concentration camp

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The term concentration camp ( KZ ) has stood for the labor and extermination camps of the Nazi regime since the time of National Socialism . In a broader sense, the word is used for internment camp .

The concentration camps were set up in the German Reich and in the occupied territories by organizations of the NSDAP . In the end there were around 1,000 concentration and sub-camps as well as seven extermination camps . They served the murder of millions of people, the elimination of political opponents, exploitation through forced labor , medical experiments on humans and the internment of prisoners of war . The camp system was an essential element of the National Socialist rule of injustice . Large branches of German industry benefited directly or indirectly from it.

Watchtower of the Majdanek extermination camp
Heavy current barbed wire
Prisoners in the bed frames of the concentration camp barracks ; Buchenwald, 1945
Incinerators, Buchenwald, April 16, 1945

It is assumed that around two thirds of the estimated six million Jews who fell victim to the German extermination of the Jews , later known as the Shoah or Holocaust , were murdered directly in extermination and concentration camps or there as a result of systematic malnutrition, abuse and untreated people Diseases have died. The remaining third died in ghettos - so-called by the SS , in mass shootings, especially by the Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police and the SD, and on the so-called death marches .

Many other people were also murdered in the concentration camps, such as communists , socialists , pastors, system critics, Sinti and Roma (see Porajmos ), homosexuals , Jehovah's Witnesses , the mentally handicapped and alleged " anti-social " (see also Action T4 ). The exact number of deaths is unclear, as the murderers did not keep records of all victims, no more murders were documented at the end of the Second World War and many documents were irretrievably lost due to war events. Many witnesses were also deliberately murdered at the end of the war . Numerous prisoners who were liberated by the Allied troops only died after this point in time as a result of their imprisonment.

Institutions of the same name in Germany before 1933

In the period before the Nazi tyranny, various institutions in Germany were called “concentration camps”, but they differed fundamentally from the Nazi camp system, which was designed for physical destruction or at least psychological breakdown. Initially, these were internment camps for mostly deported forced laborers , prisoners of war and political " protective prisoners " during the First World War and in the early post-war period. In 1920/21 there were briefly three camps for Jewish migrants, most of whom had fled from anti-Semitic persecution from Eastern Europe, but were supposed to be deported from Germany.

National Socialist Concentration Camps in Europe

Initially, Nazi officials used the abbreviation KL for concentration camp. After Eugen Kogon ( The SS State ) , SS guards then preferred the abbreviation KZ because of its harsher sound. According to Benedikt Kautsky , the abbreviation KZ goes back to camp inmates. The Z, according to Kautsky, probably stood for prison .

The development of the National Socialist concentration camps can be divided into four phases (1933–1935, 1936–1938, 1939–1941 and 1942–1945). These can be described by the groups of inmates, the purpose of the detention, the way in which it was carried out and the consequences of detention. While intimidation and persecution of political and social opponents of the NSDAP were in the foreground in the first phase, the mass murder of Jewish citizens across Europe ( Shoah ) finally became the main goal.

1933 to 1935

During the first phase in the early years of the Nazi dictatorship up to the early summer of 1934, organizations close to the NSDAP, especially the Sturmabteilung (SA), began to set up larger or smaller detention centers all over Germany in addition to state prisons. On March 3, 1933, the Nohra concentration camp was set up in a military school near Weimar as the first concentration camp of the Third Reich. On March 13, 1933, the Munich acting police chief Heinrich Himmler ordered the construction of the Dachau concentration camp (near Munich). On March 21, 1933, the Oranienburg concentration camp (north of Berlin) was the first concentration camp under the SA. In this time also the were KZ Ahrensbök , KZ Alt-Dobra , KZ Bad Sulza , KZ Benninghausen , KZ Brandenburg , KZ Börnicke , breitenau concentration camp , KZ Dürrgoy , KZ Esterwegen , Kemna concentration camp , concentration camp Sonnenburg and last KZ Bredow erected.

The early concentration camps partly resembled prisons, but mostly consisted of improvised torture sites in barns, pubs, cellars or other properties that had been "taken over" by the SA. Here, political opponents of the regime outside the normal legal system were taken into “ protective custody ” and abused. At first they were subordinate to various institutions, including the SA, which was appointed auxiliary police, the various National Socialist police chiefs and the SS. By mid-March 1933, over 100,000 people were arrested, exposed to the arbitrariness of their guards in prisons and improvised camps, tortured to death or without justification been released again. In the summer of 1933, more than 26,000 people were still held in these detention centers.

In May 1933 these so-called “wild concentration camps” were nationalized in Prussia and placed under the newly established Gestapa under Rudolf Diels . At the latest when the SA was disempowered in the so-called Röhm Putsch in 1934, all concentration camps came under the control of the SS; Theodor Eicke became their inspector . The spatial construction and the camp regulations , which are almost everywhere the same, went back to him. The concentration camps became a lawless area and were shielded from the outside world. Even the fire brigade was not allowed to enter the site, for example to check compliance with fire regulations. In the summer of 1935, rule of the regime was secured and around 4,000 prisoners were still in the camps in the Reich.

In August 1933, Hans Beimler , who escaped from Dachau, publicly described the conditions in a concentration camp in the brochure Im Mörderlager Dachau .

From April 1934 KL Columbia in Berlin had its own household and was subordinate to the SS. KL Columbia was the second SS concentration camp in the Reich. In July 1933, 80 men were imprisoned in the Columbia House, but the number rose rapidly. In September there were already 300 prisoners, in February 1934 the number was 450 prisoners. Due to the drastic overcrowding of the 156 existing cells, the living conditions were inhuman. When the torture in the Columbia concentration camp finally became known to the Berlin population and met with a very negative response, the Secret State Police Office (Gestapa) felt compelled to intervene in order not to “unnecessarily worry” the population and abroad. In September 1934, the Gestapa expressly prohibited the harassment and torture of prisoners.

1936 to 1938

Five Jews with disabilities in Buchenwald, June campaign, propaganda recording, 1938
After the November pogrom, a column of Jews is brought to the concentration camp for protective custody , Baden-Baden, November 1938

The second phase began in 1936 and lasted until 1938. During this time, the number of prisoners increased and their composition changed fundamentally. While mainly political opponents of the regime were imprisoned in the first phase, the second phase began to imprison those who did not correspond to the National Socialist image of the national community : above all " anti-social ", "work-shy", multiple convicts, homosexuals and Jehovah's Witnesses identified as " Bible Students " in the camps . After the annexation of Austria , the number of “political prisoners” rose to around 7,000.

In this second phase, the Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald concentration camps were built, which were already a sign of the impending war and the increasing number of prisoners associated with it. After its construction, the Sachsenhausen concentration camp also became the center of the concentration camps (seat of the ICL).

As part of the “Arbeitsscheu Reich” campaign , two waves of arrests in April and June 1938 took over 10,000 people to concentration camps as so-called antisocials .

During the November pogroms of 1938 , 26,000 Jews were imprisoned in order to force them to emigrate and to Aryanize their property . At the end of 1938, almost 60,000 people were held in concentration camps.

1939 to 1941

Several factors contributed to the further development of the concentration camps in the third phase , which lasted until mid-1941 or early 1942 after the attack on Poland began. The prisoners were used in SS production facilities such as quarries and brickworks. After a wave of imprisonment in Germany, the number of prisoners, which had dropped to 21,000 before the start of the war, rose rapidly and doubled within a very short time. At the end of 1940 there were 53,000 prisoners in German concentration camps. In addition, the composition of the prisoners changed again. At the beginning it was mainly Germans, but at the beginning of the war mainly people came from the areas conquered by Germany, i.e. civilians from Poland, France, the Czech Republic, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, Belgium and soldiers from the Soviet Union. Many of these prisoners were Jews, Roma and Sinti.

Many new camps were set up in the conquered countries; soon more prisoners were locked up in these camps than in the Reich territory (Germany and Austria). At the beginning of the third phase, the concentration camps were divided into three categories, which indicated the severity of the treatment and the living conditions of the inmates. The death rate among prisoners multiplied in the third phase: For example in Dachau from 4% to 36% in 1942; in Buchenwald from 10% to 19% in 1941.

