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Heinrich Barbl (born March 3, 1900, Sarleinsbach, Austria; date of death unknown, not before 1965) was an Austrian-born SS-Rottenführer. He participated in the T-4 euthanasia program and later Operation Reinhard.

Early career

Barbl was a tinsmith and plumber, employed at the nitrogen works in Linz as a gas and waterpipe fitter.[1] He joined the Nazi party and the SS after the Anschluss. He was posted to Hartheim during its construction as part of the T-4 Euthanasia Program, and also Grafeneck Euthanasia Centre. At both of these institutions he was a Stanzer, stamping sheet metal with names to form nameplates. He would then attach these to urns which he would fill up with ashes. These were then sent to victims' relatives who received a correctly named urn, but invariably with the wrong contents, as he filled them up indistinctively with ashes collected indiscriminately from the adjacent crematorium.[2]

Operation Reinhard

In 1942 Barbl was posted to Belzec extermination camp. Barbl was often drunk on duty, and not a particularly intelligent man (perhaps explaining his low rank): a basis on which he was frequently made fun of by his SS colleagues. Commandant and SS-Hauptsturmführer Gottlieb Hering refused to allow him to participate in the execution of sick and elderly arrivals because, ”he is so daft that he would shoot us, not the Jews", and consequently he was the only person to be excused from this duty. However, no one was certain whether Barbl was genuinely stupid, or if he was merely acting a fool just to avoid more demanding tasks.[3]

Barbl was not exempt from punishment. He was frequently whipped by Christian Wirth for his drunken behavior,[4] and for an unknown reason in the winter of 1942–1943, Hering had him imprisoned in a concrete bunker for several days, without food or water.[3] While not being known for any acts of cruelty, Barbl was sent to Sobibor extermination camp by Wirth, using his plumbing skills to help fit the piping for the gas chambers.[4] Barbl boasted that he had made the gas chambers look like neat shower rooms.[5]

Later years

After the war Barbl was interrogated by Austrian police but was never put on trial.[6] He was accused in the Sobibor Trial in Hagen on September 6, 1965. No further details are known of his fate.[3]


  1. Gordon J. Horwitz, In the Shadow of Death: Living Outside the Gates of Mauthausen, p. 69, Maxwell Macmillan International, 1990
  2. Henry Friedlander, The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution, p. 234, UNC Press, 1995, Google Books
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Belzec: Stepping Stone to Genocide - Chapter 6
  4. 4.0 4.1 Belzec: Stepping Stone to Genocide — Chapter 8
  5. Sobibor Interviews: Biographies of SS-men
  6. de Mildt, Dick, In the Name of the People: Perpetrators of Genocide in the Reflection of Their Post-War Prosecution in West Germany. The "Euthanasia" and "Aktion Reinhard" Trial Cases, p. 394, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1996, Google Books

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