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The SS established the Sachsenhausen concentration camp as the principal concentration camp for the Berlin area. Located near Oranienburg, north of Berlin, theSachsenhausen camp opened on July 12, 1936, when the SS transferred 50 prisoners from the Esterwegen concentration camp to begin construction of the camp.
Jews arrested during Kristallnacht stand under guard before being deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Zeven, Germany, November 10, 1938.
— Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz
Karl-Heinz Kusserow, a Jehovah's witness who was imprisoned by the Nazis because of his beliefs. He was a prisoner in the Dachau and Sachsenhausen concentration camps in Germany.
PRISONERS IN THE CAMP
In the early stage of the camp's existence the SS and police incarcerated mainly political opponents and real or perceived criminal offenders in Sachsenhausen. By the end of 1936, the camp held 1,600 prisoners. Between 1936 and 1945, however, Sachsenhausen also held Jews, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, "asocials" (among these prisoners were Roma and Sinti), and, later, Soviet civilians. Prominent figures interned in Sachsenhausen included Pastor Martin Niemöller, former Austrian chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg, Georg Elser, Herschel Grynszpan, and Joseph Stalin's son, Iakov Dzhugashvili.
An official order incarcerating the accused in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp for committing homosexual acts.
The number of Jewish prisoners in Sachsenhausen varied over the course of the camp's existence, but ranged from 21 at the beginning of 1937 to 11,100 at the beginning of 1945. During the nationwide Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass") pogrom of November 1938, Reichsführer SS (SS chief) and Chief of German Police Heinrich Himmler ordered the arrest of up to 30,000 Jews. The SS transported those arrested to Sachsenhausen, Dachau, and Buchenwald concentration camps. Almost 6,000 Jews arrived in Sachsenhausen in the days following the Kristallnacht riots.
In the following months, the number of Jews at Sachsenhausen steadily decreased, as SS authorities released Jewish prisoners, often in exchange for a stated intent to emigrate. By the end of 1938, Sachsenhausen held 1,345 Jews.
There was another marked increase in the number of Jewish prisoners when, in mid-September 1939, shortly after World War II began, German authorities arrested Jews holding Polish citizenship and stateless Jews, most of whom were living in the greater Berlin area, and incarcerated them in Sachsenhausen. Thereafter, the number of Jewish prisoners decreased again, as SS authorities deported them from Sachsenhausen to other concentration camps in occupied Poland, most often Auschwitz, in an effort to make the so-called German Reich "free of Jews" (judenfrei).
By autumn of 1942 there were few Jewish prisoners still in Sachsenhausen, and their numbers remained low until 1944. In the spring of 1944, SS authorities began to bring thousands of Hungarian and Polish Jews from ghettos and other concentration camps to Sachsenhausen as the need for forced laborers in Sachsenhausen and its subcamps increased. Many of these new Jewish prisoners were women. By the beginning of 1945 the number of Jewish prisoners had risen to 11,100.
Following anti-German demonstrations in Prague in November 1939, German authorities incarcerated some 1,200 Czech university students in Sachsenhausen. In total, German authorities deported over 6,000 people from the annexed Czech provinces to Sachsenhausen.
German forces in Poland shot or deported to concentration camps thousands of Poles, especially teachers, priests, government officials, and other national and community leaders, in an attempt to eliminate the Polish educated elite and thereby prevent organized resistance to German rule in Poland. The German authorities sent some of these Poles to Sachsenhausen. On May 3, 1940, for example, 1,200 Polish prisoners arrived in Sachsenhausen from the Pawiak prison in Warsaw. The prisoners included many juveniles, Catholic priests, army officers, professors, teachers, doctors, and minor government officials.
The first group of Soviet prisoners of war arrived in Sachsenhausen at the end of August 1941. By the end of October 1941, the SS had deported about 12,000 Soviet prisoners of war to Sachsenhausen. Camp authorities shot thousands of the Soviet POWs shortly after they arrived in the camp. Estimates of Soviet POWs killed at Sachsenhausen range from 11,000-18,000.