1942 to 1945

Transports from all over Europe to the death camps

The fourth phase began around the beginning of 1942 and ended in 1945. It was mainly characterized by the massive persecution of Jews and the war against the Soviet Union , as well as the establishment of extermination camps . In this last phase, the administration of the concentration camps lay with the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office (WVHA) under the direction of Oswald Pohl . The use of prisoners in private companies became more important than production in the concentration camp's own factories, so that several thousand satellite camps were created. The extermination camps of Aktion Reinhardt were subordinate to the respective Higher SS and Police Leader (HSSPF) .

The number of concentration camp prisoners reached 224,000 in August 1943, rose to 524,286 in August 1944 and, shortly before the end of the war, in January 1945, was 714,211. The prisoners came from all over Europe. At the end of the war, Germans and Austrians only comprised around 5–10% of the prisoners.

As a result of the increasing Allied air superiority and the immense need for armaments, there was a nationwide expansion of armaments production from March 1944. Numerous prisoners died within a few weeks while expanding tunnels or while working in underground production facilities . In the final phase of the war from December 1944, 240,000 prisoners were probably killed, directly or indirectly. The high death rate was due to malnutrition, insufficient clothing and hard labor, exertion and murders during the death marches to evacuate camps, air raids and epidemics. Even after the liberation, thousands of prisoners died in the camps from illnesses, malnutrition or the refeeding syndrome , despite the “exemplary” supply by the medical staff .

The total number of prisoners who were locked up in one of the concentration camps for weeks or years is estimated at two and a half to three million people.

Płaszow concentration camp , initially a labor camp, near Krakow , Poland 1942

The concentration camp systems in the German Reich and in the occupied territories

During the inspection of the concentration camps , there were a total of 24 main camps, to which well over 1,000 satellite camps, some under the designation "external command, camp, subsidiary camp", were organizationally subordinate. A corresponding list was published in the Federal Law Gazette in 1977 and 1982 . In the following years, other detention sites that nominally did not belong to the Nazi concentration camp system were also classified as camps according to legal requirements, so that the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” assumes a total of 3,846 camps. Experts at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington calculated a total of around 42,500 Nazi camps, including foreign , prisoner of war and forced labor camps , so-called ghettos and Jewish houses , forced brothels and homes for euthanasia victims .

The main camps in the German Reich were the concentration camps Arbeitsdorf (near Wolfsburg ), Bergen-Belsen , Buchenwald , Dachau , Flossenbürg , Groß-Rosen , Hinzert , Mittelbau-Dora (near Nordhausen ), Mauthausen , Neuengamme , Ravensbrück , Sachsenhausen , Niederhagen- Wewelsburg and Stutthof , on occupied Polish territory Auschwitz I main camp , Auschwitz-Monowitz , Majdanek , Warsaw and Płaszow , in Estonia Vaivara , in Lithuania Kauen , in Latvia Riga-Kaiserwald , in France (in annexed Alsace ) Natzweiler-Struthof and in the Netherlands Herzogenbusch . In what was then East Prussia, the Hohenbruch concentration camp near Hohenbruch (until 1938 Lauknen, since 1946 Gromowo / Гро́мово) existed from August 1939 to January 1945, which was subordinate to the Gestapo in Königsberg .

The command hierarchy over the concentration camps , initially in the inspection of the concentration camps (ICL), came together in December 1934 in Berlin's Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse. In 1939 there was the merger to form the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) in Office Group D under Heinrich Müller , who was also responsible for the department under Eichmann's leadership, the “deportation center” of the camp system. As of March 1942, the SS economist Oswald Pohl was able to combine the offices of "SS Main Office Administration and Economics" and the "Main Office Household and Buildings" within the scope of the war economy in such a way that the SS-owned industries, trades and factories also belonged to him in the concentration camps were subject. Police authorities and party offices were merged into it. The WVHA Pohls worked closely with the SS main office. From 1942/43 the entire concentration camp system was subordinate to Pohl alone.

If the prisoners were not or no longer usable as workers, they were killed on site in the concentration camp or mostly deported to one of the seven extermination camps or, especially in the final phase of the system, from 1944 to one of the death subcamps. “External commands” were otherwise workplaces to which the prisoners had to march from the concentration camp during the respective working days and then return there. The complex of the three large Auschwitz concentration camps ( Auschwitz I , Auschwitz-Birkenau and Auschwitz-Monowitz ) with its production facilities and numerous secondary concentration camps played a key role in this system of arms production, extermination through labor and direct mass murder.

Transit camps and collective camps were connected upstream of the system. Collective camps could also be parts of the city that were separated from the rest of the town and were very often referred to as “Jewish residential districts”. In Eastern Europe alone, the SS set up around 600 so-called “ghettos”, in which at least four million people have been interned in the meantime. These “residential districts” were mostly set up by the SS from the beginning only for their use in the context of the intended final solution / extermination of Jews . In particular, they served as a buffer station for the Reichsbahn's transport capacities, which were not always available .

Overview: List of the concentration camps and their satellite camps

Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos , Volume 1, 2009

Function of the concentration camp

Forced labor

The Inspection of the Concentration Camps (IKL) was the central administrative and management authority within the SS-WVHA for all National Socialist concentration camps (see below).

Forced labor in the Wilhelm-Gustloff-Werk II armaments
plant (NS Foundation), Buchenwald concentration camp, 1945

In contrast to labor camps of the general historical type, in National Socialist Germany the exploitation of the labor of concentration camp prisoners primarily served to destroy them through work , that is, to kill them through the working and living conditions there. The food allocations alone were below the subsistence level for physical labor. The conditions under which people were interned in labor camps were dependent on the respective camp commandant , within the framework determined centrally by the ICL . Anyone who could no longer do a job and had not yet fallen victim to the inhuman conditions or the arbitrariness of the camp staff was murdered. Those sick people who were not able to work again in approximately four weeks were injected to death (murdered) by the medical staff with phenol or other agents or sent to the extermination camps in collective transports ( selection ). In the concentration camps, many prisoners only survived the conditions of forced labor for a few weeks. The term slave labor has been used again and again for this .

In the course of the war, the concentration camps, with the labor they were forced to work there, increasingly assumed an important military function that was in partial contrast to the goal of extermination. The camps were production facilities of the SS, initially for the extraction of natural stones and bricks, later in many other areas. In addition, the prisoners were loaned out to the arms industry as workers . The best-known case concerns the chemical company IG Farben , which set up its own branch in Oświęcim , the Buna works, near the concentration camp and finally had the Auschwitz III Monowitz sub- camp built there . Practically the entire large German industry abused concentration camp prisoners on a large scale during the war as forced laborers. They were exploited in factories alongside the groups of people in the permanent workforce, those obliged to work , the foreign Eastern workers , the mostly only temporary prisoners in the police detention and education camps, prisoners of war declared civilian prisoners, albeit under much stricter supervision and under much worse living conditions.

Women's camp

As a rule, the concentration camps were strictly separated according to sex. Most of the concentration camps were men's camps. The Moringen and Lichtenburg concentration camps were temporarily women's camps, and later the Ravensbrück concentration camp throughout . Women as Gestapo prisoners were very often locked up in regular prisons. Only in a few concentration camps were there temporarily or continuously both a men's and a women's camp, such as the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp . This was probably related to the prisoners' planned work on site. The male and female concentration camp prisoners were deployed separately by the SS throughout the day. The proportion of women among the concentration camp prisoners rose from 11.7% (1939) to 28% in January 1945.

Youth detention centers

Appeal in the Poland youth detention center Litzmannstadt

At the time of National Socialism, youth detention centers were euphemistically referred to as "youth protection camps" or "youth detention camps". In a certain way they resembled the concentration camps, since the National Socialists used these youth detention centers for interning and systematically re-educating resistant, "difficult to educate" or non-conformist youths and also children from all over Europe: Moringen concentration camp (officially "Police Youth Protection Camp"; June 1940; near Göttingen) for boys, the Uckermark concentration camp (since June 1942 in the immediate vicinity of the Ravensbrück women's concentration camp in Mecklenburg) for girls and young women and the camp in the Litzmannstadt ghetto ( Łódź , officially: “ Poland youth custody camp ”) with a total of three subcamps . The prisoner capacity there was at least 3,000 adolescents.

These camps were subordinate to the Reich Security Main Office and were officially used for "youth welfare". Some of the young people were assessed by Robert Ritter's Racial Hygiene and Population Biology Research Center for “racial” or “criminal biological” characteristics and for their “ability to develop or educate”.

