Places of Deportation, Forced Labor, Mistreatment and Murder of Viennese Jews
An alphabetical index compiled by Rudolf Forster, volunteer at “Stones of Remembrance”
This directory contains an alphabetically arranged characterization of the 45 places listed on the Holocaust Memorial on Vienna’s Judenplatz to which Austrian Jews were deported during Nazi rule, exploited through forced labor, mistreated by brutal guards, and where the vast majority of them were eventually murdered. Since the Holocaust Memorial does not include all of these places, we will add them as the occasion arises (the added places are marked with *).
This characterization is based on sober facts, behind which the horror can be guessed – it is hardly possible to describe it except for those affected themselves. After a temporal/local information, the (changing) functions of the individual places and the fate of the victims determined by the functions are in the foreground. As far as available from the literature known to us, more detailed information on the deportations that took place from Vienna is also given. Some of the selected places, where certain characteristics are particularly prominent or which acquired a special fateful significance for the Viennese Jews, are treated in more detail.
The directory concentrates on the facts proven by historical research. For our part, it is continuously supplemented and, if necessary, corrected. We will readily follow up on any indications of missing information, erroneous or misleading parts, or even on newer research results and make appropriate changes.
Wolfgang Benz and Barbara Distel (eds.): The Place of Terror. Munich: C.H: Beck, 9 vols, 2008.
Wolfgang Benz (ed.): Lexikon des Holocaust. Munich: C.H. Beck 2002
Dieter J. Hecht, Eleonore Lappin-Eppel, Michaela Raggan-Blesch: Topography of the Shoah. Vienna: Mandelbaum Verlag, 3rd edition, 2017.
Auschwitz – Birkenau (Oświęcim, Poland)
Groß-Rosen (Rogoznica, Poland)
Hartheim (Alkoven) (Austria)
Maly Trostinec (Belarus)
Mauthausen and Gusen (Austria)
Natzweiler-Struthof (Schirmeck, France)
Nisko on the San (Poland)
Opatów and Łagów (Poland)
Šabac and Sajmište (Serbia)
San Sabba/Trieste (Italy)
Stutthof (Sztutowo, Poland)
Theresienstadt (Terezin, Czech Republic)
Vienna – Am Spiegelgrund* (Vienna/Austria)
Auschwitz – Birkenau (Oświęcim, Poland): Concentration and extermination camp in the “Gau Oberschlesien” (territory annexed by the German Reich). Formally opened on 14.6.1940, the camp and its numerous subcamps existed until 27.1.1945 (liberation by the Red Army).
Function and balance: Approximately 1,100,000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz from the German Reich, which had been expanded by annexations, as well as from almost all temporarily conquered and occupied territories. Of these approximately 1.1 million people, almost one million were murdered or otherwise put to death. The number of non-Jewish victims at Auschwitz was approximately 100,000 out of approximately 200,000 deportees. Auschwitz has thus become synonymous, as it were, with the Holocaust. Burned into the memory of posterity is the image of the selection on the ramp: SS camp doctors(! ) examined the arrivals, asked at most a few brief questions, then passed judgment in seconds according to the criterion of fitness for work and indicated with a wave of their hand the direction to be taken by the arrivals: the vast majority, especially the old, the sick, children, women with small children and pregnant women, were directed to the left; their path led directly to the gas chambers disguised as “shower cabins”, where they died an agonizing death by suffocation. “Sonderkommandos” of prisoners then had to drag the bodies out of the gas chambers, remove gold teeth and hair, bury the corpses initially in pits and later burn them in out-of-the-way crematoria. For the minority of those turned to the right, the path led from a degrading and brutal admission procedure to imprisonment under miserable living conditions, constant terror and the hardest labor. From then on, they were a number, although only in the Auschwitz concentration camp was this number additionally tattooed on their forearm. For them, too, death was omnipresent. Their average life expectancy was a few months; about half died by the time of liberation from hunger, exhaustion, disease, as well as from regular selections and murder by means of phenol injections into the heart, by a bullet in the neck or by suffocation in the gas chamber. Medical experiments were also performed on prisoners and often ended in their deaths.
The development of the Auschwitz concentration camp into an extermination facility took place in stages:
– In the beginning, there was the idea of a brutal “Germanization” of the region of Eastern Upper Silesia. Overcrowded prisons soon led to the plan to build a concentration camp. The site chosen was a former workers’ camp in the small town of Auschwitz (of about 14,000 inhabitants, 60% were Jewish). The Auschwitz concentration camp was initially intended as a permanent place of imprisonment, torture and execution for Polish citizens.
– Soon the plans were expanded to include production facilities and farms. The inhabitants of the surrounding villages were expelled; the SS set aside an “area of interest” of about 40 km 2 for its plans.
– In the search for a site for the expansion of the chemical company IG Farben, which also produced war-related goods, Auschwitz was chosen, not least because of the availability of cheap labor in the concentration camp. This resulted in one of the largest industrial projects of the 3rd Reich. Auschwitz was declared a “model city” in the East, the Jewish population was deported, the Polish population resettled, and IG Farben employees and their families resettled. The planned capacity of the concentration camp was expanded from 10,000 to 30,000 prisoners. In addition, a “prisoner of war camp” with up to 100,000 people was to be built in neighboring Birkenau, as well as a subcamp with 10,000 places for the construction of the IG Farben plant in Monowitz. This eventually resulted in three separately administered camps (Auschwitz I, II and III). Auschwitz-Birkenau never served as a prisoner-of-war camp, but from the beginning as an extermination camp for the mass murder of Jews from all over Europe. The gas chambers at Birkenau were put into operation in the spring of 1942, around the same time as the gas chambers constructed at Sobibor and Treblinka.
– The majority of the prisoners were initially employed for the development and construction work in the expansion of the camp, for supplying the camp and in workshops. In 1940/41 the camp consisted almost exclusively of Polish prisoners.. The number of Jewish prisoners was no more than 1500. From 1942 (after the decision to exterminate European Jewry), Jews from Poland and other occupied countries were increasingly deported to Auschwitz; from the middle of 1942 they made up by far the largest proportion. Until mid-1942, Jewish deportees were without exception murdered immediately upon arrival; from then on, they were selected according to their ability to work. Auschwitz became the central site of the “Final Solution”, an extermination camp combined with a concentration camp geared to forced labor.
By the end of 1942, almost 200,000 Jewish people had been deported to Auschwitz, in 1943 about 270,000, and in 1944 the number increased to 600,000. About two thirds of those deported to Auschwitz were Hungarian (438,000) or Polish Jews (300,000). From Vienna to Auschwitz there was a large transport on 17.7.1942 with 995 Jewish persons and several smaller transports until 1944 (a total of 1567 persons). However, most of the Viennese Jews murdered in Auschwitz (in total about 4000) came via Theresienstadt (see there).
Birkenau was also the main extermination site for Sinti and Roma. In a separate “Gypsy camp” more than 23,000 from at least 11 countries were deported to Auschwitz between 26.2.1943 and 1.8.1944, of whom about 19,200 perished as a result of the adverse living and working conditions or in the gas chambers.
