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Paul Blobel (beard grown in prison)[1]

Paul Blobel (August 13, 1894 – June 7, 1951) was a German Nazi war criminal, an SS-Standartenführer (Colonel) and a member of the SD. Born in the city of Potsdam, he participated in the First World War, where by all accounts he served well and was decorated with the Iron Cross first class. After the war, Blobel studied architecture and practiced this profession from 1924 until 1931, when upon losing his job, he joined the Nazi Party, the SA and the SS (he had joined all of these by 1 December 1931).[2]

During the German invasion of the Soviet Union, he commanded Sonderkommando 4a of Einsatzgruppe C that was active in Ukraine. Following Wehrmacht troops into Ukraine, the Einsatzgruppen would be responsible for liquidating political and racial undesirables. Blobel was primarily responsible for the Babi Yar massacre at Kiev.[3]

Owing to health reasons brought about mostly by his alcoholism, he was dismissed from his command on January 13, 1942.

In June 1942 he was put in charge of Aktion 1005, with the task of destroying the evidence of all Nazi atrocities in Eastern Europe. This entailed exhumation of mass graves, then incinerating the bodies. Blobel developed efficient disposal techniques such as alternating layers of bodies with firewood on a frame of iron rails.

Gitta Sereny relates a conversation about Blobel she once had with one-time Chief of the Church Information Branch at the Reich Security Office, Albert Hartl.

Hartl had told me of a summer evening—that same hot summer in 1942—in Kiev when he was invited to dine with the local Higher SS Police Chief and Brigadeführer, Max Thomas. A fellow guest, SS Colonel Paul Blobel, had driven him to the general's weekend dacha. 'At one moment—it was just getting dark,' said Hartl, 'we were driving past a long ravine. I noticed strange movements of the earth. Clumps of earth rose into the air as if by their own propulsion—and there was smoke; it was like a low-toned volcano; as if there was burning lava just beneath the earth. Blobel laughed, made a gesture with his arm pointing back along the road and ahead, all along the ravine—the ravine of Babi Yar—and said, 'Here lie my thirty-thousand Jews.'[4]

Paul Blobel at the start of the Einsatzgruppen Trial in September 1947

Up to 59,018 killings are attributable to Blobel, though during testimony he was alleged to have killed 10,000–15,000. He was later sentenced to death by the U.S. Nuremberg Military Tribunal in the Einsatzgruppen Trial. He was hanged at Landsberg Prison shortly after midnight on June 7, 1951.[5] His last words were "I die in the faith of my people. May the German people be aware of its enemies!".[6]

In fiction

  • Paul Blobel is described in Jonathan Littell's docudrama Les Bienveillantes.
  • Blobel was portrayed by T.P. McKenna in the miniseries docudrama Holocaust starring Meryl Streep.
  • Blobel was portrayed by Kenneth Colley in the miniseries War and Remembrance
  • Blobel makes a brief appearance on the site of the Katyn Wood massacre when the Germans dug up the bodies in 1943, in Philip Kerr's novel A Man Without Breath.


  1. "SS-Standartenfüher Paul Blobel". SS individuals - B. Axis History Factbook: Gallery. 10 Jul 2004. Retrieved February 22, 2013. 
  2. Zentner, Christian Ed; Bedürftig, Friedemann Ed (1991). The Encyclopedia of the Third Reich. New York: Macmillan. pp. 1150. ISBN 0-02-897502-2. 
  3. 1941: Mass Murder The Holocaust Chronicle. p. 270
  4. Sereny, Gitta (1974). Into That Darkness: From Mercy Killing to Mass Murder (2005 paperback ed.). London: Pimlico. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-7126-7447-8.  Sereny also mentions the story in her 1995 biography of Albert Speer: Sereny, Gitta. Albert Speer: His Battle With Truth (1996 paperback ed.). London: Picador. p. 272. ISBN 978-0-330-34697-9. 
  5. "Five death sentences were confirmed: the sentence against Oswald Pohl, as well as those passed against the leaders of the Mobile Killing Units, Paul Blobel, Werner Braune, Erich Neumann, and Otto Ohrlendorf. . . . In the early morning hours of 7 June, the [] Nazi criminals were hanged in the Landesburg prison courtyard." Norbert Frei, Adenauer's Germany and the Nazi Past: The Politics of Amnesty and Integration. Columbia University Press, 2002. p. 165 and p. 173
  6. "Germany: Case Closed". Time. June 18, 1951.,9171,814963,00.html. 

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