Furthermore, there were so-called foreign children foster homes for newborn children of forced laborers, in which inhuman conditions prevailed.

Children and young people were locked up and murdered in all concentration camps. At least 500 young people were murdered directly in the Litzmannstadt concentration camp. In January 1945, at the end of the war, the Uckermark concentration camp became a death camp for adults.

Concentration Camp (Poland)
Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp
Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp
Locations (map of today's Poland)

Extermination camp

Extermination or death camps were set up for the sole purpose of mass murdering Jews, Roma and Sinti and other minorities, such as politically dissenters, homosexuals and the mentally as well as physically ill, initially with the help of gas vans and later mainly in gas chambers . The National Socialist murder apparatus concentrated on Jews. Other groups, especially Soviet prisoners of war, were also among the victims and some of them were murdered there. Camps of this type were set up between December 1941 and July 1942 in occupied Poland in Chelmno in the so-called Wartheland near Łódź, Belzec near Lublin , Sobibor and Treblinka in the so-called Generalgouvernement , and Maly Trostinez in Belarus .

The genesis of the extermination camps Auschwitz-Birkenau (near Kraków) and Majdanek (also near Lublin) was somewhat different . In both concentration camps, additional gas chambers were set up to perfect the mass murder of the Jews only after they had been put into operation . Majdanek is also counted among the extermination camps. In contrast to the former extermination camps, they also functioned as concentration camps for the SS in the sense otherwise customary for the National Socialists, due to the extermination through labor practiced there at the same time . The area of ​​the Auschwitz concentration camp was annexed and counted as Reich territory during the occupation.

All of these extermination camps differ from the other concentration camps in the enormous number of Jewish victims (regardless of nationality ).

Transit camp

The transit camps were usually on the railway lines that led directly to "death camps". In terms of organization, some concentration camps were directly linked to the operation of the extermination camps . Particularly in occupied countries without their own extermination camps, such as France, Italy, the Netherlands and Greece, these “interim camps” were primarily used to put together transports with around 1,000 prisoners each. That was the number that the SS aimed for as a “benchmark for death transports” in order to be able to supply the extermination camps with consistently large numbers of victims. In contrast, concentration camps endeavored to achieve a high degree of continuity in the composition of their forced laborers. This did not rule out the possibility of sorting out prisoners for murder at the death camps, for example because of illness or loss of strength (“selection”). This could be done regularly, to adapt to new prisoner benchmarks ("occupancy") or as part of ordered "actions". Even if the killing was not the purpose of the transit camps and was not carried out systematically, numerous prisoners already died there from mistreatment or the conditions of transport and detention.

List of transit camps

Assembly camps and ghettos

Map of the Jewish ghettos in Eastern Europe 1941–1945

There were numerous so-called assembly camps for Jews, which were often called Jewish residential districts or, especially in the post-war period, ghettos . The word residential district or ghetto was used solely for camouflage reasons, because the people responsible never intended to survive longer for the people held there. From an organizational point of view, they had the advantage that no trains, rolling stock and personnel were blocked by the victims trapped in them while waiting for destruction capacities. The only function of the assembly camps of the Reinhardt Final Solution Campaign was to take on transports on the way to the extermination camps until the extermination capacities in the death / extermination camps were free again for their factory-like murder and the removal of corpses.


Administration by the SS

The inspection of the concentration camps, d. H. The administration of the concentration camp system was incorporated into the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office (SS- WVHA ) as Office Group D in 1942. The SS concentration camps were not integrated into state hierarchies. This enabled the SS to invoice the services provided by their “business operations”, e.g. B. for prisoner labor in sub-concentration camps.

Internal organization of the warehouse

Ranks and badges of the SS overseers (until 1942)

All SS members guarding the camps were divided into five (other information: six) areas according to their tasks and distribution of responsibilities:

  • Camp commandant , adjutant as head of the headquarters with personnel administration, armory and the post censorship office. Here was the command over the guards barracked near or in the camp .

Including the other departments

  • Political Department and the Identification Service . Responsibilities: Registration of new arrivals, dismissals, transfers, death or flight of the prisoners, their interrogation, maintenance of the prisoner register. The chief was always an officer of the Secret State Police or the Criminal Police
  • Protective custody camp leader and adjutant . Responsibilities: the "operation" of the camp in terms of all orders for internal order, daily routine, roll calls, etc.
  • Administration ; this included the local construction management, economic warehouse and possibly SS agriculture.
  • Medical services under the on- site doctor / first camp doctor with the infirmary for SS members, possibly the pharmacy and responsibility for the sick block
  • Department VI : Welfare, training and troop support for the SS (not available as a department in every concentration camp)

Schematic organizational structure of a typical concentration camp

Concentration camp commandant /
camp commandant
Command staff /
headquarters; adjutant
Political Department /
Camp Gestapo
Protective detention camp
Administration /
site management
Medical service /
medical department
Labor input
Leaders of the guards
Protective custody camp leader
Camp doctor or medical officer
Labor leader
Camp elder
Labor statistics
Company commander
Report leader
Camp doctors / troop doctors
Command leader
Block elder
Block leader
SS medical service grades
Room service
Room manager
Kapo in the infirmary

Italics: prison functionaries

Guarding hierarchy

The report leaders , the labor operations leader and possibly the supervisor in women's camps were subordinate to the protective custody camp leader . They were responsible for keeping order in the entire camp and for assigning prisoners to external detachments. They were in charge of the block leaders who supervised one or a few blocks for which they were responsible to the camp administration. The block leaders determined the composition of the work details as well as the block elders and room elders from among the prisoners.

Divide-and-conquer strategy

In another management method called divide -and-conquer strategy , prison functionaries were used as a kind of auxiliary police (see Kapo ). A kapo had to guide the prisoners' work on behalf of the SS and was made responsible for the results. If the “order” was carried out “successfully”, they were rewarded with “special” perks, for example alcohol, better food rations .

The daily routine

The daily routine for the prisoners in most concentration camps was characterized by the fact that their labor should be used from dawn to dusk. Here is an example from the Flossenbürg concentration camp near Weiden . There were concentration camps in which the prisoners had to work around the clock in two opposite shifts and alternately slept in the same beds (example, Neckarelz concentration camp ).

4:00 am / 5:00 am Wake up (summer / winter)
5:15 am Roll call
6:00 am - 12:00 pm working time
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm Lunch (including entry and exit times)
1:00 pm - 6:30 pm working time
7:00 p.m. Roll call (duration approx. 1 hour)
8:45 p.m. "Everything in the barracks "
9:00 p.m. "Everything in the beds" - "Lights off"
Identification number of a surviving prisoner

Inmate number, loss of identity

When the prisoners were admitted to a concentration camp, their hair was shaved and their private clothing was removed. Instead of their name, they were given an inmate number.

This was also tattooed in a camp area of ​​the Auschwitz concentration camp. However, this did not happen with those who were sent to the gas chambers immediately after their arrival at the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp.

“When you were dealing with an SS man, the first thing you had to do was tear off your cap and give your number loud and clear, in German of course. I am beginning to understand how lucky I am in my misfortune to speak fluent German. Most Greek and Italian Jews do not understand an order and cannot even pronounce their number. Of course, they can't sing any German songs either, which, as if to mockery, we still have to perform on the march back and forth from work. That is enough to be brutally beaten, sometimes beaten to death. "

The prisoners in the concentration camps were assigned to different categories by the SS - visible on the colored scraps of fabric on the prisoners' clothing (triangles). From the point of view of the SS, this identification created a hierarchy among the prisoners, at the bottom of which there were regularly "the Jews".

Roll calls

Prisoners at a roll call , Sachsenhausen concentration camp, 1936

The daily Zählappellen on the parade ground , the SS controlled the completeness of the prisoners. If there were no prisoners at roll call, an alarm was raised about an attempt to escape. The outer chain of posts was not withdrawn to prevent escape into the surrounding area. Only when it was complete was the chain of posts only around the inner storage area at night. The appeals were also used as collective punishment for the inmates.

Work details of the inmates

As a work detail or KZ-command SS described those groups that were assigned to different jobs.

