Saturday, January 7, 2012

BUCHENWALD KZ 1937-1945 Part 7

BUCHENWALD KZ 1937-1945 Part 7


From a prison to the east of the town of Sulmona the SS brought after the Armistice, which Italy signed in September 1943 with the Allies, the first Italian political prisoners to Buchenwald. During1944 followed transports of political prisoners, particularly from the infamous detention camp in La Risiera San Sabba near Trieste. This camp was opened in the first half of 1944 in an abandoned  rice mill near Trieste and was under the command of the security police coded "Operation Zone Adriatic Coast."(Operationszone Adriatisches Küstenland) Members of the Resistance from all over northern Italy were imprisoned there. From June to November 1944, the SS brought from these camps a total of 1290 prisoners  to Buchenwald. Other Italians, including fighters of the International Brigades who had participated during the Spanish Civil War came from Compiegne.
An exceptional case were the 1000 Italian Military Internees which the Wehrmacht  transferred to the SS during  October / November 1943 and brought them from the prison camps into KZ  satellite camps "Dora" and "Laura," they were separately housed  from the other concentration camp prisoners and not considered to be protective custody prisoners, although they shared the heavy forced labor and the fate the same as other inmates.
Like many from Southern France, Italians suffered greatly under the harsh environment, climate wise, that existed on the Ettersberg  which frequently caused pneumonia under the new arrivals. Of the approximately 3,500 Italians which were deported between autumn 1943 and early 1945 by the SS into the concentration camp at Buchenwald, nearly one in three died.

In the camp statistics the SS differentiated between Yugoslavs and Croats (due to the aspect of formal political independence of Croatia which Germany had granted). The Yugoslavs were first admitted in the summer of 1941 into the camp. There were initially some 15 Yugoslavs, and 3 Croats by mid August 1942. Due to a transport from Flossenbürg in October 1943, the number of Yugoslavs at the end of 1943 reached 759. By  Mid-July 1944 there were 575 Yugoslavs  and 327 Croats in Buchenwald.

After the transfer and removal of most Jewish prisoners in October 1942, the number of imprisoned Jews in Buchenwald over a period of 19 months remained nearly constant. Although the demand for trained construction workers prevented that the last were taken to Auschwitz, but basically the SS kept to an implementation of a complete deportation of all Jews. Even the internment of Jews living in Germany(Reichsjuden) who had been due to their nationality, like citizen of allied or neutral countries excluded from the 1941/42 deportation to the extermination camps(Vernichtungslager) was initially intended as a temporary measure. This meant an increase from October to December 1943, that the number of Jewish prisoners grew to nearly 400, which was about one percent of the total of prisoners in the camp.
 Adolf Eichmann, planned in early 1944, who headed the "Jewish Affairs" in the Reich Security Main Office, the destruction of the last remaining Jewish communities in occupied Europe, and ordered the transportation of 400 000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz during May to July 1944 he had two-thirds of them murdered with gas. The urgent manpower requirements of the "Fighter Staff", which at the same time requested  the relocation of the aircraft industry into bombproof underground factories resulted in the withdrawal and preparation of transportation from May 1944, of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from Auschwitz-Birkenau and the immediate transfer into concentration camps back of the so called Old Reich (Altreich), where they entered into conditions that had to inevitably lead to debilitation and death itself, as the SS rushed them into the hardest work places. With the first shipment, which arrived with 1,000 Hungarian Jews on 24/05/1944 at Buchenwald, there were about thirty children out of their total, and about  one third under twenty years of age. The SS permitted the transport hardly any rest and used them immediately in the tunnels of "Dora."
Those arrivals at Ettersberg of Jews from Auschwitz  remained there usually only a short time. Already in June 1944 in Bochom, Magdeburg and Rehmsdorf the first satellite camps for Jewish prisoners were built. Up to December 1944, the number of 12 satellite camps with mostly or exclusively Jewish camp inmates were for about 15,000 Jewish men and 14 young women's camps, with 11.500 Jewish women. Badly dressed, weakened by hunger and disease, the allocation to work, the constant torment was meant eventual death, while their only chance to live, was the will to carry on.  the SS, had sent from Buchenwald, as long as the gas chambers at Auschwitz were still working at that time, over 2,000 sick and weak Jewish prisoners back for immediate extermination. Due to the forced evacuation of Jewish camps in occupied Poland and the closure of the concentration camps Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen, Jewish prisoners in early 1945 became the largest group of inmates at Buchenwald.

