Monday, September 24, 2012


At the time of the "Actions" and the closure of satellite camps, began
the removal of facilities in the main camp (Stammlager) and the
evacuation of prisoners that had survived, starting from August to early
October 1944, initially further west towards cities with port
connections. Only the inmates of sub-camps like Dondangen II, Riga-Lenta
and Riga-Mühlgraben were partially sent to Libau, where they were held
in the local jail. The majority of them did not survive.
In addition to the satellite camps, the work details of the main camp
were further reduced. Only the commandos that ensured the minimum
functioning of the camp were to continue as before. Prisoners which were
still employed at the port to clear the incoming cargo had been
increased to clear cargo which served to support the German front.
Immediately before the first evacuation on 6 August 1944, the camp-SS
conducted again a selection process in Kaiserwald. "During examination
that were done on visual observations, men and women were herded into a
barrack, though separated, but had to strip naked and take the shoes in
their hands. Then the gray-haired ones, those wearing glasses, people
with hanging bellies and men with testicular ruptures were eliminated ".
The selected people notto be killed, received new prisoners' uniforms
and were transported to the port the next morning. There they had to
assist in loading heavy machinery, help to store food and other goods.
Late in the evening they herded the prisoners, men and women separately,
below deck: "We left Riga late Sunday morning of 6 August 1944 on the"MV
Bremerhaven " . We were almost 2,000 prisoners, 1,100 men and 900 women.
In addition, there were more than 3,000 Hungarian Jewesses on board,
which had been only three months ago deported from Auschwitz to Riga. In
addition, nearly 3,000 Russian prisoners of war were on the ship", said
Gertrude Schneider. [That gives a total of 8000 prisoners, sic].
Probably fewer prisoners were on board the vessel, [the figures do not
telly from other sources, sic] but Schneider's statements hints at the
conditions, which must have prevailed under deck: Prisoners spent the
next few days and nights without water and food, with no possibility to
visit sanitations [this does not correspond with other witness's
statements, sic] in the lower deck of a heavily guarded ship that would
take them to Danzig. They lived here in fear of coming under Russian
bombardment and drowning in the Baltic Sea. Besides KZ Inmates and
Soviet prisoners of war there were Latvian specialised skilled workers,
camp staff and officials of the Ministries of the Reich Commissariat
Ostland on board and taken out of Riga. [Schneider, in "Unfinished
Road", page 3, sic]
Two days later, the vessel arrived in Danzig. Now the completely
exhausted prisoners received for the first time since their evacuation
some water and bread. On the same day the SS loaded the prisoners onto
barges: "There followed a terrible night in the smelly and dirty cargo
hold of the tugboat and barges, no water, no toilet, the unbearable
stench and the restless waves of the Vistula made us seasick.". In
Stutthof the SS men beat the prisoners out of the holds of the barges
and marched them through the streets of Stutthof into the concentration
camp. There followed the next selection that would end the life's of
prisoners over the 40-yeas old. After a few weeks, the majority of women
prisoners from Kaiserwald was sent into the women's sub-camps of
Stutthof. There they were engaged first in agriculture work with farmers
in the area. As the front approached, they took the female inmates
mostly into camps of Stoboi or Bruss-Sophienwalde, initially engaged in
forestry work and later for the construction of trenches. Deported males
from Kaiserwald were, after a short spell and occasional labour
assignments to continue their journey fron Stutthof to camps like
Buchenwald, Mühldorf or Kaufering. Many of these men of the first
evacuation transport from Riga that arrived in these camps, Schneider
maintains that out of the original 1100 men, only 300 survived and were
eventually liberated, which is a mortality rate of 27 percent.
After the first evacuation transport another one followed on 25
September 1944 to Stutthof. "We left in five ordered blocks, five women
in each column. Leading the march at the front of the group, black
private cars drove with lighted headlamps, besides us motorbikes slowly
controlled the prisoners and drove slowly past. Moreover, we were
surrounded by heavily armed guards. After about an hour we reached a
small railway station. There the guards loaded the prisoners into
boxcars. The camp staff and their families went to a passenger
compartment coupled at the end of the train. After an hour's ride we
arrived at the port of Riga. The prisoners were allowed to remain for
several hours in the smelly and dirty wagons. Only when the camp SS,
their families and civilians were ordered by the Wehrmacht to leave Riga
as soon as possible, the ship was boarded, and the prisoners were
allowed to go down into the hold of the ship. During the three-day trip
inhuman conditions prevailed below deck: "It was a shambles, because
some of the Jews vomited without interruption, while people standing
around them were spewed on with their vomit. Others were partly lying,
whining and moaning on the floor, without anyone even taken any notice
of them". [Rabinovici reported that due to the immense fluid loss, the
lack of drinking water, diarrhea and vomiting, led to the death of
several women. sic]
Upon arrival in Danzig the people received the same fate as those of the
September Transport that seven weeks previously arrived at Stutthof.
After a multi-day trip with towing barges the men and women reached camp
Stutthof and were selected, divided for work or sent in November 1944
into Concentration Camps further into Germany. The last transport left
Riga on 11 October 1944. On board were, in addition to the last Jewish
prisoners and Russian prisoners of war, plus large parts of the camp
personnel of Kaiserwald concentration camp. On October 13, 1944 the
German troops evacuated Riga and the Russian forces took the city. On
the grounds of the former concentration camp, they built a POW camp for
German soldiers.

It all began on 16 June 1940 and with its occupation the 17 June 1940
with the Soviet Red Army invasion of the Latvia Territory. Latvia’s
terror started at once with the mass arrests, murders or deportations of
its leaders to far regents of the Soviet Union.
First we must journey back to Moscow, Russia and the late hours of 23
August 1939, were all this terror and horror really started with the
signing of The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, colloquially named after the Soviet foreign
minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von
Ribbentrop, was an agreement officially titled “the Treaty of
Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union and signed in Moscow
in the late hours of 23 August 1939”. It was a non-aggression pact under
which the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany each pledged to remain neutral
in the event that either nation were attacked by a third party. It
remained in effect until 22 June 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet
In addition to stipulations of non-aggression, the treaty included a
secret protocol dividing Northern and Eastern Europe into German and
Soviet spheres of influence, anticipating potential "territorial and
political rearrangements" of these countries. Thereafter, Germany and
the Soviet Union invaded, on 1 and the 17 of September respectively,
their agreed sides of Poland, dividing the country between them. Part of
eastern Finland was annexed by the Soviet Union after the Winter War.
This was followed by Soviet annexations of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania.

Vyacheslav Molotov signs the German–Soviet non-aggression pact.
Standing behind him Joachim von Ribbentrop and Joseph Stalin
Nazi Germany – Soviet Union Leaders and their Foreign Ministers

The tiny Baltic States had the misfortune to be located between the
totalitarian regimes of the Soviets and the Nazis. In August and
September 1939, Hitler and Stalin had their countries sign treaties and
secret agreements; by this time, the Baltic States were no longer
republics, but had authoritarian regimes. Hitler, in order to execute
his plans of aggression, [of the Soviet Union, sic] had to pay a price.
In secret agreements he "gave" Stalin not only a part of Poland, but
also a free hand in Bessarabia, Bukovina, Finland and the THREE BALTIC
STATES. In mid-June 1940, when international attention was focused on
the German invasion of France, and after first extracting a Latvian
agreement under duress, Stalin personally threatened the Latvian foreign
minister, in Moscow during negotiations, to the stationing of Soviet
troops on Latvian soil, the Soviet Union invaded Latvia on 16 June
1940.{Stalin may have threatened him but the written Ultimatum was
handed over by Molotov. sic] ( I still remember the speech Dr. Goebles
gave on the "Deutschland Sender" to explain to the German people the
reason of invading Russia. Stalin's demand to occupy the Baltic States
in addition to other counties was the main topic, and had to be stopped,
Soviet NKVD troops raided border posts in Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.
State administrations were liquidated and replaced by Soviet cadres, in
which 34,250 Latvians, 75,000 Lithuanians and almost 60,000 Estonians
were deported or murdered. Elections were held with single pro-Soviet
candidates listed for many positions, with resulting peoples assemblies
immediately requested admission into the USSR, which was granted by the
Soviet Union. Latvia, now a puppet government, was headed by Augusts
Kirhenšteins. Latvia was incorporated into the Soviet Union on 5 August
1940 as the “15th Republic of the Soviet Union”. The USSR annexed the
whole of Lithuania, including the Scheschupe area, which was to be given
to Germany. “Lithuania had joined the Soviet Union on 3 August, Estonia
followed on 6 August”. Nevertheless, although it had lost its
sovereignty de facto, Latvia existed de jure, in international law,
since many nations including the United States and Switzerland never
acknowledged its annexation.

