Prisoners' association

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Remembrance at the Stralsund Central Cemetery
A. Sobeck's memorial, 1985, Munich, Altstadt-Lehel district

In many places after the liberation of the concentration camps of National Socialist Germany in 1945, prisoners with a native language organized themselves as part of the liberated, as a national committee, under the name of the respective concentration camp as a committee or as an amicale (French: Freundeskreis ) . Such prisoners' associations also existed at the sites of former forced labor camps . In the 1950s, before the concept of the culture of remembrance emerged, in West Germany and Austria , coming to terms with the past was understood in the most common sense to mean renouncing an active approach to the era of National Socialism and especially the Holocaust . The effect of the prisoner associations did not go beyond the circle of their members for a long time.

The liberation of the camp

Most of the forced labor and concentration camps were liberated by the Allies from January 1945 . In addition to medical and food supplies, they usually gave the liberated prisoners the right to organize their stay until they were returned to their home countries. So many camp committees arose, which initially had to cope with the task of survival in a defeated country of the guards and the opposing armed forces . Nowhere were they greeted by the German population. Only in a few places could the liberated persons responsible for their detention conditions get hold of. Most of the SS members had withdrawn in good time before the victorious powers arrived.

Various committees, Amicales across Europe

International Auschwitz Committee

The International Auschwitz Committee was founded in 1952 by survivors of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp . It serves on the one hand to represent the interests of its members, but also to coordinate the activities of national Auschwitz committees (e.g. France, Poland, GDR) and it promotes the memory of the Holocaust . The attempt is made to prevent a new right-wing extremism and to face its beginnings personally. Organizations from 19 countries belong to the IAK. There has been a coordination office in Berlin since 2003, which is supported by the German federal government.

International camp committee in Buchenwald concentration camp

The Buchenwald International Camp Committee was a conspiratorial organ of prisoners of the Buchenwald concentration camp even before the camp was liberated. After the liberation, the Buchenwald-Dora eV (LAG) was created as an association of German political prisoners from the Buchenwald, Dora concentration camps and their satellite camps. In the Federal Republic of Germany it was part of the association of those persecuted by the Nazi regime, and in the GDR it was organized as part of the committee of anti-fascist resistance fighters . Today she is a member of the Association of Those Persecuted by the Nazi Regime - Association of Antifascists (VVN-BdA) and the International Federation of Resistance Fighters (FIR).

It was not until 1990 that former Dora prisoners from France, Belgium and the Czech Republic founded the European committee Dora, Ellrich, Harzungen et Kommandos “Pour la Mémoire” on the initiative of Jacques Brun (1921–2007) (the word “Kommandos” stands for the affiliated auxiliary or External warehouse). Until 1996 Brun was general secretary of the committee that was founded to keep the memory of the crimes committed in the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp alive internationally. In 1995 Jacques Brun initiated the founding of the association “Jugend für Dora” and called on the young people to continue the work of remembrance against forgetting the Nazi crimes.

Other committees

Umbrella associations were later established across camps, e. B.

Goals using the example of the Buchenwald oath

Buchenwald oath

The core message of Buchenwald's oath is probably this sentence:

“We do not stop the fight until the last guilty party stands before the judges of the people. The destruction of Nazism with its roots is our watchword. Building a new world of peace and freedom is our goal. We owe that to our murdered comrades and their relatives ”.

In addition to this goal, the statement "... never again war" was found in almost all committees. The commitment to peaceful interactions between states was very often part of her life.

Persons in the movement of the prisoners' associations

Max Mannheimer giving a speech in the former Dachau concentration camp, May 5, 2002

Generation change

While the committees and associations wanted to pass on the warning against war and slavery to the following generations from their inception, the surviving prisoners and their immediate relatives were faced with the task over the decades as their membership continued to grow old and die To find a solution for it that is not personally tied to the survivors at the time. Many of the associations have therefore expanded or changed their statutes in such a way that, as part of the generation change, management tasks can also be assumed by younger people or by institutions. An example of this is the French Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Déportation ("Foundation in memory of the deportation", founded in 1990) under the patronage of the respective president. The German and Austrian camp communities (Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Dachau, Mauthausen, Moringen, Neuengamme, Ravensbrück, Sachsenhausen, Sachsenburg) are united in an informal network (without an association structure) and have been using their own website since 2019 Publicity.

See also


  • Wolfgang Benz , Barbara Distel: Dachauer Hefte 1 - The Liberation. German paperback publisher, 1993.
  • Rüdiger Griepenburg: The popular front tactics in the social democratic resistance against the Third Reich: depicted on the German Popular Front group and the Popular Front Committee in the Buchenwald concentration camp. 1969. II, 133 pp.
  • International Buchenwald Committee, Buchenwald. Reminder and obligation. Documents and reports , Frankfurt / M. 1960.
  • Uli Jäger, Michael Schmid-Vöhringer: "We will not rest ...": The peace movement in the Federal Republic of Germany 1945-1982. History, documents, perspectives, Tübingen 1982.
  • Hermann Langbein: "... we did it" , Europa Verlag, Vienna 1964.

Individual evidence

  1. Counter-example: the liberation of Dachau concentration camp ( Memento from May 3, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  2. ^ Lagerarbeitsgemeinschaft Buchenwald-Dora eV
  3. Press release of the Mittelbau-Dora Memorial of July 8, 2007
  4. ^ Homepage of the Amicale April 27, 1944 in A.-Birkenau
  5. Homepage of the Amicale du Train Fantôme
  6. ^ Les Françaises à Ravensbrück. Ed. L'Amicale de Ravensbrück et l'Association des Deportées et Internées des la Resistance, Paris 1965.
    Gertrud Müller: The first half of my life. Memories 1915-1950. After talks recorded by Michael Nolte and Ursula Krause-Schmitt, ed. from the camp community Ravensbrück / Freundeskreis e. V., Essen 2004.
  7. 300 members of the Amicale d'Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen: Sachso , 2003, Pocket Terre Humaine. ISBN 2266132350 (French)
  8. ^ Workshop exhibition at the Sachsenhausen Memorial
  9. Network of camp communities

Web links