Walter Blume

Walter Blume (1906-1974) studied law at universities in Bonn, Jena and Münster, before passing the bar examination and recieving his doctorate in law from the University of Erlangen in April 1933. Walter Blume He was hired as a police inspector in his hometown of Dortmund right before recieving his doctorate, and he joined the SA (Sturmabtelung) and Nazi Party on 1 May, 1933.

During World War II, Blume became a mid-ranking SS commander. He led the Sonderkommando 7a, which was a part of the extermination commando group Einsatszgruppe B. Among other things, Blume led the deportation of over 46,000 Greek Jews to Auschwitz.

On April 10, 1948, Blume was sentenced to death by hanging, but this sentence was later commuted to 25 years in prison. After serving 10 years of the penalty, he was released in 1955.

Short facts about Walter Blume

Born 23 July 1906

Dortmund, Germany

Died 13 November 1974
Dortmund, West Germany
Service/branch  Schutzstaffel
Rank Standartenführer
Unit Einsatzgruppe B
Commands held Sonderkommando 7a

Early life

Blume was born in 1906 in Dortmunt, a city in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of western Germany. The family was Protestant. The father was a schoolteacher who held a doctorate of law.

University studies

Just like his father, Blume decided to go for a doctorate of law. He studied at the universities in Bonn, Jena and Münster, before passing the bar examination and receiving his doctorate in law from the University of Erlangen in April 1933.

Career before the war

Blume’s hometown Dortmund hired him as a police inspector on 1 March 1933. As a police inspector, he served under Wilhelm Schepmann, a man who would eventually become the last Stabschef of the Nazi Stormtroopers.

Blume joined the Nazi Party (NSDAP) and the Sturmabteilung (SA) on 1 May, 1933. The Sturmabteilung (The Storm Detachment) was a paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party.

In 1934, Blume was transfered to the Prussian Secret State Police Office, where he also worked for the Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers (SD) – the intelligence agency of the Schutzstaffel (SS) and the Nazi Party.

On 11 April 1935, Blume became SS member #267,224 and joined the staff of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt  (RSHA), known in English as the Reich Main Security Office.

1939-1944

In 1939, Blume was appointed Director of Staff of Gestapo, the official secret police of Nazi Germany. (The name Gestapo is an abbreviation of the full name Geheime Staatspelizei, which means Secrete State Police.)

Until March 1941, Blume served in Gestapo offices in Halle, Hanover and Berlin, before being transfered to the village Düben where he was tasked with the collection, reorganization and selection of men for Einsatzgruppen. From May, he was the leader of the Sonderkommando 7a, which formed a part of the Einsatzgruppe B. This Einsatzgruppe was assigned to the 9th Army and participated in the Operation Barbarossa (launched in June 1941). Blume, and hence the 91 men he was commanding, was given the Judenvernichtungsbefehl – the Jew Extermination Order. Blume was personally informed about this by the very high-ranking Reinhard Heydrich, who was personally responsible for the Einsatzgruppen.

Belarus and Russia

Blume and his Sonderkommando 7a departed for Belarus and western Russia, where they focused especially on the Vitbeskt area of Belarus and Klintsy, Nevel and Smolensk in Russia. In September 1941, when Blume personally took a careful record of their success so far, he noted 1,517 Jews killed.

It has been confirmed that Blume personally killed a number of Jews, including shooting an unspecified amount of people point-blank with his revolver in the street on 26 July 1941.

On 17 August 1941, Blume was called backed to Berlin and replaced by Eugen Steimle. Allegedly, he was replaced due to his reluctance to kill women and children, a relucance which had earned him a reputation within SS for being “weak and bureaucratic”.

Düsseldorf

After returning to German soil, Blume ran the Gestapo office in Düsseldorf until the fall of 1943.

Greece

In the fall of 1943, Blume was promoted to SS-Standartenführer. He was put in charge of the Sicherheitspolizei (Security police) in Athens, Greece, where he worked closely with Hauptsturmführer Anton Burger.

Between October 1943 and September 1944, Blume managed the deporation of over 46,000 Greek Jews to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Polen. This operation was carried out under the direction of SS-Obergruppenführer Adolf Eichmann, who had been ordered by Reinhard Heydrich to handle the logistics of the mass deporation of Jews to ghettos and concentration camps in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. A majority of the Jews deported by Blume and his men were from Salonika (Thessaloniki), but approximately 3,000 instead came from places such as Athens, Rhodes, Corfu, Kos or Ioannina (Yannena).

In mid-1944, when things had begun to look rather bleak for the Nazis, Blume proposed the “Chaosis Thesis”, recommending that if the Germans were forced to leave occupied territories in Greece, they should not so this until they had blown up all the factories, docks and other installations that could be valuable for the enemy if left operational. Blume also argued that they should send all the able-bodies males in Athens to do forced labor in Germany, to prevent them from joining the Greek Resistance. Further, Blume wanted to have the entire political leadership of Greece arrested and executed before the Germans withdrew, to leave the country in a state of anarchy.

Hermann Neubacher, the the leading German foreign ministry official for Greece and the Balkans, reacted negatively to Blume’s suggestions, but Blume nevertheless proceeded to arrest Greek politicians and send them to a concentration camp in Haidari, a suburb of Athens. On 4 September 1944, Blume recieved a direct order from Neubacher to stop with these “chaos operations” and three days later Reichssicherheitshauptamt Ernst Kaltenbrunner ordered Blume to leave Greece.

September was also the month when the other Nazis left Greece.

Back to Germany

After Greece, Blume returned to Berlin and the RSHA headquarter.

After the war: Capture and trial

In 1945, United States forces captured Blume in Salzburg and took him to Landsberg Prison in Bavaria.

Blume was tried at the Einsatzgruppen Trial and accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and membership in three criminal organizations (SD, SD and Gestapo). The indictment specified his direct responsibility for the murder of 996 people between June and August 1941.

At his trial, the Tribunal expressed regret “that a person of such excellent moral qualities should have fallen under the influence of Adolf Hitler”.

On April 10, 1948, Blume was sentenced to death by hanging, but the execution was not carried out. In 1951, an amnesty hearing was held and his sentence was commuted to 25 years in prison. He did not serve his full sentence; he was released in 1955 after just 10 years of imprisonment (counting from when he was captured in Salzburg).

Life as a free man

By 1957, Blume had established himself as a businessman in the Ruh Valley. He remarried in 1958 and had six children, including two adopted ones.

Second trial

In 1968, Blume was arrested and tried by a state court in Bremen for charges related to the deporation of Jews in Greece. All charges were dropped on 29 January, 1971.

Death

Blume died in his hometown Dortmund on 13 November 1974, at the age of 68 years.

Finding the cache

In 1997, a cache was uncovered in the possesion of Albert Blume, a relative of Walter Blume who worked as a pawnbroker in Brazil. This cache contained identity documents and Gestapo promotions belonging to a Colonel Walter Blume, together with gold teeth, gold bars, rings and luxury watches – items valued to a total of roughly 4 million USD.