(St. Salvator near Friesach 28 December 1913 – unknown (declared dead in 1950): Grabner’s successor
Head of the Political Department from December 1943 to January 1945
After the Head of the Political Department, Max Grabner, was arrested in November 1943 for unauthorised execution of prisoners, bribery and theft, his deputy Hans Schurz was appointed Head of the Political Department. He had already been working in the barracks next to the crematorium, where the Political Department was housed, since May 1943.
Hans Schurz, born on 28 December 1913 in St. Salvator in Carinthia, had, like his predecessor Grabner, had little schooling, and had joined the Hitler Youth in St. Veit an der Glan in 1930/31, followed immediately by the SA. In the “July Putsch” of 1934, the climax of Nazi terrorism in Austria, he fought side by side with Hermann Töfferl and Egon Auffinger, who would later become his colleagues in the Auschwitz camp SS. Once the putsch was suppressed, he fled to Germany, as did they, to fight from there against Austria’s independence as part of the “Hilfswerk Nord-West”, a cover name for the Austrian Legion. On 25 May 1937 he was taken on by the Berlin criminal police. After the Anschluss, he returned to Vienna, working first for the Vienna Gestapo and then for the Gestapo in Chorzów/Königshütte in Poland. In 1940 he was appointed SS-Untersturmführer and Senior Criminal Assistant, followed by his transfer to Auschwitz in May 1943.
The Political Department did not report to the concentration camp commandant, but directly to the Reich Security Main Office; it was a department of the concentration camp commandant division. It was responsible for cremating the corpses and, in its function as the camp registry office, for making entries in the death books. It was also responsible for identifying the prisoners as well as for surveillance, investigations, interrogations and intelligence tasks in in its role as camp police. The notorious Block 11 was also controlled by the Political Department. For the prisoners, this meant standing trial, torture and execution. From the summer of 1944, on Schurz’s orders, the destruction of evidence of the crimes at Auschwitz began.
Schurz was still in the camp during the departure of the last evacuation transport shortly before the liberation. Heinrich Dürmayer stated at the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial that the question was asked at the time whether all the prisoners had left the camp, which Dürmayer answered in the affirmative. In fact, many had gone into hiding to avoid being executed at the last minute. Hans Schurz, like the entire camp SS, fled from the Red Army. He was first briefly transferred to the SS Police Panzer Grenadier Division and then, in March 1945, to the commandant division at Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp. Hans Schurz’s further path is unknown: he allegedly escaped from English captivity and went into hiding. He was declared dead in 1950.
Aleksander Lasik, Die Organisationsstruktur des KL Auschwitz. In: Aleksander Lasik, Franciszek Piper, Piotr Setkiewicz, Irena Strzelecka, Auschwitz 1940–1945. Studien zur Geschichte des Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslagers Auschwitz. Volume I: Aufbau und Struktur des Lagers, Oświęcim 1999, p. 201.
Ernst Klee, Auschwitz. Täter, Gehilfen, Opfer und was aus ihnen wurde. Ein Personenlexikon, Frankfurt am Main 2013, p. 369 f.
1st Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial “criminal proceedings against Mulka et al.”, 4 Ks 2/63, State Court Frankfurt am Main, 58th day of the trail, 22.6.1964, testimony of the witness Heinrich Dürmayer.