Soviet Jews were not deported to Auschwitz, but were killed on site by their own Einsatzgruppen. However, approximately 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war were deported to Auschwitz, who were treated even worse than the other prisoners and did not survive.
Several resistance groups formed in Auschwitz, including an explicitly Jewish one. On October 7, 1944, an uprising took place in the Sonderkommando area, in which none of the prisoners survived, but in which three SS men were killed and 12 wounded. A gas chamber could not be used until the end of the war. In addition, more than 800 escape attempts are known. It was also possible to smuggle reports of the mass extermination to the outside world, which reached the Polish government in exile.
The evacuation of the Auschwitz concentration camp complex began as early as August 1944, and by January 1945, approximately 65,000 prisoners deemed fit for labor had been transferred to more than 10 concentration camps in the “Altreich.” In November 1944, the killings in the gas chambers were stopped in order to destroy them. Of the 67,000 prisoners remaining in January 1945, 58,000 starving and exploited, poorly clothed prisoner columns were driven through Upper and Lower Silesia in “death marches” in which between 9,000 and 15,000 were shot or beaten to death or died of exhaustion. Only about 7,000 prisoners survived the liberation in Auschwitz.
Belzec (Poland): One of three extermination camps of the “Aktion Reinhardt” in the occupied “Generalgouvernement” serving for the immediate murder of Jews, next to the concentration camps Sobibor and Treblinka. The Aktion is named after Reinhard (sic!) Heydrich: He was head of the Reich Security Main Office and, among other things, organizer of the “Wannsee Conference 1942, at which the respective roles of all relevant organizations of the Nazi state in the extermination of the European Jews were agreed upon with all their representatives. Heydrich died as a result of an assassination attempt in Prague in May 1942. Belzec existed from November 1941 until spring 1943, after which it was liquidated and its traces destroyed. Belzec served as a “model” for the other two extermination camps, so this example is used for a more detailed characterization: Built in sparsely populated areas near railroad lines, the camp was rather small. A new, depersonalized method of mass killing was used: poisoning in gas chambers, which had previously been used in the “euthanasia program” (murder of terminally ill and handicapped persons) in the German Reich with gas vans and in gas chambers – initially not by poisonous gas (Zyklon B) but by carbon monoxide (exhaust fumes from combustion engines), which led to suffocation. Only about 20 to 30 German personnel were assigned to each camp for organization and supervision. About 100 to 120 men each, mostly Ukrainian “volunteers,” first herded the people staggering out of the trains into undressing cabins, where money and valuables were also taken from them and the women were shaved, and then herded them naked, with beatings and insults, through narrow corridors toward the gas chambers. The victims’ death throes lasted 20 to 30 minutes. Haste, terror, and deception allowed the murder operations to proceed relatively “smoothly.” Those who were unable to walk had already been segregated and shot in advance. Younger (still strong) Jewish men were also selected as work slaves: They had to clean the trains and gas chambers, sort and pack the luggage, clothing and valuables of the dead, take the corpses out of the gas chambers, place them in large pits and cover them with earth. Before that, the gold teeth of the deceased were broken out and rings were pulled from their fingers. The members of these “Sonderkommandos,” averaging about 1,000 people, were in turn periodically murdered and replaced. When the smell of decomposing corpses became a problem far beyond the camps, they switched to burning the bodies. Later, when Russian troops advanced westward, “labor Jews” had to exhume and burn the half-decomposed corpses again,
The number of people murdered at Belzec is approximately 500,000, including 434,508 of Jewish origin.
Bergen-Belsen (Germany): Concentration camp in the East Hanover Gau. Initially a prisoner-of-war camp, mainly for Soviet soldiers, about 20,000 of whom perished from hunger, cold, and disease. The concentration camp was not established until April 1943 in a separate part of the camp with a unique functional purpose: (1) It was intended as a “civilian internment camp” for “exchange Jews”. A well-defined group of Jews (mostly in family groups) was to be exemptfrom extermination in order to exchange them for German civilians interned abroad, urgently needed goods or foreign currency. Therefore, living conditions were initially much better than in other concentration camps. By December 1944, nearly 15,000 Jews from a wide variety of countries had been brought to Bergen-Belsen. Only a small part of this group experienced release as exchange hostages. Those who remained were increasingly drawn into the maelstrom of other functions: (2) Beginning in March 1944, sick prisoners from other concentration camps were admitted to a separate section. Lack of medical treatment, hunger, hard labor and mistreatment led to a particularly high mortality rate. (3) In the summer of 1944, another part was opened as a women’s camp. Accommodation was provided in tents. Armament firms were to select suitable female forced laborers here. By the end of 1944, about 13,500 women, mostly Polish and Hungarian Jews, had been deported to Bergen-Belsen, many with their children. (4) Starting in December 1944, evacuation transports from concentration camps near the front were led to Bergen-Belsen. The population increased from about 15,000 to nearly 50,000 prisoners in only three months. Accommodation, sanitary facilities and rations were completely inadequate. The last months were marked by hunger, which overshadowed everything. When the camp was liberated on April 15, 1945, the British soldiers were confronted with a scene of horror: about 10,000(!) unburied corpses, and skeletally emaciated prisoners, of whom about 13,000 more died in the following twelve weeks, i.e. a quarter of the remaining prisoners. The total number of victims is estimated at about 50,000.
Brcko (Bosnia-Herzegovina): One of the many collective camps for Serbs, Roma and Jews set up as an interim solution in the fascist-nationalist “Independent State of Croatia” supported by Germany and Italy in 1941. There were also several hundred Jewish emigrants from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia. Overcrowding, catastrophic hygienic conditions, hunger and disease were characteristic of the collective camps. The prisoners had to hold out until the Ustasha leadership decided on their fate. They were then often deported to one of about 50 camps (the most important and feared was Jasenovac, see below), but often murdered in reprisal operations. Most of the collective camps were dissolved in 1941 or 1942.
Buchenwald (Germany): Concentration camp near Weimar in the Gau of Thuringia. Built structurally on the Sachsenhausen model as part of the new concentration camp construction projects beginning in 1936; organizationally on the Dachau model. Opened on July 15, 1937, initially under the name KZ-Ettersberg, renamed KZ Buchenwald after objections from the Weimar “Nazi cultural community.” The gate inscription read: “To each his own”. Planned as part of an independent SS suburb of Weimar, the concentration camp existed until April 11, 1945 (taken over by prisoners; liberated by the U.S. Army).
Function: place of imprisonment and execution as well as forced labor – initially for the operation of the concentration camp and the war supplies of the Waffen-SS, from 1943 for the armaments industry. In the end, there were more than 100 sub-commandos and sub-camps. Initially, political opponents of the Nazi regime, criminals with criminal records, so-called asocials, “Bible scholars” (= Jehovah’s Witnesses), homosexuals; Jews (mainly in connection with other characteristics), “Gypsies” were imprisoned. The latter, together with the Jews, were subjected to the harshest forced labor and special torture and mistreatment. Again and again, Buchenwald created its own “special zones”, e.g. for Jews after the Reich Pogrom Night in 1938 or for the Jews transferred from Vienna (place of detention: stadium) in Sept. 1939, as well as its own special detention facilities (e.g. for prominent prisoners and relatives of the assassins of July 20, 1944). From the beginning of World War II, Buchenwald became a gathering place for people from all countries occupied by Germany – mainly political prisoners (resistance fighters) and forced laborers (mainly of Soviet and Polish origin), and from mid-1944 also for (mainly Polish and Hungarian) Jews. Buchenwald also saw (secret) mass executions of Soviet prisoners of war, Polish officers, and Allied intelligence officers in a specially constructed “neck-shooting facility” (estimates put the number of victims at at least 7,000). Sick prisoners were regularly segregated and murdered in the “euthanasia institutions”, in extermination camps or in the camp’s own infirmary. Furthermore, medical experiments took place in Buchenwald, which often ended with the death of the prisoners.
