Franz Josef Huber (22 January 1902 – 30 January 1975) was an SS functionary who was a police and security service official in both the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany. Huber joined the Nazi Party in 1937 and worked closely with Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller. After the German annexation of Austria in 1938, Huber was posted to Vienna, where he was appointed chief of the Security Police (SiPo) and Gestapo for Vienna, the "Lower Danube" and "Upper Danube" regions. He was responsible for mass deportations of Jews from the area. After the war ended, Huber never served any prison time. He was employed by the West German Federal Intelligence Service from 1955–64. He died in Munich in 1975.
Huber was born on 22 January 1902 in Munich. He attended school through "seven classes of gymnasium". In his last year of school, Huber served as a Zeitfreiwilligen (timed volunteer) which were reserve units that could be mobilized on short notice by the army. In mid-1922 he entered the Munich police service and by 1923 was a "auxiliary assistant". Huber was promoted to "office assistant" and by 1926 joined the political police department. In January 1928, Huber was made a "police assistant" and later a police inspector. During the years of the Weimar Republic he worked with Heinrich Müller, then chief of the political department of the Munich police. Huber was involved in the suppression of the Nazi Party, communist, and other political groups.
In 1933, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, became chief of the Munich Police and Reinhard Heydrich was commander of Department IV, the Bavarian Political Police. Heydrich did not dismiss Huber, Müller or Josef Albert Meisinger as he perceived correctly that these men were thorough professionals and Heydrich needed such men in the national police service. Heydrich was appointed chief of the Gestapo on 22 April 1934. Immediately thereafter, Heydrich transferred to the Berlin office of the Gestapo, and took with him: Müller, Meisinger and Huber, referred to as the Bajuwaren-Brigade (Bavarian Brigade). Thereafter, in 1937 Huber joined the Nazi Party as member number: 4,583,151 and joined the SS with number 107,099.
In early 1938 Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring and Himmler wanted to dispose of Field Marshal Werner von Blomberg, a conservative member of the army's high command and Hitler's Minister of War. Meisinger's investigation revealed that Blomberg's wife, Erna Gruhn had been a prostitute with a police record and once posed for pornographic photos. Blomberg was forced to resign.
In 1936 Meisinger uncovered allegations of homosexuality made against the Commander-in-Chief of the Army Colonel General Werner von Fritsch. A file was prepared and Heydrich passed the information on to Hitler. Hitler chose to dismiss the allegations and ordered Heydrich to destroy the file. However, he did not do so. In late January 1938, Göring wanted to dispose of von Fritsch as he did not want Fritsch to become the successor to Blomberg and thus his superior. Heydrich resurrected the old file on Fritsch. Meisinger at the time was in charge of Bekämpfung der Homosexualität und der Abtreibung ("Campaign against Homosexuality and Abortion") Huber and Meisinger led the investigation against Fritsch. At one point Huber and Meisinger interrogated Otto Schmidt, a notorious criminal whose Berlin gang had specialized in blackmail of homosexuals. Schmidt identified Fritsch as a homosexual. Heydrich resubmitted the updated von Fritsch file to Hitler. It was eventually determined that von Fritsch had been confused with a Rittmeister von Frisch. The accusations against Fritsch broke down and Schmidt's record was revealed. Hitler, in the end, had Fritsch transferred but there was a fallout from the investigation. Meisinger's career in the Gestapo was almost terminated and Huber was transferred to Vienna in 1938. Huber did remain good friends with Heinrich Müller who was appointed Gestapo chief on 27 September 1939.
1939 photo: Shown left to right are Huber
planning the investigation of the Bürgerbräukeller
assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler.