As examples of the daily work of the concentration camp prisoners, a list of the internal and external work details from the Gusen I concentration camp is given :

  • I. Activities for Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke GmbH (SS operation):
    • Gusen, Kastenhof and Pierbauer Quarry Command (1940–1945): 2,800 prisoners
    • Lungitz brickworks command
    • Armaments Command Vienna (1943): 300 prisoners
    • Messerschmitt Armaments Command (BA II) (1943–1945): 6,000 prisoners
    • Armaments command at Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG (Georgenmühle) (1942–1945): 6,500 prisoners
    • St. Georgen housing development command (1940–1942): around 300 prisoners
    • Gusen Regulation Command (1941): around 150 prisoners
    • Road construction command
    • Track construction command
  • II. For the construction management of the Waffen-SS and German Police Gusen near St. Georgen ad Gusen:
    • Construction management command
    • Drainage command
    • Commando lumber yard
    • Railway Construction Command (1941–1943)
    • Donauhafen Command (1942–1943)
  • III. for the SS camp administration (internal work units):
    • Camp command (1940–1945): around 400 prisoners
    • Barrack building command (1940–1944): around 100 prisoners
  • IV. For other clients:
    • Bomb Seeker Command or Dud Command (1944–1945)

The concentration camp prisoners had to do forced labor right from the start , the SS wanted, among other things, to raise so-called “work-shy” people. Prisoners should not be unemployed in concentration camps. The SS operation, the respective concentration camp, should bring economic benefits. Especially in later years, forced labor increased to the point of destruction through work .

The assignment to a lighter or more physically difficult command influenced the prisoners' chances of survival. A command within a building, for example manual work, was more bearable for prisoners than commands that took place in the open air in freezing temperatures in winter. Examples of such external commands were the Dachau herb garden plantation or the plantation in the Heppenheim subcamp .

Some work details were forced to take part in the murder process or in the removal of corpses. For example, from 1940 there was a crematorium work detail in the Dachau concentration camp . It was housed separately and was not allowed to have contact with other inmates. The Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp Sonderkommando had similar tasks.

Some external units developed into new, independent concentration camps , for example the Mauthausen concentration camp , the Niederhagen concentration camp and the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp .

"Lagerszpracha" - a language used by prisoners in the concentration camp

A special feature is the use of language by the prisoners in the concentration camps in addition to their mother tongue. In almost every concentration camp there were victims of up to 40 different peoples or ethnic groups. Each prisoner brought his or her own mother tongue or national language to this place . Everyone with the guards had to speak German in the official camp language. Prisoner mail was only allowed to be written in German. In order to survive, an inmate had to be able to understand and speak at least the simplest commands and answers in German. The prisoners managed each other with a multinational mixture of languages, some of which developed into a German-based pidgin language . It consisted of key words and, very often, complementary non-verbal signs. Around 1985, Wolf Oschlies suggested using the term "Lagerszpracha", which was already partially used in the concentration camp, in general.

Medical experiments

Dissection table, Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp

The Wehrmacht , the German Ahnenerbe Research Foundation , the German Research Foundation , various universities and the pharmaceutical industry supported human experiments financially, personally and with equipment. On selected as subjects concentration camp prisoners were from doctors and doctors of the Armed Forces (supported by forcibly recruited function inmates with some nursing or medical training) carried out medical experiments, during which the prisoners usually painfully died. The surviving test subjects and the personnel involved were sometimes killed as a cover-up, as in the Bullenhuser Damm case . Spotted fever experiments, malaria and TBC experiments and surgical attempts in which the test subjects were inflicted with contaminated gunshot, explosion or incendiary injuries are known. Salt water tests were carried out in Dachau and chemical warfare agents were experimented with in the gas chamber in Natzweiler-Struthof.

The Nuremberg Medical Trial took place from December 9, 1946 to August 20, 1947 before the First American Military Court in Nuremberg. The accused included the head of the tropical medicine department at the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, Gerhard Rose , for the typhus experiments on " gypsies " in Buchenwald. SS-Hauptsturmführer Waldemar Hoven , camp doctor in Buchenwald concentration camp, was also charged.

The sources for the experiments in Buchenwald are the station diary of SS-Hauptsturmführer Erwin Ding-Schuler , statements by European doctors who were imprisoned in the concentration camp, as well as prisoners such as the Austrian sociologist and philosopher Eugen Kogon , who in 1946 under the title Der SS-Staat über the life in Buchenwald reported.

For decades from 1949 onwards, only the selection documentation Science Without Humanity (since 1961 in further editions: Medicine without Humanity ) published by Alexander Mitscherlich and Fred Mielke was available in German . The publication of the complete documentation, the verbal transcripts, the indictment and defense material did not take place until 1999 as a microfiche edition Der Nürnberger Ärzteprozess 1946/47 (381 Fiches) on behalf of the Foundation for Social History of the 20th Century . The edition goes back to Klaus Dörner's commitment from the beginning of the 1990s . After the failure of direct project funding by the German Medical Association , Dörner decided to go through the medical profession. With the support of the German Medical Association and the State Medical Associations, all doctors in Germany were personally written to between 1994 and 1998 and asked for financial support. Over 7,900 doctors donated a total of around 1.4 million DM , making the edition on the Nuremberg Doctors' Trial possible. Dörner and Angelika Ebbinghaus published the analysis in 2001 under the title Destroying and Healing : The Nuremberg Doctor Trial and its Consequences .

Types of death of concentration camp prisoners

Notification of death, Dachau, 1944

The causes of death of the inmates were often encrypted in the files of the NS organs for the purpose of secrecy . The file numbers under which the file process was processed by the superordinate inspection of the concentration camps (IKL) were used as abbreviations .

The following cipher forms were used:

  • 14 f 1 - "natural deaths"
  • 14 f 2 - " Suicide or accidental death "
  • 14 f 3 - "Shooting while fleeing" (cf. so-called duty of the guards)
  • 14 f I - " Execution "
  • 14 f 13 - "Special treatment of sick and frail prisoners" - The cover term " special treatment " usually meant murder, for example by gassing or using lethal injection. Some of these murders took place in the euthanasia killing centers. See also: Action 14f13 .

From October 21, 1941, a different cipher (14 f 7 to 14 f 10 and 14 f 14) was in effect for Soviet prisoners .

In some cases, separate special registry offices were attached to the concentration camps, which issued death certificates and notifications of death on the basis of forged medical certificates from SS doctors . The causes of death named therein generally had no connection with the individual cause of death.

(Reference to the later notarization of the deaths of prisoners in the former German concentration camps in the post-war period ; according to Section 38 of the Civil Status Act as amended from 2007, the registrar of the Bad Arolsen special registry office is solely responsible.)

Punishments, camp penalties

Whippingbuck concentration camp, Natzweiler Struthof concentration camp

One of Himmler's first orders to isolate the concentration camps from the environment was to authorize the commanders to act as judges. This was preceded by a public prosecutor's investigation into deaths in the Dachau concentration camp. Now the concentration camp commanders could decide for themselves about most of the punishments. In certain cases they had to seek the direction of the ICL. The so-called “bunker” was the SS name of the prison in the concentration camp. Most of the time, detention was ordered in the form of solitary confinement, very often without food. Partly without light and in so-called standing cells, in which sitting or lying down was impossible. The "bunker" was often used by the SS or the camp Gestapo as a soundproofed place for torture. The term bunker for prison comes from the soldiers' language for the military prison.

Liberation from survivors

During the advance of their troops, the Allies on the fronts experienced at very different times what the anti-Semitism of the National Socialists was capable of when dealing criminally with their own civilian population:


  • On 23 July 1944, the freed Red Army the Majdanek concentration camp was the first of the great extermination camp in Poland. As in all of the following camps, skeletal survivors will die in the next few weeks from the consequences of malnutrition and diseases acquired there.

In August 1944, western journalists came to the Majdanek extermination camp, which had been hastily evacuated by the SS. As a result, depictions of the mass murder appeared on the front pages of US newspapers and magazines ( Life magazine August 28 and New York Times August 30, 1944).

Only a few of the SS guards could be arrested directly. The majority escaped beforehand. Occasionally there were acts of revenge against those arrested by liberated prisoners, but also by Allied troops.

1945 (here only a few key data as an example)

After the liberation, the Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen concentration camps, which were on the territory of the Soviet occupation zone , continued to be used as special camps by the Soviet military administration and the GDR until 1950 .

