Richard Heinrich Glücks

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Richard Glücks
Birth name Richard Heinrich Glücks
Birth date 22 April 1889(1889-04-22)
Place of birth Odenkirchen, Landkreis Gladbach, Rhine Province, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Death date 10 May 1945 (aged 56)
Place of death Marinelazarett Flensburg-Mürwik, Allied-occupied Germany
Allegiance  German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 National Socialist Germany
Service/branch War and service flag of Prussia (1895–1918).png Prussian Army
Iron Cross of the Luftstreitkräfte.png Imperial German Army
Freikorps Flag.jpg Freikorps
War Ensign of Germany (1921–1933).png Reichswehr
Flag Schutzstaffel.png Waffen-SS
Rank SS-Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS
Unit Image-File SS Division Totenkopf.png SS-Totenkopfverbände
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Iron Cross
War Merit Cross
German Cross in Silver
Relations ∞ 1935 Aloysia “Alice” Klages
Other work Merchant

Richard Heinrich Glücks (22 April 1889 – 10 May 1945) was a German NCO of the Prussian Army as well as officer of the Imperial German Army, the Freikorps, the Reichswehr and the SS, at last SS-Gruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS in WWII.

Life (chronology)

SS-Oberführer Richard Glücks.jpg
SS-Brigadefuhrer Richard Glücks, Inspector of Concentration Camps, stands carrying a briefcase with other SS men on an official visit to Groß-Rosen in 1943 II.jpg
SS-Brigadefuhrer Richard Glücks, Inspector of Concentration Camps, stands carrying a briefcase with other SS men on an official visit to Groß-Rosen in 1943.jpg
Glücks, Richard I.jpg
Glücks, Richard II.jpg
Richard Glücks' grave stone (Friedhof Friedenshügel in Flensburg) shows, for some unknown reason, the wrong birth year (1888).
  • Attended Volksschule (elementary school) in Düsseldorf
  • Attended the Städtisches Gymnasium in Düsseldorf (graduated Obersekunda and passed his Abitur)
  • 1907 – 00.00.1909 Apprenticeship in his parents’ fire insurance firm “Hanseatische Feuer-Versicherungs-Gesellschaft”
  • 1.10.1909 to 30.9.1910 One-year volunteer (Einjährig-Freiwilliger) in the Clevesches Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 43 in Wesel
  • 1.10.1910 to 1913 Employed by his parents’ insurance company, working as Geschäftsführer (business manager) of its Leipzig and Berlin branches.
    • He also attended the Handelshochschule (business school) in Leipzig during this period.
  • 1913 In England for language studies (approximately six months)
  • April 1914 Salesman in Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • 20.11.1914 Bearing false Swiss papers, signed on aboard a Norwegian ship as a seaman and returned to Germany via England.
  • January 1915 Entered Imperial German Army as Kriegsfreiwilliger (war volunteer), assigned for training to Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 43.
  • 4.2.1915 to February 1916 Entered frontline service, assigned to the Ballon-Abwehr-Kanonen-Zug (Balloon Defense Gun Platoon)
    • The Balloon Defense Gun Platoons, forerunner of the anti-aircraft weapon or Flak, are a rarely described piece of military history and grew out of field artillery. The platoons were initially used against tethered balloons and airships and, with the increasing number of aircraft, also against these.
  • February 1916 to September 1916 Assigned to Reserve-Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 13, with which he saw action at Verdun.
  • September 1916 to 4 December 1918 Assigned successively as Geschützführer (artillery piece commander), Zugführer (platoon leader), Beobachtungs-Offizier (artillery observation officer; after he was commissioned on 29 November 1917), Ordonnanzoffizier (orderly officer), and Batterie-Offizier (battery officer) in the Feldartillerie-Regiment Nr. 280 (223. Infanterie-Division.). He saw action on the Aisne, at Verdun, in the Somme battles, and in Galicia during this period.
  • 5.12.1918 to 14.1.1919 Granted leave
  • 15.1.1919 to 10.12.1919 Führer (commander) of a Motorbatteriezug (motorized artillery battery platoon) attached to staff of the Artilleriekommandeur of the Westfälisches Freikorps „Lichtschlag“ under Otto Lichtschlag, older brother of Walter Lichtschlag, in the Ruhrgebiet.
