Friday, October 4, 2013


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.
  [Someone must have closed his eyelids, before rigor mortis sets in, they are normally open after a hanging, the position of rope versus head would suggest strangulation, rather than immediate breaking of the vertebrae,sic]
 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
About Zill's term of service, which lasted just over half a year, little is known. At the beginning of his tour of duty there were approximately 3760 prisoners in Flossenburg, six times more than in the little Natzweiler camp, his earlier command. The security and management of about 550 SS-members alone at this time stationed at Flossenburg was a difficult task in itself. The SS started for the first time to employ concentration camp prisoners as labour units away from the actual main camp. In this context, the establishment of the first sub-camp was in 1942. An attempt to extend the field of these assignments was in February, even before the formation of the Administrative Main Office, with the the building of a sub-camp at Stulln. There, about 100 prisoners had to work a 'Flussspatgrube' (Shaft to extract minerals) to mine raw materials for the aluminium industry. Obviously, this designed experimentation was found to be extremely inefficient,  already in June, almost all the prisoners employed there were moved to Dresden as a construction unit in the barracks of the SS-Maintenance-Replacement Battalion (SS-Pionerersatzbataillon) where the second sub-camp from Flossenburg was established. More satellite camps of the concentration camp were created 1942 in the Reich District of Sudetenland. There the SS had already secured in the summer of 1938, access to industrial companies, which had previously been in Jewish or Czech possession. By expanding the economic interests of the SS and thus the prisoner use, now also emerged in SS-owned enterprises  as sub-camps in Krondorf-Sauerbrunn and Neurohlen, both in the vicinity of Karlovy-Vary (Karlsbad), the first of these developments  was far away from the main camp, that of the operation of a mineral water source for the SS requirements (SS-Ernährungsbetrieb) 'Sudetenquell GmbH', the second was an 'Aryanised' porcelain factory at the 'Bohemia' - Ceramic Works Ltd. '. Also for the SS-owned building and construction management for the Waffen-SS at the Oberfränkischen settlement of Pottenstein a  sub camp had been built.
Satallite camp in Rabstein (today Rabstejn, Czech Republic), October 1944'
At year-end 1942, 3515 prisoners were in the concentration camp Flossenburg, 442 of them in the  newly established satellite camps Dresden (199), Krondorf (120), Pottenstein (82) and Neurohlau (41). Yet the majority of the prisoners were used in the quarry (1943) where at the end of the year working, however, had stopped. Only in 1943 shifted the focus of prisoner activities de facto into the field of the defence industry. Despite the functional change of concentration camps and the exchange of commandants, the conditions under which prisoners were living,  little had changed. Abuse, harassment, malnutrition, violence and death were the defining factors of the prisoners daily life . In Flossenburg, the death rate had increased again significantly in 1942. While 711 deaths in the registry office of the municipality for the full year 1941 were reported, their number had increased by September 1942 to 1057. For lack of secured documents, as from October 1, 1942, the camp's own peculiar civil registry for deaths was formed and the dead were not reported from this point on to the municipality authority (Standesamt) in Flossenburg. It is assumed that the death rate in Flossenburg more than doubled in 1942, not factored in are the number of murdered Soviet prisoners of war in these figures  because they were neither registered  as inmates in the camp's register, nor reported as deaths to the registrar of the civil municipality of Flossenburg

Concentration camp prisoners on the station of Roztoky during the evacuation of the Flossenbürg concentration camp. Photograph from Vladimir Fyman, April 30 1945
Since the spring of 1942, Himmler and Pohl had negotiated with the just appointed 'Reich Minister for Armaments and Munitions' Albert Speer to relocate vital war production facilities into the concentration camps. In September 1942, Speer was able to prevail with the approval of Hitler's the idea of using concentration camp prisoners targeted in existing armaments factories. Regardless of these decisions, the SS tried yet further the relocation of armament operations into the concentration camps. In Flossenburg this effort was crowned with success, the initiative for the relocation in so far is remarkably as it came from a defence contractor and was not considered by the SS. At the turn of 1942/43 there had been initial negotiations by representatives of the Regensburg Messerschmitt factory with the management with the DESt. The aim of the discussions was the employment of concentration camp prisoners in the manufacture of components for the Me 109 fighter plane, which should be in Flossenburg, after a relatively short discussion a deal was struck in January 1943, which formally left the DESt on paper one of the few defence companies that were not under the control or interference of any SS operations. Thus, in Flossenburg, the Operating of the German Earth and Stone Works played a leading role, which would later on, to change some facets in other DESt works. The cooperation agreement was established that the company supplied the Messerschmitt DESt Flossenburg all means of production, the raw material a fee to be paid and also leading foremen for training the prisoners be provided. The Messerschmitt DESt in turn calculated the wages for the prisoners and for producing armaments. The prisoners were thus not given by this Agreement to a private company that of the DESt rather they only advanced and enlarged their production capabilities in the  Flossenburger armament facility.

