Glücks, Richard


Early history of his career

Richard Glücks was born April 22, 1889 in the village of Odenkirchen in the Rheinland, Germany. After graduation from the municipal gymnasium he worked as an apprentice in the fire insurance company of his parents. In 1909 he served voluntarily in a Feldartillerie-Regiment. Prior to the outbreak of war, he lived in England from 1913 onwards and a year later he went to Argentina for seven months as a salesman. When war broke out, he returned to his country in January 1915 as a sailor with Swiss papers aboard a Norwegian vessel. He immediately reported for active service in the army. During the war he was awarded the Eisernes Kreuz I and II (Iron Cross); after the war he was posted to the Peace Commission of the German army from 1920 to 1924, serving as liaison officer within the inter-allied commission for controlling the military power. Subsequently he was a member of the staff of the 6.Preussische Division. Glücks soon joined the Freikorps Lichtschlag, established on December 14, 1918 which was active in the Ruhr area.

Glücks joined the N.S.D.A.P. in 1930 and the SS in 1932. Between September 6, 1933 until June 20, 1935 he was the leader of SS-Oberabschnitt West, one of the main districts of the Allgemeine SS. In this period, he gradually rose from SS-Untersturmführer to eventually SS-Sturmbannführer. From June 20, 1935 to April 1, 1936, meanwhile in the rank of SS-Obersturmbannführer he commanded the 77.SS-Standarte which had its headquarters in Schneidemühl. A definite turning point in his career in the SS was his appointment as chief of staff to the inspector of concentration camps Theodor Eicke (Bio Eicke).

Inspector of concentration camps

As inspector of the camps, Eicke supervised in particular the way in which the concentration camps were being run by the camp commanders and their personnel. Eicke was a ruthless man who had a profound influence on policy and the daily running of the concentration camps. He was for instance the brains behind various inhuman penalties imposed in the camps. In addition he developed an efficient but cruel camp hierarchy where even inmates were deployed to guard their fellow prisoners. As a direct subordinate to Eicke, Glücks was probably little involved in the daily running of the camps. Together with his superior, he did visit a concentration camp sometimes but his main responsibility was personnel management. Rudolph Höss (Bio Höss), commander of Auschwitz and later on Glücks’ subordinate within Amtsgruppe D of the Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungshauptamt, (W.V.H.A. or Main Economic and Administrative Office), wrote in his memoirs after the war that Glücks neither noticed anything during these visits, nor did he learn what to pay attention to. It seems various camp commanders were dissatisfied with the way Glücks handled personnel management but Eicke ignored their protests. Fact is, Eicke was very satisfied with his subordinate he described as a "chief of staff like one should be" and as a "valuable supporter one could trust."

As Eicke was involved in leading the SS-Totenkopf-Division from 1939 onwards, he was no longer able to keep his function as inspector of concentration camps. November 18, 1939, Glücks was appointed his successor. Höss argued later, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler (Bio Himmler) frequently had had the intention to name someone else for this function because he did not really trust Glücks. Eicke and Oswald Pohl (Bio Pohl), the future superior of Glücks at the W.V.H.A. always stood up for him however and thus, according to Höss, he could remain in his post. In his memoirs, Höss also points out that during Glücks’ reign, nothing really changed in the camps. In his opinion, Glücks thought nothing could be changed regarding Eicke’s policy, even though it was outdated. The explanation Höss offered was that Glücks had a pathologic fear of Himmler. According to Höss, Glücks became upset whenever Himmler called him and when he was to meet Himmler personally, he was of no use to anyone days before the meeting. Höss further wrote:

    "When Himmler demanded reports or an evaluation of the situation, he collapsed completely. This is very surprising because usually nothing could disturb his good natured character. That is why he evaded everything that could possibly lead to a meeting with Himmler or worse still, to a rejection or a reprimand. He did not take events in the camps seriously, as long as he did not have to report them to Himmler. Escapes upset him and caused him sleepless nights because these had to be reported. Each morning, his first question was "How many have escaped?" This constant fear of Himmler naturally influenced his whole attitude towards the concentration camps. It became: "do whatever you want but take care Himmler doesn’t find out."

These words clearly show, at least according to Höss, that Glücks, directly subordinate to Himmler, was not up to his role as inspector of concentration camps. His pathologic fear of Himmler is difficult to prove but that Glücks took escapes very seriously is a fact. He frequently wrote memoranda to the camp commanders strongly urging them to do everything they could to prevent escapes.

Höss also described Glücks as a man with an uncontrollable sense of Rheinland humor – humor that looked positively on everything in life. Glücks was able to make the worst things completely ridiculous and make jokes about it. Moreover, still according to Höss, he could not remember anything and took no decisions. Yet, Höss did not blame him for it because this matched his character after all. This character does not seem to match in the least with someone with a difficult job like inspector of the camps. Possibly, some relief was granted to him when Oswald Pohl was shoved in between him and Himmler as the new chief of the W.V.H.A.

Amtsgruppe D of the W.V.H.A.

