Friday, January 13, 2012

BUCHENWALD KZ 1937-1945 Part 9


"Mehr als die beachtlichen materiellen Schäden und Menschenverluste hatte dieses Ereignis unbestreitbar Auswirkungen auf das Lagerleben. Danach war es ganz verändert. Die SS, die sich an jenem Tage in völliger Verwirrung befand, war danach in ihren zu gut geregelten früheren Gewohnheiten gestört. Sie hatte den Boden unter den Füßen verloren, sie schien dem nicht gewachsen zu sein."
  Quoted by:ROGER ARNOLD
"More significant than the material damage and human losses it had an undeniable impact on the events of the camp life. After this it was quite changed. The SS, who was on that day in complete confusion, disrupted after their old habits of well-regulated habits. They had lost the ground under their feet, they seemed not able to cope."

The Buchenwald Gustloff-Werk-Plant II  had to temporarily employ and operate with up to 3,500 inmates. An operation under the code name "Mibau" a group of companies operating here since the spring of 1944 was present in the production of control components (Meilerwagen) a guidance system for the V-2 rocket. The commencement of weapons production in the spring of 1943 was technically modern and proficient, but the results did not meet expectations, however. Jurisdictional disputes between the SS and the plant management did not help. Above all, the contradiction between the modern character of production and the forced  regime of the camp remained unresolved. As the Polish Jew Leon Weissmann testified at the Dachau Buchenwald-Process in 1947, the detachment of commanders resorted to brutal means.
Clearly the inconsistency was known by camp commander Pister and at the end of November 1943 he  issued lengthly guidelines regarding prisoners and their work performance and behavior at the Gustloff Werke. Pister of course knew very well that many of the factory working prisoners from the Soviet Union, Poland and France had at the end of 1943 no chance of release from the camp.[Although "good" behavior and work performance was always promised, it was a carrot and stick method.sic]
Detailed report as to the acceptance of additional prisoners into the camp as of 15.8.1944, nine days prior to the Air Raid. It states clearly that the acceptance of another 4011 inmates, that some of them has to live in the open, as no tents are available, others have to double up and share a bunk, sharing is practiced during Day-and-Nightshifts.
The attack of the 1st Bomber Division of the 8th U.S. Air Force at Buchenwald on August 24, 1944 was prepared in detail and was aimed at the Gustloff-Werk II, the German armament works and facilities of the SS. With this began the last phase of the history in the existence of the concentration camp Buchenwald. Accommodation in the area of the prisoners was not damaged. Only within the zones adjacent to the German Equipment Works as part of the camp there were devastations. What was hit were the crematorium, laundry, disinfection and supply buildings , in which winter clothing had been burned.
At the time of the attack  the camp had about 31.000 prisoners  the limit of its capacity. A large part of the prisoners had to remain during the attack near the plant. There were 2,000 that had been injured and many deaths among them. Nicolas Spielmann from Luxenburg describes the situation during the attack:
"The camp area had only one air raid shelter, which was for the use of the SS. The prisoners were allowed to move away from any danger at the factory, but had to remain inside the armed cordon, so that they were standing around outside the buildings and were unprotected. In the beautiful clear sky, we could watch our friends just  fly past us . Today, some of them centered their attention especially on the inner part of the camp and one gray column of smoke could be seen, that was a sure sign of attack. But very few prisoners understood the intention of a targeted air raid. Their admonitions, to go into the nearby forest, were not taken seriously. But only for a short time.
A deafening buzz in the air and then twice a terrible crash. That must have been near, they had clearly felt the air pressure. In wild jumps all fled into the woods, about twenty yards away from the garage. Here recently, trenches had been prepared. In there they huddled. Deeper into the woods they could not go, for close by them stood the sentries with rifles cocked. As soon as the crowd was gone into the ditch, off went again a hissing, howling and crashing sound.
The heads  firmly pressed into the loamy earth, eyes closed, we heard how the large barracks buildings collapsed. Dust, rocks and debris rained down on us now. The trench had collapsed halfway. Some of us were buried alive.
The whole area was black with dust and smoke. Where once still stood a few seconds ago a building, only piles of rubble were visible. Many of us had found their graves there. The whole Garage Complex  was gone. Heavy bomb craters everywhere. The heavy trucks were like toy cars all mixed up. "

Destroyed and damaged factory buildings of Gustloff-Werke II after the air raid on 24.8.1944
Inmates clearing an entrance to an SS-Shelter after the air raid
Damaged house within the SS-Leader Complex after the air raid

Total loss to November 1944 due to the consequences of the raid were the lives of 388 prisoners. Also killed were over one hundred SS men and their families. After the attack, the SS tried to resume production in the Gustloff-Werk II. Given the immense destruction in the plant they reached only a fraction of the already previously low level of capacity.

