Franz Oppenhoff

Franz Oppenhoff

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Franz Oppenhoff

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Franz Oppenhoff (August 18, 1902 - March 25, 1945) was a German lawyer who was appointed Mayor of the city of Aachen by Allied forces and subsequently murdered on the order of Heinrich Himmler.


Born in 1902, Franz Oppenhoff received a law degree from Cologne University, and worked as a lawyer until World War II. Oppenhoff was an expert on Nazi law, had been legal representative for the Bishop of Aachen, Johann van der Velte, and had defended some cases for Jewish companies. Knowing that the Gestapo was interested in him, he had taken refuge in Eupen, across the border in Belgium, in September 1944, taking his wife and three daughters with him.

Following the occupation of Aachen after the Battle of Aachen, in October 1944, Allied officials wanted to appoint a non-Nazi to take over administration of the city. Assisted by the Bishop of Aachen, officials managed to make contact with a group of local business people, one of whom was willing to become the first German mayor under American rule. This was Franz Oppenhoff, who was then 42 years old.

When Oppenhoff was sworn into office on October 31, 1944 no press photos were permitted and his name was not divulged, the reason being that he still had relatives in Nazi Germany who might be liable to reprisals from the Nazi regime. Also, earlier in October the SS newspaper, Das Schwarze Korps, had written that there would be no German administration under the occupation because any official...
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