In retaliation for the August 1944 Polish Home Army uprising in Warsaw, the German authorities expelled most of the Polish population from the city. The Germans deported 60,000-80,000 Polish civilians to concentration camps. By early October 1944, the Germans had deported about 6,000 Poles to Sachsenhausen.
In November 1936, the camp headquarter's staff of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp consisted of 70 SS personnel; by 1944 this number had reached 277. SS guard personnel at Sachsenhausen numbered around 1,400 in 1941, and by January 1945, this number had risen to 3,356. In mid-1936, SS Lieutenant Colonel Michael Johann Lippert oversaw the construction of the camp. SS Major Karl Otto Koch replaced Lippert as camp commandant in October, and held the post until the summer of 1937.
During the years 1938-1939 Sachsenhausen experienced frequent changes in camp leadership. At the beginning of 1940,SS-Oberführer [an SS rank between colonel and brigadier general, for which there is no English equivalent] Hans Loritz took over as camp commandant. SS Lieutenant Colonel Anton Kaindl replaced Loritz in 1942 and held the position of camp commandant until 1945. The guards of Sachsenhausen in the early years of the camp were men from the SS Death's Head units (SS-Totenkopfverbände); later, members of the Waffen-SS were transferred to the SS Death's Head Battalion and deployed as guards.
The main camp at Sachsenhausen consisted of a roll-call area, around 50 barracks for prisoners, as well as barracks that served as a washroom, kitchen, infirmary, multiple warehouses, offices, and workshops. Other buildings in the compound included a prison, crematorium, gas chamber (built in 1943), and morgues. The main camp was surrounded by a stone wall over eight feet high, inside of which ran an electrified wire fence. Around the perimeter were nine guard towers.
In the early years of the camp, food rations were meager, but sufficient for most prisoners to survive except perhaps those in the punishment detail, to whom the camp personnel allotted smaller rations. This changed in 1938 as the authorities brought increasing numbers of prisoners to Sachsenhausen, and the amount and quality of the food allotted to each prisoner decreased. By the winter of 1939-1940, prisoners began to starve from insufficient nourishment.
Sanitary conditions in the camp had been primitive from the outset, but worsened still following the outbreak of war. In the last months before the end of the war the death rate increased at an incredible rate. Many prisoners would die in Sachsenhausen due to exhaustion, starvation, exposure, abuse, and lack of medical care.
In April 1941, a commission of SS doctors conducted a "selection" among the prisoners at Sachsenhausen. Over the next three months the commission ordered prisoners too ill or weak to work, as well as prisoners with disabilities, to be killed as part of Operation 14f13, which expanded the so-called euthanasia program into the concentration camps.
In June 1941, camp authorities transported 269 prisoners selected under 14f13 to Sonnenstein, a sanitarium equipped with a gas chamber that served as a killing center for people with disabilities living in institutions. German medical professionals gassed these prisoners at Sonnenstein. Camp authorities conducted further selections in October 1942, selecting prisoners they deemed unfit to work and transporting them to the Dachau concentration camp. In 1944 the camp authorities sent "unfit" prisoners to the Bergen-Belsenconcentration camp.
German scientists and medical researchers conducted medical experiments on prisoners in Sachsenhausen. SS doctors conducted around 40 different types of experiments, including sterilizations, castrations, experimenting with hepatitis, inserting infectious material into incisions of the muscle, and testing the effects of potassium cyanide, phosphorous and other toxins on the human body. Many prisoners died as a result of such experimentation. Of those who survived, many would have serious health problems or deformities for the rest of their lives. It is unknown how many prisoners SS doctors subjected to such experiments, but as of May 1941, SS doctors had already castrated or sterilized 107 prisoners in Sachsenhausen.
Camp authorities also directly killed prisoners in Sachsenhausen. Shooting was the preferred method of the camp authorities, but the camp also had a gallows in the roll-call area for hanging and was equipped with a gas chamber used for killing small groups of prisoners. All types of prisoners, including Jews, were among those singled out for killings at various times during the camp's operation.
