Monday, April 7, 2014


In 1942, the construction work continued in the camp. The camp was surrounded by barbed wire, and in February the first four barracks were usable. Then the prisoners were transferred from their temporary shelter into the camp. At the end of 1942 seven barracks were completed, all of them in a terraced fashion on a sloping hillside. Until the beginning of summer 1943, the camp, however, remained and was, a large construction site, which required more and more workers . In 1942, 1,467 new prisoners were brought in, which mainly arrived in three large transports: 400 men from Buchenwald on 14 March, 250 from the Dachau concentration camp on 20 August, and again on the 15th December 200 prisoners from Buchenwald. Other prisoners were admitted in small groups or as an individual transferrals from civil jails . The latter doubled after September, because since that time Natzweiler became a Reception Camp (Einweisungslager) which increased in prisoner numbers, the composing mix of the prisoners changed: 594 Reichs-German and Volksdeutsche (of which came six from Alsace-Lorraine, six from Luxembourg and eleven from the Netherlands) these were offset by 169 Poles, 22 Czechs and 639 Soviet citizens.
The composition of the categories of prisoners changed. After the first year the "professional criminals" and "asocial" dominated, however, they made up only 27.7% after the newcomers arrived , while the "political" now with 71.3%, presented the majority. Nevertheless, the "greens" ("BV") and "Blacks" (anti-socials ") took leading positions and this continued very much in the camp hierarchy. It took until spring of 1944 that a" Red "was made camp elder at Natzweiler.

View of the Natzweiler concentration camp. 1945".
With the Soviet prisoners, a new category of prisoners came to Natzweiler. With the transport on August 20 1942, 197 inmates from Dachau had been registered as "foreign civilian workers" (AZA) (Ausländische Zivil Arbeiter). On December 5th about 56 were returned to Dachau, 84 had died before the end of the year 1942. [This would indicate they were in a very poor state of health upon arrival.HKS] On March 14th a transport from Buchenwald with Jewish prisoners came to Natzweiler. 68 of the 400 men of this transport  were listed as "Gestapo Jews", but they were re-registered in Natzweiler as "politically-Jews". Some of them had been apprehended as "Rassenschänder" (A rather infamous expression in German) which resulted in their detention, and were entered in  camp records as "race-mixers". [This meant they were, and had been married to a Christian (non-Jewish) women, but this apparently did not apply in reverse.HKS]

I am somewhat surprised, there was a law in the USA that forbade inter-marriages. This does not deviate much from the Nürnberg Law which in part stated: The first supplemental decree of the Nuremberg Laws extends the prohibition on marriage or sexual relations between people who could produce "racially suspect" offspring. A week later, the minister of the interior interprets this to mean relations between "those of German or related blood" and Roma (Gypsies), blacks, or their offspring.
The picture is of Mildred and Richard Loving, an interracial couple in Virginia when interracial marriage was banned in 16 states of the United States. Their case in court 'Loving vs. Virginia' overturned Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute. Love will prevail!

50 of these "Rassenschänder"came from Germany, four from Poland, two from Czechoslovakia and two from the Soviet Union. On October 21, 32 of them were transported to Auschwitz after the SS Economic-Administrative Main Office D on 5 October, had ordered that all the Jews who were in the concentration camps in Deutschland  were to be sent to Auschwitz, so the Reich would be "free of Jews" (judenfrei) including all concentration camps within in the border of the the Reich". At the end of 1942, 921 prisoners were registered in the camp, of which there were 200 men in Oberrehnheim, the first satellite camp of Natzweiler. Oberehnheim was a sub-camp in the service of the SS, and only with the opening of Schönberg in December 1943 began the commercial exploitation of prison labour under the direction of the SS Main Economic-Administrative Department.
Note: [The AZA were mainly prisoners of war and were interned in contradiction to the Geneva Convention on treatment of prisoners of war of 1929 in the concentration camp and forced to work. This treatment of the AZA came through an agreement between Himmler and the OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht) which was concluded during a meeting of 24 October 1941. Nbg. Doc D 569.sic]

