Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
Gerhard Maurer – Described by Rudolf Höss
Department DII in the Economic Administration Head Office
Gerhard Maurer, Director of Department D-II in the Economic Administration Head Office
Gerhard Maurer was born in Halle on the 9 December 1907, was a member of the Nazi Party and the SS and, from 1934, a colleague of Oswald Pohl, later the Head of the WVHA.
As the financial activities of the SS expanded in 1937-1938, Himmler made Oswald Pohl responsible for modernizing the economic administration. Pohl's efforts would lead to the formal establishment of the WVHA in 1942. Pohl was dedicated to Himmler's New Order, and he tried to recruit men who shared these views.
So in 1942 as an SS Colonel Maurer took over Office D-II, which was responsible for the deployment of prisoner labour in the concentration camps. As the demand for labor increased, Pohl tasked Maurer to improve upon the statistical surveillance of the concentration camp populations. A category was created for inmates labeled "unfit to labor;" Maurer later developed a more detailed description of this category including numerical codes and standardized forms.
Maurer favored "labor over corpses" and worked closely with the leaders of the armaments industry and created the administrative basis for the rigorous exploitation of the prisoners, for example, appointing in every camp a director responsible for the problems encountered in optimising the productivity of the forced labour deployed in the armaments industry.
In 1943 he became deputy to Richard Glucks, Inspector of Concentration Camps, whom he virtually replaced in dealing with serious matters. He testified at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg and was extradited to Poland, where he stood trial in Krakow. He was found guilty and executed by hanging on the 2 April 1953.
Rudolf Höss on Maurer:
“He was a business man and a veteran member of the Party and the SS. He originally came from Saxony. Before 1933 he held a senior position as accountant in his local SS unit.
In 1934 he took an administrative post in the SS in Munich, and Pohl brought him into the auditing department. His skill as an auditor had already been noticed by Pohl, and he was employed in the newly established Central Administration Office concerned with the commercial undertakings of the SS, of which Pohl later made him an inspector.
Maurer thus gained knowledge of the concentration camps and took a particular interest in matters connected with the industrial employment of the prisoners. He obtained an insight into the peculiarities of the commandants and commanders of the protective custody camps and their negative attitude towards these industrial schemes.
Most of the older commandants and commanders felt that the prisoners employed in the commercial undertakings were too well treated and also that the heads of these undertakings were learning too much from the prisoners about what went on in the camps. They played many tricks on the executives of these industries.
They would, for example, suddenly remove skilled men and employ them on outside work, or retain them in the camp, or they would send them prisoners who were quite unfit for work.
Maurer dealt ruthlessly with these schemes by giving Pohl many reports which he found useful. On Maurer’s instigation and in order to avoid these unedifying intrigues, Pohl later made the camp commandants directors of all the commercial undertakings set up in the camp. They received a considerable monthly allowance for this according to the size of the industries, and later they received a share of the profits. As a result, the commandants paid more attention to these industries, and their subordinates were forced to recognise their needs.
It was Maurer, however, who persuaded Pohl to introduce a system of bonus payments. Later, in 1944, Maurer drew up, at Pohl’s request, the regulations for the payment of prisoners, which laid down that every prisoner was to be paid according to the work he had done. These regulations were never carried into effect.
Soon after the incorporation of the Concentration Camp Inspectorate into the Economic Administration Head Office, Maurer became chief of department DII, concerned with the employment of prisoners. Maurer proceeded to organise this office with great thoroughness. He installed an employment officer in each camp, who was responsible to him and was thoroughly instructed in his task of procuring prison labour for the war industries.
This officer also had to make a record of every prisoner’s trade or profession and to take strict care that each prisoner was employed according to his abilities.
Most of the commanders of the protective custody camps, as well as the Rapportfuhrer and labour officers, tried to sabotage the work of the employment officer, because they wanted to continue to have independent control over the prisoners’ employment. At first this caused a lot of friction, but Maurer took severe action whenever any incidents of this kind were brought to his notice.
Maurer was an energetic man and had sharp eyes and ears. If anything was wrong in the camp he would notice it at once and either make the commandant aware of it, or report the matter to Pohl.
Pohl had complete confidence in Maurer. When Glucks wanted to keep something unpleasant from Pohl, Maurer would always tell him about it.
After Liebehenschel’s departure, Maurer became Glucks deputy. By this appointment, Pohl to all intents and purposes handed the inspectorate over to Maurer. Glucks gradually entrusted all the most important matters to Maurer. He was Inspector in name only.
I had already known Maurer when I was at Dachau and Sachsenhausen, but we got to know each other better during my time as Commandant of Auschwitz. We always got on with each other and worked together very well. I was able to bring many things to Pohl’s attention through Maurer, which it was impossible to do through Glucks.
We shared the same views on almost all problems concerning the prisoners and the conduct of the camp. Only on the question of selecting the able-bodied Jews from the rest did we hold contrary opinions. Maurer wanted to employ as many Jews as possible, even those who would probably only be able to work for a short time, whereas I wanted only the fittest and strongest to be selected, for reasons which I have often explained.
We never agreed on this matter, and although the results of Maurer’s attitude became plain enough later on, he refused to grasp their significance. Maurer had watched the development of Auschwitz from the start and I had drawn his attention to the deficiencies on every visit he made. He observed them for himself as well. He reported them all to Pohl, who was then inspector of the industrial undertakings, but it had no effect.
Maurer was always in favour of treating the prisoners well. During his factory inspections he often talked with the prisoners about their accommodation and feeding and about the way they were treated. By doing so, however, he often harmed the prisoners more than he helped them, since the Kapo’s were always lurking in the background.
Maurer displayed enormous energy in pursuing his main task of obtaining labour for the armaments industry. He travelled a great deal, inspecting the start of an undertaking in one place, or the progress of one somewhere else, or solving difficulties which arose between the individual chiefs and the labour company officers and hearing complaints about the prisoners’ work or from the industrial employers about their ill-treatment.
There were hundreds of matters with which he had to deal. There was the external pressure from the Armaments Ministry and the Todt Organisation for more prisoners, and the everlasting cry from Auschwitz about the many, too many transports. Maurer had his full measure of work. But it was never too much for him and in spite of his lively manner he maintained an unrufflled composure.
As a result of his continual requests to be employed at the front, and on Kammler’s instigation, he was given the post of commissary to Kammler’s Special Services Division from January to the middle of April 1945; it afterwards became an artillery corps.
Maurer had an understanding for all matters concerning the prisoners, even though he always regarded them from the point of view of their employment as a labour force. He would never appreciate that the selection or retention of too many Jews for employment resulted directly in a deterioration in the general conditions in Auschwitz, followed by a similar deterioration in all the other camps. Yet the truth of this could not be doubted.”
Control Policies of the Reichsbank, 1924-1933. by Mildred B. Northrop
Michael Thad Allen. The Business of Genocide: The SS, Slave Labor, and the Concentration Camps. Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press,
Rudolf Höss Kommandant in Auschwitz. Edited by Martin Broszat Munich 1963, published by Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag 1998
Kalendarium der Ereignisse im KZ Auschwitz, by Danuta Czech, published by Rowholt, Reinbeck Verlag 1989
Michman, Jozeph. "Artur Seyss-Inquart," in Israel Gutman, ed. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, New York: Macmillan, Vol. 4, 1990:1346ff.
Copyright Hans Leerhand H.E.A.R.T 2009