The Holocaust Historiography Project

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The Concentration Camps, used against the people of Germany and allied nationals, was one of the fundamental institutions of the Nazi regime. It was a pillar of the system of terror by which the Nazis consolidated their power over Germany. It was a primary weapon in the battle against the Jews, against the Christian church, against labor, against those who wanted peace, against systematic use of terror to achieve the cohesion within Germany which was necessary for the execution of the conspirators' plans for aggression. It was the final link in a chain of terror and repression which involved the SS and the Gestapo and which resulted in the apprehension of victims and their confinement without trial, often without charges, generally with no indication of the length of their detention.

The SS thought its espionage system tracked down the victims; the criminal police and the Gestapo seized them and brought them to the concentration camps; and the concentration camps were administered by the SS. No attempt will be made to present a complete catalogue of individual brutalities. The emphasis will rather be upon the fundamental purposes for which these camps were used, the techniques of terror which were employed, the large number of their victims, and the death and anguish which they caused.


The Nazis realized early that without the most drastic repression of actual and potential opposition they could not consolidate their power over the German people. Immediately after Hitler became Chancellor, the conspirators promptly destroyed civil liberties by issuing the Presidential Emergency Decree of 28 February 1933 (1930-PS). It was this decree which was the basis for “Schutzhaft", that is, “protective custody"-the power of the Gestapo to imprison people without judicial proceedings. This is made clear by a typical order for protective custody:

“Order of Protective Custody. Based on Article 1 of the Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State of 28 February 1933 (Reichsgesetzblatt I, p. 83), you are taken into protective custody in the interest of public security and order.

“Reason: Suspicion of activities inimical toward the State.” (2499-PS)


Goering, in a book entitled “Aufbau Einer Nation” and published in 1934, sought to give the impression that the camps originally were directed at those whom the Nazis considered “Communists” and “Social Democrats". At page 89 of this book he stated:

“We had to deal ruthlessly with these enemies of the State. It must not be forgotten that at the moment of our seizure of power over 6 million people officially voted for Communism and about 8 million for Marxism in the Reichstag elections in March.

“Thus the concentration camps were created, to which we had to send first thousands of functionaries of the Communist and Social Democratic parties.” (2324-PS)

In practical operations, the power to order confinement was almost without limit: Frick, in an order which he issued on 25 January 1938, as Minister of Interior, made this clear. Article 1 of this order provided:

“protective custody can be decreed as a coercive measure of the Secret State Police against persons who endanger the security of the people and the State through their attitude in order to counter all aspirations of enemies of the people and State.” (1723-PS)

This order further provides:

“* * * In a summary of all the previously issued decrees on the cooperation between the Party and the Gestapo I refer to the following and ordain:

“1. To the Gestapo has been entrusted the mission by the Fuehrer to watch over and to eliminate all enemies of the Party and the National Socialist State as well as all disintegrating forces of all kinds directed against both. The successful solution of this mission forms one of the most essential prerequisite for the unhampered and frictionless work of the Party. The Gestapo, in their extremely difficult task, is to be granted support and assistance in every possible way by the NSDAP.” (1723-PS)

A. Persecution of Pacifists.

The conspirators, then, were directing their apparatus of terror against the “enemies of the State", against “disintegrating forces", and against those people who endangered the State “with their attitudes". Whom did they consider as belonging in these broad categories? First, they were the men in Germany who wanted peace. In this connection an affidavit by Gerhart H. Segar declares as follows:

“* * * 2. During the period after World War I up until my commitment to the Leipzig jail and Oranienburg concentration camp in the spring of 1933 following the Nazis' accession to power in January of that year, my business and political affiliations exposed me to the full impact of the Nazi theories and practice of violent regimentation and terroristic tactics. My conflict with the Nazis by virtue of my identification with the peace movement, and as duly elected member of the Reichstag representing a political faith (Social Democratic Party) hostile to National Socialism, clearly demonstrated that, even in the period prior to 1933, the Nazis considered crimes and terrorism a necessary and desirable weapon in overcoming democratic opposition * * *”

“* * * (e). That the Nazis had already conceived the device of the concentration camp as a means of suppressing and regimenting opposition elements was forcefully brought to my attention during the course of a conversation which I had with Dr. Wilhelm Frick in December 1932. Frick at that time was Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Reichstag of which I was a member. When I gave an emphatic answer to Frick concerning the particular matter discussed, he replied, 'Don’t worry, when we are in power we shall put all of you guys into concentration camps.' When the Nazis came into power, Frick was appointed Reichminister of Interior and promptly carried out his threat in collaboration with Goering, as Chief of the Prussian State Police, and Himmler.” (L-83)

Thus, even before the Nazis had seized power in Germany they had conceived of the plan to repress any potential opposition by terror.

Frick’s statement to Gerhart Segar is completely consistent with an earlier statement which he made on 18 October 1929.

Frick at that time declared:

“This fateful struggle will first be taken up with the ballot, but this cannot continue indefinitely, for history has taught us that in a battle, blood must be shed, and iron broken. The ballot is the beginning of this fateful struggle. We are determined to promulgate by force that which we preach. Just as Mussolini exterminated the Marxists in Italy, so must we also succeed in accomplishing the same through dictatorship and terror.” (2513-PS)

There are many additional cases of the use of the concentration camp against the men who wanted peace. There was, for example, a group called the “Bibel Forscher' (Bible Research Workers), most of whom were Jehovah’s Witnesses. Since they were pacifists, the conspirators provided not only for their prosecution in the regular courts, but also for confining them in concentration camps after they had served the judicial sentences. An order by the Secret State Police, Berlin, dated 5 August 1937, provided:

“The Reichsminister of Justice had informed me that he does not share the opinion voiced by subordinate departments on various occasions, according to which, the arrest of the Bibelforschers after they have served a sentence, is supposed to jeopardize the authority of the law courts. He is fully aware of the necessity for measures by the State Police after the sentence has been served. he asks, however, not to bring the Bibelforschers into protective custody under circumstances detrimental to the respect of the law courts. * * *.”