The SS authorities forced the prisoners to perform hard labor. Before the outbreak of the war, camp authorities assigned prisoner work detachments largely to construction and industrial sites in the vicinity of the camp. In the summer of 1938 the SS founded a brickworks company, the German Earth and Stone Works, Ltd. (Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke (DESt), and forced prisoners to begin construction at a site called Klinkerwerk (brickworks) in the nearby town of Lehnitz. Camp personnel marched 1,500 prisoners to and from the Klinkerwerk each day until the camp authorities decided in 1941 to turn Klinkerwerk into a subcamp of Sachsenhausen and house the prisoners on site. During the war, forced labor utilizing concentration camp prisoners became increasingly important in German armaments production.
As a result, the Sachsenhausen camp system expanded to include more than 40 subcamps concentrated mainly around armaments industries in the greater Berlin area in northern Germany. As of mid-January 1945 there were more than 65,000 prisoners in the Sachsenhausen camp complex, including more than 13,000 women.
Counterfeit British Bank Note
A counterfeit British bank note produced by Jewish forced laborers employed in Operation Bernhard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Under an order issued by SS chief Heinrich Himmler in 1942, Operation Bernhard initially aimed to produce large quantities of counterfeit British bank notes, flood the British currency market, and trigger a financial crisis.
Sachsenhausen, Germany, 1938
Uniformed prisoners with triangular badges are assembled under Nazi guard at the Sachenhausen concentration camp. Sachsenhausen, Germany, 1938.
Sachsenhausen was the site of the largest counterfeiting operation ever.
The Nazis forced inmate artisans to produce forged American and British currency, as part of a plan to undermine the British and United States' economies, courtesy of Sicherheitsdienst (SD) chief Reinhard Heydrich. Over one billion pounds in counterfeited banknotes was recovered. The Germans introduced fake British £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes into circulation in 1943: the Bank of England never found them. Plans had been made to drop British pounds over London by plane. Today, these notes are considered very valuable by collectors. An industrial area, outside the western camp perimeter, contained SS workshops in which prisoners were forced to work; those unable to work had to stand to attention for the duration of the working day. Heinkel, the aircraft manufacturer, was a major user of Sachsenhausen labour, using between 6000 and 8000 prisoners on their He 177 bomber. Although official German reports claimed "The prisoners are working without fault", some of these aircraft crashed unexpectedly around Stalingrad and it is suspected that prisoners had sabotaged them. Other firms included AEG.
Camp punishments could be harsh. Some would be required to assume the "Sachsenhausen salute" where a prisoner would squat with his arms outstretched in front.
There was a marching strip around the perimeter of the roll call ground, where prisoners had to march over a variety of surfaces, to test military footwear; between 25 and 40 kilometres were covered each day.
Prisoners assigned to the camp prison would be kept in isolation on poor rations and some would be suspended from posts by their wrists tied behind their backs (strappado). In cases such as attempted escape, there would be a public hanging in front of the assembled prisoners.
A popular game amongst the guards involved threatening a prisoner with death if they did not stand on the "death zone" gravel strip inside the camp. Once the prisoner stood on the gravel, he/she was killed, as they were not allowed to stand on it.
Some 30,000 inmates died there from exhaustion, disease, malnutrition or pneumonia from the freezing winter cold. Many were executed or died as the result of brutal medical experimentation.
Over the course of its operation, over 100 Dutch resistance fighters were executed at Sachsenhausen According to an article published on December 13, 2001 in The New York Times, "In the early years of the war the SS practiced methods of mass killing there that were later used in the Nazi death camps. Of the roughly 30,000 wartime victims at Sachsenhausen, most were Russian prisoners of war".Recreation of the security perimeter at Sachsenhausen Arbeit Macht Frei gate
Many women were among the inmates of Sachsenhausen and its subcamps. According to SS files, more than 2,000 women lived in Sachsenhausen, guarded by female SS staff (Aufseherin). Camp records show that there was one male SS soldier for every ten inmates and for every ten male SS there was a woman SS. Several subcamps for women were established in Berlin, including in Neukölln.
