CHANGES OF KZ-ADMINISTRATIONS 1942
In the spring of 1942, the management structure changed for all concentration camps and as a result, the conditions in these facilities altered fundamentally and it remained permanent. After the failure of the 'Blitzkrieg' strategy during the winter of 1941/42, and with the transformation of the German armaments industry for a long war of attrition, this had again given a new power-political importance for Himmler, which was the reservoir of prisoners in labour camps . Through the establishment of a 'Plenipotentiary for Manpower' (Genralbevollmächtigten für den Arbeitseinsatz) in March 1942 for KZ-inmates, from Himmler's perspective, as in 1938, there was the risk of loss of control over the army of KZ-inmates, since they would inevitably arouse the interest of the new defence industrial authority under Fritz Saukel. Himmler responded with the organizational co-ordination of previous inspection of the concentration camps through various SS offices with the newly founded SS Economic and Administrative Main Office (WVHA) with Oswald Pohl as chief on February 1, 1942. Because Pohl held some concentration camp commanders not suitable to carry out the new economic priorities, in the summer of 1942, he ordered the replacement of eight of the 15 commanders. Also, the Flossenburg camp commandant Künstler who had already fallen out of favour with Himmler in April 1942 after a drinking session during his, Künstlers, 22-year military anniversary, was replaced in August and transferred to the SS Volunteer Mountain Division 'Prrinz Eugen'. As his successor Pohl suggested SS-Obersturmbannführer Hans Hüttig. However, he was not yet available in August, as he was responsible with the establishment of a concentration camp in Norway. Thus as an interim solution until October 1942, acted the former protective custody leader Karl Fritzsch as the concentration camp commandant at Flossenburg. Karl Fritzsch became on January 15, 1942 the successor of the previous protective custody camp leader Hans Aumeier, who had been transferred to Auschwitz. After the designated new commander Hans Hütting still could not be dispensed with, in October from Norway, Richard Glücks, Chief of Office Group D in the WVHA, on 26 October 1942, appointed the former head of the Natzweiler camp, Egon Zill, as the new commander of Flossenburg. [ Zill lived until his death in the town of Dachau,sic]. Fritzsch now held again his previous position as first protective custody leader, thus his violent accesses towards prisoners increased for some reason with more vigour. In this function Fritzsch had within a short time the nickname 'Dustbag' (Stäubchen) acquired by the prisoners, he distinguished himself by extreme pedantry and unpredictability, which led regularly to excessive violence towards the prisoners. [In October 1943, he was arrested as a part of an internal SS investigation into corruption. An SS court charged him with illegal murder. As a punishment he was transferred to front line duty (SS-Panzergrenadier-Ersatzbatallion 18). It is assumed that he was killed in action during the battle of Berlin in May 1945. Other sources claim that MI 5 caught him in Norway, sic]
Ernst Friedrich Christoph "Fritz" Saukel was a German Nazi politician, Gauleiter of Thuringia and the General Plenipotentiary for Labour Deployment from 1942 until the end of the Second World War.
Sauckel was among the 24 persons accused in the Nuremberg Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal. He was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and was sentenced to death by hanging.
After a defense led by Robert Servatius, Sauckel was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and together with a number of colleagues was hanged on 16 October 1946, just 11 days shy before his 52nd birthday. His last words were recorded as "Ich sterbe unschuldig, mein Urteil ist ungerecht. Gott beschütze Deutschland!" (I die an innocent man, my sentence is unjust. God protect Germany!).