Copy of Radio-Transmitter Message(Funkspruch) from Auschwitz dated 5.6.44 to the Commandant of Buchenwald. It states that  at 15.25 hours, 2000 male Jewish Prisoners have left.  Index Cards have to be provided at your end.  Please [acknowledge sic] (beg) Arrival

The deportation of Sinti and Roma from Germany to ghettos or concentration camps in occupied Poland began soon after the war began. About 5,000 predominantly Austrian Roma and Sinti were taken in late 1941 in the ghetto of Lodz (Litzmannstadt at that time) and soon deported them to Chelmno (Kulmdorf) where they were suffocated in gas vans. Thousands of Roma have perished since 1941 in the USSR, Poland and Serbia by  shootings from the Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police and the Armed Forces(Wehrmacht) or were victims killed by gas.
   Following a command from Himmler December 16, 1942, the SS apprehended  approximately 23.000 Gypsies from several European countries, among them 13.000 from Germany and Austria, put them into their own miserable barracks at Auschwitz-Birkenau. There, many succumbed to the inhumane living conditions. Before the dissolution of the "Gypsy camp",(Zigeunerlager) the SS murdered most of the inmates. Until the beginning of September 1944 there were approximately 1.800 Sinti and Roma, including many young juveniles transported from Auschwitz to the men's-camp of Buchenwald and 800 women into the women-camp. Many did not survive the heavy work load and terror in the tunnels of the underground installations. Particularly in the sub-camp of "Dora", and later at Mittelbau, where hundreds were worked to death.

[In 1944 the network of concentration camps reached its zenith. Parts of the armaments industry were moved below ground. Flossenbürg prisoners produced aircraft for Messerschmitt underground, and Neuengamme prisoners set up gigantic factory complexes in the caves of Porta Westfalica. In October 1944 the Dora-Mittelbau camp near Nordhausen in the Harz mountains, until then a satellite command of Buchenwald, was converted into an independent camp. Here, components for the V-weapons were produced under unimaginable conditions.
Assembly Line for the A-4 Rocket inside Tunnel "B" of KZ  Dora-Mittelbau 1945
Dora – Mittelbau also known Dora-Nordhausen was a concentration camp in the Harz Mountains, three miles from Nordhausen, Saxony, in Germany.
The Dora-Mittelbau camp was first mentioned on 27 August 1943 as an external unit of the Buchenwald concentration camp. On 28 October 1944 it became a major concentration camp in its own right, with twenty-three branches, most of them in the vicinity, inside a restricted military area.
Following Hitler's August 22 1943 order for SS-Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler to use concentration camp workers for A-4 production, 107 inmates arrived at Nordhausen from Buchenwald on August 28, 1943, followed by 1,223 on September 2. Workers from Peenemünde departed on October 13, 1943.
Originally called Block 17/3 Buchenwald, the SS administration ordered Dora to be politically separated from Buchenwald at the end of September 1944 and to become the center of Konzentrationslager Mittelbau (Concentration Camp Central Construction). In effect, the camp became operational on November 1, 1944 with 32,471 Mittelbau prisoners of many nationalities.The SS used the Boelcke Kaserne, a former barracks in Nordhausen city, as a dumping ground for hopeless prisoner cases. Thousands of prisoners were transferred to Dora-Mittelbau, mostly from Buchenwald and they were put to work excavating underground tunnels that were to serve as the site of a huge plant for the manufacture of V-2 missiles and other arms.The original plan of excavation and tunnelling provided for two long tunnels that would go parallel through the mountain from north to south and be connected by forty-six smaller tunnels. By 1943 the government research firm WIFO had completed Tunnel B and had partially finished the Tunnel A opening on the northern side of the hill.
The project yielded an excellent site for underground rocket production in the two main tunnels – each 1,800 meters long and 12 and a half meters wide – and twenty-three connecting tunnels. The Germans used the main tunnels for rocket testing. Railroad tracks ran the length of the tunnel, with sufficient space remaining at the side for huge pieces of machinery. The Junkers company used the small northern section to manufacture airplane engines.
Until the plant was put into operation, in the late spring of 1944, the ten thousand prisoners working on the site had no living quarters and were housed inside the tunnels, under unbearable conditions, deprived of daylight and fresh air for weeks at a time. They had to work at a murderous pace, in twelve-hour shifts, in very unsanitary conditions and lack of security precautions led to a mortality rate much higher than that in any other concentration camp in Germany.
Only after production began was a camp of wooden barracks constructed in Dora – Mittelbau, to which the prisoners were transferred in the summer of 1944. That autumn, when maximum production was attained in the camp, Dora-Mittelbau had a permanent prison population in the main camp of over twelve thousand, with another twenty thousand in the satellite camps.
When construction was completed and the plant went into operation, thousands of Jewish prisoners from various countries were brought to Dora-Mittelbau. They were treated with great brutality and were assigned the most physically exacting jobs, their mortality rate was higher than that of any other group of prisoners.Section of V2 rocket being constructed at Dora-Mittelbau.
Jewish prisoners who were exhausted and could not keep pace with the work were sent to Auschwitz and Mauthausen, in special transports, to be killed there.
Although most of the prisoners were men, a few women were held in the Dora Mittelbau camp and in the Groß Werther subcamp. Only one woman guard is now known to have served in Dora, Lagerführerin Erna Petermann. Regardless of gender, all prisoners were treated with extreme cruelty, which caused illness, injuries and deaths.
Examples of the cruelty routinely inflicted on prisoners include: severe beatings that could permanently disable and/or disfigure the victims, deliberate and life-threatening starvation, physical and mental torture as well as summary execution under the smallest pretext.
Large numbers of prisoners were jailed on charges of sabotage; many were killed during their interrogations or were subsequently executed. More than two hundred prisoners, including several of the underground resistance leaders were hanged in public.
Approximately 60,000 prisoners from 21 nations (mostly Russians, Poles, and French) passed through Dora. An estimated 20,000 inmates died; 9000 died from exhaustion and collapse, 350 hanged (including 200 for sabotage), the remainder died mainly from disease and starvation. PS:Wernher von Braum denied that he has ever visited Dora-Mittelbau, he took the truth with him into his grave.

