Thursday, April 10, 2014

NATZWEILER CONCENTRATION CAMP PART 4/4


1944 - THE LAST MONTHS OF NATZWEILER KZ
Between January 5th and 31st of August 1944 23,199 prisoners were registered in Natzweiler, of which 9,800 had already been there in August. In March of that year they opened other satellite camps on both sides of the river Rhine, namely: Markirch , Cochem, Wesserling, Sennheim, Frommern, Neckarelz, Leonberg, Erzingen, Thil, Ebingen, Geislingen and Vaihingen . With Thil, existed even a camp in occupied France.
In September 1944 there were in total 18,151 prisoners, of which 2,398 were Jewish women interned outside of the main camp. The majority of the new arrivals were transferred directly into the satellite camps without having undergone any type of screening at the Main Camp (Srammlager) as it had been the rule since 1943. They were , however, continued to be managed and registered by the main camp. These prisoners never saw or knew any activities in Natzweiler, with the exception of those referred to the infirmary and from there, either returned to the transit or satellite camps, or they were evacuated steadily in September 1944 to Dachau. Approximately 12,000 of the 18,000 prisoners who were detained in sub-camps,  had never entered the main camp before its resolution.
In the first two months of the year only a few new prisoners were registered: 396 in January and 427 in February. All remained in the main camp , of which 309 were classified as NN prisoners that was a quarter of the newcomers. At the beginning of the year, a larger group of prisoners came from the Mosel region to Natzweiler. Between January and the end of August 566 prisoners were registered as subjects from Lothringen (Lorraine) and 145 as Elsässer (Alsations). Many of the prisoners from the Mosel region were previously interned in the Fortress Göben, which had been built by the Germans after 1871. The SS used the fortress as SS Sonderlager for Lorraine who were accused of belonging to the Resistance. Between October 1943 and the 17th August 1944, about 1,500 to 1,800 male and female Resistance Fighters (Widerstandskämpfer) were kept at the fortress and processed. Most of the prisoners came from Queuleu, they were members of the resistance group Mario, which had been founded in 1941 in Metz by Jean Burger .
'The city of Magdeburg named a street in his honour as Jean Burger Street . In the neighbouring Lennéstraße a memorial stone was erected'.
It is often claimed that the Germans were clumsy and stupid when it came to what they called Partisans, (not considered Resistance Fighters), but they had their own methods, although sometimes brutal to apprehend their members a cell, relying and collaborators who would betray them:
Charles Hoeffel, a Communist Party militant and member of the CGT railway workers' union, put Burgers into contact with Georges Wodli , a member of the Communist Party Central Committee. Wodli asked Burger to organize a Communist Resistance Brigade in the Moselle region. Burger organized the " Mario " resistance group, whose activities included the printing and distribution of leaflets , collection of arms, aid to prisoners and resisters, and sabotage . Three thousand men and women participated in the Mario group. The organization which integrated into the national resistance movement, that counted between 100,000-200,000 members or sympathisers and had contacts in Paris and Luxembourg. Activities included aid to German deserters and assistance for Soviet prisoners of war in camps in the Moselle region .
Massive arrests of resisters started in August 1943. The arrests were aided by information seized by the Gestapo in 1940 from the Direction centrale of renseignements généraux , the intelligence service of the French National Police. Jean Burger was arrested in Metz on 21st September 1943 by the Germans , who had set a trap for resisters. As a result, by the time American troops arrived in the area in 1944, the Mario group had practically ceased to exist.
After his arrest, Burger was tortured by the Gestapo, then moved to a military prison in Metz. From there he went to the Fort de Queuleu just outside of Metz , which was used as a detention and interrogation centre for members of the Resistance. In November 1944 he was sent to prisons in Mannheim and Wiesbaden, then to Dachau concentration camp, as American forces were closing in on Metz. Not long after arriving at Dachau, they moved him to the Auschwitz concentration camp . With the approach of Soviet forces , Burgers and a few other Marios members were marched to Gleiwitz in Silesia . Finally he was moved  into an annex of the Dora concentration camp, he was mortally wounded during an American bombing raid on the factory complex.  Weakened by pneumonia, in addition to his wounds,  where he died .
By August 1944, most detainees had been transferred from the concentration camp Buchenwald , Sachsenhausen , Neuengamme , Mauthausen and Dachau to Natzweiler , after the  18th August the bulk of Transports came from France. The advance of the allied forces from the west and south led the German occupiers to relinquished the prisons and sent their inmates into other camps . These transports made ​​up three-quarters of all new arrivals as from August and almost exclusively all of them were French (total of 1,472 - which meant 91.8 %). Other transports from France went after this directly to Dachau.
THE EVACUATION OF THE MAIN CAMP (SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER 1944)
In the second half of August 1944 , there was considerable unrest in the camp, the SS feared that the resistance groups would attack the camp from the Vosges Mountains.  The prisoners were hoping for this who had contact with the Resistance outside the camp. Inside the camp a nucleus of resistance cells were built around communists and Gaullists adherers . They could since February 1944 rely on the German Communist prisoner Willy Behnke, who was imprisoned in Natzweiler since the 21st May, 1941 ( Number 6 ) , and had managed to take over the position of the camp elder. Another resistance group formed around General Delestraint , chief of the secret army in France , who was interned in the camp on the 10th March 1944. This group succeeded in 1944 , to contact a resident of Rothau, Madame  Paulette Mainz,  who benefited from the complicity with the 60-year-old security guard Albert Schienle . Albert Schienle was responsible for the commando 'Railway Station' that brought the food into the camp. He had the habit of eating with the prisoners of his commando at Paula's place. This created the opportunity to exchange information and receive letters. Schienle even managed to get the desired medication requested by the detainees doctors. Paula's brother worked at Bahnhof (railway station) of Straßburg, he was a member of the resistance group Maquis du Donon - which his sister did not know. With his help, he delivered a package with gingerbread to her, which in fact contained a detailed map of the region. The communist resistance in the camp hid the map in the ceiling of the prisoners' kitchen. But ultimately the escape attempt failed, which had been developed in collaboration with the Maquis group. [For resistance in the Stammlager, see : Stegmann, Struthof, page 365-368 , sic]

The cemetery and memorial in Vassieux-en-Vercors where, in July 1944, German Wehrmacht forces executed more than 200, including women and children in reprisal for the Maquis's armed resistance. The town was later awarded the Ordre de la Libération'.
Since the commander was afraid of being attacked from the outside , the administration had a ditch dug outside along the barbed wire fence, and built machine gun positions which were directed to fire into the interior of the camp. The prisoners were fully aware of the advance of the Allies and pretty well informed of what was going on through a radio that was smuggled into the camp, which had the result that tension between guards and inmates rose considerably . At the same time, the Gestapo in Straßburg conducted with the help of the police and the armed forces a major operation against the Maquis du Donon resistance group.  The operation was  coordinated from the village of Schirmeck. Two German Units scoured the area in the direction of the pass of Schiermeck and that of Hantz and brought members of one group into the camp into a secure detention area . The results can be summarized that members of the resistance group Alliance were brought to Natzweiler and executed there on the night of the 1st to 2nd September 1944.
General Delestraint
Delestraint retired in 1939 but was recalled to service after the outbreak of World War II. During the Battle of France, on 3 June 1940, he led the armoured counter-attack against Germans in Abbeville.
After the surrender of France on 25 June, he retired to Bourg-en-Bresse where Henri Frenay recruited him for the French Resistance. Delestraint began to organize resistance cells in Lyon. He clandestinely visited Charles de Gaulle in London and agreed to lead the Armée Secrète. He returned to France on 24 March 1943. However, he was betrayed by the informant René Hardy, and was arrested by the Gestapo on 9th of June, interrogated by Klaus Barbie. He was taken as special prisoner (Nacht und Nebel) to Natzweiler-Struthof and then to the Dachau concentration camp, where he was executed on 19th April 1945, only a few days before the camp was liberated and the war ended.

'Memorial plaque at the rue du Général-Delestraint, Paris 16e, France'
The Maquis Resistance Organisation
During the Allied invasion of Normandy, the Maquis and other groups played some role in delaying the German mobilization. The French Resistance (FFI Forces Françaises de l'Interieur for "French Forces of the Interior") blew up rail road tracks and repeatedly attacked German Army equipment and garrison trains on their way to the Atlantic coast. Thanks to coded messages transmitted over the BBC radio, each Maquis group was alerted of the impending D-Day by listening for seemingly meaningless messages such as "the crow will sing three times in the morning" or any other pre-arranged messages read in a continuous flow over the British airwaves. As Allied troops advanced, the French Resistance rose against the Nazi occupation forces and their garrisons en masse. For example, Nancy Wake's group of 7,000 maquisards was involved in a pitched battle with 22,000 Germans on June 20, 1944. Some Maquis groups took no prisoners so some German soldiers preferred to surrender to Allied soldiers instead of facing maquisards.
The Allied offensive was slowed and the Germans were able to counter-attack in south-east of France. On the Vercors plateau, a Maquis group fought about 8,000 soldiers under General Karl Pflaum, a defector Generalleutenant of the Third Reich and was defeated with 600 casualties during the Battle of Vercors Plateau. When General De Gaulle dismissed the resistance organizations after the liberation of Paris, many maquisards returned to their homes. Many also joined the new French army to continue the fight.

