Half a century after he was hanged, Viennese-born Amon Goeth became an internationally known figure through his portrayal by Ralph Fiennes in the movie Schindlers List. An SS-Hauptsturmf?hrer, he was the commandant of the Plaszow forced labour camp in Poland, where he tortured and killed prisoners on a daily basis. He personally shot dead more than 500 Jews, including children.
Goeth joined the Nazi party, and the Austrian SS at the same time, in 1930, when he was 22. In 1942 he was appointed a regular SS officer of the concentration camp service and the following year he was put in charge of constructing the sub-camp at Plaszow. The job took one month using slave labour, and the survivors of the Jewish ghetto at nearby Krakow became its first inmates.
With the Soviet Army approaching Krakow in September 1944, the Nazi authorities decided to close other sub-camps and concentrate their inmates in Plaszow. To save as many lives as he could, the celebrated Oskar Schindler continuously bribed Goeth with money and back market goods.
When Plaszow itself was finally shut down on October 15th, 1944, Schindler established his legendary list of Jews who were not to be killed. They were sent to a new site at Brnenec-Brunnlitz in the Czech Republic.
At the wars end the supreme national tribunal of Poland, sitting at Krakow, found Goeth guilty of murdering tens of thousands of people. He was hanged, aged 37, on Friday, September 13th, 1946, in the parade ground of the former site of Plaszow camp, saluting Adolf Hitler in a final act of defiance on the scaffold.