Saturday, October 26, 2013


The purpose of the camp at Vaivara was to gain the widest possible exploitation of prison labour , and avoid the deaths of larger groups of able-bodied prisoners before the German Retreat . For the period from October 1943 to June 1944 Dr. Bodmann registered 1506 deaths in all camps , with a peak of 296 in November , 294 in December and a third lower figure of 245 in March 1944. This means that more than one-sixth of  the camp inmates had diseases , suffered from individual abuse and the targeted elimination of sick people that were killed . Among the deportation from Lithuania there were many old and weak people and children. Even in his report of October 25, 1943 Dr. Bodmann wrote that mainly ' old Jews [ ...] that could not endure the changing conditions [ ...] would die , or those who had never worked physically in their lives . The removal of these prisoners 'relieved  a burden on the entire Vaivara Concentration Camp'.  This does not mean that all prisoners died of natural causes , Bodmann did visit sub-camps (Außenlager) regularly for the purpose of selections to an entirely different method of killings , which were then carried out by the medical staff . ' Abspritzen ' by injections was routine. [ Dworzecki , himself a prisoner doctor , describes the most common  characteristics within the camp system , in: Histoire , page 213f . Into the hospital grounds, only prisoners with high fever, by order of the Camp Leader were admitted  , ibid , page 221, sic ] About the attending  medical staff , former prisoners did speak with horror and disgust. A special despicable figure represented the medical orderly Erich Scharfetter who ruled in many camps because of its function as Disinfector . He cut his victim 's throat and pierced it with a pickaxe . Rumours of these crimes appear to have spread throughout the Lagersystem , Scharfetter was labelled as a ' Kirkennik ' (expression similar to the pickaxe ) [He was sentenced to life in prison by a German Court, for the murder of at least 21 inmates during his service in the camp. The date of his death is unknown, sic]
Children and those unable to work had been grouped in special parts of the camps , first in Vaivara, and later on in Ereda. The separation of children from their parents, many witnesses described as one of the most terrible events of the camp's existence. Dr. Bodmann saw the presence of children as a burden on the camp system and it's administration. The conditions in the 'lower camp' in Ereda where children and sick had to stay, were especially primitive. In rare cases, children were born in the camp, which were then drowned or suffocated by medical personnel. About the killings of the new-born in the affected camps was the topic conversation between inmates.  [Women from Hungary, where the extermination of Jews began in 1944, some arrived that were frequently pregnant, testimony Sara S., 29.5.1974, in:. BArch Ludwigsburg, B 162 / 5134, sic]
Twice, larger groups of prisoners were deported. In February 1944, 907 old and sick prisoners and 184 children according to Bodmanns report were sent to the Riga concentration camp, which was equated with subsequent death by the prisoners. A mother, however, who had insisted to accompany their child, testified that the transport went to Auschwitz. In April 1944, 500 people, including children from Ereda, were deported and taken over by the SD (Sicherheitsdienst). Bodmanns reports, that in both cases Riga and Auschwitz were mentioned as destinations for these transports.
At the turn of 1943/44, a typhus epidemic broke out in many of the sub-camps (Außenlager), the medical staff tried to overcome the problem by boiling drinking water and control the spread of vermin and lice. Measures for delousing of barracks and people were generally part of the daily life in Vaivara. Much of the methods applied appear to be more barbaric than efficient. However, the SS-Administrator commended Aumeier highly for having shown Initiative in combating the typhus epidemic. In all camps, there were cremation facilities, mostly in the spatial distance from the camp in the woods, and sometimes within factories.
Apart from the systematic killing of the sick and weak,  certain members of the camp SS committed individual deeds in excess . They showed the same type of behaviour in all the camps in which they were stationed. Kurt Pannicke, born in 1917 and therefore still very young at the material time, distinguished himself by a curious mixture of personal familiarity with the prisoners and godlike omnipotence. He knew many prisoners personally and conversed with them, involved individuals in embezzlement and barter, he led them on the march to work, singing Yiddish songs and spoke at the same time that he could assume full power over 'his' prisoners at will: 'My Jews I'll shoot myself '.  A witness reported the following about Pannicke: 'As long as he was humane (menschlich), nothing happened, but if he felt like an SS man, then we wanted to take cover, as it could be the end'. The prisoners gave Pannicke the name 'Tormentor'. Ernst Runde, a medical orderly adopted the cynical and arrogant form of address towards the prisoners with 'Meine Herren' (Gentlemen), which became his nickname.  A young girl relates an incident with another camp leader: 'He told me once, to clean his boots, but he was not standing still on one spot, I had to crawl on my knees behind and around him and got kicked repeatedly by him on my head, obviously, I had done my task very badly '.[Statement Sara M.,9.6.1966, in ibid , Vol.22, sic]
Characteristic was the senseless transition of camp discipline into sadism. The usual corporal punishment in the camps could lead to the death of the victim. Various camp leaders led a chicanery as to the so called 'Sports Activity', performing absurd forced exercises on the roll-call court like squats, leap-frogging, 'duck walk' and the 'caps-on-and-off-drill'. Who was unfavourably noticed during these 'exercises' or 'sporting activities', was in danger of being abused or killed by the SS. Such an orgy of violence was the kinky behaviour by an SS-man called Runde. Still in a post-war interrogation he called it proudly as 'Remmi-Demmi' (racket-row) . He was frequently reported in cases of ill-treatment and killing of prisoners, his favourite 'hobby' was searching the pockets of inmates for hidden food. Here again, another perpetrator was often named as Helmut Schnabel. In all the camps were he was posted, he was constantly patrolling and immediately pounced on prisoners, which he caught in violation of any, of the peculiar rules. A statement at the post war trial in Hechingen, it shows that Schnabel's attitude had not changed significantly after the war. Schnabel commented on the news of the death of a Jewish woman from Ereda (which he is supposed to have been intimate with) by saying that it had touched him, however, If he had known that, he would rather shot her himself '. [Testimony Anton M., 01.23.1976, in: BArch Ludwigsburg, B 162/5136. The German witness had nothing but good things to say about Schnabel and seems to have even considered this, Schnabel's comment, as positive sic] Others like Aumeier was tried in Poland in 1948 and executed.  In 1951, the Soviets tried a number of Estonian auxiliaries. Brenneis was killed at the end of the war. Dr. Bodmann committed suicide in May 1945. Pannicke disappeared after the war. Schnabel was sentenced in Germany to life imprisonment in 1977. Ernst Runde, received 5 years imprisonment. Others were indicted but not tried, due to their failing health.
There were two waves of camp evacuations from east to west, this meant the prisoners were subjected twice to the strains of the evacuation marches. Only rarely was any type of transportation provided, usually the prisoners had to overcome long distances on foot, without enough footwear, clothing or food. Many fell victim to exhaustion, those who could not go on, were killed. Dr. Bodmann listed distances, which were to be  covered in bad weather from Vaivara on the 4th and 5th of February, 1944: 'Marching route to Kivioli about 60 km, to Ereda 45 km, 28 km up to Jewe, about 50 km to Glodfields. Marching time approximately 3 days. losses of 44 dead prisoners'. Some evacuation plans for March 1944 have been preserved, the situation is complicated by the fact that different organizations for different groups of prisoners were responsible for the move. The armed forces (Wehrmacht) were responsible for the prisoners of war, the civilian companies for their own employees and the SS for concentration camp inmates. Jews and Soviet prisoners of war were treated the worst. One of the unrealized plans envisaged to have 5,000 Jewish prisoners march from the east of Estonia, via Ereda, Kohtla and Kivioli to Riga, the route to be taken was estimated at three weeks. Even to the planners it was clear that this would encounter great difficulties because of the failing food provision. [Miniralölkommando Estonia reported to he German Army Group, Russia-North, 5/03/1944, in ERA, R 187/1/67: An evacuation of 5,000 prisoners did not take place at this time. There are transfers to Riga, as far as can be seen but not by foot. What is missing from all groups of prisoners the direction they took, so that nothing can be verified. sic]
The final German retreat in the summer of 1944 was complicated by a number of contradictory statements of Hitler forbidding the evacuation, but then approved it. The prisoners were brought to the western parts of the country, and partly loaded onto ships, some were imprisoned again in part due to lack of shipping space, back into the same camps of Lagedi and Klooga. Former detainees reported ill-treatment and brutality of the SS even during the voyage. Other prisoners were taken to the Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig, many of them subsequently to other camps. A portion found themselves in camps like Natzweiler, where also oil-shale was mined, as in Schörzingen, Schoenberg, Dormettingen, and Dautmergen.
But not all prisoners were deported. Probably on, or about July 20, 1944, Dr. Bodmann undertook a special rigorous selection in all camps. Witnesses said they were a '10%-selection '. The selectees were loaded onto trucks and taken away. At this time the prisoners were very suspicious and no longer believed in the relocation to another camp, so it was agreed in several camps with the deportees, that, if possible, they should give some indication, what had happened. Coming back on the trucks, they then not only found bloodstained clothes, but inscriptions of the victims that they had to look forward to an execution at Ereda. The total SS personnel that took part in these actions and returned back with bloodstained uniforms and and very intoxicated. Members of the OT were able to observe on, or about July 24, 1944 from a shaft tower in Ereda the mass shootings: 'The picture that was offered to us there, was so beastly and unimaginably cruel and terrible that we were both of us disgusted' (ekelten) . [Testimony Francis L., 4/17/1965, in: BArch Ludwigsburg, B 162/5117. Another witness: Franz S., 21/01/1976, and Heinrich G., 22.01.1976, in: ibid, B 162/5136, sic]