“2. If information regarding the impending release of a Bibelforscher from arrest is received from the authorities carrying out the sentence, my decision regarding the ordering of measures by the State Police, will be asked for in accordance with my circular decree dated 22.4.37, so that transfer to a concentration camp can take place immediately after the sentence has been served. Should a transfer into a concentration camp immediately after the serving of the sentence not be possible, Bibelforschers will be detained in police prisons.” (D-84)

B. Persecution of Trade Union Members.

Labor unions, traditionally opposed to wars of aggression, also felt the full force of Nazi terror. The concentration camp was an important weapon in the campaign against the trade unions. Goering made it plain, for instance, that members of the Social Democratic Party were to be confined in concentration camps (2324-PS). Labor leaders were largely members of that party and soon learned the meaning of “protective custody".

In this connection, an order that one Joseph Simon should be placed in protective custody, is pertinent (2330-PS). The “reasons” given were as follows:

“Simon was for many years a member of the Socialist Party and temporarily a member of the Union Socialiste Populaire. From 1907 to 1918 he was Landtag deputy of the Socialist Party; from 1908 to 1930 Social Democratic City Counsellor Stadtrat in Nurnberg. In view of the decisive role which Simon played in the international trade unions and in regard to his connection with international Marxist leaders and central agencies, which he continued after the national recovery, he was placed under protective custody on 3 May 1933, and was kept, until 25 January 1934, in the Dachau concentration camp. Simon is under the urgent suspicion that even after this date he played an active part in the illegal continuation of the Socialist Party. He took part in meetings which aimed at the illegal continuation of the Socialist Party and propagation of illegal Marxist printed matter in Germany.

“Through this radical attitude which is hostile to the State, Somon directly endangers public security and order.” (2330-PS)

Further instances of this persecution of members of trade unions are contained in (2334-PS) and (2928-PS).

C. Persecution of Jews.

Thousands of Jews, were, of course, confined in concentration camps. (For a fuller discussion of this point see Chapter XII.) Among the wealth of evidence showing the confinement of Germans only because they were Jews, a teletype from SS Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich is typical. This order is dated 10 November 1938, and is addressed to all headquarters of the State Police and all districts and sub-districts of the SD (3051-PS). Paragraph 5 of this teletype, which was entitled “Measures against Jews tonight,” provided:

“* * * 5. Inasmuch as in the course of the events of this night the employment of officials used for this purpose would be possible, in all districts as many Jews, especially rich ones, are to be arrested as can be accommodated in the existing prisons. For the time being only healthy men not too old are to be arrested. Upon their arrest, the appropriate concentration camps should be contacted immediately, in order to confine them in these camps as fast as possible.” (3051-PS)

Himmler in 1943 indicated that use of the concentration camp against the Jews had been motivated, not simply by Nazi racialism, but also by a fear that the Jews might have been an obstacle to aggression. In a speech delivered at a meeting of the SS Major Generals at Posen on 4 October 1943, Himmler sought to justify the Nazi anti-Jewish policy:

“I mean the clearing out of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish race. It’s one of those things it is easy to talk about-'The Jewish race is being exterminated', says one party member, 'that’s quite clear, it’s in our program, elimination of the Jews, and we're doing it, exterminating them'. And then they come, 80 million worthy Germans, and each one has his decent Jew. Of course, the others are vermin, but this one is an A-1 Jew. Not one of all those who talk this way has witnessed it, not one of them has been through it. Most of you must know what it means when 100 corpses are lying side by side, or 500 or 1,000. To have stuck it out and at the same time-apart from exceptions caused by human weakness-to have remained decent fellows, that is what has made us hard. This is a page of glory in our history which has never been written and is never to be written, for we know how difficult we should have made it for ourselves, if-with the bombing raids, the burden and deprivations of war-we still had Jews today in every town as secret saboteurs, agitators and trouble-mongers.” (1919-PS)

It is clear from the foregoing evidence that prior to the launching of a Nazi aggression, the concentration camp had been one of the principal weapons by which the conspirators launched their aggression and their armies swept over Europe, they brought the concentration camp and the whole system of Nazi terror to occupied countries. In addition, they brought the citizens of the occupied countries to Germany and subjected them to the whole apparatus of Nazi brutality. In a communication to Himmler dated 16 December 1942, Mueller, for the Chief of the Security Police and SD, deals with the seizure of Polish Jews for deportation to concentration camps in Germany. I should like to quote the body of this communication:

“In connection with the increase in the transfer of labor to the concentration camps, ordered to be completed by 30 January 1943, the following procedure may be applied in the Jewish section.

“1. Total number: 45,000 Jews.

“2. Start of transportation: 11 January 1943; End of transportation: 31 January 1943. (The Reich railroads are unable to provide special trains for the evacuation during the period from 15 December 1942 to 10 January 1943 because of the increased traffic of armed forces leave trains).

“3. Composition: The 45,000 Jews are to consist of 30,000 Jews from the district of Byalystock. 10,000 Jews from the Ghetto Theresienstadt, 5,000 of whom are Jews fit for work who heretofore had been used for smaller jobs required for the Ghetto, and 5,000 Jews who are generally incapable of working, also over 60 year old Jews * * *. As heretofore only such Jews would be taken for the evacuation who do not have any particular connections and who are not in possession of any high decorations. 3,000 Jews from the occupied Dutch territories, 2,000 Jews from Berlin-45,000. The figure of 45,000 includes the invalid (old Jews and children). By use of a practical standard, the screening of the arriving Jews in Auschwitz should yield at least 10,000 to 15,000 people fit for work.” (R-91)

The Jews of Hungary suffered the same fate. Between 19 March 1944 and 1 August 1944 more than 400,000 Hungarian Jews were rounded up. Many of these were put in wagons and sent to extermination camps. An affidavit made in London by Dr. Rudolph Kastner, a former official of the Hungarian Zionist Organization, states in part:

“19 March 1944: Together with the German military occupation arrived in Budapest a 'Special Section Commando' of the German Secret Police with the sole object of liquidating the Hungarian Jews * * * They arrested and later deported to Mauthausen, all the leaders of Jewish political and business life and journalists, together with the Hungarian democratic and anti-Fascist politicians * * *.”