Soviet Railway Transports used for the Mass 
Deportation of Latvian people in the night between 13 June and 14 June 1941" 
Concerns over the possible existence of a secret protocol were first
expressed by the intelligence organisations of the Baltic States scant
days after the pact was signed. Speculation grew stronger when Soviet
negotiators referred to its content during negotiations for military
bases in those countries.
There is an unknown and unpublished fact that the Soviet NKVD before the
Nazi Army invaded the Soviet Union was responsible for handing over to
the Nazi Gestapo, SS and SD tens of thousands of Jews that had fled to
the Soviet Union in the wake of the advancing Nazi Army. This was before
the Nazi Army had invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941. Even the
tens of thousands of Soviet Union Jews were not safe from being turned
over to the Nazi Gestapo to be taken to Concentration Camps or just
outright murdered. As for the exact number of Jews that the Soviet NKVD
had turned over to the Nazi Gestapo is known today for the Soviet Union
has had over 60 years to hide this information. On 16 June 1940, Soviet
Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov presented the Latvian representative
in Moscow an ultimatum to be answered within six hours. Based on
unfounded accusations and accusing Latvia of violations of the pact.

Red Army entering Riga Latvia on 17 June 1940

The Soviets demanded that Latvia immediately form a new government and
allow an unlimited number of Soviet troops enter the country. Latvia
could not resist the aggression and conceded. The Red Army occupied
Latvia on 17 June 1940.

Some Additional Scenes of Soviet Union “NKVD” The Communists “Year of Atrocities” from June 1940 to June 1941


Germany terminated the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact with its invasion of the
Soviet Union at 03:15hrs on Sunday, 22 June 1941 with the Nazi Army
invasion of Latvia with Liepāja targeted by the Germans as a town of
special importance. It was a naval base and also an important
international port. As such, the population was suspected of being more
sympathetic to Communism. The German army planned to capture the city on
the first day of the war, Sunday, 22 June 1941. The attack on Liepāja
was led by the German 291st Infantry Division. Strong resistance by the
Red Army and other Soviet forces prevented the Germans from entering the
city until June 29, 1941, and resistance, including sniper fire,
continued within the city for several days afterwards. The city was
heavily damaged in the fighting and fires burned for days.

German Army Entering and Occupation of the
City of Riga Latvia"
With the German Army crossing the Latvian frontier in the early morning
of Sunday, 22 June 1941 and entering the City of Riga Latvia on 1 July
1941 the bloody summer against the Jews began. Nazi sympathisers and
collaborators began their programs of terror, arrests, muggings,
beatings and murder against the Jewish people. Before the German Army
arrived in Riga, there were some 40,000 Jews living in Riga. With the
approach of the Nazi Army and entering Riga, there were only 30,000 Jews
still living in Riga, The rest had evacuated with the retreating Soviet
Army or left the country entirely moving to other countries not under
the occupation of the German Army or Soviet Union. Out of these 30,000
Jews that were still living in the City of Riga Latvia when the Nazi
Army entered Riga only 200 Latvian Jews survived the Nazi terror, horror
and inhuman treatment during their occupation of Latvia and the City of
Riga until the final retreat. [Figures quoted in my mind are somewhat
suspect in my opinion and should be taken with a grain of salt, sic]

On the grounds of the former concentration camp in Riga is currently a
housing development. In summer 2005 there was a monument inaugurated to
victims of the concentration camp of Kaiserwald.

Literature publications,
Andrej Angrick/Peter Klein, Die "Endlösung" in Riga. Ausbeutung und
Vernichtung 1941-1944, Darmstadt 2006
Wolfgang Benz/Konrad Kwiet/Jürgen Matthaus (Hrsg), Einsatz im
"Reichskommissariat" Ostland. Dokumente zum Völkermord im Balikum und
Weißrussland 1941-1944, Berlin 1998.
Josef Katz, Erinnerungen eines Überlebenden, Kile 1988
Max Kaufmann, Churbn Lettland. Die Vernichtung der Juden Lettlands,
hrsg. von Erhard Roy Wiehn, Konstanz 1999
Schoschana Rabinovici, Dank meiner Mutter, Frankfurt a.M. 1993
Mascha Rolnikite, Ich muss erzählen. Mein Tagebuch 1941-1945, Berlin 2002
Gertrud Schneider (Hrsg), The unfinished Road. Jewish Survivors of
Latvia look back, New York 1991
Margers Vestermanis, Die nationalsozialistischen Hafstätten und
Todeslager im okkupierten Lettland 1941-1945, in: Ulrich Herbert/Klein
Orth/Christoph Deckmann
(Hrsg), Die nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager. Entwicklung und
Struktur, Göttingen 1998, Bd 1, Seite 472-492
217 Referencws to Statements in Court Documents
Any errors during translations or interpretation are mine and not that
of the authors

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Kaiserwald was relatively shielded as a suburb of Riga. Since theliquidation of the ghetto, the Jewish columns that were previouslymarched daily through Riga to their places of work, disappeared from thecityscape. Nevertheless, it was the city's population which noticed thaton the outskirts of Riga a camp was being built, since the closure of the ghetto which was a long and ongoing process, they knew. Thethousands of ghetto residents were driven in several stages on foot to Kaiserwald. Surrounded by barbed wire the camp and its surroundings was heavily guarded, but it was visible from a distance. The Riga rail way station Skirotava, a shunting yard, some distance from the camp, where Transports of prisoners arrived, were taken by the SS along a secondary road (Landstraße) towards Riga. The prisoners had limited opportunity to communicate with the outside world or had any real contact. Whether the writing of letters to relatives in Kaiserwald was possible has not been established.
Direct contact with the outside world was only made possible during work outside the camp. The diverse use of Jewish commandos in the area of the main camp were mostly led by Wehrmacht soldiers and civilian workers and guarded by Volksdeutsche (Ethnic Germans). The civilian workers were usually local construction or skilled trades-men, who were strictly prohibited to maintain conversations and other contact with the prisoners. Despite these restrictions, the inmates succeeded to run a barter system with Latvian workers. "Rachel brought from the Latvians at times, this and that, one or the other thing into the camp, in exchange for a piece of clothing, gloves, and sometimes a bit of jewellery that she got from my mother, and exchanged it for bread" .Finally, information about the German-Russian front and the partisan battles near
Riga filtered into the camp. However, the contact with partisans could only be taken up when outside work assignments had been allotted. They[the partisans,sic] provided the prisoners with additional information about the course of front line positions and tried to help them with their escapes. This made it possible for some prisoners that fled from Kaiserwald. The SS responded always to escapes with more permanent punishment roll calls and and a large-scale search operation. [Ibid, page 155-158. Rabinovici reported that it was possible for some women of the commando "Anode", to join the partisans. sic]
 Method of "Punishment Roll Call at Attention" at KZ Dachau, 28 June 1938 (Strafstehen auf dem Appellplatz)

Besides partisans there were also civilian workers at the work details, who helped in the escape of prisoners: An elderly Latvian woman worker who encouraged the engineer Sholom Kobliakow to flee and gave him her address. The flight was successful in July 1944. For fear of the draconian penalties of the occupiers, the woman granted him only briefly shelter. Kobliakow lived as vagrant for several months in Riga until he finally was able to leave the city and defected to the Soviet troops. He survived. Especially in the last phase of the existence of Kaiserwald several successful escapes from the main camp and its satellite camps are reported. The approaching of the front and the imminent evacuation left the overcrowded main camp in complete chaos. There was simply no staff to pursue fugitives. In addition, there was an increased willingness of the Latvian population to help fleeing Jews. Whether the provision of contact addresses, granting of accommodation or the supply of food and different clothing other then their "striped pyjamas", without the help of Latvian civilians it would have been unthinkable to survive. The helpers faced always the risk that the hidden Jews could be discovered, or a denunciation that would have resulted in an arrest and subsequent detention into a concentration camp. [see: Margers Verstermanis, Savior in the land of the stooges. On the history of helping Jews in Latvia during the"Final Solution ", in: Wolfgang Benz/Juliane Wetzel, Berlin
1998, pp. 266-272, sic]

Memorials to Latvian’s residents who Sheltered Jews 
The first one is a plaque to Anna Alma Pole who gave her life for her actions. During World War II, Anna Alma Pole saved seven Jews allowing them to hide in the cellar of her house in Riga. The woman’s daughter
Margarita Kestere undertook to provide food; each day, she used to bring it over from across the River Daugava in a children’s pram. In 1944, someone had reported on Anna Alma Pole to the German occupation institutions for helping the Jews to hide, and on 24 August 1944 the house was searched. During the search, six Jews were killed, and Anna Alma Pole was arrested and taken to the Central Prison, were she was tortured to death.

