Werner Braune

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Karl Rudolf Werner Braune
Braune Werner.jpg
Born 11 April 1909
Mehrstedt, Thuringia, German Empire
Died 7 June 1951 (aged 42)[1]
Landsberg Prison, Landsberg am Lech, West Germany
Occupation Nazi official
Criminal penalty Death by hanging
Spouse(s) Margot Braune[2]
Conviction(s) Crimes against humanity

Karl Rudolf Werner Braune[3] (11 April 1909 in Mehrstedt, Thuringia − 7 June 1951 in Landsberg Prison, Landsberg am Lech, Bavaria) was a German member of the Nazi police and military organization known as the Schutzstaffel, or, more commonly, by its German initials, SS. He held the rank of Obersturmbannführer. During the course of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, which began on 22 June 1941, Braune was the commander of Special Detachment (German: Sonderkommando or Einsatzkommando) 11b, which was in turn part of a Special Purpose Unit D. This unit, and three others similarly organized, have since come to be known by their German name of Einsatzgruppen. As commander of Special Detachment 11b, Braune organized and conducted mass murders of Jews in German-occupied areas of southern Ukraine and in the Crimea. For his role in these crimes, Braune was tried before the Nuremberg Military Tribunal in 1948 in the Einsatzgruppen trial. He was sentenced to death, and in 1951 was executed by hanging.


Early life

Braune attended a type of German school known as a Gymnasium and graduated in 1929 with a prestigious diploma known as an abitur.[4] He then studied jurisprudence at the universities of Jena, Bonn, and Munich. He graduated in 1933 with a degree in civil law from the University of Jena.[5] On July 1, 1931, at the age of 22, and while still a student, Braune joined the Nazi party and was assigned membership number 581,277.[6]

Nazi career

In November 1931, Braune became a member of the Nazi paramilitary organization known as the Sturmabteilung, sometimes called "stormtroopers" in English, and which is generally referred to by its German initials of SA. In November 1934, he joined the SS and was assigned membership number 107,364. At the same time in 1934 Braune began working at the German police organization called the Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst), known by its German initials as the SD. In 1936, Braune was also working for another police organization, the Gestapo.[7] In 1938 he became acting Gestapo leader in Münster. In 1940, he became a Gestapo boss, first in Koblenz, next in the state police office in Wesermünde and then, in May 1941, in Halle.[8]

Einsatzgruppe commander

From October 1941 to the beginning of September 1942, Braune was the commander of Special Detachment 11b, part of Einsatzgruppen D, which was under the command of Otto Ohlendorf, who later would be executed as a war criminal. Werner Braune's younger brother Fritz Braune (18 July 1910- after 1973) was the commander of Special Detachment 4b. Under the command of Werner Braune, Special Detachment 11b carried out the massacre of Simferopol, in the Crimea, where in the course of the three days from 11 to 13 December 1941 they murdered 14,300 Jews. In September 1942 Braune returned to Halle. In 1943 he was promoted to the rank of SS Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel). From 1943 through 1944, he was the leader of the German Foreign Service Academy, until, in 1945, he was sent to Norway as the commander of the Security Police ("Sicherheitspolizei" or SiPO) and SD.[8]

War crimes trial

Werner Braune, 1 March 1948, mugshot for Nuremberg Military Tribunal.

Following the war, Braune was indicted as a war criminal in the Einsatzgruppen trial that was held before the Nuremberg Military Tribunal. Braune's only defense was that he was acting under superior orders, sometimes referred to as the "Nuremberg defense". This was rejected by the court:

In October 1941 he was assigned to Einsatzkommando 11b. As chief of this unit Braune knew of the Fuehrer Order and executed it to the hilt. His defense is the general one of superior orders which avails Braune no more than it does anyone else who executes a criminal order with the zeal that Braune brought to the Fuehrer Order. Various reports implicate Braune and his Kommando in the sordid business of illegal killings.

The Tribunal has already spoken of the Christmas massacre of Simferopol. Braune was the Kommando leader in charge of this operation. He has admitted responsibility for this murder in unequivocal language.[9]

On 10 April 1948 Braune was sentenced to death and shortly after midnight on 7 June 1951 he was executed by hanging at the Landsberg war criminals prison.[1] Also hanged on 7 June 1951 at Landsberg prison were six other Nazi war criminals including Otto Ohlendorf, Erich Naumann, Paul Blobel and Oswald Pohl.[1][2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Five death sentences were confirmed: the sentence against Oswald Pohl, as well as those passed against the leaders of the Mobile Killing Units, Paul Blobel, Werner Braune, Erich Neumann, and Otto Ohrlendorf. . . . In the early morning hours of 7 June, the [] Nazi criminals were hanged in the Landesburg prison courtyard." Norbert Frei, Adenauer's Germany and the Nazi Past: The Politics of Amnesty and Integration. Columbia University Press, 2002. p. 165 and p. 173
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Mr. Brit ist eingetroffen". Der Spiegel. 13 (24): 12. June 1951.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Trials of war criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals under Control Council law no. 10, Volume 4 (PDF). Nuremberg: United States Government Printing Office. p. 214.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Earl: The Nuremberg SS-Einsatzgruppen Trial, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2009, page 121 - "Table 3 - Education of the Defendants".
  5. Braune, Werner, Gibt es eine Zwangsvollstreckung aus Verurteilungen zur Abgabe einer Willenserklärung?. Osnabrück 1934. (Dissertationsschrift von 1932 an der Universität Jena.)
  6. Earl: The Nuremberg SS-Einsatzgruppen Trial. Cambridge 2009, S. 126 - "Table 4 - Joining Date of Defendants", page 126.
  7. Earl: The Nuremberg SS-Einsatzgruppen Trial. Cambridge 2009, page 129, - "Table 5 - Joining Date of the SA, SS, SD and Gestapo".
  8. 8.0 8.1 Klee, Ernst, Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Zweite aktualisierte Auflage, Frankfurt am Main 2005, page 72.
  9. Nuremberg Military Tribunal, United States of America vs. Otto Ohlendorf, et. al. ("Einsatzgruppen trial"), Judgment, at pages 545-47.


  • Hilary Earl: The Nuremberg SS-Einsatzgruppen Trial, 1945–1958: Atrocity, Law, and History. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2009, ISBN 978-0-521-45608-1.
  • Norbert Frei: Vergangenheitspolitik: die Anfänge der Bundesrepublik und die NS-Vergangenheit. Beck, München 1996, ISBN 3-406-41310-2.
  • Ernst Klee: Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007. ISBN 978-3-596-16048-8. (Aktualisierte 2. Auflage)
  • Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10, Vol. 4: United States of America vs. Otto Ohlendorf, et al. (Case 9: „Einsatzgruppen Case“). US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia 1950. In: „National Archives Microfilm Publications“, NM Series 1874-1946, Microfilm Publication M936. National Archives and Record Service, Washington 1973. (Auszüge aus der Urteilsbegründung zu Werner Braune: S. 545547.)