“Up to 27 June 1944, 475,000 Jews were deported.”

“According to statements of Krumey and Wislicseny in February or March 1945 a conference of the officers of IV.B. was called to Berlin by Eichmann in the spring of 1942. He then informed them that the government decided in favor of the complete annihilation of the European Jews and that this will be carried out silently in the gas-chambers. 'Victory is ours', declared Eichmann. 'The end of the war is near. We must hurry as this is the last chance to free Europe of the Jews. After the war it will not be possible to utilize such methods.'”

“Commanders of the death-camps gassed only on direct or indirect instructions of Eichmann. The particular officer of IV.B. who directed the deportations from some particular country had the authority to indicate whether the train should go to a death camp or not, and what should happen to the passengers. The instructions were usually carried by the SS-NCO escorting the train. The letters 'A' or 'M' on the escorting instruction documents indicated Auschwitz or Majdanek; it meant that the passengers were to be gassed.

* * * Regarding Hungarian Jews the following general ruling was laid down in Auschwitz: children up to the age of 12 or 14 older people above 50, as well as the sick, or people with criminal records (who were transported in specially marked wagons) were taken immediately on their arrival to the gas chambers.

“The others passed before an SS doctor who, on sight indicated who was fit for work, and who was not. Those unfit were sent to the gas chambers, while the others were distributed in various labor camps.” (2605-PS)


In the Eastern territories, these victims were apprehended for extermination in concentration camps without any charges having been made against them. In the Western occupied territories, charges were apparently made against some of the victims. Some of the charges which the Nazis considered sufficient basis for confinement in a concentration camp are illustrated in a summary of the file of the dossier of 25 persons arrested in Luxembourg for commitment to various concentration camps and sets forth the charges made against each person (L-215). These charges read as follows:

“Name Charge Place of Confinement

HENRICY- By associating with members of illegal resistance movements and making money for them violating legal foreign exchange rates, by harming the interests of the Reich and being expected in the future to disobey official administrative regulations and act as an enemy of the Reich. Natzweiler

KRIER- By being responsible for advanced sabotage of labor and causing fear because of his political and criminal past. Freedom would only further his anti-social urge. Buchenwald

MONTI- By being strongly suspected of aiding desertion. Sachsenhausen

JUNKER- Because as a relative of a deserter he is expected to endanger the interests of the German Reich if allowed to go free. Sachsenhausen

JAEGER- Because as a relative of a deserter he is expected to take advantage of every occasion to harm, the German Reich. Sachsenhausen

LUDWIG- For being strongly suspected Dachau of aiding desertion.” (L-215)


Not only civilians of the occupied territories, but also prisoners of war were subjected to the concentration camp. A memorandum to all officers of the State Police, signed by Mueller, Chief of the Gestapo, dated 9 November 1941, discusses the “Transportation of Russian Prisoners of War, Destined for Execution, into the Concentration Camps.” (1165-PS). This memorandum states in part:

“The commandants of the concentration camps are complaining that 5 to 10%of the Soviet Russians destined for execution are arriving in the camps dead or half dead. Therefore the impression has arisen that the Stalags are getting rid of such prisoners in this way.

“It was particularly noted that, when marching, for example, from the railroad station to the camp, a rather large number of PWs collapsed on the way from exhaustion, either dead or half dead, and had to be picked up by a truck following the convoy.

“It cannot be prevented that the German people take notice of these occurrences.

“Even if the transportation to the camps is generally taken care of by the Wehrmacht, the population will attribute this situation to the SS.

“In order to prevent, if possible, similar occurrences in the future, I therefore order that, effective from today on, Soviet Russians, declared definitely suspect and obviously marked by death (for example with typhus) and who therefore would not be able to withstand the exertions of even a short march on foot, shall in the future, as a matter of basic principle, be excluded from the transport into the concentration camps for execution.” (1165-PS)

Additional evidence of the confinement of Russian prisoners of war in concentration camps is found in an official report of the investigation of the Flossenburg concentration camp by Headquarters Third United States Army, Judge Advocate Section. War Crimes Branch, dated 21 June 1945 (2309-PS). This report states:

“In 1941 an additional stockade was added at the Flossenburg Camp, to hold 2,000 Russian prisoners. From these 2,000 prisoners only 102 survived.” (2309-PS)

Soviet prisoners of war found their allies in the concentration camps. The same official report continues:

“The victims of Flossenburg included among the Russian, civilians and prisoners of war, German nationals, Italians, Belgians, Poles, Czechs, Hungarians, British and American prisoners of war. No practical means was available to complete a list of victims of this camp, however, since the foundation of the camp in 1938 until the day of liberation it is estimated that more than 29,000 inmates died.” (2309-PS)

Escaped prisoners of war were sent to concentration camps, which were specially set up as extermination centers. A communication from the Secret State Police Office, Cologne, dated 4 March 1994, transmitted the following orders of the OKW-for which Keitel is responsible-concerning escaped prisoners of war:

“1. Every captured escaped prisoner of war who is an officer or a non-working non-commissioned officer, except British and American prisoners of war, is to be turned over to the chief of the Security Police and of the Security service under the classification “Step III, regardless of whether the escape occurred during a transport, whether it was a mass escape or an individual one.