Missing persons and displaced persons

From 1943 onwards, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) investigated the situation of the prisoners. At the end of the war, this led to the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and in June 1947 to the International Refugee Organization (IRO) as its successor organization. This resulted in the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen , where the whereabouts of missing people can be inquired about .

Soviet prisoner of war identified tormentors, Buchenwald concentration camp, April 14, 1945

The liberated concentration camp prisoners were accommodated as Displaced Persons by the Allies in DP camps and by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) or the successor organization International Refugee Organization (IRO), the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and many other organizations supplied and looked after. Numerous displaced persons died in the first few months because their health at the time of liberation was poor and the Allies' supplies of food, warm clothing and medicines were inadequate. Conditions improved after the Harrison Report was published.

Corpses from mass graves were exhumed , identified and individually buried. Witnesses were questioned and evidence and documents were held. The knowledge gained about labor and concentration camps as part of the UNRRA search for foreigners was first published in 1949 in the Catalog of Camps and Prisons (CCP for short).

The repatriation of the Jewish, Russian, Polish and Southeast European concentration camp prisoners turned out to be difficult because of their number, the devastation in their home countries and the political upheavals (shifting Poland to the west, spreading communist coercive regime). The last DP camp in Germany ( Föhrenwald ) could not be closed until 1957.

Further Nazi camps in occupied areas

An American Holocaust study of the Nazi camps in 2013 showed that there were around 42,500 forced labor and prison camps, concentration camps and ghettos in Europe.



Horserødlejren in Nordsjælland , about seven kilometers from Helsingør ; Frøslev (municipality of Bov) in South Jutland / Sønderjylland (as a prison camp / Frøslevlejren II near Flensburg opened on August 13, 1944 until the liberation on May 5, 1945, German Fröslee camp )


In defeated and partially occupied France there were - with one exception - no concentration camps, if one understands by this a camp of the Germans in World War II, whose guards were subordinate to an SS organization. The one exception, the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp , was in the Alsace CdZ area , which was in fact incorporated into the German Empire and in which there were no longer any French administrative bodies. In France, however, there were camps that had similar names and whose functions were different, but at least similar in one point: transit and collective camps ( French : Camp de transit, Camp d'internement, Camp de réfugiés , but also Camp de prisonniers de guerre, Camp de prisonniers, Camp de concentration pour détenus politiques, Camp d'accueil, Camp de séjour, Center de séjour surveillé.)

Yugoslav participants in the Spanish Civil War in Camp de Gurs camp, France around 1939

These could be camps for refugees from Spain , so-called Red Spaniards , who had fled from Franco and were often suspected of communism. Roma (called “Tsiganes, Nomades” in French) were imprisoned in some camps. Still others were originally prisoner of war camps used as internment camps for "enemy" civilians. The legal basis was usually newer provisions of the Petain regime (État français) . However, due to the collaboration of the Petain regime with the German occupiers in the context of the Shoah , some camps were primarily used to organize deportation transports to the German extermination camps in occupied Poland. The camps were guarded and organized to varying degrees, mostly by the French police.

In most cases, the lack of food and hygiene was a massive risk of illness, which led to many deaths in such camps. French and international aid organizations tried to curb starvation by delivering aid to the camps. In France there is a discussion about the question of guilt in the collaboration and assistance with the deportation (especially of French Jews, but also of foreigners, especially refugees from Hitler's sphere of influence) by politicians and police officers. After raids and searches with arrests, only some of the prisoners were handed over directly to the Germans. In contrast to German concentration camps, the French camp administration cannot usually be ascribed a willingness to kill the prisoner as the main reason for acting. However, where the deportation took place, the French authorities also knew that it was about transports to death. A special feature among the many groups of victims were German Jews, who in 1940 were transported from Baden and the Palatinate ( Wagner-Bürckel-Aktion ) for internment, first to the Camp de Gurs (via Agde ) and from there to the extermination camps in 1942. Previously, in 1940, French Jews from Alsace and the CdZ region of Lorraine had been deported by the Germans to unoccupied France. In 1942, a large number of the internees were handed over from these camps to the Gestapo, who deported them by train from camps near Paris, mostly from Drancy , to the extermination camps “in the east”.

A list of around 50 camps from which prisoners, internees and refugees were extradited to Germany by the Vichy regime :


The largest concentration camps in fascist Italy
designation From To Estimated number of
people trapped
Estimated number of
people murdered
Arbe ( Kampor Camp ) July 1942 September 11, 1943 15,000 1,500
Chiesanuova concentration camp near Padua June 1942 September 10, 1943
Gonars concentration camp near Palmanova March 1942 September 8, 1943 7,000 453; > 500
Molat concentration camp June 30, 1942 September 8, 1943 1,000
Monigo near Treviso June 1942
Renicci concentration camp , near Arezzo October 1942
Visco near Palmanova Winter 1942

From 1941 to 1943 tens of thousands of civilians were held in Italian concentration camps in occupied Dalmatia and the occupied northern Croatian coast of Bakar , Kraljevica , Molat , Rab , Zlarin .

Forced labor and adverse living conditions cost the lives of many inmates who were not immediately executed.

The camps in Molat and Rab (34 percent of the inmates did not survive) were particularly notorious as death camps.

The Risiera di San Sabba in Trieste , the Borgo San Dalmazzo police detention camp , the Fossoli transit camp in the province of Modena and the Bolzano transit camp were National Socialist concentration camps on Italian soil.

Even more than 60 years after the end of the war, there is hardly any awareness among the Italian population that there was such a thing as concentration camps in Italy. For example, one encounters people in the city of Gonars, in the immediate vicinity of which there was a concentration camp, who vehemently deny that the Gonars camp was a concentration camp. Instead, they emphasize that it was just a detention center.

In 2003 the then Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi claimed that there had been no concentration camps during the time of Italian fascism , that Mussolini had not killed anyone and had "sent people into internal exile on vacation".

Yugoslavia / Independent State of Croatia

Children in the Ustasha concentration camp Sisak, Yugoslavia

At the time of the German and Italian occupation of Yugoslavia during the Second World War, the fascist Ustasha regime and the Italian occupying power in the occupied part of Croatia and collaborators in Serbia and the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) set up around twenty concentration camps from 1941 - including in Banjica , Molat , Rab , Šabac , and Topovske Supe . Another concentration camp on the territory of the NDH state was the Sajmište concentration camp on the left bank of the Sava near Zemun , which, however, was operated by the German occupation forces . Most of them were later concentrated in the Jasenovac camp complex . With a total area of ​​240 km² and the number of victims it became the third largest concentration camp in Europe and the largest in the Balkans ("Auschwitz of the Balkans"). It also comprised the three children's camps, Sisak , Gornja Rijeka and Jastrebarsko . The prisoners did not die from gas, but were stabbed or slaughtered, beaten, hanged, drowned, burned alive or buried.

A Croatian-Serbian historians' dialogue has been meeting since 1998, dealing with the dispute over the death toll in Jasenovac. At the Belgrade Dialogue in 2002, both sides agreed that the number of those killed should be around 60,000 to 80,000, which corresponds to the data calculated by Žerjavić and Kočović years earlier. The work by Benz / Distel, published in 2009, indicates the number of victims as 80,000 to 90,000.

The Jasenovac Memorial Museum has published a list of the victims of Jasenovac, which is not yet complete, with the status of the research up to March 2013. This list includes 83,145 persons known by name, including 47,627 Serbs, 16,173 Roma, 13,116 Jews, 4,255 Croats and 1,974 People of different ethnic or religious affiliations as well as victims whose nationality could not be clearly established who died in Jasenovac between the establishment of the camp in 1941 and the liberation in 1945.


In Greece by the German occupiers in 1941 in Thessaloniki , the concentration camp Pavlos Melas , the Italian set and in October 1943 KZ Chaidari ( campo di concentramento Chaidari ) in Athens after the Italian armistice of Cassibile first out of 8 September 1943 by the armed forces and a few weeks later placed under the direction of the BdS Greece. It was probably the southernmost Nazi concentration camp in Europe and served as accommodation for resistance fighters and as a transit camp for Greek Jews.

Channel Islands

The Alderney concentration camp (also called Sylt camp, from March 1943 to June 1944) was a satellite camp of the Neuengamme concentration camp on the Channel Island of Alderney, which had been evacuated by Great Britain and occupied since 1940, and thus the only German concentration camp in an area of ​​the British crown possession.