'Members of the Maquis in La Tresorerie' 
EVACUATION COMMENCES
The preparations for the evacuation of the main camp took place in a very tense atmosphere . The prisoners were afraid of being executed at any moment. On the 1st of September 1944, the Commander Hartjenstein received from Oranienburg  an order to evacuate the camp. On the same day the commander began proceedings to implement clearing the camp . Hartjenstein went to Karlsruhe to negotiate with the railroad authorities (Reichsbahn) the organization and method of transport . 2,000 prisoners who had already descended and assembled for the transport at the Rothau Railway Station had to be brought back to the camp , because although the wagons were ready , but the locomotive was missing. Thus, a first transport went off in the direction of Dachau later on during the night of September 2nd . Two other transports followed on the 4th of September . Overall, the SS had set 5,517 prisoners ready from Natzweiler to be taken to the Dachau concentration camp . For the route to Dachau the transport took two days . 13 prisoners did not survive these transports . Only twelve of the evacuated prisoners to Dachau had been detained at Natzweiler since 1941. 36 came in 1942 , 634 in 1943 . All others were taken to Natzweiler not until 1944 .
Since 1941, the origin of the prisoners in the concentration camp had greatly changed.  At the beginning of the German occupants were in the majority, but they made at the end of only 7.2 % of the total, whereas the French  (39.3 %) together with the Alsatians (0.82 %) and the inhabitants of the Moselle region ( 3.4 %) , formed the the majority ( 43.5 %). The prisoners from Western Europe , whose numbers increased sharply since 1943 , made ​​up two-thirds of all inmates (63.2 %). The group of prisoners from Central - and Eastern Europe formed the second largest group ( 28.6 %).  With the prisoners from Poland (13.6 %) and from the Soviet Union (12.2 %) were the strongest groups. Only one single Hungarian prisoner was in the main camp .
The categories of prisoners, that is: Political prisoners dominated and with that ruled others often without pity ( 62.23 %), NN prisoners comprised of (24%) during its existence of the camp and these proportion were almost constant until the end . The other groups were only a small minority : BV ( 1.78 %), anti-socials (2%) , Homosexuals (0.32 %) , Gypsies (0.21 %), Jehovah's Witnesses (0.05 %). Natzweiler was a camp for political prisoners and NN (Nacht und Nebel) detainees.
All prisoners from Natzweiler were registered at Dachau , but Natzweiler took over for some reason a fifth of the prisoners again . They were transferred to the next existing satellite camp at the right bank [ East side ] of the river Rhine . The SS moved most prisoners gradually from the left bank [ West side ]  into the right-bank located sub-camps. In the main camp only 500 prisoners remained . On September 14th, eight and at the 19th September 401 prisoners left the camp in the direction of  Dachau . At this time the camp was occupied by 3,000 men of the militia of Joseph Darnand who fled from Nancy in France to Sigmaringen in Germany. They stayed only about 14 days in the camp. The militia occupied the camp while the commandant was there . The commander Fritz Hatjestein remained on site, while all other administrative units had been evacuated and went to Dachau.
Joseph Darnand
At the beginning of World War II, Darnand volunteered to join the French army and was commissioned a lieutenant. He served in the Maginot Line and was decorated for bravery. During the Phoney War he took part in several commando actions against German forces. He was captured in June 1940 but fled to Nice. He became a leading figure in the Vichy French organization Légion Francaise des combattants (French Legion of Veterans) and recruited troopers for the fight against Bolshevism.
The next year, he founded the collaborationist militia, Service d'ordre légionnaire (SOL), that supported Philippe Pétain and Vichy France. He offered his help against the French Resistance. On 1 January 1943 he transformed the organization into the Milice. Although Pierre Laval was its official president, Darnand was its de facto leader. Darnand's political convictions were of the far right but he was known as a Germanophobe: on three occasions he attempted to join the Resistance or flee to free French territory. Each attempt was rebuffed. The last overture to the Free French was made in July 1943.
After failing to join the Resistance, Darnand definitively turned to Nazi Germany and the next month was made an officer of the SS. Darnand's turn to the SS was also influenced by the fact that miliciens were being targeted for assassination by the Resistance but Vichy and Wehrmacht authorities refused to arm the Milice.
In joining the SS, Darnand took a personal oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler, receiving a rank of Sturmführer (Lieutenant) in the Waffen SS in August 1943. In December 1943, he became head of police and later secretary of the interior. Joseph Darnand expanded the Milice and by 1944 it had over 35,000 members. The organization played an important role in investigating the French Resistance. After the Normandy Invasion and Allied advance, Darnand fled to Germany in September 1944 and joined Pétain's puppet government in Sigmaringen. He received a promotion to Sturmbannführer on 1 November 1944.
In April 1945, he had to flee from Sigmaringen to Meran in Northern Italy. He was captured by the British in Italy on 25 June 1945 and taken back to France, where he was sentenced to death on 3 October 1945 and executed by firing squad on 10 October 1945.
At the 11th or 17th November Hartjenstein left with his staff and managed the Natzweiler headquarters  from a nearby town at Neckargerach at a village of Guttenbach . In Natzweiler remained only about 20 SS men and 16 German-speaking prisoners ( seven Luxembourger , one from Lorraine , seven Germans and an Austrian ) . On the 22nd of November, they left in a truck the Struthof Hotel , where they had last been interned to be transferred to Neckarelz . At the exit they had an accident with the truck and crashed, after being strafed by American Fighter Planes and six prisoners escaped (two German and four Luxembourger) . During the last months of the war the Natzweiler Concentration Camp no longer existed as a cohesive entity. It was spread out over different parts of that region. The main camp no longer existed as topography and the eponymous town in Alsace, but only as an administrative unit of the SS to continue to administrate the still existing sub-camps. The Commandant , his Car Services and Effect Department (Inmates belongings)  were were domiciled over several places . Prisoners of the some satellite camps from Neckargerach and Neckarelz were used for relief work at the various locations.
In the village Guttenbach on the river Neckar, which was connected by a ferry with Nechargerach the actual Headquarters of the KZ was evacuated to this place from Alsace . This team was about 15 to 20 men strong and consisted of telegraph staff , telephone operators , typists together with the Adjutant . The SS car pool occupied from early December 1944 Neukirchen/Baden , removed about ten kilometres from Necharelz and five kilometres from Guttenbach and occupied several buildings : Garages for five or six trucks, the backyard of the electric business Breinig for maintenance and repairs, the  cooking school for food preparation , as well as private housings for about twelve SS drivers was selected. As a further site for the evacuated Staff of the Commanders Office from Alsace the city Binau was chosen . In the attic of a local Manor House (Palace)  large parts of the Effect Contents was stored here . A member of the command staff , reported that " Guttenbach at the the end of February or early March was cleared . The headquarters was moved to Stuttgart. From Stuttgart we went to Dürmendingen in Saulgau " . [ This place is actually spelled Dümentingen , HKS ]
Binau City
[There are signs of human settlement in the area dating from the Bronze age. Binau is first mentioned in historical records in 769. The convent in Lorsch had many land holdings in Binau. The present-day palace stands on the site of an older one, which stood until the middle of the 18th century. Today it is used as a rest home. The church dates from the 14th century and was remodelled in 1926 and 1956.
The nearby Burg (Fortress) Dauchstein was built in 1150 as a toll station for the Hohenstaufen aristocracy. It lies about 1.5 km from the town.sic]

'Schloss (Palace) Binau'
THE END OF THE KZ NATZWEILER
  On the 23rd November 1944 entered the first American soldiers of the 6th Army the vacated camp in Alsace. But the history of the camp went on, by still administrating and maintaining of its satellite camps . Until April 1945, the number of satellite camps and the prisoners rose . This was largely the result due to evacuation of Jewish prisoners from the north and easterly located concentration camps. Upon their arrival, they had the experience of a death march behind them. The men were mainly taken into the "desert camps" [means horrible condition, created due to the extraction of oil from shale deposits]  thus= (Wüstenlager) Bisingen and Echterdingen or Hessental , while the women were placed into the shortly before September 1944 completed women's sub-camps of Calw, Geisenheim , Walldorf and Geislingen. Of the total 52,000 prisoners who passed through Natzweiler , 20% were Jews - men and women.
The death rate reached at this time its high point, with 10 % per month . The satellite camp Vaihingen became a deathbed . The death rate for some arrivals of these marches exceeded 80%.
In total 19,000 - 20,000 prisoners of the concentration camp Natzweiler had died, this would mean that 40% of all  internees were no longer alive at the end of the war. Furthermore In the months after the evacuation of the main camp , the average survival rate of new arrivals did not last longer than three months.


