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Holocaust Memorial Education Center

Shimon and Sara Birnbaum Jewish Community Center

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Commander of Theresienstadt camp, Adolf Eichmann’s envoy, advisor on Jewish deportation matters in France, Bulgaria and Italy

Anton Berger studied commerce and after he had been employed for a while he volunteered to join the Austrian army. In 1931 he joined the Nazi party and when the party was prohibited in 1933, he was dismissed from the army owing to his continuing party membership. In 1935 he obtained German citizenship. In 1938 he joined the SA.

From 1938 he was employed at the Eichmann-founded Central office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna. Later on he switched to the Prague branch of the same bureau. In 1941 Burger transferred to the Brno (Brün) branch of the central office. He was active in confiscation of Jewish property. Burger also took part in organizing transports from Brno to the East and to the Theresienstadt Ghetto.

He worked closely with Eichmann and through Eichmann’s recommendation he was appointed camp commander of Theresienstadt in July 1943. Burger was well known for the mistreatment of prisoners. More than 10,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz under his supervision.

In March1944, following his tenure in Theresienstadt, Eichmann appointed him advisor on Jewish affairs in Greek territories formerly administered by Italy. His assignment there was to efficiently organize the deportation of local Jews into the concentration camps. For this task he had a special commando at his disposal. The assignment proved to be difficult, as no lists of Jews existed in his assigned area, which included the city of Athens. Many Jews were hiding. His special commando, together with Greek collaborators and units of the Werhrmacht, conducted various searches in houses, and Burger himself mislead the Jews when he announced on the eve of Passover that he was to allocate sugar and flour to the Jews in the Synagogue. The 800 Jews that turned up were arrested.

Overall around 5,000 Jews were arrested and deported to concentration camps until April 1944. Later, Burger and his team operated predominantly on the Greek Islands, and in the months of June and July 1944 they carried out three deportations of around 3.600 Jews from the isalands of Corfu, Rhodes and Kos. In late 1944 his tenure came to an end.

Following the war Burger was arrested twice, but he managed to escape from the prisoner camp and to go underground. He was sentenced to death in absentia. From 1961 he lived in Essen using an assumed name and from 1975 he even received a pension. His true identity was revealed only after his death.