The remaining inmates in the main camp were assigned after registering to a work detail inside or outside the camp. If this classification did not immediately take place, the men or women were allocated during roll calls to the remaining free workplaces or to other commandos, whose composition changed frequently as a result of new arrivals, deaths, disease-related illnesses and redistribution of prisoners according to their skills. In contrast to the satellite camps, the prison workers employed outside the camp came back daily to the main camp. The obtainable strength by numbers in Labour Units was also significantly lower than that of a satellite camp. Permanent housing and guarding therefore probably was not goal-oriented enough. The assignment of prisoners was often according to their qualifications. Here prisoners were selected with technical skills and reported to a specific commando. The commandos were characterised mainly by their different working conditions. Most sought after of the skilled inmates were work assignments outside the camp, because the guards were often members of the Wehrmacht or Latvian foremen, who as a rule would not mistreat or abuse their workers. In contrast, the prisoners of internal detachments were constantly exposed to the terror and harassment by the camp SS and their trusties.

The use of Labour in the camp took place in small workshops and offices of the Administration Department[ I ] in the the front of the camp. In the actual prison camp, only the medical staff at the prison infirmary [10] would women and men work. In addition, there was behind the prisoner camp, a few yards outside of the terrain, a small commando called the "Anode" [11]. In the clothing store, located in the administrative area [1], men and women were employed, they sorted the contents of suitcases and bundles of newcomers and inventoried each item. Sometimes the prisoners were likely to find food in the clothing that they smuggled back into the prison camp. Next to the clothing store was a small dressmaking room in which the prisoners repaired and mended during day and night shifts, dresses and clothing removed from luggage of new arrivals, or those that had been been deceased. The repaired pieces were then further treated in the laundry, which was also working in two shifts. The management of the clothing store and the tailor shop was the responsibility of SS Sergeant Hirsch, who abused the prisoners: "Because of a damaged needle in my sewing machine I got blows from him, so I went around for weeks with a swollen face", reported former inmate David P. but still, Hirsch kept "his" Jews away from base selections (removal of buried corpses) and made pretty sure to tell them, "that thanks to him they were not taken to these dreadful assignments". It is most likely that Hirsch was only occasionally present in person at the clothing store and laundry. The actual guard who took on a supervisory position was an SS man whom the prisoners called "Hans" and never would beat or mistreate prisoners. His office was right next to the magazine of the clothing store. The prisoners themselves wore civilian clothes during working hours. Food that the prisoners found in the suitcases could, if Hirsch was absent, be used for their own personal use. "Hans" even tolerated children to be hidden and closeted away during upcoming "actions". "While I was playing softly, my mother came rushing in, and told me to climb between clothes and mattresses and sit quietly. Suddenly I heard in the dressing room, the heavy footsteps of German soldiers [...] and "Hans" said, "There's nobody but dirty clothes out of the infirmary, which must be burnt". '[ibid, page 157f sic].

Plan of Main Camp Riga-Kaiserwald, the exact division of 
the camp is unclear".
In one barrack near the separation fence to the prison camp was a separate area, with the locksmith,  lacksmith and shoemaker. Apart from doing their usual functions in these workshops, the prisoners were doing additional repair work or helped with repairs to the headquarters buildings and barracks. In the same part was the office of the "Labour Input Unit" where the inmates took over writing activities. In the prisoners' kitchen and the SS- kitchen there was also a team, which prepared the food and handing it out to the inmates.
The cleaning of the headquarters was performed by a women commando. This posting was very unpopular because the women there were in constant contact with the camp staff. Specifically only for the SS personnel in the main camp near the headquarters, there was a barbershop. Every morning a guard brought the barber, the prisoner Maurice F., to the barbershop and took him back at evenings. Due to its more beneficial activity in the camp, he was spared from selections. In a small part of a barrack near the administration area, there was a dental clinic, the dental surgeon Tscherfas ran and directed this Department, it included two dentists and eight to nine dental technicians. In another hut, near the shower and disinfection barracks, worked the large woman commando "Anode". A small commando of the "Anode" was right behind the men's camp, a few meters outside the concentration camp, adjacent to a forest. These were under the supervision of the General Electric Company (AEG) of Riga. The women working there unloaded wagons and carts, which were equipped with batteries. Then they dissected the batteries into tiny pieces. The workers returned after completing one day's chores completely dirty from dust and burns caused by battery acid on the face and back of their hands to the detention centre.

Every day after morning roll call, the work details left the camp under heavy guard. Working commandos further away were taken by trucks to the site, closer by they marched on foot to work. A very popular posting among prisoners was the clothing factory for Field Uniforms of the German Air Force in Riga. There, they were doing light work such as sorting and repair of the returned clothing. Some even completed clerical duties resulting from completed work, preparing invoices and shipping documents. Here the prisoners received generally slightly better food than in the main camp. The outside commando assigned to the "Tanklager" of the OT (Organisation Todt), about 70 to 120 prisoners worked under the direction of the political prisoner Hans M. from Düsseldorf.
Different sized groups of male and female prisoner did heavy work in laying railway tracks and road construction in and around Riga. They carried heavy rails and embedded them in prepared trunk lines. The longer the track was laid, the more arduous was the daily way back to the camp. Wind and weather made no difference all the prisoners did various works: They carried stones and rocks, heavy sacks of lime (Kalksäcke) from point A to B, and mixed concrete. There were cases in which prisoners leaned against the concrete mixer [...] fell asleep standing up and then collapsed.
Briefly, there was a team that cleaned the villas of SS members in Riga, where they were in direct contact with Latvian and German SS. Josef Katz, a former prisoner, reported that every day a young girl left the camp to clean Sauers Villa.[Sauer was commandant of the Kaiserwald concentration camp, sic]
Another desirable commando was working during nights, loading and unloading cargo vessels at the port of Riga. Many men volunteered for this commando because it was an opportunity to escape the evening roll call and the nightly selections in the camp: "They [the SS, sic] dragged people out of their beds and taking them away, it was [not] a coincidence, it was night, the SS men did not look who was young or old, strong or weak. who came under their hands, just took them away, to avoid this, I went to work for the night on the ships". [Statement Rachmiel T., 20.11.1975, in: BArch Ludwigsburg, B 162/2987 page 2816f. sic]
After the evening return of all the prison commandos, additional further work from February 1944 was enforced for inmates within the camp: "carrying of stones or by pushing tip lorries on the run for the intended horticultural facilities" as well as the repair of barracks and roads were among the usual activities of an inmate until nightfall.

Daily roll calls, but also "special mustering" (Sonderappelle) at anytime, day and night were used for the selection of incapacitated prisoners. The main objective of forced labour of the camp and its satellite camps at Kaiserwald were purely economics, which guaranteed supplying the troops at the front with food and clothing. Nevertheless, the inability to work and the resulting extermination of the concentration camp inmates were considered inevitable and an acceptable fact. Resulting labour shortages were balanced by training new incoming workers. The dwindling war economic importance of forced labour in the Baltic States from 1944 took away the ability, but not the right of Jewish prisoners to exist and caused a worsening of prison conditions and an increased of selections and subsequent elimination.

