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]

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The Concentration Camps

The Nuremberg Charges

Part II

Part I

The Network of Concentration Camps
The concentration Camp as an Instrument of Terror
The Treatment of Concentration Camp Victims
The Number of Victims


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

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

a Dachau, 1939, 4,000 prisoners, today 8,000.
b Sachsenhausen, 1939, 6,500 prisoners, today 10,000.
c Buchenwald, 1939, 5,300 prisoners, today 9,000.
d Mauthausen, 1939, 1,500 prisoners, today 5,500.
e Flossenburg, 1939, 1,600 prisoners, today 4,700.
f Ravensbrueck, 1939, 2,500 prisoners, today 7,500.

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

a. Auschwitz (Poland)
b. Neuengamme
c. Gusen (Austria)
d. Natzweiler (France)
e. Gross-Rosen
f. Lublin (Poland)
g. Niederhagen
h. Stutthof (near Danzig)
i. Arbeitsdorf." (R-122)

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

"Concentration Camp Flossenburg was founded in 1938 as a camp for political prisoners. Construction was commenced on the camp in 1938 and it was not until April 1940 that the first transport of prisoners was received. From this time on prisoners began to flow steadily into the camp. * * * Flossenburg was the mother camp and under its direct control and jurisdiction were 47 satellite camps or outer-commandos for male prisoners and 27 camps for female workers. To these outer-commandos were supplied the necessary prisoners for the various work projects undertaken.

"Of all these outer-commandos Hersbruck and Leitmeritz (in Czechoslovakia), Oberstaubling, (Mulsen and Sall, located on the Danube, were considered to be the worst." (2309-PS)


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

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

"Speer : We must also discuss the slackers. Ley has ascertained that the sick list decreased to one fourth or one fifth in factories where doctors are on the staff who are examining the sick men. There is nothing to be said against SS and Police taking drastic steps and putting those known as slackers into concentration camps. There is no alternative. Let it happen several times and the news will soon go around." (R-1.2.4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The deterrent effect of the concentration camps was based on the promise of savage brutality. This promise was fulfilled, to an extent which defies description. Once in the custody of the SS guards, the victim was beaten, tortured, starved, and often murdered through the so-called "extermination through work" program, or through mass execution gas chambers and furnaces of the camps (which were portrayed in the motion picture evidence). The reports of official government investigations furnish additional evidence of conditions within the concentration camps. The official report concerning the concentration camp Flossenberg, prefaced by the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the United States Army, dated 21 June 1945, and supported by attached affidavits and testimony, contains this description :

"The work at these camps mainly consisted of underground labor, the purpose being the construction of large underground factories, storage rooms, etc. This labor was performed completely underground and as a result of the brutal treatment, working and living conditions, a daily average of 100 prisoners died. To the one camp Oberstaubling, 700 prisoners were transported in February 1945 and on the 15th of April 1946 only 405 of these men were living. During the 12 months preceding the liberation, Flossenburg and the branch camps under its contro1 accounted for the death of 14,739 male inmates and 1,300 women. These figures represent the deaths as were obtained from the available records in the camp, however, they are in no way complete as many secret mass executions and deaths took place. In 1941 an additional stockade was added at the Flossenburg camp, to hold 2,000 Russian prisoners. From these 2,000 prisoners only 102 survived.

"Flossenburg Concentration Camp can best be described as a factory dealing in death. Although this camp had in view the primary object of putting to work the mass slave labor, another of its primary objectives was the elimination of human lives by the methods employed in handling the prisoners.

"Hunger and starvation rations, sadism, housing facilities, inadequate clothing, medical neglect, disease, beatings, hangings, freezing, hand hanging, forced suicides, shooting, all played a major role in obtaining their objective. Prisoners were murdered at random ; spite killings against Jews were common. Injections of poison and shooting in the neck were everyday occurrences. Epidemics of typhus and spotted fever were permitted to run rampant as a means of eliminating prisoners. Life in this camp meant nothing. Killing became a common thing, so common that a quick death was welcomed by the unfortunate ones."

* * * * * * *

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

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

* * * * * * *

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

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

"The prisoners marched from Friday till Monday during which time they received only 100 grams of bread. They marched in the rain and slept in the fields in the mud and water. Many died from exhaustion. On the 23rd day of April 1945, between the towns of Cham and Roding, they were liberated by the American troops." (23O9-PS)

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

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

"Mauthausen, in addition to its permanency of construction had facilities for a large garrison of officers and men, and had large dining rooms and toilet facilities for the staff. It was conducted with the sole purpose in mind of exterminating any so-called prisoner who entered within its walls. The so-called branches of Mauthausen were under direct command of the SS officials located there. All records, orders, and administrative facilities were handled for these branches through Mauthausen. The other camps, including Gusen and Ebensee, its two most notorious and largest branches, were not exclusively used for extermination but prisoners were used as tools in construction and. production until they were beaten or starved into uselessness, whereupon they were customarily sent to Mauthausen for final disposal." (2716-PS)

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

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

"Mobile Field Interrogation Unit No. 2


"NO. 2/ 20
19 December 1944

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


13. Concentration Camp, Buchenwald.

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

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

* * * * * * *

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

The following certificate is also attached to the exhibit:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Examination of the books reveals the camp's routine of death. For example, pages 568 to 582 of Volume 5 cover death entries made for 19 March 1945 between fifteen minutes past one in the morning until 2 o'clock in the afternoon. In this space of 12 3/ 4 hours, 203 persons are reported as having died. They were assigned serial numbers running from 8390 to 8593. The names of the dead are listed. The victims are all recorded as having died of the same ailment-" heart trouble". They died at brief intervals. They died in alphabetical order. The first who died was a man named Ackermann who died at one fifteen A. M. The last was a man named Zynger who died at 2 o'clock P. M.

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

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

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

Concentration Camps, Nuremberg Charges, Part I

Document compiled by Dr S D Stein
Last update 16/03/02 10:05:12
S D Stein

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