The last mass shootings took place at Lagedi and Klooga. On the18th September, the inmates were allegedly 'evacuated' from the camp Lagedi by truck, but killed in truth in a forest clearing. [The Central Office in Cologne in their initiated proceedings established a figure of 426 victims at Lagedi, refer: Central Office in Cologne, 24 Js 18/71 Z sic] The following day, the members of all work detail detachments from Laoküla were taken to Klooga, this area was sealed off with the help of 20 members of the Waffen-SS Division under the command  of the Training and Replacement Unit, under the command of Georg Ahlemann. An additional firing squad consisting of members of the squads of the Security Police of Estonia, which came from Reval. It is not clear who led on this day this Detachment because many members of the Concentration Camp Vaivara Administration were already present by midday  in Klooga. [There are very different informations about the origin of the firing squad, and the most credible appears to be the testimony of the cook of the Marine Unit in Klooga, who was also responsible for meals to the SS and OT. According to him, they arrived in the late morning, it was a 20-25 man strong command, all German-speaking individuals (which would exclude the Estonian guard company of any participation) all members of the Security Police of Klooga, for whom he had to cook as well, and then took part in the shootings, witness testimony William F ., 07/12/1966. In: Ludwigsburg BArch, B 162/5123, sic] Camp leader of Klooga at this time was William Werle, but who claimed that the higher ranking Administrative Leader Otto Brenneis had commanded the action. The prisoners were led in small groups from the camp and shot on  cremation pyres built beforehand and in an adjacent area. The corpses were set on fire later on by a detachment from Laoküla. Gradually, inmates, which were on the roll call square became restless, the sound of gunfire then triggered a panic and some started to flee. Slightly more than a hundred prisoners managed to remain in hiding until the Red Army arrived a few days later, some managed to escape from underneath the corpses as well. [I could not find in any German Court Investigations at Ludwigsburg as to the exact figure of the Klooga massacre, which is claimed to be a rather high figure. According to Soviet historiography, approximately 2,000 were shot, then their bodies were stacked onto wooden pyres and burned. Estonian Police Battalion 287 tried to defend prisoners and had a clash with the German unit. Soviet historiography is the methodology of history studies by historians in the Soviet Union (USSR). In the USSR, the study of history was marked by alternating periods of freedom allowed and restrictions imposed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), and also by the struggle of historians to conduct history by their own estimates (or in their own words, "to guard against bourgeois historiography"). Soviet historiography in itself should be read with a certain amount of scepticism. Soviet historiography was affected by extreme ideological bias, and potentially compromised by the deliberate distortions and omissions as well as exaggeration.  Nevertheless I include the Soviet version of events HKS]

State Archives of the Russian Federation. Fund 7021. List 97. File 17a. Pages 95. Original. Typescript. 32 DOCUMENT 8 Report about atrocities of Nazis and their Estonian accomplices against prisoners of the Klooga concentration camp  September 29, 1944:

We, the undersigned, attest hereby that after the liberation of the Harjumaa  Uyezd (Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic) by the Red Army, near the Klooga railway station that is 38 km to the west of Tallinn, we found a concentration camp organized by fascist invaders and transformed by them in to a death camp. By [our] personal survey of the camp and its vicinities, by evidence of the survived prisoners of the camp and stories of local residents we determined the following:
The concentration camp in Klooga was organized in September, 1943, as a camp for  Jews who had been taken out by Germans from the Lithuanian Soviet Republic. The camp in Klooga was included into the system of concentration camps which Germans arranged in Estonia, which was managed from Vaivara (Virumaa Uyezd). Prisoners of the Klooga Camp were exposed to an unbearable routine, irrespective of sex and age. Each prisoner was given a number which was sewed in two places on his clothes: for prevention of flights, women had their hair shaved off, and men had a strip shaved going from the forehead to the nape. Prisoners, including
children (lately there were 84 children in the camp), worked over 12 hours per day, performing heavy labour, for example, railway works, etc. During the year, the prisoners starved. The official daily nutrition rate consisted of 330 grams of bread, 25 grams of inedible margarine, a plate of prison soup (water and 40 grams of groats), a mug of coffee. However, even this ration was not completely maintained, and was partially given to the housekeeping staff of the camp. Owing to such nutrition and monstrous conditions of life in barracks, illnesses with a great mortality percentage raged throughout the camp. The administration of the camp consisted of members of the SS. Works of the prisoners were carried out on demands under the auspices of representatives of the so-called organization "Todt”. Members of the SS and representatives of the “Todt”
that created the unbearable conditions for the prisoners in the camp, carried out a routine of the unbridled arbitrariness, terror, and mockeries. Every day, public flogging of prisoners took place in the camp on a bench specially equipped for it. Depending on the "fault," the following punishments were determined: confinement without food for 2 days, attachment to a column (in the frost, for 2-3 hours), flogging 33 - 25, 50 or 75 strokes, whereas the prisoner being punished was supposed to count the amount of strokes aloud. They were beaten by a special scourge with a steel core. Besides the "legal" punishments, members of the SS and representatives of the “Todt”
carried out systematical beating. Prisoners were beaten on various occasions: for unfriendliness, for revealing a second shirt or a piece of bread. The mockeries were carried out not only by the SS security guards, but also by
the administration of the camp, by authorities of the concentration camp system of Estonia, and representatives of “Tod”. The commandant of management of concentration camps of Estonia Hauptsturmführer BRENNEIZEN would personally beat the captured when he came from Vaivara to Klooga. Before him, his predecessor Hauptsturmführer AUMAIR, organizer of concentration camps in Estonia, would do the same. German doctors participated in beating of the prisoners: Hauptsturmführer BOTMANN, who had arrived to Klooga from Vaivara, personally beat two prisoner doctors: doctor ZILKINDSON – “for unfriendliness” and doctor HEZOV for his having apiece of bread. The same German doctor would regularly poison the diseased, injecting them with poison (Evipan, injected under the skin in (high dozes). Hospital attendant of the camp Untersturmführer GENT has slashed 23 aged prisoners to death with an ax.[in fact he first slit their throats before using a pick ax, sic] Chiefs of the Klooga Camp (till August, 1944 - Obersturmführer BOK, then Obersturmbannführer VERLE) were known as the most malicious executioners who personally beat prisoners on the bench and scoffed them at searches and checks. Representatives of the organization “Todt” did not lag behind in the atrocities from their SS colleagues, also beating, torturing, and killing prisoners. One of the leaders of the organization “Todt” in Estonia Baurat BEIN would beat the confined with an iron rod. Haupttruppführer set dogs on them. Haupttruppführer PSCHESSUNG "specialized" in beating women by a lash. “Todt” members were also engaged in beating of prisoners - Haupttruppführer Ganz KEPPEL and Obertruppführer DUJARDIN. Executioners and sadists – members of the SS and “Todt” were promoted for their villainies, receiving higher ranks and
awards. For example, the SS soldier SCHWARZE, manager of labor works in the  management of concentration camps across Estonia, quickly elevated - from Unterscharführer up to Obersturmbannführer - after he slaughtered a teenager, and the “Todt” member DUJARDIN- from private to Haupttruppführer. Regularly destroying prisoners in the camp by tortures and executions, the camp officials also killed many representatives of the Soviet intelligentsia: doctors, musicians, writers, and lawyers. The following perished in the Klooga Camp : Director of the Philharmonic society in Vilno [Vilnius] conductor Woolf DURMASHKIN; director of technical school in Vilno, engineer SCHWEIBER; historian, author of numerous academic works Herman KRUCK; poet Lejb ROZENTAL; director and writer BOSTOMSKI; director of the tubercular hospital in Vilnius Vladimir POCHTER; outstanding doctors ZALKINDSON, POMERANZ, POMM, HOHEM; and many others. After the Red Army liberated some areas of the Estonian SSR, the management of concentration camps ran from Vaivara to Saku, and then in August, 1944, moved
34 to Klooga where Russian prisoners of war, abducted residents of the Leningrad area, Pskov, Orel, and other cities, and also political prisoners - Estonians, who were earlier contained in the Tallinn prison, were pulled together, being prepared for their mass execution. Having a presentiment of inevitability of their rout in the Baltic and aspiring to cover up traces of their villainies, the Nazi Germans committed a monstrous crime in Klooga on September 19.
On the 19th of September at 8 am, closed cargo motor vehicles arrived to the camp from Tallinn. They brought: 800 Russian POW’s, 700 Estonians - political prisoners, 74 Jews from the Lagedi Camp where Germans just did not have time to destroy them, (there, receding in haste, Germans shot 440 people). At the same time, a vehicle with the SD team – Gestapo members – arrived. At once, Oberscharführer SCHWARZE had started preparing for carnage which was done in the following way:
Prisoners were separated into groups in front of the barracks. One group of the 300 people received a task to prepare firewood. The prisoners were announced that they were going to be evacuated to Germany. However, all of them, seeing strengthened police guarding around them, realized the criminal plan of the Germans. At 14.30, the Germans began the annihilation of prisoners. Most of them were brought out on to a glade behind the camp. Here the prisoners were forced to make four big fires from the firewood that was prepared in advance. The Germans ordered [prisoners] to lie down closely on the first row of logs in rows. Then prisoners were
shot from submachine guns. Then on the first row of corpses the prisoners who expected their turn, put a new row of logs and on hilarities command the laid down prisoners were shot by SS and Gestapo soldiers. When three firewood fires of 8-10 rows of the corpses were ready, the Germans poured their gasoline specially brought here (14 barrels) and lit it. Fires were burning for two and a half days. The base of the fourth fire prepared by the Germans remained untouched as they had no time; it forced the Germans to finish executing the remained prisoners in barracks. The larger group (about 800 people) was destroyed by the Germans in an empty house - a
barrack that consisted of 8 rooms. The guards brought prisoners there one by one and in dark rooms (as the shutters were closed) closely stacked the people on the floor, killing them by shots in the nape. After that the Germans opened the windows, poured gasoline over the corpses and lit the house. From this house, prisoners Abram VAINIK and Gena OKENICKAYA escaped through a window; they pretended dead and then ran.
After finishing with two groups, Germans began to shoot the last set of prisoners. With submachine guns in their hands, they ran into a barrack where were Russians and Estonians brought by the Germans, among whom were women with babies. Having turned the prisoners' backs upon them, Germans shot them in turn in the nape. Everyone who tried to escape from the carnage were shot by the Germans, and only 84 people managed to save themselves, hiding under plank beds and in attics.
On the scene of the crime, accomplished by fascists, we found:
• Remnants of three big fires with remains of scorched corpses;
• Ashes of a burnt-down house - a barrack with 8 rooms with a heap of burnt bones and corpses;
• A barrack filled up with corpses of the shot prisoners, which the Germans had no time to burn;
• A great number of corpses laid in the territory of the camp and near the place of the massacre (many corpses have traces of scorches, significance of the Germans' burning  people alive). During one day, on September 19,       1944, in the Klooga Camp, by estimates of the escaped prisoners and local residents, 3, 000 people were destroyed, including:
• 800 Russian prisoners of war and abducted Soviet citizens;
• 700 Estonian political prisoners;
• 1500 Jewish prisoners of the concentration camp.
In the area of the Klooga railway station the second camp is located in which the Germans contained 6, 000 people. Abducted Soviet citizens who were also intended to be executed and which survived owing to the prompt approach of the Red Army.
Organizers and executors of the monstrous villainy accomplished by the Germans on 9/19/1944, and also central for the crimes regularly committed in the Klooga Camp, are:
Hauptsturmführer AUMAIR, Hauptsturmführer BRENNEISEN,
Hauptsturmführer BOTMAN, Hauptsturmführer KREBSBACH, Oberscharführer
SCHWARZE, Oberscharführer HELVIT, Oberscharführer BOK, Oberscharführer
VERLE, Oberscharführer GENT, Baurat WEIN, Haupttruppführer SCHTAHE,
Haupttruppführer Hans KEPPEL, Haupttruppführer PSCHESUNG, Obertruppführer

