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

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