                                                                                                                                                                    FINAL



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
Sources:
Der Ort des Terrors Vol 6
'Natzweiler'
Researcher/Author: Robert Steegmann
C.H.Beck oHG, München 2007
Wikipedia
Vetted by:
Institute for Research on Anti-Semitism-Berlin
Translated from German and French by:
Herbert Stolpmann, April 2014
HKS: My Initials, when expressing
my own opinion or other sources
[sic]:transcribed exactly as found
 in the original source.
Sponsors:
a)Cultural Department of the
Federal Republic of Germany
b)The Foreign Office of Germany
c)Alfred Krupp Foundation

NATZWEILER CONCENTRATION CAMP PART 3/4


THE STRUCTURE OF THE CAMP COMPLEX
Natzweiler was a "small camp" as Josef Kramer put it, who stayed the longest time  any commander was ever stationed there. It was built entirely by the prisoners and was completed in October 1943 with the final construction of a crematorium. There's hardly an acre there, were 17 buildings had been erected, surrounded by double barbed wire, whose inner fence was electrified with 380 volts, which severed the camp from the outside world . The sloping location with a 20 % degree fall made ​​ the creation of terraces a necessity. On these, left and right of a central axis within the camp, connected and limited by stairs, barracks had been erected. Around the camp run a walkway, which was constantly patrolled by SS guards. Outside of this small chain of posts, some barracks were there for the guards, which also housed parts of the camp administration. Above the camp on three terraces, there were several workshops. A dog kennel was located between two garden terraces. This whole complex, which included the villa that belonged to the commander with a swimming pool was secured by a fence which made up the outer cordon.

Villa of the commander of the concentration camp Natzweiler-Struthof, France'
The total area was 4.5 hectares. To the Natzweiler KZ included two additional grounds, which were also surrounded by barbed wire, these were the quarry and and the Struthof with the Hotel, and was occupied by SS officers together with some administrative units, as well as the 1943 built gas chamber. The two complexes were 800 meters away from the main camp, the quarry went  in the direction of Mont Louise, were-else the Struhof as such was separated, located in a valley. The surrounding land had been cleared to complicate attempts to escape. On the way from Rothau in order to avoid unwanted sightseers, signs demanded not to go any further, in German and French, that read: Attention! Camp area, no trespassing. Shots fired without warning. No Photography ".

Main Camp (Stammlager) Natzweiler"
Although the area was cut off from the outside world, however, this did not mean that it was not possible there was no contact with the civilian population. Every day, employees came from civilian companies out of the valley to bring food and other provisions. Or at the construction sites to work in the quarry in their own profession. The residents of the farm (Struthof) continued further to cultivate their estate during the whole time.
The entrance to the camp consisted of a simple gate without inscription. Only one clock installed in 1944 still remembered what was a normal time. Camp life was marked by Roll Calls and work in the various commandos. There was the Baukommando (Construction), the quarry, the commandos in the service of the SS and the commandos for management of the camp. One of them was the commando for horticulture, in which the prisoners were responsible for the green areas within and outside the camp. Above all, the commando "potato cellar" was a place of suffering for the NN prisoners. On June 30, 1943, the construction management began work on a 70 meter long cellar, which should be carved out near the entrance gate into the rock formation. The work continued right through into the following year. To this Baukommando (Construction) only the French NN prisoners were assigned. SS and Arbeitskapos distinguished themselves here by their special sadism ; commando leader Franz Ehrmanntraut rushed over and over again with his dog on the prisoners. A forced obligated civilian (zwangsverpflichteter) worker said after the war: "I saw some Frenchmen who could hardly stay upright because theirleg calves were torn by dogs and the loose flesh tissues hung in shreds [...] I have seen a Frenchman lie with mangled feet on the ground . His heel bone was visible, and he lay there without any dressing. An SS guard told me: "This Jew will probably die soon." The purpose of this cellar is unknown: It never served as a potato cellar, and for an air-raid shelter, the ceilings were not stable enough.
Feeding time, distribution of daily soup" (Drawing by Henri Gayot, previously a French inmate)
The newcomers arrived at the Rothau Railway Station. Most of the prisoners had to walk up to the camp on foot, eight kilometres away, only a few trucks drove them the first part of the road that led through the main street of the village Rothau whose inhabitants had received orders to close the shutters of their windows. The SS was encouraged to behave in this part of the journey correctly towards the prisoners . After the prisoners reached the camp entrance and had passed through, an entirely new vista opened up to them in a spatial arrangement that gave them the following impression: "I do not feel able to leave these terraces behind me , because they are created so clearly that I can see everything at a glance. There are no places, visually (Unübersichtbarkeit) as in other camps and nowhere to hide, all is open to the eye. All is clearly displayed. Everything was organized rationally by ambitious servants of death, and the stairs were as cleanly carved in stone that you could descend without difficulty to the hot glowing altar of hell " [Boris Pahor , a Slovene inmate in Natzweiler, in: . Pelerin parmi les ombres , Paris 1990 , page 220 sic] The atmosphere of the camp describes another prisoner: "An exceptional landscape with mountains and valleys in various green shades and then thousands of striped walking pyjamas in wooden shoes, who marched around the blocks . [ ... ] Typhus-carriers , human guinea pigs and other lepers" . On the terraces of the camp, who were exposed to a height of approximately 800 meters from the sometimes icy wind , the lengthy Roll Calls were held here. On the first terrace, between the prisoners' kitchen and the block 1, played on Sunday an inmate orchestra for the SS. Launched by Kramer, the Ensemble was one of the elements of the "normality" of the concentration camp , as well as the library of nearly 700 books and a cinema, which was located in a Block above the camp . [To the catalogue of the library see Steegmann , Struthof , page 368 and 435 , sic] For the inmates this "normality" meant suffering and death. The suffering was a constant companion":  "A prisoner at Natzweiler-Struthof must constantly ascend very high levels to reach his abode. After some time, the prisoners has no longer enough strength to lift his legs , and therefore is moving in a strange way: before each step he takes a swing , put his hands under one knee and lifts his foot high enough, level, to be able to reach the next  step. This goes on until he  finally gets to  his block . Sometimes it happens that a prisoner can not make it alone . Then he is happy if a less poor fellow inmate helps him  along. [Ottosen , Nuit et Brouillard , page 36 sic]

COMMANDERS AND SS-GUARDS
Natzweiler had five commanders , four of which were in the main camp itself. All had been " trained" in Dachau. The first commander was SS-Sturmbannführer Hans Hüttig (May 1941) - January 1942 ) who was followed by SS- Sturmbannführer Egon Zill  (February - October 1942) , who introduced a strict discipline.  SS -Hauptsturmführer Josef Kramer worked as officer in charge of security under both commanders. He was promoted in October 1942, as the successor to Zill . Since May 1941 Kramer had started service in Natzweiler and significantly, not only influenced, but radicalised the conditions in the camp. He was cold-blooded and exercised his duties without scruple. Frequently he personally performed the executions, and he was responsible for the killings of inmates by gas in August 1943: "In carrying out these actions, I have felt nothing, because I had been ordered to [...] execute 80 inmates. By the way I have been brought up that way".  Kramer became in 1944 commandant of Auschwitz -Birkenau on a rotating basis for Obersturmbannführer Fritz Hartjenstein, who replaced him in Natzweiler . Along with Rudolf Höss ( Hoess ) he organized in Birkenau the murder of the Hungarian Jews in the summer of 1944. In January 1945, Kramer left Auschwitz in order to be next in line of the concentration camp Bergen- Belsen. SS -Sturmbannführer Fritz Hartjenstein had a military training and thus was senior officer, compared to the others, who led the Natzweiler camp. He was transferred to Auschwitz in 1942, where he had held several positions before he became commandant of Birkenau. It was his job to organize the evacuations of Natzweiler from September 1944. In November 1944 he left the main camp and moved to the hostel " To Carp " (Zum Karpfen) in the small village of Guttenbach . From there, he administrated the camp and set up even after the dissolution of the Stammlagers (Main Camp) a number of satellite camps at the same time. In January 1945 he was transferred to a combat unit. The last commander of Natzweiler was Heinrich Schwarz , formerly commandant of Auschwitz III -Monowitz. He took up his duties on 18 February 1945 , a few weeks before the final dissolution of the camp , he organized the evacuation and the death marches.
During the whole period of its  existence of the main camp , the number of guards never exceeded 200 people. The men who first arrived were members of the SS Death's Head units , later on came members of the Waffen-SS who were led by non-commissioned officers and officers who had distinguished themselves by special zeal and efficiency. They organised the lives of the prisoners after the motto that Eicke had written in his KZ Manual while establishing the Dachau concentration camp : "Tolerance means weakness ". (Toleranz bedeutet Schwäche) The nicknames used by inmates for some of the SS and Kapos and their behaviour give a clear indication of prevailing conditions within the camp : 'Bone Crusher' (H. Förster ) , Rapport leader in Leonberg, 'Tiger' , 'Goebbels', 'Jojo the baton' (H. Oehler ) , 'Boxer' ( J. Turner ) , 'shot in the neck commissar'(Genickschusskommissar) or 'head hunter' ( A.Fuchs ) .
Often prisoners, that had been  sentenced, were forbidden to write , or 'on- pillory standing' at the camp gate , the deprivation of food , admission to a penal company , public floggings on the spanking block , the confinement in the bunker or the death penalty . In the bunker with its 20 cells in which at times were up to 25 inmates crowded together and could only stand upright , even small cages that were hermetically sealed, shut  and locked with an iron door. They were 1.30 meters high , sometimes two prisoners were crammed into them, waiting for their execution. Only a small grid was installed, to let some air into these cages .