“2, Since the transfer of the prisoners of war to the Security Police and Security Service may not become officially known to the outside under any circumstances other prisoners of war may by no means be informed of the capture. The captured prisoners are to be reported to the Army Information Bureau as “escaped and not captured.” Their mail is to be handled accordingly. Inquiries of representatives of the Protective Power of the International Red Cross, and of other aid societies will be given the same answer.” (1650-PS)

The same communication carried a copy of an order of SS General Mueller, acting for the Chief of the Security Police and SD, which directed the Gestapo to transport escaped prisoners directly to Mauthausen. The first two paragraphs of Mueller’s order provide:

“The State Police Directorates will accept the captured escaped officer prisoners of war from the prisoner of war camp commandants and will transport them to the Concentration Camp Mauthausen following the procedure previously used, unless the circumstances render a special transport imperative. The prisoners of war are to be but in irons on the transport-not on the station if it is subject to view by the public. The camp commandant at Mauthausen is to be notified that the transfer occurs within the scope of the action “Kugel". The State Police Directorates will submit semiyearly reports on these transfers giving merely the figures, the first report being due on 5 July 1974 (sharp).

For the sake of secrecy, the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces has been requested to inform the prisoner of war camps to turn the captured prisoners over to the local State Police Office and not to send them directly to Mauthausen.” (1650-PS)

It is no coincidence that the literal translation for the German word “Kugel” is “bullet", since Mauthausen, where the escaped prisoners were sent, was an extermination center.


Nazi conquest was marked by the establishment of concentration camps over all of Europe. The following report on the location of concentration camps, signed by Pohl, an SS General who was in charge of concentration camp labor policies, indicates the scope of these activities.:

“1.At the outbreak of war there existed the following concentration camps:

a Dachau, 1939, 4,000 prisoners, today 8,000.

b Sachsenhausen, 1939, 6,500 prisoners, today 10,000.

c Buchenwald 1939, 5,300 prisoners, today 9,000.

d Mauthausen, 1939, 1,500 prisoners, today 5,500.

e Flossenburg, 1939, 1,600 prisoners, today 4,700.

f Ravensbrueck, 1939, 2,500 prisoners, today 7,500.

“2.In the years 1940 to 1942 nine further camps were erected, viz.:

a. Auschwitz. (Poland)

b. Neuengamme

c. Gusen (Austria)

d. Natzweiler (France)

e. Gross-Rosen

f. Lublin (Poland)

g. Niederhagen

h. Stutthof (near Danzig)

i. Arbeitsdorf.” (R-129)

In addition to these camps in occupied territory, there were many others. The official report by the Headquarters, Third U.S. Army, Judge Advocate Section, War Crimes Branch, contains the following evidence:

“Concentration Camp Flossenburg was founded in 1938 as a camp for political prisoners. Construction was commenced on the camp in 1938 and it was not until April 1940 that the first transport of prisoners was received. From this time on prisoners began to flow steadily into the camp.

* * * Flossenburg was the mother camp and under its direct control and jurisdiction were 47 satellite camps or outer-commandos for male prisoners and 27 camps for female workers. To these outer-commandos were projects undertaken.

“of all these outer-commandos Hersbruck and Leifmeritz (in Czechoslovakia), Oberstaubling, Mulsen and Sall, located on the Danube, were considered to be the worst.” (2309-PS)


The savage treatment which was inflicted in these concentration camps upon allied nationals, prisoners of war, and other victims of Nazi terror has been depicted in motion picture evidence. Verbal discussion of this subject may therefore be brief.

The minutes of the Central Planning Committee, on which Speer sat, and where the high strategy of Nazi armament production was formulated, record a conference on the question of squeezing more work out of slave laborers. Speer, who was not generally considered a fanatic like Frick, or a man of Blood and Iron like Goering, handled the problem in this fashion:

“Speer: We must also discuss the slackers. Ley has ascertained that the sick list decreased to one fourth or one fifth in factories where doctors are on the staff who are examining the sick men. There is nothing to be said against SS. and Police taking drastic steps and putting those known as slackers into concentration camps. There is no alternative. Let it happen several times and the news will soon go around.” (R-124)

The deterrent effect of the concentration camps upon the public was carefully planned. To heighten the atmosphere of terror surrounding the concentration camps, they were shrouded in secrecy. What went on behind the barbed wire enclosures was a matter of fearful conjecture in Germany and the countries under Nazi control.

This was the policy from the very beginning, when the Nazis first came into power in Germany and set up their concentration camp system. An order issued in 1 October 1933 by the Camp Commander of Dachau prescribes a program of floggings, solitary confinement, and executions for the inmates for infractions of the rules. (778-PS). Among the rules were those prescribing a rigid censorship concerning conditions within the camp:

“By virtue of the law on revolutionaries, the following offenders, considered as agitators, will be hung. Anyone who, for the purpose of agitating, does the following in the camp, at work, in the quarters, in the kitchens and workshops, toilets and places of rest: politicizes, holds inciting speeches and meetings, forms cliques, loiters around with others; who for the purpose of supplying the propaganda of the opposition with atrocity stories, collects true or false information about the concentration camp and its institution; receives such information, buries it, talks about it to others, smuggles it out of the camp into the hands of foreign visitors or others by means of clandestine or other methods, passes it on in writing or orally to released prisoners or prisoners who are placed above them, conceals it in clothing or other articles, throws stones and other objects over the camp wall containing such information; or produces secret documents; who, for the purpose of agitating, climbs on barracks' roofs and trees, seeks contact with the outside by giving light or other signals, or induces others to escape or commit a crime, gives them advices to that effect or supports such undertakings in any way whatsoever.” (778-PS)

Censorship concerning the camps was complemented by an officially inspired rumor campaign outside the camps. Concentration camps were spoken of in whispers, and the whispers were spread by agents of the secret police. A “Top Secret” order, relating to concentration camps, issued by the Head of the Gestapo and distributed to appropriate police officers, and dated 26 October 1939, provides:

“In order to achieve a further deterrent effect, the following must, in future, be observed in each individual case * * *

“3. The length of the period of custody must in no case be made known, even if the Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German Police or the Chief of the Security Police and the SD has already fixed it.

“The term of commitment to a concentration camp is to be openly announced as 'until further notice.'

“In most serious cases, there is no objection to the increasing of the deterrent effect by the spreading of cleverly carried out rumour propaganda, more or less to the effect that, according to hearsay, in view of the seriousness of his case, the arrested man will not be released for 2 or 3 years.