Towards the end of the war, 13,000 Red Army POW's arrived at Sachsenhausen. Over 10,000 were executed in the camp by being shot in the back of the neck through a hidden hole in a wall while being measured for a uniform. Their bodies were then burnt in a crematorium.
With the advance of the Red Army in the spring of 1945, Sachsenhausen was prepared for evacuation. On April 20–21, the camp's SS staff ordered 33,000 inmates on a forced march northeast. Most of the prisoners were physically exhausted and thousands did not survive thisdeath march; those who collapsed en route were shot by the SS. On April 22, 1945, the camp's remaining 3,000 inmates, including 1,400 women were liberated by the Red Army and Polish 2nd Infantry Division of Ludowe Wojsko Polskie.
Camp Commanders~Michael Lippert
Michel Hans Lippert or Michael Lippert
(April 24, 1897 – September 1, 1969)
was an SS Standartenführer, Police officer and a German soldier who served in bothWorld War I and World War II. During World War II. Lippert commanded severalconcentration camps, including Sachsenhausen, before becoming a commander of the SS-Freiwilligen Legion Flandern and the 10. SS-Panzer-Division Frundsberg. He is probably best known for murdering SA leader Ernst Röhm on July 2, 1934.
Career in the SS
On 15 November 1931, Lippert was commissioned an SS Second Lieutenant with the SS Group South, 2nd Company, III Battalion, 31st Death's Head Regiment. The 31st Regiment was one of many regiments that was bestowed a commemorative or honorific name associated either with Nazi members killed during the Putsch or in the struggle against communism, or geographical names.
From 19 June to 5 July 1933, Lippert attended an SS Officer's Course at the German Hochschule für Leibesübungen, held in Berlin-Grünwald at the German Stadion.Execution of Ernst Röhm
On 1 July 1934, just after the Night of the Long Knives, Hitler gave the order that the imprisoned Ernst Röhm was to be liquidated. Himmler communicated Hitler's order to SS-Brigadeführer Theodor Eicke, ordering that Röhm be shot, and that he first be offered the chance to commit suicide. Accompanied by Lippert in his capacity as Eicke's adjutant, and along with SS Gruppenführer Heinrich Schmauser, Eicke travelled to Stadelheim Prison in Munich where Röhm was being held.
After telling Röhm that he had forfeited his life and that Hitler had given him a last chance to avoid the consequences, Eicke laid a pistol on a table in Röhm's cell and told him that he had 10 minutes in which to use the weapon to kill himself. Eicke, Lippert and Schmauser left and waited in the corridor for 15 minutes, during which time no shot was heard. Finally Eicke and Lippert drew their pistols and re-entered Röhm's cell. Both fired at the same time, and Röhm fell to the floor. One of the two then crossed to Röhm and administed a coup-de-grace, firing a bullet through Röhm's heart at point-blank range.Postwar
In 1956, the Munich authorities began an investigation into the Night of the Long Knives and in August arrested Lippert and Sepp Dietrich for their part in it. They were bailed, and the trial itself did not commence until 6 May 1957. They were represented by the lawyer Dr Alfred Seidl who had defended Rudolf Hess at the Nuremberg Trials. Lippert and Dietrich were charged with manslaughter, in Lippert's case for the death of Röhm. Lippert asserted that he had remained outside Röhm's cell, and only Theodor Eicke had gone in. On 10 May the case was summed-up and the proscutor demanded a two year sentence for Lippert. On 14 May the President of the Court found both Lippert and Dietrich guilty and sentenced both men to 18 months. He described Lippert as "filled with a dangerous and unrepentant fanaticism"
- April 24, 1897 – September 1, 1969
Standartenführer was a Nazi Party paramilitary rank that was used in both the SA and the SS. First founded as a title in 1925, in 1928 the rank became one of the first commissioned Nazi ranks and was bestowed upon those SA and SS officers who commanded units known as Standartenwhich were regiment-sized formations of between three hundred and five hundred men.
