Military Wiki
Burton C. Andrus
Burton C. Andrus in Nurnberg
Born (1892-04-15)April 15, 1892
Died February 1, 1977(1977-02-01) (aged 84)
Place of birth Fort Spokane, Washington
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Department of the Army Seal.svg United States Army
Years of service 1917–1952
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Commands held Commandant of the Nuremberg Prison
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Legion of Merit

Colonel Burton C. Andrus (April 15, 1892 - February 1, 1977) was a career U.S. Army Officer who served from 1917 through 1952. He was an armor officer for most of his career and his most noted assignment was as the Commandant of the Nuremberg Prison which housed the accused during the Nuremberg Trials after World War II.


Burton Curtis Andrus was born in Fort Spokane, Washington on 15 April 1892 to Hermine (née Hill) and Major Frank B. Andrus, a United States Military Academy graduate, Class of 1881, who participated in the Philippine–American War in the Philippine Islands. He attended Buffalo University in 1914 and married Katherine Elizabeth Stebbins on 12 April 1916. He worked for the Standard Oil Company of New York from 1910 until he was called to active duty through the Officer Reserve Corps (ORC) in 1917.

World War I through 1930s

Burton C. Andrus was a 1st Lieutenant in the Officer Reserve Corps when World War I began. On 25 October 1917, he was accepted in the Regular Army at Madison Barracks, New York, with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. He was transferred to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia and commanded Troop F, 11th Cavalry. On 20 March 1918, was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, Cavalry and in July 1919 he was promoted to captain and sent to the Presidio of Monterey, California where he performed in various duties such as Prison and Intelligence Officer. On 1 January 1924, he was sent to the Philippine Islands in Command of Troop A, 26th Cavalry. In July 1926, he returned to the United States as a student at the United States Army Cavalry School, Fort Riley, Kansas. In 1927, he was the Adjutant of the United States Army Cavalry School and in the 1928 school year he was a student of the Air Corps Tactical School. After completing his studies he was assigned as an Air Corps Instructor at the United States Army Cavalry School concurrent with assignments as Liaison Officer to the 16th Observation Squadron and Officer in Charge of Air Corps Observation Course.

In 1933, Andrus commanded a Civilian Conservation Corps Camp in Oregon and on 1 January 1934 he was assigned as Plans and Training Officer, 13th Cavalry until July 1934. Andrus was promoted to Major on 1 August 1935 with the 7th Cavalry Brigade and then served with the 1st Armored Regiment.

1940s and World War II

On 1 January 1940, Major Andrus was transferred to the Pennsylvania National Guard Bureau in Tyrone, Pennsylvania and in July 1940 was transferred to Washington D.C. On 18 August 1940, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) and placed in charge of air-ground cooperation. On 1 November 1940, he was assigned to be an instructor at the Armored Forces School. In September 1941, LTC Andrus was sent to Great Britain to study its air-ground operations. He observed Royal Air Force maneuvers and installations and returned to the United States in December. He then served as a board member at the United States Army Infantry School to develop and implement a cohesive air-ground cooperation, and aerial recognition and identification programs.

On 13 January 1942, LTC Andrus was assigned to the 2nd Armored Division as G-3, Air and then as a Tank Commander. He was promoted to Colonel (COL) on 6 June 1942. On 10 October 1942, COL Andrus was transferred to Caven Point Terminal, New Jersey as Commandant and on 1 January 1943 to Brooklyn Army Base as the Officer in Charge of the Control Branch. After one week, on 8 January 1943, Andrus was reassigned as the Executive Officer at Fort Hamilton, New York. He held this position until 28 August 1943, when he was reassigned to be Director of Intelligence, Security Division, New York Port of Embarkation. Transferring to Europe, Andrus was assigned on 27 January 1944, as Commanding Officer of the 10th Traffic Regulation Group (TRG). While assigned to the 10th TRG he was on detached duty as Liaison Officer with the 21st Army Group (British) from 22 August through 10 December 1944.

On 26 December 1944, he was reassigned to the G-3 (Operations) Branch, Headquarters, European Theater of Operations as a Combat Observer. He remained a Combat Observer until the war in Europe was over.


On 20 May 1945, Andrus was assigned as Commandant, Prisoner of War Enclosure #32 in Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg. The camp, codenamed “Ashcan”, was an interrogation center for the most senior Nazi war criminals. On 12 August 1945, the prisoners were moved to a new prison in Nuremberg, Germany. The Nuremberg prison was adjacent to the courts where the Nuremberg Trials were held. The security detachment at the prison, with COL Andrus as commandant, was established as the 6850th Internal Security Detachment (ISD), under the International Military Tribunal, United States Forces, European Theater (USFET).

Colonel Andrus was a strict disciplinarian who made no distinction between those Nazi leaders who were military or civilian, treating them all as war criminals. Andrus was instantly visible in his immaculate uniform and shellacked helmet and swagger stick. Albert Speer commented (in his book Inside the Third Reich) that Andrus cordially greeted him when he arrived at Nuremberg Prison and also briefly mouthed an apology for having to maintain strict discipline.

He spent long hours with his staff planning every last detail of the Nazi prisoners' life. After the suicide of Dr. Robert Ley, Andrus arranged anti-suicide cells in which even the tables were designed to collapse under a man's weight. He posted 24-hour guards before each cell and insisted that the prisoners sleep with hands outside the blankets. He required prisoners to take exercise periods during which their cells were searched. He had designed interview booths in which prisoners and visitors could converse with one another without being able to touch hands. However, this system was not foolproof as Hermann Göring managed to commit suicide two hours before his scheduled execution. Andrus always felt cheated by this action of Göring's.

Andrus did not witness the executions himself, as he felt that he had spent too much time with the prisoners to watch them die.

On 31 October 1946, due to the health of his wife, Andrus returned to the United States and was reassigned to Headquarters, Military District of Washington and then as Executive Officer of 2559th Army Service Unit. He then attended the Strategic Intelligence School, graduating in 1948. He was assigned as Military Attaché to Israel for the rest of 1948 through 1949. He returned to Washington, D.C. and was reassigned as the Military Attaché to Brazil on 16 December 1949. Andrus returned to the United States in April 1952 and was officially retired from the U.S. Army on 30 April 1952.

Post military

After retiring from the Army, he lived in Tacoma, Washington. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and was asked to remain at the College of Puget Sound as a professor. He was active in the Boy Scouts of America and as a lay preacher for a local church. He died on 1 February 1977.

Professor of Geography and Business Administration at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.[1]

Portrayal in popular culture

Burton C. Andrus has been portrayed by the following actors in film, television and theater productions;[2]

  • Michael Ironside in the 2000 Canadian/U.S. T.V. production Nuremberg
  • Des McAleer in the 2006 British television production Nuremberg: Goering's Last Stand
  • Anthony Valentine in the 2006 British television docudrama Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial


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