The first major selection took place even before the admission of Jewish prisoners into the concentration camp of Kaiserwald. On November 2nd 1943 about 2,000 elderly, sick and children were rounded up in the ghetto and deported to Auschwitz or shot in the woods near Riga. Only those ghetto residents able to work for the SS, were registered and sent to work assignments. Some prisoners who were working in a satellite camp where they had already been living in the days of the ghetto's existence managed to protect their children from the great action (Große Aktion) and smuggled them into their sub-camps. Similar cases are known to have taken place at Kaiserwald, even though upon arrival of new Transports, mostly children, next to the old and weak were segregated immediately. In some isolated cases registration of children into the concentration camps under the administration of Kaiserwald did take place.
Mass grave in the Bikernieki Forest near Riga 

Other selections continued in the main camp (Stammlager). This took place in the second half of 1943 once a week during roll calls and were initiated mostly by Brüner and Wisner. They were supported here by the prisoner functionaries Abel, Bruhns and others who walked from barrack to barrack and "pre-reviewed" prisoners, "women whose face Brüner did not like somehow, or wore glasses, had pimples on faces, even an injured finger, he had them removed out of the ranks and destined for elimination". They were left behind while all other prisoners with their work commando left camp and marched to their sites. Most of the [condemned] were moved a short time later after evening roll call and locked into a barrack until the next morning taken to the execution site outside the camp. In addition to these selections during roll calls the spontaneous actions without any forward knowledge were most feared among the prisoners. These took place during daytime or at night. A previously arbitrarily compiled group of male prisoner had to strip to the waist and run past the present camp SS. With a gesture of the hand by the commander as a signal to the staff whether the passing individual would be of further use or to be killed was a normal practice of his. Similarly feared was the brutally expelling of prisoners out of their barracks at night. "Those who could not run fast enough, were beaten and being singled out for extermination". Thereby the camp-SS got rid of unwelcome inmates who were not sick, weak or old. The deportees apparently still fought fiercely on the way to be shot. The former camp barber relates: "After accompanying a truckload of inmates, an SS man came up to me in the barbershop with a completely scratched face. He said he had to guard the selectees on the trucks and was attacked by a woman". [Statement by Maurice F. on 3.5.1980, in: ibid B162/26148, pp166.sic]
In the satellite camps during 1943, such selections probably did not took place. The sick and weak, if they stayed away from the labour input, were moved back to the main camp (Stammlager), treated in the local hospital and replaced by able-bodied prisoners from the camp. Despite regular selections out of the Revier (hospital) as well as out of the prison camp, the number of those segregated in 1943, compared to the following year, had been relatively steady, there was a good reason for this: First, prisoners at the time of their admission were found to be in a relatively stable mental and physical state. Secondly, the participation and use in labour work assignments offered some protection against the random actions of the camp SS. Only the hard winter and resulting food shortages not only due to a rising prison populations and the strenuous manual labour related to the constant physical and mental disintegration and fatigue of the prisoners. The number of incapacitated inmates increased and created an overcrowding of the hospital, which necessitated the establishment of another woman infirmary in the camp and a increase of a variety of selections to separate prisoners for eventual "disposal".

A Latvian guard leads Jewish women to the execution site 
Another significant aspect of the increase in the selections and extermination was, that in January 1944 the Red Army launched a major offensive, which pushed the German troops more and more on the defensive and forced them to retreat. On the one hand it was now time to obliterate the traces of mass executions committed on Jews in the Baltic States committed from the years 1941/42 and to cover up the genocide. On
the other hand, preparations were made on a long term basis for the evacuation of satellite camps and the main camps. This entailed the elimination of an estimated 30.000 to 40.000 corpses of Jewish victims in mass graves and the necessity for the liquidation of all the other weak, the sick, the elderly and children, in other words, people who appeared a hindrance due to their condition for a smooth and rapid evacuation.
With the so-called de-earthing of the mass graves at Riga, began at the beginning of 1944. In Kaunus, though located further south-west, it began already in the fall of 1943, when traces of the mass graves had
been removed. A major role in the recruitment of labour to open the graves in and around the forests of Riga played the members of Sonderkommando 1005B headed by Walter Helfsgotts. The real work, digging up and burning corpses should be done by prisoners from KZ Kaiserwald and the supervising work guaranteed by the Sonderkommando. After the opening (Enterdung) of the respective mass grave was completed, the
Sonderkommando was obliged to kill the Jewish prisoners that had now become confidants and witnesses of the activity performed., and that people had been murdered, buried now exhumed and cremated on "funeral pyres" or in pits.
One of the cremation pits used to burn the victims of the gas chambers
in Auschwitz. These "burning pits" were used mainly in the summer of
1944, when the extermination was going at such a rate that the furnaces
couldn't handle the number of corpses

Kaiserwald announced in the camp a new work detail, for which strong, young men could join voluntarily. With it came as a lure the promise of better food and clothing. "We prisoners were not clear at that time,
that this convenient assignment, meant practically a death sentence for us. Initially it was presented as an improvement in our situation, so that I almost had reported voluntarily to take part, just in time to
find out, that quite a few groups with volunteers had never returned, but it also came to be known, what the real purpose was of this 'commando base' <"(Stützpunkt)". All the "Stützpunkt" segregated men were shot after the performance of their work. Further information were obtained from members of the guards, who were present at the "Stützpunkt" and later In a drunken state talked about the shooting of the work commandos in the surrounding woods. Threats by Kapos and SS members, to send unpopular prisoners to the "Stützpunkt", were a clear indication and sufficient evidence of the whereabouts of those thatnever returned. [Statement Werner N. 24/04/1980, in Ibid, B162/26148, pp. 268, sic]

1.Jewish women about to be shot 
2.Another image, of same group, about to be shot 
3.Immediately following the shooting the
man on the right is the "kicker", responsibly
for shoving the bodies into the pit.
4.Women forced to disrobe and then to pose 

Voluntarily, nobody would come forward for the new commando. Thus, in the subsequent period at irregular, in ever-shorter intervals selections were performed in which 40 to 50 prisoners were led to the "support point"(Stützpunkt) almost daily. The compiling of a commando was carried out in a variety of ways. Either the men were pulled out immediately from the ranks during roll calls, or names from a prepared list was read out of noted inmates who according to the Camp Administration had been guilty of alleged offences or the camp staff had noticed a negative attitude of them. Prisoners were always aware that a de-earthing (exhumation) project had been scheduled, as soon as trucks arrived in the camp loaded with drums of gasoline, buckets, shovels and steel plates. Moreover, it was not allowed for the selected "support point"
team to take any personal belongings with them. The remaining people in the main camp noticed that no one ever returned from this commando. In the spring of 1944, the Camp Administration went as far, in addition to young and strong men, to recruit older prisoners in the infirmary, some sick and injured and even Muselmanns [concentration camp term to describe camp prisoners that were on the verge of death, sic] for this undertaking. For these "support point" waiting men a purpose-built barrack at the nearby mass graves was erected. After a prisoner was able to escape from the Sonderkommando, the "support point workers" were chained together at their feet. [like a chain gang, sic]
With special emphasis the SS pursued in 1944 the liquidation of the Old, the Weak and Children, first in the main camp and in time at the satellite camps. Major actions became more frequent in the spring of 1944, which targeted the search and hunt for pre-determend segments of inmates with the aim to separate them from any others. These also included the eviction of all patients in the infirmary. In March/April 1944 a "Child Action" (Kinderaktion) took place, during which all the children under the age of 14 fell victims in the main camp and in most satellite camps. Until then parents tried to take their children with them while on a working assignment during the day and not leave them alone in the camp. However, the children were tracked down by experienced camp staff, and taken away. On the day of the "Children's Action" all prisoners had to assemble at the parade ground. Children, which had been recorded on a list, their names were read out and had to step forward: "In front of me stood Günther Horn, 12 years old. > Do you still stand here, you bastard<? (Stehst du immer noch hier, du Sauhund) One of the henchmen yelling at him and pulls him away from his father's hand, standing next to him. Then the young boy slowly walks before the SS man to the other boys standing on the side. "[Ibid, pp183, sic] Other children who were not on the list, were selected through a personal assessment by Dr. Krebsbach, Wisner and Brüner. "When it was clear that these children should be taken away, their parents stepped forward and requested if they could go along with the children. All selected [including parents, sic] were then loaded onto trucks and taken away". Gertrude S. estimates the number of deportees amounted to hundreds of children and parents. A week or two later, there was a secondary selection to apprehend children, who had previously kept hidden. In a parallel operation at the satellite camps, the staff from Kaiserwald was brought in for the segregation of children and brought them back into the main camp: None were ever returned. In July 1944, the SS tried again to find the last children who were still alive. Wisner was among them, who found three children hiding in a pile of coal. Then he let their mothers emerge during roll call and bring with them their children to be shot in the surrounding forests. [Judgment Wisner, in: ibid B162/26150.pp621, sic]
On July 28, 1944 the so-called "Krebsbach Action" took place. The lead in this operation were mainly conducted by SS members Krebsbach and Wisner who had the prisoners standing in columns of five. Prisoners related that woman detachments had to parade naked before the accused. The men were ordered to walk back and forth in front of the SS personnel. Who was not fast enough, was discarded by a particular hand signal from Wisner and Krebsbach which determined the death sentence. A former inmate described the performance: "Not to attract attention from fear, I was not wearing my glasses, I probably looked very scared, and the fact that I had left them behind, I opened my eyes rather wide, I was noticed by Wisner. He said to me: "I'll do nothing to you, but what do you make such big eyes"? The selection, which lasted all day, fell victim to deportation of up to 1000 men and women, mostly elderly and infirm. The ones rejected were even taken away during the selections. The "Krebsbach action" was directly related to the planned closure of the sub-camps by the summer of 1944. The same procedure was carried out in satellite camps by SS-Personal from Kaiserwald during the months June / July 1944. A former inmate of Spive reported: "The prisoners had to jump over a table. Those who could not make it, were led out to the waiting vehicles". [Statement Calelzon B. 7.9.1973, in ibid B 162/2985, page 2049, sic]
Prisoners, that wee not eliminated after the large scale selections of summer 1944 in the camps, the SS shipped them by vessels from Riga either directly via Danzig to Stutthof or brought them back to Kaiserwald. Those prisoners that could not be transported were loaded onto trucks a few week later and shot in the woods of Riga. [Statement Bochur S. 27.12.1973, in ibid, page 2049, sic]

