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 123/4 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 10 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 are 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.