|The body of Fritz Sauckel after execution, October 16, 1946.|
Wearing a sweater with no coat ( he had refused to dress), so he went to the gallows coat-less and looking wild-eyed, Sauckel proved to be the most defiant of any except Streicher. Here was the man who put millions into bondage on a scale unknown since the pre-Christian era. Gazing around the room from the gallows platform he suddenly screamed, 'I am dying innocent. The sentence is wrong. God protect Germany and make Germany great again. Long live Germany! God protect my family.' At that instant the trap opened with a loud bang, he went down kicking. When the rope snapped taut with the body swinging wildly, groans could be heard from within the concealed interior of the scaffold. Finally, the hangman, who had descended from the gallows platform, lifted the black canvas curtain and went inside. Something happened that put a stop to the groans and brought the rope to a standstill. One must assume that he grabbed the swinging body and pulled down on it, he had been strangled.sic]
[The Minister for Labour during the Third Reich was actually Dr. Robert Ley. He was the first, very early on, to commit suicide while awaiting trial at Nürnberg. All so-called 'Forced Labourers' from occupied countries had been recruited through the Labour Exchange (Arbeitsamt) and had no desire to go back to their own countries during wartime, my father-in-law had thirty males of different nationalities working in his bakery and lived freely in another building on his property, they had the same rights as any other German citizen, but changed their tune after war's end. HKS]
As a side issue:
The hangman was John Clarence Woods a United States Army Master Sergeant who, with Joseph Malta, carried out the Nuremberg executions of ten former top leaders of the Third Reich on October 16, 1946 after they were sentenced to death at the Nuremberg Trials. He executed a total of 347 people during his 15-year career. After the Nuremberg executions, Woods stated:
"I hanged those ten Nazis... and I am proud of it... I wasn't nervous.... A fellow can't afford to have nerves in this business.... I want to put in a good word for those G.I.s who helped me... they all did swell.... I am trying to get [them] a promotion.... The way I look at this hanging job, somebody has to do it. I got into it kind of by accident, years ago in the States...."
Woods kept small pieces of the rope used for each convict as his souvenir, considered to be against the policy adopted at Nuremberg Trials by the Colonel in charge of executions. At a later duty Woods touched accidentally a high voltage cable during Atomic Trials at Eniwetok, Marshall Islands on July 21, 1950. [Is there a righteous God in Heaven as I was taught as a youngster ?] He is buried in Toronto Township Cemetery.
|Master Sergeant John C. Woods, hangman at Nürnberg|
|Satallite camp in Rabstein (today Rabstejn, Czech Republic), October 1944'|
|Concentration camp prisoners on the station of Roztoky during the evacuation of the Flossenbürg concentration camp. Photograph from Vladimir Fyman, April 30 1945|
|Wing Production at Flossenbürg from a Messerschmitt company photo album,|
|DAYTON, Ohio -- Messerschmitt Me 262A at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)|
THE SCHWEINFURT-RGENSBURG MISSION
The Schweinfurt–Regensburg mission was an air combat battle in World War II. A strategic bombing attack flown by B-17 Flying Fortresses of the U.S. Army Air Forces on August 17, 1943, it was conceived as an ambitious plan to cripple the German aircraft industry. The mission was also known as the "double-strike mission" because it entailed two large forces of bombers attacking separate targets in order to disperse fighter reaction by the Luftwaffe, and was the first "shuttle" mission, in which all or part of a mission landed at a different field and later bombed another target returning to its base.
