4000bce - 399
400 - 1399
1400 - 1499
1500 - 1599
1600 - 1699
1700 - 1799
1800 - 1899
1900 - 1999
The following figures are compiled from authentic material that the SS in their flight from the camp were unable to destroy. Particular attention is called to the fact that every number can be substantiated by the personal records of the prisoners in question.
In July 1937 the first advance headquarters of the so-called professional criminals arrived on the completely unimproved, untouched wooded terrain of the Ettersberg near Weimar for the construction of a new large concentration camp. At the time the SS had not yet named the future camp and called it KL Ettersberg. The first roll call was made on 19 July 1937 and recorded 1949 prisoners. On the following day 70 prophylactic prisoners, that is to say so-called professional criminals from the KL Sachsenburg, arrived. On the 27th of July the first 91 political prisoners, among them 7 Bible research students also arrived from the KL Sachsenburg. On the 29 July 1937 the name "KL Buchenwald" appeared for the first time in the official correspondence. At that time the number in the camp had increased to 327 persons. On 30 July 1937 600 prisoners from the KL Lichtenburg were added and another convoy from the Lichte [Lichtenburg] arrived on 6 August 1937.
On the lists of the Reich's German nationals the name of Hermann Kempek appears as the first deceased, who died on 13 August 1937 in Buchenwald. The two next dead persons are already reported on 15 August 1937.
Additional convoys followed from Sachsenburg and the Lichte individual arrivals were also recorded. The total number of arrivals in the year 1937 amounted to 2,912 persons. By 1 January 1938 already 48 or 1.65% of them had died.
The last roll call made by the SS took place on 3 April 1945. At the time the number of prisoners in the camp amounted to 80,011 persons. On 11 April 1945 the victorious Allied troops liberated the concentration camp.
The expansion of the concentration camp is shown in Table 1, which gives the total number of arrivals and the deceased for each year.Table 1
It is self-evident that under normal living conditions only a minor fraction of these 33,462 persons would have died. Most of them had reached the best years of their manhood. The living and working conditions in Buchenwald were such that every one could easily contract a serious illness, especially during the first months, owing to the sudden and violent change in their daily habits of life. In Buchenwald a serious illness resulted nearly always in death, because during the first years no medical help was dispensed or was so inefficient that the hope of a recovery was perforce without any prospects.
The number of unnatural deaths also reached a shocking figure. In desperation many chose voluntary death by hanging themselves or touching the electrically charged wire fence. In addition in the KL Buchenwald, like everywhere else where the SS and the Gestapo were in charge, numerous prisoners were shot "In flight". This "shooting-in-flight" was often conducted after a certain pattern by forcing the prisoners in the labor units to cross the line of guards. This happened especially in the stone quarries, where they were maltreated to such a degree that in desperation they could find no other way of escape. The nearest SS guard would shoot them down only a few yards beyond the line. In the following Table 2 are not included those who were wounded by rifle fire or those who died in the camp area from the results of the maltreatment they received.Table 2
A satanical asphyxiation installation equal to the one in the KL Auschwitz was not erected in the KL Buchenwald. The SS probably feared that they would not be able to keep the secret in the most densely settled part of Germany. But this does not mean that we were spared such installation in Buchenwald. Already on 13 July 1941 a convoy was formed consisting of 94 "invalide", German Reich nationals and Poles, for the greater part but not exclusively Jews, and taken to Hohenstein near Dresden, guarded by heavily armed SS troopers. On the following day 93 more were dispatched. Several days later their clothes, including their personal effects, false teeth, etc., were returned to Buchenwald. In so far it became known at that time these persons were poisoned by gas at the place of their destination. It is probable that the SS had already at that time perfected its asphyxiation chambers and tested them. On 2, 11 and 12 March 1942 further convoys followed containing 285 prisoners, exclusively Jews.
Beginning Fall 1942 increasingly larger mass transports and individual transports of Jews, who had already been a long time in the camp, to KL Auschwitz took place, where unquestionably they were murdered. For this reason these prisoners were probably not entered on the records of the KL Auschwitz. In detail it concerns the following transports:27 July 1942 163 prisoners, among them 119 Soviet PWs.s
It can no longer be determined today how high the number of the individual transports ran, but it is definite that these individual transports were carried out on special instructions from Berlin.
Since the beginning of the War a continually rising number of executions were carried out in the KL Buchenwald. The shooting or hanging of individual persons or of certain categories of prisoners took place on the basis of the orders issued by the SS Reich Management without any judicial verdict. Three executions in the KL Buchenwald by hanging were performed in public, that is to say, before the entire assembled camp inmates on the roll call grounds. The first prisoner was hung on 4 June 1938, the second on 21 December 1938, both of whom had beaten down their SS guards in their flight from an advance headquarters on 8 May 1938. The victim of the third execution on 13 September 1944 was a recaptured fugitive.
When other prisoners in the camp were to be executed they were called to the entrance and taken away. Exact figures can only be given with certainty for the years 1944 and 1945, because until then such prisoners were recorded as being turned over to the Gestapo and it is no longer possible to determine now which were actually turned over and which only allegedly. In the year 1944 at least 177 and in 1945 at least 54 prisoners of the camp were executed.