Originally planned for 8,000 prisoners, Buchenwald concentration camp became the largest concentration camp on German soil in January 1945 with a prisoner population of 110,560 and a staff of 6297. Each further phase of overcrowding meant a further deterioration of living conditions and reduction of survival chances, especially for the most discriminated prisoner groups. As a result of the evacuation actions in the Auschwitz and Groß Rosen concentration camps, the proportion of Jewish prisoners increased, and in the end they constituted the largest prisoner group with about one third. From April 7, 1945, the main camp was evacuated, and successively the subcamps as well. In total, at least 38,000 inmates, insufficiently clothed and barely supplied with food, were set out on the march. The destinations of these “death marches” (about one third of the prisoners were murdered or died of exhaustion) were the concentration camps Dachau and Flossenbürg as well as the ghetto Theresienstadt. In total, about 266,000 people from all over Europe were imprisoned in Buchenwald concentration camp, of whom about 56,000 died or were murdered.
Chelmno/Kulmhof (Poland): Extermination site in an estate of the village of Kolo in the “Gau Wartheland” (territory annexed by the German Reich). Existed from December 1941 to April 1943; function: murder of Jews and Sinti and Roma from the Łódź/Litzmannstadt ghetto, later the Jewish population from the entire Gau. The killing took place immediately after arrival in gas vans (death by suffocation). The total number of mainly Jewish victims was about 145,000 people. In the spring of 1944, the extermination site was put back into operation and approximately 7,000 Jews from Łódź were murdered. Then it was wound up and all traces were removed.
Dachau (Germany): Concentration camp in the Munich-Upper Bavaria Gau. The first concentration camp of the Nazi regime was opened shortly after the “seizure of power” on the site and using the infrastructure of a former munitions factory on March 22, 1933, and existed until liberation by the U.S. Army on April 29, 1945. Dachau concentration camp was the nucleus of an ever-growing system of deprivation of liberty, mistreatment, and extermination, a pseudo-legal instrument of repression under the rule of the SS.
History: Dachau developed, among other things, a model hierarchical organizational structure, headed by the all-powerful camp commander, and the recruitment and training of personnel; furthermore, the differentiation and hierarchization of prisoners according to racial categories (marked by the different colored “signs” on the prisoners’ clothing) and their demotion to numbers, a system of “prisoner self-administration” including the role of the so-called. “Functional prisoners,” who were given power over their fellow prisoners as well as privileges by the SS (most of whom were criminal prisoners); the typical daily and weekly routine; and a “disciplinary and punitive order.” Experimental methods of killing were also tried out; medical experiments were performed on prisoners in the infirmary. In addition, there was the use of cheap labor, by means of which the concentration camps later became the economic base of the SS. Labor exploitation and repression were combined in “extermination through labor.” Jewish prisoners were consistently on the lowest rung and became preferred victims of terror.
Functions: Dachau concentration camp provides an example of the change in function or the expansion of function of concentration camps over the course of 12 years of Nazi rule. Initially, the concentration camp served to eliminate and suppress political opponents (especially communists). Starting in 1934, “protective custody” was extended to “pests of the people” (beggars, vagrants, “gypsies,” “work-shy” etc.), then to criminals and “asocials” in general. Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals were also targeted. Jews entered the concentration camp system by committing criminal offenses specific to them (“racial defilement”) or in connection with other grounds for assignment (e.g., homosexuality). They were first deported in large numbers to Dachau in the wake of the “Reichskristallnacht” (November pogroms of 1938). This included more than 10,000 Jewish prisoners, almost 4,000 of them from Vienna alone; from the beginning of the war in 1939, they were mainly resistance fighters from the occupied territories, especially Poland, France and the Soviet Union. With the collapse of the “blitzkrieg strategy” in the winter of 1941/42, the function changed again significantly: Dachau, like other concentration camps, increasingly became part of the war economy by deporting more and more people from the occupied territories, especially from Poland and the Soviet Union, to the concentration camps for forced labor. In the course of this development, subcamps were increasingly established in Dachau, as in many other concentration camps. Jewish prisoners were a small minority; only toward the end of the war, when new transports from disbanded concentration camps in the east were constantly arriving, did their proportion increase significantly. The camp was hopelessly overcrowded, and living conditions deteriorated to a catastrophic degree. Finally, the Dachau concentration camp was also evacuated; nearly 9,000 prisoners were marched, accompanied by SS commandos who mass-murdered the weakened prisoners who fell behind (hence the term “death marches”). At the same time, a prisoner uprising broke out in the main camp, which was quickly put down. A total of at least 200,000 prisoners were imprisoned in Dachau, of whom about 41,500 did not survive.
Flossenbürg (Germany): Concentration camp in the “Gau Bayrische Ostmark,” located directly on the border with the former Czechoslovak Republic. The concentration camp’s location was determined by the rich granite deposits. Existed from May 1938 until 23.4.1945 (liberation by the US Army). Function (similar to Mauthausen): Exploitation of prisoners for SS economic interests (production of building materials – quarry; brickyard). The majority of the first prisoners were classified as “criminal” and “asocial” and had been transferred from other concentration camps; this group remained the dominant one in the prisoner hierarchy despite its decreasing share. From 1940 on, the number of political and foreign prisoners (mainly Polish, then Soviet prisoners of war) increased; targeted killing operations (extermination of the “Bolshevik enemy”). With the failure of the “Blitzkrieg strategy” in the East, war economic interests (armaments production; also in numerous satellite camps) gained the upper hand from 1943 onward, counteracted by the persistently poor camp conditions and the racist ideology. At the end of 1944, the concentration camp became a reception camp; as a result, there was a sharp increase in the number of prisoners, chaos and mass deaths. In 1945, the evacuation took place, and the remaining prisoners were sent on “death marches” (see Dachau Concentration Camp). In total, more than 100,000 prisoners were interned at Flossenbürg; more than 30,000 of them perished.
Groß-Rosen (Rogoznica, Poland): Concentration camp in the “Gau Niederschlesien.” Established in 1940 as a subcamp of Sachsenhausen concentration camp, independent from May 1941. 100 subcamps. Evacuated in early 1945; liberated by Soviet army on Feb. 13, 1945. Function: extermination through work in nearby quarry – harshest conditions, high mortality. Later also work for the armaments industry. Target groups: Initially political prisoners, “asocials” and “professional criminals” from the German Reich, later mainly Soviet and Polish prisoners. 1944/45 transfers from other camps – including many Jewish prisoners from Hungary and Poland. Total of about 120,000 prisoners, about half of them of Jewish origin; about 40,000 murdered or maltreated to death.