Representatives of the Red Army: Lieutenant Colonel P. IVANOV, Major A.DIMSCHIZ,
Captain O. PYARN, Senior Lieutenant A. FETISOV
Citizens of the Estonian SSR: Railwayman Y. HIEPU, Peasant M. JEGE, E. KUNGER
Witnesses, former prisoners of the camp:
Former prisoner # 225, lawyer L. OLEYSKI
Former prisoner # 818, bookkeeper N. ANOLIK
Former prisoner #2, engineer [...]
Former prisoners #0566, nurse G. OLKENITSKAYA
Former prisoner # 0556, dressmaker L. DERCHIN
State Archives of the Russian Federation. Fund 7021. List 97. File 17a. Pages 3-11. Copy. Typescript. 36 DOCUMENT 9

After the reincorporation of Estonia into the Soviet Union, the Vaivara complex at Klooga and Ereda became part of the memorization of World War II by the Soviet authorities, which was characterized by a mixture of memories of the victims of the German occupation and became legitimized by Soviet rule. In the newly independent Estonia these sentiments were not supported, which resulted sometimes in very violently discharged historical controversy between Estonia and Russia. In recent times, the 'United States Commission for the Protection of American Heritage Abroad' has undertaken the setting of memorial stones which are exclusively for Jewish victims. Originally only  excessive Soviet casualties should have continued, this was not done. Unfortunately, however, the text is historically incorrect to those previously presented in Klooga, Kiviöli, Vaivara, Ereda and Kuremäe memorial stones. The majority of the victims were not Jews.

Der Ort des Terrors Vol 8
C.H.Beck oHG, München 2006
Researcher/Author: Ruth Bettina Birn
Vetted by:
Institute for Research on Anti-Semitism-Berlin
Translated from German:
Herbert Stolpmann, Nov. 2013
a)Cultural Department of the
Federal Republic of Germany
b)The Foreign Office of Germany
c)Alfred Krupp Foundation

