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Richard Baer was a Nazi SS-Sturmbannführer

Richard Baer (September 9, 1911 - June 17, 1963) was a Nazi official with the rank of SS-Sturmbannführer (major) and commander of the Auschwitz I concentration camp from May 1944 to February 1945. He was a member of N.S.D.A.P. (no. 454991) and the SS (no. 44225).

Baer was born in Bavaria in 1911; originally a confectioner, he became a guard in Dachau concentration camp after becoming unemployed in 1930. In 1939, he joined the Totenkopfdivision, and was appointed adjutant of Neuengamme concentration camp in 1942. A year later, in 1943, Baer became adjutant of SS-Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl, then chief of the Wirtschaftsverwaltungshauptamt; he took over department D I in November of the same year before succeeding Arthur Liebehenschel as commander of Auschwitz from May 11, 1944 until the final dissolution of the camp in early 1945.

At the end of the war, Baer fled and lived near Hamburg as Karl Neumann; he was found and arrested in December 1960, after Adolf Eichmann's arrest, and died in detention in 1963.

The story of Baer's arrest is vividly recounted by Devin Pendas in his book The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial (2006), p. 48f. After seeing a wanted picture in the Bild-Zeitung, a co-worker on Otto von Bismarck's estate reported that Baer was working as a forester there. When officials confronted "Neumann" in the forest on the early morning of December 20, 1960, he at first denied everything. Having already addressed Baer as her "husband," the woman in the house subsequently gave her name as "Frau Baer," but still claimed that Baer was named Neumann. Baer, however, finally admitted his true identity.

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