“4. In certain cases, the Reichsfuehrer SS and Chief of the German police will order flogging in addition to detention in a concentration camp. Orders of this kind will, in future, also be transmitted to the State Police District Office concerned. In this case too, there is no objection to spreading the rumor of this increased punishment as laid down in Section 3, paragraph 3, in so far as this appears suitable, to add to the deterrent effect.

“5. Naturally, particularly suitable and reliable people are to be chosen for the spreading of such news.” (1531-PS)


The deterrent effect of the concentration camps was based on the promise of savage brutality. this promise was fulfilled, to an extent which defies description. once in the custody of the SS guards, the victim was beaten, tortured, starved, and often murdered through the so-called “extermination through work” program, or through mass execution gas chambers and furnaces of the camps (which were portrayed in the motion picture evidence). the reports of official government investigations furnish additional evidence of conditions within the concentration camps. the official report concerning the concentration camp Flossenburg, prefaced by the office of the judge advocate general of the united states army, dated 21 June 1945, and supported by attached affidavits and testimony, contains this description:

“The work at these camps mainly consisted of underground labor, the purpose being the construction of large underground factories, storage rooms, etc. This labor was performed completely underground and as a result of the brutal treatment, working and living conditions, a daily average of 100 prisoners died. To the one camp Oberstaubling, 700 prisoners were transported in February 1945 and on the 15th of April 1945 only 405 of these men were living. During the 12 months preceding the liberation, Flossenburg and the branch camps under its control accounted for the death of 14,739 male inmates and 1,300 women. These figures represent the deaths as were obtained from the available records in the camp, however, they are in no way complete as many secret mass executions and deaths took place. In 1941 and additional stockade was added at the Flossenburg camp, to hold 2,000 Russian prisoners. From these 2,000 prisoners only 102 survived.

“Flossenburg concentration camp can best be described as a factory dealing in death. although this camp had in view the primary object of putting to work the mass slave labor, another of its primary objectives was the eliminating of human lives by the methods employed in handling the prisoners, “hunger and starvation rations, sadism, housing facilities, inadequate clothing, medical neglect, disease, beatings, hangings, freezing, hand hanging, forced suicides. shooting, all played a major role in obtaining their objective. prisoners were murdered at random; spite killings against jews were common. injections of poison and shooting in the neck were everyday occurrences. epidemics of typhus and spotted fever were permitted to run rampant as a means of eliminating prisoners. life in this camp meant nothing, killing became a common thing, so common that a quick death was welcomed by the unfortunate ones.”

“One Christmas 1944 a number of prisoners were hung at one time. The prisoners were forced to view this hanging. By the side of the gallows was a decorated Christmas tree and as expressed by one prisoner 'it was a terrible sight, that combination of prisoners hanging in the air and the glistening Christmas tree'.

“In March or April, 13 American or British parachutists were hung. They had been delivered to this camp sometime before and had been captured while trying to blow up bridges.”

“On April 20, 1945, approximately 15,000 prisoners were assembled to make a forced march in the direction of Concentration Camp Dachau. The evacuation of these prisoners was caused by the impending capture of the camp by the Allies. These 15,000 prisoners were lined up in three groups and started on this march. Only those prisoners who could walk were taken and before leaving Flossenburg, many were executed, as also were those who collapsed in rank awaiting the movement to start the trek. No provision was made for the feeding of these prisoners or sleeping on this trip. They marched in long columns guarded by SS Guards.

“Thousands were killed on the way and the paths which they took were littered with the dead. Groups of from 5 to 50 were taken out and forced to dig pits and then were shot. Many graves were not even covered. As the already starved and weakened prisoners fell from exhaustion, a group of SS guards bringing up the rear would kill them by a shot in the back of the head. All who fell out of line were immediately executed in this manner. Death was also caused by beatings or bashings in the skulls.

“The prisoners marched from Friday till Monday during which time they received only 100 grams of bread. They marched in the rain and slept in the fields in the mud and water. many died from exhaustion. On the 23rd day of April 1945, between the towns of Cham and Roding, they were liberated by the American troops."(2309-PS)

Conditions at Mauthausen, one of the most notorious extermination centers, are thus described in an official report of the office of the Judge Advocate General of the Third United States Army, dated 17 June 1945:

“V. Conclusions. There is no doubt that Mauthausen was the basis for long term planning. It was constructed as a gigantic stone fortress on top of a mountain flanked by small barracks.

“Mauthausen, in addition to its permanency of construction had facilities for a large garrison of officers and men, and had large dining rooms and toilet facilities for the staff. it was conducted with the sole purpose in mind of exterminating any so-called branches of Mauthausen were under direct command of the SS officials located there. all records, orders, and administrative facilities were handled for these branches through Mauthausen. the other camps, including Gusen and Ebensee, its two most notorious and largest branches, were not exclusively used for extermination but prisoners were used as tools in construction and production until they were beaten or starved into uselessness, whereupon they were customarily sent to Mauthausen for final disposal.” (2176-PS)

It is clear from both the motion picture and these reports, which could be supplemented by many similar ones, that the brutal conditions in all concentration camps followed the same general pattern. The widespread incidence of these conditions makes it clear that they were not the result of sporadic excesses on the part of individual jailers, but were the result of policies deliberately imposed from above.

The crimes committed by the Nazis in the concentration camp were on so vast a scale that individual atrocities pale into insignificance. But there are two exhibits in the possession of the prosecution which illustrate the contempt in which the Nazis held human values. The first is a frame showing sections of human skin, taken from human bodies in Buchenwald Concentration Camp and preserved as ornaments. (This was offered by the prosecution as a physical exhibit.) They were selected because of the tattooing which appeared on the skin. Attached to this exhibit is an extract of an official U.S. Army report describing the circumstances under which this exhibit was obtained. (3420-PS):

“Mobile field Interrogation Unit No. 2


“NO. 2/20 19 December 1944.

“Address Briefs and Requests to HQ, FID, MIS, APO 887


“13. Concentration Camp, Buchenwald.

