- historical event:
- Eicke became the commander of the first concentration camp in Germany – the one in Dachau – according to Himmler's wishes. When World War II broke out, Eicke received command of the famed SS Totenkopf (Death's Head) division. That division was also called “Hitler's firemen” because it was sent to the parts of the front where the fighting was the “hottest”.
One of the greatest Nazi war criminals of all time – Theodor Eicke – was born on this day. In the ranks of the SS, he ascended to the high rank of SS-Gruppenführer, equivalent to a General in the regular army. Eicke was one of Hitler and Himmler’s earliest colleagues, and was appointed to high positions immediately after the Nazis came to power in Germany. Eicke became the commander of the first concentration camp in Germany – the one in Dachau – according to Himmler’s wishes.
The Dachau camp has a special place in German history. Although prisons and camps were a feature in Germany even earlier, when he came to power Hitler decided to create a special camp, different from all the previous ones. Thus was the concept of concentration camps formed. Dachau was the first such camp, and a sort of testing ground for the development of an entire system of such camps. That camp was located only around 10 kilometers northwest of Munich, the capital of Bavaria. As the commander of Dachau camp, Eicke introduced changes in its organizational structure and discipline. Himmler was impressed.
After World War II broke out, Eicke received command over the famed SS Totenkopf (Death’s Head) division. Totenkopf was one of the most elite German units, along with two other SS divisions, Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler and Das Reich.
Totenkopf was also called “Hitler’s firemen” because it was sent to the parts of the front where the fighting was the “hottest”. Eicke died in the famous Battle of Kursk in 1943, on the Eastern Front. Specifically, he died when the Soviets shot down his Fieseler Fi 156 Storch while it was conducting a reconnaissance mission over enemy territory.