While Pohl was in overall charge of the W.V.H.A., Glücks was appointed chief of one of the departments of this main office, i.e. Amtsgruppe D which was responsible for the concentration camps. Although Glücks was officially no longer inspector of concentration camps, as chief of Amtsgruppe D he still had the same duties. The big difference was he was no longer directly subordinate to Himmler but to Pohl. After the war, Pohl took great trouble to attribute all responsibility for the disgraceful state of affairs in the concentration camps to him. A post war, personal conversation between psychiatrist Leon Goldensohn and Pohl unfolded as follows:

    I, - Goldensohn- remarked that supervision of the concentration camps was his – Pohl’s – duty, as far as I know. He answered: "No, they resorted under Glücks. He was my subordinate but I specialized in labor in the concentration camps." I said I thought he had told me that the concentration camps were under his supervision from 1942 onwards. "Yes, but Glücks carried it out. He was my subordinate and he inspected the camps." I said, exactly my point: Glücks was his subordinate within the agency and Glücks was to report to Pohl about everything he did. "In a number of cases, he was my subordinate but Himmler and Glücks had private talks." I said it did not impress me as in every large organization, there are talks between the boss and a subordinate. "I could not consult with Glücks; therefore I discussed only questions of policy with Himmler. I mean the policy concerning labor."

Pohl went much further though in blaming his subordinate Glücks. During the same session with Goldensohn, Pohl claimed he did his best not to get involved in the Endlösung. He indicates Himmler considered him too weak to take the right decisions in this matter and even demanded he should not be burdened with it. Pohl only wanted to be involved in the management of the concentration camps and the work of the inmates but not in the extermination program. Subsequently, in 1942 he dispatched Glücks to Himmler as he had been asked to appoint a man within the W.V.H.A. Glücks was the men within the W.V.H.A. responsible for the support and execution of the extermination program.

It is remarkable to note that Höss indicates in his memoirs that Glücks did not want to get too deeply involved either in the extermination of Jews in Auschwitz, one of the two extermination camp under supervision of the W.V.H.A. He even badly wanted to hear nothing about Auschwitz. From Höss’ words it also appears he blames Glücks for never having shown any interest in Auschwitz, nor having helped to find solutions to solve problems within the camp. Höss considered Glücks’ refusal to support him in Auschwitz one of the reasons for the catastrophic situation in the camp that developed later. Höss claims however that the lack of any interest or cooperation by Glücks not only applied to Auschwitz. He – Glücks – often asked Liebehenschel, chief of Amtsgruppe D 1, (Bio Liebehenschel): "and what am I to say to the commanders now? I know absolutely nothing." Those were the words of the inspector of all concentration camps, the supervisor of all camp commanders. He was supposed to lead, to give instructions to the commanders when problems occurred, many of those caused by the war itself.

Despite the serious complaints Höss voiced about his superior, Glück’s superiors always seemed to be very satisfied with his work. On November 9, 1943, he was promoted to SS-Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS. He was also awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Silber (German Cross in Silver) by Hitler (Bio Hitler) personally, a very high decoration for display of leadership but not against the enemy.


Allgemeine SS
“General SS”. The civilian branch of the Schutzstaffel (SS). Since 1939 the counterpart of the Allgemeine-SS was the Waffen-SS, (the military branch of the SS). The Allgemeine-SS was the backbone of the organisation and the source for recruiting the men for the Waffen-SS, the SD (Sicherheitsdienst) and the Totenkopfverbände. During the war years the Allgemeine-SS was involved in amongst others in local politics and administrative and government business.
concentration camp
Closed camp where people are being held captive that are considered to be anti- social, enemies of the state, criminal or unwanted individuals. These groups mostly do not get a fair trial or are condemned to doing time in a camp.
Military unit, usually consisting of one upto four regiments and usually making up a corps. In theory a division consists of 10,000 to 20,000 men.
Eisernes Kreuz
Iron Cross. German military decoration.
Euphemistic term for the final solution the Nazis had in store for the “Jewish problem”. Eventually the Endlösung would get the form of annihilating the entire Jewish people in extermination camps.
German paramilitary units established directly after the Great War by former front soldiers. These groups were often named after their commander. Freikorps formed the basis of the eventual SA or Sturmabteilung.
Iron Cross
English translation of the German decoration Eisernes Kreuz.
Middle Eastern people with own religion that lived in Palestine. They distinguished themselves by their strong monotheism and the strict observance of the Law and tradition. During World War 2 the Jewish people were ruthlessly persecuted and annihilated by the German Nazis. . An estimated 6,000,000 Jews were exterminated.
Main district of the protection squadron (Schutzstaffel), the SS, from November 1933.
Part of a division. A division divided into a number of regiments. In the army traditionally the name of the major organised unit of one type of weapon.
“Death’s head”. Symbol that was used by the SS. Also the name of an SS Division.
Name of Military section of the SS.

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Richard Glücks April 22, 1889 – May 10, 1945 (?)


Translated by:
Arnold Palthe
Article by:
Kevin Prenger
Published on:
Last edit on:
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