Sunday, March 22, 2015


Between September 1939 and March 1945 a total of at least 13,600 men were taken to the SS special camp. An accurate determination of the number of inmates of the camp is not possible. In the five and a half years of its existence Hinzert was a detention facility of prisoners from the German Reich, Poland, the Soviet Union, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Albania, the Netherlands, Belgian, Yugoslavia, Spain, Switzerland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the United Kingdom. Within the barracks a total of 560 beds were provided, but if simultaneously several major prisoner transports arrived in Hinzert as during the great waves of arrests in Luxembourg in November 1941 and Belgium, France and the Netherlands in 1942 a temporarily increase from 1.000 to 1.200 prisoners huddled into the barracks. In this revival over the initially facilities sufficient even by NS-standards of the barracks had not enough bunks, lockers, or still washing facilities available. On average, about 800 prisoners were normally in Camp Hinzert.
As in all concentration camps Jewish prisoners, gypsies and deportees from Eastern Europe were often treated very badly and with unbridled brutality in Hinzert. So far, it can be assumed that about 100 prisoners in Hinzert were Jews and that they were not primarily there for racist reasons, but for political reasons, mostly from the Benelux countries. They were recognizable in the camp by the yellow 'Star of David'. About a third of the Jewish prisoners were murdered, beaten to death, scalded, starved or drowned. Proof of Roma prisoners have been limited to one case that has become known for the murder of a Roma boy by the Oberkapo Eugen Wipf.
 The 'prisoners' society' changed from year to year, depending on the political circumstances and the course of the war. Shown in simplified form, the following  groups of prisoners were noticeable in appearance: In the early days of the camp mostly Reichs-German labour reformatory detainees, police and custody-prisoners were brought to Hinzert. From 1941 regular transports of Luxembourger resistance fighters, who had set themselves up to defend against the use of their country, in particular the inclusion of the Grand-Duchy (Großherzugtums) into the Gau of 'Moselland' and against the forced recruitment into the German Army. Luxembourger interned in the camp had limited scope to receive mail from home, and with good behaviour were often released. As a result of the "Nacht und Nebel' decree from May 29, 1942,  large transports of French prisoners arrived at the camp. These NN deportees were completely isolated from the outside world and were used in commandos in the context of specific camp-work. The holding of the group 'E-Poles' was due to the necessary 'probation' as a future German citizen and had only limited contact with another inmate group. They were used in enclosed commandos in part at given work details.
Interior of a Barrack at Hinzert
 One particular group of prisoners represented the former Foreign Legionnaires, as France surrendered and in pursuant to Article 19 of the ceasefire agreement of 1940, the German Reich demanded the return of them. These former Foreign Legionnaires of German nationality were deported from the distribution/holding centres Frejus via Charlonsur-Saone to Hinzert. Between June 1941 and the end of 1942, more than 800 former members of the French Foreign Legion were imprisoned in Hinzert. Statements of Luxenbourg  witnesses indicate that these foreign legionnaires were separated from the others and housed in their own barracks. They were checked for their loyalty towards Germany to fulfil duties with honours within the Wehrmacht and if found satisfactory incorporated into the armed forces, or transferred to other prisons, for example,  the jails of Bruchsal or Krislau.
The Legion’s toughness and ruthlessness are indisputable, but there is no reason to suppose that it has produced better warriors than those of other crack units. The mystery and diverse origins of its recruits do more than its battlefield prowess to create the ethos that catches the imagination of military romantics.
After the WW II:
There definitely were former members of the SS in the Foreign Legion, but a lot of it is based on exaggeration. After the Second World War France lacked the will to keep fighting another war and was short on men: To recruit foreigners was an obvious choice, the first recruitments took place as early as 1944 when they recruited in North African prisoner camps, even though they only took Italians and Austrians.
When the war had ended one year later they started recruiting on a wider base and then there indeed was a swap of former SS soldiers. However due to bad press and obviously because of the grudges held by the French towards the Germans and especially the SS they soon started sorting out SS soldiers (recognisable by blood group tattoos under the left armpit, even though many carved them off there, it still left a scar). Interesting fact: While they were relatively strict about German SS soldiers they didn't do background checks on other nationalities, so many SS members from Eastern Europe and even French collaborators managed to get into the Legion, often because they would have faced trials in their homelands.So its more correct to say: Yes, there were former members of the Waffen SS, but many of them weren't German, but in fact Polish or Russians.
Free French Foreign Legionnaires assaulting an Axis strong point at the battle of Bir Hakeim, 1942.
 Another group of prisoners were the forced labourers from Western and Eastern Europe, which were brought for different reasons to Hinzert, to date only  sporadic evidence is at present available on this subject.  Detentions into Hinzert are known for trying to escape from work, lack of due zeal at assignments, absenteeism, or for illegal consumption of alcohol. If a forced labourer worked in agriculture, after his release from Hinzert, he would put into another type of profession or work detail. If his detention in the camp was due to his fault in an industrial plant, he had to return to the same job. The administration's point of view was: "With the temporary incarceration and subsequent assignment to the previous occupation it  was intended that in such tenacious cases of absenteeism, such as it may be, an immediate exemplary punishment or transfer to a concentration camp will have the desired effect, and certainly have an educational attitude towards productiveness on the other workers. It spreads otherwise too fast around, the view that the authorities did not not crack down severely enough". The Belgian Francois D., who had to work at a company in Ludwigshafen, was not coming for work several times and was admitted in the summer of 1943 for eight weeks into the the SS special camp, then he had to go back to work for the same company.
'Historical road sign at the Hinzert concentration camp. The sign is presently part of the permanent exposition in the National Resistance Museum in    Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg'.
 On admission into the Labour Education Camp, eight weeks detention were common as a rule. Since the Hinzert concentration camp had not only the function of a work camp, an extension of the detention period could already be specified at the briefing. The young Petro D. from Ukraine was apprehended  at the age of 16 from his home in the Ukraine  and had to work in Euskirchen and later at the Ford plant in Cologne, had fled but was arrested by the Gestapo in Trier. Petro D. remained from 1943 until the dissolution of the camp in Hinzert and was liberated in 1945 on the evacuation march by American soldiers.

The special camp was led successively by three commanders: first commandant was SS-Sturmbannführer Hermann Pister, who worked in Hinzert from the 9 October 1939 to 21 December 1941, before his move as commander in Buchenwald until  in mid-April 1945. His successor at Hinzert was Sturmbannführer Egon Zell, but at the end of April 1942,  he was first commander of the KZ Natzweiler and later at Flossenbiirg . Third camp commander was Hauptsturmführer Paul Sporrenberg from 23 April 1942 to January 1945. The commander was responsible next to the camp, also for the guards, slightly elevated and diagonally opposite the prisoner camp, a house was available for him. The commanders had complete  disciplinary powers in a supervisory capacity over the the guards. The 'First protective custody camp' and the other 'protective custody sections' were responsible for the supervision of prisoners in the camp. The protective custody camp 'teacher'(Erzieher) or 'block leader' who had to supervise the inmates in their barracks and to ensure the implementation of the orders of the commander or protective SS camp leader. For the registration of incoming or Return-transports of prisoners, this came under the jurisdiction of 'the Rapportführer' ' . The prison records were maintained at headquarters.
SS with their officer posing for photo in front of one of the camp barracks at Hinzert