MEDICAL SERVICES AND MEDICAL TESTS

Prelude:

National Socialism (Nazism) was based on racist and anti-Semitic theories that affirmed the superiority of the "Aryan" people, the "pure German race", over all other human beings. German doctors and academics won over by Hitler's ideas sought to prove these theories through pseudo-scientific investigations. Experiments were carried out on various diseases, combat gases were used and "race studies" carried out on prisoners in a number of Nazi concentration camps. At KL-Natzweiler, a series of "medical" experiments were conducted as part of the work of the Reichsuniversität, (the Reich University) of Strasbourg, and Ahnenerbe,(Forebearer Traits) the SS administration attached to the headquarters of Himmler in Berlin. The principal perpetrators of these experiments were: August Hirt, a professor of anatomy known internationally, Otto Bickenbach, a professor of medicine and specialist in combat gases, and Eugen Haagen, a virologist who had discovered a vaccination against typhus that put him on the short-list for the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1936. Hirt carried out experiments on mustard gas and planned to create a collection of skeletons using the bodies of 86 Jews deported from Auschwitz; Bickenbach carried out experiments on phosgene gas and Haagen continued his work on the effects of typhus.

'August Hirt, like many Nazi doctors, is most closely associated with his role in the medical experimentation on and gassings of groups of Jewish prisoners. What makes him unique was his motive: instead of seeing the gassing of prisoners as a quick and effective method of extermination, Hirt wanted to significantly expand the skull and skeleton collection for his institute at the University of Strasbourg. He wanted to create a museum of "sub-humans (Untermenschen), in which proof of the degeneracy and the animality of the Jews would be collected." Hirt considered it to be a task of up-most importance and extremely time-sensitive since soon the Jewish population would be completely exterminated, at which point Jewish "skeletons would be as rare and precious as a diplodocus.'
'The bodies of Hirt's victims comprised some of the gruesome evidence left behind. The relatively limited number of Hirt's victims allows us to investigate what it was that caused him to choose that particular group of people, and what happened to their bodies following their deaths. Hirt's selections were based primarily on racial characteristics: he wanted the most prominent examples for his collection that would be used both in anthropological studies, as well as to "demonstrate the superiority of the Nordic race.'

The medical care of prisoners in Natzweiler was insufficient. Until the establishment of an infirmary in the fall of 1942 there was only a makeshift infirmary in block 5, which was run by the first physician deported to Natzweiler, Dr. Fritz Leo . The area took only half of the block and had just eight beds. In September 1944, an expansion took place and eventually included six blocks: surgery (block 3 and 4) , general medicine (block 5 and 6) , tuberculosis ( block7 ) and typhoid fever (Block 8). At this time, it housed more than 1,200 inmates, more than a quarter of all inmates of the main camp. Although the SS supervised all activities, it was only because of the self-sacrificing use of inmate doctors who worked without aids and medicines, that reasonable care could be given to the sick, but vital medication that was needed, was used on SS subjects only: "We had medicine and facilities as in the old medieval times to operate [ ... ] We met all sorts of pathologies of decay". The Norwegian physician Dr. Leif Poulson , who worked in the mining districts of Natzweiler , Neckarelz and Vaihingen together with the Belgian physician Dr. Georges Boogaerts , found that 60 % of the patients received no therapeutically effective treatments.
On 23 September, the " State University " was inaugurated. They took the place of the installed in 1939 French university of Clermont-Ferrand . Their Teaching and Research Staff consisted of well-known, politically adapting professors. The medical faculty was one with 38 teachers. Three of them abused its reputation to commit the worst atrocities in the name of science.  Natzweiler became the site of their macabre experiments.
The famous anatomist August Hirst, a convinced National Socialist , was a confidant of Reichsführer-SS  Himmler. By the end of 1942 , he tested on prisoners the effects of mustard gas. A prisoner , who was present at these experiments , witnessed eight deaths : "Wherever a drop of mustard gas touched the body, it created burns, sometimes they even became partially blind. They suffered unimaginable torment ".
In conjunction with the 1935 founded by Himmler of the " Ahnenerbe " suggested to Hirt in 1942 to create an anatomical collection by representing of a "new breed'. These were " identified " by the National Socialists "as a  race of "Judo - Bolsheviks" . For this purpose, a gas chamber was constructed in the annexe opposite the hotel Struthof , in August 1943 86 Jews Hirst conducted the suffocation by gas to build up its anatomical collection (Sammelung) at the Reichsunivertät Strasbourg with the skeletons of the victims. [The Nuremberg IMT (International Military Tribunal) records indicate that an assistant to Dr. Hirt secretly noted the numbers tattooed on the arms of the 86 victims, making their identification possible. During a conversation with Hirt, Kramer was also told he was to divide the bodies into smaller groups to be delivered directly to Hirt following the gassings.
"One evening, about nine o-clock, the eighty prisoners arrived. I led about fifteen women to the gas chamber. I told them they were going to be 'disinfected.' With the help of some of the S.S. guards, I got them completely undressed and pushed them into the gas chamber. When I closed the door they began to scream. I put some of the crystals that Hirt had given me into the funnel above the observation window. I would watch everything that was going on inside through it. The women continued to breathe for half a minute and then fell to the floor. I turned on the ventilation, and when I opened the door they were lying dead on the ground, full of shit. I told some of the male S.S. nurses to put the bodies in a truck and take them to the Institute of Anatomy at 5:30 the next morning".sic]
Attached to a letter from Ostuf. (Obersturmführer - First Lieutenant) Wolfram Sievers (Reich Secretary of the Ahnenerbe Society) to Stbf. (Sturmbannführer - Major) Dr. Rudolf Brandt, was a report written by Hirt in February 1942 describing the minimal amount of Jewish skulls existing at the Strasbourg Reich University (Reichsuniversität Strasbourg), and how to best procure the desired number of additional skulls through the assistance of the field Military Police ("Feldpolizei"). It should be noted that in the report, the skulls requested for procurement were those of "Jewish Bolshevik Commissars". Historian Heather Pringle points out in her book, The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust, that by "commissars," the army actually meant "Jews." Nazi propagandists had skillfully portrayed Soviet political officers and officials as Jews for years, and so deeply engrained was this notion in the minds of many SS and Wehrmacht officers that they simply accepted it as fact." In addition to Hirt's personal interest in the collection of skulls he hoped to obtain, it has also been suggested that Hirt himself had considered getting into the skull mail-order business as an additional source of income.
Himmler's Response to Hirt's Deadly Proposal:
Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler received Hirt's report with great enthusiasm. He was "prodigiously interested" in the project, considering it to be of "enormous value," and according to Jean-Claude Pressac, he "unceasingly gave his entire support to Professor Hirt's proposal." Soon after his receipt of the report, Himmler sent Wolfram Sievers of the Ahnenerbe Society to meet with Hirt personally, and agreed to the importance of his research. Sievers then worked with Hirt to determine the best method of transportation of his victims. A letter used as evidence during the war crime trials at Nuremberg, includes an attachment with a report on "securing skulls of Jewish-Bolshevik Commissars for the purpose of scientific research," which initially allowed Dr. August Hirt to begin his gassings of Auschwitz Jews at Natzweiler - Struthof.