The mass executions of Soviet prisoners of war, officers, political officers and troops were introduced. However, Polish officers, German officials and higher ranking officers as well as German and foreign women were executed in Buchenwald. At that time the execution places were installed in the DAW terrain and in the horse stable and the crematory was considerably enlarged. Upon arrival, those destined to be executed were not entered on the camp records, but were separated from those arriving simultaneously in the normal course of procedure and handed over to the Court of Justice Division for "special treatment", which in official language meant, for execution. Unfortunately the SS had already destroyed on 1 and 2 April 1945 all the relating documents therefore no figures of any kind can be quoted.
Based on the observations of the prisoners it would seem that approximately 7,000 persons were executed.
Furthermore to the total number of those who died in the concentration camp Buchenwald must be added the others who were killed in April 1945 during the retransport from the advance headquarters to the camp, in the advance headquarters itself and on the march. In addition innumerable others must be added, who during the evacuation of the camp died in other camps enroute.
If on the whole the number of the victims of death is set at 50,000 this frightful figure will not be estimated too high.
The development of the camp shall now be followed in all its details.
The camp strength rose gradually after 1 January 1938 until it reached the figure of 3,000 on 1 May 1938. Then the phase "Arbeitsscheu Reich" (shirking to work for the Reich) set in. The first "asocials" 5 May 1938. Larger transports of a total of 1,000 "asocial" Jews arrived on 14 and 15 June 1938. With this event the camp strength jumped and reached its first high point of 7,968 on 7 August 1938. The number of the dead also jumped. Whereas the number of dead prisoners amounted to 4 in April 1938 it amounted to 16 in May, 62 in June and 105 in July.
In the following months the camp strength slowly decreased through deaths and discharges and only amounted to 7,791 persons on 1 September 1938. The first foreigners arrived in September 1938, namely, in round figures, 2,200 Austrian Jews from the KL Dachau. This influx increased the camp strength to 10,471 on 1 October 1938.
In November 1938 the notorious great movement against the Jews in the Third Reich was carried through, which Hitler tried to justify by referring to the attempt on the life of the official of the German Embassy in Paris, von Rath. In a very short time the camp strength doubled itself. whereas on 9 November 1938 it still amounted to 9,842, it had grown to 19,676 on 13 November 1938. No lodging facilities were available for such an increase. Temporarily the new arrivals were camped on the roll call ground and in the half completed sheep stable, until very primitive wooden barracks without any sanitary installations were created alongside the roll call grounds, which later became famous as the Blocks 1a-5a. During the first few days the SS had no clear survey that the keeper of the records would announce over the loudspeaker, "If another Jew hangs himself, will he kindly stick a piece of paper with his name on it in his pocket, so that one knows who he is."
Where the Jews came from is given in the survey in Table 3.Table 3
This increase in the camp strength not only resulted in a definite but also in a greater percentage number of death cases, as indicated in Table 4.Table 4.
At that time the first construction work of the concentration camp and the necessary troop billets were finished in the rough. The SS sent their prophylactic prisoners to new places for the erection of other camps and SS barracks. The first professional criminals were sent to Camps Mauthausen and Flossenburg on 3 November 1938. Other Transports followed shortly. The "Actions-Juden" (Jews arrested during the movement or campaign against them) were also discharged after a comparatively short time, that is to say, after plundering them and requisitioning their property, they were for the greater part expelled from the Third Reich and upon leaving the camp had to immediately board a ship or cross the frontier. Through these proceedings and the inclusion of death cases the camp strength went down to 8,650 in round figures by the end of February 1939 and stayed at this level, for the time being.
Immediately after the beginning of the war the camp strength rose anew. At that time the "Aktions" prisoners, Reich nationals and Austrians unfit to carry arms, arrived. Also the Czech hostages from the Protectorate were delivered as the next batch of foreigners in September 1939 amounting to a total number of 756, some of them coming from the KL Dachau. At the start of the war the KL Dachau was completely evacuated and on 26 September 1939 no less than 2,200 prisoners were transferred to Buchenwald.
On 5 October 1939 members of the Polish minority in Germany numbering 181 persons followed.
After the conclusion of the Polish campaign Buchenwald experienced a grim and tragic sequel in the action taken against the so-called Polish snipers and other Poles coming from those parts of Poland which belonged to Germany before 1918.
On 15 October 1939 and 16 October no less than 1,000 and 1,098 Poles arrived and were put in tents under the most primitive and barbaric conditions on the half-finished roll call grounds, where they received only half of the amount of the food furnished to the other prisoners. The terrible results of this annihilation process is reflected in the comparison of the death cases. In the period 16 September to 15 October 1939-44 prisoners died in the KL Buchenwald, and from 16 October to 15 November 1939, therefore in the same space of time, 6.4 times as many, or 283 prisoners.
After the attempt on Hitler's life in the Buegerbraeu in Munich on 9 November 1939 a new terror deed by the SS filled the camp with a shuddering and paralyzing fright. The 9 November was a holiday and no work was being done. In the morning under the command of the SS Staff Sergeant Blanck heavily armed SS soldiers appeared and without any list or records selected at random 7 men from each block of Jews, mostly young ones. Thereupon, without any further explanation, they were marched to the stone quarry and shot down. The particulars of the records of these 21 victims are known.