Camp entrance, (behind, the Monument to the Departed)
During 1942, the death rate in Natzweiler greatly increased. On average 5.5% per month of the occupants died, that was five times the death rate compared to the year of 1941. To a large extent, the new camp commander Egon Zill was responsible for the increase at this high rate. Zill was a Nationalsocialist from the very beginning, prior to coming to Natzweiler he had already been through a variety of other camps: Sachsenburg, Lichtenburg, Dachau, Ravensbrück, and back again to Dachau. At Flossenburg he had been known as a "man like Eicke". He had been a severe disciplinarian, cruel, sadistic, cold-blooded and full of ideological piety"! He ran his KZ "by the book". He didn't last long at Flossenburg though, for he crossed swords with Himmler and was replaced by Max Kögel in April 1943 and returned to Dachau, and finally to Natzweiler, from there he was transferred to Flossenburg on the 4th October 1942. Nicknamed 'little Zill' because of his short stature he went to ground after the Second World War but revealed himself when he put his real name on the birth certificate of an illegitimate child. Sentenced to life imprisonment by a Munich court, the sentence was reduced on appeal to fifteen years in 1955. Following his release Zill settled in Dachau where he died in 1974 aged 68.sic]
The harsh living conditions in Natzweiler can best be identified by a transport of March 14, 1942 from Buchenwald. 92 Of the 400 prisoners of this transport died before the end of 1942. The cause of death was given in most cases by SS doctors as "Heart Failure" and "General Body Weakness". Another fictitious cause of death was "shot while trying to escape".
Hitler's Mufti
"Josef Zill  with a W-SS Volunteer Mountain Division, Note, the Mufti in the white headgear: This is most likely MOHAMMAD AMIN AL-HUSSEINI
[Mohammad Amin al-Husseini (also spelled al-Husayni) was a Palestinian Arab nationalist known for his Jew-hatred and his bitter opposition to the establishment of a Jewish state in the territory of the British Palestine Mandate. He served as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem from 1921 to 1948 and cooperated with Nazi Germany during World War II, helping to recruit Muslims (one is partly visible with a black Fez and the Totenkopf badge) for Adolph Hitler's dreaded Waffen-SS.  Widely known as “Palestine’s national leader” and the founding father of the Palestinian movement, al-Husseini made an alliance with Hitler and played an active role in promoting the Holocaust. On November 28, 1941, al-Husseini met with Adolph Hitler in Berlin, where he was treated as a visiting head of state. Hitler promised al-Husseini that the latter would be chief administrator of the Arab world after the Nazi "liberation".sic]

Only one successful escape from the main camp is recorded. Five political prisoners succeeded on the afternoon of the 4th August 1942 to escape. In the absence of the camp commander and several officers they stole a vehicle and several SS uniforms. They drove through the sentry line, saluted with "Heil Hitler" and continued on their way up into the Vosges mountains. There, the group split up. One inmate managed to escape as far as London, another reached North Africa. Only the German prisoner was captured again and returned to the camp. After several days of torture he was publicly hanged November 5th 1942. The escape had the consequence that the camp commander Zill was replaced by Josef Kramer. [Josef Kramer and 44 other camp staff (including 15 women) were tried

In the Belsen Trial by a British military court at Lüneburg. The trial lasted several weeks from September to November 1945. He was sentenced to death on November 17, 1945, and hanged at Hameln jail by Albert Pierrepoint on December 13, 1945. sic]
Manacled following his arrest is Joseph Kramer, at that time commandant of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Belsen, photographed on April 28, 1945.

1943 with 4,809 new arrivals tripled the number of prisoners compared to 1942. The new prisoners came from all over Europe, and at the same time it expanded the categories of prisoners. The expansion of the camp ended with the establishment of a crematorium in October. In addition, a gas chamber was installed in a wing of the hotel, and there were six satellite camp put into operation.

