Friday, December 16, 2011


 Mala Zimetbaum and Edek Galinski September 15 1944

On or about this day in 1944, Malka “Mala” Zimetbaum and Edward “Edek” Galinski were executed in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp after a failed escape attempt. Mala was 22 or 24; Edek was 20 or 21.

Mala, a Belgian Jew of Polish descent, had been living in Auschwitz for two years and had a privileged position because of her linguistic skill; she could speak about five languages and worked as an interpreter and courier. The staff trusted her and she had permission to go everywhere in the camp. She often used her position to help the inmates.

Mala fell in love with Edek Galinski, a Polish gentile prisoner. He was also a longtime inmate, having been in Auschwitz since 1940. He also had the freedom to go anywhere in the camp in his capacity as a mechanic.

Sometime in the late spring or early summer of 1944, they escaped together. What they planned to do afterward is unclear; there are some stories that Mala carried documents from the camp and planned to tell the world what was happening there. How they were caught is also a bit of a mystery. According to some accounts, only one was arrested and the other went voluntarily so they could die together.

Their subsequent executions have been the subject of legend, and lives large in many memoirs by survivors of the camp. Among those who wrote about it were Primo Levi, Sara Nomberg-Przytyk and Fania Fenelon. A witness, Raya Kagan, also testified about it at Adolf Eichmann‘s 1961 war crimes trial.

 we don’t even know whether it really took place on September 15; other dates have been suggested, including August 22. (Curiously, September 15 is also the date given for Mala’s arrival at Auschwitz in 1942.) Edek was apparently hung in the men’s camp, possibly alongside several other prisoners; Mala was executed in the women’s camp that same day. Edek supposedly tried to jump into the noose before the SS guard could finish reading his sentence, in defiance of protocol. His last words may have been “Long live Poland.” Everyone agrees that Mala slit her wrist with a hidden razor blade as she was standing before the crowd of woman prisoners waiting to be hanged. When the SS guards tried to intervene, she slapped one of them. They bound up her arm to keep her from bleeding to death. She may have been trampled to death at the execution site, but most accounts state the guards ordered some prisoners to cart her to the crematorium and throw her in alive. Several reports state that she either died on the way there, or was shot or poisoned by an SS guard who took pity on her.

According to some accounts, Mala’s last words were directed at the guard she hit: “I shall die a heroine, but you shall die like a dog!” Others say she addressed the crowd of prisoners and told them liberation was in sight, or urged them to revolt. We will never know what her final words truly were, but their meaning is clear enough.

BUCHENWALD KZ 1937-1945 Part 5


After the failure of the Blitzkrieg in the East and the U.S. declaration of war, by the end of 1941, hostilities had finally reached the dimension of a world war. The SS saw the opportunity and need  to their role in the elimination and extermination of whole populations, the necessity to play a greater function and create essentially economic enterprises, [not actually new  sic] to their normal activities. The growing need for soldiers and the expanding war economy (Rüstungswirtschaft) had led to a labor shortage, which the NS leadership met by, and relentlessly recruiting workers in the occupied countries of Europe. Hitler appointed March 1942 one of his old "fighters," (alten Kämpfer) the Reich Governor Fritz Saukel of Thuringia, the "Plenipotentiary for Manpower" and gave him authority to obtain an army of millions of forced laborers, no matter what method was used.
Almost simultaneously with the analog aim with the establishment in March 1942 of the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office also reached the streamlining of bureaucracy and centralization its final conclusion. The concentrated internment camps where the prisoners had been more likely on average a purpose of confinement should now take over their own economic enterprises and hire prisoners out to the private industry. As part of a development that began with the inclusion of inspections of the concentration camps as an official component of Group D in the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office, the SS was now a factor in the German war economy. Oswald Pohl, head of the SS Main Office made ​​an in depth report on the subject during April 1942.
Letter dated 24 June 1942 from the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office to the Buchenwald Commandant, listing the expected and projected Engineering and other  Projects to be undertaken, which on closer examination seems to be an overwhelming task.

For some Administration Staff of the concentration camps these new circumstances permanently won the upper hand in a cold-blooded, bookkeeping procedure, the "selection" and "labor" were specifically linked to each other so that the camps received a new character. Earlier climbers like the Buchenwald camp commandant Karl Koch's methods collapsed because they did not and could not completely change their habits, while others opened up within the SS just by chance and saw a career opportunity. One of these was Hermann Pister, with his service beginning at Buchenwald in January 1942, he laid greater weight on bureaucracy, then on outright brutality.. He did replace some of the headquarters staff and laid, in contrast to his predecessor, Koch, now more value of personal continuity and in implementing permanent Departments.
In this context, changing the influence of the various departments within the Administration took place. Especially from 1943, according to the instructions of the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office to ensure and reduce the death rates in the concentration camps, the department V (camp doctor) recorded a real increase in competence. Their division of labor cooperation with the Division III E (labor) had the responsibility for both the admission of prisoners into different work areas as a  target in order to mobilize reserves, even the segregation of the sick and vulnerable for extermination. In the "Wechselbad", an institution of the prisoner infirmary, SS-doctors scrutinized the new inmates only briefly and divided them into categories according to their usefulness.
The result of such "Musters" as they took place in 1943,  the prison hospital provided continued labor statistics, which, divided by orders of the SS labor assignment officer prepared  them in collaboration with the office, with lists of transports, and  prisoners into the various work details for satellite camps. The prisoners  classified as "unusable" were living usually for a short time. Although there were no extermination facilities in Buchenwald as the like in Auschwitz , but the murder by injection in the hospital, called the "Abspritzen" took place.There was an Czechoslovakian clerk, Jaroslav Bartl, who had been  within the infirmary since 1942 and describes the method in detail:
"Most prisoners knew what was expected when they entered the operating room II where an SS-man was already sitting with a syringe. There was not a single case in which a prisoner would have resisted the lethal injection. Perhaps this whole milieu, where it took place-the white, clean operating room, the polished instruments, the doctor in a white coat, who had a friendly face and encouraging smile, perhaps all this, although the prisoners knew about murders in the Revier,(Infirmary) perhaps there were at this moment the thought that it was  impossible that they would just, just now be killed in cold blood in this beautiful operating room. Death was in the camp in the mind of the prisoner almost always there either by  blows by a stick, a rifle shot, with the chunks in the quarry, the gallows, the bunker, the hunger all this connected- but this here, this is not looking like death from ... but they were finally on the floor in a heap of  the crematoriums with those who had been shot in the quarry or from exhaustion or leather lashes and  remained lying in the dirt somewhere ...."

The Injection Syringe used on 'unusable inmates'. 

The conversion of the concentration camp on the Ettersberg to a Main- and Transit Camps began 1942. While inside the camp on the parade ground in a specially constructed double barrack an experimental Rifle Manufacturing Factory was set up, the prisoners had to walk along the road to Weimar and erect within few months production halls. The structure of this Gewehrfabrik (Rifle Manufacture)  of 1942/43 originally went back to the idea of the SS-guidance committee to open its own weapons manufacture (Waffenschmiede). The economic interest of the armaments companies proved however stronger, so that the SS would not become generally accepted. Already during the building phase one agreed finally to a Leasing of factory buildings including prisoners to " Fritz Saukel Werk" the Wilhelm Gustloff-NS- Industriestiftumg.(NS-Industrial Foundation)

Installation of machinery at the Gustloff-Factory II at Buchenwald 1943

Return of inmates from  the Gustloff-Factory back into the camp, about 1944
For this so-called Gustloff-Werk II, the SS built with a high mortality rate of  prisoners within three months a railway line from Weimar Main Station  to Buchenwald. The inauguration was celebrated by the SS in June 1943 as a victory. In fact, it took another year before the poorly built and damaged route were allowed in transporting people. Among the prisoners these successes of the new SS-camp guidance procedures had very little impact, for the high number of casualties shows poorly for Hermann Pister's first year of service and rather contributed significantly that on average every third inmate had died in Buchenwald.