The unbelievable bad conditions, especially the sanitary ones, in the special camp of the Poles, spread to the rest of the camp. The epidemics in the camp and the fear of contagion on the part of the troops forced the SS to quarantine the camp. Individual additions arrived only in exceptional cases. From 1 November 1939 to 30 June 1940, I.e. in 8 months, only a total of 131 additions arrived. Correspondingly the discharges from the camp were almost completely discontinued. Therefore, it was in the main the death cases which in this first winter of the war, owing to the miserable nourishment, hunger and dysentery, caused a decrease in the number of prisoners form 12,841 on 24 October 1939 to 7,986 on 1 May 1940. Death took an especially high toll among the Burgenland gypsies confined in the camp. In the aforementioned figures showing the decrease, a transport of 1,000 prisoners on 6 March 1940 and one of 3,000 on 14 April 1940 sent to the KL Mauthausen, is included. Who ever knows the reputation of this newly erected camp in Mauthausen must also know that no many of these prisoners remained alive.
A larger number of additions to the camp only began to arrive again in August 1940, namely again 1,100 Poles in two transports from Posen. In the following winter the camp strength remained about the same and averaged in round numbers about 7,500 prisoners.
(Hitler had promised a very generous pardon decree for his 50th birthday. It consisted in discharging in round figures 2,300 mostly "asocial" prisoners. Later delayed pardon act reduced the camp strength from 6,363 on 1 May 1939 to a low figure of 5,376 on 21 August 1939.)
The first results of the Western Campaign soon manifested themselves in Buchenwald. Already on 2 July 1940 delivery of 216 Hollanders was made to the KL Buchenwald, mostly high-ranking officials and officers as hostages, and was followed by an additional 111 on 8 and 9 October 1940. The last Dutch hostages arrived on 23 August 1941. They were isolated in a block from the other camp inmates like the preceding ones, and were conceded certain modest facilities. A selected few of them were discharged during the year. The main body, however, remained in Buchenwald until 15 November 1941 and were then transported to the vicinity of Herzogenbusch.
In the beginning of 1941 the German security police raided the Amsterdam Jewish quarter after a strike and abducted for transfer to Buchenwald 389 Dutch Jews on 28 February 1941. They were immediately employed in the hardest physical work and in this manner destroyed. The balance of them, 341, with 350 other prisoners were transferred to the KL Mauthausen on 22 May 1941.
Finally it should be mentioned, that a large transport of 2,000 prisoners arrived from the KL Dachau at the beginning of the Summer of 1941. In contrast to Buchenwald the construction regarded as a sort of recreation camp to which invalids and sick prisoners were sent. When they had recuperated they were again sent to other camps for heavy enforced labor. More will be told later about these "transferes", as they were officially termed, from one camp to another.
The aforementioned addition and transports, augmented by the regular additions which were delivered two or three a week from the police prisons, caused the camp strength to rise from the low figure of 6,705 on 1 June 1941 to 8,370 prisoners on 1 October 1941.
On June 22 1941 Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. The delivery of 2,000 Soviet prisoners of war was the first direct effect on the camp on 18 October 1941. The SS troopers could not prevent the Joyful reception of these prisoners of war by the camp inmates who provided them with additional bread, food, tobacco and other articles. The whole camp was punished and especially certain individuals who attracted most attention. The prisoners were also strictly isolated from the others and their barracks provided with a sign having the inscription "prisoners of war".
Probably Soviet reprisals were feared and they did not want to give the impression that the prisoners of war had been turned over to a concentration camp. Nevertheless they were subjected to the same strict camp discipline as the other prisoners and in the first months especially the quality of their food was considerably inferior. They were compelled to do the hardest physical work. Details of the future fate of the prisoners of war will be reported later. A transfer of 1,000 of them to the KL Mauthausen was made on 19 May 1942. In the following months and years more Soviet Prisoners of war were delivered. At the end there were 821 prisoners of war in the camp which were evacuated in one group, when during the last days before the liberation the SS began to clean out the camp.
The camp strength rose to 10,342 persons with the arrival of the prisoners of war on 16 October 191. During the winter of 1941/42 the figure slowly decreased and on 12 March 1942 amounted to 9,770 prisoners. On that day and the following one two large transports departed from the camp one on 12 March 1942 of 400 to the KL Natzweiler and one of 800 to the KL Ravensbrueck. The SS apparently tried to break the anti-fascist character of the camp by these transfers, which had manifested itself especially in its attitude toward the Soviet prisoners of war. Many long term Political prisoners were sent away without any consideration. Undernourished and badly billeted they were forced to the hardest kind of physical labor in the new camps, so that the majority of them died and only a few were able to return to Buchenwald after a long time with other transports. After the departure of the transports the camp was again strictly searched for German political prisoners and a number of them isolated in a special company for hard physical labor. This matter will also be treated by another source in a special report, therefore, it will not be necessary to go into details at this time. These transports and the aforementioned transport of 1,000 Soviet prisoners of war to the KL Mauthausen reduced the camp Strength on 1 June 1942 to the figure of 7,601, due to the relatively minor additions.