continued under Part 5

Thursday, September 13, 2012


In the early days Jews arriving in the concentration camp from the
ghettos and prisons were compared to later transports in a relatively
good physical and mental shape. On the one hand, this was due to the
relatively secure basic services in the ghetto: Every working resident
received daily food rations. Acquiring additional food was needed to
ensure the survival of the family, this was possible through the
extensive bartering with each other and with local people living on the
outside. In the Clothing Building people were provided and given,
depending on the seasons appropriate additional clothing. Primary health
care was guaranteed by Jewish doctors in the ghetto hospital. There also
existed a Family Associations, close friendships, and institutions such
as the theatre and the schools, which made it possible to associate
within the community for support and to feel like a human being

"1942 photo showing Jews in Riga required to wear the 
yellow star and forbidden to use the sidewalk" 
A completely different picture is conveyed later from incoming
transports. Especially Jewesses coming from Auschwitz who were clearly
affected by their stay there. "The Hungarians lost their will to live,
and soon transformed mostly into 'Mussulman'(Muselmänner). They tried
not to go to work. They stood around the block leaning against the wall
and stared blankly into the air. indifference, hunger and disease were
the main cause that many of them died in the first few days of their
arrival". The situation was similar with the transports from satellite
camps in the spring/summer 1944. Particularly workers from Dondangen and
Spilve who worked in all weather conditions in the open and camped out,
who were in a terrible state. When the prisoners came to Kaiserwald and
the Revier (Hospital) had no more room, these poor souls pressed tightly
together into the barracks, apathy no doubt had set in. They looked like
their own shadows.[Mussulman (also: Muselmann, plural Muslmänner, Polish
Muzułman) were in the camp jargon of Nazi concentration camps, called
inmates who by complete malnutrition thin to the bone and hungry showed
already characteristic behavioural changes due to agony. People who were
in the last stages of starvation, were called in the camps Muselmänner.
They had suffered by episodes of hunger to skin and skeleton, swollen
legs and somtimes bloated bellies. Their only instinct was
self-preservation and the search for food, such as potato peelings from
waste containers. The SS described them by this behaviour as an example
of "sub-humans ",(Untermenschen) they did not accept them into the
infirmary. Kapos were brutal with them. Even prisoners through them out
of their barracks, as they provoked fear they too would die in apathy
and of starvation as well. Apart from the war, when the Allies liberated
the camps, had a man reached the stage of a Muselmann, he had
practically no chance to survive. If he did not die of exhaustion,
hunger and disease, he or she was usually due for selection by the SS to
be eliminated. sic]

Muselmänner at KZ Gusen 1945"

The day began at four in the morning. The awakening of the prisoners
was"greeted" by the incoming storming, screaming trusties. Whoever did
not get up fast enough received the whip or felt the stick on his the
back. Within the next few minutes, the men and women had to go to the
latrines and washrooms. "We ran to get clean in the small washroom, but
not all did that, many that we had known from ancient times as clean and
elegant men were already so run down that they no longer felt the need
to wash".

Typical Wash up area for prisoners, this one in Sachsenhausen" 
Even before the final bell was sounded for roll call, the prisoners had
to arrange and make the beds, receive their coffee and a 'white, sticky
and sweet tasting porridge'. Dishes and utensils were scarce. Often the
prisoners had to use dishes and cutlery from another fellow inmate to
wait to eat themselves. Not infrequently, some prisoners were thereby
made to go ​​without breakfast. Either the porridge pot was empty or the
bell rang for morning roll call. "You ran through the narrow barracks
door and turned up for assembly in front of your block, always in rows
of five.
Inmates during Roll Call, atattention, Dachau 28.6.1938
All and everyone had to be outside, even the little children. Those who
became sick during the night, or were worn out and would be going to the
Health Care Centre, were brought out and set on the ground". The Block
Elders who controlled the Block, counted the inmates, which sometimes
took hours, the number present including the sick and the dead were then
reported to the supervisors (Aufseher). This procedure was repeated with
each Block in the the women and men's camp. Only with the report of the
last remaining Block, the prisoners were allowed to stir. This often
stretched the number of roll calls due to discrepancies sometimes for
several hours. Depending on the season and weather conditions these
morning and equally evening roll calls, which were carried out after the
return of prisoners from their work assignments, took place with bright
artificial lighting. The SS-duty men and the trusties standing next to
them could observe the parade ground and its surroundings, with it's
inmates closely. In addition to the Registering during the roll calls,
the selection of the classified, so called 'no longer capable' inmates
took place."Regarded as unemployable usually were the old and weak
looking prisoners, people with abnormal illnesses, ailments or injuries,
infants with or without mothers, and children up to the age of 14 were
included". So it was common practice for mothers with their children not
to disclose the correct dates of birth, as in the case of eleven-year
Shoshana Rabinovici, which from now on was older by six years and so
regularly could participate in the labour service. [see Rabinovici,
"Dank meiner Mutter", Page IIIf, sic]

Prisoner roll call at KZ Salaspils, December 22, 1941 (Nazi propaganda
Upon completion of the roll call began the work assignment of the
detainees that did not already had upon arrival sent to a particular
work commando . A little later, the columns were marching to their work
places within or close to the camp. Some, whose work was further away
from the camp, were transported by truck to it, and at the end of the
working day returned to the camp. At noon, the bell rang in the main
camp. Hastily the prisoners left the workshops of the main camp, and
rushed to the barracks. There the soup pots were already placed. The
prisoners stood in long rows and received a ladle full of turnips or
cabbage soup, 'which always had sand in it'. Nonetheless, the inmates
thronged for a second helping. Even the whip from prison functionaries
upon the completely exhausted people did not stop them to retrieve
another spoonful of the 'warm murky Wässerchens' (watery substance).
"The battle for the vessel was very hard, and if it was empty, the
prisoners climbed into it and tried to retrieve with hands and tongue
the last drop of soup". [Rabinovici, 'Dank meiner Mtter, page I63f,sic]
With each newly arriving Transport food of the prisoners worsened. The
portions became smaller, and with the approaching winter, the
availability of vegetables and other ingredients worsened and became
scarce. This resulted not only in the gradually decline of workers
performance in heavy labour to gradual decline, apart from that,
deficiency symptoms and deaths set in. Therefore the prisoners tried to
be assigned to a commando outside the camp because there, despite
threatened with the death penalty, the possibility existed to receive
from Latvian factory workers and the occasional SS personnel additional
At exactly 1 pm the bell rang again. The prisoners marched back to work.
Around five clock, outside commandos came back to the camp. Sometimes
the SS searched at the entrance for 'contraband'. Prisoners who were
caught smuggling items of value for bartering with other inmates could
expect time in the bunker. In the prison camp for women lashes on the
bare buttocks was the norm. Workers who had not received their lunch
while on (Außenkommandos) their external commando could now get their
completely cold food from the prison kitchen.

