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German Military Ranks and definitions
Führer: Adolf Hitler, the leader of the German Reich (Empire).
Hauptsturmführer: the SS equivalent of a captain.
Kapo: a privileged prisoner who served as a barracks supervisor or led work details in a Nazi concentration camp.
Lagerführer: SS officer responsible for discipline in the camp.
Lagerkommandant: the head of a particular concentration camp, in Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss, (1940-43/44), Arthur Liebehenschel, (1943-1944) and Richard Baer, (1944-1945).
Obersturmführer: the equivalent of a 1st Lieutenant in the US army.
Rapportführer: a mid level officer, specific to the concentration camp system, whose job was to oversee the officers below them who had more direct contact with the prisoners.
Reich: the German Empire, specifically the Third Reich, which existed under the Nazis from 1933-1945.
Reichsführer: Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the SS and Hitler’s second in command.
Sonderkommandos: work units of Nazi concentration camp prisoners, composed almost entirely of Jews, forced under threat of death to aid with the disposal of victims of the gas chambers.
SS: an elite military unit of the Nazi party, which, after being founded as a guard for the Nazi party itself, grew into an army of more than a million highly trained soldiers. The SS were solely responsible for the guarding of the concentration camps.
Standartenführer: the equivalent of a colonel in the US army.
Sturrmann: a storm trooper, the equivalent of a regular enlisted soldier.
Untersturmführer: the equivalent of a 2nd lieutenant in the US army.
Wehrmacht: the regular German armed forces, not involved in the running of the concentration camps.
Auschwitz-Birkenau, September 1943
The car came to a halt and the driver stepped out to open the door for Rapportführer Friedrich. Christopher climbed out of the car after him. “This is where you will be doing the majority of your work.” Friedrich said. The car had pulled up outside a row of about thirty warehouses in three rows, each about forty feet wide and two hundred feet long. Friedrich took the ledger out from under his arm and lifted a piece of paper on top, looking underneath. “I see you’ve been selected for this position as a result of your background in accounting.” Christopher nodded. The barbed wire stood taut at the end of the rows of warehouses and behind. “I’m glad to see we have a professional man here to help out. I was a lawyer back in Frankfurt before the war myself.” Christopher nodded once more, waiting for Friedrich to speak again. “It says here you came from the occupied territories, but you’re a German.”
“Yes, I was living in Jersey before it was liberated by the German forces.”
“A blessed day I’m sure.” Friedrich smiled, dropping the piece of paper back down onto the ledger, which he handed to his driver. “As an SS officer, I’m sure you’re more than aware of the importance of the job we have here.”
“Of course, Herr Rapportführer.”