Prisoners building Railway Line from Weimar to Buchenwald 1943

De-loading Station at the Buchenwald Rail Terminal 1943

Even within the barbed wire fence was an expansion. To accommodate mass transportation, an advanced shanty town in the north was built of two rows of wooden barracks, the so-called Small Camp (Kleines Lager). The disinfection facilities served as from 1942 east  of the storage buildings and the newly built flat roofed laundry as a "cleaning station" (Schleuse) to keep diseases out. New prisoners gave up their own clothes and all property, were shorn, dipped in a disinfectant solution and driven naked into the supply building, where they received camp clothing bearing their numbers. Alone in the first quarter of 1944, approximately 15,000 people passed through this building. In the summer of 1942, the SS had also  the crematorium expanded and equipped it, specially developed ovens  by the company "Topf & Sons' of Erfurt for the cremation of the dead.

The Disinfection Building 1943
Crematorium 1943 with extension for autopsy and pathology, on the left
The Gustloff-Werk II and the German Armament Factories next to the camp in 1944 employed  about 4,500 prisoners. The SS demanded of them the highest level of performance, driving them to work and brutally punished any unauthorized break (Ruhezeit) as sabotage. In November 1943 the head of the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office, Oswald Pohl, ordered  new and stricter orders.
Especially in situations where differential skilled work was required by the prisoners, the terror of the SS was found to be after a short time as useless to enhance work performance. The attempts to adapt to the changing circumstances, remained superficial and did not affect the nature in the running of the camps. In early December 1942, Himmler ordered the camp commanders, that corporal punishment would be applied "in the future only as a last resort" when other punishments have failed. Behind its formulation, "that the spirit and purpose of harder punishment in most cases has not been recognized ", was hiding with difficulty the reality of a beating regime in the camps, which was so firmly entrenched to the everyday routine of the SS, that the central instructions had hardly any effect. The only official closing of corporal punishment  was subsequently no longer performed before the assembled prisoners, but in the cinema barracks instead  and was discontinued altogether in late 1944 on Himmler's orders. Commander Pister later had the "flogging block" burnt and removed all  evidence of beatings carried out from the prisoner files.
Since 1942, privileged facilitations for long term prisoners and prison functionaries were introduced. They justified the weekly correspondence and for preferred canteen purchasing. Prisoners who were in possession of the corresponding pass were allowed  also to grow their hair as well. In May 1943, the SS reward system came up for special work performance by issuing canteen coupons, known as camp money.

Pass for canteen privileges
After a visit to Buchenwald in March 1943, Heinrich Himmler, criticized the lack of a camp brothel for prisoners. The brothel visit was to be used  as a means and a reward  for a higher working performance. Also, the head of the Economic and Administrative Main Office, Oswald Pohl, issued in his Premiums Regulation of May 1943 among others, "the award" for good conduct and specific work performance of the brothel visit. (This incentive apparently did not work in the Dachau KZ sic.)
On July 16, 1943, the SS brought 16 female prisoners aged between 20 and 30 years from the concentration camp Ravensbrück into the "special building",(Sonderbau) as the SS called the brothel in Buchenwald. They had better food, a quarter of the intake and an early release ( which did not happen) had been promised. Each of the women had on an average make themselves available to five men per day. For the Small Camp (Kleines Lager) prisoners like Jews, Gypsies and Russians visiting to the brothel were forbidden. Others, especially the German, Austrian, Czech and Polish prisoners could apply for a visit to the brothel in writing through their block leader to the SS-Camp Administration. The approvals were announced at the evening at roll call by the SS. For a brothel visit  two RM, had to be paid, by February 1944, this was reduced to only one RM. Closures occurred only during late evening Roll Calls, and water shortages and during transmissions of Hitler's speeches. The number of women changed only slightly: At  the end of March 1945 there were still nine women in the camp brothel.

The Brothel Building "Sonderbau" 1943

The actions of the SS apparently led to further social differentiation within the camp, and did not achieve the targeted goals. Overall, the general care of most of the prisoners deteriorated permanently. Up to 1942 the official food rations remained largely unchanged, effectively from 1942 there was a reduction in fat, meat, bread and potatoes. It started in May 1942, when the weekly rations for bread was reduced to 2,450 grams, meat to 280 grams and fat to 170 grams, and the supply of potatoes, substituted with turnips, was mainly up to the respective camps and the local food agencies(Ernährungsamt). The amount of food that finally arrived for the prisoners, was clearly below the average diets of the population. The standard diet was about 25 per cent lower than that what was in general made available for civilians. In addition, the food that was handed out was often of poor quality or in a spoiled condition.
Per day, the SS took from the industry an average of 4-6 Reichsmark per inmate, which they had to transfer to the Reich treasury. An estimated expense for an inmate up to1944, on a daily basis was 1.34 Reichsmark, made up and including accommodation for 30 Pfennige, 39 Pfennige for clothing and food with an extra allowance of 65 Pfennige for heavy laborers(Schwerarbeit)allowance.For female inmates they made only a provision of 1.22 Reichsmark.
Even these official records existed only on paper, because the majority of people lived in battered barracks, dressed in repeatedly worn ragged clothing and hungry. In a study of the body weight of the inmates of the main camp in March 1944 - half of the prisoners was at this point in time, living under worse circumstances then those in satellite camps. It was found that 81-percent of the camps inmates were malnourished, or about 18,990 of 21,500 people.
Among the worst diseases was tuberculosis. Approximately one in ten suffered from it by mid-1944 in the main camp of Buchenwald  from the open type and was highly infectious. This figure was nearly five times higher than outside the camp. Only a fifth of the patients was admitted into the prison hospital, the others with open tuberculosis were subjected to daily  forced labor. Open tuberculous prisoners belonged to the SS doctors to Category 5: "unusable". Many were killed simply by direct injection.