Many today believe that von Braun should not have been celebrated as a hero. They feel he turned a blind eye toward what was happening to slave laborers in Germany. There is not much evidence in official records to indicate that he was even somewhat troubled by the use of slave labor.
Official visits included a 10 December 1943 visit to Dora by Albert Speer, and Wernher von Braun visited the Nordhausen plant on 25 January 1944. Von Braun returned for a 6 May 1944 meeting with Walter Dornberger and Rudolph where Albin Sawatzki discussed the need to enslave 1,800 more skilled French workers.sic]

Resistance within Germany was suppressed by the NS-regime, usually with an act of violence and force. The attempts of the student group "White Rose", to arouse the Germans were, as brutally suppressed as the communist resistance groups, the anti-authoritarian youth opposition of Cologne "Edelweiss Pirates" and others. Even earlier on the guillotine fell on ex-Buchenwald prisoners like Walter Husemann, Theodor Neubauer and Arthur Hoffman, because they had continued the resistance after their release from the camp.
 Even as Hitlers war intentions were clear, an initially small group of officers, made preparations to accomplish his removal or fall. After the beginning of the war this group undertook to connect with other opponents of Hitler. In which, after their meeting place in Silesia named "Kreisau Circle," senior officials and military officers, politicians of the Weimar republic and union leaders as well as Protestant and Catholic clergy came together in a Christian-influenced social and programmatic vision for a future Germany. The number of members of these groups grew with the looming military defeat. The assassination attempt on Hitler on July 20, 1944 failed. The regime took bloody revenge on the conspiracy.
Completely surprised by the attack,  the Gestapo struck back, who believed until then that they had the majority of potentially  political opponents in concentration camps, prisons or under its observation. In August 1944 in all of Germany,  they hastily tried to forestall any attempt of resistance by the preventive arrests of the alleged activists. As part of a campaign of arrests under the code named "Iron Bars"(Gitter) and "Thunderstorm"(Gewitter) the Gestapo offices during the 22 to 24 August 1944, took a total 742 former elected officials and prominent members of parties of the Weimar Republic, including many former members of the Reichstag into protective custody.
The air raid on Buchenwald on 24 August 1944 delayed further detention admissions into the camp. Until September, detainees still came from individual holding facilities or jails, for example, from the Cologne "Messelager", among them the Centre Party member of parliament Otto Gerig, who died in the camp. The "Aktion" caused anxiety and confusion among the population  from lack of understanding, since many of those arrested were at an advanced age and besides, it was more than a decade ago that they had held past offices, and nothing existed against them. It thus became obvious during  their interrogation by the Gestapo of Weimar very little could be proven and released them. Although some have died during their incarceration by the end of the camps liberation.
[PS.: I would like to relate here a personal experience during those days: At that time we lived  on an Estate of Briesnitz, Kreis Crossen an der Oder, which had a few empty small villa-type houses, in which one of them, a Lady by the name of Frau Junghaus and daughter was living,(from bombed-out Berlin)she was the first wife of General von Seydlitz, who was a POW in Russia and an anti-Hitler activist. After the assassination attempt on Hitlers life, while in Germany his family (He had four daughters by his second marriage) and relations was taken into Sippenhaft, detention for the crimes of a family member, and the Gestapo was searching for his daughter from his first marriage,(she was now of tainted blood) a reward was posted. I never saw her fully, (they both took walks always after dark) only part of her through the window when she handed me her letters to be posted. She made only once a mistake by indicating the senders name: "von Seydlitz-Kurzbach"! Later that day after school I told my mother: "I know who she is , I know how she is!"  (Excited of the award I would receive)  My mother was fully aware who she was, shocked as she was took me aside, and said:"Herbertchen, she is carrying a baby the Gestapo will hang her ,baby and all, do you really wish this to happen?" My answer>No mother, I do not wish that to happen< So as a 'good' young German I failed in my "DUTY"!

