Wirth was sent to Trieste in Italy with other former Aktion Reinhard staff to kill partisans in the area. Wirth was killed by Slovenian partisans near Fiume in May 1944.

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