Prisoners on Their Way to the Camp Kitchen at Dachau 
A little later, the exhausted prisoners had gathered for evening roll
call. Awaiting them there was the same procedure as in the morning, only
they were left standing longer than in the morning, in the cold, in the
rain, in the snow or in the sun. Evening meal was taken inside the
block. At the entrance, they received 250 to 300 grams of bread, a small
piece of margarine or cream cheese, a dollop of jam and a cup of tea, in
addition on Sundays, a spoonful of sugar or syrup. Before going to bed
the clothes had to be neatly folded and the shoes accurately aligned
before the tiers of beds. Any deviation from military standards were
punished with lashes. Falling asleep in a narrow bunk was difficult, the
other problem was the vast amounts of lice, fleas and bed bugs, it was
was simply torture. But at night, the prisoners were not free from the
terror of the SS or the Kapos. Any of the Kapos appeared in the
barracks, the prisoners were dragged from their beds and they let them
assemble and stand for hours before the block. who was exhausted and
fainted was kicked and mistreated. A few hours later, the prisoners were
again on their way back to work.

Standard Bunk beds inside KZ barracks
Since they were powerless against these daily attacks, they struggled to
disappear from the SS and especially from violent Kapos to go out of
their way if they came along, if possible, avoid eye contact and act as
inconspicuously as possible. The looking away from the ill-treatment of
inmates or other injustices inevitably became an established principle
and self-preservation to the highest maxim. In the extreme situation of
the concentration camp in everyday life at Kaiserwald, the existential
aid, usually only privileged prisoners or detainees in important areas
of the camp had excess to, as the infirmary with slightly better living
conditions, which was a lifesaver for a few, for others it meant the
death sentence: "Kapo 'X' tried to keep me out of difficult situations
and to protect me from dangerous commandos, I remember the day when 50
prisoners had been selected for 'Stützpunkt'(base points) ['Stützpunkt',
a code or euphemism , to exhume bodies and cremate them,sic] they were
in a barrack, and I had to guard the entrance. During the count one
inmate was missing. It was obvious, that I would be the replacement for
him to make the full number and take me. 'X' and others then searched
for the hiding inmate and found him, that's when I was saved from that
dreadful assignment". [Statement Werner N., 24/04/1980, in ibid, B
162/26148, page 179f]
The conditions in the camp were uniformly poor. Both, inadequate and
insufficient food despite the hardest work, lack of hygiene, an always
overcrowded area, the loss of family and friends as well as the
ever-present fear of selections contributed to diseases, nutritional
deficiencies, as well as the advance to physical and mental decline. The
life in the tightest spaces into a forced community by a system that was
dominated by a minority, reinforced the powerlessness of the detainees.
In early 1943, over 500 political and criminal prisoners from
Sachsenhausen built the camp, it had no infirmary at that stage. It is
most likely that in August 1943 a barrack in the men's camp an infirmary
or the so called Revier was established. At this time, there were
already nearly 2,000 Jewish prisoners and the remaining prisoners from
the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen at Kaiserwald. Despite setting
up an infirmary the medical care of prisoners was extremely inadequate.
That prisoners stayed healthy was of secondary consideration, the
maximum use of its labour force was number one priority. A
non-able-bodied prisoner was ruthlessly killed.
In the satellite camps, there were some minor medical stations for
outpatient. When a serious illness or injury of a prisoner occurred he
was transferred to the main camp, an infirmary, temporarily existed,
probably from February 1944, in addition to the one in the men's camp, a
second station was established in the women's camp. Previously, the
female inmates were treated as outpatients in an isolated area of a
women's barrack. The expansion of the infirmary in the women's camp was
to relieve the men in the infirmary area, which was completely
overcrowded due to the increasing number of prisoners in the main camp
and the increasingly frequent cases of typhus and other diseases. To
prevent the spread of the disease, a "typhoid room" was set up. The
harsh winter months also took its toll: If the prisoners at the
sub-camps, and specifically those at Dondangen and Spive who slept even
in winter only in Finland tents(Finnzelte), and had not yet succumbed to
their frostbites, they were taken for "the treatment" to the main camp.
At first they were in the infirmary for medical attention, later they
were moved into a convalescent block and were guarded by the Polish
prison functionary Bolek.
The treatment and medical care of patients was performed by inmates who
were active before the prison term as a doctors or carers. These had
been selected by Krebsbach and Wisner at roll calls and transferred to
this type of activity.
The management of the infirmary in the men's camp and later in the
women's camp was the responsibility of the Polish physician Dr. Boleslav
L., who was imprisoned for political activities. He was in the camp
known as Bolek, but is not identical with the Polish prison functionary
Bolek. He survived the camp and died in the 1970s in Lodz. Other doctors
were available to him. A native of Plzen (Pilsen) a political prisoner
Dr. Jindrich S. was detained from August 1943 to September 1944 in
Kaiserwald. A week after his arrival, he began working in the hospital,
first as a physician in the Department of Internal Diseases and with the
outbreak of the typhus epidemic, probably in February 1944, in the
isolation ward.
The infirmary of the women was mainly supervised by a Jewess Nadia R.,
who originating from Minsk, who was assisted by two nurses and three
helpers in the sick bay of it. Nadia R. had lived as a doctor in
Vilnius. With the German occupation she faced arrest and was kept in the
Vilna Ghetto. On 23 September 1943, she was deported from Vilnius to
Riga concentration camp and remained there until its disbandment in
September 1944. Nadia R. and other prisoners were evacuated on 25
September 1944 to Danzig by ship. In the nearby concentration camp of
Stuffhof she also worked as a doctor and was freed on 14 March 1945 on
an evacuation march by the Red Army at Burggraben near Danzig.
The reception of patients was initiated by the camp doctors, in some
cases directly by Krebsbach or Wisner. About the discharge of other
patients, Luczak consulted with inmate doctors. Often the patients were
still sick and weak, but a timely discharge was often a lifesaving. Once
a patient was hospitalised for several weeks in the infirmary and the
restoration of its working ability could not be foreseen with certainty
by Wisner or Krebsbach, they decided the fate of the patient: either
they ordered that the patient be injected with an unknown agent,
presumably phenolic into the veins, and died shortly thereafter, or they
selected those unable to work, for execution in the forests of Riga.
Prior to that, Wisner would mark the bedstead with an "X", which
indicated that the Patient to be included during the next executions. In
one case, Wisner marked the bed of the former prisoner Daniel A., who
had a foot injury and needed transient treatment. The prisoner survived
because he managed to be taken out unnoticed in a wheelbarrow from the
infirmary. Witness to several "marked"killings was the Trustee Max Ewald
A.: "Wisner said, during my observation besides the bed of a prisoner
who was seriously ill, quietly in discussion with the on-duty prison
doctor the following procedure of affected inmates, who were to be
injected (gespritzt), in the majority of cases I observed, the injected
the prisoners died in each case within a few hours.[Statement Max A.
Ewald, 12.02.1980, in: ibid B 162/26148, page 179f. sic]
Despite the selfless endeavour of inmate personnel in the infirmary to
care for seriously ill prisoners they had hardly any chance of recovery:
the shortage of medicines and bandages, the lack of disinfectants, which
made the surgery almost impossible, and the almost non-existent medical
equipment helped that sick prisoners died daily in the infirmary.
Naturally deceased patients died, according to medical records usually
of diseases such as syphilis or tuberculosis [which was an excuse,sic].
Determining the true cause of death was not in the interest of the SS.
They tried to cover up that most prisoners died in the camp as a result
of the catastrophic living conditions. The bodies were taken to a remote
mortuary, 100 meters from the men's camp. This bunker-like building took
about 40 to 50 deaths. Every eight days the dead were taken away and buried.