Five concentration camps: Herzogenbusch (Kamp Vught) and Westerbork (police transit camp for Jews), Kamp Amersfoort , Kamp Erika and Kamp Schoorl. Twilhaar was Rijkswerkkamp (labor camp).


Camp Grini, solemn roll call for Liberation Day, May 8, 1945

After the occupation in April / May 1940, the Reich Commissioner for Norway, Josef Terboven, implemented an increasingly tough occupation policy, as the collaboration government under Vidkun Quisling had no support from the population. Under the commander of the Security Police and SD Heinrich Fehlis , Sipo and SD arrested political opponents, communists, trade union members, opposition teachers, students, police officers, officers of the Norwegian army, prisoners of war, forced laborers and Jews. Four police and prison camps were set up for this purpose. These were Grini fangeleir near Oslo , Falstad near Trondheim , Ulven and Espeland near Bergen and Sydpissen near Tromsø . The camps were used as places of execution and prisoners were deported to concentration camps, including Jews to Auschwitz.

Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus

There was a particularly high density of concentration, extermination, transit camps and ghettos in the General Government in eastern Poland. The most famous extermination camps Auschwitz, Sobibor , Treblinka , Chelmno and Belzec were located there . German-occupied Poland was almost “littered” with larger and smaller concentration and satellite camps, because on the one hand it was the first country to be conquered by the National Socialists . In addition, the Jewish population in Eastern Europe was generally larger than in Western or Central Europe. Another extermination camp, Maly Trostinez, was in what is now Belarus. During the time of the German occupation of Belarus, hundreds of thousands of Jews died there; the Jewish population of Belarus was almost completely wiped out. The Ukraine was “littered” with larger and smaller camps and ghettos. There was, for example, a ghetto in Vinnitsa . ( Adolf Hitler's Führer headquarters " Werewolf " was located near this town .) As far as the "real Russia " had been occupied by the Germans, the Jews, civilians and communists suspected of being partisans, were either abducted or shot here. However, due to the events of the war, most of the western areas of today's Russia belonged to the "rear army area".

But it was not just the density of concentration camps and ghettos that distinguished the German-occupied areas of Eastern Europe from those of Western Europe. Because not only the Jews, but also the non-Jewish population were directly affected by the repression. In 1942 , for example, the city of Kharkov was starved by members of the Wehrmacht (not members of the SS). Such and similar "measures" were based on the racist ideology of the Nazi regime, for which the Slavic peoples were only " subhumans ". Before the beginning of the Russian campaign , Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler had spoken of the fact that the goal of the campaign meant the decimation of the Slavic peoples by 30 million.

In the final phase of the war, the Osaritschi concentration camp near the Belarusian village Osaritschi, Kalinkawitschy district , south of Bobrujsk, was built by the Wehrmacht from March 12 to 19, 1944 for disabled civilians in cooperation with a task force. People able to work should be deported before the troops withdraw. By March 12, 1944, the three camps were erected as areas fenced with barbed wire without buildings or sanitary facilities in a swamp near the front. At least 9,000 people were killed there in just one week.


Confrontation and re-education

After the liberation of the concentration camp prisoners and their medical care, the Allies saw the need to confront the German population with the crimes committed under their eyes. The unbelievable crimes became visible in the concentration camps - even for people who had not already been eyewitnesses to the crimes. The local population in the vicinity of the concentration camps was forced to look at parts of the camp and the bodies of those murdered there. She was repeatedly forced to bury the dead in dignified graves. This involved unburied corpses or the reburial of corpses from mass graves. Several film documentaries and photo books were produced for screenings in occupied Germany and Austria (the first example is the film Die Todesmühlen (Death Mills)). It consists mainly of film material that was shot in recently liberated concentration camps - including Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek, Treblinka, Bergen-Belsen. The film is underlaid only with serious classical music and has no framework plot. He also goes into the economic exploitation of prisoners. Some of the documentation was created as evidence for legal proceedings against those involved, particularly the Nuremberg trials .

Legal processing

Defendants, Rastatt Trials, 1946

In view of the atrocities in the countries occupied by the Axis powers Germany, Japan and Italy, the United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC) was set up on the initiative of nine London governments in exile in 1943 . The task consisted of preserving evidence, compiling lists of perpetrators, reports to the governments and preparing criminal proceedings for war crimes . These war crimes included the kidnapping, enslavement , mistreatment and killing of civilians and prisoners of war in labor and concentration camps ( crimes against humanity ).

After the war there were many Nazi trials (see also the category directory NS trials ). Exemplary lawsuits were carried out against the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office (it had rented forced laborers to companies in exchange for bonuses) and the company managers from Flick , IG-Farben and Krupp (they had rented forced laborers and concentration camp prisoners by the thousands from the SS). In the Nuremberg follow-up trials, there were convictions for enslavement, mistreatment, intimidation, torture and murder of the civilian population and for the systematic exploitation of forced laborers and concentration camp prisoners.

Other important processes were the Nuremberg Trial of the Major War Criminals , the Rastatt processes (u. A. The concentration camp Natzweiler , Dachau concentration camp and Auschwitz), the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials , the Auschwitz Trial , the Dachau trials , the Hamburg Ravensbrück Trials , the Belsen Trial , Trials in the Soviet Union by the NKVD and trials against individuals such as the Eichmann trial and in Warsaw against Rudolf Höß .

Collection of contemporary witness reports

  • Boder Interviews , 1946: Psychologist David Boder of the Illinois Institute of Technology interviewed numerous displaced persons . He gave contemporary witnesses free choice in which language they wanted to express themselves. Boder collected around 90 hours of magnetic tape recordings on 200 reels and transcribed around 120 interviews. The Voices of the Holocaust project makes recordings and transcripts from them accessible. See David P. Boder: I Did not Interview the Dead . Urbana 1949 (French edition as Je n'ai pas interrogé les morts ). Edited by Alan Rosen, Florent Brayard. Paris 2006; David P. Boder: Topical Autobiographies of Displaced People Recorded Verbatim in the Displaced Persons Camps, with a Psychological and Anthropological Analysis . 16 volumes, Chicago 1950–1957.
  • Archive of Memory , 1995–1998: Living with Memory in the 171 hours of material in the video archive . Holocaust survivors tell 82 of the approximately 850 interviews from 1979 onwards in the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies ( Yale University , New Haven) have been prepared and made available to the public. The Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the Moses Mendelssohn Center (Potsdam) are also involved.
    Cathy Gelbin, Eva Lezzi u. a. (Ed.): Archive of Memory. Interviews with survivors of the Shoah . Volume 1: Videographed life stories and their interpretations . Volume 2: Annotated Catalog . Potsdam 1998.
  • Visual History Archive (VHA), 1994–1999: The Shoah Foundation recorded 52,000 video interviews with Holocaust victims and witnesses from 56 countries in 32 languages, funded by Steven Spielberg . The interviews are available online, for example at the Free University of Berlin .
  • Drawings from the Nazi concentration camps. Arturo Benvenuti (Ed.) With a foreword by Primo Levi . A collection of more than 250 drawings by concentration camp prisoners. bahoe books , Vienna 2017, ISBN 978-3-903022-48-5 .

Inmate associations

The survivors founded prisoner associations , e.g. B. Comité International de Dachau (founded April 29, 1945), International Sachsenhausen Committee , Amicale de Mauthausen , Fédération Internationale des Résistants .