[The above is somewhat a misnomer and describes the actual inner running by prisoners of the camp and their fight within different factions for dominance, which was openly describes as "Häftlingskriege"(Wars of the Inmates). The Krankenhausbau or Infirmary was the hot bed for conspiracies and  the center to establish illegal committees as it was mainly run by prison orderlies as well as their own doctors without little or no interference by SS-Guards, the same goes for the offices manned by competent inmates of the varies Departments and their secret network of communication.sic]
The re-evaluation of the administration as well as the Department for Provisions(Versorgungsarbeiten) and the interests of the new camp commandant Pister in a well-functioning camp regime, also determined the outcome of the "Prisoner War" between Communists and BV-prisoners (Professonal Criminals), which since the appointment of BV-inmate Joseph Ohles as the Camp Elder No.:1 in the fall of 1941 was received rather bitterly. The Political Department undertook the first attempt to decide in favor of the BV-prisoners, to
name Joseph Ohles and utilized a method that had already been applied in previous years, to abruptly announce and re-appoint  inmate functions. On 26 March 1942, they removed due to a denunciation by the BV- 48 political prisoners and block leaders including KAPO's for dissemination of broadcast messages into a special unit of a penal battalion. Four others, including the head of the illegal Communist Party Organization, Albert Kunz went into the "bunker."
A few weeks after the establishment of the details in the penal company Ohles was also relieved of his functions and replaced by the former captain (Rittmeister) Fritz Wolff, a political prisoner and an opponent of the Communists. On June 7, 1942, from a report of a political prisoner to the SS about Ohles homosexual inclinations, Ohles was dead a day later. Within the internal conflict of interests of the SS between the elimination of their own ranks, the (Political Department) and the functioning of the camp, the (Commandant) it was Commander Pister with his authority who set  the priorities. At the height of the "prisoner's war", he  unexpectedly dissolved the penal battalion on 30 June 1942 and put the majority of the communist prisoners back into their functions.
There followed a period of "Fene" (secretly held trials) until spring time, to ensure followers of Ohles were no longer alive. During this time the illegal Communist Party Leadership disciplined their own ranks, suppressed all forms of factionalism and isolated  members, which they did not consider were pulling the party line. The No.:2 camp leader Hans Bechert (KPD), was replaced during this "cleansing" operation because of his alleged  unreliability and died on 03.02.1943 in unexplained circumstances at the infirmary. There are strong indications that he was murdered. The last of the camp leaders, Fritz Wolff fell in June 1943 for a well launched and  targeted indication of homosexuality.
Shortly after the beginning of the great mass transportation, which filled the camp, the SS, had a prisoner administration in Buchenwald since June 1943, a composition, that had never been achieved under any other KZ-system. Nearly the entire official power of the camp, the three senior camp prisoners, the labor statistics, the office, most block elders, the most important Kapo positions was in the hands of an illegal, centrally managed and monopolized by a single and disciplined party organization of the Communist Party. No prison  functionary could work for some time on his own account against them. The newly formed "troika head"(Dreierkopf) of the Communist Party organization included Walter Bartel, Harry Kuhn and  the Infirmary Kapo Ernst Buse. Kuhn led the "defense mechanism", a kind of intelligence service, who oversaw the preservation of power of perceived or convicted actual "traitors", which were then sent  within a short time on a transport or died mysteriously.
In mid-1942 the SS approved, given the rapidly growing prison population, the establishment of a prisoner Kommando, who guarded and patrolled during the the night the magazines  and stores within the camp. It was "called camp patrol" (Lagerschutz). During the day, it oversaw the cleanliness of the camp, established and reported cases of theft and received regulatory task on incoming transports. That, after the climax of the"consistent prisoner war" between "green" and communist prisoners formed a command exclusively from political prisoners and strengthened the position of the political Camp Elders. They had the  authority over the camp patrol (Lagerschutz) through an auxiliary police force. In the appeal list of the camp patrol records on October 10th 1942, for the first time 20 prisoners are mentioned in the report. After the air raid on 24 August 1944, the number grew to 51 after the air raid the  command almost doubled and with an entirely internationally make-up . While these protection squads operated, the presence of the SS within the camp was considerably  reduced .Their acts of terror was limited, and not violent. It is strange that they received and accepted security tasks from the communist resistance organization, [and it makes you wonder who actually run and controlled the internal functions of Buchenwald, sic.].

Armband carried by the Inmate Auxiliary Police

Under these circumstances, the capo of the hospital, Ernst Busse, was the most influential official in the prison camp. He belonged to the political leadership of the Communists and held in his hand while in the hospital during one of the " prisoner wars" 1942/43 repeatedly the power over destruction during disputes, but also that of rescue . Due to the economic aspirations of the SS  the prisoners' Work and the Statistics were one of the most influential positions inside the camp administration. Under the control of the Hospital  Kapo came now also that of the practicing Prison Doctors.  Only the purely administrative function were part of the SS. Compared with 1938, the number of prisoners employed in the hospital until mid-1944 rose to a factor of ten times as much as before.
[Busse came from a working class family in Solingen and at the age of 21 years in 1919 joined the Communist Party, was elected in 1932 into the Reichstag and was arrested in 1933 and convicted for conspiracy to commit high treason by the People's Court(Volksgerichtshof) and sentenced to  hard labor(Zuchthaus). After that the Gestapo took him into custody and sent him to Buchenwald in 1937. Due to the alleged  inconsistency as a Kapo and Camp Functionary, after Liberation by the Sowjets, led him in 1950 into the Russian Gulag Camp Woruta, where he died in 1952 sic].
The management skills and arrangements the Communist Prison Functionaries in the offices and in the camp had built up, made them indispensable for Pister under the pressure of  mass transportations and the transit camp which was an overwhelming task . There were several reasons for this: they were Germans, insisted on obedience, and by their understanding of internationalism with foreign prisoners their relationship went smoothly, had known for long time  the camp practice, and were versed in many skilled trades and knew  well-practiced discipline, they could rely on each other, did not shy away from the ambiguous deviation in position of power between the SS and the other prisoners.
By the absolute cohesion in the acquisition of these functions, they could increasingly ensure the survival of their cadres and protect allies and loyalty. With that and the ensured internal order, the camp provided a more predictable and better life for all prisoners, their prestige is kept in memories of many survivors. In border line situations within the camp one could only be saved at the expense of others, only the secret organization was defended with draconian measures. This often affected other prisoners who did not have the privileges of the "trusties". It often entangled the German Communists in the camp by the racist hierarchy enforced by the SS.[Eugen Kohn writes extensively on the subject sic]
The creation of a special zone served since 1938 to overcome the overcrowding in the camp and shift the burden back onto the inmates in order to keep the rest of the camp  functioning. This logic emanated and was based for the necessity in the separation of the sick and infirm. So it is not surprising that both functions the "Quarantined" and the segregation of the "Labor Requirement" from 1943 had a permanent "abode" where the accommodation is minimized with reduced rations and hygienic conditions which were astrophysical, the  so-called small camp (Kleines Lager) was located at the northern end of the shanty town.The barracks had been built for the Army as horse stables without windows, about 40 meters long and 10 meters wide, the inside had a two meter center aisle, left and right with two rows of three or four-story sleeping boxes on each side.

Camp Street along the Latrines inside the Kleine Lager, May 1944Camp Street along the Latrines inside the Kleine Lager, May 1944

The Quarantine Facilities inside the Kleine Lager , May 1944

The Horse Stable type of barracks inside the Kleine Lager 1945
Pictures were taken illegally by inmate Georges Angeli who worked in the Photography Department.                  

The initial capacity of these stables was about for 50 horses. In Buchenwald records still available indicate up to 1.960 people per barrack were housed there. From May to December 1944  the Kleine Lager had an additional five Military Type tents.

                                                              TO BE CONTINUED UNDER PART 6

BUCHENWALD KZ 1937-1945 Part 4

MASS MURDER 1941-1943
  "Wohin haben Sie Geschossen?"
  "Auf den Hinterkopf."
  SS-Mann Horst Dittrich


During the summer of 1941 until the summer of 1942 a detailed preparation of mass murder of Soviet prisoners of war, a perpetrated act of crime was carried out. Months before the attack on the Soviet Union, in March 1941, Hitler made his intentions known before NSDAP officials and the heads of the army, the coming war against the Soviet Union would be led as an ideological war (Weltanschauungskrieg),  and in due course "the Jewish-Bolshevik intelligentsia the previous oppressors of the people" must be destroyed. By order dated 6th Juni1941, the so-called Commissar Order, demanded by the High Command of the Armed Forces (OKW) not to take political commissars as prisoner of war, but to shoot them immediately. In addition, details of the security police were in the POW camps and an extensive manhunt for discarding "politically intolerable elements"  was taken place.
According to the guidelines of the Chief of Security Police and SD of the 17th July 1941"Einsatzbefehl Nr.8" ( command No.8) focused the investigation on state and party officials, political commissars, leaders of middle management,  and central authorities, leading authorities, leading persons of the economy, members of the intelligence and Jews, also to all who are suspected of resistance to the Regime .With the deployment and implementation of Befehl (order) No. 9 the Gestapo received this one, for the segregation within the prison camps to their competence to carry out and shoot the separated prisoners of war in the next concentration camps.
Beginning of August 1941 the Sachsenhausen concentration camp began with the construction of a barrack for an execution facility. This was a special place and consisted of adifferent areas as registration, examination and a bathing room where the shooting took place from a fissure in the wall, to enable to shot the victim in the neck. The existence of a horse stable which could be operated with minimal human effort a smooth execution mechanism, that had emanated from a prolonged duration of previous  actions was envisioned,  which gave at the same time  Buchenwald the opportunity to build a murder site where the shootings took place through a gap in the yardstick of the study area, which received  the terminology  "Genickschußanlage"(shot in the neck facility)."
These "facilities were specific to Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald, while in the concentration camps of Dachau, Flossenbürg, Gross-Rosen, Neuengamme and Auschwitz, the killing took place in a different way. Also in Buchenwald, where in September 1941, the first group of POWs arrived, the executions took place on the shooting range east of the German Ausrüstungswerke (Armament Factory), this took place prior to  "the shooting in the neck method" in a former Pferdestall (Horse Stable)  and was completed outside the prison area.