Gurs (France): Internment camp in the south of France. Established by the French government in April 1939; existed until November 1943. Function: Originally established to intern political refugees from Spain and former international combatants in the Spanish Civil War. From the beginning, hunger, disastrous sanitary conditions and disease characterized the situation. The housing conditions were very primitive. After the declaration of war on Germany in 1939, fugitives from Germany and Austria were also imprisoned as citizens of an enemy nation. After the surrender of France on June 22, 1940, the last French military commander allowed the Spanish Republican internees to escape and go into hiding among the French population. As a result, the camp was eventually taken over by the Vichy government. Beginning in October 1940, the camp took in approximately 6,500 Jews deported from southwestern Germany, about 2,000 of whom died in the camp. The survivors as well as other opponents of the Nazi regime were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp starting in August 1942, where most of them were murdered.
Hartheim (Alkoven) (Austria): Killing facility in a castle in the “Gau Oberdonau.” Function: From May 1940 to September 1, 1941, euthanasia facility as part of “Aktion T4”: murder of more than 18,000 disabled and mentally ill people defined as “unworthy of life” in a gas chamber (so-called “invalid murders”). Jewish sick people and those in need of care had an increased chance of being murdered as part of the Aktion: They were recorded more comprehensively because they were to be transferred to public institutions; and in the case of Jewish nursing recipients, the “diagnosis of Jew” was sufficient to be forwarded for murder. Immediately after the abrupt termination of Aktion T4 due to protests and unrest among the population, prisoners from the Mauthausen concentration camp who were no longer fit for work and politically disfavored were murdered in Hartheim (Aktion 14f13), in total about 12,000 people by December 1944.
Izbica (Poland): Ghetto in a small Polish town in the occupied “Generalgouvernement.” Existed from April 1940 until its dissolution on 28.4.1943. The ghetto had no guarded perimeter, but leaving the ghetto without permission was punishable by death. Function: registration and isolation of the Jewish population of the region; use for forced labor; later also destination of deportations from the German Reich. At times, over 19,000 people lived in the ghetto, which had previously been inhabited by only 4,500 people. Function from 1942: transit ghetto to the death camps Belzec and Sobibor. From April to June 1942, four transports were sent from Vienna to Izbica with a total of 4,006 people. The personal fate of the individual deportees cannot be reconstructed for the most part. When the ghetto was dissolved, the remaining approximately 1,000 Jews were shot.
Jasenovac (Croatia): Concentration camp in the fascist-nationalist “Independent State of Croatia” supported by Germany and Italy. In the new state lived 6.3 million people, among them 1.9 million Serbs and about 39,000 Jews. Terror and extermination against these minorities, including the Roma population, were an integral part of the ideology of the Croatian underground organization “Ustasha”. Between 1941 and 1945, more than 50 camps of various types were established. The largest camp complex was built in Jasenovac on the Sava River; it existed from the end of 1941 until April 1945. Functions: Collection, forced labor, and extermination camp, designed on the German model, one of the largest in all of Europe – also referred to as the “Auschwitz of the Balkans.” In Jasenovac existed the only extermination camp in Europe controlled by the German Reich, where planned and cruel murder was carried out without German participation. The victims died by torture, stabbing, beating to death, disease and starvation. Gas was also used to kill children. The main groups of victims were the Serbian, Jewish and Roma populations, as well as opponents of the regime, including Croats and Bosnian Muslims. In the last days of the concentration camp’s existence, a few prisoners managed to escape; all others were murdered. The number of people killed in Jasenovac has long been the subject of political-propagandistic manipulation. Serious sources speak of 70,000 to 90,000 victims; among them were about 17,000 Jews.
Jungfernhof (Latvia): Camp in an estate near Riga. Existed between 1941 and 1944. Function: makeshift camp for transports of Jews from the “Greater German Reich” to the “Reichskommissariat Ostland”. A total of almost 4,000 people were deported to Jungfernhof. For these masses of people, even the simplest accommodation requirements were initially lacking. Many deportees died of disease, hunger, and exhaustion; a large number were murdered, and a smaller number were transferred to other ghettos or camps. Some were put to work and few survived.
Kaiserwald/Riga (Latvia): Concentration camp in Riga with numerous subcamps. Built in spring 1943; existed until evacuation in Sept. 1944. Function: Collection camp for all remaining Baltic Jews capable of work after the dissolution of all Baltic ghettos. Extermination by hard labor and inhumane treatment. Before the evacuation, removal of the mass graves by Jewish labor commandos, whose members were murdered afterwards. During the evacuation, the female prisoners were transferred to the Stutthof concentration camp in the “Gau Danzig”, the male prisoners further into the Reich’s interior, and those who were no longer able to work or be transported were shot. In total, about 1,000 of the once approximately 70,000 Latvian Jews survived.
Kielce (Poland): Ghetto in the occupied “Generalgouvernement”. Existed from 03/1940 to 08/1944; from March 1941 it was a closed ghetto with up to 27,000 inhabitants. Function: registration of the Jewish population of the region, isolation and forced labor; later also destination of deportations from the German Reich. The prisoners had to perform forced labor in the ghetto and in quarries. Later, the ghetto was a transit station on the way to the Treblinka extermination camp. In 1941/42 a typhus epidemic broke out with about 6,000 deaths. In August 1942, about 21,000 people were sent to their deaths from Kielce to Treblinka. A transport with a total of 1010 people was sent from Vienna to Kielce on 19.2.1941. During the liquidation there were deportations to the concentration camps Auschwitz and Buchenwald.
Kaunas/Kowno (Lithuania): Initially a ghetto, later a concentration camp in the occupied “Reichskommissariat Ostland.” Established in summer 1941 after the beginning of the “Russian campaign” following initial “wild” pogroms with the participation of the Lithuanian civil administration. Function: Spatial concentration for labor exploitation and later extermination. The ghetto lacked the most basic conditions for survival. By the end of 1941, approximately 140,000 Jewish men, women and children had been murdered. Kaunas was not actually a destination for deportations from the German Reich and the “Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.” Nevertheless, about 5,000 Jews from these areas were deported there and shot immediately upon arrival. Among them was the transport from Vienna on 23.11.1941 with 995 persons, destined for Riga, but diverted to Kaunas. Until August 1943, the ghetto was gradually transformed into a concentration camp with numerous subcamps and initially still about 17,000 Jewish prisoners. Evacuation from July 8, 1944 before the approaching Red Army. When the Red Army arrived, it found 90 survivors.
Łódź/Litzmannstadt (Poland): Ghetto in the annexed “Gau Wartheland.” Existed from 1940 to August 1944 (first large city ghetto). Function: collection and transit camp. After the escape and deportation of about 70,000 Jewish residents, initially about 150,000 Jews from Łódź lived in the ghetto; from the fall of 1941, at least 20,000 additional persons from the Warthegau, the “Altreich,” the “Ostmark,” the “Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia,” and Luxembourg were deported to Łódź. In October 1941, a total of 5 transports with a total of 4,995 Jewish persons arrived from Vienna. This was followed in November 1941 by the deportation of about 5000 Austrian Roma and Sinti (they died mainly due to an epidemic). Between 01 and 05/1942 about 55,000 ghetto inhabitants were transported to Chelmno for murder. Another 20,000, particularly children, were murdered in September 1942. During the liquidation starting in May 1944, about 7,000 Jews were deported to Chelmno and about 70,000 to Auschwitz and murdered immediately.