Of special brutality towards the prisoners were SS-men George Schaaf and Joseph  Brendel. Georg Schaaf was called in the camp 'Ivan the Terrible'. He was enlisted into the guards of the police camp Hinzert since October 23, 1939. Former prisoners report that he participated in countless abuses towards prisoners . Josef Brendel, by profession a mason, conducted duties from October 1939 in the infirmary. He tortured the prisoners by arbitrary decision, made surgery trials without anaesthesia and abused seriously ill prisoners with kicks and punches and often refused any medical care.
A special role played In January 1942, Eugen Wipf, he was, in the autumn of 1943, promoted by the Camp-Administration and served as 'room elder' until June 6, 1944 as 'Lagerkapo' and thus had an overseer function of its prisoners. He spread fear and terror by its brutality and killed several prisoners. In  the summer of 1941, Eugen Wipf originally from Switzerland, who after he had been sentenced several times in a [German] criminal court, had been admitted as an 'undesirable Alien and 'Antisocial' into the SS-Sonderlager. Numerous reports of former prisoners who had served their time in Hinzert and were then transferred into other concentration camps or detention centres, testify that in that tight little camp it was not even temporarily possible to hide from arbitrary action by the SS tormentors. Shortly after the war, he was arrested while crossing the border into Switzerland in May 1945 and later imprisoned. Responsible for several murders and acts of violence against detainees, he was by a Zurich Circuit Court on 6 July 1948 convicted to life imprisonment. Wipf died shortly after the verdict in the University Hospital of Zurich . The cause of death was a blood disease.
The prison camp was surrounded with a 3.50 meter high fence of chain-linked wire mesh, barbed wire was attached at the top of this. Against this high fence at a distance of about 1 meters away from from it, coiled barbed wires had been placed, to prevent prisoners from creeping under the high fence during an escape attempt.. At the four outer corners of the trapezoidal camp were four watchtowers. In the prison barracks, the 'bunker', were about 21 barred cells along a lined up central aisle. Barred cell window let in skylight. In addition, there was a dark cell  in which the bunker overseer frequently committed abuses towards the occupants.
 The SS officers, NCOs and men were transferred dated back to July 1, 1940 and incorporated into SS Death's Head units (SS-Totenkopfverbände) of the Waffen-SS. The man-power allowance for this special camp of December 12, 1940 which should have been an authorized strength of a total of 304 SS guards, could never be filled. In fact, only 192 personnel were at that time considered as active. The staff strength had dropped to 106 by the 10 June 1941. By January 15, 1943 there was a slight increase and amounted to 118, up to July 15, 1944 very little had altered with 117 people. The guard company, which originally consisted of three Units rapidly dwindled by year's end 1943-44 down to only two, resulting in a 24-hour guard shift. Thus, the free shift could be used for part of daily service tasks. This in turn led to disciplinary actions, arguments in a competitive sense evolved ,  rivalries occurred, holiday overruns was the norm, they overstayed their home leave, and staff was effected by the increasing consumption of alcohol.
 Some prisoners were constantly in contact with SS guards almost side by side within the camp, especially in the Clothing Unit, Drying Room and Showers, where, for example, Scharführer Johann Schattner the newly arriving deportees plagued with his sadistic behaviour, and in the 'infirmary' where Untersturmführer Schneider used to say: 'Here we have  only healthy or dead, you have the choice'.
Wire Fence at Hinzert
As of spring 1943, a special department the 'SS dog unit' (SS-Hundestaffel) was used at Hinzert, which reported directly to the camp commandant Sporrenberg, and was assigned to the SS special camp (SS-Sonderlager) from Oranienburg and the Central Dog School of the SS there, after a representative of the RFSS for the 'Dog Department' (Hundewesen)' had inspected the camp between February 22 and March 1, 1943. The task of the trained dogs were primarily to roam at night between the inner and outer high camp fence to prevent escapes of prisoners or to follow the trail of a fugitive picking up the scent. Dogs were placed in the camp onto prisoners as well, to drive prisoners faster to a running stage or to attack them intentionally.
 A security measure and intimidation was that the prisoners after their arrival during hair cuts had an approximately three centimetre wide strip from the forehead down to the neck shorn twice, and was regularly re-cut to leave a bare strip. The prisoners called this strip the 'Autobahn'. It probably served the fact that the guards could easier identify escaping prisoners. (Ref.: Testimony of Dr. Claude Meyroune and Michel Goltais, former deportees at Hinzert on 16/03/1996 in Paris, in: NS-Documentation Centre Rhineland-Palatinate in Osthofen).
  Three mass executions were carried out at Hinzert. A few weeks after the invasion of the Wehrmacht into the Soviet Union on June 6, 1941,  Hitler's issued orders detailing the 'Kommissar Befehl'  when it got its full meaning, that  'political commissars' of the Red Army are not treated as prisoners of war in accordance with the Hague Convention, but should be liquidated after being taken prisoner. Because of this 'Commissar Order'  when in mid-October 1941 from a work detail at the military training area at Baumholder, near Birkenfeld) 70 Sowjet [political] soldiers were selected, literally 'released' from captivity [legally becoming civilians] and brought to Hinzert concentration camp. Pister, as camp commander had days earlier discussed in advance with the Higher SS and Police Leader in Wiesbaden, Erwin Rösener, the method of execution. The Soviet prisoners were expected by the camp physician, Dr. Waldemar Wolter and other SS officers, which took place in the quarantine barracks,  which was previously partly separated and had been prepared as a first aid room. A staged medical examination was performed  on the Soviet prisoners, they were told  that prior to an assigned work detail, that their physical condition had to be verified, checked and vaccinated before their transfer. Commander Pister was in temporary attendance as an observer. The physician was assisted by paramedics Brendel and Fenchel, while the doctor allegedly inoculated the Sowjet Prisoners against influenza , which in fact were cyanide injections. Those killed were buried secretly in the surrounding forest. [What I personally did experienced, Officers and NCO's in the Wehrmacht would often equivocate when given orders to conceal the truth]
'Leonid Brezhnev in 1942 (right), then a brigade commissar, handing a Communist party membership card to a soldier
 The Army commander in chief, Field Marshal Walter von Brauchitsch, was highly sceptical of the order's legality. Brauchitsch issued a written order providing that discipline was to be maintained as it had been in the past. The entire Wehrmacht leadership were deeply corrupt men who all received enormous bribes from a secret slush fund known as Konto 5 run by Hans Lammers in exchange for loyalty to the National Socialist state. Brauchitsch received a monthly bribe of 4, 000 Reichmarks, which he greatly valued, and as a result was extremely loyal to Hitler because of his greed. In February 1940, Brauchitsch had brushed aside complaints from the retired Field Marshal August von Mackensen [who had British ancestors] that German forces had committed all sorts of war crimes in Poland in 1939 and were still committing war crimes on the grounds that he cared more about the money that he received from Hitler than he did about the lives of Poles. Given this history, Brauchitsch had no hesitations about enforcing the Commissar Order because his greed overwhelmed his scruples about enforcing an illegal order. During the campaign against the Soviet Union, all the senior German officers enforced the Commissar Order despite its manifestly illegal nature out of the fear if they did not, Hitler would cut them from their monthly bribes of 4, 000 Reichmarks from Konto 5 which they cared about so much.
Von Brauchitsch with Hitler. Brauchitsch was sceptical about the legality of Hitler's Commissar Order.
The second murder action concerned the participants of the Luxembourg General Strike against the German occupation policy which took place on 30 August 1942 after the Decree by Gauleiter of 'Moselle' (Koblenz-Trier-Luxembourg) Gustav Simon, in his political/civilian capacity announcing compulsory military service for males in the Wehrmacht. The strike movement against the forcible Germination (Eindeutschung) of its inhabitants probable a significant deviation of international law and the conscription of males into the German army had all of the occupied Grand Duchy (Großherzugtum) in uproar. Workers left their factories, farmers dumped milk onto streets, teachers and students boycotted classes. The telephone wires between the Gestapo in Luxembourg and the Reich Security Main Office ran hot. Fritz Hartmann, director of the Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police and the SD in Luxembourg, obtained from  Berlin, the declaration of a state of emergency and martial law (Standrechtes). On 31 August Gauleiter Simon imposed as 'head of the civil administration in Luxembourg' the state of Emergency (Ausnahmezustand). [With that all legal procedures were observed to take appropriate actions.] 20 Luxembourger patriots were condemned as the main accused, and sentenced to death by a court martial (Standgericht- there is no defence, consider it a Military Tribunal.) For further details read:
Camp Commander Sporrenberg
They were taken to Hinzert in several groups and summarily shot in a quarry near the SS special camp between 2 and 10 September 1942 and subsequently buried in a common grave in the nearby woods. The executed Luxembourger patriots were by profession: four mechanics, a lath operator and a metal worker, four teachers and a professor, two postal workers, two rail-road workers, one telephone worker, a roofer, a city clerk, the manager of a business office, and a type setter. Posters in red colour displayed the death sentences throughout Luxembourg, but without naming the place of enforcement -Hinzert-. The first posters were already displayed in Luxenbourg, when the strikers were brought to Hinzert prior to their execution. Camp Commandant Sporrenberg had first hesitated because he had only been handed over a judgement of the court-martial, but he had not yet received orders from Berlin. Yet he then personally participated in the shootings.(Ref.: ibid, page 174)
Poster announcing the death sentences of 9 of the 21 Luxembourgers executed for their participation in the 1942 General Strike.'

Due to the forced recruitment of young Luxembourger, the resistance of various groups in the occupied Grand Duchy increased in the subsequent years. Mostly it was resistance in the form of assistance during escapes, providing of hiding places and intelligence work was done. Early in 1944 an attempted deterrent action to intimidate the Luxembourger Resistance was contemplated by the German occupier. 350 Luxembourger  resistance fighters were brought to Hinzert at the end of January 1944. Originally it was planned to have 50 of them sentenced to death by a special court. Gauleiter Simon and the Inspector of the Sipo and SD Wiesbaden, SS Standartneführer Otto Somann, agreed instead of a process with 50 death sentences to settle the matter on 'Police 'Security Policy' and to reduce the number to be shot to 25, because both expected an unfavourable political reaction with regard to the proposed Eindeutschung (Germanization) of the  Luxembourger population. February 25, 1944, was the deadline date: 25 should be shot without trial in Hinzert. Two inmates escaped execution because they had previously been transferred to other camps and could not be brought back in time for the execution. Two other prisoners who were being treated for diphtheria and a stomach ailment in the hospital at Hermeskeil were collected as planned, however, and shot. So, finally 23 Luxembourger were executed in the forest near Hinzert and buried in a mass grave. The conformist newspaper 'Luxenburger Wort' wrote of a martial law enforcement in order to hide from the public that the resistance fighters were killed without due process. The 22-46 year old victims came from different parts of the country, it was intended that the the terror would spread over the whole Duchy.
In addition to these killings, there were those in the forest and the others in the quarry where numerous prisoners were murdered, plus many others by different methods. For example the Jewish Josef Hanau and other prisoners were drowned by SS men in a water trough. The indictment against the camp commander Paul Sporrenberg from 21 December 1960 lists a total of 93 killings. [Ref .: Albert Pütz, Das SS-Sonderlager/KZ Hinzert 1940-1945. Bd. 1: Das Anklageverfahren gegen Paul Sporrenberg, hrsg. vom Ministerium der Justiz Fheinland-Pfalz und der Landeszentrale für politische Bildung. 1998, Seite 178 ff.] [Ref. Albert Pütz, The SS special camp/KZ Hinzert 1940-1945. Vol. 1: The impeachment proceedings against Paul Sporrenberg, edited by the Ministry of Justice Rheinland-Palatinate and the Regional Centre for Civic Education. 1998, page 178 ff.]
He was arrested in Münchengladbach in 1959 and accused of 60 cases of personal injury and deaths, and the execution of 23 Luxembourgers. He died before the opening of the proceedings.
Many monuments in Luxembourg are dedicated to the occupation and liberation of Luxembourg. They remember the victims of the forced labour camps and the forced conscripts, the forced deportations and resettlements as well as the Luxembourg Jews dragged off to unknown destinations and killed. Many memorials commemorate the battles during the winter of 1944/45 and the American liberators.