On the grounds of the memorial there are six mass graves marked by
rectangular raised concrete borders

Following the end of World War II he was arrested and given the death
penalty during the Dachau trials conducted by the US military on 13 May
1946 and was executed by hanging on 28 May 1947 at Landsberg Prison in
Landsberg am Lech.
The following is from the court record of the Dachau trials (quoted in
Hans Maršálek, "Die Geschichte des Konzentrationslagers Mauthausen", p.
"Krebsbach: When I started work I was ordered by the head of Office III
D to kill or have killed all those who were unable to work, and the
incurably sick.
Prosecutor: And how did you carry out this order?
Krebsbach: Incurably sick inmates who were absolutely incapable of work
were generally gassed.[he was at Mauthausen,sic] Some were also killed
by benzene injection.
Prosecutor: To your knowledge, how many persons were killed in this way
in your presence?
Krebsbach: (no answer)
Prosecutor: You were ordered to kill those unfit to live?
Krebsbach: Yes. I was ordered to have persons killed if I was of the
opinion that they were a burden on the state.
Prosecutor: Did it never occur to you that these were human beings,
people who had the misfortune to be inmates or who had been neglected?
Krebsbach: No. People are like animals. Animals that are born deformed
or incapable of living are put down at birth. This should be done for
humanitarian reasons with people as well. This would prevent a lot of
misery and unhappiness.
Prosecutor: That is your opinion. The world does not agree with you. Did
it never occur to you that killing a human being is a terrible crime?
Krebsbach: No. Every state is entitled to protect itself against asocial
persons including those unfit to live.
Prosecutor: In other words, it never occurred to you that what you were
doing was a crime?
Krebsbach: No. I carried out my work to the best of my knowledge and
belief because I had to."

Continued under Part 4

Tuesday, September 4, 2012



Since Kaiserwald concentration camp was designed as a transit and collection camp, prisoners stayed there for a short period of its existence. A large portion of the detainees remained only a few days to weeks in the main camp, and then to be sent to another sub-camp. So it was not appropriate to establish a system of detainees-functionaries, which was standard procedure in the rest of the Reich organisational and structural wise. The trusties in Riga were recruited from the 200 survivors of the original 500 political and criminal prisoners which came from the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen for the construction of the camp. They were provided with the usual privileges of a prisoner functionary: Mostly they got a whip, but only for a separate and specific area of overcrowded barracks. In some cases, they were housed separately from other inmates and given better food. While the non-privileged prisoners marched out in the morning to work, they were exempt from hard labour and drove inmates to their jobs. They presented for many detainees, the real danger in the camp system. Besides monitoring and in parts overseeing the activities of other inmates, they were also engaged in the Administration and Labour-Assignments. Despite their powers, they were bound by the instructions of the SS and were under constant supervision themselves. Their particular relevance to the daily smooth running operation freed them from ill-treatment and harassment by the SS, but that did not stop them to beat and strike other inmates.
Using some prisoner reports, it is clear that the higher posts of the prisoner hierarchy were occupied exclusively by criminal inmates. There were in the men and women's camps occasionally block leaders of Jewish origin, of which former prisoners have positive memories. Block leaders were in the order of the functionary prisoners at the lowest level. The camp leader, the highest ranking of this order, and the Kapos wore blue suits, blue caps and boots (Schaftstiefel). All other 'Aryans' were given striped prison suits and were therefore referred to as zebras.

The armband of an Oberkapo"
The first Camp Elder was Reinhold Rosemeyer from Hannover. According to former prisoners, he was convicted of double murder, sent to life in prison and had already been interned for several years in concentration camps. At first, he was mistreating prisoners, but later he changed his attitude and largely supported them. In the early summer of 1944 he was transferred to the satellite camp Strasdenhof. In his place came Hans Bruhn, who at that time was one of the first that arrived as part of the Building Commando from Sachsenhausen in March 1943. He was a different type of 'fish', than Rosemeyer, apparently he viscously drove inmates during roll calls and at work, and took part in the Selection of those that would be transported for extermination. Former inmates describe him as a brutal and cruel man who abused prisoners at random. After the war, Bruhn was questioned as a witness in the trial of SS medical orderly Wisner and there was recognised by the former prisoner D., who accused him of his crimes in Kaiserwald and other sub-camps. In the course of these allegations, the court proceeded with new investigations, and more witnesses came forward that accused Bruhn of severe abuse. Witnesses remembered a prisoner abuse resulting in a death and how Bruhn at a selection of children had tossed them into trucks for deportation. The case against Bruhn was dropped, mainly due to the statutory time limitation since the offence took place. He also escaped conviction for manslaughter.
Willy Schlüter, a German criminal prisoners worked in the card index of labour input and managed the register of able-bodied prisoners. His immediate SS-superior was Hans Brüner. With the so-called "Stützpunktaussonderungen" [a military disguised acronym, literally: support-point-separation, sic] he set up transports together on orders of commander Brüner in view of the closure of the camp, and arrived himself with other prisoners in the satellite camps of Neuengamme and Hamburg Fuhlsbüttel.
An important role in the system of the prisoners took the foremen of the Arbeitskommnados (Working Details) who were in second place in the inmate hierarchy at Kaiserwald. This included a certain inmate by the name of Abel Xavier, known as "X", who because of car theft and other offences had already spent six years in prisons and camps. He behaved against inmates extremely inhumane and brutal. While working, he punched and kicked the prisoners into unconsciousness. A former inmate testified at a hearing that "X" and other trusties had tortured a prisoner to death. [Ber M. stated for the record that an inmate who poured his soup during mealtime away, at night he was taken to the prison kitchen, where he was beaten brutally by the prison functionaries: Rosemeyer, Hannes, Abel, and Filsinger. Then they put the prisoner upside down into a filled soup pot and drowned him, statement by: Ber, M. 1.4.1974, in: BArch Ludwigsburg, B 162/2985, page 2094. Kaufmann reports another case in which "X" would come and threw a worker into the Dvina River and with a beam struck her until she drowned. In Kaufmann, Churbn Latvia, page 330, sic]

Dvina River
As trusties Abel, as well as Schlüter, did indirectly participate in selections. At the direction of Brüner he searched for other victims that were shipped by trucks into the woods of Riga to be shot there. The women Sarah A., employed in the laundry testified that Abel, who otherwise was by all appearances just as brutal and sadistic with the last "Children's Action" in July 1944, but had been trying to rescue a child from certain death. He hid the little boy in a box, which he brought into the laundry. Brüner found that box, and the child was taken away. The deputy commander knew about Abel's affection, and he punished his otherwise always favoured inmate functionary with blows. In another case described by Werner N., from Berlin, that "X" had appointed him as his servant. "X" tried Werner N., at that time 23 years old, to shield him from hazardous assignments and to protect him from the base actions (Stützpunktselektionen). What the prisoner had to do in return, he does not mention. It also remains unclear why Abel was trying to protect some prisoners and not others. For a short term, probably at the beginning of 1944, "X" was working as Camp Elder at the sub-camp of Spilve. With one of the three evacuation transports Abel arrived in the summer/fall of 1944 at Stutthof. There it is said that he had been murdered before the liberation of the concentration camp, by fellow prisoners. [see: Ibid, page 319, sic]
Similarly, sadistic and brutal, former inmates describe the Polish Political Prisoner "Bolek" and the German Hannes Filsinger, also block leaders and foremen in the men's camp. Randomly, "Bolek" pushed prisoners while working, mainly elderly and the frail, into a pit (Grube) and beat those with a rubber truncheon who did not came out quickly enough. He was assigned to the protection block in which the exhausted and sick workers were staying from the sub-camp of Dondangen when that place was overcrowded. Because of a theft out of the storage building from prisoners belongings, he was relieved of his position as a Block Leader at the end of 1943.
Filsinger was responsible for the first block (Block one) and struck mercilessly at the slightest neglect of his instructions. One night he caught the then-16-year old Yakob Basner from the third block when using the latrine behind block one. He dragged him into the block and hit him in front of the assembled detainees countless times with a rubber truncheon to the naked buttocks. Then he ordered Basner to clean the latrine. Further harassments, not only to Basner also saw saw the Pole "Mikush" to it in his barracks, where he acted as a block leader. Mikush ordered the men in icy nights, to run half naked to the wash-room to take a shower there. Then he posted himself at the entrance, and let the men wait, wet in freezing temperatures outside the hut and checked when entering, the ears of any detainee. (This type of harassment of German Army Training which was common practice of showers, or washing of alleged dirty feet, running barefoot through snow, during my own training by SS Instructors almost nightly in January 1945, In Bistrita a Hohstina, (Bistritz am Hochstein) Checkoslovakia, two boys aged 16 to 18 committed suicide, they simply could not take it, so what was new?)
In addition to the male prison functionaries from July 1943 about 50 as "asocial" marked women from Ravensbrück women's camp arrived at Kaiserwald for some reason, but after only three months, they were returned to Ravensbrück concentration camp.