Majdanek/Lublin (Poland): Concentration camp in the occupied “Generalgouvernement” with some special features: Construction activity for almost the entire duration of existence from 10/1941 to 07/1944; evacuation in 1944; only partially successful destruction. Major plans for a function as a military and economic base of the SS. In fact, the camp initially served mainly for the imprisonment and later for the extermination of the Jewish population of the region, but also from other occupied countries and even from the German Reich; from 1943 increasingly also political prisoners. The economic significance remained low. Living conditions were consistently catastrophic. Mass murders, especially of Jewish prisoners, were carried out first by shooting, later in gas chambers (inclusion in “Aktion Reinhardt”, see Belzec). The estimated number of victims is about 80,000 in total, of which about 60,000 were Jews from all over Europe.
Maly Trostinec (Belarus): Killing site in the occupied “Reichskommissariat Ostland” near Minsk. Function: The former collective farm was a killing place for deported Jews from May 1942. The first train arrived from Vienna – the deportees were led directly from the station to the prepared execution sites in the woods. Between 11.5. and 9.10.1942 a total of 16 deportation trains arrived, 9 of them from Vienna with a total of 8.472 persons as well as 5 trains from Theresienstadt (in which also 143 Jewish Austrians were deported). Gas vans (death by asphyxiation) were also used for the murder starting in June 1942. As a result, the mass murder actions mainly affected “incapable of work” residents of the Minsk ghetto. The estimated number of victims varies considerably; the Jewish victim count of approximately 30,000 people is considered relatively certain. In addition, an agricultural forced labor camp was operated in the area; from early to mid-1944, murder operations of prison inmates and “partisans” were also carried out in this heavily guarded camp.
Mauthausen and Gusen (Austria): Concentration camp in the “Gau Oberdonau,” in operation from August 1938. Formed a kind of double camp with the Gusen concentration camp (opened May 1940). Decisive for the choice of location were the many granite quarries in the region. Liberated by the US Army on May 5, 1945.
Functions: Initially, the political function was in the foreground: Mauthausen was a “concentration camp for the traitors to the people,” according to Gauleiter Eigruber on March 28, 1938. At the beginning, about 1,000 Austrian and German prisoners from the Dachau and Sachsenhausen concentration camps, who were mainly categorized as “criminal” or “asocial,” were transferred; only later did the number of political prisoners increase, with the prisoners categorized as “criminal” dominating for a long time, i.e., occupying privileged positions. The combination of political terror, deprivation and forced labor led to “extermination through labor.” Accordingly, prisoner mortality in the Mauthausen/Gusen concentration camp was higher than in other concentration camps. The central SS leadership also ordered the murder of certain groups of prisoners; this affected not least Jewish prisoners and Soviet prisoners of war (especially commissars). Mauthausen and Gusen also functioned as sites of extrajudicial executions. The murder campaigns were intensified from August 1941 by the mass killing of weakened and sick prisoners in the former “euthanasia institution” Hartheim (see above). From spring 1942, a gas chamber was in operation at the Mauthausen concentration camp, where at least 3,455 prisoners were murdered. A gas van was also in use, in which at least 900 prisoners were murdered. Finally, the Mauthausen concentration camp was also a place for medical experiments on prisoners, many of which ended in death.
As early as 1940, prisoners from other countries were transferred to Mauthausen; as a result, the international character of the camp increased steadily, among other things due to the allocation of Soviet prisoners of war. From the middle of the war, labor exploitation for the war economy (armaments production) became decisive, which led to a partial relaxation of the camp regime. The main camp of Mauthausen thus developed into a complex network of 45 subcamps, some with large underground facilities, with a division of labor that was fatal for tens of thousands of prisoners. From the beginning of 1943 to October 1944, the number of prisoners increased from about 14,000 to about 73,000. As of 1944, women were also admitted (women had already been transferred from Ravensbrück concentration camp for prisoner brothels). In the last months of the camp’s existence, additional prisoners from evacuated concentration camps in the east were transported to Mauthausen, among them many youths and children, so that the conditions of imprisonment became even more dramatic. In total, about 190,000 people were imprisoned in the Mauthausen camp complex, of whom about 90,000 did not survive.
Minsk (Belarus): Ghetto in occupied “Reichskommissariat Ostland.” Established in the wake of the “Russian campaign” from July 1941; dissolved in fall 1943 – the remaining prisoners were murdered or transferred to Jewish forced labor camps. Function: initially ghetto for 70,000 local Jews; periodic mass shootings. From autumn 1941 also the deportation destination for initially about 25,000 German, Austrian and Czech Jews. A transport with 999 persons left Vienna on 28.11.1941. Temporary halt due to resistance from the Wehrmacht (transport capacities) and local occupation authorities (food situation). Resumption of deportations in spring 1942 with the aim of immediate murder (the murder site had been prepared in nearby Maly Trostinec). Murder of most of the ghetto inhabitants there or in the Sobibor extermination camp. The further fate of those deported from Vienna to the ghetto is unknown.
Mittelbau-Dora (Germany): Concentration camp in the Gau Thuringia, the last Nazi concentration camp to be established. Existed from Aug. 28, 1943, initially as a subcamp of Buchenwald concentration camp, from Oct. 28, 1944, as an independent concentration camp with about 40 subcamps until liberation by the U.S. Army on Apr. 11, 1945. Function: Mittelbau-Dora was one of the first, and in the end by far the largest, concentration camp operated exclusively for the exploitation of prisoner labor for armaments production. This initially involved the underground relocation of rocket production after a heavy British air raid on Peenemünde had not only claimed numerous lives, but also put the production of the new V rocket weapons (V = Vergeltung) in jeopardy. In Mittelbau, an existing tunnel system was to be expanded by prisoners from the nearby Buchenwald concentration camp. The working and living conditions in the tunnels, where the prisoners lived continuously, exceeded in horror almost everything they had suffered up to that point: constant noise, dust and toxic fumes, catastrophic sanitary conditions, stench, sleep deprivation, inadequate nutrition, completely inadequate work clothing and extremely exhausting working conditions led to complete exhaustion, illness and industrial accidents within a few weeks. Medical care was almost non-existent. Mortality was correspondingly high. – The start of rocket assembly from the beginning of 1944 led to a separation of “construction prisoners” and “production prisoners”; for the latter, prisoners, some of them highly qualified, who had been transferred from many concentration camps, were used who were not to be exploited and terrorized in the same way. For them, therefore, above-ground quarters were built and their supply situation was much better. They remained a minority, because with the underground settlement of further armament factories, extensive construction work again became necessary. According to the SS’s calculations, the “construction prisoners” were easily replaceable. Therefore, there was no need to worry about their health or their lives. Despite high mortality rates, the number of prisoners continued to grow. When the concentration camp became independent, the number of prisoners was about 32,500. By April 1945, it had increased to about 50,000, despite extraordinarily high mortality rates, partly due to the evacuation of the Auschwitz and Groß-Rosen concentration camps. Towards the end, many prisoners became victims of abuse and murder. When the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp finally had to be evacuated as well, the brutal treatment of other so-called “death marches” was repeated. During the 18 months of the stockade, a total of approximately 60,000 prisoners from 48 nations were deported to Mittelbau-Dora; approximately 20,000 of them died as a result of the working and living conditions. Soviet, Polish and French prisoners made up the largest groups of prisoners. Jewish prisoners, mostly from Hungary, came to Mittelbau-Dora only in the late phase as a result of evacuations from other concentration camps and, like Roma and Sinti, were assigned to the notorious “construction camps.” Another noteworthy aspect of the increased forced labor in the many subcamps: It led to a “growing into” of the concentration camp system into society, which increasingly became part of the everyday experiences of the civilian population. The omnipresent repression, the rejection of strangers and the fear of the prisoners, who were dubbed “felons,” mostly led to a complicit identification with the perpetrators.