The cadaver of Berlin dairy merchant Menachem Taffel. Deported to Auschwitz in March 1943 along with his wife and child who were gassed upon arrival. He was chosen to be an anatomical specimen, shipped to Natzweiler-Struthof and murdered in the gas chamber in August 1943'
Otto Bickenbach was a virologist . He, too, use the gas chamber to research on poison gas for his experiments , even though he had found an antidote before the war . He made 15 attempts on" Criminals " and " Gypsies ", most of which would die after . One of the survivors said: "After about 10 minutes I heard a muffled bang - as if someone would clap their hands . Those were the lungs of two prisoners who had to run around the ventilating fan . They lungs were > burst< , 'and out of their mouths , their ears and their noses ran a brownish foam. [Statement Franz H.S. 1.7.1981 , in BArch Ludwigsburg , B 162/19282 . sic]
Even the world famous bacteriologist Eugen Haagen , who had been on the 1938 short list of Nobel Prize candidates , participated in medical experiments. He conducted research on typhus. In 1943 and 1944 , he launched two series of experiments : Vaccinated and un-vaccinated subjects were infected with spotted fever virus (Feckfieber). The vaccine was developed in 1936 , among others, by Haagen itself, but Haagen was still not satisfied . A prisoner doctor reported that the tests "were carried out under horrible hygienic conditions. The experimental room was reminiscent of two overcrowded monkey cages" . The raggedly experiments conducted in April / May 1944 spread the virus throughout the camp as a result . Vaccine developed by Haagen is still in use today.



Strasbourg University faculty member, Professor Otto Bickenbach, used the gas chamber in pseudoscientific medical experiments involving mustard gas and other vesicants .  Many victims of these experiments were Roma (Gypsies) who were transferred from Auschwitz for use as guinea pigs.  Doctor Eugen Haagen,  the chair for hygiene and bacteriology at Strasbourg University was in charge of medical experiments on the camp.  He conducted experiments on prisoners involving typhus and yellow fever.  The operating room above was the site of many of these “experiments.”


Prior to his arrest August Hirt committed suicide. The other two "scientists" Bickenbach and Haagen were sentence in 1952 to life imprisonment by a Military Tribunal at Metz. In a revision process in 1954 a military court in Lyon commuted the sentence to 20 years of hard labour. Both , however, were pardoned in 1955 and able to practice their profession in Germany , Bickenbach settled down in 1962 as a doctor in Köln (Cologne) . The medical profession certified him there thus: "It is noted that the applicant has not violated by his participation in these tests, his duties in his medical professional duties " . At the end of his career he was Internist  in Sieburg , where he died on November 26th 1971.
Haagen had left when the war ended Strasbourg and set up his laboratory near Jena. He was first arrested by the Americans , then released in June 1945. He accepted the offer of the Soviets to open a research institute in Berlin. In 1946 he was arrested again when he strayed into the American Sector of Berlin and delivered to the French in January 1947 . In 1955 he was released and got a job at the Federal Research Centre for Virus Diseases of Animals in Tübingen. In 1965 he went back to his native city Berlin, where he died on 3 August 1972 convinced (überseugt) always to have only served to science. From his prison Haagen had written to his wife: "Without these cursed (diese verfluchten Franzosen) Frenchmen who hold me here , I would be wearing a Nobel Prize Medal (Nobelpreisträger). [Brigitte Crodel, was his assistant-and spouse, as well as a scientist in her own field.HKS]

                                                                                                                                                                  CONTINUED UNDER PART 4/4

Monday, April 7, 2014

NATZWEILER CONCENTRATION CAMP PART 2/4


THE YEAR 1942
In 1942, the construction work continued in the camp. The camp was surrounded by barbed wire, and in February the first four barracks were usable. Then the prisoners were transferred from their temporary shelter into the camp. At the end of 1942 seven barracks were completed, all of them in a terraced fashion on a sloping hillside. Until the beginning of summer 1943, the camp, however, remained and was, a large construction site, which required more and more workers . In 1942, 1,467 new prisoners were brought in, which mainly arrived in three large transports: 400 men from Buchenwald on 14 March, 250 from the Dachau concentration camp on 20 August, and again on the 15th December 200 prisoners from Buchenwald. Other prisoners were admitted in small groups or as an individual transferrals from civil jails . The latter doubled after September, because since that time Natzweiler became a Reception Camp (Einweisungslager) which increased in prisoner numbers, the composing mix of the prisoners changed: 594 Reichs-German and Volksdeutsche (of which came six from Alsace-Lorraine, six from Luxembourg and eleven from the Netherlands) these were offset by 169 Poles, 22 Czechs and 639 Soviet citizens.
The composition of the categories of prisoners changed. After the first year the "professional criminals" and "asocial" dominated, however, they made up only 27.7% after the newcomers arrived , while the "political" now with 71.3%, presented the majority. Nevertheless, the "greens" ("BV") and "Blacks" (anti-socials ") took leading positions and this continued very much in the camp hierarchy. It took until spring of 1944 that a" Red "was made camp elder at Natzweiler.

View of the Natzweiler concentration camp. 1945".
With the Soviet prisoners, a new category of prisoners came to Natzweiler. With the transport on August 20 1942, 197 inmates from Dachau had been registered as "foreign civilian workers" (AZA) (Ausländische Zivil Arbeiter). On December 5th about 56 were returned to Dachau, 84 had died before the end of the year 1942. [This would indicate they were in a very poor state of health upon arrival.HKS] On March 14th a transport from Buchenwald with Jewish prisoners came to Natzweiler. 68 of the 400 men of this transport  were listed as "Gestapo Jews", but they were re-registered in Natzweiler as "politically-Jews". Some of them had been apprehended as "Rassenschänder" (A rather infamous expression in German) which resulted in their detention, and were entered in  camp records as "race-mixers". [This meant they were, and had been married to a Christian (non-Jewish) women, but this apparently did not apply in reverse.HKS]


I am somewhat surprised, there was a law in the USA that forbade inter-marriages. This does not deviate much from the Nürnberg Law which in part stated: The first supplemental decree of the Nuremberg Laws extends the prohibition on marriage or sexual relations between people who could produce "racially suspect" offspring. A week later, the minister of the interior interprets this to mean relations between "those of German or related blood" and Roma (Gypsies), blacks, or their offspring.
The picture is of Mildred and Richard Loving, an interracial couple in Virginia when interracial marriage was banned in 16 states of the United States. Their case in court 'Loving vs. Virginia' overturned Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute. Love will prevail!

50 of these "Rassenschänder"came from Germany, four from Poland, two from Czechoslovakia and two from the Soviet Union. On October 21, 32 of them were transported to Auschwitz after the SS Economic-Administrative Main Office D on 5 October, had ordered that all the Jews who were in the concentration camps in Deutschland  were to be sent to Auschwitz, so the Reich would be "free of Jews" (judenfrei) including all concentration camps within in the border of the the Reich". At the end of 1942, 921 prisoners were registered in the camp, of which there were 200 men in Oberrehnheim, the first satellite camp of Natzweiler. Oberehnheim was a sub-camp in the service of the SS, and only with the opening of Schönberg in December 1943 began the commercial exploitation of prison labour under the direction of the SS Main Economic-Administrative Department.
Note: [The AZA were mainly prisoners of war and were interned in contradiction to the Geneva Convention on treatment of prisoners of war of 1929 in the concentration camp and forced to work. This treatment of the AZA came through an agreement between Himmler and the OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht) which was concluded during a meeting of 24 October 1941. Nbg. Doc D 569.sic]