  • 10.12.1919 to 6.3.1920 Assigned to the Reichswehr Feldartillerie-Regiment 6
  • 8.3.1920 to 1924 Liaison Officer to the Inter-Allied Disarmament Control Commission (some sources state, as of this point, a civilian employee of the Reichswehrministerium)
  • 1924 to 31.7.1926 Verbindungsoffizier (Liaison Officer) and IIb (2nd Adjutant) to the Heeres-Friedenskommission (Army Peace Commission) working together with the Military Inter-Allied Commission of Control.
  • 1925 to 31.7.1926 Grenzschutz (border protection) duties with Staff/6. Preußische Division
  • 31.7.1926 Discharged from Reichswehr service (if indeed he was a member of the Reichswehr, which is controversial)
  • 1.8.1926 to December 1931 After discharge from active Reichswehr service, involved with Grenzschutz (border security) affairs and worked as owner / operator of a small caliber shooting sports business. This enterprise ultimately failed due to lack of funds.
  • 1927 Member of the Stahlhelm-Bund (for 3 months).
  • 1.3.1930 Joined the NSDAP (NSDAP-Nr.: 214,805)
  • 16.11.1932 Joined the SS rune.png (SS-Nr.: 58,706), assigned to 25. SS-Standarte in Essen
  • 4.1.1933 to 18.6.1933 Provisional adjutant (m.d.W.d.G.b.) of I. Sturmbann/25. SS-Standarte
  • 19.6.1933 to 26.7.1933 Personalreferent (human resources officer) assigned to the Staff/SS-Gruppe “West”
  • 6.9.1933 to 20.6.1935 Chief of Staff (delegated until 4.4.1934, then permanent) of SS-Gruppe “West” (redesignated SS-Oberabschnitt “West” on 16.11.1933). Succeeded Helmut Wähmann.
  • 20.6.1935 to 1.4.1936 Delegated with the leadership (m.d.F.b.) of the 77. SS-Standarte in Schneidemühl.Preceeded by Horst Felcher. Succeeded by Simon Fuss.
  • 1.04.1936 – 18.11.1939 Stabsführer to the “Inspekteur der Konzentrationslager” and to the SS-Totenkopf-Verbände (under Theodor Eicke). Succeeded Günther Tamaschke.
    • Highly regarded by Theodor Eicke who gave him an excellent achievement report on 3 August 1937
  • 1.12.1937] to 1945 Member of the Lebensborn Society
  • 18.11.1939 to 15.8.1940 “Inspekteur der Konzentrationslager” (I.d.K.L. / Inspector of Concentration Camps; with effect from 15.11.1939) and Standortältester (Senior Garrison Officer) in the Waffen-SS-Standort Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen. Succeeded Theodor Eicke.
    • Until 15 August 1940, Glücks operated under the supervision of August Heißmeyer who held the title of “Inspekteur der Konzentrationslager und Generalinspekteur der SS-Totenkopverbände”; from 15.8.1940 to 16.3.1942, this office was a part of the SS-Führungshauptamt (SS-FHA).
  • February 1940 Chose the site for what was to become the Auschwitz complex
  • 15.8.1940 to 16.3.1942 Chef of Amt VI (Allgemeines Amt) in the SS-Führungshauptamt. Succeeded Hans Jüttner; this office later became the Reit- und Fahrwesen office in Amtsgruppe A.
  • 16.3.1942 to 8.5.1945 Chef of Amtsgruppe D (Konzentrationslager) in the SS-Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungshauptamt (SS-WVHA), with HQ at Oranienburg. Only holder of this post, which was the old concentration camp inspectorate transferred from the SS-FHA to the SS-WVHA.
    • 7.7.1942 to 8.7.1942 Attended a secret conference at Führerhauptquartier with Heinrich Himmler, Prof. Dr. med. Karl Gebhardt, and Prof. Dr. med. Carl Clauberg (1898–1957) for the purpose of discussing Clauberg’s methods of sterilizing inmates at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

German Cross in Silver

On 25 January 1945, Glücks received the German Cross in Silver as SS-Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant der Waffen-SS and Chef Amtsgruppe D in the SS Main Economic and Administrative Office (Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungshauptamt der SS) of the SS Main Office. According to the award certificate, this award was presented to Glücks for his supervision of 40,000 officers and men of the concentration camp system, comprising 15 primary concentration camps and 500 satellite camps (containing approximately 750,000 inmates). The award recommendation was submitted by Oswald Pohl on 13 January 1945 and countersigned by General der Infanterie Wilhelm Burgdorf on behalf of the Führer. The following is the text of Pohl's proposal:

