Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

The Making of an SS Killer
The Life of Colonel Alfred Filbert, 1905–1990


  • Author: Alex J. Kay, Institut für Zeitgeschichte München–Berlin
  • Date Published: April 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316601426

$ 25.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an evaluation copy?

This title is not currently available for evaluation. However, if you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an evaluation copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • In this pioneering biography of a frontline Holocaust perpetrator, Alex J. Kay uncovers the life of SS Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Filbert, responsible as the first head of SS-Einsatzkommando 9, a mobile killing squad, for the murder of more than 18,000 Soviet Jews - men, women and children - on the Eastern Front. He reveals how Filbert, following the political imprisonment of his older brother, set out to prove his own ideological allegiance by displaying particular radicalism in implementing the orders issued by Hitler, Himmler and Heydrich. He also examines Filbert's post-war experiences, first in hiding and then being captured, tried and sentenced to life imprisonment. Released early, Filbert went on to feature in a controversial film in the lead role of an SS mass murderer. The book provides compelling new insights into the mindset and motivations of the men, like Filbert, who rose through the ranks of the Nazi regime.

    • The first in-depth biography of a frontline Holocaust perpetrator from one of the SS mobile killing squads
    • Reveals both Alfred Filbert's rise within the SS and his postwar life including his time in hiding and trial
    • Draws from unpublished material from more than thirty archives in seven different countries
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'In this compelling biography of a key player in the implementation of the Holocaust, Alex J. Kay succeeds in explaining the extraordinary journey of Alfred Filbert to becoming a mass murderer. Sound in judgement and full of novel insights, the book is an important addition to the genre of perpetrator studies.' Robert Gerwarth, Professor of Modern History and Director, Centre for War Studies, University College Dublin

    'In The Making of an SS Killer, Alex Kay recounts the fishtailing life of a typical Holocaust perpetrator - not a desk perpetrator, but a face-to-face killer - who staggered from jurisprudence to mass murder to corruption to imprisonment and eventually to modest movie stardom: an intriguing, disturbing, amazing book about the conjunction of lunacy, banality, unscrupulousness, and aggrandizement that allowed normal people to become mass murders.' Thomas Kühne, Strassler Family Chair for the Study of Holocaust History and Professor of History, Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University, Massachusetts

    'A thought-provoking and richly documented journey into the mindset of an SS killer.' Mark Roseman, author of The Villa, the Lake, the Meeting: Wannsee and the Final Solution (2002)

    'One brother a Nazi murderer and the other a communist in a concentration camp: thus the history of the Filbert family. Alert to contingency as well as ideology, Alex Kay takes an important step towards understanding mass murder in this skillfully crafted book.' Timothy Snyder, author of Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (2015) and Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (2010)

    'Alex Kay has crafted an intensely compelling and detailed narrative of the life of one Nazi killer. … Most impressively, Kay manages to pack detailed analysis, broader implications, the life trajectory of Filbert and a good number of excellent images into only 126 pages. … Kay has written a book that is accessible to both scholars and students alike (and which would make a great companion book for a Holocaust course).' Waitman Wade Beorn, German History

    'An impressively researched piece of scholarship, drawing on personal interviews and documentation from more than thirty archives. … [Kay] provides an extremely interesting and exhaustively researched perpetrator case study that will be essential reading for specialists.' Christopher Dillon, Central European History

    '… Kay has provided a significant addition to the biographical literature of the Nazi annihilation apparatus; one can only hope that more individual biographies or a strong collective biography will follow.' Peter Black, American Historical Review

    'In The Making of an SS Killer, Alex J. Kay provides an astonishingly well-sourced and detailed account of the life of SS Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) Alfred Filbert, the first commander of Einsatzkommando 9, which killed over 18,000 Jews in Lithuania and Belorussia … Kay's study shows that fitting perpetrators into single categories of motivation is too imprecise: in perhaps most cases several motives were at work.' Richards Plavnieks, Holocaust and Genocide Studies

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316601426
    • length: 258 pages
    • dimensions: 231 x 153 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.43kg
    • contains: 25 b/w illus. 2 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Childhood, youth and early adulthood, 1905–32
    2. Nazi Party membership and career in the SS Security Service, 1932–9
    3. Brother's imprisonment and career stagnation, 1939–41
    4. SS-Einsatzkommando 9 and deployment in the East, June-July 1941
    5. Genocide of Belarusian Jewry, July-October 1941
    6. Suspension from the Reich Security Main Office and reinstatement until the war's end, 1941–5
    7. Post-war submergence and reintegration into West German society, 1945–59
    8. Arrest and trial, February 1959–June 1962
    9. Imprisonment and early release, 1962–75
    10. Wundkanal and aftermath, 1975–90
    Concluding thoughts
    Sources and literature cited

  • Author

    Alex J. Kay, Institut für Zeitgeschichte München–Berlin
    Alex J. Kay is Senior Academic Coordinator at the Institute of Contemporary History, Berlin. He obtained his Ph.D. in 2005 from the Humboldt University, Berlin, and is author of Exploitation, Resettlement, Mass Murder: Political and Economic Planning for German Occupation Policy in the Soviet Union, 1940–1941 (2006) and numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals. He is also co-editor of Nazi Policy on the Eastern Front, 1941: Total War, Genocide, and Radicalization (2012) and was awarded the Journal of Contemporary History's first George L. Mosse Prize in 2006.

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.