The Elser investigation
Johann Georg Elser, a German craftsman from Königsbronn, chose the anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch in 1939, to kill Hitler with a bomb during his speech inside the Bürgerbräukeller. Elser hollowed out the pillar behind the speaker's rostrum, and placed the bomb inside it. On 8 November 1939, the bomb exploded at 21:20, but Hitler had already left the room thirteen minutes earlier. Elser was arrested when he tried to cross into Switzerland. Elser was transferred to Munich, where he was interrogated by the Gestapo. After his confession to the crime, Elser was taken to the Berlin headquarters of the Gestapo, where he was tortured. Himmler wanted an in-depth investigation of the matter as he was unconvinced Elser acted alone. Huber was put in charge of the investigation and reported on it to Müller. Himmler was convinced two known British SIS agents were involved in the attempt to assassinate Hitler at the Bürgerbräukeller. British SIS agents, Captain Sigismund Payne Best and Major Richard Henry Stevens were captured in what became known as the Venlo Incident. However, Huber's investigation found that neither SIS agent was involved.
In March 1938, after the annexation of Austria into the German Reich, Huber was appointed head of the State Police. This appointment made him chief of the SiPo, Gestapo and SD for Vienna, the "Lower Danube", and "Upper Danube" regions. He worked out of the Hotel Metropole which was transformed into Gestapo headquarters in Vienna in April 1938. With a staff of 900 (80 per cent of whom were recruited from the Austrian police), it was the largest Gestapo office outside of Berlin. An estimated 50,000 people were interrogated or tortured there. Huber was also the formal chief of the Central Agency for Jewish Emigration in Vienna, and although the de facto leaders were Adolf Eichmann and later Alois Brunner, was nevertheless responsible for the mass deportations of Jews. In addition, Huber was political adviser to the Gauleiter Baldur von Schirach and his representative as Defense of the Reich Commissioner for the Military District XVII. As a border inspector of the military districts XVII and XVIII, he was responsible for controlling the borders with Slovakia, with Hungary, Yugoslavia, Italy and Switzerland. In late autumn 1944, Huber was promoted by Ernst Kaltenbrunner to be the Commander of the SiPo and SD in the Military District XVII. Huber was a recipient of the War Merit Cross Second Class and First Class with swords. During the war, upwards of 70,000 Austrian Jews were murdered, almost 40% of the pre-war community.
By war's end, Huber was arrested. After a trial in 1949, he did not serve any time in prison, and returned to his home town. The US Central Intelligence Agency's shielding of Huber was part of a larger U.S. program that recruited at least a thousand Nazi spies and concealed their Nazi past for decades even, in many cases, from the U.S. Department of Justice. He was employed by the West German Federal Intelligence Service from 1955–64, and attempts by various survivor groups and the Austrian government to have him prosecuted for his wartime activities were blocked by the US occupation and intelligence authorities. He retired in 1967, receiving a civil service pension.
- Ailsby, Christopher (1997). SS: Roll of Infamy. Motorbooks Intl. ISBN 0760304092.
- Anderson, Christopher (1 November 2011). "Crossing the Painful Threshold of Memory". The Vienna Review. Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
- Aronson, Shlomo (1969). The Beginnings of the Gestapo System. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 978-0878552030.
- Bergman, Ronen (6 April 2021). "He Led Hitler's Secret Police in Austria. Then He Spied for the West". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
- Deutsch, Harold Charles (1974). Hitler and His Generals: The Hidden Crisis, January–June 1938. U of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0816606498.
- Flaherty, T. H. (2004) . Time-Life (ed.). The Third Reich: The SS. Time-Life Books, Inc. ISBN 1-84447-073-3.
- Gerwarth, Robert (2011). Hitler's Hangman: The Life of Heydrich. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-11575-8.
- Housden, Martyn (1997). Resistance and Conformity in the Third Reich. Routledge. ISBN 978-0415121347.
- Hutter, Jörg (1996). "Die Rolle der Polizei bei der Schwulen- und Lesbenverfolgung im Nationalsozialismus". In Dobler, Jens (ed.). Schwule, Lesben, Polizei. Berlin: Verlag rosa Winkel.
- Janssen, Karl-Heinz; Tobias, Fritz (1994). Der Sturz der Generale: Hitler und die Blomberg-Fritsch-Krise 1938 (in German). Munich. ISBN 978-3406381096.
- Lichtblau, Eric (27 October 2014). "In Cold War, U.S. Spy Agencies Used 1,000 Nazis". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
- Longerich, Peter (2012). Heinrich Himmler: A Life. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-199-59232-6.