SIPPENHAFT OR SIPPENHAFTUNG  (English: "kin liability") was a form of collective punishment practised in Nazi Germany towards the end of the Second World War. It was a legalized practice in which relatives of persons accused of crimes against the state were held to share the responsibility for those crimes and subject to arrest and sometimes execution. Many people who had committed no crimes were arrested and punished under Sippenhaft laws introduced after the failed July 20 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler in July 1944. A law of February 1945 also threatened death to the relatives of military commanders who showed what Hitler regarded as cowardice or defeatism in the face of the enemy.After the failure of the July 20 plot, the SS chief Heinrich Himmler told a meeting of Gauleiters in Posen that he would "introduce absolute responsibility of kin ... a very old custom practiced among our forefathers." According to Himmler, this practice had existed among the ancient Teutons. "When they placed a family under the ban and declared it outlawed or when there was a blood feud in the family, they were utterly consistent ... This man has committed treason; his blood is bad; there is traitor's blood in him; that must be wiped out. And in the blood feud the entire clan was wiped out down to the last member.sic]

Letter of the Gestapo to the Oberschulbehörde (High School) in Hamburg that Dr. Kurt Adams, who had been taken into Protective Custody has died on 2.11.1944 in Buchenwald. It states further, that any activities as an enemy of the State could not be proven, thus the next of kin can not claim any social service assistance, implying that he died of natural causes.
During a consultation in Himmler's field headquarters on 18 September 1942 between Justice Department  and SS it was agreed that prisoners from jails and penitentiaries should be delivered to Konzentrationslager(Concentration Camps) "for extermination through work".
 It should be entirely applied to the security detainees, like Jews, Gypsies, Russians and Ukrainians, and Poles who had an over three-year sentence, Czechs or Germans an 8-year sentence, the duration of the detention in a camp was at the discretion of the Reichsjustizministers (Minister of Justice). As the minutes taken by Otto Thierak indicate there existed also other agreements.
Preventive detention was (and still is today) imposed under paragraph 42e of the Criminal Code in addition to the sentence the court orders against so-called habitual criminals, and  lasts as long as necessary for that purpose as the justice system sees fit. The Court examined and reviewed individual cases every three years. For Security Reasons(Sicherheitsverwahrung) there were actually relevant departments within prisons and mental hospitals. In late 1942 began the transfer of the "security detainees" to the SS, from February 1943, these were also shown in the category of inventory statistics of the camp. Security detainees(Sicherheitsverwahrten) from about 2.300 (SV), which were up to the end of 1944 brought to Buchenwald and used by the SS in the heaviest work details, only half of them survived during this period.The Justice Department also would send Political Prisoners, who had barely escaped the Death Penalty and were serving long term prison sentences to Buchenwald, some had been prominent members of the Reichstag prior to 1933