Instead of calling prisoner by their name as soon as they entered Hinzert [and elsewhere, this was standard procedure] they were addressed by their Number. Foreign prisoners who initially did not understand or pronounced their number in their own tongue were brutally beaten and punished. Here the Luxembourger prisoners played a special role, as they mostly grew up bilingual, they could at least help the French prisoners. They translated the orders of the SS-men or practised with the French, so that they could memorize their prison number in the German language and they could pronounce it properly when reporting. So they kept the prisoners that did not speak German often from further beatings or ill-treatment by overseers, which in some cases were foreigner themselves.
Through letters, characters, or the Star of David on the handed out tattered, mismatched clothes, the prisoners were classified into different groups and thus made directly visible to the guards. Particularly characteristic of the this SS special camp/concentration camp, according to many former deportees that it was a 'run camp',(Lauflager) were everything had to be performed and settled on the run. In particular, for malnourished, sick and elderly prisoners continuous running coercion was painful and led to health problems.
The food was totally inadequate. The French 'Nacht und Nebel'-deportee Dr. Claude Meyroune outlined after the war the situation: ''A very small ration of protein,  almost without fat,  no raw food in the form of fruit, very little vitamins and almost no calcium. A ration under 800 calories, is a starvation rations, on top of this, the worse  forced hard working conditions". The daily rations consisted mostly of 300 to 500 grams of bread, an average of half a litre of tea or coffee substitute in the morning and evening and at noon a low-fat watery soup, containing mostly cabbage. The lack of of carbohydrates, fat, and protein resulted in prisoners loosing massive weight losses. Some lost in the first two months of their stay in Hinzert over 25 kg of their regular weight.
For the whole camp, there were only 20 beds in the medical hut where also sick members of the security guards were treated. Until the beginning of 1941 led by Dr. Waldemar Wolter, physician of the Waffen-SS, was in charge of the Revier. He was succeeded by the surgeon Dr. Theophil Hackethal, a contract physician and Obersturmbannführer from Hermeskeil, who was also the senior doctor at the hospital there. Dr. Hackethal, who took part in the mass shootings of Luxembourger resistance fighters, signed death certificates of dead prisoners without even seen the corpse, with false information about the cause of death, based on the statement of others. [involved as a secretary of a firing squad in the shooting of a total of 43 people.] Since he was often absent, medical care was until early 1943 at the mercy of an incompetent SS-Paramedic. Many prisoners were already upon their arrival in Hinzert in a physically poor condition. Camp Commandant Sporrenberg reported on 25 January 1943, to the RSHA in Berlin: 'Since April 1942 constantly French prisoners are transferred here to Hinzert. The state of their health is so poor that they represent a danger for the whole camp. The reason for these conditions is not the state of our facilities but poor condition of the prisoners. A large proportion of prisoners  are already sick when admitted. So it often happens that prisoners are transferred here that are already over 80 years old, others can not walk the route from the station to the camp and must be carried. In many cases, even prisoners are admitted with active TB, which must be immediately referred to the local civil hospital. Since we do not have an isolation Unit at present, the infected detainees with a contagious disease must be brought to the hospital at Hermeskeil. There are currently over 40 prisoners, most of them there are French. The hospital and the civil population can not be expected that in the long run these condition to be acceptable. It is therefore (es wird gebeten) requested that the admission authorities, especially in Paris which is  the cause of these problems, that sick prisoners are not transferred here in future". A life-sustaining for many prisoners was ensured in Hinzert by the French doctors Dr. Chauvenet, Dr. Chabaud and Dr. Jagiello, who were themselves arrested as "Nacht und Nebel" deportees in the camp. (Ref.: Andre Chauvenet, Une experience de l'esclave. Souvenirs d'un resitant poitevin deporte, Le Poire-sur-Vie (Vendee) 1989.)
After the war, he was indicted together with 60 other representatives of the Camp Administration in the Mauthausen-Gusen trials. Among other things, he was accused of having ordered the gassing of 1400-2700 prisoners shortly before the war ended. The assessment of his behaviour  as medical officer in Mauthausen proved to be controversial. There were a number of former prisoners who attested of his decent behaviour. Thus, it was stated Wolter had sought to improve the medical care of inmates and fought for a better food supply in the camp. Still, he was convicted as a war criminal and executed at Landsberg on 28 May 1947.
At the end of February 1945, Hackethal lived in his holiday cottage near Fulda. There he was arrested by American soldiers on April 16, 1945. In 1947, he was extradited to the French occupation zone. On October 28, he was sentenced to seven years in prison at  Rastatt, on appeal on May 25, 1949, the sentence was increased to 15 years, rather than reduced. Subsequently, several appeals for Hackethal who was detained in the prison of Wittlich had been filed. Both, the Trier Bishop Bernhard Stein and Rhineland-Palatinate's Prime Minister Peter Altmaier campaigned for him. In April 1952 Hackethal was released and his financial benefits under the Act of Returnees  were granted. He returned to Hermeskeil and practised there until his death as a doctor. He was married and had eight children.

                                                                                                                                                           CONTINUED UNDER PART 3

Wednesday, March 18, 2015



Background Introduction
1938 established the German Labour Front [Deutsche Arbeitsfront] (DAF) in the vicinity of the village of Hinzert located in the Rhineland-Palatinate, (Hunsrück)  a [barracks] camp for workers of the Western Wall, the so-called Siegfried Line, 30 km from the Luxembourg border.  During 1939 the camp was taken over by the Organisation Todt (OT).  It was now used as a 'training camp' for detained individuals by the police, referred to as 'special camp'(SS-Sonderlager). On 1 July 1940, Hinzert was subordinate to the inspector of concentration camps and through this process assigned the status as a main concentration camp, however, it was not until February 1942, that the  Group D of the SS Economic-Administrative Main Office controlled these facilities. Hinzert served first as a 'work camp' (Arbeitserziehungslager) for Western Wall workers and became the centre of the completed 'West camp', in fact a police detention camp, and were initially reporting to the Inspector of the Security Police and the SD. From November 1944 onwards Hinzert was subject to the control of the the Buchenwald concentration camp, until the evacuation of the last prisoners, which took place in March.  In addition to labour education prisoners (work-shy), as well as political people held in 'protective custody', especially resistance fighters from Luxembourg and France, but also Italians, Poles, German Foreign Legionnaires, when they returned to Germany, [it was outlawed under the NS-regime to join the French Foreign Legion] and members of other groups of undesirable persons were kept here. For many, Hinzert was a transit station on the way to other camps.

The Siegfried Line in 1938'
As an SS special concentration camp (SS-Sonderlager/KZ) Hinzert comprised of a total of 29 satellite camps in the Rhine-Main area, in the Eifel and Saarland. They had partly the function of 'labour education camps' or police detention centres. Some were kept for the Organisation Todt as a working reservoir, others were built at sites of the arms industry or established and made available on airfields and other military installations of the Wehrmacht. Often the prisoners were used to remove air-raid war damages. About the majority of the satellite camps of Hinzert, there is only scant information.
The longest existing satellite camp was in Wittenberg at the Phrix works where the prisoners were used in the production of cellulose. Because the company's management was not satisfied with the condition of the workers, they were sent back to the main camp, (Return Transfer) not out of care for them, but from considerations of less further utility and of no practical use, they demanded healthier prisoners as a substitute, on the grounds that there was no purpose for starved labour, the prisoners returned in February 1945. Thus, the factory management got rid of a burden, considering the given war's end-threatening conditions.
A special case is the camp Wöbbelin that was ten weeks at the turn of 1944/45 built as an evacuation and death camp for 5,000 prisoners and became for many the last station for them. About 1,000 people died there. Quite late, only in April 1945, a POW camp at Sandbostel had been established as a concentration camp, where about 10,000 prisoners languished.
THE SS SPECIAL CAMP/KZ HINZERT (Researchers Uwe Bader / Beate Welter)
The camp was designated in the Nazi era as 'SS-Hinzert special camp' (SS-Sonderlager Hinzert), and in it's early days run as a 'police custody camp Hinzert'[which was compulsory labour, by people kept in jails]. This is explained by the history of the camp. The historical name after 1945 led to repeatedly denying the character of a concentration camp and German officialdom only conceded its existence from the beginning as a functioning 'work camp'.  Until into the 90s  the claim was made to call the camp  what it actually was, had been ignored by the German authorities. The pertinent efforts of former deportees, especially from Luxembourg, or of persons who had dealt with the history of the camp were blocked. However, the camp Hinzert was far more, and a special part of the concentration camp system during the Second World War.