About this time, Sauckel, the gauleiter of Thuringia and Hitler's General Deputy for labor Employment, began to adduct on a large scale the population of the occupied eastern territories for forced labor in Germany. Partly voluntary, with a naive belief in the promises of the Nazis, and partly concerned they came in large mass transports to Germany for employment. Already at the beginning the Germans must have recognized that many undisciplined and politically undesirable "elements" were to be found among them, which threatened to endanger peace and order.
They were harshly treated and locked up for minor infraction in the punishment and concentration camps for "commitment to labor", which in other words meant life-long slavery. No trouble was taken to determine in the individual cases the question of guilt. No one felt responsible for the fate of the abducted. The SS demanded and received their share of the booty derived from this unpaid labor and exploited it without any consideration and brutally for their own selfish purposes.
Beginning 1 June rapidly increasing numbers of Ukrainian, Russian, Tartar civilian workers and former prisoners of war arrived in the camp. In addition the normal collecting transports abducted people of all the various nations and of every age to the Ettersberg. Within a very short space of time the camp was inhabited by persons from 25 countries from all over Europe and overseas, one might say, shortly from nearly all the countries in the world. At the end for 1944 nationals from 36 different countries were imprisoned in the camp. If the influx let up, the Reich leader of the SS would issue new decrees on the basis of which new raids and actions were carried out causing the inflow to increase again by leaps and bounds.
The SS also understood how to procure slave labor from inside Germany. Beginning December 1942 the judicial authorities had to turn over in part their cheap labor employees to the concentration camps. A decree was issued which ordered the transfer of the prisoners of the courts of justice to the concentration camps for labor commitment. Committees visited the penal prisons and shortly thereafter pronounced criminals (murderers, persons guilty of manslaughter, persons guilty of moral turpitude) sentenced to long and life-long penal imprisonment were sent from the penal prisons Saxony, Thuringia, Hessen, the Rhineland and Westphalia, as well as from the Province of Brandenburg, (were sent) to the KL Buchenwald. Many of them were used as "guinea pigs" in the spotted fever barracks, while many others, accustomed to living for years in confined quarters, died, because they could not endure the sudden transition to a life in the open during the winter and in the spring.
If some of the concentration camps were overcrowded or workmen were needed at certain points, whether for the construction of airdromes, defense fortifications or barracks, or even for the completion of castles, country houses and homes of individual highranking SS officials and their staffs, the private slaves of the SS were dragged, without any consideration from one camp to another. Further developments are shown in Table 5, in which the camp strength and the number of the addition for the 12 months from 1 June 1942 to 31 May 1943 are given.Table 5
In what manner the terrible conditions in the overcrowded German concentration camps and the pitiless exploitation of the prisoners crossed the plans of the higher authorities of an increased production, is revealed in a communication of the SS Main Office of the Economic administration. According to this letter, the total number of additions in all the German concentration camps in the 6 months from June to November 1942 amounted to 136,780 whereas 70,610 died in the same period. (See copy of the document in Annex IV.)
The Germans had to leave the Soviet Union after the decisive defeat at Stalingrad. During the retreat all the still available manpower reserves were combed out everywhere. Men and women, children and old men were dragged off to Germany. A great number of them were not even employed as foreign workers, but instead immediately delivered to the concentration camps. In the Fall of 1943 the following transports from the still occupied parts of the Soviet Union arrived in Buchenwald.Table 6
Women and children also arrived with these men here. They were not allowed to enter the camp, but were passed on directly to the women's concentration camp, or an exception was made, and they were temporarily billeted for one or two days until they were transported to other places.
At the same time conditions in France also took an unfavorable turn for the Third Reich. After the defeat on the East Front the lack and in correlation the want of manpower rose in Germany. Sauckel went to Paris and negotiated with Laval for the delivery of forced labor. This development reflected itself in the KL Buchenwald by deliveries of French prisoners of war from the German concentration camp in Compiegne. The poetical talents of the German Security Service and its sneering attitude toward these victims expressed themselves in designating this action as the "Meerschaum Operation", which was followed in 1944 by another operation termed the "Spring Zephyr". The large mass transports which arrived in KL buchenwald from the West are compiled in Table 7.Table 7
Frenchmen and Belgians formed the bulk of these transports. However, all these transports also contained nationals of other countries, who were living temporaly or permanently in France, and were also delivered to Buchenwald.
The stream of mass transports stopped after the Red Army had reconquered the greater part of the Ukraine. However, many "normal" additions continued to arrive, i.e. prisoners from the Germany prisons, but also 90% foreigners, who were sent to the concentration camps on the orders of Himmler. Nevertheless, these additions could not have covered the disastrously increased demand, brought about by the inconsiderate waste of manpower, if the SS had not uncovered new sources.
Beginning in the early summer of 1944 Hungarian Jews were dragged into German slavery in undiscernible masses. They were followed in August by the civilian Polish population evacuated from Warsaw.
It is characteristic of the continually increasing catastrophic shaping of the conditions in the Third Reich, that the services conducting the arrests were no longer in a position to properly register the prisoners. Whereas the transport directing services sent lists along containing the records of the prisoners in the first mass transports from the Soviet Union, France and Belgium, such lists did not accompany the Hungarians and Poles coming from Warsaw.
