Best (1903-1989), Werner

23 February, 2009
Bovy Daniel

A law graduate, Werner Best was politically active from his affiliation to the Nazi party. The Boxheim affair (the Boxheim documents, prepared by Best, mentioned immediate measures to be taken by the Nazis against communists and democrats after a putsch) led Hitler to put him aside in order to avoid problems. In 1933, he prepared an independent police in Hesse and headed a concentration camp in Osthofen. He became one of Himmler’s close collaborators. Himmler asked him to reorganize the police apparatus in Berlin. He contributed to the planning of the individuals to be killed during the Night of the Long Knives. He reached the summit of his career when he took in charge the department I of the RSHA (security services of the Reich). In 1941, Himmler was in contact with Best to work on the project consisting in eliminating the “enslaved peoples” in case their integration into the Reich would fail. As Chief of the military administration in occupied France from 1940 to 1942, he initiated deportations. He was surnamed “the butcher of Paris”. After the Nacht und Nebel decree (September 16, 1941), he organized the deportation of Jews to the East. Best was sent to Denmark in 1942 as Reich plenipotentionary till May 1945. After the dismissal of the Danish government (29 August 1943), Best initiated the Final Solution in Denmark but the Danes were informed and many fled. In a report addressed to his hierarchy, Best explained that it would be a mistake to absolutely enforce a final solution in Denmark. One could so understand that Best saved the Danish Jews. In fact, when we consider the context of Nazi occupation policies in Europe, the way Best handled had rational motivations: the extermination of Jews at that time was not Best’s priority. He did not modify anything in his philosophy and perception of the Final Solution. Although he was condemned by the Danish and German justice, Werner Best worked as a consultant for Hugo Stinnes A.G. and even as an advisor to the West German Foreign Affairs Ministry.


Herbert, U., 1996, Best. Biographische Studien über Radikalismus, Weltanschauung und Vernunft 1903-1989. Bonn: Dietz.

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Bovy Daniel, Best (1903-1989), Werner , Mass Violence & Résistance, [online], published on: 23 February, 2009, accessed 17/02/2021,, ISSN 1961-9898
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