Modliborzyce (Poland): Ghetto in the occupied “General Government.” Existed from April 1941 to 8.10.1942. Function: Segregation and isolation as well as forced labor in surrounding labor camps. Upon dissolution, the remaining inhabitants were shot on site and transported to the death camps Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. A transport from Vienna took place on 5.3.1941 with a total of 981 persons.
Natzweiler-Struthof (Schirmeck, France): “Punishment and labor camp” in the Gau “Oberrhein” in annexed Alsace. Existed from 1.5.1941 to 23.11.1944; then evacuation of the majority of prisoners to the right bank of the Rhine; subcamps continued to exist until April 1945. Function: Forced labor for gigantic Nazi construction projects, including quarries, later for the armaments industry. Medical experiments on prisoners. Approximately 52,000 prisoners from all over Europe were in Natzweiler-Struthof; about 22,000 were murdered, died of disease, cold and malnutrition.
Neuengamme (Germany): Concentration camp in the Hamburg Gau. Built in 1938 as a subcamp of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, independent from 1940; later approx. 90 subcamps. Existed until shortly before the end of the war. Function: Founded in response to the interests of the Hamburg Nazi party leadership regarding monstrous construction projects: contract with the SS company Deutsche Stein- und Erdwerke, based on the extreme exploitation of prisoners’ labor for the brickworks located on the site. In later phases, forced labor for the armaments industry and military installations became increasingly important. Labor exploitation took place under conditions of inadequate food and clothing, catastrophic hygienic conditions and lack of medical care. The equation “ability to work = right to exist” led, among other things, to targeted killings of sick and debilitated prisoners. Medical experiments were also carried out. Of the total of about 100,000 inmates imprisoned during the existence of the concentration camp, only about 10% came from the German Reich, about 90% from the occupied territories (these were imprisoned for resisting the occupiers, as a reprisal, for racial reasons). The foreign prisoners were classified by the SS on racial ideological grounds: Soviet and Slavic prisoners had particularly low chances of survival. For all Jewish prisoners, the conditions of imprisonment were further aggravated or they were subjected to special harassment. Small resistance groups formed primarily on the basis of national affiliation. They succeeded in particular in rescuing fellow prisoners who were under acute threat. – From the end of March 1945, the evacuation of the subcamps began: the destinations of the marches (for many they were “death marches”) were “reception camps” in which thousands perished from hunger and disease. The approximately 10,000 prisoners still in the main camp were evacuated onto overcrowded cargo ships. Nearly 7,000 prisoners died in attacks by British fighter-bombers, who mistook the ships for troop transports. In the main camp, traces of the crimes were largely destroyed. In the Neuengamme camp complex, a total of at least about 50,000 inmates died as a result of the living and working conditions, through targeted murder, and during the camp liquidation.
Nisko am San (Poland): Planned camp of a “Jewish reservation” to be created in the occupied “Generalgouvernement”; existed from October 1939 to spring 1940. Function: After the invasion of Poland, the Nazi leadership forced deliberations on population transfers on a grand scale: western Polish territories were to be Germanized, Jews and Poles were to be displaced to the east. Adolf Eichmann was commissioned to test mass deportations. For this purpose, 6 “Juden-Transporte” were assembled; they were to establish a Jewish reservation (barracks camp) in the area of Nisko am San (Lublin region). Among them were two transports from Vienna, in which 1,584 Jewish men were deported to Nisko at the end of October 1939. Upon arrival, a large part of the deportees were chased away (“strafed”) under gunfire. Part of the camp was built, but the idea of a Jewish reservation had already lapsed. A third transport failed due to objections from the Wehrmacht and the occupation administration. The majority of the deportees were driven across the German-Soviet demarcation line or fled there themselves. They died in Soviet camps, were later murdered on the spot by German Einsatzgruppen or transferred to the extermination camps. 198 of the men deported from Vienna even returned, most of them were deported again later.
Opatów and Łagów (Poland): Neighboring towns in the occupied “General Government.” Ghettos from April 1941 to October 1942. Function: registration of regional Jewish population; forced labor; reception of deported Jews from the German Reich. Summer 1941: type epidemic due to overcrowding and poor hygienic conditions. During the liquidation, about 6,000 persons from Opatów were transferred to the Treblinka extermination camp, about 500 to 600 to the Sandomierz labor camp. In Lagów, local shootings of the elderly, sick and children; about 2,000 persons transferred to Treblinka. From Vienna, a transport with 995 persons went to Opatów on 12.3.1941; 100 of them were sent to Lagów.
Opole (Poland): “Open” ghetto in the occupied “Generalgouvernement” with up to 8,000 inhabitants. Function: registration, isolation, forced labor; later transit camp for transports to the death camps Belzec (March 1942) and Sobibor (May and October 1942). Two transports (15.2. and 26.2.1941) with a total of 2,045 persons arrived from Vienna.
Piaski (Poland)*: Ghetto in the occupied “Generalgouvernement,” established from April 1940, disbanded from November 1942. Function: registration and isolation; transit point; forced labor. Initially a place of deportation for Polish Jews, mainly from Lublin; as early as Feb 1940, deportations from Stettin; from March 1942, several deportation trains from the German Reich and the Theresienstadt ghetto. Indescribably poor living conditions (housing, hygienic conditions, food, etc). For “relief” transfer of Polish ghetto inhabitants to the Belzec and Sobibor extermination camps. Upon liquidation, some of the men were transferred to the forced labor camp Trawniki (see there). Ghetto residents still in Piaski were shot in 1943.
Ravensbrück (Germany): Concentration camp for women in the “Gau Brandenburg.” Built from November 1938, occupied from May 1939, planned for 3,000 women; later supplemented by numerous subcamps and a small men’s camp with transferred prisoners. Evacuation from 27.4.1945. Functions: Permanent exclusion of discriminated “races” (Roma women, Jews, etc. because of “racial defilement”), political opponents, Jehovah’s Witnesses, “criminal” and “asocial” women. Jewish women were isolated and subjected to particular arbitrariness and mistreatment. Later, the camp was made “free of Jews” through murder actions and transfers to extermination camps. From the beginning of the war, the composition became more international. Towards the end, increasing overcrowding (01/1944: 17,300; 12/1944: 43,700 prisoners). Forced labor for camp operations and expansion; manufacture of prisoner clothing; later work for the armaments industry. Male prisoners were used primarily for construction work. Those no longer fit for work were segregated and murdered in a gas chamber, among other places. Medical experiments. Contradictory situation before/at the liquidation: on the one hand, a unique rescue operation by the International Red Cross (agreement with Himmler personally), through which several thousand women were saved; on the other hand, “death marches”.