 [Camp Commandant Pister did give a comprehensive detailed summary of events that took place during his interrogation as follows sic]
"The horse stable, it's designation was 99, after the phone number that had the apparatus in the building. This building was no longer used for the stabling of horses and was divided into two parts. In the right room the captives had to undress. The left room was established as a medical examination room. In this room there were panels on the wall with letters on them(large and small)  to give the impression of an upcoming eye examination. In another room there was a measuring rod,(Meßstange) as they were used for Musters permanently attached to the wall.
All none-commissioned officers, about eight to ten were dressed in doctors white coats, so thad the prisoner had the impression, he was sent for a medical examination. Induvidually they entered the first room, where a dental examination took place. After the dental examination a second (Unterführer) NCO examined  the heart and lung. Then the prisoner  would enter the second room and stand in front of the measuring rod. At this moment the NCO would knock with his boot onto the partition that separated it from a small cabin which held another NCO waiting for the knock who would fire a shot into the neck of the prisoner. The measuring device was provided with a long slit through the wall, so that a precise aim could be obtained. Next, two other NCO's would drag the body into the next room. Then the blood-covered floor was washed away with a water hose."

Plan of the Execution Facilities inside the Horse Stable 21.4.1945. The Name Carolus who drew the plan is a Pseudonym of Karl Feuerer  a German Political Inmate 1939-1945. He added to the caption "Every minute one death".(Jede Minute eine Leiche)
The mass murder in these facilities was on a roster basis of the Headquarters Company establishment as a specialized command, the "Command 99", which was -99 the telephone number of the horse stable-always remained accessible. A member of Headquarters Company, Horst Dittrich, described during a hearing before the Military Court at Dachau in November 1947 the process:
"Having been the first time in the examination room, what happened?"
> The Russian war prisoners were then asked in this room to stand with their backs to the wall. This wall was about 2 meters high, and left and right, was provided with numbers, you could have the impression that this was a measuring (tape) scale. In the middle of the wall was a slit, about 8-10 cm wide. Behind the wall stood a man with de gun. The man who put the prisoner on the wall, gave a foot  knock for the man behind it, so that he had the pistol ready  to shoot.<
"Were you there the first time in this room to shoot?"
> The first time, yes. I finally gave 8 rounds>
"You mean you gave off 8 shots, 8 on various Russian prisoners of war?"
>Yes< (Jawohl)
"Where did you shoot?"
> On the back of the head.<

NOTE: The present execution facilities at Buchenwald Memorial Site are a reconstruction and not the Originals sic.

German issued Identification Tag for a Russian POW which was found within the grounds of the Memorial Site
Carrying container, sheet metal lined to carry the dead after execution from the Horse Stable to the crematorium during 1942
The shootings, according to the crematorium manager sometimes amounted to 400 per night, which were held during audible martial music. Unlike other camps, which stopped the shootings in the summer of 1942 the exception was Buchenwald, as it was close to the POW camp at Senne where prisoners were still selected and continued as a murder site until at least 1943. After the discontinuation of the overall execution action in the summer of 1942, the Buchenwald SS abandoned theirs in the face of the decline in numbers and the irregularity of transport in the continuation of the Genickschuss facilities (shot in the neck) from about 1943. Prisoners of war were, however murdered by hanging on wall hooks in the basement of the crematorium since then. Both the total number and the names of the victims could not be clarified because no entries were made in camp records and the dead anonymously cremated. Estimates amount to at least 7,000 victims. An inmate who could follow the receipt of the execution orders and add the figures up, remembers a total of 8475.

Among the inmates of the Buchenwald concentration camp right from the beginning, there were a number of mentally and physically handicapped. Even the records of the year 1938 depicts them in camp jargon as the "stupid company" a titled group of mentally handicapped people. There were some isolated blind and deaf-mutes among the prisoners. After the static tables surveys of the SS as of July 15th 1940, for example show  there were 67 "full disability", 48 which had disabilities and 19 seriously ill patients and 147 old ones in the  camp. That was 5 percent of 7203 prisoners. The new labor service leader Grimm, who saw in this an "enormous burden" urged strongly in early 1941, that those prisoners unable to work should be deported into the Dachau concentration camp.
The killing of Jewish prisoners and the disabled unable to work, became the content of an action that began in 1941 under reference 14f13 .SS-Doctor Waldemar Hoven gave detailed accounts about these activities during his trial.
The exact date of the official meeting with the commander has not been documented. This must have been in the first half, probably in April, May 1941. At the 16th or 17th June 1941   the first group of "euthanasia" experts arrived in the concentration camp at Buchenwald. They separated and assessed prisoners who were taken in mid-July 1941 in the "euthanasia" killing center (Tötungsanstalt) Sonnenstein and there suffocated with gas. A second Selection Commission (Gutachterkommission) arrived in November 1941 and  sorted especially inmates after sifting through the filing system. In March 1942, the first transport was assembled for the euthanasia killing center at Bernburg, exclusively with Jewish prisoners.

Following Extermination Transports went during 1941/42 from Buchenwald into Euthanasia Killing Centers: (Tötungsanstalten)
13.7.1941                  94 Inmates to:
                                    Sonnenstein (Pirna)
14.7.1941                   93 Inmates to:
                                     Sonnenstein (Pirna)
2.3.1942                     90 Jewish Inmates to:
11.3.1942                    90 Jewish Inmates to:
12.31942                     105 Jewish Inmates to:
14.3.1942                     99 Jewish Inmates to:

Under the total of 571 selected and condemned were 468 Jews.[Both facilities were officially designated "Healing an Nursing Homes".sic]

 With the introduction of "Special Treatment 14f13" took the form of murder and was systematically set into motion also on sick patients by injection them with Phenol, Evipan or Air, it was latent in the camp since 1940 anyway. Dr. Eisele testified at the Dachau Buchenwald process, that commander Koch had instructed him in early July 1941, to identify all TB patients. Two weeks later, his chef came to him and showed him a letter from Berlin which stated as "special treatment" -that was the expression of SS and Gestapo for executions without legal formalities- for Koch ordered him to arrange all suffering from tuberculosis, anti-social and professional criminals to proceed accordingly. The first murder action in this regard began with the delivery of two shipments mostly sick, some men also invalids from Dachau on July 6th, 1941 (1,000 people) and on 12th July (1008 people).
Letter of Camp Doctor Waldemar Hoven to Dr. Joachim Gauger dated 27.7.1941 regarding the death of his brother.
                        The fictitious case histories Dr.Hoven ordered a male nurse to write.
On January 19, 1942  an order by the Inspector of  Concentration Camps was issued to all camps within Germany to detain, hold and transport able bodied "labor" and create an"operational" Jewish work force for the KZ-camp Lublin. In an epilogue, it was said:
"It is emphasized again as a reminder to provide warm clothing, because everything must be done to maintain the work ability of the Jews"
This command was invoked prior to the  arrangement in December 1941, indirectly relating to the November assessment of the "Euthanasia Operation" resulting in a list of "able-bodied"Jews. Even at the beginning of 1942  rumors had been floating in the camp of the impending evacuation of Jewish prisoners. In the second week of January, the SS ordered the Jewish inmate Oswald Alexander to be publicly flogged for it. He died five months later.
But the rumors had a real background. Since the beginning of the war until the end of 1941 the NS regime, the transition was of the forced expulsion policy to exterminate the Jews within  its sphere of influence. As planned the SS-state proceeded with the labeling and ghettoization of the Jewish population. Since 1941, Jews in Germany had to wear a yellow star on their clothes. In the same year the deportation to camps and ghettos, on forced annexation in Polish territories began. Throughout Eastern Europe, where foreign territories fell directly under German rule, massacres took place towards the Jewish population. In December 1941, at Chelmno (Kulmhof), the first extermination facility in which they drew on experiences of the "euthanasia" killing centers was implemented.
After the invasion of the Soviet Union, the crimes in the concentration camps had reached a new level. Characteristic of both the "Action 14f13" as well as for the mass executions of Soviet prisoners of war it was the regularity with which the SS was going on, the preparation of the technical processes and the use of a specialized staff was precise and well organized .This particular approach was determined by the "Wannsee Conference" which emphasized the deportation and the destruction of the Jewish population located in the countries under German rule.
As far as the concentration camp was concerned  the conference held in January 1942 at villa near the Wannsee in Berlin, resulted in as much  that the SS postponed the deportation of Jewish prisoners after a certain time limit. Regardless of this decision the camp doctor Hoven had  a "personal conversation" with the head of "Euthanasia" (Tötungsanstalt)  killing center Bernburg to make  preparations for the murder of Jewish prisoners. On the 2nd February 1942 he sent in duplicate a compilation of the Buchenwald concentration camp inmates of those that are unable to work and sick Jews for further action to Bernburg.The SS prepared  four transports of Jewish prisoners to be suffocated with gas at those facilities.  On the 16th of March 1942 a total of 836 Jewish prisoners were thus exterminated out of a total inmate capacity at Buchenwald at that time of 8,117.
Letter of camp doctor Waldemar Hoven  to the "Healing and Nursing Home" Bernburg dated 2.2.1942 confirming their personal conversation, with 2 Attachments
For the SS, who anticipated apparently imminent deportations, it was now immaterial whether a Jewish prisoner was a "political", convict, homosexual or "work-shy", they knew by statistics of the camp only one, by national origin a main group  as "Jews", whether they were from  the "German Reich", Czech or stateless Jews. Since the newly created SS Economic and Administrative Main Office in the fall of 1942, there was a shift in policy that the Jewish prisoners at Armament Production within Germany could no longer relied upon. In line with Hitler's perception the German Reich had to 'be free of Jews ".
On October 5, 1942, SS Obersturmmbannführer Maurer, head of the Office D II, wrote to all the camp commanders:

"The Reichsführer (Himmler sic)  wants, that all within the Reich territory lying KL  be made ​​free of Jews. It should therefore be necessary for Jews that are interned in local KL's  to be shipped to Auschwitz or Lublin. I ask you to report to me the number of local KL imprisoned Jews by the  9th of the month and  to note, especially those detainees that are used there in places that do not allow for their immediate transportation."

Letter dated 12.101942 from Department D to commanders of Buchenwald and Auschwitz regarding the Deportation of Jewish Inmates.
On the 8th October, the Kommandantur of the Buchenwald concentration camp reported 405 Jewish prisoners ready to be transported to Auschwitz. On the Friday, October 16th 1942  commandant Pister ordered ten freight cars from the Deutsche Reichsbahn and made the Transportation Leader personally responsible that "the cars are boarded up and sealed properly."  The remaining 234 Jewish camp prisoners whose deportation had been postponed because they were part of of the "Construction Detail Jews" that were still needed in the building of the gun factory ,"Gustloff-Werk II. For most of those that worked at  the IG Farben construction site and  brought to Auschwitz-Monowitz , Auschwitz meant death. Only a few came back with the evacuation trains in January 1945.

Resistance in the camp began with the assertion of the individual. Any attempt to log a report or to rebel, the SS usually answered immediately with brutal violence or homicide. Even the suspicion led to the cells of the "bunker". At the death of an Austrian Jew Edmund Hamber to report an SS murderer, there is the following statement by Emil Carlebach.:
"In autumn 1940,  the first test case of open resistance against the SS murders took place. The SS-Sergeant Abraham, drowned the Jewish prisoner Hamber  in a puddle of water. His brother was an eyewitness to the cause of the death and when questioned, he told the truth .. Then the whole command was called to the gate, but understandably, none of the rest dared to say that anyone had seen something. The foreman had to write down the names of his 28 men .... The brother of the murdered man told me: "I know that I must die for my statement, but maybe this will keep these criminals back in future, if they to fear a reported murder. Then I have not died  for nothing."
Also escape attempts proved under the conditions during the first camp period in which the prisoners were nearly all concentrated in one place as hopeless, the German population willingly supported all search measures and half of Europe was occupied by German troops. All escapees were returned, publicly punished, put on show, and usually killed, their escape attempts in fact intensified the terror for the entire camp and withholding of privileges. To "mutiny" resulted in the a death penalty.
Nevertheless, it was during the first camp period under the conscious enemies of National Socialism, who formed a minority in the camp, some outstanding examples of personal courage in standing up against the SS, which remained preserved over the years in the memory of the prisoners. This included the Protestant Pastor Paul Schneider, who refused in April 1938, to salute the swastika flag and then he endured the continued and unabated  abuses in the "Bunker" for months until his death in July 1939. Especially his sermons from the "Bunker cell" at assembly on the parade ground in the morning and evening, which left a deep impression on the detainees.

Among the Jewish prisoners there was a block leader, from Berlin, Rudolf Arndt, 1939/40 he stood out for his exemplary personality and behavior under his fellow prisoners and  possessed great authority among them. During the fight with "green" block elders, he was denounced and brought into the quarry. The SS, called Arndt  the Emperor-Jew and shot him there on 3rd May 1940.
From a religious point of view and their belief the Jehovah's Witnesses refused on the 6th September 1939 on the parade ground in front of the machine guns of the SS, despite the death threat, to sign up for the armed forces. Even sticking to familiar rituals such as celebrations of illegal holidays strengthened the desire for self-assertion, even though this meant always a risk for the entire camp, such as fasting on Jom  Kippur by Viennese Jews 1938, which was a lack of understanding by fellow inmates.

The camp regime disintegrated the permanent basis for human solidarity and fostered a wolf society, it only acknowledged the stronger ones a chance, "First The Political!" was the cry among the political conscious, though torn by old enemies and battles of idealogical  views, this was an unwritten law.
On this basis, during the first period, you did not have any non-Jewish "Politicals" in the camp, there again, especially former members of leftist parties would get into lighter work details. The downside could always include that power would serve in the fight against discrimination as well as against uncomfortable political opponents, and that the assignments of positions could come into the calculations of political cliques. The temptation to do this was to create a special  conditions in the camp. But the years of Stalinist doctrine practiced within the Communist Party,  expelling dissenters within the left and oppose them politically and economically to rid the system played a part. Balanced in the early years through the influence of a prominent member of the Communist Party was Dr. Theodor Neubauer and Walter Stoekker, this aspect of their presence played an increasing role after the beginning  of the war. Generally in Concentration Camps, the communist attempted to annihilate their closest rivals by taking advantage of hierarchies that existed there. Marcel Beaufrere , leader of the Breton regional section of the Internationalist Workers Party, was arrested in Oktober1943 and deported to Buchenwald in January1944. The inter-block chief (who himself a Communist) suspected him of being a Trotskyite. Ten days after after Beaufrere's arrival, a friend informed him that the communist cell in Block 39-his block-had condemned him to death and was sending him as guinea pig to be injected with typhus. Beaufrere was saved at the last minute through the intervention of German militants. The Communists often used the concentration-camp system to get rid of their political enemies, deliberately sending them to the hardest sections, even though they themselves were victims of the same Gestapo officers and the same SS divisions. Marcel Hic and Roland Filiatre, who were deported to Buchenwald, were sent to the terrible camp Dora "with the assent of KPD cadres who had high administrative functions in the camp," according to Rodolpe Prager. He died there; Filiatre survived another attempt on his life in 1948.
Other liquidations of militant Trotskyites took place during the liberation. Matieu Buchholz, a young Paris worker from the "Class War" group, disappeared on 11 September 1947 his group claimed that this had been the work of Stalinist.