Most of these transports passed through the KL Auschwitz where the prisoners probably were subjected to a first examination. Whoever appeared fit for work was provided with some scant clothing and after a few days sent on. In Auschwitz they were designated as "Transport Jews", and no one took the trouble anymore to review their records. That work was left to the concentration camps to which the individuals were finally committed. The SS regarded the labor commitment as their first duty, and the prisoners engaged with the reception of the additions were faced with the greatest to determine the records of the additions so that the SS would not simply use them up as numbers. Only the fact that we insisted on carrying out the still existing order regarding the reception of the additions and did not ignore the regulations, which would have greatly pleased the SS it is now possible to report-who passed through the camp, who died in the camp-and in the near future it will be possible to give information to the bruatally torn apart family members, relatives and acquaintances on the fate of their relatives.
The same applies to the Hungarian Jews, the Poles evacuated from Warsaw, the Polish Jews, Poles, Estonians and the Lithuanians, who had been interned in the labor camps in the East. They had been commited as foreign workers and in part had lived together with their families. When the demand for labor arose and with the approach of the Red Army in spite of the fact that they were not guilty of any transgressions, they were dragged off to the German concentration camps. In many cases these separations only took place here upon their arrival at the railroad station; where the families were ruthlessly torn asunder, parents from their children, husbands from their wives, brothers from brothers and sisters from sisters.
During the Summer and the Fall of 1944 the following transports from the East arrived in the KL Buchenwald.Table 8
Also other domestic political events reflected themselves in new additions for the KL Buchenwald. After the disturbances at the University of Oslo 349 Norwegian students arrived at Buchenwald on 13 January 1944. Due to the intervention of the Swedish government they were better treated than the other prisoners. They were housed apart from the others, kept their civilian clothes, received the same food as the troops and for several months were given instruction courses and political education by SS instructors. Evidently they were to be converted to Nazism. The efforts of the SS, however, were in vain. Not one volunteered for the SS. Therefore 117 of them were first sent to a SS camp on 7 July 1944 and the rest of them on 23 October 1944, where they had to do heavy work on the field fortifications. When the Front moved closer they were evacuated from the SS camp and on 12 December 1944, with other Norwegian students who had not yet been in Buchenwald, making a total of 492 men, they were again delivered to Buchenwald. On 1 March 1945 they were evacuated to the KL Neuengamme.
In 1942 a change swept over the German concentration camps-instead of being detention camps for political opponents they became labor camps for the German war industries. Early in 1942 the high-ranking SS leaders organized the DAW [Deutsche Ausruestungs-Werke-German Equipment Works]. The DAW paid the camp administration a modest sum for the services of a prisoner with the result that the camps soon became self-supporting and the stockholders, having friendly relations with the military authorities and cheap labor at their disposal, were soon counted amongst the greatest war profiteers. Thusly, they had found a new means for garnering profits for the SS and its leaders out of state monies. For example, the camp Commander Pister of Buchenwald was elected a director of the DAW-Buchenwald at a considerable monthly salary.
A further development plants were constructed and installed with machinery in the concentration camps. A railroad between Buchenwald and Weimar was built in record time, and the so-called Gustloff Works, consisting of 13 immense workshops were erected in the immediate vicinity of the camp. In addition increasing numbers of prisoners were employed in existing equipment plants. Sauckel himself obtained the first prisoners for the Sauckel Works in Weimar. At first they were only employed there and transported back and forth daily in automobiles. At a later date an equipment headquarters with shelters for the prisoners was installed close to the factory. Further outside headquarters soon followed in pronounced nazi plants such as the Hasag-Leipzig, and at other points.
The largest and the most terrible of the outside headquarters was soon provided with the cover name of "Dora" and mentioned only with fear and fright by the prisoners. What at first had been only an assumption very soon became a certainty. The senseless and cruel V-weapons were a specialty of the SS. Their satanical plan provided for the construction of these weapons by those foreigners whose countries were to be totally destroyed by them. Possibly they also thought that the employment of prisoners isolated from the rest of the world would help to better guard their secret coupled with the hope that the Allied air power would not bomb the plants out of consideration for their countrymen. Everything in connection with the production was treated as a top-secret. prisoners who were in the respective headquarters were designated as "secret carriers." In so far as it concerned the Reich nationals and the Czechs, they had to be reported specially to the Main Office of the Reich Security, the Central Office of the Gestapo, to prevent the possibility of a premature discharge.
The most important centers of production were the outside headquarters "Dora" near Nordhausen/Harz, and "Laura" near Saalfeld/Thuringia. In the workshops Nos. 4-7 of the tremendous Gustloff Works separate parts for the V-weapons were also manufactured. At the "Dora" and "Laura" plants underground, bomb safe factories were constructed without any regard for the waste of manpower or the living requirements of the prisoners as regards, air, sleep or nourishment. One transport after another of unfortunates went to these outside headquarters from Buchenwald-Never to return. The number of the victims of death soon reached record heights and was increased by the victims of explosions and plant accidents. Those who became unfit for work were sent to such isolated camps as Lublin and Bergen-Belsen, where they were for the greater part liquidated by gas poisoning or injections.