The emergence of the camp on the outskirts of the small village Hinzert, about ten kilometres from Hermeskeil and about 25 km from Trier, was directly related to the construction of the 'Westwall' (Siegfried Line) along the German border with France and Belgium. Using the 'Regulation in ensuring the workforce-needs for special tasks of state political importance', which was adopted and enforced on July 1, 1938, workers were specially committed to serve on the Westwallbau (building the Siegfried Line). This Regulation was also the basis for convening the first guards of the SS Special Camp Hinzert (SS-Sonderlager). The camp complex was built in 1938, first for conscripts workers who were employed in the construction  by orders of the German Wehrmacht to complete the Westwall, or in the construction of a projected nearby Reichs-Autobahn. These workers became the responsibility of the Organisation Todt, or were organized members of the Reich Labour Service (RAD) [All German males and later females from the age of 18 had to join the RAD which were Labour Service Companies, for two years]. However, already in early summer 1939 'work-shy' or 'work refusal individuals' (Arbeitsverweigerer) were brought in as 'a three-week' re-education stint into the camp at Hinzert. After a fire broke out in a larger camp  part on 16 August 1939 new barracks were built for the Reichs Labour Service.(RAD)
RAD squad, 1940
On October 9, 1939 SS-Standartenführer Hermann Pister took office as the first camp commander. Under his direction, he changed the 'Polizeihaftlager' (Police Detention Centre) which was erected at the same time in a built-up area in the same camp complex as the 'SS-Sonderlager' (SS special camp). While in a police custody camp, detained workers were released after three weeks as appropriate by management and the completion of 'Re-education' towards working habits. But 'Backsliders Volksgenossen (citizen-comrades) or those workers who were convicted by Field- and Courts-martial stayed longer as prison punishment, or were to be regarded as habitual drunkards and notorious slackers went  into the special camp (SS-Sonderlager) Hinzert for a longer time', thus Pister noted in a report to the SS Main Office on 25 July 1940. In Hinzert there was in the spring as it were, two camps in one. According to previous research, the term 'Hinzert concentration camp' was used for the first time on 23 November1939. [The order from Berlin reads: The Standartenführer Pister, Hermann, SS no. 29892, is commanded with immediate effect for the supervision and management of education camps in the West.. Berlin, October 9, 1939]
In the fall of 1939, the 'Security Offices' the competent authorities responsible for the Westwallbau superstructure responsible for delinquent workers, built more 'police detention camps', in which the inmates should not only be 're-educated',  but were also collected and used on special work details. These camp structures were built at location at Vicht south of Aachen, in Uthlede at Wesermünde in Hamburg-West, in Mörsch in Frankenthal, in Reinzabern near Germersheim and Hinzert. All these camps were reporting and controlled by the camp commandant of the 'SS special camp Hinzert' (SS-Sonderlager') and thus assumed a national function from the beginning. These Polizrihaftlager should and would implement the 'Local Emergency Arresting Law' whereby to relieve overcrowded prisons and ensure that the prisoners were not lost for use in the labour process requirement, but were brought to heel by tighter labour laws in line with Nazi ideology. Looking at the background of their commercial use, the promotion of the Westwall building by allocating previously disciplined workers in the Nazi sense to build at the 'Superstructure Westwall'. These camps were also called 'the West Camps' in official communications.
[As a side issue: Volunteers of the Hitler Youth from the age of sixteen did participate in the construction of the Westwall and were awarded a special commemorated Medal for their endeavours. It was not all forced criminals that worked there,sic]
Hinzert, view of the camp 1941

The year 1939/1940 by Hinzert administrated system for the 'West camps' had lost its essential importance with the rapid success of the German armed forces in Western Europe. The expansion of the Western Wall was stopped. Thus, the associated camps to Hinzert were closed, and also for the SS special camp now raised the question of its existence. After an examination of the camp by the Chief of the SS Main Office, August Heißmeier, and an Annual Report of the camp commandant Pister it was decided that the Hinzert concentration camp would be transferred with effect of 1 July 1940, to the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps (IKL) in Oranienburg and the SS leaders who were subordinate leaders and other teams with equivalent effect incorporated into the Waffen-SS (SS Death's Head units'). Instead of the previous cost carrier, the Organisation Todt, now the Gestapo-Office would  regulate the financial allocations for the remaining camp and the prisoners. The IKL took over the cost of the transferred and retained Waffen-SS guards and its leadership to Hermann Pister. But the camp was in its role as a 'work camp' assigned to Department II of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), which was responsible for 'organizational, administrative and legal aspects'. It was managed there in the office group C Division III, which administrated the area under the term 'accommodation and prisoners well being'. Between the IKL and the RSHA there were obvious rivalries about these camps. Pister as commandant simply ignored instructions from the Gestapo-Office to designate the camp as 'Hinzert concentration camp/tabor education camp'. (SS-Sonderlager Hinzert/Arbeiterziehungslager)
The Westwall (Siefried Line) and the Maginot  Line' The Americans never conquered the Westwall!

In addition to the 'labour education prisoners' increasingly political prisoners were now brought to Hinzert, especially members of the Resistance from neighbouring Luxembourg, which after the German invasion on the 10th May 1940, the Gauleiter of Koblenz-Trier, Gustav Simon, was appointed on the 2nd of August as head of the civil administration of Luxembourg. Simon incorporated the conquered state of Luxembourg into his Gau 'Moselland'. The first protective custody admission of political prisoners was taken by Luxembourg, and commenced from the summer of 1941.
On August 30th 1942, Gustav Simon publicly announced the introduction of compulsory military service. Having had wind of this ordinance, the resistance fighters decided to call a general strike. In order to inform the population that nobody was to go to work or school on August 31st 1942, fliers were printed and distributed. The strike commenced in Wiltz in the morning and, from there, spread through the entire country. The Germans retorted savagely, arresting those alleged to have been responsible and sentencing them to death by courtmartial (‘Standgericht’). Consequently, twenty people were shot in September 1942 at the concentration camp Hinzert.
When military service became mandatory, a good many young men fled the country, be it to enlist with the allied forces or join the French and Belgian resistance movements. Others completed their training but did not return from their home leave. If, for some reason or other, they could not or would not go abroad, they went into hiding aided by resistance fighters or common citizens. For this purpose, a large number of special hideaways were created, with utmost secrecy, in forests, mines, churches and on farms. About two thirds of the objectors made use of this arrangement, which came at a prize: Discovery could mean death for both the young men and their helpers, as well as the dreaded deportation to the eastern border of the Reich (‘Ëmsiedlung’). Nonetheless, a total of 3,500 out of the 10,200 young men that had been summoned managed to circumvent recruitment.

Gauleiter Simon under Hitler's portrait
The detained prisoners saw their protective custody authority not at all, they were mostly 'submitted' to them after the arrest. The SS special camp became from 1941/42 more and more assigned with tasks in common with concentration camp practises, such as the protective custody admissions and the 'special treatment' of 70 Soviet prisoners of war who were executed in October 1941. (the German text reads 'murdered' (ermordet)
Oswald Pohl and Richard Glücks could show at the foundation of the SS-WVHA from available statistics of the IKL, to convey to the Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler that the RSHA, had not run the camp Hinzert economically effectively until 1942. Himmler declared on 7 February 1942 at a meeting at Hitler's headquarters 'Wolsschanse': "I believe that we can not afford at the present time that the SS special camp 'Hinzert', which currently is under the Reich Main Security Office shall continue in its present form, because as I have noted, there is nothing rational done or what is performed there is not vital for winning the war. Anyway In the winter virtually nothing is ever finished. I reckon it as important that the Hinzert concentration camp on an economically basis should be incorporated into the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps ".

A group of SS officers converse outside at a construction site in the Hinzert concentration camp'

After subordination of the camp personnel under the IKL as well as the economically responsibility by the IKL, which in turn was just incorporated as an official group D into the formation of the SS-WVHA, it became clear this meant that the prisoners of the SS Sonderlager of the IKL, respectively, became now under the new SS-WVHA. Up to and until February 1942, only the RSHA Department II had been responsible over the Gestapo-Section Trier's activities. With the intention of SS-WVHA, rigorous use of the concentration camp prisoners as manpower for the war economy would be demanded, and the degree of exploitation of labour of the prisoners in the SS special camp changed up to the 'extermination through hard labour' (Vernichtung durch Arbeit).
Oswald Pohl had succeeded in being awarded the responsibility for the special camp in Hinzert. At the same time he received the budgetary control over the Gestapo-Section Trier and the RSHA Department II for the maintenance and infrastructure for barracks construction and supply of goods plus the amount of lease-hold payments to their original owners. That was a very cost effective solution for him by his newly founded SS-WVHA. The SS special camp, therefore, was in the truest sense of the word a special form of a concentration camp.