Camp entrance, (behind, the Monument to the Departed)
During 1942, the death rate in Natzweiler greatly increased. On average 5.5% per month of the occupants died, that was five times the death rate compared to the year of 1941. To a large extent, the new camp commander Egon Zill was responsible for the increase at this high rate. Zill was a Nationalsocialist from the very beginning, prior to coming to Natzweiler he had already been through a variety of other camps: Sachsenburg, Lichtenburg, Dachau, Ravensbrück, and back again to Dachau. At Flossenburg he had been known as a "man like Eicke". He had been a severe disciplinarian, cruel, sadistic, cold-blooded and full of ideological piety"! He ran his KZ "by the book". He didn't last long at Flossenburg though, for he crossed swords with Himmler and was replaced by Max Kögel in April 1943 and returned to Dachau, and finally to Natzweiler, from there he was transferred to Flossenburg on the 4th October 1942. Nicknamed 'little Zill' because of his short stature he went to ground after the Second World War but revealed himself when he put his real name on the birth certificate of an illegitimate child. Sentenced to life imprisonment by a Munich court, the sentence was reduced on appeal to fifteen years in 1955. Following his release Zill settled in Dachau where he died in 1974 aged 68.sic]
The harsh living conditions in Natzweiler can best be identified by a transport of March 14, 1942 from Buchenwald. 92 Of the 400 prisoners of this transport died before the end of 1942. The cause of death was given in most cases by SS doctors as "Heart Failure" and "General Body Weakness". Another fictitious cause of death was "shot while trying to escape".
Hitler's Mufti
"Josef Zill  with a W-SS Volunteer Mountain Division, Note, the Mufti in the white headgear: This is most likely MOHAMMAD AMIN AL-HUSSEINI
[Mohammad Amin al-Husseini (also spelled al-Husayni) was a Palestinian Arab nationalist known for his Jew-hatred and his bitter opposition to the establishment of a Jewish state in the territory of the British Palestine Mandate. He served as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem from 1921 to 1948 and cooperated with Nazi Germany during World War II, helping to recruit Muslims (one is partly visible with a black Fez and the Totenkopf badge) for Adolph Hitler's dreaded Waffen-SS.  Widely known as “Palestine’s national leader” and the founding father of the Palestinian movement, al-Husseini made an alliance with Hitler and played an active role in promoting the Holocaust. On November 28, 1941, al-Husseini met with Adolph Hitler in Berlin, where he was treated as a visiting head of state. Hitler promised al-Husseini that the latter would be chief administrator of the Arab world after the Nazi "liberation".sic]

Only one successful escape from the main camp is recorded. Five political prisoners succeeded on the afternoon of the 4th August 1942 to escape. In the absence of the camp commander and several officers they stole a vehicle and several SS uniforms. They drove through the sentry line, saluted with "Heil Hitler" and continued on their way up into the Vosges mountains. There, the group split up. One inmate managed to escape as far as London, another reached North Africa. Only the German prisoner was captured again and returned to the camp. After several days of torture he was publicly hanged November 5th 1942. The escape had the consequence that the camp commander Zill was replaced by Josef Kramer. [Josef Kramer and 44 other camp staff (including 15 women) were tried

In the Belsen Trial by a British military court at Lüneburg. The trial lasted several weeks from September to November 1945. He was sentenced to death on November 17, 1945, and hanged at Hameln jail by Albert Pierrepoint on December 13, 1945. sic]
Manacled following his arrest is Joseph Kramer, at that time commandant of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Belsen, photographed on April 28, 1945.

THE YEAR 1943
1943 with 4,809 new arrivals tripled the number of prisoners compared to 1942. The new prisoners came from all over Europe, and at the same time it expanded the categories of prisoners. The expansion of the camp ended with the establishment of a crematorium in October. In addition, a gas chamber was installed in a wing of the hotel, and there were six satellite camp put into operation.

Crematorium at Natzweiler-Struthof"

Gas cell in a concentration camp Natzweiler-Struthof: A look into the gas chamber, where in August 1943, 86 Jews were killed. The room is 2.40 meters wide, 3.60 meters deep and 2.60 meters high. Concentration camp commandant, Josef Kramer, who started the executions watched through a peep-hole to the deadly effect of the gas." The figure is often given as 87, however one inmate refused to enter the chamber and was shot.
No transport to Natzweiler exceeded ever of 300 inmates at anyone time. The new additions were mainly transferred by individual Gestapo offices after they had initially been kept in various jails.  Among them were in 1943, 1099 German, 556 Polish and 1081 Soviet prisoners , also for the first time some Albanians, three Hungarians, two Lithuanians, Latvians, two Yugoslavs and 14 Serbs. Czechs were still represented in comparison to other camps low during that stage with only 34 inmates. Between 8th and December 14th, 1943 "Gypsies" from Auschwitz reached Natzweiler; they were originally from Germany. From the South of Europe came only few prisoners up to this point. Six Spaniards, two of which as "Night and Fog" prisoners (NN) arrived with a transport of Frenchmen on the 12th July and on 12tn of November another 45 men and women from Thessaloniki, [Thessaloniki (520 km. north of Athens) is the second largest city of Greece and the most important centre of the area.HKS] who were transferred with a transport with 87 prisoners from Auschwitz-Birkenau and had been intended for the murder in the gas chamber. [This seems to be a strange procedure, as Auschwitz was an Extermination Camp. HKS]
The number of prisoners from Western Europe rose. First, 74 came from Alsace, then  231 inhabitants from the Moselle region, with the exception of three "anti-social" and two "professional criminals" all were registered as "Political". In addition, the SS turned over 233 Luxembourger, most from the SS special camp Hinzert. With a few exceptions, the prisoners were removed from the Alsace and the Moselle region less than a month after they had  reached Natzweiler before they were transferred to other concentration camps (Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald and Flossenburg) The year 1943 was one with the arrival of "Nacht und Nebel" prisoners from Norway, the Netherlands, France and Belgium termed as NN" members, and were the first to be registered as NN inmates, which had dire consequence for some in the end.
As of June 15, 1943 NN prisoners were gradually transferred to Natzweiler. A retrospective decree from Hitler to Field Marshal Wilhel Keitel, Chief of the High Command of the Wehrmacht (OKW), from 7 Derzember 1941 stipulated that resistance fighters of "night and fog" to be transported to Germany, where they faced special courts, either, or were detained in concentration camps. On December 12 Keitel decided to clarified this : "An effective sustainable deterrence can only be achieved by capital punishment or by measures to keep the members and the public about the fate of the perpetrators in the dark."
A decree of the RSHA from 20 September 1943 stipulated that all NN prisoners be located at Natzweiler. The first transport of 71 Norwegians reached the camp on 15tth June 1943. In this year a total of 981 NN prisoners were registered and until August 1944, there were round 2500. On July 30, 1944, the category of the NN prisoners was abolished, but would be applied only to Western European captives. The make-up of these prisoner were thus  65% of them French, 10.9% Dutch, 10.3% Norwegian and 10.1% Belgians. During the evacuation of the camp 22.6% of its inmates were NN prisoners.

The deportees of KL-Natzweiler arrived from all over Europe come from all walks of life. The vast majority of these are political prisoners, including the "Nacht und Nebel", but also Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals ... All discover a world where they are nothing more than numbers and subhuman".
Since 1942, the camp was used for executions. Six were committed during the first year,  in 1943 24 took place, among them, 13 young Alsatian from Ballersdorf who had opposed their call up to serve in the Wehrmacht  and sentenced for desertion. The execution costs estimated by the camp headquarters was calculated at 127.05 Reichsmarks. The bill went to the Strasbourg Gestapo for reimbursement. In 1944, the number of executions rose. The then commander Hartjenstein stated that "in the summer of 1944 almost daily executions took place".
On July 6, 1944, four females were the first to be taken within the camp: one French and three English women. They were arrested in France and brought via Karlsruhe to Natzweiler. All four were members of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). The arrival of women in the men's camp attracted much attention. Camp commander Hartjenstein led them into the bunker. At night they were in the barracks of the crematorium in the present of the two SS camp doctors Dr Rhode and Dr Plazza murdered with a phenol injection.



"The Sandpit and Execution site". "One evening, after all the commandos returned from work and Appell (Roll Call) was finished, Kramer appeared on the parade ground. He pulled a list from his pocket and began to read aloud names - all of them Luxembourger. One by one, he let the prisoners came from the ranks and ordered them to stop, while he sent the other back into the barracks. The affected Luxembourger were guarded strictly and taken out of the camp. Some minutes later, gunfire was heard. More Luxembourger then received orders to go to the site and turn left of the camp under the SS guard. Half an hour later they returned with the bloodied bodies of their comrades".

  Shortly before the evacuation of the main camp (Stammlager) the SS delivered 107 members of the resistance group "Reseau Alliance" and 35 resistance fighters from the Vosges mountains from the camp Schirmeck-Vorbruck to Naztweiler . All were on the night of 1st to September 2nd 1944 executed at the crematorium and immediately cremated there. In more than 250 cases Natzweiler served as a place of execution of prisoners who were not interned in the camp.
At the end of 1943 a total of 587 prisoners were interned in the seven satellite camps , which had been in operation since December 1942; besides Schönberg, all sub-camps were in the services of the SS. As a result the economic function of these satellite camps had an increase in prisoner numbers overall. At the end of the year 1943, 1,841 men were imprisoned in the main camp.


