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Theodor Dannecker (27 March 1913 – 10 December 1945) was an SS Hauptsturmführer (Captain), and an associate of Adolf Eichmann. As a Judenberater, he was one of those who orchestrated the Final Solution in several countries during the Holocaust.
After completing trade school, the Tübingen-born Dannecker first worked as a textile dealer, until he became a member of the Nazi Party and the SS in 1932. Two years later, he became a member of the SS-Verfügungstruppe, a special combat support force, and a year later in 1935, he became a member of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD, or Security Service which served as primary intelligence service of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany). In March 1937 came Dannecker's transfer to the Judenreferat (Department of Jewish Affairs) in the SD's main office.
From September 1940 until July 1942, Dannecker was leader of the Judenreferat at the SD post in Paris, where he ordered and oversaw round ups by French Police. More than 13,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz concentration camp where most died in the Final Solution.
Owing to misuse of his position, partially due to his theft of German confiscated property, he was ordered back to Berlin in August 1942. From January 1943 Dannecker was the highest German official in charge of the Final Solution, in all the Bulgarian territories. During March 1943, 11,343 Jews were deported from the German-occupied Bulgarian-administered territories in Greece and Yugoslavia to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Treblinka. Only 12 survived.
His attempt to deport Jews with Bulgarian citizenship from old Bulgaria, a collaborationist ally, failed due to widespread opposition, including by the heads of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Bishops Stephan from Sofia and Kiril from Plovdiv; by prominent politicians such as deputy speaker of the parliament, Dimiter Peshev; and, ultimately, Boris III of Bulgaria. Dannecker continued to deport Italian Jews between September 1943 and January 1944, when Italy surrendered to the Allies and Germans occupied Italy.
Before the occupation Benito Mussolini refused to turn over Jews to the Nazis except those in areas annexed or occupied by the Italians in the Balkans. Not seen as efficient enough, he was replaced in this role by Friedrich Boßhammer, who was, like Dannecker, closely associated with Eichmann.
After Germany had occupied Hungary, Dannecker and the Hungarian establishment (not the Arrow Cross, which came to power only in October 1944) deported more than a half a million Hungarian Jews between early 1944 and summer of the same year. Dannecker developed under Adolf Eichmann into one of the SS's most ruthless and experienced experts on the "Jewish Question", and his involvement in the genocide of European Jewry was one of primary responsibility.
A passage from a 1942 report by Dannecker illustrates how the "Jewish Question" was handled in France:
Subject: Points for the discussion with the French State Secretary for Police, Bousquet... The recent operation for arresting stateless Jews in Paris has yielded only about 8,000 adults and about 4,000 children. But trains for the deportation of 40,000 Jews, for the moment, have been put in readiness by the Reich Ministry of Transport. Since the deportation of the children is not possible for the time being, the number of Jews ready for removal is quite insufficient. A further Jewish operation must therefore be started immediately. For this purpose Jews of Belgian and Dutch nationality may be taken into consideration, in addition to the former German, Austrian, Czech, Polish and Russian Jews who have so far been considered as being stateless. It must be expected, however, that this category will not yield sufficient numbers, and thus the French have no choice but to include those Jews who were naturalized in France after 1927, or even after 1919.