Herbert Lange was a SS-Sturmbannführer and the commandant at the Nazi death camp at Chelmno. Lange was an integral part of the Nazi’s euthanasia programme of mentally disabled patients before the war.
Born in Pomerania in September 1909, Lange went to university to study law but never actually graduated. As was common during the depression of Weimar Germany, Lange was disillusioned about the state of the country and what the future held for him and, like many men his age, in May 1932 he chose to sign up to the Nazi Party. It did not take long for Lange to buy into the Nazi movement and by August that same year he had become part SA – otherwise known as the Brownshirts, a group that was led by Ernst Röhmn. Then, in 1934, Lange joined the SS.
He made impressive progress through the party’s ranks; he became an SS-Untersturmfűhrer in 1938 and then the next year joined an Einsatzgruppe, which was essentially a mobile killing squad that was tasked with exterminating the Jews after the Germans had successfully invaded Poland.
One of the things Lange is best known for is building the death camp at Poznan, of which he would later become the commander. However, once the system at Poznan had been established and everything was up and running, Lange was ordered to travel to Poland’s mental asylums and help with the killing of mentally disabled people, as per the Nazi’s ‘euthanasia’ programme.
Lange built a mobile gas chamber that he would take from asylum to asylum and killed large numbers of people. For example, in late 1939 it is reported that Lange and his team killed more than 1,100 people at a mental home in Owinska. Even more people - 3,334 - lost there lives at the mental home in Koscian during the first two months of 1940. A further 1,100 mentally ill people were murdered at three other Polish mental homes.
Lange’s gained the admiration of his fellow SS officers for the efficiency he deployed in his task; in April 1940 he rose to the level of SS-Obersturmfűhrer in April 1940 and then, by December 1941, Lange had become the first commander at the Chelmno death camp.
Lange would only hold this position until February 1942 at which point he returned to Berlin and worked more closely with Hitler. He was also entrusted with tracking down those who were suspected of plotting to kill the Nazi leader as part of the ‘July Bomb Plot’.
It is widely accepted that Lange was killed in action on 20 April 1945 during the Battle of Berlin.
See also: Anne Frank
"Herbert Lange". HistoryLearning.com. 2024. Web.
|29 September 1909,
|20 April 1945 (aged 35),
|Commandant at the Chelmno death camp