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Natzweiler-Struthof Concentration Camp

(1941—1946)

The Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp was located in the Alsace-Lorraine region between France and Germany. Germany annexed the Alsace region after defeating France in June 1940. This camp held many members of the French resistance as well as Jews and gypsies. Natzweiler-Struthof is known for the horrific medical experiments conducted within its walls. The bodies of gassed Jews were taken to the nearby university and studied by Dr. August Hirt in order to prove the racial superiority of Aryans. Medical experiments also included studying new treatments for disease like typhus and yellow fever. The Natzweiler-Struthof camp system had over 50 subcamps where prisoners worked in the armament industry. By the time Allies liberated the camp in March 1945, over 17,000 inmates had perished behind of the walls of the Natzweiler-Struthof camp and its surrounding subcamps.

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Sandor (Shony) Alex Braun Describes the death of his father in Kochendorf, a subcamp of Natzweiler [1990 interview]

“One prisoner was missing. After several recounts, prisoner...one prisoner was still missing. So the Kapos went to the barrack to see...or, or to look for him. And they found the missing man sleeping in a corner. My father. They dragged him from, from his collar, from, from his collar, to the SS guard. That's February, it's cold, snowing, ice on the ground. And, the SS guard turned to the assembly, to us, said "As I understand, the Jewish dog has here two sons. I want them to step out and come near him. Witness his punishment." So we had to step out. So we stepped out, and we were standing near him. Then he turned to the rest of them. He says, "This dirty Jewish dog kept Germany from victory ten minutes, because that's how long it took to find him." Then he gave a swift kick to my father which signaled the Kapos to start the punishment. They rushed toward him, and was kicking and beating him from all direction. Whipping him. We fell on our knees. And we turned to the SS and said, "Please, stop. Beat us. Please don't do that." The...the beating was even more severe. Then slowly, I started chanting the...the Twenty-second Psalm. I think it's the Twenty-second. "Eli, Eli, lama azavtanu?"--"Oh, God, my God, why have thou forsaken us?" They were beating him until he collapsed, my father, and was silent, except for his lips were moving, tried to say something. And I noticed...came closer, and I noticed that he was reciting the declaration of faith of the Jewish people, Sh'ma. The Sh'ma: "Sh'ma Yisrael, Adonai elohenu, Adonai echad"--"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One." Then he was very silent.”

 

Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/media_oi.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10007260&MediaId=1210

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Place Details

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Location:
City: Natzweiler 1
Country: France 1
103 prisoners deported from Auschwitz, gassed:
15 Jun 1943 2
108 members of the Reseau Alliance resistance shot:
01 Sep 1944 2
Allies arrive at main camp but camp is empty:
23 Nov 1944 2
Natzweiler-Struthof camp established:
01 May 1941 2
Report more than 22,000 prisoners in camp system:
01 Jan 1945 2
SS force 2,000 prisoners on death march to Dachau:
31 Aug 1944 2
SS inject 80 gypsies with typhus:
18 May 1944 2
Trial begins of 10 former SS staff members:
29 May 1946 2
“Night and Fog” prisoners sent to camp:
24 Sep 1944 2
Prisoners:
Deaths: 17,000 2
Total Prisoners: 45,000 2

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