Friday, October 25, 2013



The camp Vaivara, an industrial estate in north-east of Estonia in the district of Ida Virumaa, about 190 km east of the present-day Estonian capital Tallinn and about 30 km west of the border town Naeva a concentration camp was built as one of the last, at a time when the German leadership had only two primarily interests: for one part the elimination of the European Jews and with that the closure of the still existing ghettos would be resolved and the other objective, at the same time the exploitation of Jewish labour which became very important. The Reich Leader SS Heinrich Himmler ordered on 21 June 1943, the resolution of the remaining ghettos in the Baltic States, employable Jews had to be deported, among other works in the oil  production of Estonia. On 19 September 1943, the Vaivara concentration camp was built, which should initially be inhabited and accommodate only Jewish workers as forced labourers in the oil-shale production.
Since 1941, the exploitation of the Estonian oil shale was in the hands of the Oil Baltischen m.b.H ( Baltöl ) , a subsidiary of Continental Oil Company ,which were both under the 'General Plenipotentiary for the Production Plan of the Chemical Industry', and it's chairman (Vorstandsmitglied) of IG Farben, Carl Krauch . The company was in 1943 after the German retreat from the Caucasus in 1942, faced with the fact that the extraction of oil had become a priority , while at the same time the labour shortage increased. The Baltöl, until then, had worked mainly with Soviet prisoners of war , these were gradually withdrawn by the Wehrmacht with the approaching front in securing defensive earth works and other tasks. The Baltöl on the other hand needed labour to produce for the war economy,  Himmler had access to the reservoir of concentration camp prisoners and Jewish ghetto inhabitants. Through the establishment of the camp at Vaivara Himmler presented  Baltöl with an available Forced Labour to produce for the war economy and exposed at the same time a larger Jewish population for working to its deliberate destruction. Both served its main policy objectives .
On 19 July 1943, all Sections of the German Occupation Departments in Estonia (civil administration , army , SS and police organization) were at a meeting at the commander of the security police in Tallinn , Dr. Martin Sandberger,  who presented the first plans for the camp , Organisation Todt ( OT) and Baltöl  were also involved. The Task Force Russia - North OT , and  Baltöl was made responsible with the construction of production facilities and accommodations. Yet the camp would be under the control of the SS Economic-Administration (WVHA) in Berlin, the local supervision was led by the SS-Administrator in Riga, but initially operated under the the defence commissioner of  Baltöl, SS-Sturmbannführer Wossagk , and acting under the Inspector of Security , Hilgenfeldt , to build the camp. 2000 Jewish prisoners were already planned to arrive in late July in Estonia and were meant to be sectionalized to the Baltöl production facilities at Kohtla , Viivikonna , Slanzy and Kiwiöli . Different plans and opinions came rapidly to the surface: neither sub-camps at  Kohtla, Weski , Jana or Gorodenka commenced with their construction until September 1943.
Vaivara differed from most other concentration camps in that it did not consist of a large main camp and smaller satellite camps. Several of the ' Labour Camps ' and sub-camps were just as large if not bigger than the  'main  camp' (Stammlager)  of Vaivara . Moreover, it was in many ways a kind of complex situation : There were two employers , Baltöl and OT, [i.e. Organisation Todt,sic] which employed a very diverse workforce. Less than one-sixth of them as a  workforce with Baltöl were Jewish concentration camp prisoners , besides them there were Soviet prisoners of war and Forced- as well as Free Civilian Workers (Zivilarbeiter) from a number of different countries that were housed in separate camps , but often in the same places . In Azeri , for example, there was a ' (Ostländerlager) ' camp for French, Spanish , Dutch, as well as  Jewish inmates. In the small town Klooga there were camps for evacuees from Russia -North , one for Russian Forced Labourers , a sub-camp of Vaivara, and one for the 20th Unit (Einheit) of the Waffen-SS Division. These camps were operated by different institutions: The concentration camp by the SS , the prisoner of war camp by the Wehrmacht and the satellite camps for the remaining workers of OT and Baltöl by a civil administration , all had their own guards. The different administrative structures and the close proximity of each other, often led to internal friction.
Vaivara Concentration Camp
The SS staff of Vaivara was mainly recruited  from other concentration camps . The commander , SS -Hauptsturmführer Hans Aumeier came from Auschwitz, where he was officer in charge of security (Schutzhaftlagerführer). SS camp physician was Dr. Franz von Bodmann , during his illness in December 1943 he was temporary replaced by Dr. Eduard Krebsbach from KZ Riga-Kaiserwald . A dental clinic under Franz Mang was established in Kiviöli . The Administrative Main Office (WVHA) presented relatively few SS-personnel, in overall total the number rose from 17 in October 1943 to 45 by February 1944. These included leaders (Führer) , sub-leaders (Unterführer), four female guards (Aufseherinnen) and four civilian employees . In the small camps only a camp leader and a medical orderly were stationed, the latter acted partly as a camp leader . In some cases, the running of the smaller camps were not passed over by the OT to the SS , but remained under the semi-civilian OT administration. This was probably due to the devastating hygienic conditions and the resulting health problems, particularly typhus epidemics, where medical orderlies played an important role. Desinfector was Erich Scharfetter , who was used in various camps as needed. From January until March 1944 Bodmann had ten of the Wehrmacht medical orderlies made available to him. While the SS personnel muster remained rudimentary, the hierarchy of the prisoner functionaries was fully formed : there was a camp leader , block leaders , capos for work units , camp police , prison clerks , inmate doctors and nurses.
Due to the difficult situation to obtain accurate records and files, it is not possible to determine and identify exactly the camp leaders of all sub-camps. Documents of the camp Vaivara remained only in a very fragmentary form, to read the report entries of the SS doctors, they mention the names of camp leaders only in cases of illness, and then you come to the issue of the limited knowledge to be gained from inmate testimonies. Many former prisoners had to go through various camps after the expiration of one year, or less, to another and different location, sometimes in rapid succession, which makes the memory re-call difficult.  During a 1946 investigation a survivor mentioned a 'Doctor Genz-Starfette ' who did not exist, but it is to decrypt the contraction of the medical orderlies of Wilhelm Genth and Erich Scharfetter . Similarly, it is unclear who was at which time the camp leader of Klooga, claimed by a group of former prisoners in the immediate post-war period as Armin Rutenberg which proved to be incorrect.
Characteristic of the Vaivara camps were the constant changes , probably due to work priorities, which resulted that sub-camps were quickly occupied or closed down accordingly, and entire groups of prisoners were moved from one camp to the other.  As rapidly as this happened, camp leaders would take with them, their 'own' team of detainees and prisoner functionaries . In the course of one year , while Vaivara existed , changes were made , for example, effecting Kurt Pannicke who was transferred as a camp leader from Vaivara to Narva , then to Azeri , then continued to Goldfields and in the summer of 1944 to Lagedi until he left Estonia by ship together with a prisoner transport. Guarding the camp were the Units of the Estonian protection team, the 287th Battalion  and the Russian 290th (Schutzmannschaftbattaillon) [In the investigation files of the Estonian Security Police , there are also references to members of the 35th Police Battalion that had operated there and traded with prisoners. [Ref : ERA , R 64/I/165 . sic] Both Units reported to the Commander of the Order Police and Camps and stood under the direction of the SS and Police Leader in Estonia, Heinrich Möller . The ratio of guards to inmates was originally to be one to ten , but in practice it was partly one in twenty. The policemen brought the prisoners also to work areas , in some cases, the OT also took over the  guarding functions.
Divisional insignia of 20th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Estonian)
The majority of the prisoners were deported in the summer and fall of 1943 from the Lithuanian ghettos of Vilna (Vilnius) and Kauen (Kaunas) to Estonia. A survivor remembers that she arrived in Vaivara already on 6th of August 1943. In many cases, they were entire families , former prisoners often describe how their loved ones, one after another perished in the camp system . At the end of 1943, a small group of German and Czech Jews came into the Vaivara camp-system , which had been deported already during September 1942 in two RSHA transports from Theresienstadt , Frankfurt and Berlin to Estonia. [For details to these transports see : Ruth Betina  Birn. ' The security police in Estonia. A study of collaboration in the East ' . Paderborn 2006, page 171 ff. sic ] . Other smaller groups of prisoners came from Riga in the summer of 1944 from Hungary. [25 female prisoners from Germany , who were brought to Kiviöli in November 1943 , were probably forced into prostitution. The SS-camp doctor had taken steps to monitor them,  to avoid sexually transmitted diseases. See: Monthly Report SS-camp physician , 29.11.1943 , in: EAM , D 152/2/40 . (In Kiviöli were a number of German departments , consisting mainly in manufacturing facilities and adjoining sub-camps) . sic]
KIVIOLI - KL - Vilna Jews
The most detailed information on the Vaivara camp system can be found in the monthly reports of the camp doctor Bodmann, but the entries stopped in June 1944. By October 1943, 6982 prisoners lived in Vaivara, the number rose in November to 9207 and sank in February 1944 to 8210 and in June 1944 to 6662. Former detainees reported that they were registered upon arrival mostly in the main camp Vaivara and received a number. This number  they kept, which was assigned to them at the Main Camp (Stammlager) even when they were transferred from one camp to another. The remaining card indexes of the sub-camp Klooga confirm this, as the individual prisoner numbers would have been too high for the total number of prisoners kept in Klooga, which amounted of about 9,000.

