WIRTH, CHRISTIAN ° (1885–1944), ss-Sturmbannfuehrer instrumental in the mass extermination of Jews in German-occupied Poland. Wirth was born in Oberbalzheim, Wuettemberg, where he was a career criminal police detective. He became a member of the Nazi Party in 1931 and joined the ss in 1939. He was assigned to Operation t-4, the German program to "eliminate life unworthy of living" – to murder the mentally retarded, the physically infirm, and the handicapped – and from October 1939 until August 1941 he was chief of office staff and personnel at the "*euthanasia" killing center at Hartheim. As an inspector of killing facilities at all other "euthanasia" killing centers, Wirth developed gas chambers for killing institutionalized persons with disabilities. In late autumn 1941, he transferred to Lublin District, where he was assigned to develop the Belzec killing center. In 1942 Globocnik appointed him inspector of the ss Special Detachments with overall supervisory responsibility for Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka. At these three Aktion Reinhard camps more than 1.5 million Jews were killed. There were less than 200 known survivors. Belzec was open for only ten months as a killing center; the other two camps were open for less than two years each. They were closed when their jobs were done and the Jews of Poland were virtually all murdered. When these camps closed, Wirth and his colleagues Globocnik, Hering, and Oberhauser were transferred to Trieste in December 1943 where he commanded an SS Einsatzkommando "r" group. Wirth was reported killed by partisans in Istria in May 1944.
G. Reitlinger, The SS: Alibi of a Nation (1956), 279–83; R. Hilberg, Destruction of European Jews (1961, 1985, 2003), index.
[Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]