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Josef Wagner (born 12 January 1899 in Algringen, Diedenhofen County, Alsace-Lorraine, nowadays Algrange near Thionville, France; died 22 April or 2 May 1945 in Berlin) was from 1928 the Nazi Gauleiter of the Gau of Westphalia-South, and as of January 1935 also of the Gau of Silesia.
Early life and First World War
Josef Wagner was born in 1899 to miner Nikolaus Wagner. Beginning in the summer of 1913 he went to the teachers' seminary in Wittlich, and as of June 1917 he was a soldier at the Western Front during the First World War. There he ended up as a prisoner of war of the French, but managed to escape in 1918. In 1919 he returned to Germany by way of Switzerland. He ended his training as a Volksschule teacher and first worked as a finance official in Fulda, and by 1921 at the Bochumer Verein.
Joining the Nazis
Wagner joined the Nazi Party quite early on, in 1922, and founded the NSDAP local (Ortsgruppe) in Bochum. In 1927, he was a Volksschule teacher at the Volksschule Horst-Emscher - and by 1928 at the Gelsenkirchen branch - from which he was fired for political reasons. In 1928, he was appointed Gauleiter of the Gau of Westphalia, and after the Gau was split in two in 1931, he was given the office of Gauleiter of Westphalia-South, whose seat was in Bochum. From 1928 to 1930, Wagner was among the NSDAP's first twelve members of the Reichstag in Berlin.
Career in the time of the Third Reich
Beginning in 1934, Wagner - who had been a Prussian State Councillor since 1933 - also led the Gau of Silesia in Breslau (nowadays Wroclaw, Poland), where the state offices befitting such a man were transferred to him: He was appointed High President (Oberpräsident) of the Prussian province of Lower Silesia in Breslau, and furthermore administered the Upper Silesian High President's business. After Silesia was united into one province, Wagner became its High President in 1938, until the province was split again in January 1941.
On 29 October 1936, Wagner was appointed Reichskommissar for Pricing. From the outbreak of the Second World War on 1 September 1939 he was also Reich Defence Commissar for Silesia (Defence District VIII).
On 9 November 1941, Adolf Hitler stripped Wagner of all offices. This stemmed from a letter from Wagner's wife to their daughter which had come to official attention, and in which she disapproved of her daughter's planned marriage to an irreligious SS man on religious grounds. On 12 October 1942 Wagner was kicked out of the Nazi Party for good. His successor as NSDAP Gauleiter was Fritz Bracht.
First, Wagner moved back to Bochum and lived there. Josef Wagner was then arrested by the Gestapo after the attempt on Hitler's life at the Wolf's Lair in East Prussia on 20 July 1944. The circumstances of his death in 1945 are unclear. Either he was put to death by the SS in Berlin, or he was shot by a Soviet soldier.
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