Odilo Globocnik was born into an Austrian family of Slovenian descent in Trieste in Austria-Hungary. He was the second child of Franz Globocnik, who was a Habsburg cavalry lieutenant in the Austro-Hungarian army. His father was unable to accumulate the money to apply for ‘bail’ out of the army, so was instead given a job in the reserves as a postman. In 1914, the family left Trieste for Cseklész where Franz Globocnik was pulled back into the army one year later. In the same year, Globocnik joined the army in the form of a military school. He was described as a talented, industrious young man who showed great promise. However, the war ended his military education prematurely, so he and his family moved to Klagenfurt where they lived in a tiny, uncomfortable house. Globocnik enrolled in a civilian high school there and graduated in July 1923 with honours. He also performed jobs such as carrying suitcases at the train station in order to help support the family financially.
Globocnik first appeared on the political front in 1922, when he became a prominent member of the pre-Nazi Carinthian paramilitary organizations and was seen to be wearing a swastika. His vocation at this time until 1932 was as a building tradesman. He was introduced to this career after he got engaged to Grete Micher. Her father, Emil Micher, talked to the director of KAEWAG, which was a hydropower plant, and secured Globocnik a job as a technician and construction supervisor.
In August 1933, Globocnik was arrested for the first time. This was also the same year that he became a member of the SS. He was arrested because of his public support for the NSDAP, as he had become a member of the Nazi party three years earlier, in 1930. Although he was arrested four times between 1933 and 1935, he spent little over a year in jail. This was due to Himmler’s intervention, after two years of arguments between Globocnik and the authorities.
His first provable activity for the NSDAP occurred in 1931, when his name appeared in documents relating to the spreading of propaganda for the National Socialist party. By this point he had more or less abandoned his career as a building tradesman, and attached himself very closely to the NSDAP. This paid off for Globocnik, as he quickly climbed the ladder of the party. He became a Deputy Gauleiter for the whole of Austria in 1933 at the age of 29. He was a key player in the usurp of the Austrian government by the National Socialists, using underground tactics such as having the bishop of Klagenfurt distribute resources such as explosives to national socialists. He was rewarded for this activity, being made the Gauleiter of Vienna on May 24, 1938 by Adolf Hitler.
One of his tasks for the NSDAP was to construct a courier and intelligence service, which channeled funds from the German Reich into Austria. During this time, Globocnik was also in contact with the SS, and was inducted on September 1 1934 with the number 292,776.
But soon his decline commenced. One reason was that Globocnik was using an astonishing number of dirty tricks, particularly in financial matters. Another was that he was an absolutely uncompromising person who was extremely successful in finding new opponents and enemies in the party ranks, mainly in the Catholic wing of the NSDAP. Most importantly, however, Hermann Göring (Germany's economic dictator) endeavored to have Globocnik removed from his high party office. On January 30, 1939, Globocnik was suspended as a Gauleiter. Hitler proclaimed Josef Bürckel as his successor. Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler proceeded to pardon Globocnik.
Globocnik soon volunteered for the Waffen-SS and served as a non-commissioned officer with the SS-Verfügungstruppe SS-Standarte Germania from March until November 1939, serving with distinction in the German invasion of Poland.
Himmler had not forgotten one of his most obedient servants: surprisingly enough, on November 9, 1939, Globocnik was appointed SS and Police Leader in the Lublin district of the General Government. After a disappointing party career, Globocnik now had a second chance in the ranks of the SS and the police. The following years proved what he was capable of.
Globocnik was responsible for:
On October 13, 1941, Globocnik received a verbal order from Himmler to start immediate construction work on Belzec, the first extermination camp in the General Government. The construction of three more extermination camps, Sobibór and Maidanek in the Lublin district, and Treblinka at Małkinia Górna, followed in 1942. All in all, Globocnik was responsible for killing more than 1.5 million Polish, Czech, Dutch, French, Russian, Slovak, German, and Austrian Jews and non-Jews in the death camps which he organized and supervised. He exploited Jews and non-Jews as slave labourers in his own forced labour camps, and was responsible for seizing the properties and valuables of murdered inmates while in charge of Operation Reinhard. Since 1942–1943 he also oversaw the beginning of the Generalplan Ost, the plan to expel Poles from their lands and resettle those territories with German settlers (see Zamość Uprising).
After Mussolini's downfall, and because he looted some of the stolen assets from the extermination camps, Globocnik was transferred from the General Government of occupied Poland to Friuli-Venezia Giulia in the German-occupied portion of Italy in September 1943 and was stationed in his hometown of Trieste. He was appointed Higher SS and Police Leader of the Operation Zone of the Adriatic Littoral.
His main task there was combatting partisans, but again, he played a leading role in the persecution of Italian Jews. With the advance of Allied troops, Globocnik retreated into Austrian Carinthia and finally went into hiding high in the mountains in an alpine hut near Weissensee, still in company of his closest staff members.
According to some accounts, he was tracked down and captured by British troops at the Möslacher Alm, overlooking the Weissensee Lake on 31 May, 1945, and may have committed suicide the same day in Paternion by biting on his capsule of cyanide. To corroborate this version, there are at least two contemporary photographs showing Globocnik's body shortly after his death. Furthermore, there are several reliable reports, including the Regimental Diary and Field Reports of the 4th Queen's Own Hussars, detailing the circumstances of his capture and suicide.
In reality Globocnik was arrested in Carinthia at the end of the war by Sgt John 'Jack' Sowler of the 4th Queens Own Hussars. Sowler was under the command of a Major Ramsey from SIS (MI6) and this group had been tracking and arresting potential war criminals in Austria. Shortly after capture Globocnik committed suicide by means of a cyanide capsule hidden in his mouth. His body was taken to be buried in a local churchyard, but the priest refused to have 'the body of such a man' resting in consecrated ground. A grave was dug outside the churchyard, next to an outer wall, and the body was laid to rest without ceremony.
There is a false story circulating that Globocnik did not die at all, but was turned over to U.S. intelligence by the British. This is based on a supposedly "official US document signed by US CIC S/A Operations Officer Andrew L. Venters, dated 27 October 1948, more than three years AFTER his supposed death". However this document was exposed as a forgery in the 1980s by the investigative writer and historian, Gitta Sereny; she gives all details in a long article in the Observer newspaper ("Spin Time For Hitler", London, 21 April 1996).
There is also a minor character in Harry Turtledove's novel In the Presence of Mine Enemies with the name Odilo Globocnik. However, the chronology of the story, set around the year 2010 in an alternate history of Nazi Germany, shows that this character cannot be the same person as the real-world Globocnik. Turtledove's character is described as being in his fifties, and thus would have been born sometime in the 1950s. The historical Globocnik, born in 1904, would have been over one hundred years old at the time in which the novel is set.
It is said that when Globocnik learned of the death of Reinhard Heydrich he said, "Thank God that sow's gone to the butcher."