Lieutenant Albert Battel - Wehrmacht, 1952.

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Albert Battel (21 January 1891 – no data, 1952) was a German Wehrmacht army lieutenant and lawyer recognized for his resistance during World War II to the Nazi plans for the 1942 liquidation of the Przemyśl Jewish ghetto.



Albert Battel was trained as a lawyer. In the 1930s, when he was already over 40 years old, he joined the Nazi Party. Even after he became a party member, the Nazi hierarchy was suspicious of him because he seemed to sympathize with Jewish victims of the regime.

During the war, he joined the Wehrmacht. In 1942 as a lieutenant, already in his fifties, he was stationed in the Polish town of Przemysl, where he supervised several hundred Jewish armament workers.

On Saturday, July 25, 1942, one of his workers informed him that all Jews in the ghetto of Przemysl were to be transported to Treblinka the following Monday. Battel's workers were to be among the deportees.



Immediately Battel informed his superior and took an army unit close to the bridge across the San River that divided the town. This action prevented access to the ghetto. Battel's actions caught the attention of Nazi officials in Krakow, who decided to delay deportations from Przemysl for some 2,500 Jews. Battel ensured that the Jews who worked for him directly would be taken in trucks with their families and live in the German army headquarters in town.

A few weeks later, Battel was transferred from Przemysl and the SS launched an investigation of Battel. Himmler vowed that appropriate actions against Battel would be taken after the war. Meanwhile, Battel became too ill to serve in the army and was dismissed from duty to return to his hometown of Breslau. In Breslau he served in a local defense unit. At the end of the war when the Soviet Red Army liberated Breslau, Battel was arrested and placed in a Soviet POW (prisoner of war) camp. After the war he was never again allowed to practice law because of his affiliation with the Nazi Party.

Sam Igiel, one of the Jews rescued by Battel's intervention, describes Battel's courage. After the war he reported about Monday, July 27, 1942:

Dr. Battel did not limit himself to the intervention, by which he rescued 2,500 Jews from being evacuated. As the action was in progress, staying in the quarter at the time, in the face of the Gestapo's lawlessness and violence, could result in evacuation at any moment anyway. Therefore, to avoid complications Oberleutenant Battel stopped about ninety of his workers with their families in the command's backyard as early as Sunday. Also he sent two police-protected lorries to fetch the workers from more distant quarters. The lorries set off five times and every time they came back with a new group of Jews until the number reached 240. When one of these transports got stopped by the SS, Dr. Battel intervened personally. Under the threat of manning the town he made the lorry go free. Then he had all Jews installed in the Kommandantur basement where they were kept the whole week under his protection during the action. On his order they were protected with bags of biscuits, meat and even milk for the children. He ordered that we get lunches.

He was posthumously recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in 1981.
 
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