In 1929 the rank of Standartenführer was divided into two separate ranks known asStandartenführer (I) and Standartenführer (II). This concept was abandoned in 1930 when both the SA and SS expanded their rank systems to allow for more officer positions and thus the need for only a single Standartenführer rank.
In 1933, when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, the rank of Standartenführer had been established as the greatest field-officer rank, lesser than that of Oberführer which was considered the first General's rank of the SS and SA. By the start of the World War II, Standartenführer was widely spread as both an SS rank and a rank of the SA. In the Waffen-SS, the rank was considered the equivalent of an Oberst, a full colonel.
The insignia for Standartenführer consisted of a single oak leaf displayed on both collars. Standartenführer was the first of the SS and SA ranks to display rank insignia on both collars, without the display of unit insignia. From 1938,newer SS uniforms featured the shoulder boards of a German Oberst in addition to the oak leaf collar patches.
(born 25 September 1881 in Hemsbach - died 24 August 1952 in Hemsbach)
The son of a forest ranger and the youngest of 15 children Helwig apprenticed as a bricklayer in his home viallge of Hemsbach. Discontented with life a bricklayer the 19 year-old Helwig enlisted in the German Imperial Army. He rose to the rank of master sergeant in an infantry regiment before leaving in early 1914 to work as a court clerk. Helwig was only a few months out of the army when World War I broke out, prompting him to re-enlist. Returning to the same battalion Helwig saw action on both the Western and Eastern Fronts.Joining the Nazi Party
Helwig returned to his post with the court before eventually moving on to a role as a minor official at the German Ministry of Justice.Although his personal position was largely untouched, Helwig nonetheless became deeply resentful of the situation in his native Baden which was under French occupation and was invaded and re-occupied by France and Belgium in 1923. An admirer of Adolf Hitler from early, his beliefs caused him trouble professionally and he was suspended from his job following the Beer Hall putsch, which he had been heard to praise at work. By this time Helwig was already officially a member of the Sturmabteilung, havinig initially joined the Deutschvölkischer Schutz und Trutzbund after the war.
Suspended from work, Helwig was able to devote more of his time to the SA and the Nazi Party. A founder of the local branch of the reorganised Nazi Party in 1925, he was elected a city councilman not long after. At the time in Baden Nazi politics were dominated by a personality clash between local strongmen Heinrich Himmler and Robert Heinrich Wagner, a struggle in which Helwig eventually sided with Himmler, leaving the SA for the SS in 192. Already 48 and generally considered to be of low intelligence it was unclear what use he could be to the SS but nonetheless he was received enthusiastically both due to his friendship with Himmler and the fact that he had put loyalty to the Nazi Party above his own finances by getting suspended from work due to his Nazism.Political career
Helwig initially followed a career in Nazi politics, following a personal endorsement to Adolf Hitler from Himmler. In the July 1932 election he was returned as a delegate to the Reichstag although there is no record of him accomplishing anything during his brief spell in the institution. In the meantime his old rival Wagner had re-established his control of Baden, Himmler having long since departed to serve asReichsführer-SS, and ensured that Helwig would not be a candidate in the November 1932 election, instead ensuring his demotion to theLandtag der Republik Baden, a body that was abolished following the Nazi takeover.Camp commandant
On account of his long military service he initially served the SS as voluntary commander of a battalion and then a regiment. Following the Nazi takeover he was then appointed governor of Bruchsal prison, a role that he did not last long in due to the mentally taxing nature of the work. Following a nervous breakdown he retired from SS duty but was dismayed to find his pension only stretched to 202 Marks a month. Helwig recovered from his health issues rapidly and sought to return to the SS. He was readmitted reluctantly, largely on the basis of his long service (which entitled him to the Golden Nazi Party Badge) and loyalty.