During August 1944 the Commander of the German Security Police and SD in France ordered the evacuation of the Detention Camp at Compiengne as well as all jailed Inmates within Paris in face of advancing Allied Troops. Most of the inmates were transported on August 20th 1944 to Buchenwald, which included 167 Allied Pilots which had been shot down over France and included:
82 US-Americans(USA Air Force)
48 Britons (Royal Air Force)
26 Canadians (Royal Canadian Air Force)
 9 Australians(Royal Australian Air Force)
 2 New Zealander(Royal NZ Air Force)
 1 Jamaican(Royal Air Force)
As the above had been declared by the NS-Propaganda Ministerium as "Terror Fliers" and not as POW's their fate remained undecided for some time. On October 19th 1944 most of them were sent into the Prisoner of War Camp of the Luftwaffe Stalag III Luft at Sagan. Pilot LEVITT C. BECK of the US Air Force who was shot down over France during June 1944 and was betrayed to the Gestapo remained seriously ill in the camp. He died November 29th 1944 while in hospital.
Under the so called Gestapo-Detainees were about 37 Allied SOE Agents who had been operating in France and had been apprehended. For them the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (The Reich Security Headquarters) had provided a "Sonderbehandlung" (Special Treatment). Beginning of September to the middle of October, 34 of the were garroted(gedrosselt) in the basement of the Crematorium. Only three of them could be saved. [I had the German word "gedrosselt" translated as "garroted" and is disputed, it can also mean "strangeled" sic]

Main article: Phil Lamason
Although it was highly unusual for German authorities to send Western Allied prisoners of war (POWs) to concentration camps, Buchenwald held a group of 168 aviators for two months. These POWs were from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. They all arrived at Buchenwald on August 20, 1944
All these airmen were in planes which had crashed in occupied France. Two explanations are given for them being sent to a concentration camp: first, that they had managed to make contact with the French Resistance, some were disguised as civilians, and they were carrying false papers when caught; they were therefore categorized by the Germans as spies, which meant their rights under the Geneva Convention were not respected. The second explanation is that they had been categorised as Terrorflieger ("terror aviators"). The aviators were initially held in Gestapo prisons and headquarters in France. In April or August 1944, they and other Gestapo prisoners were packed into covered goods wagons (US: boxcars) and sent to Buchenwald. The journey took five days, during which they received very little food or water. One aviator recalled their arrival at Buchenwald:
“As we got close to the camp and saw what was inside... a terrible, terrible fear and horror entered our hearts. We thought, what is this? Where are we going? Why are we here? And as you got closer to the camp and started to enter the camp and saw these human skeletons walking around—old men, young men, boys, just skin and bone, we thought, what are we getting into?   
—A Canadian airman's recollection of his arrival at Buchenwald.
They were subjected to the same treatment and abuse as other Buchenwald prisoners until October 1944, when a change in policy saw the aviators dispatched to Stalag Luft III, a regular prisoner-of-war camp (POW) camp; nevertheless, two airmen died at Buchenwald. Those classed as terrorflieger had been scheduled for execution after October 24; their rescue was effected by Luftwaffe officers who visited Buchenwald and, on their return to Berlin, demanded the airmen's release.

  [Regarding the SOE agents who were executed: Executions in Buchenwald came in shifts. In the case of the SOE agents, they were executed in two separate groups. The first group was hung by wires or ropes strung to those hooks in the crematorium basement. The second group, who were executed later, requested that they be shot rather than hung, and the SS accepted that request. Supposedly the SOE group was taken into Weimar and put on trial before the executions were carried out. Three of them, including their leader Edward Yeo-Thomas, managed to avoid executions by posing as typhus patients in a section of the camp where a typhus vaccine was being developed. The scientist leading that work was named Balachowsky. He was also a prisoner and had been arrested in Paris for aiding the SOE’s Prosper Network that was operating there. He was a prominent figure in the Buchenwald underground and it’s no surprise that he attempted to help some of the SOE men there, considering his history with their organization in France. I= (the film maker of this statement)believe that in addition to the three who escaped via the typhus group, four more SOE men avoided execution by luck – for whatever reason their executions were delayed long enough that the camp was liberated before they could be carried out. This is all detailed in the book The White Rabbit, about Yeo-Thomas. SOURCE:]

Index File, Personal Details at POW Camp Stalag Luft III for Stanley Booker 1944. After their detention in Buchenwald these Allied Fliers among them Stanley Booker had been brought into this POW Camp (Sagan). Source:Stanley Booker

Levitt C. Beck (1920-1944) during the year of 1943


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