Crematorium at Natzweiler-Struthof"

Gas cell in a concentration camp Natzweiler-Struthof: A look into the gas chamber, where in August 1943, 86 Jews were killed. The room is 2.40 meters wide, 3.60 meters deep and 2.60 meters high. Concentration camp commandant, Josef Kramer, who started the executions watched through a peep-hole to the deadly effect of the gas." The figure is often given as 87, however one inmate refused to enter the chamber and was shot.
No transport to Natzweiler exceeded ever of 300 inmates at anyone time. The new additions were mainly transferred by individual Gestapo offices after they had initially been kept in various jails.  Among them were in 1943, 1099 German, 556 Polish and 1081 Soviet prisoners , also for the first time some Albanians, three Hungarians, two Lithuanians, Latvians, two Yugoslavs and 14 Serbs. Czechs were still represented in comparison to other camps low during that stage with only 34 inmates. Between 8th and December 14th, 1943 "Gypsies" from Auschwitz reached Natzweiler; they were originally from Germany. From the South of Europe came only few prisoners up to this point. Six Spaniards, two of which as "Night and Fog" prisoners (NN) arrived with a transport of Frenchmen on the 12th July and on 12tn of November another 45 men and women from Thessaloniki, [Thessaloniki (520 km. north of Athens) is the second largest city of Greece and the most important centre of the area.HKS] who were transferred with a transport with 87 prisoners from Auschwitz-Birkenau and had been intended for the murder in the gas chamber. [This seems to be a strange procedure, as Auschwitz was an Extermination Camp. HKS]
The number of prisoners from Western Europe rose. First, 74 came from Alsace, then  231 inhabitants from the Moselle region, with the exception of three "anti-social" and two "professional criminals" all were registered as "Political". In addition, the SS turned over 233 Luxembourger, most from the SS special camp Hinzert. With a few exceptions, the prisoners were removed from the Alsace and the Moselle region less than a month after they had  reached Natzweiler before they were transferred to other concentration camps (Dachau, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald and Flossenburg) The year 1943 was one with the arrival of "Nacht und Nebel" prisoners from Norway, the Netherlands, France and Belgium termed as NN" members, and were the first to be registered as NN inmates, which had dire consequence for some in the end.
As of June 15, 1943 NN prisoners were gradually transferred to Natzweiler. A retrospective decree from Hitler to Field Marshal Wilhel Keitel, Chief of the High Command of the Wehrmacht (OKW), from 7 Derzember 1941 stipulated that resistance fighters of "night and fog" to be transported to Germany, where they faced special courts, either, or were detained in concentration camps. On December 12 Keitel decided to clarified this : "An effective sustainable deterrence can only be achieved by capital punishment or by measures to keep the members and the public about the fate of the perpetrators in the dark."
A decree of the RSHA from 20 September 1943 stipulated that all NN prisoners be located at Natzweiler. The first transport of 71 Norwegians reached the camp on 15tth June 1943. In this year a total of 981 NN prisoners were registered and until August 1944, there were round 2500. On July 30, 1944, the category of the NN prisoners was abolished, but would be applied only to Western European captives. The make-up of these prisoner were thus  65% of them French, 10.9% Dutch, 10.3% Norwegian and 10.1% Belgians. During the evacuation of the camp 22.6% of its inmates were NN prisoners.

The deportees of KL-Natzweiler arrived from all over Europe come from all walks of life. The vast majority of these are political prisoners, including the "Nacht und Nebel", but also Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals ... All discover a world where they are nothing more than numbers and subhuman".
Since 1942, the camp was used for executions. Six were committed during the first year,  in 1943 24 took place, among them, 13 young Alsatian from Ballersdorf who had opposed their call up to serve in the Wehrmacht  and sentenced for desertion. The execution costs estimated by the camp headquarters was calculated at 127.05 Reichsmarks. The bill went to the Strasbourg Gestapo for reimbursement. In 1944, the number of executions rose. The then commander Hartjenstein stated that "in the summer of 1944 almost daily executions took place".
On July 6, 1944, four females were the first to be taken within the camp: one French and three English women. They were arrested in France and brought via Karlsruhe to Natzweiler. All four were members of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE). The arrival of women in the men's camp attracted much attention. Camp commander Hartjenstein led them into the bunker. At night they were in the barracks of the crematorium in the present of the two SS camp doctors Dr Rhode and Dr Plazza murdered with a phenol injection.

