Flossenbürg concentration camp

Flossenbürg concentration camp

Flossenbürg was a Nazi concentration camp built in May 1938 by the Schutzstaffel (SS) Economic-Administrative Main Office at Flossenbürg, in the Oberpfalz region of Bavaria, Germany, near the pre-war border with Czechoslovakia. Between 1938, when the camp was established, and April 1945, more than 96,000 prisoners passed through Flossenbürg. About 30,000 died there.

History

Pre-World War II

Before World War II, Flossenbürg was a men's camp primarily for so-called "asocial" or "criminal" prisoners. The camp's site was chosen so that the inmates could be used as unpaid labor to quarry the granite found in the nearby hills. The quarries belonged to the SS-owned and -operated German Earth and Stone Works (DEST) company.

During World War II

During World War II, most of the inmates sent to Flossenbürg, or to one of about 100 sub-camps, came from the German-occupied eastern territories. The inmates in Flossenbürg were housed in 16 huge wooden barracks, its crematorium was built in a valley straight outside the camp. In September 1939, the SS transferred 1,000 political prisoners to Flossenbürg from Dachau.

In 1941 - 1942, about 1,500 Polish prisoners, mostly members of the Polish resistance, were deported to Flossenbürg. In July 1941, SS guards shot 40 Polish prisoners at the SS firing range outside the Flossenbürg concentration camp. Between February and September 1941 the SS executed about one-third of the Polish political prisoners deported to Flossenbürg.

During World War II, the German army turned tens of thousands of Soviet prisoners over to the SS for execution. More than 1,000 Soviet prisoners of war were executed in Flossenbürg by the end of 1941. The SS also established a special camp for 2,000 Soviet prisoners of war within Flossenbürg. Executions of Soviet prisoners of war continued sporadically through 1944. Soviet prisoners of war in Muelsen St. Micheln, a subcamp of Flossenbürg, staged an uprising and mass escape attempt on 1 May 1944. They set their bunks on fire and killed some of the camp's Kapos, prisoner trustees who carried out SS orders. SS guards crushed the revolt and none of the prisoners escaped. Almost 200 prisoners died from burns and wounds sustained in the uprising. The SS transferred about 40 leaders of the revolt to Flossenbürg itself, where they were later murdered in the camp jail.

There were over 4,000 prisoners in the main camp of Flossenbürg in February 1943. More than half of these prisoners were political prisoners (mainly Soviet, Czech, Dutch, and German). Almost 800 were German criminals, more than 100 were homosexuals, and 7 were Jehovah's Witnesses.

During the war, prisoner forced labor became increasingly important in German arms production. As a result, the Flossenbürg camp system expanded to include approximately 100 subcamps concentrated mainly around armaments industries in southern Germany and western Czechoslovakia.

On 1 September 1944, Flossenbürg became a training camp for extremely large numbers of female guards (Aufseherinnen) who were recruited by force from factories all over Germany and Poland. All together, over 500 women were trained in the camp and in time went on to its subcamps. Women matrons staffed the Flossenbürg subcamps, such as Dresden Ilke Werke, Freiberg, Helmbrechts, Holleischen, Leitmeritz, Mehltheur, Neustadt (near Coburg), Nürnberg-Siemens, Oederan, and Zwodau, and it is known that six SS women staffed the Gundelsdorf subcamp in Czechoslovakia.

By 1945, there were almost 40,000 inmates held in the whole Flossenbürg camp system, including almost 11,000 women. Inmates were made to work in the Flossenbürg camp quarry and in armaments making. Underfeeding, sickness, and overwork was rife among the inmates, and with the harshness of the guards, this treatment killed thousands of inmates.

It is estimated that between April 1944 and April 1945, more than 1500 death sentences were carried out there. To this end, six new gallows hooks were installed. In the last months the rate of daily executions overtook the capacity of the crematorium. As a solution, the SS began stacking the bodies in piles, drenching them with gasoline, and setting them alight. Incarcerated in what was called the "Bunker"," those who had been condemned to death were kept alone in dark rooms with no food for days until they were executed.

Amongst the Allied military officers executed at Flossenbürg were Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent Gustave Daniel Alfred Biéler (executed 6 September 1944). As Germany's defeat loomed, a number of the SOE agents whom the SS had tortured repeatedly in order to extract information, were executed on the same day. On 29 March 1945 13 SOE agents were hanged, including Jack Charles Stanmore Agazarian and Brian Rafferty. On 1 August 2007 a memorial was unveiled at Flossenbürg to their memory; also executed was Hitler assassination-conspirator and Lutheran pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Death march and liberation

In early April 1945, as American forces were approaching the camp, the SS executed General Hans Oster, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, Rev. Dr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dr. Karl Sack, Dr. Theodor Strünck and General Friedrich von Rabenau, who were involved in the July 20, 1944 assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler, along with the French Resistance worker Simone Michel-Lévy, who had managed to organise an uprising in the camp. On 20 April 1945, they began the forced evacuation of 22,000 inmates, including 1,700 Jews, leaving behind only those too sick to walk. On the death march to the Dachau concentration camp, SS guards shot any inmate too sick to keep up. Before they reached Dachau, more than 7,000 inmates had been shot or had collapsed and died.

By the time the U.S. Army 97th Infantry Division freed the camp on April 23, 1945, more than 30,000 inmates died at Flossenbürg. The American soldiers found about 1,600 ill and weak prisoners, mostly in the camp's hospital barracks.

Aftermath

Flossenbürg Trial

The Flossenbürg War Crimes Trial began in Dachau, Germany, on 12 June 1946, and came to an end on 22 January 1947.

Forty-six former staff from Flossenbürg concentration camp were tried by an American Military for crimes of murder, torturing, and starving the inmates in their custody. All but five of the defendants were found guilty, fifteen of whom were condemned to death, eleven were given life sentences, and fourteen were jailed for terms of one to thirty years.

Holocaust museum

On 22 July 2007, the sixty-second anniversary of the camp's liberation, a Holocaust museum was opened at Flossenbürg. The ceremony was attended by 84 former inmates, in addition to the president of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, whose father was among the camp's inmates during WWII for five months."Flossenbürg Memorial", "Dateline World Jewry", World Jewish Congress, September, 2007]

Camp commandants

*Jakob Weiseborn (May 1938)
*Karl Kunstler (January 20, 1939)
*Karl Fritzsch (August 10, 1942)
*Egon Zill (September 1942)
*Max Koegel (April 29 1943 - April 24 1945)

References

paul satten

Literature

Pascal Cziborra. KZ Flossenbürg. Gedenkbuch der Frauen. "Memorial Book of the Women". Lorbeer Verlag. Bielefeld. 2007 ISBN 978-3-938969-03-8

ee also

*Helmbrechts concentration camp
*List of subcamps of Flossenbürg
*List of Nazi-German concentration camps

External links

*
* [http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10005537 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia article]
* [http://www.thirdreichruins.com/flossenburg.htm Flossenbürg at Third Reich Ruins page]
* [http://www.germannotes.com/faq_camp_flossenbuerg.shtml Money used in Flossenbürg Concentration Camp]


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