Jewish prisoners are issued food on a building site at Salaspils concentration camp in 1941 
The Israeli Nazi and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law of 1950, most famously used to prosecute Adolf Eichmann in 1961 and Ivan Demjanjuk in 1986, was originally introduced with the principal purpose of prosecuting Jewish collaborators with the Nazis. Between 1951 and 1964, approximately 40 trials were held, mostly of people alleged to have been Kapos. Fifteen are known to have resulted in convictions, but only sketchy details are known since the records were sealed in 1995 for a period of 70 years from the trial date. One person was convicted of crimes against humanity, which carried a mandatory death penalty, but the sentence was commuted to imprisonment.
A small number of kapos were prosecuted in East and West Germany. In a well-publicised 1968 case, two Auschwitz kapos were put on trial in Frankfurt. They were indicted for 189 murders and multiple assaults, found guilty of several murders, and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Historian Karin Orth writes: "There was hardly a measure of the SS so perfidious as its attempt to delegate the implementation of terror and violence to the victims.
The concentration camp system owed its stability in no small way to a cadre of kapos, who took over the daily operations of the camp, relieving the SS personnel. Thus, absolute power was ubiquitous. Without the delegation of power, the system of discipline and supervision would have promptly disintegrated. The rivalry over supervisory, administrative and warehouse functionary jobs was, for the SS, just a welcome opportunity to pit groups of prisoners against each other and keep them dependent. The normal prisoner, however, was at the mercy of a dual authority, the SS, who often hardly seemed to be at a camp, and the prisoner functionaries, who were always there." [After the war, the prosecution of Kapos as war criminals, particularly those who were Jewish, created an ethical dilemma which continues to this day. sic]

Admission and registration of new prisoners by the SS and prison functionaries always followed the same pattern. Within one to three days, the prisoners went through the Registry, the "Disinfection" and "Showers". At the end of this procedure, and the recording completed, the women or the men were either kept in the camp or further transported to other destinations.
The SS thugs drove the inhabitants of the Riga ghetto in stages from July to November 1943 to walk or took them by truck from the Moscow suburb to the main camp in the north of Riga. Their luggage was loaded onto trucks and brought to Kaiserwald at the collection centre and their belongings kept in the camps clothing store. [This is a contentious issue, private possessions of prisoners were meant to be kept secure until their release, yet individuals did in fact "enrich" themselves, knowing that inmates in most cases were doomed, SS-Audits were conducted, prosecutions did take place and executions carried out, one prominent example is the death sentence of Kommandant Koch of Buchenwald by firing squad, which was carried out by his own SS-men,sic] Guarded by the SS, they led them to be registered, left some behind, and those women, men and children fit for work, would take them back to their old jobs, by now designated as sub-camps.
Riga Central Prison, also known as the “Zentralka 
Under the German Occupation Authority, the terror and horror began on the night of 3 July 1941 when Jewish people were dragged from their homes where they were either arrested robbed beaten or just murdered. Those who were arrested were taken to the "Prefecture" Riga City Militia Department Headquarters located at Aspazijas bulvāris 7, the Riga Central Prison, also known as the “Zentralka” and the former abandoned Riga Police Precinct house located at Valdemāra “Krišjāna Valdemāra” iela 19 that was taken over by Viktors Arājs and his Security Group “Arājs Kommando” Unit in July 1941. “These places can be regarded as one of the main places of integration torture and murder during the summer of 1941”.

The prisoners from the Vilnius (Wilna) Ghetto and from Auschwitz were transported by rail to Kaiserwald. The conditions of the transport from Vilnius to Riga described by former prisoner Masha Rolnikaite: "It's hot and sticky, and I feel so miserable, if the wheels would not rattle so much, maybe someone would hear our cries and the guard would bring us a bit of water, we are suffocating ".
Not far from the camp, it was getting dark, people who clung to their luggage, were beaten out of the trains and running along a lighted path towards the camp gate. There, working prisoners were already waiting for the newcomers and greeted them with punches and kicks. They had to leave their luggage behind at a barrack. Following the roll-call-counting men and women were separated and shoved into different sections. In these dwellings the newcomers spent the first few nights on straw sacks upon the conclusion of the humiliating intake procedure. The roll call took place twice daily. Several hours, the prisoners were lined up in wind and rain on the assembly square. Who fell to the ground from exhaustion, was mistreated by the SS guards and forced to stand up. Even inside the accommodations did the prisoners experience the hardship and humiliation of everyday camp life. If they disregarded the smallest command of the guards, lashes rained down on them. "Leaving the barracks was forbidden. Conversations with each other banned" [ibid page 179, sic]. Behind the barracks water taps and latrines were located which could be visited only after notifying the staff. (This system applied to me as well as a POW, (and all others) when we were guarded by Polish concentration camp ex convicts recruited by the U.S. Army, you could not leave to relieve yourself unless permitted to do so, and it amused later on , WOJG Milton F. Plier, at Allach, when I always told them that I leave the store to go to the toilet, as it was not only drilled into you, but the original fear of being shot at was still upper in your mind, the Poles did, and shot two POW's in 1945 at Hohenbrunn near Munich, they have had good Masters). A little later, an SS man entered the barracks and told the prisoners to surrender their valuables which they carried. Since the SS assumed that the new arrivals had jewellery and money hidden in their body cavities, they ordered medical examinations. This was led mainly by camp doctor Krebsbach and SS medical orderly Wisner. Here, the women were forced to completely undress and go through a gauntlet of SS men who commented on this performance with snide remarks. In another case Wisner investigated Jewish women in a barrack where the women had to undress. Wisner then searched in a brutal and degrading manner in every orifice.

Store for Despoiled Possessions
Subsequently, the prisoners were led in small groups to register. After giving all the particulars to an office prisoner functionary which he noted. He entered the particulars on an index card and assigned the inmate number, which now had to be visible on their clothes. Following the prisoners in rows they were ordered to the so-called disinfection. In one of the rooms, they had to undress. "Then the door opened, and we were confronted by two German SS men with clubs in their hands. They cried.>"Raus! Raus! (Get out! Get out!"), with that the prisoners continued into the next room, where their heads were bald shaven by prisoners in blue fatigues. A former inmate described the scene: [...] "Horror. Silence. Nobody said a word. The men working there, were somehow ashamed, they were the only ones dressed between naked women, they, the prisoners, shaved the heads of women, the new convicts had their braids cut off, hairstyles vanished, the "crown of their beauty", their hair gone!" Bald shaven, the prisoners entered into the next room and were desperately looking for relatives and friends. A trooper distributed a bar of soap and asked the prisoners to stand under the shower heads that were set into the ceiling. When the water was turned on it was either ice cold or scalding hot.
After a short time the people were urged wet from the showers towards the exit, where they were issued by the attendants their clothing. This was performed in a mechanical way, without paying attention to the sizes, small or large. When one of us asks to be allowed to exchange a little dress for a bigger one, the attendant took her dress bashed her around her ears, and shouted at the women:> Trim that bacon from your hips, then the dress will fit! Next!<
After the entire block was assembled in the yard and all were counted again, the prisoners learned of their fates. Either they were driven in a run into the particular prison section for women and men or they were loaded onto waiting trucks that transported them for work assignments in one of the satellite camps.
With oil paint the front and back of the garments were ordered to be painted with large crosses and circles. The trousers had white vertical stripes. All the clothes had been provided with a yellow triangle and the inmate number. [See: Comments, Angrik / Klein, "Endlösung" in Riga, page 393, sic]

"Making Jews look like fools

Continued under Part 3