The civilian additions were not in sufficient numbers to fill the gaps, therefore new transports arrived continuously from other camps which after a few days in Buchenwald for the necessary recording photographing and physical examination, were passed to the notorious outside headquarters.
The Service Group Command D of the Economic Administration Main Office in Berlin-Oranienburg was the Central Office for the distribution of the labor forces to the German concentration camps. Orders were issued from there as to how many and what type of prisoners were to be transported to other camps, that is, how many prisoners were to be committed to labor by the various outside headquarters. At first this service Command issued a strict order that no political Reich nationals were to be shipped in these mass transports. The administrations of the various concentration camps strictly observed this rule in their own interests, not because they wanted to spare these Germans but because they were needed to perform the administration and disciplinary duties which the SS really should have handled had it not been for their lack of capability and ambition. We prisoners, therefore, had the great advantage of regulating many things ourselves, which by direct intervention of the SS would have aggravated considerably the already insupportable living conditions of all the inmates of the camp. Furthermore it is evident that every SS commander endeavored to keep his trained people because the new prisoners would only have meant trouble and work. In addition, regulations from the Reich Security Main Office forbade sending certain prisoners with the transports to assure a decree of isolation. Except for a few individual cases, this regulation applied in particular to the half-Jews. On orders of the Reich security Main Office all these as in Germany arrested "half-breeds", Grade 1, as they were officially designated, were sent to Buchenwald and were not allowed to be transferred to another camp. Thusly it came about, that when larger transports were assembled, especially for the notorious outside headquarters or camps, the least capable and the latest additions were selected from the blocks and commands and sent away again. At the new places these persons were just as unfit for labor as at the previous ones, in other words, they were undesirable. After their arrival they very often had to be quarantined for some time. The attempted regulation of the distribution from one central office and the increasing impossibility to control this manpower, resulted in thousands of prisoners being continually on the move. They therefore, could not be committed to labor as the paper records seem to indicate.
From the Fall of 1943 to the Fall of 1944 the transports compiled in Table 9 arrived in Buchenwald from other concentration camps, which for the greater part had already been destined for shipment to "Dora" and other outside headquarters.Table 9
In this table transports of less 200 prisoners from other camps and transports which went directly to the outside headquarters without passing through the main camp, are not listed.
The greater number of these additions, as well as the afore mentioned additions from the East and West proceeded quickly and intact to the outside headquarters of the equipment industry and only the completely emaciated in the camps until they died of old age or decrepitude. After months of the severest physical labor in those headquarters under the worst living conditions (bad food, no rest even during their free time, with out any sanitary installations, during months no thorough bodily cleansing and no change of underwear) they either perished [or were sent to] miserable concentration camps Lublin, Auschwitz or Belsen-Bergen not for recreation-but for final liquidation. This exploitation of the work potential of their slaves to the last gasp was termed by the SS "shredding". In this manner they reduced every one they could lay their hands on to shreds-Russians, Poles, Hungarians, Jugoslavs, Frenchmen, Jews and Christians-they would have annihilated the population of a whole continent, if the Allied armies had not put a stop to matters by their victorious advance.
By reason of all these transports from the West and the East and from the other concentration camps the number of the additions, the camp strength and the number of death cases rose as shown in Table 10.Table 10
On the 6 October 1944 the camp strength reached its highest figure amounting to 89,134 prisoners. On 29 October 1944 the auxiliary headquarters "Dora" became an independent concentration camp with the name of KL Mittelbau containing 32,532 prisoners who were at that time attached to the various auxiliary headquarters. The names of these prisoners were removed from the Buchenwald records and the camp strength reduced accordingly.
On 24 August 1944 at noon the equipment plants belonging to the concentration camp were bombarded and completely destroyed. Not a single high-explosive bomb fell into the prisoners camp but a few incendiary bombs, diverted by the wind, set fire to the prisoners tailor shop, shoemaker shop, laundry and the disinfection station without injuring a single prisoner. The SS had not provided air raid shelters for the prisoners, in fact they did not even allow the prisoners to go into the camp during an airraid alarm. The prisoners were compelled to remain in the workshops or in their immediate vicinity. Bomb proof shelters or trenches for protection against bomb fragment had not been constructed for the prisoners. During an attack the water supply was shut off in the entire camp. Prisoners who attempted to escape from the high-explosive and the incendiary bombs by running into the open were shot down by the SS guards without mercy. Consequently, the air bombardment caused the death of 364 prisoners. It is not possible to determine now how many were shot down by the SS troopers. It is a fact however that Thaelmann, who allegedly was killed during the attack was an inmate of the Buchenwald camp. The prisoners had reason to be grateful that the pinpoint bombing of the Allied Air Force greatly reduced the number of victims.
The Bombardment not only destroyed the factory buildings but also the important administration offices of the SS in Buchenwald, especially the so-called "Political Section," in which the personal records of the prisoners were kept. Therefore no new prisoners were allowed to be shipped to the camp for a while. Those additions which were recorded in September 1944 were sent directly to the auxiliary headquarters, and in particular to "Dora".