Rejowiec (Poland): Ghetto in the occupied “General Government.” Function: Transit ghetto to the Sobibor extermination camp; later also murders in an on-site gas chamber. In addition to Polish Jews, mainly Czech and Slovak Jews were deported to Rejowiec. Upon liquidation, the remaining inmates were transferred to Majdanek concentration camp.
Riga (Latvia): Ghetto in the occupied “Reichskommissariat Ostland.” Function: Segregation and murder. Established by the German occupiers in October 1941 for 40,000 local Jews, of whom about 35,000 were murdered by German special forces and Latvian auxiliary policemen in mass shootings in the surrounding forests immediately after the establishment of the ghetto. This made room for the deportation trains arriving from the German Reich and the Protectorate (in total about 25,000 people, of whom only about 1,000 survived). From Vienna 4 transports arrived between 3.12.1941 and 6.2.1942 with a total of 4,188 persons. The deportees had to perform forced labor for the German war economy; those who were no longer able to work were continuously selected (read murdered). As of July 1943, the remaining deportees were transferred to the Kaiserwald concentration camp. Approximately 2,000 to 2,500 old, sick and children were immediately transferred to the Auschwitz concentration camp for murder.
Šabac and Sajmište (Serbia): Together with Niš, Šabac and Sajmište formed the three most important camps in German-occupied Serbia. They were established in the fall of 1941 and existed until the summer of 1944. The former Sajmište fairground is located in the Semlin district of Belgrade, Šabac is on the Sava River west of Belgrade, and Nis is in southeastern Serbia. The main function of all three camps was initially to exterminate the approximately 17,000 Jews and the Roma population of Serbia. In Sajmište, almost all male Jews and Roma were killed by firing squad as early as the winter of 1941/42 as part of an action deliberately linked to the retaliatory measures taken in the course of the partisan fight. The murder of the still living men as well as women and children was carried out with gas trucks specially transferred from Germany. In August 1942, the “final solution of the Jewish and Gypsy question” was reported to Berlin. Thereafter, the camp functioned as a collection and transit camp for political opponents. For the fate of Austrian Jews, both camps became significant in connection with the so-called Kladovo transport. In November 1939, a transport with about 1,200 Jewish refugees left Vienna on a Danube ship bound for Palestine, stuck first in the port of Kladovo and then in the port of Šabac. Only about 200 young people managed to escape to Palestine in March 1941. The rest were interned in the Šabac concentration camp on July 20, 1941. In the course of the above-mentioned reprisals, a large number of the male refugees were shot by German Wehrmacht units in October 1941. The remaining men, as well as the women and children, were later taken to the neighboring concentration camp Sajmište and – if they had not died of hunger and cold – murdered in gas trucks between March and May 1942.
Sachsenhausen (Germany): Concentration camp of the Reich capital Berlin. Existed from 1936 until its dissolution on 4/21/1945. Functions: Sachsenhausen concentration camp took over the guiding function for the concentration camp system from Dachau concentration camp (a consequence of the shift of the center of political power from Munich to Berlin), systematic internal violence and isolation from the outside world established the characteristic spatial and functional separation of command, barracks, prisoner camps, and workshops as part of construction measures. It was newly planned and built, and in June 1938 it was put into regular operation with the arrival of 6,000 prisoners. In addition, it had a special status in several respects: among other things, it was a training center for concentration camp commanders and guard personnel as well as for SS cadres in general; it served to test new regulations and murder techniques (e.g., a “neck-shooting facility”); other concentration camps (especially Buchenwald) were built from there. Change of function of forced labor: from supply work for the concentration camp and the SS to work for construction projects and integration into the armaments industry. Numerous subcamps and commandos were established for this purpose. Initially, the prisoners were primarily political opponents, then increasingly members of groups declared racially and/or socially inferior (Jews, homosexuals, “gypsies,” “asocials”), Jehovah’s Witnesses and, from 1939, increasingly citizens of the occupied states of Europe. Violence and terror increased over the years. Jewish prisoners were particularly affected. Cruel medical experiments were also carried out on prisoners in the camp. When the camp was dissolved, “death marches” took place.
Salaspils (Latvia): Detention center near Riga in the occupied “Reichskommissariat Ostland.” Set up from September 1941 by about 2,800 deported German, Austrian and Czech Jews. Considerable mortality due to lack of nutrition and hygiene, hard labor and draconian punishments. Function from autumn 1942: performance of forced labor. Target groups: Initially work refusers, then increasingly political prisoners from Latvia, from winter 42/43 wave of internment as a result of partisan fighting (especially women and children); later also Soviet prisoners of war. When the camp was dissolved in September 1944, the remaining inmates were transferred to the Stutthof concentration camp (“Gau Danzig”). In total, about 12,000 people were imprisoned in Salaspils; the estimated number of victims is 2,000 to 3,000 people.
San Sabba/Trieste (Italy): The former rice mill (Risiera) and later barracks became one of a total of four detention and transit camps for political opponents and Jews established after the Italian armistice with the Allies of Sept. 9, 1943, in Upper Italy, which was de facto controlled by the German military, SS and police, but formally continued to be ruled by the Fascists under Mussolini. The other camps were Fossoli (Modena province), which was under Italian control and from where at least 2,500 Jews were deported; after its dissolution due to Allied bombing, the Bolzano-Gries camp was established in the summer. Within barely a yearmore than 11,000 prisoners were interned here, and about 300 lost their lives. Borgo San Dolmazzo in Piedmont served briefly in the fall of 1943 as a detention and transit camp for Italian and foreign Jews deported to Auschwitz. San Sabba, which was run by German concentration camp personnel, was the most repressive of these four camps and can most readily be compared to the German concentration camps. Function: repression of political opponents (torture, executions); transit camp primarily for apprehended Italian Jews and foreign Jews who had fled to Italy or were stranded here and deported primarily to the Auschwitz concentration camp. In 1944 it was also a stopover for Croatian Jews on their way to Auschwitz. In the year and a half of its existence, San Sabba imprisoned a total of 7,000-8,000 people, of whom at least 2,000 died.
Sobibór (Poland): One of three extermination camps of “Aktion Reinhardt” in the occupied “General Government,” along with Belzec and Treblinka (For a more detailed characterization, see the comments on Belzec). Commissioned in May 1942; dissolved after a prisoner uprising on 14.10.1943. A total of up to 250,000 victims, including at least 167,000 Jews, at least 10,000 of them from the “Altreich” and the “Ostmark”. A direct transport from Vienna arrived on 16.6.1942 with 996 persons. At the end of July 1942, there was an interruption of the killing operations due to track repairs. During this time the capacity of the gas chambers was doubled. Mass killings resumed in October 1942 (including the murder of French and Dutch Jews).
