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Saur, Karl Otto

    Date of birth:
    June 16th, 1902 (Düsseldorf/Rhineprovince, Germany)
    Date of death:
    July 28th, 1966 (Pullach/Bavaria, Germany)
    German (1933-1945, Third Reich)


    Chef des technischen Amtes im Reichsministerium für Bewaffnung und Munition.
    Karl-Otto Saur was State Secretary in the Reich Ministry for armaments and war production in Germany during the Nazi era and de jure last defence minister of the Third Reich.

    Saur was an engineer by profession. After graduation, he joined Thyssen, then took over the running of the family engineering firm in Freiburg after the death of his father. This business went into bankruptcy in 1928 during the Great Depression. Saur went back to Thyssen in 1929 and was director of the August Thyssen-Hütte. He was a member of the NSDAP from 1931. He joined the National Socialist Guild of German Engineers and the Todt Organization where he rose to be the right-hand man to Fritz Todt.

    Following Todt's death in a 1942 plane crash, Saur became official deputy to the new armaments minister Albert Speer. Saur was seen as particularly ruthless in the enforcement of military targets, was involved in all aspects of increasing production including orders that regulated the flow of forced labour towards the end of World War 2. In his political testament, Adolf Hitler named Karl-Otto Saur as the new defence minister (Minister of Munitions (Rüstung)) and successor to Albert Speer after the latter's fall from favour for his role in preventing Hitler's scorched-earth policy. After Hitler's death, Karl Dönitz continued with Saur but also allowed Speer to return to office. From May 1945 Saur was in American captivity.

    In 1948 he became a witness for the prosecution at the Nuremberg Krupp trials - the Americans offered him immunity from prosecution for war crimes if he turned in state evidence, as they wanted a trial to demonstrate the collective guilt of German industry. For this he was viewed as a traitor by industry and was socially isolated. During denazification he was allowed to be classified as "fellow traveller" and was released shortly afterwards.

    Saur founded an engineering consultancy in 1949, and also became a small publishing house. The resulting company Saur Verlag only became economically successful from the beginning of the 60s under his son Klaus Gerhard Saur.

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    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Awarded on:
    June 5th, 1943
    Ritterkreuz des Kriegsverdienstkreuzes
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Awarded on:
    October 29th, 1944
    Ritterkreuz des Kriegsverdienstkreuzes mit Schwertern
    Second World War (1939-1945)
    Awarded on:
    April 20th, 1945
    Ritterkreuz des Kriegsverdienstkreuzes in Gold ohne Schwertern