The camps were mainly concentrated in the oil-shale bearing areas in the north-east of Estonia , Administration and the Commandant were in the main camp at Vaivara . By October 1943 the following  sub-camps were established: Klooga , Narva , Soski , Auvere , Kerstowa , Ereda , Jöhvi , Kuremäe , Port Kunda , Kiviöli and Viivikonna . In the surviving records , however, the details of Baltöl mentioned factories with Jewish labour, do not tally with documents kept at Vaivara that these were used by them and sub-camp did not exist in those places . Kohtla -Järve for example, was one of the centres of the oil shale production and construction , and Baltöl held 1163 Jewish workers in Kohtla- Järve and 858 in Kohtla for use by the OT , but there are no corresponding sub-camps in the monthly reports of the SS doctor or in witness's statements . It stands to reason that prisoners were marched from the sub-camps Erda or Kiviöli to Kohtla- Järve , survivors remember the long and arduous marches they had to do to their workplaces . The ' Plant IV ' the Sillamäe-Baltöl probably corresponded to the sub-camp Viivikonna-Baltöl . Some camps served other purposes than oil shale-mining : Klooga in the west of Tallinn was thus the only larger camp just outside of the oil-shale area , which produced Betonminen ( mines in concrete casing ) for the Navy. The occupants of the camp outside Narva (east of Vaivara ) worked in large part for a defence system of the 'Panther position ' . The prisoners in the sub-camp of Narva in Hungerburg had some other smaller camps like Kertsowa , Putki , Soski , Pankjewitza , Petseri , Ülenurme and Kudupe , working in forests , rail or general construction projects that were not in direct contact with oil production.
Map of the Holocaust in Reichskommissariat Ostland (Belarus and the Baltic States) during World War II, 1939-1945.
This map shows all extermination camps (or death camps), most major concentration camps, labour camps, prison camps, ghettos, major deportation routes and major massacre sites. Not all camps & ghettos are shown.
The advance of the Red Army led to the evacuations of camps located  more in the eastern part of Estonia,  there were two main thrusts of evacuations taking place : In February and March 1944, Commandant  Aumeier's Department of Vaivara was taken to the more westerly part to Saka,  and the the sub-camps of  Auvere , Kuremäe , Narva , Putki , Soski , Viivikonna as well as Vaivara were closed . Newly opened , but further west were the camps of Azeri , Goldfields and Sonda . In the summer of 1944 it came to the final withdrawal . For a short time in July 1944, a temporary sub-camp at Lagedi near Reval was set up, where prisoners were doing fortifications and it served at the same time as a transit camp prior to deportation of prisoners by boat. The last camp existed in Klooga which occupied in late August/early September 1944, the remaining members of the SS staff of Vaivara to await transport by boat from the nearby Baltic-Port . Just  before the departure of the SS, on September 19 , 1944, they shot the approximately 2,000 remaining prisoners in Klooga .
At the Klooga concentration camp, Soviet soldiers examine the bodies of victims left by the retreating Germans. Klooga, Estonia, September 1944.          
 At the Klooga concentration camp, Soviet soldiers examine the bodies of victims left by the retreating Germans. Klooga, Estonia,September 1944 .   When the Soviet army advanced through Estonia in July and August of 1944, the transfer of the prisoners in the Estonian camps to the Stutthof concentration camp in Germany began, via the Baltic Sea. In mid - September, while Jewish prisoners were still in the camps of Klooga and Lagedi, the German front in Estonia collapsed. On September 18, five hundred of the prisoners were shot at Lagedi. Early on September 19, Klooga was surrounded by German and Estonian SS men. Toward midday they began to take groups of prisoners from the camp to a nearby forest for execution, beginning with the men's camp. Some of the men tried to hide inside the camp, but most were found and shot. Others tried to flee from the execution site. Approximately twenty - four hundred Jews and one hundred Soviet prisoners of war died in this slaughter. A few days later, on September 28, when the Soviet army liberated Klooga, they found the corpses of the slain stacked for burning. Eighty - five of the prisoners, who had managed to hide within the camp or escaped to the nearby forests, survived.

The SS doctor in his reports repeatedly pointed out that the hygienic  conditions in the camps at Vaivara were catastrophic . This was caused initially by the first forced and rapid construction of the camp, even if adequate accommodation , sanitation or water supplies were available, there was hardly any improvement. The Baltöl-Administration saw the problem in terms of security : Fetching water at the fountain offering an attempt ' almost an incentive to flee ', or it would not be possible to separate the Jews from the 'Local Population '(Einheimischen) . Baltöl had issued strict rules for the separation of Jewish and non-Jewish forced labourers. The prisoners recalled to have been covered by dirt (Schmutz) , lice and vermin. At Goldfields for example, after the evacuation marches, all the prisoners had lice . Permission to swim in the lake was considered a perk. Documents from Vaivara show a picture of strict order: An infirmary , numbered blocks, as well as rooms marked with numbers and centrally managed of items in clothing and wooden shoes for the prisoners.[There is a pre-conceived  notion that KZ-prisoners were issued with Dutch-type Clogs, in fact what they wore were mainly  PANTOFELL and/or upper shoe leather stapled to wooden soles, all Russian POW's on our Estate arrived in them, HKS]. The inmates remembered , however , that still lacked on everything: clothing , shoes , blankets, and medicines. In many camps , there were no fixed accommodations or even barracks , so that the prisoners were housed in Nissan-Huts or the so called 'Barrel Tents' (Tonnenzelten) - inside them, the ground floor tended to be soggy and filled with water after melting snow.
The work, especially in the oil-shale mining , was very hard and too heavy for the Jewish prisoners ,[Most of them were Intellectuals and Business People not used to physical labour,sic] which is apparent not only from memory and witnesses , but also officials of the Baltöl, who had commented on the subject. Baltöl did not consider the Jewish workers assigned to them as satisfactory replacement for the Soviet prisoners of war , many of the Russian POW's had been professional miners . The Jewish prisoners , weakened by malnutrition and the cold, they were only considered at a 50 percent of the labour power output compared to prisoners of war or civilian workers . The management of Baltöl was therefore not interested on further allocation of additional Jewish inmates and rejected the Hungarian Jews deported to Estonia. Accountability Reports of the OT to the SS indicates an eleven- hour working day . An inspection report of the ' General Plenipotentiary for the Allocation of Labour ' show the concentration camp inmates as lazy , recalcitrant workers , who lived a comfortable life on construction sites. [ Report to Baltöl and OT , 4.7.1944 , in: ibid , R 187/1/30 . '4 Jews just sat and were idle [... ] . No. 85 was cheeky when I asked for his number [ ...] . 2 Jewish women came strolling in slow steps, chatting away, [ ...]  comfortable talking ' . sic] This representation does not only contradict the testimony of former prisoners , but the report writer himself stated indignantly that although most of OT- foremen (Civilian Employees) had portrayed  the Jews and prisoners of war as diligent workers and  protecting them .
Some camps were located in swamps , so that the prisoners had to be working in water. Exhaustion of the prisoners and the often long distances contributed to a considerable drop in labour performance, they had to travel in wooden shoes or inadequate footwear to their workplace . The only Unit, which was  somewhat productive seems to have been the work of crafts-men and their working commandos. The Baltöl Management on the 30 September 1943 had already directed their attention mainly on the composition of units and accepting only craftsmen . Many German Civilians which had settled near the camps had shoes, boots and clothes made by them.
The official name of the camp, O. T. Betriebe Klooga, was supposed to look innocent, because OT (= Organisation Todt) was ‘only’ a state construction enterprise organised in a military manner (founded in 1938) in Germany, which also operated in occupied territories. The reality was something else: the retreating Germans killed about 2,000 Jews in the Klooga camp. When the Soviet army advanced through Estonia in July and August of 1944, the transfer of the prisoners in the Estonian camps to the Stutthof concentration camp in Germany began, via the Baltic Sea. In mid - September, while Jewish prisoners were still in the camps of Klooga and Lagedi, the German front in Estonia collapsed. On September 18, five hundred of the prisoners were shot at Lagedi. Early on September 19, Klooga was surrounded by German and Estonian SS men. Toward midday they began to take groups of prisoners from the camp to a nearby forest for execution, beginning with the men's camp. Some of the men tried to hide inside the camp, but most were found and shot. Others tried to flee from the execution site. Approximately twenty- hundred Jews and one hundred Soviet prisoners of war died in this slaughter. A few days later, on September 28, when the Soviet army liberated Klooga, they found the corpses of the slain stacked for burning. Eighty - five of the prisoners, who had managed to hide within the camp or escape to the nearby forests, survived.
Corpses of inmates from Klooga concentration camp stacked for burning.
In most camps , the food was totally inadequate. Baltöl was interested in increasing productivity and made additional food available. Neither this nor the allocated rations according to Dr. Bodmann, provided by the Wehrmacht  corresponded  remotely which was allegedly supplied and did not come near to the 125-200 grams of bread and half a litre of watery soup or tea during the day, which survivors described. In his memoirs of former inmate Benjamin Anolik, mentions the constant hunger as the worst experience of his internment time. It is likely that the SS camp administration (as in other concentration camps as well) enriched themselves to the allocated food here . Apparently that was not the case everywhere to the same extent , because the conditions in the various camps were judged very differently by the survivors . The prisoners were anxious to procure additional food . For the skilled workers while on outside working commandos, it was possible for them to smuggle their products from the camps and exchange them for food . The Estonian rural population were also helpful to give prisoners additional food . Here, the close proximity of the sub-camp with the other camps proved to be useful, especially the Dutch , including Dutch forced labourers , helped concentration camp inmates over and over again without self-interest . [ Dworzeki , Histoire , page 263, distinguishes between Dutch ' in uniform ' and the others who were helpful . He mentioned examples of assistance in the camps Azeri Jöhvi , Klooga , Viivikonna and Vaivara . sic]