The mission inflicted heavy damage on the Regensburg target, but at catastrophic loss to the force, with 60 bombers lost and many more damaged beyond economical repair. As a result, the Eighth Air Force was unable to follow up immediately with a second attack that might have seriously crippled German industry. When Schweinfurt was finally attacked again two months later, the lack of long-range fighter escort had still not been addressed and losses were even higher. As a consequence, deep penetration strategic bombing was curtailed for five months
Casualties and losses:
60 bombers, 3 P-47s, and 2 Spitfires lost
58-95 bombers heavily damaged
203 civilians killed
Result:Pyrrhic Allied victory
|1st Bomb Wing B-17's over Schweinfurt, Germany|
Newly formed Areitskommandos (work details) for granite mining and the manufacturing of aircraft parts commenced in 1943, and thereby intensified the required employment of prisoners from the camps. Simultaneously with the 'command 2004' at the end of June 1943 a 'weaving' detail was opened in the quarantine camp with 176 prisoners. These were mainly physically weakened prisoners used in basketry items for military use or weaving
items such as camouflage nets or straps. Notwithstanding the practice as was fund in Dachau, Neuengamme, Stutthof or Auschwitz, this work located in Flossenburg was not under the organizational umbrella of the German Equipment Works (DAW) but instead lead under the management of the DESt. Other companies also made use of increasing need for prison labour. Even in areas aside from the normal economy, the SS originated a working group for an animal farm. Since the end of 1942 it consisted of an Angora breeding programme, which was cared for by a small working commando attended by 'Bible Student prisoners' Bibelforscher). In the neighbouring village of Floß, the later domiciled commandant of Auschwitz, Richard Baer, started on private land a pond with rainbow trout there which prisoners had developed. The increase in the number of satellite camps took place about 1943. In June 1942 a few kilometers from Flossenburg near the remote village of Grafenreuth a huge clothing warehouse was established near this settlement by a construction unit consisting of prisoners, first employed temporarily by the Waffen-SS. This building commando was kept and the huts converted into a permanent-camp in the autumn of the same year. In Eisenberg at Brüx, Neuhirschstein at Meissen, Nuremberg, Schlackenwerth near Karlsbad and Würzburg new sub-camps were established with construction commandos by detainees from Flossenburg. SS departments and units of the Waffen-SS then in December, controlled by them, used the first satellite camp at an armaments factory, the Erla Machine Works (Erla Maschinenwerke), in the erzgebirgischen (mountenous) town of Johanngeorgenstadt .
Germany’s first ski jump was built in 1929 near Johanngeorgenstadt. It bore the name “Hans-Heinz-Schanze”. In 1934, the formerly abandoned mining industry was taken up again. In the Second World War, with the seizure of owner Arthur Krautmann’s “Deutsches Haus” hotel across from the railway station, the town became home to a military hospital. Furthermore, the town harboured an outlying camp of the Flossenbürg concentration camp in which countless inmates died. The Johanngeorgenstadt camp was emptied on 13 April 1945 and the inmates were sent on a death march towards Theresienstadt.
|The place where uranium was first discovered (1789)|
RISE OF PRISONER NUMBERS
The year 1944 represents a separate phase in which the concentration camp system is radicalised and represents a separate phase in which the existing development lines of work and elimination in their dimensions shows up in a most extreme way. In addition to the main camp there was a cosmos of satellite camps, which assumed gigantic proportions by the year's end, and led to the formal delimitation of the camp complex. This now covered an area of several thousand square kilometres. At the same time, 1944, the increase of inmates in the main camp reached extreme proportions and could not cope. This was worsened by the mass of intake during the second half of the year. Solely due to the prevailing epidemics and poor hygienic living conditions conditions, all camp areas had infirmaries and dying enclosures (Sterbearealen) in which the incapacitated prisoners vegetated a waiting their death.
The prison population of 1943 make it clear that the expansion of the KZ Flossenburg first occurred primarily geographically through the creation of new satellite camps (Außenlager). This trend continued up to 1944, but the occupation of the main camp (Stammlager) from the second half of the year more than doubled at the same time. On 31 March 1944 a total of 7322 prisoners were part in the existence of all their camps, of which about 4000 were located in the main camp Stammlager) and the rest in satellite camps. For the first time on May 31, 1944 the total number of 10,000 prisoners was exceeded in the concentration camp of Flossenburg, in September of that year the strength of the camp had reached over 25,000. Of these, between 6,000 and 7,000 prisoners were interned in the main camp itself, the rest in sub camps. The ratio in the main camp and sub camps had completely reversed within half a year and continued to develop in this direction. While the number of prisoners had doubled in the main camp camp, satellite camps had increased six-fold during the same period.