By this time it was unclear what role Helwig could possibly fill in the SS and a superior officer had written a personal letter to Himmler to this effect. Within the letter it was suggested that his prison experience might make it possible for him to command a concentration camp and Himmler acted on this suggestion, and made him commandant of the women's camp at Lichtenburg. In July 1937 he succeeded Karl Otto Koch as commandant of Sachsenhausen concentration camp and was soon being put forward as a candidate for promotion by Theodor Eicke, who had initially been reluctant to have Helwig as one of his men. However Helwig did blot his copybook when it was discovered that he boasted of his atrocities at Sachsenhausen to a group of non-Germans after getting drunk in a bar, breaking protocol about keeping concentration camp activities quiet. Indeed, as was the case for all of the commandants at Sachsenhausen, Helwig's command was noted for its viciousness.
Helwig lost his position the following year over a somewhat pedantic clash between the SS hierarchy and Justice Minister Franz Gürtner over a failure to obey protocol. An inmate of Sachsenhausen, Johannes Winiarz, was given a forced vasectomy at the camp but it emerged that the operation had not been approved by a judge and Winiarz had had no chance to appeal, both of which were laid down as essential in such cases. Himmler put the blame on Eicke who in turn argued that it had been Helwig who had mixedup the orders, having become confused by a sudden influx of new prisoners at the time. Eicke told Himmler that the 57 year old Helwig was "totally decrepit ... both mentally and physically" and recommended he be removed as commandant. He was replaced by Hermann Baranowski soon afterwards.Later years
Helwig appealed to be allowed to continue but neither Eicke nor Himmler would be moved. Given a 5000 Mark severance in order to convince him to leave he returned to Hemsbach. His standing as a party loyalist ensured that the SS continued to help him find employment and after a few failed attempts he found a role in the Organisation Todt that suited his talents. Based on the Eastern Front, he oversaw the building of a fuel camp that also doubled as a place to hold Soviet prisoners of war. The veteran, who by this time was a Brigadeführer in the SS despite having previously been described by Eicke as not officer material, finished the war as the liaison officer between the northern command of the Wehrmacht and Himmler's HQ.
Helwig, who remained an active member of his local Protestant church in Hemsbach throughout his SS career despite the faith being officially discouraged, died in his hometown in 1952 before any legal proceedings could be brought against him
- 25 September 1881~24 August 1952
was a German politician and military figure. A member of theNazi Party, he is best known as the commandant of two German concentration camps of the SS Death's Head unit. He was the commandant of Dachau concentration camp in 1938. He served as the SS-Oberführer of Sachsenhausen concentration camp from February 1938 - September 1939.
Due to his husky build, prisoners nicknamed him “Foursquare.” He is known by Jehovah's Witnesses as one who tried to get Jehovah's Witnesses, who were in the camps for their Christian neutrality, to sign statements rejecting their faith, terrorizing them and having them executed in front of their fellow believers. He never missed an opportunity to poke fun of their God. “I have taken up a fight with Jehovah. We will see who is the stronger, I or Jehovah,” Foursquare had said on March 20, 1938. He died of a terrible illness but his daughter would always answer, when asked what her father died of, that the Bible Students (Jehovah's Witnesses) prayed her father to death.
- 11 June 1884 ~5 February 1940
(born 11 July 1905 in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt - died 3 April 1940
Having risen to the rank of Sturmbannführer, Eisfeld succeeded Hermann Baranowski as commandant at Sachsenhausen concentration campbefore being replaced by Hans Loritz. Heinrich Himmler visited Sachsenhausen in early 1940 and, seeing disciplinary problems amongst the guards, ordered Eisfeld to be replaced as camp commandant. He was sent to command the new Neuengamme concentration camp, at the time a sub-camp of Sachsenhausen.
- (born 11 July 1905~3 April 1940
Kaindl joined the army during the Weimar Republic in May of 1920 and served until May of 1932, leaving with the rank of sergeant. He worked briefly for a bank in the city of Donauwörthuntil August of 1932, when he took an administrative position with the Reichskuratorium für Jugendertüchtigung (Reich's Board for Youth Fitness).