Stutthof (Sztutowo, Poland): Concentration camp on the territory of the annexed city of Danzig (“Gau Danzig-Westpreussen”). Existed from 2.9.1939 until early May 1945 (last concentration camp on occupied Polish territory). Initially subordinated to the civil administration, from 1.10.1941 to the Gestapo, only from 29.1.1942 concentration camp. Functions: Initially liquidation of Polish elites, later forced labor for the war economy (more than 200 satellite camps!), including radical changes in the national composition of the inmates. From July 1944 there was a sharp increase in the number of Jewish prisoners due to the evacuation of concentration camps and camps located more to the east. Living conditions were absolutely inadequate, and mortality was very high. Jewish inmates were also deliberately murdered, also in gas chambers. From 29.1.1945 the evacuation took place; “death marches” to the west. A total of about 110,000 people from 28 nations were interned at Stutthof, the number of victims is about 65,000 victims (about 40% of Jewish origin).
Theresienstadt (Terezin, Czech Republic): Jewish ghetto in the old Austrian fortress town and later Czech military base in the occupied “Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.” Established in November 1941 after prior resettlement of Czech civilian population (ca. 7,000 inhabitants). Liberation on 5.5.1945 by the Red Army. A branch of the infamous Prague Gestapo prison, which operated mainly against the Czech resistance (torture and executions), had already been established in the “Little Fortress” since June 1940; at least 1216 Jews were also imprisoned here, 465 of whom died.
Functions of the ghetto: Initially, it was a collection and transit camp for the majority of the approximately 88,000 Jews of the Protectorate. In fact, more than 70,000 were deported to Theresienstadt (this was a tenfold increase in the original population; most of the accommodation was in former barracks. To those affected, it was initially presented as a permanent “resettlement.” Jewish self-administration under the control of the SS was established. From June 1942, Jews from the “Altreich” and the “Ostmark” were also deported to Theresienstadt (in total about 50,000), later also from Denmark, Holland, Poland and Hungary; before that, the first transports (first of Czech Jews) had already left for ghettos and later for extermination camps “in the East”. Theresienstadt was a place unlike any other ghetto or camp: among the German and Austrian Jews deported there were many elderly, “prominent” and “deserving” persons (such as World War II participants with honors). Living conditions were much better than in the Polish ghettos, but housing, hygienic conditions, nutrition and health care were still very poor, exacerbated by the general obligation to work (in subcamps, among other places). But there were significantly more opportunities for cultural, educational and religious practice than in other ghettos/camps.
Terezín functioned as a means of cynical propaganda and deliberate deception of the world public and also as a pawn for “barter deals” with the Allies. The deception of the international public succeeded during a prepared visit of the IRK in June 1944 and another one in April 1945. A propaganda film (“The Fuhrer gives a city to the Jews”) was also involved in the deception. To this day, the perception of Terezín is distorted by these deceptions. In particular, this also hinders an undistorted view of the harsher fate of the Czech Jews interned in Theresienstadt. In total, about 140,000 Jewish people were deported to Terezín; about 33,500 died in the ghetto, 88,000 were deported to extermination camps, and about 17,000 inmates were still living in Terezín when it was liberated. From Vienna 13 large transports (June to October 1942) and several small transports (Jan 1943 to March 1945) went to Terezín, with a total of 15,122 people; of them 1298 survived in the ghetto [Note In the same source – Hecht et al. – 1318 are mentioned elsewhere].
From the beginning of 1943 until May 1944, transports from Theresienstadt to the Auschwitz concentration camp were carried out repeatedly; in total, about 25,000 were deported, including about 4,000 Austrian Jews. In Auschwitz, the majority of them (approx. 17,500 persons) were not selected, but were assigned to the “Theresienstadt family camp” and – as far as they were fit for work – to hard labor. Mass killings in the gas chambers occurred periodically. In this camp section of the Auschwitz concentration camp, 1,167 prisoners experienced liberation.
Trawniki (Poland): SS training camp (for non-German personnel) and forced labor camp in the occupied “Generalgouvernement” on the site of an old sugar factory. The “training” (mainly of Ukrainian prisoners of war) related primarily to participation in large-scale deportations and ghetto evacuations, in firing squads, in the murder of Jews in the death camps, and in object guard duties. The total of 4,000 to 5,000 “Trawiknis” were led, controlled and guarded by SS, SD and German police. In reports by survivors, they were often described as particularly cruel (Possible causes: Widespread anti-Semitism; conformity; self-interest, particularly visible as executive organs of the SS). In the forced labor camp there were mainly Soviet prisoners of war and Polish Jews. From the autumn of 1943 Trawniki was subordinated as a subcamp to the Majdanek concentration camp. During its dissolution in November, about 6,000 Jewish workers were shot.
Treblinka (Poland): One of three extermination camps of “Aktion Reinhardt” in the occupied “Generalgouvernement,” along with Belzec and Sobibor (For a more detailed characterization, see the comments on Belzec). Treblinka was built from April 1942, taking into account the experiences of Belzec and Sobibor with regard to transport and camouflage. It existed until the fall of 1943. Between July 23, 1942 and August 29, 1943, at least 900,000 Jews, including 329,000 from the Warsaw Ghetto, and thousands of Sinti and Roma were murdered. Treblinka was also the destination of five transports from Theresienstadt in October 1942, during which 3,100 Austrian Jews were also deported. A prisoner uprising on August 2, 1943 accelerated the dissolution of the camp.
Vienna – Am Spiegelgrund* (Vienna/Austria): Youth welfare institution on the grounds of the “Am Steinhof” sanatorium and nursing home with 600 beds; divided into a reformatory and a “mental institution for children” including a children’s specialist ward. Existed from 24.7.1940 to 30.6.1945. The space required for this purpose had been freed up by the murders of psychiatric patients as part of the T4 euthanasia program. Functions of the department: assessment, selection, medical experiments and murder of “uneducable” children and adolescents. At least 789 murders mainly by sleeping pill overdose and by starvation are proven. Since all Jewish patients were to be housed in public institutions and no further distinctions were made among Jewish fosterlings, an increased death rate among Jewish children and adolescents can be assumed.
Wlodawa (Poland): Open ghetto in the occupied “General Government.” Established in January 1941, dissolved in October 1942. Function: registration, isolation, forced labor; later murder or deportation for extermination. May 1942: murder of 500 old people; Oct. 24, 1942: more than 6,000 people transferred to Sobibor extermination camp. In Nov. 1942, about 500 workers were murdered by SS troops. From Vienna a transport went out on 27.4.1942 with 998 persons.
Zamosc (Poland): Ghetto in the occupied “General Government”; prisoner-of-war camp for Soviet soldiers; several places of detention for Polish civilians (infamous especially the Zamosc Rotunda as the site of mass shootings of representatives of the Polish elite and Polish resistance). The ghetto existed from spring 1941 to November 1942 and functioned as a spatial concentration, isolation, and forced labor of the local Jewish population, then as a deportation destination for German Jews. When the ghetto was dissolved, its inhabitants were deported to the Izbica ghetto and from there to the Belzec and Sobibor extermination camps.