During the first camp period, there were also examples of organized solidarity on the part of the "Politicals" without prejudice.  It is reported, the fact that political prisoners together helped after the Jewish pogrom those that arrived.. In one case they organized, and tolerated by the SS and at times the "Polish School" 1939-42 were a Polish inmate,  Henryk Sokolak taught Polish youths.[Only the German language had to be spoken and learned, once the code "fifteen" was mentioned (which in military jargon meant rest) they spoke Polish, if danger approached the code was "achtzehn"(eighteen) which meant danger and they reverted back to German sic].
Among the more serious examples of political and human solidarity in the camp was the spontaneous assistance that includes the 2000 Soviet prisoners of war who arrived starved and in a ragged condition during  October 1941 at Buchenwald, because this took place against the express orders of the SS and despite the threatened severe penalties, Josef Schubauer, Kurt Leonhardt and Kurt Wabbel took actions. Three prominent political block elder, whom the SS had ordered to refrain from any contact with prisoners of war were then publicly punished with 25 lashes to their naked buttocks, and subsequently transferred and assigned to the work commando at the quarry. The political prisoners lost their position as camp elders and the SS appointed a communist and convict Joseph Ohles.

To be published  end December-January 2012
as Part 5

Herbert Stolpmann

New Zealand
December 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

BUCHENWALD KZ 1937-1945 Part 3


The entire life in the concentration camp was organized systematically in terms of largely potential cruelty. The detention camp should not cause the rapid death of the prisoners, but an agonizing procedure of breaking their spirit and total obedience. In addition to systematic atrocities in everyday life, the hard work and misery of the diet had the desired results. Clothing and housing and the so-called disciplinary and penal system, which had been developed at Esterwegen 1933/34 for the Dachau concentration camp and later introduced at all other encampments was applied and took a special role. During an interrogation the former camp commander Pister stated, "... all forms of punishment are  laid down in the regulation of concentration camps." According to these regulations prisoners had to be reported via a written message, which led to the determination of punishment. Already there was a gray area of arbitrarily and immediate reprisals that each SS-man, but also Kapos, block leaders and inspectors from the camp elders downwards could and would use at their "pleasure". These included harassment and punishment of standing at the gate building, where there were constant beatings, punishment of standing for hours at roll call, punitive measures like "sports" as the SS called the crawling, jumping and racing by prisoners on the parade ground. Particularly feared was the "hanging tree" (Baumhängen) in which the prisoner was tied by the hands bound behind the trunk above the ground and often stuck there until the arms jumped out of the joints and slowly after excruciating pain would loose conciseness .(see picture of Kurt Franz sic)

Punishment Order by Camp Commandant Karl Koch dtd. 29.4.38. to collectively withhold "Mittagessen" Lunch Meal on 1st May, for the entire camp. He gives his reason that inmates had recently stolen radishes as well as chive from the nursery . He added in his own handwriting that this "Announcement be made Lunchtime May 1st."
The remaining criminal reports that still exist  have shown that virtually any act which arose out of ones own initiative could be classified as rebellion or sabotage, ranging from failure to follow the greeting rules, dress codes and other rules of conduct, through the exchange of food, the natural production of vital goods and garments to the illicit eating and smoking, relieve yourselves to an unauthorized time,/[ yes, you guessed it, wet your pants or worse still have bowl movement  while standing at attention sic]/  such banalities followed more  serious offenses such as stealing bread, trying to escape or resistance to comply with an order resulting to more serious punishment. The sentence, the decision depended on  the commandant of the camp considering  mainly  the position of the affected inmate in the hierarchy of the camp, then on the severity of the offense and, finally, the number of already implemented punishments, which were recorded in the file.
The torture was multiplied with repeated offenses . Thus, the 16 year old Polish boy Kasimier Klusek did steal out of pure need,  for this he received 5 lashes, during the end of 1941 and as a further punishment he was transferred  into Stafkompanie (penal company), then he received another 10 lashes, and the last on 12th December 1941 with 25 strokes on the whipping block. Two weeks later he died.
Jewish prisoners at the mercy of the SS frequently punished the entire Jewish work detail (Arbeitskommando) or the whole barracks. Extra (Strafarbeit) punishment-work during the non-working hours and on Sundays was in the early years the preferred type of harassment by the SS. The prisoners had to do mostly demeaning or do heavy work especially within  the time and during the years of the building projects within the camp or in the nursery. Even the withdrawal of food, could be extended to all groups and was implemented by the SS especially in the period of commander Koch as a punishment. On May 1, 1938, for example, the food for the entire camp for lunch was withheld to emphasize the/[excuse sic] because supposedly the radishes had been stolen from the nursery. The allocated monetary allowance as net profits of such hungry days flowed directly into Koch's pocket.
The public beating of prisoners was now common occurrence on, and during work. For the purpose of corporal punishment, the SS had a wooden  frame specifically made, the so-called BLOCK whose function it was to shackle the prisoner's legs and torso. The official criminal regulations stipulated some 5 to 25 blows, and frequently the number increased arbitrary during punishments. Regularly at the evening roll calls beatings was performed by an SS guard, usually by the"Bunker Head", Martin Sommer,he beat his victims before the assembly of inmates with a leather strap on the bare buttocks. For the tortured this was attributable to the deep humiliation and shame, furthermore resulting usually in open, bleeding wounds, which healed only after weeks. For the second half of 1938 the names of 241 prisoners are known to have had beatings on the BLOCK.

Punishment sheet for Czeslaus P.......His offense:" Despite strictly forbidden he cut blankets and sacks /(Hessian sic)/ into pieces and made chest and neck warmers out of them. P. therefore committed sabotage of state property". He was sentenced to 15 lashes. He was a Polish political prisoner
Note : The charge sheet is very detailed and precise,/(a typical German habit sic) /even the doctor had to examine him if he could withstand and receive his punishment. Other Officers signed and authorized as it applied to their Departments and had to put their own written name as witnesses to the lashings. Who apparently performed the punishment was SS-Scharführer Sommer the Hangman of Buchenwald. /[I deviate here from the original and cite a resume of Martin Sommer sic]

[WALTER GERHARD MARTIN SOMMER was an SS Hauptscharführer (master sergeant) who served as a guard at the concentration camps of Dachau and Buchenwald. Sommer, known as the "Hangman of Buchenwald" was considered a depraved sadist who reportedly ordered two Austrian priests, Otto Neururer and Mathias Spannlang, crucified upside-down.
In 1943 Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler appointed SS judge Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen to investigate charges of cruelty and corruption at the Buchenwald camp. Due to his excessive brutality and sadism, Sommer was indicted and tried before Morgen. Commandant Karl Koch and his wife Ilse Koch were also put on trial.
According to Morgen, Sommer had a secret compartment underneath the floor under his desk. He kept his private instruments of torture concealed within this compartment such as the needles he used to kill his victims after he was done torturing them, he would inject them with carbolic acid, or inject air into their veins causing their death by embolism. On occasions, after private late night torture sessions Sommer would hide his victim's bodies under his bed until he could dispose of them in the morning.
Among his acts of depravity were beating a German pastor, hanging him naked outside in the winter then throwing buckets of water on him and letting him freeze to death. On another occasion Sommer beat a Catholic priest to death for performing the Sacrament of Penance for a fellow inmate.
After the SS trial Sommer received a reduction in rank and was sentenced to a penal battalion fighting on the Eastern Front where he was wounded in a tank explosion, losing his left arm and right leg. He was taken captive by the Red Army and was detained as as P.O.W. until 1950 when his prisoner status was changed and upgraded to war criminal. He was released from Soviet captivity in 1955 as part of the negotiations conducted on behalf of Soviet held German prisoners by Konrad Adenauer.
After his release he returned to West Germany where he married, fathered a child and filed for and received a pension for his service related disabilities. He escaped punishment for his crimes until 1957, when he was indicted for complicity in the death in 101 concentration camp inmates. In July 1958 in Bayreuth district court in West Germany where he was ultimately convicted of 25 deaths and received a life sentence. Upon appeal the case was upheld in May 1959 by the Federal Court. He died in 1988. sic]