After the failure of the attempt on the life of Hitler on 20 July 1944 Himmler took over command of the Home Front Army. The concentration camp Buchenwald soon reflected the results of this event. On 22 August 1944 the operation, given by the code name of "Gitter" [trellis], was conducted throughout the entire territory of the Reich, by which the remainder of the former functionaries of the Anti-Fascist Parties, who were still at Liberty, were arrested and sent directly to the nearest concentration camp. On the 22 or 23 August 1944 about 750 "trellis" prisoners arrived from the immediate surroundings of Weimar within a few hours. Further transport from Saxony, the Rhineland and from Westphalia were anticipated. However, after the attack of the Allied Air Forces on the 24 August 1944 these transports could no longer be made. In other Fascist circles this "trellis" action must also have met with some opposition. The details and the reasons were not known at that time. In any case, the Weimar Gestapo arrived in the camp a few days later briefly examined the arrested persons and then set most of them free.
If this was merely a police measure to use the camp temporarily as a lodging place for arrested persons, Himmler soon found other ways and means to increase the number of the slaves of the SS by new additions.
In November 1944 the first prisoners of a new category arrived which was termed "Zwischenhaft II" (intermediate custody II). This category included members of the Wehrmacht who had been condemned by the military courts to severe penal prison sentences for desertion and absence without official leave from their units. These soldiers were sent to the concentration camp for "intermediate custody" and to be set to work. It was Himmler's plan to have these soldiers finish the balance of their penal prison sentence after the end of the war. According to orders from the highest authorities in Berlin they all had to be sent to the KL "mittelbau" or in other words to "Dora." At "Dora" they were probably put to work on the dangerous manufacture of the secret weapons, because being long term prisoners they were not to be spared. Furthermore, no difficulties could arise in the future because they could not be given a discharge on account of the secret nature of their work.
These intermediate prisoners were by no means only German Reich nationals, but among them were also members of all the European nations who had joined the German Wehrmacht as volunteers. In these months, even Himmler delivered members of his own SS units who were guilty of misdemeanors, to the concentration camps. In December 1944, January and February 1945 several small transports of Croatians, Turka (members of a Mohammedan SS formation) and Frenchmen, at the time in SS uniforms arrived in the camp as prisoners.
Other political events in occupied Europe brought new additions to the concentration camps. In September 1944 a large raid was carried out in Denmark, against the Danish police, especially in Copenhagen. On 30 September 1944, 1,480 Danish police functionaries arrived in the KL "Buchenwald," after having been detained a few days in the KL "Neuengamme." They were followed by 473 men on 5 October 1944. They were soon put to work and long columns of them had to carry building materials. however, they did not stay very long in the camp. The first 200, mostly high-ranking police officers, were removed by the Danish Red Cross on 8 December 194, and as far as it was known here, taken to an internment camp in Schleswig Holstein. The next transport of 1,604 Danes left on 17 December 1944 and the balance followed during January and February 1945. The unaccustomed severe climate of Buchenwald, to which they had been transported at the beginning of the winter, demanded a relatively high total of victims. In the few months of their sojourn, approximately 90 Danes died.
When the auxiliary headquarters "Dora" was declared an independent concentration camp in October 1944, the construction work had been completed and the production of V-weapons was running at full speed. In connection therewith the demand for unskilled labor had diminished a little.
The establishment of a new and even more notorious auxiliary headquarters near Ohrdruf in Thuringia with the designation "S III", soon caused Buchenwald to experience a new increase in mass transports. In all haste an underground factory was to be built there, without any regard for any wastage of manpower. Again mass transports from all concentration camps either passed through Buchenwald or went directly to their point of destination. Again mass transports left Buchenwald itself for the new auxiliary headquarters. The SS found the SS ordered all the prisoners to fall in on the roll-call grounds, the latter were then closed off and the SS selected 1,000 prisoners for "S III", who were shipped off that same night. The first large transport of 1,000 men arrived in the new headquarters on 20 November 1944. Already within a month the strength of the headquarters rose to 7,500 men and reached a maximum figure of 13,726 prisoners on 27 March 1945.
The increasing inefficiency of the administrative machine in the higher offices soon manifested itself very clearly. The new headquarters were put under the command of the Wehrmacht. The prisoners were struck off the records of the camp strength of the various concentration camps and were to be incorporated into the new headquarters. This soon proved itself impossible on account of the enormous inflow and the lack of experienced help. Therefore the whole headquarters had to be taken over again into the camp strength of the KL Buchenwald. It was absolutely unknown which prisoners were in "S III" and the SS had it compiled with the help of prisoners, a complete record of all the camp inmates. At that time the rolls disclosed a strength of 7,648 men of which about 2,000 were in the so-called north Camp and approximately 5,500 in the South Camp. Before the lists sent to the KL Buchenwald could be checked, 1,400 completely exhausted prisoners arrived at Buchenwald from "S III" on 12 December 1944. They gave the camp its first shocking impression of the horrible conditions in Ohrdruf. On their arrival at the Buchenwald railroad station more than 200 of the 1,400 prisoners had already died or were wwell spent and exhausted that they were unable to give their names or numbers. The transport lists, sloppily compiled by the SS, did not check. Prisoners were listed that did not come with the transport and vice-versa, consequently it was impossible to accurately identify later the dead. The SS management did not send the next transport of "shredded" workers to Buchenwald but to the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen, where their final liquidation in the remoteness of the Lueneburger Heide, presumably, could be carried out less openly and more expeditiously.