Defendant Oswald Pohl, a former SS Obergruppenfuehrer and general in the Waffen-SS, is sentenced to death by hanging at  the Military Tribunal II at the Pohl/WVHA trial.
After the outbreak of war, camp inmates were increasingly deployed in armaments production and mercilessly exploited in the process.This necessitates measures to ensure the gradual transformation of the concentration camps from their previously one-sided political form into organizations more suitable for economic tasks. With the integration of prisoners into wartime production, the camps assumed far greater economic importance than ever before. On March 3, 1942, the camps were placed under the control of the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office [SS-Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungshauptamt or WVHA], which was led by SS-Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl. His report of April 30, 1942, already announces the shift from a penal- to work-camp structure, a move that introduced certain improvements in camp conditions, at least on a short-term basis, since prisoners were now regarded as an important labour source in the war effort. On the whole, however, the massive, long-term deployment of forced labourers from the camps also entailed the ruthless exploitation of human life.
Portable crates, which the prisoners had to drag while running, were used to transport wood,slates and coal. This is a contrived photo, and originates from an SS guard not known so far

The first admissions to the camp in 1939 was made to discipline workers of the Organisation Todt. The men who had refused to work were designated 'wards' (Zöglinge) and were held  for a period of 21 days in a police custody section or for 56 days in the labour camp. After their release, they had no criminal record in a legal sense, but were considered 'difficult-unworthy'(wehrwürdig). With the outbreak of war this position changed somewhat as people were taken into Hinzert and were abused there, to punish them because of their political beliefs or their religious convictions. During the year 1941, the classification of prisoners was adjusted with the term 'ward', as a category abolished and replaced wit he the term of 'Protective Custody' and  'Work Education Prisoners'(Arbeitserziehungshäftlinge) were now only used. The first major consignments of protection prisoners took place in the summer of 1941 from the Grand Duchy Luxembourg. Henceforth Hinzert was the central prison facility for Luxembourg opponents of the German occupation forces and members of the Luxembourger Resistance. Many were deported from here to other places of detention and concentration camps.
During the second world war, political prisoners were deported from countries occupied by the Wehrmacht into the SS special camp/concentration camp Hinzert. Three times prisoners were taken only to Hinzert in order to be liquidated there in groups: (1941- 70 Soviets, 1942- 20 and 1944- 23 Luxembourger victims). Most of the prisoners who were not released, but deported either after a term in a Hinzert sub--camp of the KZ or to other concentration camps.

Commandant Hermann Pister oversees a column of prisoners.
 Between 1941 and 1944, the SS special camp served as recording and test facility for checking the 'Eindeutschfähigkeit' (Integrating into Germane) of Polish forced labourers, after the individuals were arrested for illegal dealings with German women. These men were given a chance to show their 'Aryan' appearance to survive by their proof of possible Germanic features, called the 'Eindeutschungsfähigkeit'. While those forced labourers who had Slavic character after the Nazi racial ideology, were mostly sentenced to death, while the 'E-Poles', were  (the E stood for 'Eindeutschungsfähigkeit) deported to Hinzert. They were kept in a department with their own rooms and have been used only in particular Polish working commandos. The German 'Racial review - and Settlement Main Office' would undertake the examinations. If a prisoner had been classified as 'eindeutschungsfähig', (acceptable as Germanic) the preparations were conducted for a parole after six months and for the marriage with the German woman could proceed. Those prisoners whose examination was negative were sent into other concentration camps, mostly located into the Alsace concentration camp at Natzweiler, and there usually executed on the basis of 'Rassenschande' (Race-Shame) Yet German males did live in relationships with Polish women,
if she was 'nordic' and if approved even received a Govt. Monetary Grant (Ehestandsdarlehn) quite openly to establish families.
[It should be noted that a number of mixed blood (coloured) people did in fact live normally under the NS-Rgime without persecution, especially those descendants from former colonies, after 1918.]
  A special feature had the SS-Sonderkommando since the decree  'Nacht und Nebel' (Night and Fog) of December 7, 1941 for those in France detained political prisoners. The 'NN-deportation' were brought by rail from French prisons of La Sante, Cherche Midi and Fresnes near Paris via Trier to Reinsfeld, from there they reached on foot or by truck into the camp. The first transport of NN prisoners from France came into Hinzert on May 29, 1942. Until October 1943 at least 40 NN transports have been indicated. According to present knowledge there were about 2,000 French Night and Fog deportees in Hinzert. Among the prisoners there were also Dutch, Belgian and Luxenbourg resistance fighters who had been apprehended in northern France. Women who were caught as' Night-and-Fog' prisoners, were taken to Germany from time to time into the women's camp at Flußbach near Wittlich. Thither the mother of the youngest NN prisoner was brought here. The mother later died in a concentration camp at Ravensbrück, her son was killed during an air raid in a concentration camp at Nordhausen in Thuringia.[Reference: Bader, Hitler's "Nacht und Nebel-Erlaß",page 40]
From Trier to Hinzert:
Priest, painter draughtsman and engraver, the Frenchman John Daligault a member of the Resistance in 1940, through the Volunteer Army Caen branch network, arrested on 31 August 1941 he was detained in Fresnes, tried, and then transferred to Germany, into the prison of Trier (Rhineland-Palatinate). He was then interned in the nearby concentration camp Hinzert from 1942 to March 1943. After several months in captivity in prisons and other  camps, he was executed in Dachau, April 28, 1945.
Hinzert commemorative plaque of the Night and Fog victims