“Preamble. The author of this account is PW Andreas Pfafflenberger, 1 Coy, 9 Landesschuetzen Bn. 43 years old and of limited education, he is a butcher by trade. The substantial agreement of the details of his story with those found in PWIS (H)/LF/736 establishes the validity of his testimony.

“PW has not been questioned on statements which, in the light of what in known, are apparently erroneous in certain details, nor has any effort been made to alter the subjective character of PW’s account, which he wrote without being told anything of the intelligence already known. results of interrogation on personalities at Buchenwald have already been published (PWIB NO 2/12 Item 31).”

“In 1939, all prisoners with tattooing on them were ordered to report to the dispensary. No one knew what the purpose was. But after the tattooed prisoners had been examined, the ones with the best and most artistic specimens were kept in the dispensary, and then killed by injections, administered by Karl Beigs, a criminal prisoner. The corpses were then turned over to the pathological department, where the desired pieces of tattooed skin were detached from the bodies and treated. The finished products were turned over to SS Standartenfuehrer Koch’s wife, who had them fashioned into lampshades and other ornamental household articles. I myself was saw such tattooed skins with various designs and legends on them, such as “Hans'l und Gret'I", which one prisoner had on his knee, and ships from prisoners' chests. This work was done by a prisoner names Wernerbach.” (3420-PS)

The following certificate is also attached to the exhibit:

“I, George C. Demas, Lieut., USNR., associated with the United states Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution of Axis Criminality, hereby certify that the attached exhibit, consisting of parchment, was delivered by the War Crimes Section, Judge Advocate General, U.S. Army, to me in my above capacity, in the usual course of official business, as an exhibit found in Buchenwald Camp and captured by military forces under the command of the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces.” (3421-PS)

This is the conclusion reached in an official U.S. Army report attached to the exhibit:

“Based on the findings in Paragraph 2, all three specimens are tattooed human skin". (3423-PS)

One more example of this pathological phase of Nazi culture, another Nazi trophy, is a human head with the skull bone removed, shrunken, stuffed, and preserved. (This was offered by the prosecution as a physical exhibit.) This head probably belonged to a foreign worker, kidnapped by Sauckel to work in Speer’s armament industry. The Nazis had one of their many victims decapitated after having had him hanged for fraternizing with a German woman; they fashioned this ornament from his head. This represents the end product of the Nazi system, representing both the degradation of the Nazi “master” and the anguish of his victim. The official U.S. Army report attached to this exhibit deals with the manner in which this exhibit was acquired. It reads in part:

“There I also saw the shrunken heads of two young Poles who had been hanged for having relations with German girls. The heads were the size of a fist, and the hair and the marks of the rope were still there.” (3423-PS)


No accurate estimate of how many persons died in the concentration camps can be made. Although the Nazis were generally meticulous record keepers, the records they kept about concentration camps appear to have been incomplete.

Occasionally there is a death book, or a set of index cards, but for the most part, the victims apparently faded into an unrecorded death. The scale of the concentration camp operations in suggested by a set of seven books. the death ledger of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp (physically offered to the court). Each book bears on its cover “Totenbuch” or Death Book-Mauthausen. In these books were recorded the names of some of the inmates who died or were murdered in this camp. The books cover the period from January 1939 April 1945. They give the name, place of birth, the assigned cause of death and time of death of each individual recorded. In addition each corpse is assigned a serial number, Addition of the serial numbers for the five-year period produces a total figure of 35,318.

Examination of the books reveals the camp’s routine of death. For example pages 568 to 582 of Volume 5 cover death entries made for 19 March 1945 between fifteen minutes past one in the morning until 2 o'clock in the afternoon. In this space of 12¾ hours, 203 persons are reported as having died. They were assigned serial numbers running from 8390 to 8593. The names of the dead are listed. The victims are all recorded as having died of the same ailment-"heart trouble". They died at brief intervals. They died in alphabetical order. The first who died was a man named Ackermann who died at one fifteen A.M. The last was a man names Zynger who died at 2 o'clock P.M.

At twenty minutes past two o'clock on the afternoon of the same day, 19 march 1945, the total roll call began again, and continued until half past four o'clock. In a space of two hours, 75 more persons died. Once again they died from heart failure and in alphabetical order. The entries are recorded in the same volume, from pages 582 through 586.

Another death book was found at Camp Mauthausen. This is a single volume, which has on its cover the words.-"Death Book- Prisoners of War". Pages 234 through 246 contain entries recording the names of 208 prisoners of war, apparently Russians, who at 15 minutes past midnight on the 10th day of May 1942, were executed at the same time. The book notes that the execution was directed by the Chief of the SD and the SIPO (Heydrich).

It is common knowledge that the anguish of the concentration camp was spread, not only over the Continent of Europe, but over all the world, Even today all over the world people are still seeking work of their friends and relatives who vanished into the Nazi concentration camps and left no trace behind. This fact is emphasized by the 23 November 1945 issue of the weekly newspaper, “Aufbau", published in the German language in New York City. On the back pages-8, 9, 10 and 11-are published both notices requesting information about friends and relatives, and notice announcing the deaths of persons who were last heard of in a Nazi concentration camp. The personal tragedies, which these notices represent, multiplied an incalculable numbers of times is part of the legacy which the Nazi conspirators have left to the world.


Document Description Vol. Page

Charter of the International Military Tribunal, Article 6 (B, c) I 5

International Military Tribunal, Indictment Number 1, sections III; VIII (A, C); X…I 15,31,41,53

3737-PS Hague Convention of 1907 respecting the laws and Customs of War on Land, Annex, Article 46… VI 597

3738-PS Geneva Convention of 1929 relative to treatment of Prisoners of War, Articles, 2, 3…VI 600

Note: A single asterisk (*) before a document indicates that the document was received in evidence at the Nurnberg trial. A double asterisk(**) before a document number indicates that the document was referred to during the trial but was not formally received in evidence, for the reason given in parentheses following the description of the document. The USA series number, given in parentheses following the description of the document, is the official exhibit number assigned by the court.

