Ruckdeschel in 1938
|Gauleiter of Bayreuth|
April 1945 – May 1945
|Preceded by||Fritz Wächtler|
|Member of the German Reichstag|
|Deputy Gauleiter of Bayerische Ostmark|
|Born||March 15, 1907|
Bayreuth, German Empire
|Died||November 8, 1986 (aged 79)|
Wolfsburg, West Germany
|Political party||Nazi Party|
Ludwig Ruckdeschel (15 March 1907 – 8 November 1986) was the Nazi Gauleiter of Bayreuth during final month of the Gau's existence before the collapse of Nazi Germany in 1945. Before this, from 1933 to 1941, he served as the deputy of Gauleiter Fritz Wächtler, whom he had executed on orders by Martin Bormann. From 1933 to 1945 he was also a member of the German Parliament, the Reichstag.
During the Second World War Ruckdeschel served in the Waffen-SS, rising to the rank of a Sturmbannführer, a rank equivalent to a major. After the war he was arrested in 1947 and eventually sentenced to 13 years in prison but released in 1952.
Ruckdeschel joined a nationalist youth organisation in 1921 and the SA in 1923. He was a founding member of the local branch of the Nazi Party in Bayreuth in early 1925 and became closely associated with Gauleiter Hans Schemm. From 1928 onward he became a permanent employee of the Gau administration of the Nazi Party. In this role he was responsible for the publication of right-wing books and newspapers.
With the Nazis rise to power in 1933 he became deputy Gauleiter of the Gau Bayerische Ostmark which was renamed Gau Bayreuth in June 1942. He also became a member of the Reichstag in November 1933 and held this office until 1945.
In September 1934 Ruckdeschel moved from the SA to the SS, joining as a Sturmhauptführer but receiving frequent promotions after this. With the death of Schemm in 1935 Ruckdeschel temporarily acted as Gauleiter for nine month until Fritz Wächtler was appointed to the position in December 1935.
Ruckdeschel was called up for service in the SS Division Totenkopf in April 1940. He was drafted into the Wehrmacht in July 1941, serving in a propaganda unit, but released again in October. From December 1941 onward he served in a war correspondent role in the Waffen-SS. He was transferred to the SS Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler in May 1942 and became a company commander in the SS Division Hitlerjugend in May 1943. He was promoted to Hauptsturmführer on 21 June 1944 and severely wounded six days later, losing his right arm. After recovery from his injuries Ruckdeschel spend time in a SS training unit before serving as an inspector of the Volkssturm from January 1945 onward.
Ruckdeschel, according to the historian Ian Kershaw a fanatical Nazi, commanded the execution of Gauleiter Wächtler on 19 April 1945, on orders from Martin Bormann, after Ruckdeschel had denounced his long-term rival as a coward and deserter. He then served as the Gauleiter of Bayreuth in the final weeks of the war.
In post-war Germany Ruckdeschel was arrested in 1947 and sentenced to eight years in jail the following year for attempted manslaughter and negligence for the execution of two citizens of Regensburg, one of them the preacher Johann Maier, who had advocated the peaceful surrender of the city. The sentence was expanded to 13 years in 1949. Released in 1952 he worked for Volkswagen until 1968 and died in Wolfsburg in 1986.
- "Ruckdeschel, Ludwig". verwaltungshandbuch.bayerische-landesbibliothek-online.de (in German). Bayerische Landesbibliothek. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
- "NSDAP und ihre Gliederungen 1933 bis 1945" [The Nazi Party and its structure]. verwaltungshandbuch.bayerische-landesbibliothek-online.de (in German). Bayerische Landesbibliothek. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
- "Wächtler, Fritz". verwaltungshandbuch.bayerische-landesbibliothek-online.de (in German). Bayerische Landesbibliothek. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
- "Justiz und NS-Verbrechen" [Justice and Nazi crime]. www1.jur.uva.nl (in German). Foundation for Research on National-Socialist Crimes. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
- "Regensburg: Der einsame Tod des Dompredigers" [Regensburg: The lonely death of a preacher]. br.de (in German). Bayerischer Rundfunk. Retrieved 21 April 2015.