                                                                                                                                                                    CONTINUED UNDER PART 2/3                                                                          

Monday, July 21, 2014


The described shunting practice within the concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora complex clearly shows that the working capacity during the final phase of the Nazi regime, that the decisive criterion was whether a prisoner survived or not. This is sometimes labelled as an economization of inmate labour in search for a development that led to a certain permeability of the set of rigid SS boundary lines within the inmate society. They were marked by Nationality of camp inmates and a racial hierarchy according to the criteria of their admission category.  For example, a Russian skilled worker, employed in the missile assembly in the central plant, had more hope of survival than a French prisoner classified as labourer (Hilfsarbeiter) who according to national socialistic ideologue was far superior than a Russian fellow prisoner, (he, the Frenchman) may in fact sent to his eventual death, once assigned to the Building Commando at camp Ellrich, after all he was only considered as unskilled labourer.
Forced labour in the armaments industry had the consequence that the concentration camp system with its external camps (Aussenlager) since the second half of the war grew more and more into German (and European) society. But in other respects, there was the proliferation of concentration camps itself: not only in the field of recruitment of the guards which was constantly expanded, but also the circle of those who were threatened by Internment [Listening to the BBC if caught or reported meant four years KZ. HKS]. The admission categories and personal records were continuously expanded in Mittelbau-Dora, there were groups of prisoners who were not known from former concentration camps.
One of these new detention categories was the 'WIFO-prisoner'. These were around 90 mainly Polish and French former civilian workers of the 'Economic Research Association', who had been used since the war began on excavation of the tunnel system in Kohnstein and were admitted in the fall of 1943 into the Dora camp. Other new groups of prisoners were about 600 Italian military internees (IMI's), most of which were admitted in the fall of 1943 and the so-called 'Zwischenhäftinge' (They had no precise definition) . These were around 750 Wehrmacht soldiers, who were transferred to the concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora for desertion or other misconducts, sentenced by the military courts in the winter 1944/45, and transferred from Buchenwald.
Foundation of the block for Italian military internees'.
In contrast to all other KZ Installations, Mittelbau Concentration Camp was not regarded as an Direct Admission Camp even after its independence. This meant that very few prisoners were sent after October 28, 1944,  in a direct way there for internment. Instead, transports continuously arrived from other concentration camps in the southern Harz, (the Harz is a mountain range in Thüringen) most of them still from Buchenwald. Among the few prisoners who came directly into the  camp , included, in addition to about 80 foreign civilian workers who were detained by local Gestapo for breaches of working contracts and other alleged offences as protective prisoners into Mittelbau, there were nearly 200 police detainees - mostly French, Polish or Russian civilian forced labourers, who were admitted under the charge of loafing (Arbeitsbummelei) or other offences and normally were kept for a period of four to eight weeks and released after the expiry of this period, if the Administration did not change the internment into Protective Custody , as the permanent transfer was called in the daily reports of the camp Gestapo.
Overall, prisoners classified as new admission were only a small minority. The largest foreign share presented in the fall of 1944, were, with almost a third of prisoners from the Soviet Union, among whom were prisoners of war. Also well represented were about one quarter Polish and French, who accounted for almost 15 percent of the camp workforce. The latter came mainly in the first few months and once again increasingly after the Allied invasion of Normandy into the Mittelbau-Dora camp. As the prisons and camps in France were vacated by the retreating German occupation administration and at the same time its occupants were deported into concentration camps in the Reich. It was the same with the Polish prisoners, when transports  from Buchenwald arrived at Mittelbau-Dora after the suppression of the Warsaw uprising, it reached a first numerical peak in August 1944. After the arrival of the evacuation transports from Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen, in January and February 1945 prisoners transferred from Poland became the largest share of the camp inmates.
German prisoners, most of them classified as criminals, but also several hundred political prisoners, as well as homosexuals, presented in this phase of the history of the camp as to numbers an insignificant group of prisoners. However, because of their language skills and the racial hierarchy of the inmate population as set by the SS, they were the preferred appointed prisoner functionaries. All important posts in the system of prisoner functionaries were occupied in the Mittelbau camps with Germans.
The aforementioned prisoners from the Soviet Union, Poland, France and Germany, these were invariably non-Jewish prisoners. Initially, there were no Jewish prisoners in Mittelbau, but this changed in late May 1944, when 1,000 Hungarian Jews arrived in the camp Dora, including many children and adolescents. Most of them were immediately forwarded to the construction camp Ellrich-Juliushütte where many died an agonizing death as a result of the murderous working conditions. At the end of September 1944 came the next transport of Jewish prisoners into the camp, these were 300 Hungarian Jews, who as a skilled workers had to work in the V-weapons production for the Volkswagen plant in Schönebeck on the Elbe, in France, on the Moselle, at camp Rebstock. In Dora the line of work this meant a closed set as forced labourers for the V-1 production.
Overall the Jews remained , despite these two transports up to January 1945 into the Mittelbau-camps in the absolute minority. In most camps there were no Jewish inmates. That changed in January 1945, when in the course of the evacuation in the east located forced Labour- and Concentration Camps, several thousand Jews were sent to the concentration camp Mittelbau. Alone from Czestochowa over 1,000 prisoners (most of the prisoners of this transport arrived into the camp Rottleberode and Stempeda, where many were killed by SS personnel and Kapos or died of the effects of forced labour in the tunnels of the project B 4). In camp Harzungen the percentage of Jewish prisoners rose up early in April 1945 to just under ten percent, and that, although the mortality rate reached among the evacuees from Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen proportions that exceeded the early phase of the Dora camp itself. Most of the completely exhausted prisoners from Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen, the SS had to take into the Boelke Barracks. It can therefore be assumed that in this camp, the percentage of Jewish prisoners was still much higher than in Harzungen.
Harzungen and Ellrich-Juliushütte were also the camps with the relatively highest proportion of Roma and Sinti who like their Jewish fellow prisoners inside the Mittelbau complex preferred by the SS, were similarly assigned to the two infamous construction camps. The first large transports with Roma and Sinti (a total of about 800 inmates) arrived in mid-April 1944, and the middle of May 1944 , from Auschwitz via Buchenwald into the two camps . Several hundreds more Roma and Sinti, the SS deported in August 1944 after the dissolution of the family camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau and the murder of most of its occupants into the Harz. In Harzungen the proportion of Roma and Sinti  until the fall of 1944 rose at the workforce level to almost eleven percent.
The main product of the Mittelbau-project was death. Among the murderous conditions, particularly on construction sites almost all the detainees suffered equally, whether they are Jews as well as Gypsies, who were under high pressure of annihilation anyway, or the French prisoners, who were ranked higher in the Nazi racial ideology. Thus, the adjusted death rates in the SS perspective of higher-value prisoner groups were those groups that stood at the bottom of the racial ladder. The consequence of this was that the death rate among the French and Belgian prisoners, especially many of whom were deported to the dreaded construction camp at Ellrich-Juliushütte, reached catastrophic proportions. In December 1944, nearly 40 percent of all deaths of concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora were non-Jewish French or Belgian inmates.

Sub-camp Ellrich-Juliushütte, Part of Mittelbau-Dora
Part of Mittelbau-Dora
The conditions at Ellrich-Juliushütte were utterly horrific, even by concentration camp standards. Due to the unusually high death rate, the authorities had a Krematoria built in February/March 1945. This brick structure, complete with dissection table, although only operational for several weeks, burned over 1,000 corpses. The ashes were dumped outside the Krematoria building. Twelve Wachturmen (watchtowers) guarded all sides of the camp, which measured several hundred metres at its widest point. The prisoners were housed in former factory buildings that were in poor condition. West of the Häftlingslager (prisoners' camp), the SS and Luftwaffe personnel who served as guards were accommodated, also in the former plaster factory buildings. Initially, the prisoner blocks had no bathroom or toilet facilities, with an external latrine pit in use until small external structures were used as sanitary blocks later.
The prisoners had to wake at 3:30am, with a small dose of cold ersatz coffee substitute (without sugar) all they had before embarking on a three hour journey to the tunnel complexes where they worked. Following a twelve hour shift, with a brief pause for lunch which was generally a weak soup made from rotten turnips, the prisoners would begin the trek home. After arriving back at the camp some time between 10 and 11pm, they received a small piece of bread and margarine. Due to the severe food shortage, lack of water, poor clothing and chronic sleep deprivation, the death toll was catastrophic. Nevertheless, roll call had to be attended twice a day. Famine broke out in February 1945 after the bakery was destroyed. From then, clear soup was served twice daily. Throughout the duration of the camp, no prisoners took even a single shower, nor were they ever able to change their clothing.
The question in this context is, the proportion of 'Night and Fog' prisoners (NN), in which quite a killing interest on the part of the SS may have to be accepted. Following an direction of the OKW chief Keitel of 7 December 1941, the resistance activity suspects from the occupied territories of Western Europe should not be sentenced in their countries of origin but to deter the population under complete isolation during (Nacht und Nebel) 'Night and Fog' brought cross the border to Germany. Since 1942, but especially in the last year of the war, almost all NN prisoners were transferred from prisons and from the SS special camp Hinzert into concentration camps. In all likelihood, a number of NN prisoners were deported to the concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora. This could possibly be the case of 1085 mostly French prisoners which arrived in September 1944 from Cochen, a sub-camp of Natzweiler who came under this category. In contrast to other concentration camps, Mittelbau, however, was not explicitly identified as holding NN prisoners, neither were their clothes marked with the distinctive 'NN' nor do they show up in any strength lists. Thus, it is more likely that, because of their status they did suffer under a worse treatment in the Mittelbau-camps than other groups of prisoners. The many claims of the survivors put forward in reference to the NN status, therefore, seems to be hardly suitable to explain the high number of deaths among the West Europeans sufficiently enough in the Mittelbau-camps. Rather, it shows the attempt to rationalize their own suffering and deaths of the inmates later, at the thought to have suffered senseless, which often collides with the self-image of former prisoners.
The camp SS and the guards in the concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora were, as in all other camps organizationally part of the Waffen-SS. The internal structure of the Camp Management with the task of work distribution among different departments did not differ from other internment camps.
Commandant of Mittelbau until end of January 1945, who at the end of August 1943 was displaced from Buchenwald by SS-Sturmbannführer Otto Förschner, then relieved by SS-Sturmbannführer Richard Baer, ​​who had previously been commander of the now defunct concentration camp Auschwitz. As the protective custody camp and report leader and thus as an entity in charge of the inner camp operation acted in rapid succession several members of the SS who had been displaced from the concentration camps of Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen, and later mainly from the Auschwitz concentration camp into the Harz Mountains.
The guards of Dora and the surrounding satellite camps were initially part of the SS guard company of Buchenwald. At least in the late summer of 1944, however, the increasing independence of the Mittelbau complex in the organizational consolidation in the southern Harz, all concentration camp guards were affected. With the issue of a special order dated 10 September 1944 the ​​Location Commander Förschner, ordered that the units of the SS-Building Brigades III and IV and Ellrich-Juliushütte including Harzungen would become part of the SS guard detachment of the Dora camp under SS-Hauptsturmführer Straupendahl. With this guard detachment at the end of October 1944 the official independence of this region the SS Totenkopf Sturmbann Unit  Mittelbau was established, which was assigned to several Mittelbau complexes.
With the expansion of the camp complex Mittelbau, members of the guards were constantly enlarged. In December 1943, the strength of the guards was 640 men. At the end of April 1944 it nearly stood at 1,000, including 15 SS officers. While the strength of the guards remained relatively constant in the main camp in the following months, and the number of prisoners increased only slightly, it shot up in the satellite camps rather sharply. At the end of 1944 the SS-Totenkopf Sturmbann-Unit had absorbed around 3,300 members of other incoming SS members. With the evacuation of the east-lying concentration camps came by the end of January 1945, many other stragglers of the SS arrived into the South of the Harz. Many of them were taken into the Mittelbau SS Totenkopf-Company for a spell. However, figures are no longer available, it can be assumed at a conservative estimate, that at the end of March 1945, there were at least 3,500 members (a motley assortment) of the SS absorbed into the guard contingent of Mittelbau, including about a dozen female guards,(Aufseherinnen) in addition to a few hundred members of the SS-Building-Brigade from Auschwitz were staying at the concentration camps in the southern Harz.
Veteran members of the SS presented in the guards of the camp Mittelbau only a minority. Following the acquisition of numerous members of the Wehrmacht into the concentration camp guard duty in the spring of 1944, in particular at the satellite camps, were almost solely guarded by Wehrmacht soldiers. Exact figures are not available, it can be assumed, however, that in the autumn of 1944 more than half of the guards of the camp Mittelbau had come from the Wehrmacht, and indeed for the most part they were from the Luftwaffe, as the entire enterprise was a Luftwaffen Defence Project and the assembly and co-ordination of various contractors was their responsibility.  First, the soldiers were lodged at Mittelbau in a separate Air Force Guard Battalion.  On 1 September 1944, the soldiers, however, were formally transferred to the Waffen-SS and absorbed into the SS Association Base Camp (Standort) Mittelbau. (This usually was accepted often with reluctance on a personal basis to change into SS-Uniform)
The Air Force members did mostly watch-keeping only outside the camp fences, but had, even there often direct contact with prisoners, such as the guarding of work details. But in some cases they were also within the actual camp positions, such as the camp Harzungen that was controlled since the summer of 1944 by William Frohne a Captain in the Air Force. [He was a teacher by profession and died in 1972 in Göttingen. sic] also the posts of the protective custody camp leader and most block leaders were occupied in Harzungen by airmen. Many prisoners felt it as a relief to be guarded by Wehrmacht soldiers, but there are also examples to the contrary. For the catastrophic conditions in the infirmary of the camp Ellrich-Juliushütte , in which thousands perished , the medical officer of the Air Force Dr. Günter Schneemann was was acting with limited responsibility. [The transfer of Wehrmacht Soldiers in this case or other is somewhat simplified, they may have been under the command of the SS, but did not volunteer to become members of the organisation, although procedural methods at the end of the war were hazy or either ignored HKS]
Foundation of Infirmary at Ellrich-Juliushütte. Post-war picture
The expansion of the recruitment field of concentration camp guards to the Wehrmacht in the last year of the war shows that the circle of those perpetrators and bystanders who were directly involved in the system of Nazi concentration camps during the war was constantly larger and by no means confined to the heart of the SS as it tried to tell in the post-war narratives. Many scientists, engineers and Armaments Production Manager of the middle strata saw to it that the operation of the camp worked smoothly. The Desk Job Managers were instrumental in the organization of forced labour in the concentration camp in the Armament Industry (Rüstungsindutrie). They also planned the realization of the numerous underground relocation projects and provided important preliminary work in building concentration camps.
The founding of the “Geilenberg Staff” was followed in the summer of 1944 by further underground relocation projects for the petroleum industry. These projects created an enormous demand for labourers, met to some extent by concentration camp inmates, but also by foreign civilian workers recruited by force, prisoners of war and Germans subjected to compulsory work. In view of the imminent end of the war, hardly any of these projects were carried even close to completion, despite the ruthless exploitation of the labourers, particularly the concentration camp inmates. Most of the Mittelbau camps set up in connection with the underground relocation efforts were situated within a relatively small radius around Nordhausen.