*374-PS TWX Series of orders signed by Heydrich and Mueller, issued by Gestapo Headquarters Berlin, 9-11 November 1938, concerning treatment of Jews. (USA 729) …III 277

*392-PS Official NSDAP circular entitled “The Social Life of New Germany with Special Consideration of the German labor Front", by Prof. Willy Mueller (Berlin, 1938). (USA 326)…III 380

*641-PS Report of Public Prosecutor General in Munich, 1 June 1933, concerning murder of Dr. Strauss in Dachau by an SS guard. (USA 450)…III 453

*642-PS Report to Public Prosecutor General in Munich, 1 June 1933, concerning murder of Hausmann in Dachau by an SS guard. (USA 451)…III 454

*644-PS Report to Public Prosecutor General in Munich, 1 June 1933, concerning murder of Schloss in Dachau by an SS guard. (USA 452)…III 455

*645-PS Report to Public Prosecutor General in Munich, 1 June 1933, concerning murder of Nefzger in Dachau by an SS guard. (USA 453)…III 457

*778-PS Disciplinary and Penal Measures for Concentration Camp Dachau and Service Regulations for the Camp Personnel, signed by Eicke, 1 October 1933. (USA 247)…III 550

833-PS Instructions by Admiral Canaris, Head of the Abwehr, 2 February 1942, concerning prosecution of crimes against the Reich or occupying forces in the occupied territories…III 600

*1063-A-PS Order of Chief of SIPO and SD. 2 January 1941, concerning classification of concentration camps. (USA 492)…III 775

*1063-B-PS Letter signed by Kaltenbrunner, 26 July 1943, concerning establishment of Labor Reformatory camps. (USA 492)…III 777

*1063-D-PS Mueller’s order, 17 December 1942, concerning prisoners qualified for work to be sent to concentration camps.(USA 219)…III 778

1063-E-PS Copy of Mueller’s order, 25 June 1942, concerning increased shipments to concentration camps…III 780

1151-P-PS Letter from WVHA, 28 March 1942, concerning “Action 14 F 13” from files of Gross Rosen Concentration Camp…III 808

*1165-PS Letter from Commandant of concentration Camp Gross Roesen, 23 October 1941, and letter of Mueller to all Gestapo offices, 9 November 1941, concerning execution of Russian PW's. (USA 244)…III 821

*1166-PS Interoffice memorandum of WVHA, 15 August 1944, concerning number of prisoners and survey of prisoners' clothing. (USA 458)…III 824

1216-PS Typewritten memorandum, “Important Incidents in Concentration camp Dachau"…III 846

1390-PS Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the People and State, 28 February 1933. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, p. 83…III 968

*1531-PS Directive from RSHA,26 October 1939, concerning execution of protective custody, and directive, 12 June 1942, concerning third degree. (USA 248)…IV 93

*1584-I-PS Teletype from Goering to Himmler, 14 February 1944, concerning formation of 7th Air force Group squadron for special purposes. (USA 221)…IV 117

*1584-III-PS Correspondence between Himmler and Goering, 9 March 1944, concerning use of concentration camp inmates in aircraft industry. (USA 457)…IV 118

1616-PS Letter from Dr. Rascher to Himmler, 17 February 1943, concerning freezing experiments…IV 133

*1650-PS Directive to state police Directorates from Chief of SIPO and SD by Mueller, 4 March 1944, concerning captured escaped PWs .(USA 246)…IV 158

*1723-PS Order concerning cooperation of Party offices with the Secret State Police, 25 January 1938, published in Decrees, Regulations, Announcements, 1937, Vol. II. pp. 430-439. (USA 206)…IV 219

*1919-PS Himmler’s speech to SS Gruppenfuehrers, 4 October 1943. (USA 170)…IV 558

1956-PS Meaning and Tasks of the Secret State Police, published in The Archives, January 1936, Vol 22-24, p. 1342…IV 598

2107-PS Law on Secret State Police of 10 February 1936. 1936 Preussische Gesetzsammlung, pp. 21-22…IV 732

2108-PS Decree for execution of Law on Secret State Police of 10 February 1936. 1936 Preussische Gestzsammlung, pp. 22-24…IV 732

2169-PS Quarterly report of the SS medical officer of Hmb. Neuengamme concentration camp, 29 March 1945…IV 799

2171-PS U.S. Government report B-2833 on Numerical Expansion of Buchenwald Concentration Camp, during years 1937-1945…IV 800

*2176-PS Report on Mauthausen concentration camp, by investigating officer, Office of Judge Advocate, Third U.S. Army, 17 June 1945.(USA 249)…IV 836

2187-PS Order from Main SS economic administration office, 14 July 1943, concerning beating of female prisoners…IV 842

*2189-PS Orders from Department D of Economic and Administrative Main Office, 11 August 1942, concerning punishment by beating. (USA 460)…IV 842

2222-PS Report of investigation of Buchenwald Concentration Camp, by Judge Advocate Section, Third United States Army, 25 May 1945…IV 860

*2285-PS Affidavit, 13 May 1945, by two French officers, about shooting of prisoners at Mauthausen. (USA 490)…IV 991

*2309-PS Report by Headquarters Third United States Army, 21 June 1945, concerning Flossenburg Concentration Camp. (USA 245)…IV 999

*2324-PS Extracts from Reconstruction of a Nation, by Hermann Goering. 1934. (USA 233)…IV 1033

*2330-PS Order of Protective Custody, Police Directorate of Nurnberg-Fuerth of Josef Simon, Chairman Of German Shoemaker’s Union, 29 August 1935. (USA 237)…IV 1038

*2334-PS Affidavits of Lorenz Hagen, Chairman of Local Committee, German Trade Unions, Burnberg. (USA 238)…IV 1041

2344-PS Reconstruction of a Nation by Goering, 1934, p. 89…IV 1065

2347-PS Court decisions from 1935 Reichsverwaltungsblatt, Vol.56, pp.557-578, 20 July 1934. IV 1066

