|Source: Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Vol. II. USGPO,
Washington, 1946, pp.949-968
[Note: The characters in brackets, eg, (2233-N-PS)
refer to the official document numbers included in the series Nazi Conspiracy and
Aggression. A list of legal references and documents relating to the Concentration
Camps appears on pages 968-977. For information on the referencing of Internet
sources see Chapter 4 of S D Stein Learning, Teaching and Researching on the Internet.
Addison Wesley Longman 1999-published Nov.1998]
Error Submission Form
The Concentration Camps
The Nuremberg Charges
The Beginning of "Protective Custody"
Persecution of Pacifists
Persecution of Trade Union Members
Persecution of Jews
"Charges" Against Concentration Camp
Use of Concentration Camps for Prisoners of War
The Concentration Camp, 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 opposition or non-conformity of any
kind. It involved the 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 through 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..
1. THE BEGINNING OF "PROTECTIVE CUSTODY"
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 civiI
liberties by issuing the Presidential Emergency Decree of 28 February 1933 (1390-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."
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
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 6 August 1937, provided :
"The Reichkminister 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, Simon 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 subdistricts of the SD (3051-PS).
Paragraph 5 of this teletype, which was entitled "Measures against Jews
to-night," 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
"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-l 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 achieved the social cohesion which was needed for the execution of their
plans for aggression. After 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 concmtration
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 $944, 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-NC0 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)
2. "CHARGES" AGAINST CONCENTRATION
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:
|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.
||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
||By being strongly suspected of aiding desertion.
||Because as a relative of a deserter he is expected to endanger the
interests of the German Reich if allowed to go free.
||Because as a relative of a deserter he is expected to take advantage of
every occasion to harm the German Reich.
||For geing strongly suspected of aiding desertion.
3. USE OF CONCENTRATION CAMPS FOR PRISONERS OF WAR
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
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 1946 (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 1944, 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."
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 put 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 semi-yearly reports on these
transfers giving merely the figures, the first report being due on 5 July 1944 (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.
Concentration Camps, Part II