Preparing a meal for labourers at Auschwitz in a standard German Army Field Kitchen, three members in uniform seem to be  foreign individuals.
Very often whole families were deported from the Lithuanian Ghettos. The family bond and the associated practical and emotional support seems to have helped many prisoners there, to be able to survive the camp conditions a little better. Separated from each other, family members were trying to find themselves during transfers to and from other camps. Especially during the first evacuation arrivals in February and March 1944, those that were in the marching columns , and arrived in the camps further to the west ,  were searching for possible surviving relatives . In the camp situation , the loss of a family member was a particularly drastic experience. To show how it effected inmates is related by sisters as they lost through the persecution by the Germans about 70 members of the extended family, how they adapted to their awareness never to see each other , how traumatic the death of a brother, 'a strong boy , who had been used to a comfortable life and a mother's care', was killed by a camp leader from abuse and burnt in the woods : ' Such was the end of my young, beautiful brother ' .  [Testimony 25.7.1973 by: Eta W. , and Golda W. Ludwigsburg BArch , B 162/5134 , sic] Most of the prisoners were pre-occupied and busy trying to cope with the cold, hunger and disease , but occasionally there were some open spaces, that allowed them to communicate with other prisoners and observe some  Jewish holidays. Variously some prisoners undertook escape attempts . A teenager even reported several escape attempts , he and others had been recaptured and made to wear a red dot on the clothes and soon moved to a special unit to Vaivara . From different camps throughout their existence inmates managed to escape in groups just before or during the final evacuation.
One element of the inmate population were the 'Shtaken', members of the former underworld of Vilna, which were judged very differently by the witnesses. In general, the Inmate-Functionaries  behaviour was evaluated as negative by prisoners. While speaking positively about most doctors and nurses, the camp elders, however, were classified very differently. Especially SS-Hauptscharführer Kurt Panicke, camp leader of Vaivara, Narva and Azeri had a number of minions used as  prison functionaries, and especially his Camp-Elder who was accused of embezzlement and theft. Former inmates reported that there had been a lack of solidarity within their community. Equally critical remarks can be found about the camp-police. The surviving prisoners also differentiated between the individual members of the SS, some of which were regarded as harmless, as well as members of the OT and SS.


Friday, October 4, 2013


On the morning of April 23 motorized patrols of the 358 and the 359 Infantry Regiment of the 90 Infantry Division 3rd U.S. Army reached camp Flossenburg. The soldiers were already expected. One of those left behind, the Czech camp clerk Emil Lezak, had immediately after the departure of the last column of inmates that marched out of the gate, found in the headquarters building a typewriter and began to write down his memories and experiences during his stay at Flossenburg. He had started this even before the liberation of the camp and wrote it in the German language. Emil Lezaks writings are the first historiography documentation of the concentration camp. On page ten it ends abruptly in the middle of a sentence:
'Now I have to interrupt, the liberators arrived!! It is the 23.4.45, 10.50 [a.m.] o'clock!!
I have already held the placard and hung it outside: 'Prisoners happy end-Welcome-'and immediately gave the first information regarding concealed weapons. A lieutenant with 4 other soldiers considered everything and now I can keep on writing'. [Ref: BArch Berlin, Microfilm FC 6279]


Of the prisoners left behind, between the 20th to the 23rd of April, more than 100 died on these days. The American military doctors and First Aid-men succeeded to save 1208 prisoners, for 105 of them, all the help had came too late, they died in the first days and weeks after the liberation. Because the Americans had an understandable fear of the prevailing diseases still being spread, their Units still cremated up to May 1st 1945 another 135 dead prisoner in the crematorium of the camp. However, the head of the first local Military Government, Major Samuel Gray, stopped this practice after protests of survivors and arranged on May 3rd a more decent burial of 21 deceased in the centre of the village of Flossenburg itself. Due to the extremely poor health of those remaining, every endeavour was made by the Military Government to provide medical care and the disinfection of the entire camp. After stabilization,  the rest of the convalescents were moved immediately from the camps enclosure and by the end of May 1945, the camp grounds were as good as empty.
German civilians from Schwarzenfeld dig graves for the reburial of 140 Hungarian, Russian, and Polish Jews exhumed from a mass grave near the town. The victims died while on an evacuation transport from the Flossenbürg concentration camp. Schwarzenfeld, Germany, April 25, 1945.

In the seven years of its existence 100,000 prisoners in the Flossenburg concentration camp and the satellite camps were interned. By targeted killings, the catastrophic living conditions and the inferno of death marches more than 30,000 people died which came under the administration and responsibility of the Flossenburg complex . The number to have been murdered outright is estimated at 13.000 to 15.000. In the satellite camps it apparently were  more than 10,000 men and women. It is very difficult to asses the number of victims of the death marches but the figure is at least 5,000, but possibly 8,000 or more inmates. In the latter figures, however, it is not clear how many of the deaths are attributed to the Buchenwald camp complex. The list of quantities always involves the risk of unreliable entries of the concentration camp deaths. They should serve here only for the measurement of mass crimes in the concentration camp of Flossenburg and its satellite camps,  let alone the fears and anguish of prisoners in the camps, they can be just as much as the mental and physical suffering of the survivors.
 US troops and German civilians from Neunburg vorm Wald attend a funeral service for Polish, Hungarian, and Russian Jews found in the forest near their town. The victims were shot by the SS while on a death march from Flossenbürg. Neunburg, Germany, April 29, 1945.

After the war’s end the Flossenburg camp was used temporarily to lodge German prisoners of war, the UNRRA and refugees, displaced Persons (DP'S). Then in 1946, through the initiative of several local leaders, work was begun on a chapel and a graveyard at the site. The "Valley of Death" with its graves was laid out in the 1950s. Today some of the grounds of the former concentration camp are used as a housing project. The quarry is now run by a private concern.
Founding of the concentration camp had the means of a huge infrastructural modernization for the small village of Flossenburg. Within one year after the founding of the camp the population nearly doubled to a total of 2281. Through the establishment of the camp not only SS men and their families or civilian workers such as stone masons were drawn to the village. With the construction of the camp, new institutions were created for the site, a post office was opened and the entire local water supply for purposes of the camp was enlarged and re-aligned. Flossenburg possessed for the first time local access of doctors from the camp with complete medical care in place, which could also be used by its population. [This contrasts greatly with the alleged poor and brutal treatment of SS-doctors towards prisoners, sic]  In the numerous private houses and estates lived low to middle ranking  SS-men as lodgers, the SS became an integral part of village social and cultural life. Not only spatially close relations between camp and village can be impressively documented, including the example of the assignment of prisoners to work in the village. During the existence of the camp,  prisoner groups worked on virtually every private property and the surrounding area. Also, each incoming or outgoing prisoner transports had to pass through the small village on the only main road they had. In no other place where a concentration camp existed, influenced the  everyday life to such an extent as in Flossenburg. The camp had no extraterritorial place, it dominated the village economically, politically and socially. The interaction between village and camp was more than just a neighbourhood, in comparison with other camps, it can be characterized only as a total dominance of the camp over the entire place.
With the liberation of the camp, the American units had begun to secure any evidence of crimes that had been committed in the concentration camp which was to serve in a later court case against the alleged perpetrators as incriminating evidence. On June 12, 1946, the 'Dachau Trials' opened before the Court of the General Military Government which constituted the 'Main Flossenburger Process'(Hauptverfahren). This  process was to establish the crimes in the concentration camps and became the longest, lasting 142 days of negotiations to concentrate on Concentration Camp methods before any U.S. military Court in Germany at that time. At the beginning of the process, 52 people were indicted, including 16 former prisoners, who had held functionary positions in the camp. But shortly after the opening of the trial seven of the charges due to procedural methods were separated from the main process. Only the 'Parent Case' was initiated against 45 defendants. After initially taking evidence and the questioning of witnesses, in most cases severe penalties were imposed on January 20th 1947, against 42 defendants, including 15 death sentences, of which eleven were finally enforced by hangings at Landsberg Prison. Even West German courts conducted after lengthy time delays, a number of investigations and processes associated with the crimes committed in the concentration camp of Flossenburg. From 1958 on, the public prosecutors in Amberg, Regensburg and Weiden opened more than 200 investigations against accused individuals or groups, but in which only nine criminal sentences were passed. Numerous investigations against those responsible for crimes committed have been conducted in the DDR (East Germany), Czechoslovakia and Poland.


Der Ort des Terrors Vol 4
C.H.Beck oHG, München 2006
Researcher/Author: Jörg Skriebeleit
Vetted by:
Institute for Research on Anti-Semitism-Berlin
Translated from German:
Herbert Stolpmann, Sept 2013
Geoff Walden:
Third Reich in Ruins
a)Cultural Department of the
Federal Republic of Germany
b)The Foreign Office of Germany
c)Alfred Krupp Foundation

I dispensed partly with using the German Umlaut "ü" and used the letter "u" instead, in 'Flossenbürg', which will make very little difference to readers, yet I accept the usual criticism of Ph.D. Academics as to my 'bumbling' English as they say, in trying to translate the meaning of German expressions, which I found difficult at times,(no proof-reading was done) however, it keeps me sane and my brain active at my advanced age, thanks to my son Dean without his encouragement I might have given up, and the patience and tolerance of my wife Edith!  


