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Joseph Burckel

Joseph Burckel (March 30, 1895, Lingenfeld, Germersheim - September 28, 1944, Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, Rhineland-Palatinate) was a German National Socialist politician, a member of the National Socialist Reichstag.

An energetic Nazi organizer in the Saar-Palatinate since 1925, the former schoolmaster rose through the ranks to become Gauleiter (Nazi Party leader) for the region in 1934.

On March 13, 1938 Burckel was appointed acting head of the Party to carry out the referendum on the Anschluss (Austria's absortion into Germany). From April 23, 1938 to March 31, 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. Burckel served as Gauleiter of Vienna and Reichsstatthalter (governor) of the region from January 30, 1939 to August 7, 1940, working diligently to further unification with Germany, including promoting anti-Jewish decrees and seizing Jewish property.

Following his role as Gauleiter, Burckel headed up the civil administration in Lothringen and from 1941 was governor of the Westmark, comprised of the Bavarian Palatinate district and the Prussian Saar territory. From November 9, 1937 he also held a leading position (Gruppenführer) in the Schutzstaffel and the staff of the Reichsführer-SS, Heinrich Himmler.

In 1944, he was awarded the German Order, the highest decoration that the Party could bestow on an individual, for his services to the Reich.

He, along with his wife, died in September 1944, apparently by their own hand, although there is some question as to whether Burckel may have been killed as a result of power struggles that followed the attempt on Hitler's life at the Wolf's Lair.

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