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Otto Bradfisch (born 10 May 1903 in Zweibrücken; died 22 June 1994 in Seeshaupt) was an economist, a jurist, an SS Obersturmbannführer, Leader of Einsatzkommando 8 of Einsatzgruppe B of the Security Police (Sicherheitspolizei) and the SD, and Commander of the Security Police in Litzmannstadt (Lódz) and Potsdam.
School and training
Dr. Otto Bradfisch was born in 1903 in Zweibrücken (then Rhenish Palatinate, Bavaria) as the second of grocery salesman Karl Bradfisch's four children.
In Kaiserslautern he went to the Volksschule for four years and afterwards to the humanistic Gymnasium. In 1922, he did the school-leaving examination.
At the Universities of Freiburg, Leipzig, Heidelberg, and Innsbruck Bradfisch studied economics. He ended his studies with a graduation to Dr. rer. pol. at the University of Innsbruck in 1926. Afterwards, he also studied law in Erlangen and Munich to improve his professional chances in difficult times. He sat the first state law examination on 17 February 1932, and the second on 20 September 1935.
Professional and political career
Engaged first as an Assessor in the Upper Bavarian government, he was at once transferred to the Bavarian State Ministry for the Interior as a Government Assessor.
Already by 1 January 1931, Bradfisch had joined the NSDAP (membership no. 405 869). At the time he was studying in Munich, he was working as the acting local group leader (Ortsgruppenleiter) in Munich-Freising. On 26 September 1938 he joined the SS (membership no. 310 180) as an Obersturmführer. In the two years before that, he had belonged to the National Socialist Motor Corps.
At an acquaintance's urging, Bradfisch applied for service in the Gestapo, into which he was hired on 15 March 1937, whereupon he was also given the acting leadership of the State Police post at Neustadt an der Weinstrasse.
Appointed government adviser on 4 November 1938, he stayed there until his assignment as leader of Einsatzkommando (EK) 8, attached to Einsatzgruppe (EG) B of the Security Police and the Sicherheitsdienst in June 1941
Leader of Einsatzkommando 8 of Einsatzgruppe B
Einsatzgruppe B belonged to the four Einsatzgruppen that were deployed for special operations during Operation Barbarossa, the attack on the Soviet Union. This Einsatzgruppe was led by Arthur Nebe, an SS Brigadeführer and Chief of the Reich Criminal Police Bureau (Reichskriminalpolizeiamt) at the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Amt V), and was subdivided into Einsatzkommandos 8 and 9, and the Sonderkommandos 7a und 7b, as well as the Vorkommando Moskau. It was also grouped with Army Group Middle.
The Einsatzgruppen's job was, as determined by oral "Führer decree" and a written order from Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) Chief Reinhard Heydrich on 2 July 1941, alongside both the securing of areas to the advancing army's rear and the perception of common police tasks until the establishment of a civil administration in the conquered eastern areas, the "Special handling of potential opponents", that is, their elimination. As to who these opponents were, Heydrich defined them in the aforesaid order: "all Comintern functionaries (like utterly all professional Communist politicians, absolutely), the higher, middle and radical lower functionaries of the Party, the Central Committee and the regional and area committees, people's commissars, Jews in Party and state posts, various radical elements (saboteurs, propagandists, snipers, assassins, agitators, and so on)". This circle of persons was later expanded to all "politically intolerable elements" among prisoners of war and eventually all "racial inferiors" such as Jews, Gypsies, and "Asiatic elements".
Meant at first to take the job as staff consultant on Einsatzgruppe B's staff, Bradfisch took part in a major discussion at the Pretzsch Border Police School at which Heydrich and the Leader of RSHA Bureau IV (Gestapo), Heinrich Müller, explained to the Einsatzgruppe and Einsatzkommando leaders in all plainness their task. After the presentation of this instruction, which without doubt was recognized by all participants as wrongful and criminal, the originally foreseen leader of Einsatzkommando 8, the provisional leader of the Liegnitz State Police post Ernst Ehlers appealed to Einsatzgruppe B's leader Nebe with the wish to be released from this duty. Nebe complied with Ehlers's wish and appointed Bradfisch as his replacement. He had no doubts about the work that lay ahead. The Einsatzkommando 8, led by Bradfisch from the beginning of the Russian Campaign onwards, consisted of six subdivisions varying in strength, each under an SS leader. The unit's total strength was about 60 to 80 men. In view of his official position as government adviser and Leader of the Neustadt an der Weinstrasse State Police post, Bradfisch, as the EK 8 leader, was awarded the rank deemed to befit a man in his position: SS Sturmbannführer.
With the onset of the Russian Campaign on 22 June 1941, the EK 8 followed Army Group Middle through Bialystok and Baranavicy in late 1941 to Minsk. On 9 September 1941 they reached Mahilyow where, given the slowdown that the German offensive had suffered, and the forthcoming winter, plans were made for a lengthy stay.
As to the ways of doing things whereby the EK 8 fulfilled the tasks that it was ordered to do, and which were more or less the same for every Einsatzkommando, the Munich State Court I in their ruling of 21 July 1961 at the Einsatzgruppe Trial portrayed them as follows:
Bradfisch was as leader of the EK 8 responsible for all measures and executions. To some extent, he led the executions, and in the odd case even shot with his own hand. Some examples follow:
About his Einsatzkommando's activities, Bradfisch had to report to the higher-ranking Einsatzgruppe B, who sent the RSHA these reports compiled with those from the other Einsatzkommandos. There, the individual reports were condensed into the so-called event reports by Office IV A.
Commander of the Security Police and the Sicherheitsdienst (SD)
Bradfisch was active as EK 8 leader until March 1942. On 26 April 1942 he was transferred to Lódz - which the Nazis called Litzmannstadt - and appointed leader of the State Police post there. In this function he was also responsible for deporting Jews to the Chelmno extermination camp. He became Commander of the Security Police and the SD in summer 1942. In autumn of the same year came his provisional appointment as Lódz's mayor. In this capacity he was also promoted to high government adviser and SS Obersturmbannführer on 25 January 1943.
After the city's evacuation due to the war in December 1944, Bradfisch worked as Commander of the Security Police and the SD in Potsdam for the last few months of the war. As the Red Army loomed, he managed to escape westwards, procuring for himself a Wehrmacht pay book with junior officer Karl Evers's name on it.
He then first found himself in American custody as a prisoner of war, but was then transferred to British custody, and by August 1945, he was released.
After the war
Until 1953, Bradfisch managed to hide his true identity by using the name Karl Evers. He busied himself first in farming and then later in mining. When he became an insurance agent in Kaiserslautern, eventually for Hamburg-Mannheimer as a regional director, he once again began using his true name.
On 21 April 1958, Bradfisch was temporarily seized and sentenced by the Munich State Court I on 21 July 1961 to 10 years in labour prison (Zuchthaus) for the crime, committed with Bradfisch as part of a group, of abetting collaborative murder in 15,000 cases. In 1963, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Bradfisch and his wife, who were married on 23 November 1932, had three children, the youngest of whom, a girl born in Lódz, died as they were fleeing the Soviet advance.
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