The tragic end of the exterior headquarters is probably known by this time. At the approach of the victorious Allied troops the headquarters set out on foot in the direction of Buchenwald. Anyone who could not keep up with the marching column was shot. From 4 to 7 April 1945 about 9,300 prisoners (in view of the chaotic conditions which also existed here, an accurate count could not be made) arrived in Buchenwald. On the 9 and 10 April 1945 the SS evacuated the majority of them from Buchenwald. From all that has been learned so far about them it is probable that this transport was annihilated completely. At the end of March, according to the local reports, about 12,000 prisoners were in "S III". The prisoners who did not arrive in Buchenwald, by the SS in the "S III" camp or on the road.Table 11
In the following Table 12 transports are listed, consisting of prisoners from "S III" no longer capable of working, which were transferred to other camps. It is to be assumed, that at least a portion of these prisoners were not recorded as additions in the camps of their destination, because they were condemned to be liquidated and therefore, not booked on the rolls of the camp strength.Table 12
In addition to the above there was one transport of 1,002 "invalids", the greater number of which had also been in "S III", or had been destined for "S III", but were sent directly from Buchenwald to the KL Bergen-Belsen.
Of the new arrivals booked by "S III" in the period of 24 December 1944 to 26 February 1945, the records indicate that 1,460 prisoners died in Ohrdruf.
The advance of the Red Army compelled the evacuation of the large concentration camps in the East. The result was a maddening increase in arrivals and a horrible, almost inconceivable increase of unnecessary suffering and senseless sacrifices. The offensive on the Vistula River began 13 January 1945. Within a short time the Red Army reached a menacing position close to the concentration camp Auschwitz, where there must have been about 80,000 prisoners. Auschwitz had to be evacuated. Shortly thereafter, the concentration camp gross Rosen near Breslau had to be cleared. The first transports of evacuated Jews from the KL Auschwitz on open railroad cars arrived here on 22 January 1945, which were soon followed by others. In those days it was bitterly cold. These human beings had been traveling for days, insufficiently clad and underfed. In the overcrowded railroad cars their comrades had died from weakness and exhaustion, and to save themselves the living had to throw the dead bodies from the moving train. The commandant of the camp received complaints from the regions through which the trains had passed, that corpses had been found on the railway embankments. The arrivals very often dragged themselves from the railroad station to the camp with their last ounce of strength. Prisoners, the camp guards and the fire department had to proceed with two-wheeled carts and handcarts, usually, and for transporting building materials to the station to load up the collapsed persons and the dead bodies. The camp streets were littered with lost blankets, caps, overcoats, mess kits and collapsed human beings, who had not been able to drag themselves any further.
An accurate count of the additions was no longer possible. A check on the number of those leaving the point of departure and on how many had died on the way, escaped, or had simply remained behind also was no longer possible. Likewise the administrations of the dissolved camps did not know which prisoners had been transported to Buchenwald. The Reich Security Service sent a teletype letter to all the concentration camps, who had received additions from Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen, requesting that lists of the newly arrived prisoners with their old prisoner's number be forwarded as soon as possible to the administration of the Auschwitz concentration camp, which latter in the meantime had been transferred to the KL Mittelbau. The concentration camps Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen, as well as other camps and prisons in the East and the West had to be evacuated in great haste and many of the inmates came to Buchenwald.
The transport which came here will be listed in detail in Table 13 and Table 14 will show the increases in the camp strength in the additions and the death cases.Table 13
TO the 1. Camp Doctors of the concentration Camps Da., Sh. Bu., Neu., Au., Rav., Flo., Lu., Stu., Gr-Ro., Nied., Natz., Hinz., Mor., Herzog., Mau., Copy to the Camp Commandants.
In the inclosed a compilation of the current arrivals and departures in all the concentration camps is sent to you for your information. It discloses that out of 136,000 arrivals about 70,000 died. With such a high rate of death the number of the prisoners can never be brought up to the figure as has been ordered by the Reichsfuehrer of the SS. The 1. camp doctors must use all means at their disposal to reduce essentially this death rate in the various camps. The best doctor in a concentration camp is not the one, who believes that he must stand out for uncalled severity, but the one who by his supervision and exchange keeps the working capacity at the various labor commands at the highest possible level. The camp doctors must supervise more often than in the past the food of the prisoners and, with the approval of the administration, submit improvement proposals to the camp commandants. These, however, must not only appear on paper, but must be controlled regularly by the camp doctors. Furthermore, the camp doctors are to see to it that the working conditions at the various labor places are improved as much as possible. To this purpose it will be necessary that the camp doctors inspect the labor places on the ground and convince themselves about the conditions of work.
The SS Reichsfuehrer has ordered that the death rate absolutely must be reduced. For this reason the aforementioned has been ordered and a monthly report on this matter is to be submitted to the Chief of the Department D III. The first report to be submitted on 1 February 1943.[Signature illegible] Klueder[?]
Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Volume IV
Office of the United States Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality
Washington, DC : United States Government Printing Office, 1946