The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter XI
The Concentration Camp
Use of Concentration Camps for Prisoners of War


[Page 957]

Not only civilians of the occupied territories, but also prisoners of war were subjected to the concentration camp. A memorandum to all officers of the State Police, signed by Mueller, Chief of the Gestapo, dated 9 November 1941, discusses the "Transportation of Russian Prisoners of War, Destined for Execution, into the Concentration Camps." (1165- PS). This memorandum states in part:

"The commandants of the concentration camps are complaining that 5% to 10% of the Soviet Russians destined for execution are arriving in the camps dead or half dead. Therefore the impression has arisen that the Stalags are getting rid of such prisoners in this way.

"It was particularly noted that, when marching, for example, from the railroad station to the camp, a rather large number of PWs collapsed on the way from exhaustion, either dead or half dead, and had to be picked up by a truck following the convoy.

"It cannot be prevented that the German people take notice of these occurrences.

"Even if the transportation to the camps is generally taken care of by the Wehrmacht, the population will attribute this situation to the SS.

"In order to prevent, if possible, similar occurrences in the future, I therefore order that, effective from today on, Soviet Russians, declared definitely suspect and obviously

[Page 958]

marked by death (for example with typhus) and who therefore would not be able to withstand the exertions of even a short march on foot, shall in the future, as a matter of basic principle, be excluded from the transport into the concentration camps for execution." (1165-PS)

Additional evidence of the confinement of Russian prisoners of war in concentration camps is found in an official report of the investigation of the Flossenburg concentration camp by Headquarters Third United States Army, Judge Advocate Section War Crimes Branch, dated 21 June 1945 (2509-PS). This report states:

"In 1941 an additional stockade was added at the Flossenburg Camp, to hold 2,000 Russian prisoners. From these 2,000 prisoners only 102 survived." (2309-PS)

Soviet prisoners of war found their allies in the concentration camps. The same official report continues:

"The victims of Flossenburg included among the Russian, civilians and prisoners of war, German nationals, Italians, Belgians, Poles, Czechs, Hungarians, British and American prisoners of war. No practical means was available to complete a list of victims of this camp, however, since the foundation of the camp in 1938 until the day of liberation it is estimated that more than 29,000 inmates died." (2309-PS)

Escaped prisoners of war were sent to concentration camps, which were specially set up as extermination centers. A communication from the Secret State Police Office, Cologne, dated 4 March 1944, transmitted the following orders of the OKW -- for which Keitel is responsible -- concerning escaped prisoners of war:

"1. Every captured escaped prisoner of war who is an officer or a non-working non-commissioned officer, except British and American prisoners of war, is to be turned over to the Chief of the Security Police and of the Security Service under the classification 'Step III' regardless of whether the escape occurred during a transport, whether it was a mass escape or an individual one.

"2. Since the transfer of the prisoners of war to the Security Police and Security Service may not become officially known to the outside under any circumstances other prisoners of war may by no means be informed of the capture. The captured prisoners are to be reported to the Army Information Bureau as 'escaped and not captured'. Their mail is to be handled accordingly. Inquiries of representatives of the Pro-

[Page 959]

tective Power of the International Red Cross, and of other aid societies will be given the same answer." (1650-PS)

The same communication carried a copy of an order of SS General Mueller, acting for the Chief of the Security Police and SD, which directed the Gestapo to transport escaped prisoners directly to Mauthausen. The first two paragraphs of Mueller's order provide:

"The State Police Directorates will accept the captured escaped officer prisoners of war from the prisoner of war camp commandants and will transport them to the Concentration Camp Mauthausen following the procedure previously used, unless the circumstances render a special transport imperative. The prisoners of war are to be put in irons on the transport -- not on the station if it is subject to view by the public. The camp commandant at Mauthausen is to be notified that the transfer occurs within the scope of the action 'Kugel'. The State Police Directorates will submit semiyearly reports on these transfers giving merely the figures, -the first report being due on 5 July 1944 (sharp). *** For the sake of secrecy, the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces has been requested to inform the prisoner of war camps to turn the captured prisoners over to the local State Police Office and not to send them directly to Mauthausen." (1650-PS)

It is no coincidence that the literal translation for the German word "Kugel" is "bullet", since Mauthausen, where the escaped prisoners were sent, was an extermination center.


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