Cinematic processing

Feature films

  • Naked under wolves (1963) : DEFA film by Frank Beyer based on the novel ofthe same name by Bruno Apitz . The plot is based on a true story between February and the liberation at the end of April 1945 in the Buchenwald concentration camp . A three-year-old child ( Stefan Jerzy Zweig ) is smuggled into the camp in a suitcase. The prisoners save the child, even though this threatens their very existence. Actors are u. a. Armin Mueller-Stahl , Erwin Geschonneck , Fred Delmare as well as author and longtime Buchenwald prisoner Bruno Apitz.
  • Schindler's List : 1993 feature film by Steven Spielberg based on the novel of the same name (originally Schindler's Ark) by Thomas Keneally.
  • The counterfeiters : Austrian feature film. The film, directed by the director and screenwriter Stefan Ruzowitzky, is based on real events and deals with the National Socialists' largest counterfeiting program during the Second World War, Aktion Bernhard.
  • The gray area : Film by Tim Blake Nelson from 2001. The drama deals with the problem of the Jewish forced laborers in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, who did the lowest work in order to live a few weeks longer.
  • Jakob the Liar : Jakob the Liar is a film adaptation of the novel of the same name by the writer Jurek Becker . This film adaptation dates from 1999; with Robin Williams as Jakob.
  • Band of Brothers - We were like brothers - Part 9: Why we fight : Arrived near the German town of Landsberg, the Easy Company discovered the nearby concentration camp Kaufering IV on a patrol. The episode outlines the overwhelming horror that seizes and expels the soldiers on the German knowledge of those concentration camps.
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas : 2008 British film directed by Mark Herman. It is based on the novel of the same name by John Boyne.
  • The Island in Bird Street : The Island in Bird Street is a novel by the Israeli writer Uri Orlev that was published in 1985. It was made into a film in 1997.
  • Uprising : American television film from 2001. The Holocaust drama, directed by Jon Avnet, tells of the uprising in the Warsaw ghetto.
  • Life is good : Italian film directed by Roberto Benigni from 1997.
  • The pianist : Holocaust drama based on the autobiography The Pianist - My Wonderful Survival (original title: Śmierć miasta ) by the Polish pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman, published in London in 1999.
  • Fateless : International co-production from 2005 based on the novel by Imre Kertész . The film is about the odyssey of a Jewish boy through several German concentration camps.


  • George Stevens : Nazi concentration camp , 1945, evidence from the Nuremberg trial of the major war criminals
  • Nazi Murder Mills - Concentration Camp 1945 : US documentation from 1945 about liberated Nazi concentration camps and terror sites (Hadamar, Ohrdruf, Buchenwald, Nordhausen), with moving images of the victims, those murdered and tortured by the Nazi terror.
  • Hanuš Burger , Billy Wilder : The Death Mills : US documentary from 1945, produced for demonstrations in occupied Germany and Austria in the sense of re- education to confront the population with the crimes committed under their eyes.
  • Michael Kloft : The faces of evil - Hitler's executioner. Germany, 2009 (length 3:31): Four-part series of a documentary about concentration camps and perpetrators of the Nazi extermination of Jews (mass murderers such as Himmler, Heydrich, Kaltenbrunner, camp commanders, concentration camp doctors) with film material from various archives and interviews, statements cut between the documentary scenes z. T. from contemporary witnesses.

See also


  • Angelika Benz, Marija Vulesica: Guarding and execution. Everyday life of the perpetrators in National Socialist camps . Metropol Verlag, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-86331-036-3 .
  • Wolfgang Benz , Barbara Distel (ed.) And Angelika Königseder (editor): The place of terror . History of the National Socialist Concentration Camps. 9 volumes, CH Beck, Munich 2005–2009, ISBN 3-406-52960-7 .
  • Jane Caplan, Nikolaus Wachsmann (ed.): Concentration Camps in Nazi Germany. The New Histories. London 2009, ISBN 978-0-415-42651-0 .
  • Ulrich Herbert , Karin Orth , Christoph Dieckmann (Ed.): The National Socialist Concentration Camps. Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-596-15516-9 .
  • Eugen Kogon : The SS state. The system of the German concentration camps. Verlag Karl Alber , Munich 1946. (44th edition. Heyne Verlag, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-453-02978-X ).
  • French Office of the War Crimes Information Service (ed.): Concentration Camp Document F 321 for the Nuremberg International Military Court. Frankfurt am Main 1988. (First published in Paris 1945 under the title Camps de Concentration. Crimes contre la personne humaine. First German book edition 1947, edited by Eugène Aroneanu )
  • Stefan Hördler: Order and Inferno - The concentration camp system in the last year of the war. Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen 2015, ISBN 978-3-8353-1404-7 (The war-economic restructuring of the storage system).
  • Hermann Langbein : … not like sheep to the slaughter - resistance in the National Socialist concentration camps 1938–1945. Fischer, Frankfurt 1988, ISBN 3-596-23486-7 .
  • Elmer Luchterhand: Lonely wolves and stable couples. Behavior and social order in the prisoner societies of National Socialist concentration camps. Edited by Andreas Kranebitter / Christian Fleck. New Academic Press, Vienna 2018.
  • Geoffrey Megargee (Ed.): The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945. Volume 1: Early Camps, Youth Camps, Concentration Camps and Subcamps under the SS-Business Administration Main Office (WVHA) . Indiana University Press, Bloomington 2009, ISBN 978-0-253-35328-3 . Volume 2 2012.
  • Karin Orth : The system of the National Socialist concentration camps. A political organization story. Pendo, Zurich / Munich 2002, ISBN 3-85842-450-1 .
  • Karin Orth: The Historiography of the Concentration Camps and the Newer Concentration Camp Research. In: Archives for Social History . 47, 2007, pp. 579-598.
  • Jörg Osterloh, Kim Wünschmann (ed.): "... delivered to the most unrestricted arbitrariness": Prisoners of the early concentration camps 1933–1936 / 37 , Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 2017, ISBN 978-3-593-50702-6 .
  • Gudrun Schwarz: SS female guards in National Socialist concentration camps (1933–1945). In: Dachauer Hefte. No. 10: perpetrators and victims. 1994.
  • Wolfgang Sofsky : The order of terror: The concentration camp. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1993, ISBN 3-596-13427-7 .
  • Johannes Tuchel : The inspection of the concentration camps 1938–1945. Edition Hentrich, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-89468-158-6 .
  • Nikolaus Wachsmann : KL: The history of the National Socialist concentration camps. Siedler Verlag, Munich 2016, ISBN 978-3-88680-827-4 . (Reviews in the FAZ, April 21, 2016, p. 11. and in the NZZ: Die Anatomie einer Schreckensherrschaft. NZZ, August 3, 2016)

For further references, see the articles Holocaust and Concentration Camps (historical term) .

