Carl Oberg (27 January 1897 – 3 June 1965) was a German SS functionary during the Nazi era. He served as the head of the SS and police (HSSPF) in occupied France during the Second World War and came to be known as the Butcher of Paris. Oberg deported over 40,000 Jews from France and had hundreds of hostages executed. Arrested by the Americans in the Tyrol in July 1945, he was twice sentenced to death by two different courts. However, in 1958 the death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and later reduced to 20 years hard labour. Oberg was eventually pardoned and released on 28 November 1962.
Oberg was born in Hamburg on 27 January 1897, the son of a physician. In August 1914, he enlisted in the army and was assigned to the artillery, serving as battery officer. In November 1915, he was commissioned as a Leutnant fighting on the Western Front and was awarded the Iron Cross in both classes. He worked in manufacturing as a branch manager after the war until he was laid off in 1930.
Karl Oberg, centre, with French Prime Minister Pierre Laval
and SS-Sturmbannführer Herbert Hagen
, German Police Headquarters in Paris, 1 May 1943
He joined the Nazi Party on 1 April 1931 and the SS on 7 April 1932. After meeting Reinhard Heydrich in May 1933, he asked Heydrich for a job and joined the Sicherheitsdienst (SD). Oberg was later promoted to an SS-Oberführer and made the police administrator for Hanover. He served in that capacity from September 1938 until January 1939. Oberg then served as Police President of Zwickau until late 1941. He served as SS-und Polizeiführer (SS and Police Leader - SSPF), "Radom" from August 1941 to May 1942. Oberg was promoted to SS-Brigadeführer on 20 April 1942.
From 5 May 1942 to 28 November 1944, Oberg served as Higher SS and Police Leader (Höherer SS-und Polizeiführer, HSSPF) "Frankreich" (France) over all German police forces in France, including the SD and the Gestapo. He was the supreme authority in France for managing anti-Jewish policy and the battle against the French Resistance. In 1942, shortly after his arrival, he issued the Jewish badge decree for identification, supported the roundup of 13,152 Jews in the Paris Vélodrome d'Hiver (Vel' d'Hiv Roundup), and ordered mass execution of hostages in retribution for acts of the French resistance. By that time he had been condemned as the "Butcher of Paris". On Heydrich's orders, Oberg deported over 40,000 Jews from the country with the assistance of the Vichy France police force headed by René Bousquet.
On 18 January 1943, Himmler demanded a cleansing of Marseilles with 100,000 arrests and explosive demolition of the city's crime district. Working with the French police, Oberg supervised a lesser response of 6,000 arrests, 20,000 people displaced, and partial destruction of the harbour area. In 1944, Oberg blocked an attempt to establish an Einsatzkommando of the Waffen-SS in France. on On 10 March 1945 he became a General der Waffen-SS.
Post-war trial, sentence, and reprieve
Oberg was captured in June, 1945 in the mountains near Kitzbuhel by the US military, he was disguised as a private in the Austrian Army. He was sentenced to death by a British court before receiving another death sentence from the French in October 1954. On 10 April 1958, the sentence was commuted to life by French President Vincent Auriol, his successor René Coty then reduced it further to 20 years hard labor in 1959. On 20 November 1962, Oberg was finally pardoned by President Charles de Gaulle and set free on 28 November 1962.[a]
Oberg then was repatriated to Flensburg, in the north of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, at the time, according to Die Zeit, a stronghold of former Nazis and SS cadres.
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- "Sparing the Butcher's Life". Time. 5 May 1958. Archived from the original on December 26, 2009. Retrieved 17 September 2011.
- "Flensburg comrades". Zeit Online (in German).
- Fox, John P. (1996). "How far did Vichy France 'sabotage' the imperatives of Wannsee?". In Cesarani, David (ed.). The Final Solution - Origins and Implementation. Routledge. p. 198. ISBN 0415152321.
- Mitchell, Allan (2013). Nazi Paris: The History of an Occupation, 1940-1944. Berghahn Books. p. 159.
- "Quand la France graciait deux SS de haut rang". L'Obs (in French). 2015-08-05.