La Electrificacion de los Ferrocarriles: Conferencia Pronunciada (The Electrification of Railways: a Lecture)

Special Collections holds several thousand pamphlets, booklets, books, and other materials, including some maps, related to railroads and railroad operations in the Americas, Western Europe, North Africa, and South Asia. Information in this collection includes annual reports of operations, the financing of railroads and terminals, employee benefit organizations, employee training, operations agreements, locomotives and railcars, equipment supply and product innovations, travel timetables, legalities with respect to the Interstate Commerce Commission, speeches to railroad association meetings, and more. Most of the railroad materials are in English, but some are in Spanish, French, or German (and sometimes more than one language).

La Electrificacion de los Ferrocarriles: Conferencia Pronunciada (The Electrification of Railroads) is the transcript of a lecture delivered at a meeting of Asociacion del Congreso Panamericano de Ferrocarriles (Pan American Railway Congress Association) in Buenos Aires on March 13, 1952. The lecturer was Dr. Albert Ganzenmüller (or Alberto Ganzenmueller Wismer), a German electrical engineer and career railway professional who lived in Argentina for 10 years following World War II.

Ganzenmüller’s lecture is on the advantages of electrically powered locomotives over steam locomotives. The transcript is entirely in Spanish, 33 pages in length, and illustrated on 21 plates which follow the text. It is not apparent whether Ganzenmüller delivered his lecture in Spanish or in his native German. The transcript was issued by the Argentinian Ministry of Transport and two of six state railway companies, General Manuel Belgrano Railway and General Roca Railway.

Albert Ganzenmüller (1905-1996) was only 18 and still in high school when he participated in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, the 1923 attempt by Adolf Hitler, Erich Ludendorff and others to seize power. Though the putsch failed, Ganzenmüller became a holder of the Blood Order of the German Nazi Party due to his participation. He completed his education at the Technical College in Munich and held a doctorate in engineering.

By 1931, Ganzenmüller was working for the German State Railways, had joined the Nazi Party, and was a member of the Sturmabteilung (SA or “brownshirts”). He rose to the rank of colonel on the staff of the SA supreme command in 1940. He became a senior railway executive in Munich in 1934 at age 29 and four years later was appointed senior government advisor. He went on to oversee electrical engineering for the German State Railways and in 1940 repaired the damaged rail systems in occupied France. He went to the Ukraine in 1941, repairing railroads and sorting out traffic flow problems.

On the recommendation of Albert Speer, a close advisor to Adolf Hitler, Ganzenmüller became Deputy General Director of the German State Railways and Under-secretary of State at the Reich Transport Ministry. He was involved in the organization of trains for deportation of elderly German Jews to Theresienstadt and later worked with Heinrich Himmler to ensure the smooth running and high efficiency delivery of people to Belzec and Auschwitz.

He escaped an interrogation camp in 1945 and, by way of Italy, went to Argentina where he lived for the next 10 years. At the time of the 1952 lecture, he was employed as Asesor Técnico de los Ferrocarriles Nacionales General Belgrano y General Roca (Technical Advisor to the National Railways General Belgrano and General Roca).

Amnesty made it possible for Ganzenmüller to return to Germany in 1955, where he continued his career in railroads working for Hoesch AG, a steel and mining company. Further legal actions were brought against him in 1957 and again in 1973, but these actions did not proceed to any conclusion. In 1973, the charge was that by organizing transportation and deportations, Ganzenmüller had contributed to and helped to cause the murder of millions of Jewish men, women, and children. The case was halted the same year because he was unable to make sense of the legal situation, and the case was closed in 1977. Albert Ganzenmüller died in Munich on March 20, 1996, at age 91.

Source materials for the information in Wikipedia include:

·       Hilberg, Raul. Sonderzüge nach Auschwitz. Mainz, 1981. [Translation: Special trains to Auschwitz]

·       Lichtenstein, Heiner. Mit der Reichsbahn in den Tod: Massentransporte in den Holocaust 1941-1945.Köln, 1985. [With the Reichsbahn to death: mass transports in the Holocaust 1941-1945]

·       Gottwaldt, Alfred and Diana Schulle. “Juden ist die Benutzung von Speisewagen untersagt“: Die antijüdische Politik des Reichsverkehrsministeriums zwischen 1933 und 1945; Forschungsgutachten. Teetz 2007. [“Jews are prohibited from using the dining car" : The anti-Jewish policy of the Ministry of Transport between 1933 and 1945; Research reports]

To view this item, visit Special Collections in McCain Library & Archives Room 305. For more information, contact Jennifer Brannock at  or 601-266-4347. To see more Items of the Month, click here.

Text by Linda Ginn, Catalog Librarian (Technical Services, Cook Library).