EDMUND GEILENBERG was a German official of World War II who headed an emergency 1944 decentralization program, the Geilenberg Special Staff, to disperse Nazi Germany oil production. The program included the Cuckoo project for an underground oil plant to be "carved out of the Himmelsburg" North of the Mittelwerk, as well as plans for an oil facility at Ebensee. "Geilenberg used as many as 350,000 men for the repair, rebuilding, and dispersal of the bombed plants and for new underground construction which were incomplete when the war ended. Defences included a June 21, 1944, order for a minimum number of flak guns to be placed at Pölitz (200), Auschwitz (200), Hamburg (200), Brüx (170), Gelsenkirchen (140), Scholven (140), Wesseling (150), Heydebreck (130), Leuna (120), Blechhammer (100), Moosbierbaum (100), and Böhlen (70), and the Ruhland Fischer-Tropsch plant and other synthetic oil plants were upgraded to be "hydrogenation fortresses" (e.g., the plants in the Leipzig area were protected by over 1,000 guns.) In addition to increased active defenses, the facilities (German: Hydrierfestungen) incorporated blast walls and concrete "dog houses" around vital machinery. Similar to the technical experts transferred for the V-2 rocket program, 7,000 engineers were released from the German Army to provide technical support for oil facilities. Geilenberg died 19 October 1964.sic. For further study use

With the establishment of the sub-camps the concentration camp system from 1943 came more and more into the German civil society. This affected the whole Reich. In the Südharz the camp network was especially dense, with about 20 camps in the territory of the former county (Grafschaft) Hohenstein, transformed this region during the end of the war into a comprehensive concentration camp, which was interspersed with islands of civilian life.  Mittelbau-Dora and the sight of concentration camp prisoners were part of the everyday life to the population.
Points of contact between the camps and its environment resulted from the involvement of local authorities in the management and supply of certain requests by the Camp's Administration and it's resulting rampant black market, especially by the forced labourers of the concentration camp inmates inside the local re-located factories where the German permanent staff worked side by side with the prisoners. In the Mittelwerke plant at the end of 1944, 5,000 concentration camp prisoners worked alongside 3,000 German employees and workers. Most of them were German civilian workers, who oversaw the prisoner detachments at work. Some helped their prisoners, others were as far as brutality is concerned not any different from the SS, . Characteristic is a principal statement of the Board of the GmbH from the summer of 1944, which states: "In reports of the camp doctor at the Labour Camp Dora the finding was repeatedly made ​​that prisoners who are employed in offices or in the operation of the central plant had been beaten by [German] workers which shall on this account considered an offence, or they were even struck with sharp instruments ".
Finally, points of contact were visually: The camps were often in the middle of villages. Who travelled around by train to the small town of Ellrich, saw at first the sub-camp Juliushütte: The camp was situated opposite the railway station, from its platform one could see quite clearly the smoking chimney of the crematorium which was only a few hundred meters away. In the near village of Niedersachsenwrfen everyone could observe the corpse carts that were included and pushed in the evening at the end of the columns of prisoners who were taken by their Guards from the construction sites at the Kohnstein back to the camp Harzungen. Civilian employees in the factories had to close ranks and watch, the same as prisoners, when inmates were hanged in public at their workplaces under accusation of sabotage, yet locals were involved in the hunt for escaped concentration camp prisoners. Although there was a certain amount of apprehension and unease under the civilian population when inmates had escaped.[In particular, the Country Guard (a paramilitary group of older men, commanded by the police) and the Hitler Youth were used. Especially the latter behaved according to reports from witnesses and survivors  towards prisoners often extremely brutal sic].(Dabei wurden vor allem die Landwache (eine paramilitärische Truppe aus älteren Männern, die von der Polizei befehligt wurde) und die Hitler Jugend eingesetzt. Vor allem letztere verhielt sich nach Berichten von Zeitzeugen und überlebendenn Häftlingen oftmals außerordentlich brutal).