"Martin Sommer picture taken 1935
After the flogging this often led the way directly into the "penal company". With almost tighter confinement in the punishment company, which existed from 1937 until early 1944, the SS punished those more often what they termed repeated violations of their own system or "regimental"  regime. Prisoners of the category "race defilers" and homosexuals as well as part of recidivist (second timers) prisoners remained there until their deaths. 1942/43, on average, 400 inmates were in the Strafkompanie (Penal Company)and an average of 190 prisoners in the "K- Company" which was established in October 1939 as a special department for criminal prisoners who were considered "war saboteurs". The inmates of the penal departments worked mostly in the quarry and in the nursery  under the worst possible conditions, longer than any others, with shorter breaks and as well on Sundays, so that they were working in the truest sense of the word until death released them of their misery.  In addition, they were not allowed to receive any money from their next of kin, just write a letter once a quarter, received reduced meals, were isolated from the rest of the camp and constantly harassed and cruelly  mistreated. The "K Company" by orders of the commander had daily punishment drills devised for some time after the evening roll call for two hours./[This  type of treatment is nothing new to me and it seems to have prevailed right  through the SS hierarchy outside KZ camps, I had SS-Instructors during my military training and was exposed to chicaneries, to give only one example, I was fastidious in washing my feet before going to bed, but was pulled up for being dirty, so the entire platoon was punished and we all had to run double quick into another building barefoot through the snow to wash our feet again sic/]   

The Punishment Block- Note this is a reconstruction and not the original Block, which was disposed off by commandant Pister during 1944, who had it burned
Even worse than the penal company was the arrest in the cells of the "bunker" where SS guard Martin Sommer ruled unhindered until early 1943, and usually without witnesses, he  sadistically tortured prisoners to death., he hanged them at the grill-bars, or killed them by injections of phenol or air. The official catalog of punishments for prison sentences was from 3 to 42 days in the cell, singly or in groups, in a standing position during the day, without an opportunity for sitting, in a dark cell, and generally on bread and water, this describes what was not nearly the level of all the cruelty that prevailed in the "bunker "
.Sommer tormented purely by personal inclination or tortured by order of the commander or officers of the Gestapo-"Political Department". As with the evangelical pastor Paul Schneider 1938/39 or the Communists Rudolf Opitz, 1939,  the whole camp had to witness the agonizing procedure of dying in the "bunker". Similarly, there was the sudden disappearances of detainees without ever seeing them again. About the circumstances surrounding the death of the Austrian priest Otto Neururer there is only oral testimony.
Buchenwald was the first concentration camp in which the death penalty was executed in public.On the 4th June 1938, they hanged on the parade ground after an escape and  recaptured the prisoners Emil Bargatzky, and  on the 21st  December Peter Forster. During  their joint escape, they had killed an SS man and were in due course by a special court in Weimar sentenced to death. From 1941, the executions usually took place in the crematorium

In the special camps that were built by the SS in 1938 and 1939 on the parade ground, it was here that the type of terror reached its most extreme forms, since it first arose after the anti-Jewish pogroms of 9 / 10 November 1938. On the orders of the Chief of the SD, Reinhard Heydrich the security police arrested in the following days all over Germany about 30,000 Jewish men and deported 26,000 to concentration camps. The aim was that they should be forced to abandon their property and to quickly leave the country. Between the10th and 14th November 9.828 Jews arrived in the concentration camp of Buchenwald.
The pogrom special camp, which was located from November 1938 to February 1939 west of the parade ground, and consisted of five barn-like temporary barracks, the barracks were numbered in Roman numericals from  I-A to V-A. This special zone was separated from the rest of other accommodations by barbed wire. Situated on about 10,000 square meters on a flat area next to the temporary barracks were two open latrines and a smaller building, which held the laundry provisionally until the middle of 1938. The temporary barracks resembled nothing like the usual prisoner accommodations. There was no separation between sleeping quarters and the living area, with no medical facilities, no heating, no windows and not even a foundation. There was only the bare ground which the rain had turned into mud. About the size and specification there are a number of different statements.
All extremes of the concentration camp Buchenwald, the narrowness, the water shortage and the SS-terror multiplied in the days after 10th November 1938 within the Special Zone. Although many of the detainees were quickly released again, under the provision to surrender their property and emigrate from Germany.  9,400 had been set free by early 1939, yet terror, hunger and disease to February 1939 had taken  252 lives.

Letter dated 21.12.38 from Klara Kaufmann to the Gestapo in Frankfurt am Main asking the where abouts of her husband. The SS in Buchenwald could not find Moritz Kaufmann. He was listed as an "unknown dead" cremated at the crematorium at Weimar, and recorded as an unknown deceased person. At a later stage a clerk found at the Weimar Registrar's Office, headed "Unknown Dead" an entry under the name M. Kaufmann died 18.11.1938.

On 7th September 1939 Heydrich directed  the detention of Jews of Polish origin. Thousands of so-called Eastern Jews were arrested and interned in Vienna in a sports stadium. 1.035 of them were deported to Buchenwald in early October. When they arrived at the camp, the SS had already begun the construction of the Special Zone. The first inmates were 110 Poles that arrived at the end of September in the camp were the SS tortured them to death over a period of several weeks.
The SS called them (Heckenschützen) "Bromberg snipers." This was a complex constructions of NS propaganda, as they relate to events in Bromberg (Bydgoszcz) at the outbreak of the war. On September 3, 1939, upon the withdrawal of Polish troops there were shootings and civilians were casualties in which as a consequence some of the German minority living there were also killed. The NS propaganda spread  the concept of "Bromberg Bloody Sunday". This was synonymous with the allegation of mass crimes of the Polish population of the German minority. The number of victims was estimated several times over. The exaggeration of the number and the rumor of the alleged murder that the Poles had committed served as a justification for a brutal retaliation and as a pretext for the expulsion of Poles from areas that fell to Poland after the Versailles Treaty in 1919. The NS propaganda unleashed by the hysteria surrounding the "Bromberg Bloody Sunday" that led to the destruction of the first incoming Polish prisoners in Buchenwald. They were kept in cage-like kennels made of boards and barbed wire and was blocked,(called the Rose Garden Kennels). There, they were left to starve and freeze unprotected against the encroaching cold. Only one of them survived the winter.[I did see the news reel "Bromberg Bloody Sunday" several times over as a youngster, aged 11, and believed every word of it, as this was our original ancestral land and some had remained there, only later did I found out that it was staged and professional actors had been used to make the film. sic]
The Special Zone, according to witness reports had an area of ​​100 by 200 meters, surrounded by a double barbed wire fence, by a height of eight feet. One sector was a parade ground, and another, as the entire area soon filled with excrement and waste was intended for those who could not appear for roll call. Still moribund, they were thrown into this enclosure. Not far away was the latrine, a brick-lined pit of six meters long by two meters wide.
In a wooden shack and four large tents, the SS herded the 1,035 Jews from Vienna including children under 18 years, and old men over 85 years and some 2,000 temporary Poles into these types of accommodations. At the end of October 1939 there was an outbreak of dysentery in the tents. Forced labor had to be abandoned . From the 2nd November all entering and leaving of the the camp came under the special punishment provision. On November 4th , there was an exemplary public flogging of one in ten inmates taken at random because the ban had been violated. From the 9th November all camp food was withdrawn completely on several consecutive days, affecting the Jewish prisoners. The SS reduced the rations of non-workers from the normal 200 to 300 grams of bread daily, to165 and even as low as100 grams, the soup ration which consisted of 1 liter was reduced to 3 / 4 of a liter without potatoes and vegetables. The square which was sealed off from the rest of camp has to be considered  the site of the first mass deaths of Jews and Poles in the Buchenwald concentration camp, having all the features of a premeditated mass murder. Within three months,  under conditions of the terror and  hunger about four hundred Viennese Jews, over one hundred Polish Jews and approximately three hundred Poles, that is about 40 percent of the inmates that died. A total of probably only one third after the closure of the special camp in February 1940 have survived.