Beginning of 1944 the use of inmates was comparatively regulated. The company Messerschmitt shifted more production to Flossenburg, so that the work in the quarry almost completely ground to a halt. By February, only 126 prisoners were employed in Halls 7 and 9 of the quarry. But Himmler's Communication on the number of prisoners in the Messerschmitt factory already no longer met the current status through the commissioning of a new production hall and the establishment of an experimental building department, for Messerschmitt the number of prisoners employed in the aircraft armament had increased from the last half of February already over 3,000.  [Ref: Undated plan for the expansion of armaments production, 2004, in: AGFI, B222.]
However, the intensification of armaments production did not lead to a stabilization or even improvement of living conditions for the prisoners. The overcrowding of the camp, the shortages in the camp of vital resources such as food, sleeping and washing areas was indescribable. At the same time, the violence of Kapos and SS intensified, so in the second half of the year began the mass deaths (Massensterben) of prisoners in camps, this would continue  up to the liberation of the camp on 23 April 1945. In the available 23 blocks that were designed for the accommodation of prisoners, there was a desperate shortage of sleeping space. The expression 'packed like sardines' would apply. Since the camp due to topographical conditions could not be enlarged easily and expansion plans were not implemented since 1940, 224 available beds in existing barracks, number 2 to 18 had to be shared between 300 and 900 prisoners each. The same applies to barrack 19, in camp jargon called 'Kindergarten', which was established in 1944 as a block for prisoners under 18 years. Each new incoming transport further exacerbated the conditions in the camp. Excluded from these conditions was only block number 1 near the camp's main entrance, which was the 'Celebrity Block' reserved for the prisoners-functionaries.

Three survivors infected with typhus lie in beds in the hospital barracks in the Flossenbürg concentration camp. (May, 1945)
The horse stable barracks of the former POW camp with the numbers 20 to 23 served since 1943 as a quarantine camp. In 1944 they were used as an additional function as a collection centre for newly arriving prisoners. The barracks 20 and 21 in the quarantine section acted now as a selection centre for prisoners suitable as forced labourers.  Jewish prisoners arrived on August 8, Markus Stern describes this procedure: 'After the first four days of waiting the SS doctor made with the help of some guards his selections. We did not know why they wrote with a marker pen numbers on our foreheads. Later we realized that the number on each forehead meant the condition to the assessment of an individual. If you had a lower number, it was back to Auschwitz to die there. I was lucky that my number was high enough that I was regarded as a productive worker. Our work had been assigned to us according to the numbers on our forehead. Some of us had to work in the Messerschmitt aircraft factory. Others were transported to Leitmeritz near Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia '. However, those unable to work were not deported to Auschwitz as Stern assumed, but taken in the opposite direction within the camp into  barracks 22 and 23. This complex was located in the immediate vicinity of the crematorium and were used as deathbed barracks  for the emaciated prisoners which were no longer exploitable. The work force of terminally ill prisoners had become worthless for the SS and thus their life. They were left in the deathbed-barracks and had to
look after themselves, where they perished in the shortest possible time. For the rapid disposal of the bodies, a partially underground railway was built in autumn 1944 from upper slope of the camp to the crematorium.

Due to its distance from the retreating front the concentration camp had been designated to become a reception centre for Camps in the east in the process of their closure. Due to the war-related evacuation of Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen concentration camp since late 1944 thousands of new prisoners were taken into the concentration camp of Flossenburg. With the complete dissolution of the Silesian Camps in January and February 1945, the arrivals took part place always in an uncontrolled method, the concentration camp system imploded. On January 16, 1945 there were 8,722 prisoners in the main camp, another 31.776 in satellite camps, including 11,436 women. (Ref: Camp strength list of, 17.1.1945, in:. CEGESOMA, CR 14368) Exactly one month later, on 17 February, 13,265 prisoners were crammed into the 23 barracks in the main camp. On March 1, the concentration camp reached the highest documented camp population of 15,445 prisoners. In the infirmary alone and the death-bed blocks 22 and 23 with nearly 3,500 terminally ill prisoners were slowly dying there. The death rate in January and February was at a daily average of 40 and continued to rise. At the high point of registration in the camps on March 1, 1945 the maximum occupancy was 36,995 male and female internees. With the evacuation of the eastern camp complexes more Jews came to Flossenburg. These now made up almost 20 percent of the total inmate strength. Most arrivals took place in February 1945, when 6,170 male and 428 female Jewish prisoners were registered in the camp complex. Even a death march with 1,000 Jewesses from the Gross-Rosen camps Neusalz and Christianstadt had Flossenburg as their goal. Between 8 and March 11, only 867 of these women and girls still living reached the main camp. They received camp numbers and stayed for some days in quarry barracks before they were further deported to Bergen-Belsen on 17 March. [The information of Gilbert, which states on the way to Flossenburg, 800 of these women died, is not factual see Martin Gilbert, Final Solution. The expulsion and extermination of Jews, Reinbeck, 1995, page 218, sic]
Although a regulated prisoner labour deployment was less and less thought of, in early 1945 the able inmates were pushed into the Messerschmitt-works and still new satellite camps were established. These were mainly in   areas of bomb disposals and maintenance and repair commandos on militarily important major hub stations (Knotenpunkte) and airports in Ansbach, Oberstraubing, Regensburg and Pocking, where the prisoners literally 'worked' as a last resort and were treated as a disposable labour pool. In January about 2,500 people died, in February 2758,  in March 3207 of which three-quarters of the dead came from satellite camps. The value of the prisoners were measured exclusively at their maximum exploitable labour. At no time, more people than in the period of the complete economization of the camp complex in 1944 and 1945 died in the Flossenburg concentration camp.

A room filled with corpses at Flossenbürg concentration camp.
Because of the always ever closer moving fronts into the Reich, despite and parallel with this, further expansion of the camp system with the closure of the first westerly satellite camps began in February 1945, the prisoners were brought back to the main camp (Stammlager). In early April began the evacuation of the Buchenwald concentration camp, which also went into the direction of Flossenbürg. How many over the 20,000 prisoners that set out on a  march from Buchenwald and reached Flossenburg or made ​​it on the way to Dachau as an intermediate station, is still unclear, since their arrival in the Flossenburg, registration of prisoners was not maintained. The last entries are from the 15th April 1945 which indicated over 9,000 prisoners in the main camp and 36,000 in the satellite camps, including 14,600 women. The following day, the dissolution of concentration camp Flossenburg began. As American forces approached, the Nazis begin a mass evacuation of prisoners from the Buchenwald concentration camp and its sub camps. Almost 30,000 prisoners are forced on death marches away from the advancing American forces. About a third of these prisoners die during the marches. On April 11, 1945, the surviving prisoners take control of the camp, shortly before American forces enter on the same day.
Despite the chaotic conditions that prevailed with permanent arrivals, constant departures of some kind, total overcrowding and mass death in the spring 1945 in the camp, and under the largest logistical effort, scheduled and regular executions still took place in the camp, which had been performed since the establishment of the Arrest Building that had served not only as a place of detention for prominent prisoners, including this Prince Phillip of Hesse, members of the Wittelsbach family, also former Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg and his family. On April 8th Pastor Bonhoeffer and his fellow conspirators only stayed one night in one of these cells before they were “tried,” found guilty and led into the courtyard to be hanged.
Physician H. Fischer-Huellstrung witnessed the event:
  "On the morning of that day between five and six o’clock the prisoners were taken from their cells and the verdicts of the court martial read out to them. Through the half-open door in one room of the huts I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, before taking off his prison garb, kneeling on the floor, praying fervently to his God. I was most deeply moved by the way this unusually lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”
Note: There is a vast difference between a court marshal and the German version of a 'Standgericht'. In the latter case it is always a summary execution, without any preliminaries, as the word implies the accusation and sentence is read out while all the participants are standing and the accused either shot or hanged immediately. To my knowledge he or she is not asked the usual: 'HAVE YOU GOT ANYTHING TO SAY'
 Based on the available execution sites, shooting range, provisionally place for shots in the neck (Gernickschussanlage)  and numerous facilities of gallows, the detention block was also used as a central murder site for different authorities, such as the Gestapo authorities in Chemnitz, Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad), Nuremberg and Regensburg. Arrested forced labourers, political opponents to the regime or captured soldiers of the commando operations were being transported and murdered in the concentration camp at the detention block. Since these people did not count legally as KZ-prisoners per se, they had not been registered, exact numbers of the victims of these murders are still missing. After a night of a 'standing trial' (Standgerichtsverfahren) during which the prisoners were abused and tortured, they expected their death, normally in the early morning hours. Their bodies were transported immediately to the crematorium, cremated and the ashes, like the remains of thousands of other prisoners dumped in a valley behind the cremation site.
Even in the days before April 9th the evacuation of the first prominent prisoners from the detention block was started. On the 8th April, the family Schuschnigg, the Generals Haalder and Thomas as well as Hjalmar Schacht were transported in the direction of Dachau . The other remaining special prisoners were transferred to Dachau on the 15th April. Shortly after their killing spree of inmates, the SS began with the preparations for the liquidation of the entire camp. Gallows and the neck execution facilities were demolished, the blood-soaked shooting wall hastily painted over, for days the burning pyres of corpses of prisoners and of the commandant's hastily brought mountains of files. The SS personnel file, the death register of the camp and and much of the prisoner index went up in flames. At the same time, the SS enlisted some of the German prisoner-functionaries of the camp and formed a kind of camp police. This should take care in light of the ubiquitous signs of disintegration of discipline among the thousands of prisoners and escorting them the next day during evacuation marches.
On April 16, the first transport left with all the Jewish prisoners of the camp, about 1,700 men in the direction of Dachau. In the neighboring village of Floß the rail transport was first straffed by American Fighter Planes, allegedly on the mistaken believe it was a German military convoy. Dozens of prisoners died in the attack and in the subsequent chase of SS men who pursued the fleeing prisoners that were in agony. After the train had first resumed its journey, worse was to come, the remaining prisoners were beaten near the village of Schwarzenfeld from the trains and driven in several groups of 200, south-east, those no longer able to walk virtually shot or slain every kilometre at the city of Neuburg vorm Wald, the little group of those still alive were finally freed on April 23rd by units of 97 Infantry Division 3rd U.S. Army. [The details of Heigl give a rough, but often incorrect overview on death marches from the concentration camp of Flossenbürg, compare Peter Heigl, concentration camps Flossenbürg, past and present, Regensburg 1989 sic]
An American soldier looks at the corpses of Polish, Russian, and Hungarian Jews found in the woods near Neunburg vorm Wald. The victims were prisoners from Flossenbürg who were shot near Neunburg while on a death march. Germany, April 29, 1945.
An American soldier looks at the corpses of Polish, Russian, and Hungarian Jews found in the woods near Neunburg vorm Wald. The victims were prisoners from Flossenbürg who were shot near Neunburg while on a death march. Germany, April 23rd, 1945 [It is difficult to determine gun shot wounds, if any at all, nor traces of blood, death through exhaustion is more likely. sic]