Since the removal of the sick, the disabled and Jewish prisoners during 1941/42 into "euthanasia" killing centers, which had been labeled by camp inmates on the concept of "Ascension Transportation,"(Himmelfahrtstransporte) it was usual for the SS to get rid of the sick and weak prisoners by deporting them to other camps or kill them by injections of Phenol, Evipan or Air. "The SS even used the expression "scrapping"(Verschrottung) The goal of destination initially was the concentration camp at Majdanek, near Lublin, where the SS moved from the satellite camp "Dora" on the 15 January 1944 and 6 Februar1944 a  total of 1.888 ill and weak prisoners. Similar transports arrived between December 1943 and April 1944 from the concentration camp Dachau, Flossenbürg, Mauthausen, Neuengamme, Auschwitz, Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen in Majdanek. Since March 1944 to March 1945,  thousands of sick and weak were pushed from these places into the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen.

Inside view of the Cinema Barrack during 1943, this was where since October 1944 the "Selection"of sick and weak Jewish Inmates from Satellite Camps Magdeburg and Rehmsdorf took place.
On 24 August 1944 ordered Richard Glücks, Chief of Office Group D in the Economic and Administrative Main Office, that all the Jewish prisoners, who could no longer work, to be sent  to Auschwitz. On the 28 August, the first transport left with 72 pregnant women and mothers with children from the satellite camp of the Hugo Schneider AG in Leipzig. When they arrived there only 25 of them that had been given prisoner numbers, the other, the SS took immediately to the gas chambers. On September 26, another transport followed with  200 Sinti and Roma, almost exclusively children and adolescents. By the end of September the cinema barrack was used for the "selection" process of who would have to leave

End of 1944, the Red Army approached the concentration camps in occupied Poland and those in the east of Germany. The inmates of these camps had been set by the SS on foot or by train to the West during March. In January 1945, began the evacuation of Auschwitz, a few weeks later the concentration camp Gross-Rosen (Silesia). More than ten thousand people, totally exhausted and debilitating, for the most part Jews, arrived in Buchenwald. The SS had it in parts driven them on foot through the icy winter or herded them into open freight cars. Many starved or froze to death on the road, others were shot by the SS. The cars were full of dead on arrival, their names remain unknown for ever.
The survivors were crammed into the Small Camp(Kleines Lager), which had previously become a slum. The SS hardly begrudged them any breaks, but took them upon arrival into satellite camps, which were still partly re-established during the last weeks of the war.
Name Shield, found in the Kleines Lager. Inscription reads: Jozef Szternberg, KL 20253,born 6.IV.1925 in Bensburg. Jozef Szternberg came with an evacuation transport beginning March 1945 from Groß-Rosen. His fate is unknown.

The SS had the Small Camp (das Kleine Lager) during December 1944 extended to seventeen barracks and demolished the tents. After the arrival and occupancy of the evacuees by trains, the horse stable barracks (Pferdestallbarracken) never  dropped under a thousand people.In a 500 square Meter barrack 1.800 to 1.900 prisoners were not uncommon. By early January 1945 there were 6.000 prisoners in the Small Camp, so this figure rose until the eve of the evacuation to 17.000. Hunger, dirt, fights and desperate struggles for survival and infectious diseases dominated the slums of the Buchenwald shantytow(Barackenstadt). Fred Wander, who had arrived with the transports from Auschwitz, writes in his book "The Seventh Well".(Der siebente Brunnen) about these conditions.
Mass starvation was the result, which had in less than a hundred days, about 5.200 people dead The bodies of the dead were thrown out by the inmates during the night from the barracks to make room for the living. Included in this figure are also the dead of Barrack 61, which belonged since early 1945 as a disease block for prisoners. There, the SS began after the arrival of the mass transports from Auschwitz, murdering people who had contagious diseases and the so-called "Muslims"(Muselmann) who stumbled into the camp as skeletons, by injections. "The liquidation of prisoners by injections was moved from the infirmary to block 61 in the Small Camp which was set up as a sick block"
Jaroslav Bartl, then a male nurse in the hospital, recalls.

Even inmates of the hospital were involved in this murder campaign. The Little Camp was number one as a death-camp in early 1945 and securing the first place of dead inmates at the Buchenwald complex, followed by the construction of tunnels at the SS Ohrdorf (S III), then Berga / Elster and Long-Zwieberge. From early January until 11 April 1945 in Buchenwald and its satellite camps 13,969 people were killed.
By March 1945 all the dead were cremated. Only the remains of deceased of the "German Reich" and a few foreign prisoners (Norwegians and Danes) the ashes were returned in Urns up to 1943. Most of the ashes of the dead since 1943 the SS treated this as waste and was disposed off accordingly. In the spring of 1945, the fuel supplies for the crematorium failed to arrive, where the corpses piled up and the rats increased. Himmler gave permission from March for  "Notbeerdigungen" (Emergency Burials) in mass graves on the south slope of the Ettersberg.


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