Web links

Commons : Concentration Camps under National Socialism  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Concentration camps  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Eric Lichtblau: The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking . on March 1, 2013, accessed March 2, 2013.
  2. Wolfgang Benz: The 101 most important questions. The Third Empire. 2nd Edition. Beck, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-406-56849-7 , pp. 56-57.
  3. ^ Hans-Günter Richardi : School of violence. The Dachau concentration camp. Piper, Munich / Zurich 1995, ISBN 3-492-12057-1 , p. 263.
  4. Wolfgang Benz , Barbara Distel (ed.): The place of terror. History of the National Socialist Concentration Camps. Volume 2, p. 174 ff .; Udo Wohlfeld: The network. The concentration camps in Thuringia 1933–1937. Weimar 2000, page number is missing.
  5. ^ Peter Longerich : Heinrich Himmler. Biography. Siedler, Munich 2008, p. 161.
  6. Peter Longerich: The brown battalions. History of the SA . CH Beck, Munich 1989, p. 174.
  7. Peter Longerich: The brown battalions. History of the SA . CH Beck, Munich 1989, pp. 172-179.
  8. ^ Hans-Ulrich Wehler : German history of society. Volume 4: From the beginning of the First World War to the founding of the two German states 1914–1949. CH Beck, Munich 2003, p. 607.
  9. Ulrich Herbert u. a .: The National Socialist concentration camps. History. Memory, research. In: Ulrich Herbert, Karin Orth, Christoph Dieckmann (eds.): The National Socialist Concentration Camps. Volume 1, Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-596-15516-9 , p. 25.
  10. Peter Longerich: The brown battalions. History of the SA . CH Beck, Munich 1989, p. 179.
  11. Zdenek Zofka: The emergence of the Nazi repression system. ( Memento from January 5, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) State Center for Political Education in Bavaria, appeal from February 2, 2007.
  12. Ulrich Herbert u. a .: The National Socialist concentration camps. Volume 1, p. 26 / Bei Benz / Distel: The Place of Terror, Volume 2: Early camps, Dachau, Emslandlager. Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-52962-3 , p. 243: At the beginning of summer 1935 only 3555 prisoners, about 1800 of them in Dachau.
  13. Lucien Scherrer, “The mysterious death of a hero” , NZZ , April 10, 2018
  14. Ulrich Herbert u. a .: The National Socialist concentration camps. Volume 1, p. 28 f.
  15. Wolf-Arno Kropat: Kristallnacht in Hessen, Das Judenpogrom from November 1938. Wiesbaden 1988, ISBN 3-921434-11-4 , p. 167 ff.
  16. a b Ulrich Herbert u. a .: The National Socialist concentration camps. Volume 1, p. 29.
  17. Andrea Löw (edit.): The persecution and murder of European Jews by National Socialist Germany 1933–1945 (source collection), Volume 3: German Reich and Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, September 1939 - September 1941. Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3 -486-58524-7 , p. 30.
  18. Ulrich Herbert u. a .: The National Socialist concentration camps. Volume 1, p. 29 f.
  19. See Table 7 in: Michael Grüttner : The Third Reich. 1933-1939. (=  Handbook of German History . Volume 19). Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2014, pp. 162, 167.
  20. Eberhard Kolb: The last phase of the war…. In: Ulrich Herbert u. a. (Ed.): The National Socialist Concentration Camps. Volume 2, Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-596-15516-9 , p. 1135.
  21. Hans: Maršálek: The history of the Mauthausen concentration camp. Documentation. 4th edition. 2006, ISBN 3-7035-1235-0 , p. 409.
  22. Ulrich Herbert u. a .: The National Socialist concentration camps. Volume 1, p. 31.
  23. BGBl. 1977 I p. 1786 and BGBl. 1982 I p. 1571
  24. Federal Archives: Detention Center Directory , accessed on July 22, 2012.
  25. Amory Burchard, Tilmann Warnecke: “Nobody could look away”. In: Der Tagesspiegel . March 5, 2013, accessed March 6, 2013 .
  26. a b More than 40,000 Nazi forced camps in Europe . In: The time . March 2, 2013, accessed March 6, 2013.
  27. ^ "Labor camp", made available by the Digital Dictionary of the German Language , accessed on October 1, 2019.
  28. The fourth count in the Nuremberg trial against the main war criminals was crimes against humanity , including in particular the enslavement of civilian populations - cf. Bernhard Kuschnik: The entire offense of the crime against humanity. Derivations, characteristics, developments. Berlin, 2009
  29. From 1933, female political prisoners were interned mainly in six protective custody facilities: Gotteszell ( Schwäbisch Gmünd ), Stadelheim (Munich), the women's prison in Barnimstrasse (Berlin), Fuhlsbüttel ( Hamburg ), Brauweiler (Westphalia) and Hohnstein Castle ( Bad Schandau , Saxony).
  30. Shortly before the end of the war there were 34 camps in which women were used as prisoners by the SS in the armaments industry. From the beginning of its existence until February 1945, 107,753 women were assigned to the Ravensbrück women's concentration camp and its satellite camps according to the number allocation list. After: Ino Arndt, In: Dachauer Hefte. 3, 1990, p. 145.
  31. See Table 7 in: Michael Grüttner: The Third Reich. 1933–1939 (=  Handbook of German History . Volume 19). Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2014, p. 162.
  32. Ghetto List , 2005.
  33. ^ According to Peter Wilfahrt, 2005: taken from the plate in the concentration camp.
  34. Willy Berler: Through hell. Monowitz, Auschwitz, Gross-Rosen, Buchenwald. Ölbaum, Augsburg 2003, p. 60. Quoted from
  35. ^ Stanislav Zámečník: That was Dachau . Luxemburg 2002, ISBN 2-87996-948-4 , p. 150, chapter "Conditions for survival".
  36. Oliver Lustig, himself a survivor, published a collection of such terms in 1982.
    Oliver Lustig : Camp Dictionary. online version, 2005, Concentration Camp Dictionary. 1982; Multilingual: Hungarian, German, English, Portuguese and Italian. At .
    But that does not mean that there was an identical mixture of languages ​​in the different camps.
  37. Language / s in the Buna / Monowitz concentration camp on (based on Primo Levi and Leonardo Debenedetti, among others )
  38. ^ Wolf Oschlies : Language in National Socialist Concentration Camps. Theory and empiricism of the "Lagerszpracha" . Auf: The future needs memories, accessed on August 2, 2019.
  39. ^ Ernst Klee : German human consumption. In: time online. November 28, 1997, accessed January 30, 2015.
  40. Typhus experiments: Schdesischtäter Rose (1896–1992). ( Memento from June 9, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  41. Thomas Gerst : Edition on the Nuremberg Medical Process: A project from the medical profession itself . In: Deutsches Ärzteblatt , Volume 98, Issue 15, April 13, 2001, pp. A-956-957 (PDF).
  42. ^ Eugen Kogon : National Socialist mass killings by poison gas. A documentation. 2nd Edition. S. Fischer, 1983, ISBN 3-10-040402-5 , p. 66.
  43. ^ Danuta Czech : Calendar of the events in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp 1939–1945 . Rowohlt, 1989, ISBN 3-498-00884-6 , p. 132. Cf. also: Reinhard Otto: Wehrmacht, Gestapo and Soviet prisoners of war in the German Reich 1941/42 (= series of the quarterly books for contemporary history . Volume 77). Oldenbourg, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-486-64577-3 , p. 196.
  44. Law on the reform of civil status law (Personal Status Law Reform Act - PStRG) of February 19, 2007 ( Federal Law Gazette I p. 122 )
  45. Nikolai Politanov: We couldn't believe our eyes. In: Spiegel online . January 27, 2008, accessed March 6, 2013.
  46. Jerzy Giergielewicz: Neuengamme terminus, Drütte subcamp . The journey of a 17-year-old from Warsaw through four concentration camps. ed. vd Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial and the Drütte Concentration Camp Memorial and Documentation Center, Bremen 2002, ISBN 3-86108-798-7 .
  47. List of companies that profited from forced labor under National Socialism. ( Memento of March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) pdf, accessed on December 7, 2014.
  48. Le Center de séjour surveillé de Fort-Barraux (PDF; 120 kB)
  49. Le camp de Jargeau 1941–1945 ( Memento from December 23, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) (French project of a school group)
  50. Liliana Picciotto Fargion: Italy . in: dimension of genocide . Ed .: Wolfgang Benz, Oldenbourg 1991, ISBN 3-486-54631-7 , p. 202 ff.
  51. ^ Thomas Fuller: Survivors of war camp lament Italy's amnesia . In: The New York Times . October 29, 2003, accessed March 6, 2013.
  52. Ivan Brčić: Croatian-Serbian Historians' Dialogue: A Step towards Coming to terms with the Past? (PDF; 50 kB) Eastern Europe Institute at the Free University of Berlin, 2003.
  53. ^ Tanja Mall: Holocaust Research in Southeastern Europe: Juggling with numbers of victims. ORF Wissen, January 16, 2007.
  54. ^ Marija Vulesica: Croatia. In: Wolfgang Benz , Barbara Distel: The Place of Terror - History of the National Socialist Concentration Camps. Volume 9, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-406-57238-8 , p. 327.
  56. KZ Chaidari on, the homepage of memorials Europe 1939-1945
  57. Wolfgang Benz, Barbara Distel: The place of terror. Volume 9, Beck 2005, ISBN 978-3-406-57238-8 , p. 39.
  58. ^ A b Johanna Bodenstab: Conference report Voices from the past. Interviews with survivors of the Shoah: The David Boder Archive and the “Archive of Remembrance”. June 7, 2007 to June 8, 2007, Berlin . In: H-Soz-u-Kult. October 5, 2007.
  59. Video archive: Living with memory. Holocaust survivors tell the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  60. See the reviews:
  61. Marc Buggeln: Review of: Caplan, Jane; Wachsmann, Nikolaus (Ed.): Concentration Camps in Nazi Germany. The New Histories. London 2009 ( Memento of July 29, 2013 on the Internet Archive ). In: H-Soz-u-Kult. March 24, 2010.
  62. Cf. Angela Schwarz: Review of: Herbert, Ulrich; Karin Orth; Christoph Dieckmann (Ed.): The National Socialist Concentration Camps. Development and structure. Goettingen 1998 . In: H-Soz-u-Kult. May 11, 1999.
  63. Marc Buggeln: review to: Megargee, Geoffrey P. (eds.): The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945. Volume I: Early Camps, Youth Camps, Concentration Camps and Subcamps under the SS-Business Administration Main Office (WVHA), 2 parts. Bloomington 2009 ( memento of July 29, 2013 on the Internet Archive ). In: H-Soz-u-Kult. March 24, 2010.