Through a rumour about the imminent arrival of American troops, the closure of the camp was temporarily interrupted. After the removal of the Jewish prisoners the SS guards left the camp and went into hiding in close-by forests. Since the delayed arrival of the Americans, however, the evacuation of the camp continued at an accelerated pace as from the 17th of April. The utter chaos during the resolution phase of the concentration camp makes it almost impossible to determine the exact number of prisoners taken via Flossenburg to the south. According to the last remaining strength report of 15 April 1945, there were about 7,000 prisoners in the main camp. Added to this figure, there were about 7,000 additional Buchenwald inmates also present in the camp, without having been registered. Not all Buchenwalder transports that were still in the camp are incorporated in any counts, some stayed only briefly into the surrounding forests. An overall figure for these 'evacuated'  Buchenwald inmates could not be exactly determined today. It is assumed that by mid-April up to 10,000 prisoners from the Buchenwald concentration camp or in its surrounding area, would have been included with the columns that included those commencing on the Death Marches at Flossenburg.

Until 20 April from 16.000 to 20.000 completely emaciated and exhausted prisoners were marching in several groups from Flossenburg and in a southerly direction. Left behind by the SS were barely 1,600 terminally ill, no longer capable prisoners of marching. The others, without food, and only scantily clothed the misery columns crossed hundreds of villages in the Oberpfalz and Lower Bavaria. The most feared of these death marches led to the foothills of the Alps, where hey were finally liberated on May 2nd 1945 in Surberg near Traunstein. One can only roughly estimate the number of prisoners that survived this inferno to the last days of the war. The emaciated prisoners died from exhaustion, they collapsed through the strain of walking or froze to death in the cold April nights. Others were trying to escape and because they no longer were able to walk were shot or clubbed to death. A work detail (Sonerkommando) of prisoners that followed the marches had to hastily bury the bodies. Along the routes of these death marches almost 5,000 people were killed and discovered by American units alone in Bavaria  after the war .

Under the supervision of American medics, German civilians file past the bodies of Jewish women exhumed from a mass grave in Volary. The victims died at the end of a death march from Helmbrechts, a subcamp of Flossenbürg. Volary, Czechoslovakia, May 11, 1945.
With the dissolution of the Flossenburg as the Main Camp and the evacuation of most of the satellite camp which begun subsequently, the determined routes varied according to geographical location of places and the position of the advancing Allied Forces. Analogous to Flossenburg the camps in Middle Franconia via Hersbruck were evacuated to the south. The aim was to reach the Dachau concentration camp. The majority of prisoners in the camps of Saxony were marching in the direction of the complex at Leitmeritz and the adjacent fortress camp at  Theresienstadt. In the final phase of the war the camp Leimeritz took over the functions of a Main Camp. From the end of February sick prisoners were transferred from South Saxony to Leitmeritz. After the liberation Flossenburg on 23 April, Leitmeritz was not reached by the Red Army before May 8 1945, until their arrival there were another two weeks of mass death in the  place from Flossenburg sub-camps out of regions from Saxony and Bohemia that had been under their administration.
One of the most murderous death marches led from the Women's sub-camp in the Upper Franconian vilalage of Helmbrechts through the satellite camp in Zeodau near Falkenau as far as Wallern in southern Bohemia. The brutality of the Helmbrechtser camp leader Alois Dörr, who predominantly used Jewish women exposed to extreme hardships, is considered one of the most horrible examples in wilful murder down to the last days of the war. It can be stated the perverse killing of helpless victims was present in many SS leaders. To date, only approximations of numbers to the victims of the death marches from the Flossenburg controlled camps can be assessed. After a scant inspection of documents from local archives of Saxon and Czech municipalities it is estimated that at least 2.000 to 3.000 women have perished.

Route of 800 km Death March by Jewish Women from Slawa to Volary/Prachatice (20 Jan - 5 May 1945)

• photos of survivors (partial list)

52 young Jewish women survivors pose in Vodnany school-hospital before release. Center front are 4 Czech Nurses. Survivors from Neu Vorwerk had marched 800 kilometers, often without shoes. Survivors from DWM (Deutsche Wollenwaren Manufaktur) had marched 700 kilometers.

1. Nelli Ebbe 10. Gruner, Rutka 19. Twardowicz, Franya
2. Rushinek, Regina 11. Rakowska, Itka 20. Majer/Markswicz, Ester
3. Silbiger, Reyna 12. Halpert, Ester 21. Majer/Markswicz, Pola
4. Weinryb, Fela 13. Kammer, Dora 22. Waksmann, Franya
5. Langer, Berta 14. Weinryb, Bela 23. Kozubska, Lola
6. Deutsch, Zita 15. Nucher, Dvora 24. Zeidner, Gusta
7. Rotgeberg, Dora 16. Gruner, Bascia 25. Wohlander, Pola
8. Berkowicz, Berta 17. Silberstein, Genia 26. Erhlich, Guccia
9. Gelbauer, Malka 18. Pilc, Guccia 27. Chaimowicz, Halina

N = Nurses, S = Staff

• photos of SS guards on the Death March from Helmbrechts to Volary/Prachatice

1. SS Private Walter Kowaliv named "the shooter" by prisoners. His post was at the end of the March column. He shot any woman prisoner who could walk no farther
2. SS guard Ingebord Schimming murdered more than 30 women prisoners. She was protected by the "Stasi" against extradition to Czechoslovakia
3. SS guard Ruth Hildner. In Pisek at 12 noon, May 2, 1947 she was sentenced to be hanged for her crimes. Six hours later she was executed
4. SS Pfc Sebastian Kraschansky. On May 5, 1948 he together with SS Pvt. Michael Weingartner murdered 22 Jewish women and girls who could walk no farther
5. SS Cpl. Paul Letmethe. On the last day of the war he shot to death an exhausted Jewish woman prisoner despite an order of "no more killings"
6. SS Cpl. Werner Jarritz. His duty was to be in charge of the wagons carrying ill prisoners. When the wagons were full, the women were shot that night
7. Herta Haase - Commandant of women prisoners at FAL Helmbrechts. During the Death March from Helmbrechts to Prachatice she beat to death many prisoners. Never punished
8. SS Sgt Alois Dörr 58 - was sentenced at a War Crimes Trial to 'Life in Prison' - He was freed after serving ten years
                                                                                                                                                                     CONTINUED UNDER PART 6/6