BERLIN (JTA) — Gestapo chief Heinrich Muller was buried in a Jewish mass grave following World War II, a Berlin political scientist confirmed.
Muller, who as head of Nazi Germany’s secret police helped organize the mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust, was buried with about 2,400 others, many unidentified, in the Jewish cemetery on Grosse Hamburgerstrasse in Berlin’s Mitte section, the German newspaper BILD reported.
Research by Johannes Tuchel, head of the Berlin-based Memorial for German Resistance, brings closure to the question of what happened to Muller, said Andreas Nachama, head of the Topography of Terror archive and memorial located at the site of the former Gestapo headquarters in Berlin.
Nachama told JTA that evidence of Muller’s having been buried at the Jewish cemetery was uncovered in the late 1990s but not confirmed. The name appeared on a list in the Jewish community archive of bodies and body parts buried in an anti-tank trench dug in the cemetery. Still, rumors that Muller had actually fled to the north persisted.
Now that Tuchel has found written evidence — the report from a burial commando about the discovery and identification of Muller’s body in a provisional grave in August 1945 — such rumors can be laid to rest, Nachama said. Muller’s military photo ID was still in his uniform pocket.
“It is grotesque that he is buried there, but it was not an anti-Jewish measure,” said Nachama, noting that any human remains found in the area were buried together.
Nachama, who is a practicing rabbi and former head of the Berlin Jewish community, in the late 1990s had suggested moving the contents of the mass grave out of the Jewish cemetery, but the idea was rejected on halachic, or Jewish legal, grounds due to the likelihood that historic Jewish graves might be disturbed.