Special Index Card used for inmates of the Pogrom Camp 1938. It is clearly marked JUDE  the German word for Jew. In this case Hermann Nathan was taken into custody according to "Jew Action dated 10.11.38 on that same day by the Kassel Authorities and was transferred to Buchenwald one day later. His stay was short as he was released on December 7th 1938, he was married with two children. His religion is given as "mos" meaning he is a son of Moses.

Maltreatment were everywhere on the agenda, but one job was simply considered  as hell: the quarry. There, most of the prisoners had to survive their first few weeks, and that's where  the penal companies worked. In the first months of the camp's construction there were two quarries, one of which was closed by  the SS in 1937 because of a lack of sufficient quality, (a poor grade) and output. The second quarry recovered only  limestone and was not, as planned suitable to sell to the Weimar construction companies, but served only as  gravel packing for roads or for the foundations of the buildings on the Ettersberg hill itself. This was also one reason that the SS showed minimal  interest in the economy of that quarry. Until the war years, she sat there, not one machine was ever used but left all the stone-work and breaking of boulders, and pulling of carts loaded from the quarry, the carrying of stones to the  body strength of the inmates.
From 1941 to 1942 Johann Herzog was one of many Foreign Legionnaires  who were imprisoned as political prisoners in Buchenwald and became a  Kapo in the quarry. As a 17 year old he had volunteered for the French Foreign Legion and served until the mid-30s, among others in Algiers, Morocco, Indochina and was taken upon arrival in Germany into "protective custody". In May 1939 he was transferred to Buchenwald, where he received in 1940 (a professional  bricklayer) the position as buyer for the camp store, and rose as a Kapo for an external command  and later as a Kapo in the quarry, where he acquired the reputation of special cruelty towards Jewish prisoners, Intellectuals  and clergy by beating the prisoners, who had to pull the daily 50 heavily-laden carts from the sole of the quarry  with sticks and shovel handles, until they broke. In July he struck at a Catholic Priest until he was lifeless before his "Kapo-shed" and let him lie there.  A dysentery Pole, he drove with blows into the outer cordon where he was shot by the guards. At the end of 1942 the Gestapo released him from the camp.

The Quarry during 1943, in the background the buildings of the SS Garrisons

The quarry was a favorite place of the SS to murder inmates during "Fluchtversuch" (Killed during escape). On the 9th November 1939, the SS shot 21 Jewish prisoners in retaliation for the assassination attempt against Hitler in Munich Bürgerbräukeller.[/The attempt actually took place on November 8th 1939 as Hitler had brought for some reasons his speech forward, this was one reason why the second device that should have killed him did not go off in time which was initiated by Johann Georg Elser:: see comment below sic/] When, after the murder it was found that the shooting was not done on orders from above, a number of SS men rejected, to register as a shooter in the "Flight Logs". Then Koch held a survey among the others who still wanted to  sign. It reported more "shooters" as inmates that were murdered. The report of the International Camp Committee from 1945 states the following about the SS commando leaders responsible for quarry activities:[I have avoided eye witness comments as it is often stated that these are made to revenge and thus purely hearsay, but gladly provide them if requested sic]

"Master Sergeant (Hauptscharführer) Blank, was one of the worst mass murderer of Buchenwald. Because of his command and his active help to others, the following people were shot during "Escape Attempts": The former Austro Justice Minister Winterstein. When Blank asked him to go towards the cordon, the latter asked him whether he could justify this because of the risks, well, Blank answered this with kicks. Winterstein lit a cigarette and smoking walked into the cordon posts. With the former Communist Reichstag Deputy Werner Scholen, Blank walked and talked for ten minutes with him amicably, then he shot him from the side with his revolver. The former Captain  Stahl was due to a special order of Blank's also pushed into the cordon who shattered his skull  with a dum-dum bullet. The political prisoner Rudi Arndt, who had 12 years in prison and concentration camps behind him, was due to a denunciation from convicted criminal Jews betrayed that he had illegally operated political discussions in the camp, also shot in the quarry on initiative of Blank.
Next was Hauptscharführer Hinkelmann an important figure in this bloody drama. He ran around constantly drunk, had a hysterical feminine voice and performed the worst business and shenanigans with the prisoners. On his account lay the deaths of many hundreds of people who had to carry all day long stones on the run to their destination. One of his favorite sayings was sneeringly to the harried beaten bloody victims with a grin: "Run faster then you're on target sooner." He, who was constantly in a drunken condition, was nothing less than a genius in inventing tortures. Hinkelmann forced old people to climb a pine tree, be sure to shake it until the poor fellow accompanied by Hinkelmann satanic laughter came tumbling down, and usually broke their necks or were admitted seriously injured into the hospital, where they died after a few days.
Under Hinkelmann's direction he had columns of stone porters carry for three weeks on the run, rocks from the stone quarry to the horse stables. The construction of this short 300-400 m
eters long road that was under construction costs 23 dead. "

As a Jew and a Communist, Sholem as immediately arrested after the seizure of power by the Nazis in 1933, held in "preventative custody" until he was deported to Buchenwald in 1938. He was part of a group of former Reichstag members held at Buchenwald, whose prominent status afforded them some degree of protection. However, in 1940, the SS singled out Scholem and another Jewish ex-Reichstag member, Ernst Heilmann, for execution; Heilmann was killed by injection, and Scholem was shot by Hauptscharführer Blank.sic/]

Elser was arrested by chance at 20:45, about 35 minutes before the bomb exploded, by the customs border police in Konstanz when he tried to cross the border into Switzerland. At first the officers did not suspect his involvement in the assassination attempt, but then they found picture postcards from the Bürgerbräukeller in Elser's coat. Elser was transferred to Munich, where he was interrogated by the Gestapo. Elser remained silent and denied any involvement in the explosion, but the evidence pointing to his complicity became increasingly clear. What finally pointed to Elser as the would-be assassin were his bruised, scraped knees. As it turned out, the hollow space in the column where the explosives had been hidden could only have been reached by an assassin crawling on his knees. Waitresses then identified Elser as a frequent patron of the Bürgerbräukeller, and he eventually confessed.
After his confession to the crime in Munich, Elser was taken to the headquarters of the German Reich's security agency in Berlin, where he was severely tortured by the Gestapo. The SS chief Heinrich Himmler was not satisfied that a diminutive Swabian, a craftsman with a grade-school education, could have almost managed to assassinate the Führer without accomplices. The protocol from the Gestapo was recovered at the end of the 1960s. This 203 page document is the most important source of information about Georg Elser. He was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps. Although he consistently claimed to have been acting on his own, the Nazis, especially Goebbels persisted in suspecting a British-led conspiracy, and intended to stage a trial exposing this alleged plot after the war. Elser was kept in special custody. The mystery about the identity of this "special security prisoner" sometimes led to malicious rumors among his fellow inmates. Even after the war, Martin Niemöller, also in custody at Sachsenhausen, claimed that Elser had been a member of the SS and that the whole assassination attempt had been staged by the Nazis to portray Hitler as being protected by Providence. However, historical research  has confirmed that Elser acted completely alone, and no evidence involving the regime, or any outside group has been found.
Elser was killed by gunshot on 9 April 1945, in the Dachau concentration camp, just a few weeks before the end of war. A plaque dedicated to his memory in Königsbronn says:
“ I wanted to prevent even greater bloodshed through my deed "

Commemorative postage stamp of Georg Elser-Briefmarke
Damage done in the Bürgerbräukeller,
PS: After the assassination attempt Hitler used the expression "Die Vorsehung" implying, GOD meant  him to lead the German people to final victory during his numerous speeches throughout the war and brought a number of doubters into his orbit, including high church officials, that blessed and graced our weapons.


 "Wohin haben Sie geschossen?"
 "Auf den Hinterkopf."

 "Which way did you shoot?"
 "Behind the head."

SS-man Horst Dittrich
Herbert Stolpmann

New Zealand
December 2011