“SS-Gruppenführer Glücks has been Amtsgruppenchef D in the SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt for two years. As such he is responsible for dealing with all matters, which concern the concentration camps. He not only oversees the military command of 40.000 men, in the guard units, but he is also repsonsible for military order and the running on SS lines of currently 15 concentration camps and 500 outer camps whith a total number of around 750.000 prisoners. In this position, which SS-Gruppenführer Glücks had already occupied before becoming Amtsgruppenchef D as concentration camp inspector, he has performed important services for the war effort by constantly employing prisoners in the armaments industry. If there have been no problems during the war years and it has been possible to supply the war industry with manpower as quickly as possible, then this is due to SS-Gruppenführer Glücks.”


WVHA offices at Oranienburg in Brandenburg were destroyed by Allied bombing on 16 April 1945, and reestablished at Born on the Baltic Sea coast. The same day, Glücks and his wife traveled to Ravensbrück. They moved to Born on 26 April 1945, then, on 30 April 1945, to Warnemünde in order to escape the advance of the Red Army. On 2 May 1945, the couple, together with several carloads of WVHA officials, traveled to Flensburg. The group parked in a wood near Friedrichshöh that afternoon, Glücks and his wife spending the night with a Frau Stöhr in Friedrichshöh. While several members of the group went to the Kriegsmarineschule in Murwik on 3 May 1945 to report to Reich President Karl Dönitz, Glücks and his wife apparently did not. His activities in the following days are unknown, but it appears he met with Heinrich Himmler during this period. On 10 May 1945, he appears to have been wounded in the naval military hospital (Marinelazarett) at Kriegsmarineschule Murwik under the alias Sonnemann. A death certificate was signed at 1500 hours on that date, signed by Marineoberstabsarzt Dr. Lorentzen of the Teillazarett Trampedachlager and stating Glücks died of cyanide poisoning at Marinelazarett Murwik II. When British war crimes investigators ordered exhumation of the grave supposedly containing Glücks body, they learned that the remains were not those of Glücks. The aforementioned details of his death were confirmed in Flensburg-Murwik on 10 September 1945, however, and it is possible the investigators had opened the wrong grave.

Another account states that Glücks left Oranienburg together with SS-Standartenführer Dr. med. Enno Lolling (Chef of Amt D III, Sanitätswesen of the SS-WVHA) and SS-Obersturmbannführer Rudolf Höß, his deputy as Chef of Amt D I (Zentralamt) on 1 May 1945 and that they arrived the same day in Flensburg. There they met with Heinrich Himmler at the Kriegsmarineschule Mürwik, and the following day, Glücks received a false military identification book as well as instructions to flee to Denmark. Instead, he was hospitalized in the Marinelazarett, Flensburg-Mürwik to undergo treatment for shock and wounds which he’d incurred in an Allied bombing raid (presumably the 16 April 1945 raid referenced above), remaining there until his suicide on 10 May 1945.[1]

In Frederick Forsyth's thriller "The Odessa File" (1972), Glücks, as Ricardo Suertes ("Suerte" means luck in Spanish or Glück in German), manages to escape to Buenos Aires, the place where he began, and build a network for escaped National Socialists.[2] There are sources that believe in this escape to Argentina, also because of the unexplainable wrong year of birth on the tombstone and the supposed disappearance of the wife.

His illustrated biography is in "German Cross in Silver Holders of the SS and Police" by Mark C. Yerger (de) but also in "Leaders of the SS & German Police", Volume I (R. James Bender Publishing, 2006) by Michael D. Miller.


Richard was the son of the former teacher Johannes Leberecht Ludwig Glücks (b. c. 1860), Protestant owner of the fire insurance agency “Hanseatische Feuer-Versicherungsgesellschaft” and his wife, Wilhelmine Ida, née Mechelen.


On 28 December 1935, SS-Obersturmbannführer Glücks married Aloysia “Alice”, divorced Klages, née Kreutz (b. 17 July 1898 in Düsseldorf), an active member of the NS-Frauenschaft (Nr. 3,890) and supporting member or patron (Förderndes Mitglied) of the SS rune.png (FM-Nr. 719,738).


Awards and decorations