2476-PS Affidavit of Josef Buehler, 4 November 1945…V 228

*2477-PS Affidavit of Willy Litzenberg, 4 November 1945. (USA 518)…V 229

2478-PS Affidavit of Willy Litzenberg, 4 November 1945 V 230

*2499-PS Original Protective Custody Order served on Dr. R. Kempner, 15 March 1935.(USA 232)…V 236

*2513-PS Extract from The National Socialist Workers' Party as an Association Hostile to State and to Republican Form of Government and Guilty of Treasonable Activity.(USA 235)…V 252

2533-PS Extract from article “Legislation and Judiciary in Third Reich", from Journal of the Academy for German Law, 1936, pp. 141-142…V 277

*2605-PS Affidavit of Dr. Rudolf Kastner, former President of the Hungarian Zionist Organization, 13 September 1945.(USA 242)…V 313

2615-PS Affidavit of Dr. Wilhelm Hoettl, 5 November 1945…V 338

2655-PS Concordat between the Holy See and the German Reich, Article 31. 1933 Reichsgesetzblatt, Part II, p. 679, 687-8…V 364

*2663-PS Hitler’s speech to the Reichstag,30 January 1939, quoted from Voelkischer Beobachter, Munichedition, 1 February 1939. (USA 268)…V 367

*2745-PS Order for commitment to concentration camp, 7 July 1943, Kaltenbrunner’s signature. (USA 519)…V 383

*2753-PS Affidavit of Alois Hoellriegl, 7 November 1945. (USA 515)…V 393

*2928-PS Affidavit of Mathias Lex, deputy president of the German Shoemakers Union. (USA 239)…V 594

*3051-PS Three teletype orders from Heydrich to all stations of State police, 10 November 1938, on measures against Jews, and one order from Heydrich on termination of protest actions. (USA 240)…V 797

*3249-PS Affidavit of Dr. Franz Blaha, 24 November 1945. (USA 663)…V 949

*3420-PS U.S. Army report on human skin exhibits at Buchenwald Concentration Camp. (USA 252)…VI 122

*3421-PS Certificate accompanying human skin exhibit. (USA 253)…VI 123

*3423-PS U.S. Army report on identification of tattooed human skins. (USA 252)…VI 123

*3590-PS Charges and findings against Weiss and others tried by U.S. Military Court at Dachau. (USA 664)…VI 288

*3601-PS Affidavit of Sidney Mendel, 28 December 1945, concerning the connection of Frick’s Ministry of Interior with concentration camps. (GB 324)…VI 313

*3751-PS Diary of the German Minister of Justice, 1935 concerning prosecution of church officials and punishment in concentration camps. (USA 828; USA 858)…V 636

*3762-PS Affidavit of SS Colonel Kurt Becher, 8 March 1946, concerning the responsibility of Kaltenbrunner for concentration camp executions. (USA 798)…VI 645

*3844-PS Statement of Josef Niedermayer, 7 March 1946, concerning Kaltenbrunner'spart in “bullet” orders at mauthausen concentration camp. (USA 801)…VI 782

*3846-PS Interrogation of Johann Kanduth, 30 November 1945, concerning crematorium at Mauthausen and the activities of Kaltenbrunner there. (USA 796)…VI 783

*3868-PS Affidavit of Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Hoess, 5 April 1946, concerning execution of 3,000,000 people at Auschwitz Extermination Center. (USA 819)…VI 787

*3870-PS Affidavit of Hans Marsalek, 8 April 1946, concerning Mauthausen Concentration Camp and dying statement of Franz Ziereis, the Commandant. (USA 797)…VI 790

*D-84 Gestapo instructions to State Police Departments, 5 August 1937, regarding protective custody for Bible students. (USA 236)…VI 1040

*D-569 File of circulars from Reichsfuehrer SS, the OKW, inspector of Concentration Camps, Chief of Security Police and SD, dating from 29 October 1941 through 22 February 1944, relative to procedure in cases of unnatural death of Soviet PW, execution of Soviet PW, etc. (GB 277)…VII 74

*D-728 Circular, 15 March 1945, from NSDAP Gauleitung Hessen-Nassau to the “Kreis"-Leaders of' the Gau, concerning action by the Party to keep Germans in Check until end of the War, (GB 282)…VII 174

*D-745-A Deposition of Anton Kaindl; 8 March 1946, concerning SS personnel supervising concentration camps. (USA 811)…VII 208

*D-745-B Deposition of Anton Kaindl, 19 March 1946, concerning SS personnel supervising concentration camps. (USA 812)…VII 209

*D-746-A Deposition of Fritz Suhren, 8 March 1946, concerning SS personnel supervising concentration camps. (USA 813)…VII 209

*D-746-B Deposition of Fritz Suhren, 19 March 1946, concerning SS personnel supervising concentration camps. (USA 814) VII 210

*D-748 Affidavit of Karl Totzauer, 15 March 1946, concerning SS personnel supervising concentration camps. (USA 816)…VII 211

*D-749-B Statement of Rudolf Hoess, 20 March 1946, concerning SS personnel supervising concentration camps. (USA 817)…VII 212

*D-750 Deposition of August Harbaum, 19 March 1946, concerning SS personnel supervising concentration camps. (USA 818)…VII 213

*L-83 Affidavit of Gerhart H. Seger, 21 July 1945. (USA 234)…VII 859

*L-215 File of orders and dossiers of 25 Luxembourgers committed to concentration camps at various times in 1944. (USA 243)…VII 1045

*R-91 Telegram from Mueller, SS Gruppenfuehrer to Reichsfuehrer SS, 16 December 1942. (USA 241)…VIII 60

*R-124 Speer’s conference minutes of Central Planning Board, 1942-44, concerning labor supply. (USA 179)…VIII 146

*R-129 Letter and enclosure from Pohl to Himmler, 30 April 1942, concerning concentration camps. (USA 217)…VIII 198