Wing Production at Flossenbürg from a Messerschmitt company photo album, 
Streaking above Leipheim, Messerschmitt test pilot Fritz Wendel's Me 262 beat the first Allied jet into the skies by about nine months. As the aircraft was refined, the BMW 003 engines were abandoned due to poor performance and replaced by the Junkers Jumo 004. Though an improvement, the early jet engines possessed incredibly short operational lives, typically lasting only 12-25 hours. Faster than any Allied fighter, production of the Me 262 became a priority for the Luftwaffe. Due to Allied bombing, production was distributed to small factories in German territory, with around 1,400 ultimately being built
DAYTON, Ohio -- Messerschmitt Me 262A at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
When the Flossenburg Messerschmitt production began operations, it is not clear. Specifying February 5, 1943 probably relates to the measures taken for the reconstruction of stonemason halls for aircraft production, one can assume that this is the actual beginning of the defence industry within the KZ. In the daily work schedules there appears a reference to the 'Commando 2004', the code name for the Flossenburg Messerschmitt factory, for the first time at the end of June 1943, with 211 prisoners listed.  However, the monthly reports of the DESt Flossenburg show already in March and April  the delivery of cooler panels.  From the end of May cone part components for the fighter Me 109 were produced on another production line. Even before the air raid on the Regensburg Messerschmitt plant on August 17, the company management decided to shift more production lines of the company to Flossenburg in 1944, almost all the parts of the ME 109 were produced by concentration camp prisoners in the camp, with the exception of engines and control panels. The number of prisoners employed in the  armament manufacture rose steadily during the year, while the quarry workers declined analogy during that phase of development. In September, more than 700 prisoners worked on an average for the Messerschmitt company,  in December the figure reached already 1700. At years end of 1944, only 530 prisoners were employed in the quarries. Although in the same year a fourth quarry at Bocksbühl had been put into operation yet, the production volume of quarrying decreased through the armament economic restructuring of the prisoners' use more and more. Starting in 1940 the stated target of an annual dismantling of 12,000 Kubikmeter of granite was never achieved. Nevertheless, the Flossenburg DESt's plant in 1943 was still supplying numerous large orders, for example, for various highway construction sites, for the 'Soldiers' Hall', which would be built at the new North-South-Axis in Berlin, furthermore for the SS-Cult site at Wewelsburg, but also for the construction of the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal on behalf of the Wsserstraßenbauamtes (Waterways Building Department) Regensburg. In addition, the granite processing was partially restructured for the armament requirement.In addition to the ornamental granite blocks and road construction materials, there were now granite acid vats for defence contractors to be manufactured, among these, for the Messerschmitt Works.
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)
Beginning in 1945, through the founding of SAG Wismut and later SDAG Wismut (Sowjetisch-Deutsche Aktiengesellschaft Wismut – Soviet-German Bismuth Corporation) uranium mining underwent growth that was both rapid and without much regard to the effects on either human beings or on the environment. A great deal of the Old Town had to be torn down between 1953 and 1960 owing to mining damage, and new residential areas were built

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.
enter picture:

Prisoners of the Flossenburg Concentration Camp in Germany were hung from this flagpole in the camp's courtyard. 800 Germans supervised this camp which was opened in 1939. Since that time according to records found in the camp, 54,890 men and over 10,000 women were held prisoners here. In the 14 month period preceding 20 April, 1945, 14,000 inmates died from starvation, exhaustion, mistreatment and various diseases. The prisoners worked in stone quarries and a nearby Messerschmitt Air-plane Factory. On 20 April, 1945, 15,000 inmates, including children and elderly people, were marched away. Those that could not keep up the march were killed by the wayside. About 2,000 were left in the camp when U.S. troops arrived. Among those reported to have been in the camp were Kurt Von Schuschnig, former Chancellor of Austria; Leopold, King of Belgium, Prince Albrecht of Austria and Hjalmar Schacht, Reich Minister of Finances.
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

Operating room in Nazi Concentration Camp at Flossenbrg, found by 97th Infanctry Division of U.S. 1st Army. Surgeon was civilian who reportedly did operations without anaesthetics being administered to patients and complete lack of sterilization.
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

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