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Camp Westerbork - Erich Deppner


 

 Two of the 77 'Russians' killed in camp Amersfoort


       As of 1 July 1942, Transit camp Westerbork officially fell under the jurisdiction of the Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei - Sipo - und Sicherheitdienst - SD - Commander in Chief of the Security Police and Security Service. The first German camp commandant was SS-Sturmbannführer - SS Major, dr. Erich Deppner.

       Deppner was born in Neuhaldensleben on August 8th, 1910 and died in Anzing on December 13th, 2005.  Shortly after the Dutch capitulation Deppner was transferred to the Einsatzgruppe of the SiPo/SD in the Netherlands. He was promoted to SS-Sturmbannführer (Januari 30th, 1941) and became head ot the section Gegnerbekämpfung, responsible for the destruction of the resistance.  He ansewered directly to the Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei. In april 1942 he was responsible for the execution of the Russian prisoners in Camp Amersfoort. The day after he received this assignment he assembled a firing squad. 77 of the Russian prisoners were executed, the rest had already died because of abuse and malnurishment, Deppner personally made sure they were all dead, by inspecting the victims and in some cases killing the wounded victims. 

       He was in charge of Transit camp Westerbork from 1 July 1942 to 1 September 1942. Deppner was a cruel individual totally lacking compassion. It was Deppner who handled the first transport from Westerbork to Auschwitz/Birkenau causing a near riot when, in order to fill the required quota of 1,000 deportees, he added children to the transport without taking their parents. He also added several women who happened to be standing at the gate waiting to be admitted into the camp.

Deppner and his secretary


       Because of this incident, Deppner was replaced by SS-Sturmbannführer - SS Major, Josef Hugo Dischner (no picture available) on 1 September 1942. Dischner was an alcoholic who regularly beat inmates with his whip causing great panic among the detainees. Dischner lasted just six short weeks. In order to dupe the unsuspecting Jews passing through Westerbork into believing that the future really was not too bad, the Nazis quickly replaced him with the gentleman/criminal SS-Obersturmführer - 1st Lieutenant in de SS, Albert Konrad Gemmeker on 12 October 1942. Although Deppner was replaced, he was personally complimented for his good work, by Heinrich Himmler.

       At the end of July or beginning of August 1944, Deppner was transferred to camp Vught, where he was responsible for the implementation of Hitlers Niedermachungsbefehl of July 30 1944. This order meant that resistancefighters and saboteurs had to be shot, if necessary this had to be done immediately. Deppner had ample knowledge about the Dutch resistance and made the execution lists himself. From the end of August untill the begining of September 450 persons were executed. These execution are known as "Deppner executions". 

       In 1945 he was called back to Berlin and was captured by the Russian Army. In 1950 he was released from captivity and returned to Germany. He was employed in Operation Gehlen, an intelligence organisation. His employers were well aware of his past. Requests by the Dutch government to extradite Deppner were denied several times. In 1964 he was tried for the murder of the Russian POW's in camp Amersfoort but was acquitted. He was able to enjoy a life in freedom and escaped justice untill he died in 2005.