The prisoners were now for the most part relatively young foreigners, mainly from the Soviet Union and Poland, as well as many for various offences apprehended by the Gestapo and Criminal Police Sections, like civilian workers, members of national resistance groups or victims of larger deportation measures, such as in the wake of the crushed Warsaw Uprising. On 1 September 1944, located in the geographical responsible area of Flossenburg were the sub-camps with over 10,000 female prisoners from Ravensbrück and up to now managed by them [Ravensbrück,sic] were transferred and came under the administration of the Flossenburg KZ. In the last available remaining strength report of 1944 and in November over 31,000 prisoners of the concentration camp were registered, more than 8,000 in the main camp, almost 23,000 in one of the then existing 60 sub-camps. Also the mode of inmate registry was changed out of necessity due to the rapid increase in the number of prisoners. As of March 1944, the SS-administration moved from the previously common practice using the numbers who had died or of prisoners transported to other camps several times over. Newly arrived transports were now numbered consecutively, for female prisoners, the series of numbers reserved were 50.000 to 69.999.
Although during September 1942 all the Jewish prisoners were still deported from Germany and still living in the Reichsgebiet into the concentration camps at Auschwitz, Himmler decided in April 1944 in the face of labour shortages for renewed mass use of these Jews in concentration camps located within the boarders of the Reich.
|Wall near which victims in Concentration Camp at Flossenburg were executed. Soldier of 97th Infantry Division points to blood stains on wall.|
From the summer of 1944 onwards thousands of Jewish prisoners were deported to Flossenburg, where from 1938 to 1942 only a few hundred Jewish prisoners had been interned there. Most of these [new,sic] Jewish prisoners were mainly born in Poland or Hungary, and rarely not older than 30 years. While the extermination of Jews at Auschwitz in the summer of 1944 with the murder of deportees from Hungary reached its climax, on the 4th of August 1944, came the first major transport of Jewish prisoners to Flossenburg that were selected on the basis as 'fit for work'. It consisted over 2600 teenagers and young men of Polish origin from the sub-camps from Wieliczka, and Mielec which were cleared with the liquidation of the Plaszow concentration camp. From Auschwitz also came for the first time 1,000 Gypsies which had to be absorbed in the concentration camp system, many of them women, who were admitted directly to one of the many satellite camps for female prisoners. From autumn 1944, the transports with non-Jewish Polish prisoners increased again. Among them were many female participants of the Warsaw Uprising, which were also retained in the women-camps. Since at least 1943, based on these large intakes of new arrivals, the German and Austrian prisoners were numerically very much in the minority, but continued to hold and filled key positions which ensured their survival.
|Main entrance to Flossenburg Concentration Camp, where hundreds of French, Jewish, Russian and Slav slave labourers died weekly. Note quarantine sign. Camp was discovered by 97th Inf. Div. Troops, 3rd U.S. Army|
Although KL Flossenbürg was not an extermination facility and did not possess a gas chamber, it had a reputation for brutality that was exceptional even among concentration camps. The death rate there was very high. Executions were common. Among the last to be hanged were Admiral Wilhem Canaris and the noted theologian, Dietrich Bonhöffer, both of whom were executed on April 9, 1945, for conspiring against Hitler. They, along with several alleged co-conspirators, had first undergone a quick trial at the camp, but more often even this much of a formality was ignored. Rather, prisoners were hanged or shot capriciously. Furthermore, beatings were commonplace and often resulted in death. Each of the successive commandants promoted the culture of violence, as did every adjutant. The lower-ranking SS and most kapos likewise pursued the policy. The camp doctor during most of the last year of the war, Heinrich Schmitz - who had been given a choice between taking up this assignment or being committed to a mental hospital - not only killed patients with injections and operated on them without anaesthesia, but purposely allowed typhus to spread among the prisoners. Schmitz was executed in November 1948
CONTINUED UNDER PART 5/6