"The Sandpit and Execution site". "One evening, after all the commandos returned from work and Appell (Roll Call) was finished, Kramer appeared on the parade ground. He pulled a list from his pocket and began to read aloud names - all of them Luxembourger. One by one, he let the prisoners came from the ranks and ordered them to stop, while he sent the other back into the barracks. The affected Luxembourger were guarded strictly and taken out of the camp. Some minutes later, gunfire was heard. More Luxembourger then received orders to go to the site and turn left of the camp under the SS guard. Half an hour later they returned with the bloodied bodies of their comrades".

  Shortly before the evacuation of the main camp (Stammlager) the SS delivered 107 members of the resistance group "Reseau Alliance" and 35 resistance fighters from the Vosges mountains from the camp Schirmeck-Vorbruck to Naztweiler . All were on the night of 1st to September 2nd 1944 executed at the crematorium and immediately cremated there. In more than 250 cases Natzweiler served as a place of execution of prisoners who were not interned in the camp.
At the end of 1943 a total of 587 prisoners were interned in the seven satellite camps , which had been in operation since December 1942; besides Schönberg, all sub-camps were in the services of the SS. As a result the economic function of these satellite camps had an increase in prisoner numbers overall. At the end of the year 1943, 1,841 men were imprisoned in the main camp.

The sign posted by the entrance to the Natzweiler-Struthof camp reads: "General Delestraint Square. Head of the secret army, Imprisoned at the Struthof from the 8th of March to the 5th of September, 1944. Died for France at Dachau, April 19 , in 1945".  Delestraint , a General was in charge of the Resistance Movements within the German occupation of France. He was removed from Natzweiler with all the other Prisoners, in advance of the oncoming American troops, who discovered in November of 1944 the camp empty of Prisoners".
In February 1943, Delestraint-Vidal went to London with Jean Moulin to coordinate the work of the secret army with the Allied Command. While Vidal sees his responsibilities extended to the whole country (areas north and south), he learns that the landing of the Allies will not occur until spring 1944. He would build during these months of waiting to organize, equip and train his men.
On March 15, 1943,  the head of the Secret Army and several members of his staff were arrested in France. Important documents were seized. German surveillance is intensifies and arrests are increasing.
Back in France, Vidal  develops, particularly in the Vercors, to ensure their food supplies, weapons and equipment is available. Vidal is working hard to unify an operational and cohesive force. Focusing on being well-prepared, he wants to avoid any premature action that would jeopardize the final design. Within months, the size of the Secret Army increased from approximately 100 000 people to over 200 000.
If the work done is important, the situation is becoming increasingly worrying. The head of the Secret Army knows that his days may be numbered. On June 9, 1943, Delestraint-Vidal was arrested by the Gestapo in Paris, where he was to meet with military leaders of the movement of the north, and the commander Gastaldo, his Chief of Staff and head of the second study, and Lieutenant Jean-Louis Theobald, collaborator of Jean Moulin.
General Delestraint, 1938.
When questioned by the Gestapo, Delestraint-Vidal gives no information. Transferred to Fresnes prison, he tries to accept the liability of other defendants and to obtain their release.
On March 10, 1944, General Delestraint was interned at Camp Natzwiller-Struthof, under the status of Nacht und Nebel, that is to say that the Nazis classified him as a "night and fog" member, thus have him disappear without a trial, which he may have expected. Delestraint is awaiting against all hope for his court appearance, which will never happen. On April 19, 1945 - Delestraint is executed at Dachau, only a few days before the camp was liberated by the Americans. There remain some uncertainty about this.
Some sources doubt that  he was executed by the Germans, here is one:
The article that you linked to with the words “Uncertainty remains” is about the possibility that it was not the Germans who killed Delestraint, but the French prisoners. You apparently have such a strong preconceived notion that the Germans killed Delestraint that you missed the point of the article – that it was the Communist prisoners at Dachau who killed Delestraint because they wanted a Communist government in France after the war, so they had to get rid of the non-Communist leader of the French, General Delestraint. [source:]
                                                                                                                                                                 CONTINUED UNDER PART 3/4

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