The sign posted by the entrance to the Natzweiler-Struthof camp reads: "General Delestraint Square. Head of the secret army, Imprisoned at the Struthof from the 8th of March to the 5th of September, 1944. Died for France at Dachau, April 19 , in 1945".  Delestraint , a General was in charge of the Resistance Movements within the German occupation of France. He was removed from Natzweiler with all the other Prisoners, in advance of the oncoming American troops, who discovered in November of 1944 the camp empty of Prisoners".
In February 1943, Delestraint-Vidal went to London with Jean Moulin to coordinate the work of the secret army with the Allied Command. While Vidal sees his responsibilities extended to the whole country (areas north and south), he learns that the landing of the Allies will not occur until spring 1944. He would build during these months of waiting to organize, equip and train his men.
On March 15, 1943,  the head of the Secret Army and several members of his staff were arrested in France. Important documents were seized. German surveillance is intensifies and arrests are increasing.
Back in France, Vidal  develops, particularly in the Vercors, to ensure their food supplies, weapons and equipment is available. Vidal is working hard to unify an operational and cohesive force. Focusing on being well-prepared, he wants to avoid any premature action that would jeopardize the final design. Within months, the size of the Secret Army increased from approximately 100 000 people to over 200 000.
If the work done is important, the situation is becoming increasingly worrying. The head of the Secret Army knows that his days may be numbered. On June 9, 1943, Delestraint-Vidal was arrested by the Gestapo in Paris, where he was to meet with military leaders of the movement of the north, and the commander Gastaldo, his Chief of Staff and head of the second study, and Lieutenant Jean-Louis Theobald, collaborator of Jean Moulin.
General Delestraint, 1938.
When questioned by the Gestapo, Delestraint-Vidal gives no information. Transferred to Fresnes prison, he tries to accept the liability of other defendants and to obtain their release.
On March 10, 1944, General Delestraint was interned at Camp Natzwiller-Struthof, under the status of Nacht und Nebel, that is to say that the Nazis classified him as a "night and fog" member, thus have him disappear without a trial, which he may have expected. Delestraint is awaiting against all hope for his court appearance, which will never happen. On April 19, 1945 - Delestraint is executed at Dachau, only a few days before the camp was liberated by the Americans. There remain some uncertainty about this.
Some sources doubt that  he was executed by the Germans, here is one:
The article that you linked to with the words “Uncertainty remains” is about the possibility that it was not the Germans who killed Delestraint, but the French prisoners. You apparently have such a strong preconceived notion that the Germans killed Delestraint that you missed the point of the article – that it was the Communist prisoners at Dachau who killed Delestraint because they wanted a Communist government in France after the war, so they had to get rid of the non-Communist leader of the French, General Delestraint. [source:http://www.executedtoday.com/2009/04/19/1945-general-charles-delestraint/]
 
                                                                                                                                                                 CONTINUED UNDER PART 3/4

Thursday, April 3, 2014

NATZWEILER CONCENTRATION CAMP PART 1/4



PROLOGUE
The Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp was in the Northern Vosges in Alsace that the National Socialists de facto annexed in June 1940. The ceasefire agreement between France and Germany on June 25, 1940 were, accordingly incorporated into the upper and lower Elsasss and the Moselle area around Metz into the German Reich and subjected to Germanization and Nazitification policy. For residents it  meant preparing themselves for the third Nationality change since 1871. Alsace and the Moselle region were administratively separated: The Mosel region was incorporated into the Gau (District) 'Westmark' and directed by Josef Bürkel . The two Alsatian departments were added to the State of Baden and formed the Gau 'Upper Rhine', which Robert Wagner headed, one of the oldest comrades of Adolf Hitler.
In the course of Germanization policy of the region in July 1940 this part came under the jurisdiction of the Commander of the Security Police and the Security Service (SD) Strasbourg, the education and security camp Schirmeck (La Broque) was opened in Breuschtal. By war's end, Karl Buck ran the camp.
Abut eight kilometres from Schirmeck-Vorbruck there was the Natzweiler concentration camp. The management of both camps was separated, and only occasionally prisoners were transferred from Schirmeck to Natzweiler. Schirmeck-Vorbruck was a camp only for the inhabitants of Alsace and the Moselle region (from 1942 on, prisoners of war were interned here as well), which were held there for a limited time to be 're-educated' by force to the National Socialistic  ideology . In Natazweiler, however, of the total 52,000 inmates, were only 230 of Alsace extraction and 810 from Lorraine. All other detained Alsace and Lorraine individuals were held in other more remote camps away from their homeland.
[Wagner(born as Robert Backfisch) became also Gauleiter of Alsace, where he earned the moniker the Butcher of Alsace (Schlächter vom Elsaß). Wagner was given a free hand to govern like no other Gauleiter. He took part in many trials dictating death sentences. Of the 4,464 Jews sent to the Gurs concentration camp in France, only some 800 survived. At the end of the war, Wagner was arrested by the French, tried, convicted and sentenced to death by the Permanent Military Tribunal in Strasbourg in 1946. The sentence was carried out by firing squad on August 14, 1946. HKS]

At the sentencing of the Hitler-Ludendorff-trial (after the Putsch) in Munich on 1 April 1924. The only recording of all defendants in the Hitler-Ludendorff-process after the verdict. The group picture succeeded under the most difficult conditions. From left to right: Depicted people: [Heinz] Pernet, Dr. [Frederick] Weber, [Wilhelm] Frick, Lieutenant Griebel [= Hermann Kriebel], [Erich] Ludendorff, [Adolf] Hitler, [William] Brückner, [Ernst] Roehm, [Robert] Wagner.
THE SITE SELECTION
The concentration camp was located on the 759 Metre height of the Vosges mountain, on a north slope, which was exposed to the icy wind and had a direct view of the Breusch-valley as well as the Donon Massif . Located near Strasbourg, the Breusch valley was used by the city dwellers in the summer for hiking and in winter for skiing and sledding.
Since 1829 there was a hostel called: The Struthof. In 1906 a new building was erected, which served as a hotel and restaurant and was completely renovated in 1936, Struthof was owned by the family Idoux, they operated both the hotel and also the 200 meter distant farm. Located opposite the hotel was a building which served as a restaurant and a ballroom. In 1943 the gas chamber was installed here, the nearby villa, which had originally belonged to a Strasbourg banker, but now served as a summer residence for the commander of the concentration camp.

View over the Struthof: In the foreground the farm of the Idoux family, in the background the hotel, back left the barracks of the camp Natzweiler
For the selection as to the site of a new concentration camp in most cases, only economic considerations was the decisive nominator as to its location. On September 10th 1940, SS-Standartenführer Karl Blumberg, who explored on behalf of the German Earth and Stone Works Ltd. (DESt) mineral deposits, inspecting the site as well as the nearby quarry at Mont-Louise after geologists there, had found red granite deposits, an unusual find. However, Albert Speer, General Inspector for the Reich Capital (Berlin) wanted to use this rare rock type for his construction projects in Berlin and Nuremberg. Blumberg, who had worked in the twenties in various stone and building material companies, took over on 18 September 1940 as head of the newly established plant of the DESt in Alsace, based in Rothau. On 23rd November 1940 the Strasbourg employment office (Arbeitsamt) provided 60 civilian workers for the initial development of a quarry and its the granite deposits. Negotiations between the municipality of Natzweiler, the DESt and the SS-WVHA for the acquisition of the land dragged on throughout the winter. On the 3rd of March 1941, the WVHA Office II and III sent to Oswald Pohl, a copy of the hearing report, and its minutes, in which the decision was communicated to open a camp: "During a local tour of the quarry by the company and of its environment and by representatives of the Office II and III A, it was found to be advantageous for a construction site as a labour camp, the land depression between the Struthof Hotel and the farm Struthof as such, are most favourable. When using this as a construction site, the advantage of freedom of movement is secured for a quarry operation, while the length of the march route of the prisoners seems quite acceptable and considered as bearable". The DESt leased the land and the rights of exploitation of the quarry successfully from the municipality of Natzweiler.
[Himmler, head of the Gestapo and the police, and Oswald Pohl, head of the principal administrative and economic section of the SS (WVHA), wanted to build camps close to quarries in order to exploit the deportees, as in Mauthausen and Flossenbürg, as part of the Deutsche Erd und Steinwerke (DESt), the SS Mining Firm set up by Himmler in 1938.HKS]

The gas chamber located at 2 km from the camp'
Similar to the concentration camps Mauthausen and Flossenburg the exploitation of the quarry was the only reason for the choice of the place. 2,500 prisoners were intended for the use at this new quarry. The initial work started there even before the arrival of the prisoners, (these were probably the 60 civilian workers as mentioned before) according to reports by the protective custody leader, (Schutzhaftlagerführer) the first working commandos were not used for granite extraction prior to March 31, 1942.
Another reason for the choice of location was the direct train connection between Strasbourg and the village Rothau which allowed the transport of construction materials and labour requirements. However, the road link between the valley and the camp was not sufficient. Therefore, a seven-kilometre-long route from forest house in Rothau was built up to the camp and quarry. After a short quarantine, during 1941-1943 all the new arrivals went into the obligatory " Road Commando", which simultaneously served as a penal company.