A narrow-gauge rail-road connected the camp with the nearby goods-train station'. Post war picture
Although there were, from the German side the repeatedly mentioned myth of Brotzusteckens (giving of bread), according to reports of surviving prisoners. Certainly help and other needs was extended clandestinely towards prisoners. However, these were isolated cases and prove really just that there were alternatives. No one was forced to face inmates with hostilities, to beat or even kill them. However, widespread acceptance of the Mittelbau Complex shows up when looking at the situation in the southern Harz that the population accepted the existence of the camps in their  midst, some of them of course with stolidity.
This consent was caused by a mélange of various factors. Basically, no doubt, it was from the myth of obeying orders, the pervasive repression and thus at least the subjective feeling of being itself threatened by the Nazi terror. That left the unwillingness to rise and join. Important were also the traditional rejection of everything foreign and ideological indoctrination by the Nazis, which the media presented as concentration camp prisoners being supposedly dangerous felon, from whom the general public had to be protected. The result was that the prisoners were perceived by many locals as a threat and could hardly hope for much help by the population. In 'Südharzer Courier', the official party local newspaper, has been reported since the beginning of 1944 again on violent prisoners from the Mittelbau-camps that have escaped. Here, up to 5,000 RM award were offered for information or seizure of fugitives , according to today's valuation about 25,000 Euros, a sum which is offered at most in the search for top terrorist or serious criminals. The criminalization of concentration camp inmates from the fact that multiple prisoners,, who were alleged on the run from the concentration camp, committed murders of locals, one of the alleged crime scene,  records show that in the middle of the village where the offence had taken place were publicly hanged, in autumn 1943  at Stolberg a the small village of Hermann's field, a few miles away from Nordhausen. [Report of the Attorney General Nordhausen, 10.1.1944, in: StA Gotha, page 175.sic].
The executions reached grotesque proportions after an attempted breakout of about 20 Soviet prisoners in the Dora bunker on the night of March 9. Two days later, 57 Soviets were hung, and on March 21 and 22, 30 again each day. The German Communist leaders who had survived torture were shot in the last days of the camp.
The blocked entrance to Tunnel A, destroyed by the Soviets in 1948. A V2 rocket engine assembly can be seen on the bottom right.'
To know and diffuse about the murders in the East was still relatively easy. The crimes in the Mittelbau happened but outside our own front door. Everyone could see, and many took part in it or benefited from it. The presence of the act did not result in the rejection of the regime, but rather identified of complicity by the action with the perpetrators, the receptive participation to contribute (Mitmachen) went frequently too far. A major cause of participatory willingness is likely the addition to the aforementioned reasons, deliberately stirred up by the Nazi propaganda of fear and the vengeance of the eventual victors, which gave the individual the feeling of being bound completely to the system and if necessary go down with it, if need be. The fomented fear of revenge (or punishment) of the winner and the Liberated tied the Nazi Propaganda seamlessly to their Manichean ordinal concept of understanding the concept of Order (Ordnungsbegriff) which had served since the early thirties to isolate Community Strangers (Gemeinschaftsfremde) and give a fellow-feeling (Volksgenossen) the material and emotional security he/she was striving for. The media packaging image making the statement of the murdering and plundering prisoners, and the alleged danger that seemed to emanate from the Mittelbau camps (which was a reality), although collided with the sense of security, however, and bound the population even closer to the system that the hazards that they had created was under control as promised. Another reason for the widespread adaptation and passivity was the years of getting used to the oppression and exclusion of Community Strangers, thereby prepared the ideological and emotional ground that the sight of the battered concentration camp prisoners was perceived by only a few as wrong because not much was left of any existing civilizational values. It certainly helped by the fact that the camps were, in the perception of many locals, kept in their memories as a war experience (Kriegserfahrung) and nothing else.
After the liberation by the American occupation forces started the repatriation in collaboration with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). The Dora camp and Herzungen which was converted as accommodation for 'Displaced Persons' (DP's) for the liberated concentration camp prisoners and foreign forced labourers to return to their countries of origin. By Mid-May 1945 there were 14,000 DP's waiting alone in the camp Dora for their repatriation, most of them were former civilian forced labourers from the many sites of the Mittelbau Enterprise. The weakened concentration camp prisoners who were liberated by the Americans from the area of the camp Dora and from the Boelke barracks were taken under American supervision into makeshift hospitals in Ilfeld and also cared for in the nearby Spa Sülzhayn. Almost half of the 500 freed prisoners, however, were already so weakened that they did not survive the first weeks after liberation. Their bodies were buried along with the over 1,200 dead recovered from the sub-camp in the Boelke-barracks in a memorial cemetery in Nordhausen.
ccupants of the DP camp Dora with the French UNRRA Team Director, June 29, 1945'

The leading German rocket engineers around Wernher von Braun entered service for the Americans, while the Soviets claimed the next highest echelon. When the American military trial of former SS men and capos from Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp began in the summer of 1947, hardly anything remained of Camp Dora. After the last DPs had left Dora, it was used as a reception camp for German refugees and expellees until the autumn of 1946. The city of Nordhausen subsequently had the barracks taken down and reassembled in its destroyed districts for use as emergency accommodations. The grounds of the camp were reclaimed by nature.
After Thuringia came under Soviet administration in July 1945, the Red Army continued operating Dora, now as a “repatriation camp” for former Polish and Soviet forced labourers. After the last remaining former forced labourers had left the camp, the East-German authorities used it from late 1945 to the autumn of 1946 as a refugee camp for German expellees from Czechoslovakia. The city and district of Nordhausen subsequently had the Camp Dora-barracks dismantled and erected elsewhere to serve as temporary lodgings for persons who had been bombed out of their homes.
Also a part of the tunnel system disappeared. After a short period of continued use as rocket factory under Soviet leadership, the occupation authorities blow up parts of the tunnels, including the entrances in 1947. This followed an Allied Agreement which stipulated that military systems should be rendered unusable in Germany.  At the other camp sites of the Mittelbau-complex was barely something to see of the past. In most cases, the barracks were dismantled as in the Dora-camp after the war and used as timber and firewood. Today only the concrete foundations bear witness of the past of these places. Other camps served as accommodation for refugees, such as in Stempeda and Blankenburg-Oesig. In Blankenburg the multiple converted barracks are still inhabited today.

Blowing up of the Tunnel entrances by the Soviets 1947
By the end of the 1940s, hardly anything remained to be seen of the former camps. The grounds had rapidly been reclaimed by nature. The only buildings left standing were the crematorium, the fire station and the camp prison in which hundreds of persons had been tortured and murdered in 1944/45. In 1952 the German Democratic Republican (GDR) authorities had the prison torn down against the protests of former inmates. At around the same time, a group of Nordhausen citizens – including Buchenwald survivor and later mayor Fritz Giessner – began landscaping the area around the former crematorium and the ash grave to serve as a cemetery and commemorative site.
In 1964 the Socialist Unity Party (SED) district committee founded the “Mahn- und Gedenkstätte Dora” (Dora Memorial) and had a sculpture by the artist Jürgen von Woyski erected in front of the former crematorium. Woyski’s work had actually been conceived for the Auschwitz Memorial. Two years later the Dora Memorial went into operation with the opening of a permanent exhibition bearing the programmatic title “Die Blutspur führt nach Bonn" (The Trail of Blood Leads to Bonn) in the former crematorium. The Mittelbau-Dora Memorial never played a key role in the GDR commemoration policies. Unlike Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrück, it was never granted the status of a “national memorial”. Mittelbau-Dora remained in the shadow of Buchenwald.
The former Camp Dora,(photomontage), 1945/46'

When the American Nordhausen-Dora process began in Dachau, summer of 1947, there was almost nothing to be seen from the Dora camp. Accused were at Dachau besides 14 members and four Kapos also the Factory-General-Manager George Rickhey. In contrast to the previous American processes in the concentration camp Dachau the Judgements passed down were quite mild. With the former detention camp leader Hans Möser  only one was sentenced to death. Georg Rickhey and three other defendants were for lack of evidence acquitted (he, Rickhey, managed successfully to put all the blame on the deceased head of production in the Mittelwerk plant, Albin Sawatzki), and all others received prison sentences, but none of them had to serve the sentences passed down by the Military Court. Even Otto Brinkmann, the former officer in charge of the camp Ellrich-Juliushütte, who was convicted to life imprisonment left 1958 ahead of its full term, the prison of Landsberg am Lech.The Dachau-Dora Trials in their process was one of the extensive, but by far not only the biggest, concerning the court proceedings against perpetrators from the concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora. Already in the the autumn of 1945 there twelve former members of the SS and Kapos that had been under investigation during the British Bergen-Belsen Trial who had come in the wake of the evacuation marches from the South Harz to Bergen-Belsen. Three members of the SS were convicted and executed to death in the process , including Franz Hößler,(Hoessler) last officer in charge of the camp Dora, also the first commander of the concentration camp Mittelbau, Otto Förschner, was executed, but not because of the crimes committed in the Mittelbau-Dora of his deeds there, but for crimes he committed after his transfer to the camp Kaufering and and then sentenced by an American military court in 1945 in the Dachau process to death. His successor, Richard Baer could go into hiding on the other hand, and lived under a false name and worked as a lumberjack (forest-worker) near Hamburg. (He stayed in fact at the Otto von Bismarck Estate) It was not until the end of 1960, that the police tracked him down and arrested him. As one of the main accused in Frankfurter Auschwitz Process he died in 1963 while in detention. [There is always a certain amount of public suspicion if an accused dies conveniently  during military internment]
Fourteen of the nineteen defendants in the Dora Trial held in Dachau, 19 September 1947'
Some dozen offenders from the concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora were tried by German courts of their responsibility in individual procedures in later years. In many cases, however, these were proceedings of acts the accused had committed in other concentration camps. Most procedures were lightly for the defendants, especially in the Federal Republic, where, however, considerably more processes took place than in the GDR (East Germany). Only in one case the death penalty was imposed, in 1951 by the state court in Zwickau the sentence was enforced 1952 on Willi Hack, who had led as an SS Obersturmführer 1943/44, the underground project B II at Niedersachswerfen and later a similar construction projects at Berga/Elster. (There was no Death Penalty in West-Germany)
The only major procedure which referred exclusively to crimes that had been committed in the concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora , was performed after preliminary investigations during the years from 1967 to 1970 before the District Court of Essen. Defendants were Helmut Bischoff (Defence Officer of the A 4 program and in 1945 commander of the Security Police Mittelbau, Ernst Sander (Head of the Gestapo branch Niedersachswerfen) and Erwin Busta (member of the SS in the camp Dora ). The case against the jurist Bischoff the chief of SD and Gestapo can be referred to in the area of ​​ concentration camp Mittelbau rightly regarded as one of the main perpetrators, was suspended a few days before pronouncement of judgment for alleged unfitness to stand trial and later set aside and not proceeded. Busta and Sander were indeed sentenced to relatively long terms of imprisonment, but never had to take it up.


Der Ort des Terrors Vol.7
Komnzentrationslager Mittelbau-Dora
Researcher-Author: Jens-Christian Wagner
C.H.Beck oHG, München 2008.
Wikipedia, Methapedia.
Vetted by:
Institute for Research on Anti-Semitism-Berlin.
Translated from German by:
Herbert Stolpmann, July 2014.
HKS: Own initials, when expression
my opinion.
[sic] transcribed exactly as found