Forest house and the street as it is now
Virtual view click at arrow between Rothau Station and Toilet building. It is by this route that the deportees went by foot, truck or van to the KL-Natzweiler. Escorted by the SS and their dogs, the climb to the camp (eight kilometers) was the second stage of the ordeal after the arrival at the rail way station of Rothau.
 http://visite-virtuelle.struthof.fr/visite.php
You will initially see the Rothau Railway Station as it is at present, which will slowly rotate.
Station Rothau today:
Deportees sent to the concentration camp Struthof passed through the station Rothau. It was forbidden for residents to get in touch with them and they had to close their shutters.
Transports could be up to 100 people. The deportees were still wearing in most cases their personal clothes, except when coming from another camp. In this case they did wear their striped KZ-uniforms.
From the station, they first passed the Post Office and through the current street, then the future inmates walked to the camp on foot, in rows of three. Smaller convoys were taken to the camp by truck or van.

The quarry was not  exploited to the extent as originally planned. still it remained operative up to the evacuation in September 1944. However, in early 1943 the DESt's  aim turned towards the more war related defence contracts, mainly in the production of Aerospace requirements. A local construction company built 14 barracks for this purpose, which served as a repair shop for Junkers aircraft and its engines. At the same time Motorenwerk AG, opened in the halls of the camp which was its branch of the Automotive Factory Mathis originally located in Sraßburg-Meinau. More than 1,000 prisoners worked in the camp on engines. The SS had three underground tunnels driven into the quarry, but these were never used.

THE BEGINNINGS OF THE CONCENTRATION CAMP
On May 21, 1941 as the first prisoners arrived at Natzweiler, the camp served only as a provisional solution. The SS administration was housed at the hotel Struthof and the prisoners were kept in an built-on extension secured with barbed wire. The first two transports originated with detainees from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, each of the 150 men on the 21 and 23 May 1941 respectively. The prisoners were likely selected by Josef Kramer, at that time, the officer in charge of camp security (Schutzhaftlagerführer) reporting to the first Kommendant of Natzweiler, Hans Hüttig. Two-thirds of its inmates were classified as "professional criminals" or "anti-socials". Apart from two Czechs and seven Poles all other prisoners were Germans. Among them were twelve, who had been registered as the first 1,000 detainees in Sachsenhausen. From the Dachau concentration camp came 20 men on 27 June, Sachsenhausen provided with three transports, the last on June 29 a total of 365 inmates, and Buchenwald 150 men with one transport on the 26th of October.
Between May and December 1941, 536 detainees were held in the concentration camp Natzweiler. All the prisoners had been transferred from other camps, Natzweiler was until September 1942 not an admission centre. (Einweisungslager).The German prisoners constituted the vast majority (454), and there were very few Eastern European occupants (six Soviets). Of the 536 prisoners remained until 1945 only nine within the camp system of Natzweiler.
Taking the exchange of prisoners between camps into consideration-in January 1941 the only return transfers to Sachsenhausen took place - there were an average of 400 prisoners in Natzweiler. They were housed in the ballroom of the Struthof and had the task to build the camp. To this end, the forest had been cleared,  an access road for trucks provided, the barracks to be built and also the quarry surface exposed. First of all prisoners were employed in the construction of the camp and the excavation of the quarry, which was an 800-meter distance away fro the camp. The inmates of the transport column dragged wooden slats high out of the valley in order to erect shacks.

Drawings by survivor Henri Gayot of Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp prisoners building the road to the camp
prisoners returning to camp, some carrying the wounded or corpses on their backs.
On 24 March 1941, the first death was registered. With the onset of winter, the death toll rose to 30 prisoners, half of the registered deaths in the first seven months, died from Roll-calls, which Josef Kramer had ordered in late November. Dressed only in their underpants at six clock in the morning until noon, the prisoners were exposed to a temperature below minus 14 degrees Celsius. The penalty imposed was for the alleged theft of cigarettes and the collective punishment ended after the SS-Artz Dr. Eisele had telephoned Berlin to complain about Kramer. Kramer still refused the prisoners their soup until the next morning.


HANS HÜTTIG
[After his spell at Buchenwald Hüttig saw service at Sachsenhausen concentration camp and Flossenbürg concentration camp and in both garnered a reputation as a troubleshooter who was suitable for special tasks. Thus he was called upon to oversee the construction of a new facility at Natzweiler-Struthof in Alsace. Following this he spent time in Norway, overseeing the construction of both concentration camps and prisons. Whilst here he commanded the security at Grini concentration camp and served as SS and Police Leader for the country. This assignment then ended abruptly when he was sent to Herzogenbusch concentration camp as commandant following the removal of Adam Grünewald for his part in the Bunker Tragedy. The incident had caused uproar in the local area and as such Hüttig oversaw the closure of Herzogenbusch before returning to Germany to serve out the war working in a police station. After the war Hüttig was in Allied internment. He was sentenced to death on July 2, 1954 by a French military court in Metz, but the death sentence was not enforced. In 1956, he was released from detention after eleven years and led a discrete life at home, until his death in 1980.
Hüttig was one of only a handful of camp commanders interviewed by Israeli historian Tom Segev for his book on the commandants Soldiers of Evil. During the course of the interview he admitted to Segev that "I knew very well what I was going to do in the SS". sic]
JOSEF KRAMER
Kramer served as commandant of Natzweiler-Struthof, the only concentration camp established by the Nazis on present-day French territory, though there were French-run transit camps such as the one at Drancy. At the time, the Alsace-Lorraine area in which it was established had been annexed by Nazi Germany. As commandant at Natzweiler-Stuthof, Kramer personally carried out the gassings of 80 Jewish men and women, part of a group of 87 selected at Auschwitz to become anatomical specimens in a proposed Jewish skeleton collection to be housed at the Anatomy Institute at the Reich University of Strasbourg under the direction of August Hirt. Josef Kramer was imprisoned at the Hamelin jail. Along with 44 other camp staff Kramer was tried in the Belsen Trial by a British military court at Lüneburg. The trial lasted several weeks from September to November 1945. During the trial Anita Lasker testified that Kramer took part in selections for the gas chamber. Kramer was sentenced to death on November 17, 1945, and hanged at Hamelin jail by Albert Pierrepoint on December 13, 1945. sic]
Dr.HANS EISELE (PHYSICIAN)
In January 1940, Eisele joined the Waffen-SS and was for a short time in the Mauthausen concentration camp, then from February to August 1941 in Buchenwald concentration camp. He served as camp doctor, and murdered 300 prisoners suffering from tuberculosis. He also did experimental surgery, sometimes without anaesthesia and with a fatal outcome; in addition, he abused and tortured patients. Then he was in concentration camp Natzweiler and in June 1942 used in the SS hospital in Prague. Furthermore, he did service with the SS Division Das Reich on the Eastern Front. In February 1945 he was sent to Dachau concentration camp, where he served under the First Camp Physician Fritz Hintermayer. He was arrested by U.S. forces in April 1945.
On 13 December 1945, Eisele was tried in the Dachau main trial for his participation in three executions for which he had issued the death certificate. He was sentenced to death. After commutation of the sentence to a life sentence on 11 April 1947, he was in the Buchenwald main trial, tried again and received together with twenty co-defendants the death penalty. However, the basic conviction against Eisele proved dubious and uncertain, that four of the eight military judges submitted an application that the judgment be converted by the reviewing body to a ten-year sentence, which was granted.
During his detention in prison for war criminals Landsberg, he wrote an extensive defense titled Audiatur et altera pars in which he denied the allegations and represented himself as a convinced Christian, who had always been a physician only for the sake of others. In contrast, numerous witnesses of his crimes were from the ranks of former concentration camp prisoners, and sometimes even from former SS members. But after another penalty reduction, Eisele, on 26 February 1952, was released from prison
After his release, he opened a medical practice in Munich. In 1958, during the course of the trial of Martin Sommer, a guard at Buchenwald, new allegations were made against Eisele. He fled to Egypt, where he settled under the pseudonym Carl Debouche in upmarket Cairo suburb Maadi.
Eisele moved in the circles of former Nazi scientists in Egypt, after a German extradition request had been rejected.There was at least one assassination attempt on Eisele by Mossad, a package bomb in which the Egyptian deliverer died, but Eisele was unhurt. Eisele died on 3 May 1967 in unknown circumstances in his home in Maadi, and was buried in the small German cemetery in grave No. 99.sic]

                                                                       CONTINUED UNDER PART 2/4