He joined the SS in July 1935 (SS no;241,248) and the Nazi Party in May 1937 (party no; 4.390.500). In November of 1939 he was assigned an administrative position in the SS-Totenkopf Division. He then was transferred to the administrative department of the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps headed by Richard Glucks. Kaindl's next transfer was to Sachsenhausen, where he served as commandant until the evacuation of the camp on April 22, 1945.
He was captured by the Red Army and put on trial in the Sachsenhausen trial held by the Soviet Military Tribunal in the city hall of Pankow, Berlin in October of 1947. He was charged along with Sachsenhausen record keeper Gustav Sorge, punishment Blockführer Kurt Eccarius, camp doctor Heinz Baumkötter and 10 other SS officers, one civil servant and two prisoner kapos including Paul Sakowski who served as the crematorium foreman and camp hangman from 1941 to 1943, he was found guilty with 11 of the others.
- July 14, 1902~1948
Notable Inmates and Victims
The wife and children of Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria, members of the Wittelsbach family, were held in the camp from October 1944 to April 1945, before being transferred to Dachau concentration camp.
Gottfried Graf von Bismarck-Schönhausen, a grandson of Otto von Bismarck and an SS officer who was aware of the preparations for the July 20 plot to assassinate Hitler, was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen until its liberation by Soviet forces.
Hans von Dohnanyi, a German jurist, rescuer of Jews, and resistance fighter against the Nazi Germany regime, was imprisoned in the camp in 1944 until his execution in April 1945.
Herschel Grynszpan, whose November 7, 1938 assassination of the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath served as a pretext for Kristallnacht, the anti-semitic pogrom of November 9–10, 1938, was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen in 1940. Later he was moved to Magdeburg.
Francisco Largo Caballero, Spanish politician and trade unionist who served as the Prime Minister of the Second Republic during 1936 and 1937. Upon the defeat of the Republic in 1939 at the end of the Spanish Civil War he fled to France, where he was later arrested during the German occupation. He spent most of World War II imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg concentration camp, until the liberation of the camps at the end of the war. He would die a few months after liberation.
Fritz Thyssen, a German businessman who emigrated from Germany, was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and later transferred to Dachau.
Ukrainian nationalist leaders Taras Bulba-Borovets, Andriy Melnyk and Oleh Stuhl (briefly), Stepan Bandera and Yaroslav Stetsko were imprisoned there until September-October 1944 (two of Bandera's brothers died in the camp); Oleh Olzhych was tortured to death in June 1944.
Antonín Zápotocký, General Secretary of Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (later Prime Minister and President), was sent to Sachsenhausen in 1940. He became a Kapo, which ultimately helped him survive the war.
The Danish Communist leader Aksel Larsen was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen from 1943 to 1945. Einar Gerhardsen and Trygve Bratteli of the Norwegian Labour Party, who would later become prime ministers of Norway, were also incarcerated in Sachsenhausen until they were liberated.
Captain Sigismund Payne Best and Major Richard Henry Stevens, British intelligence agents kidnapped during the Venlo incident, were detained in Sachsenhausen before they were transferred to Dachau concentration camp.
Wing Commander Harry Day, Flight Lieutenants Bertram James and Sydney Dowse, RAF Pilots, who had escaped during The Great Escapefrom Stalag Luft III, sent to Sachsenhausen as punishment, where with Jack Churchill and Major Johnnie Dodge escaped via a tunnel built by James and Dowse in September 1944. All were recaptured and held in solitary confinement in the Death Cells (Station Z). However, they were later returned to the Sonderlager (special camp) within the main camp. All three survived and were transferred to Tyrol.
Major Johnnie Dodge, a British Army Officer and relation of Winston Churchill who had escaped during The Great Escape from Stalag Luft III. Later, in February 1945, was removed from solitary confinement and sent back to Britain, via Switzerland, to act as a peace envoy to the British Government, arriving just before VE Day.
Hans Grundig, German artist.
Among those executed in "Station Z" were the commandos from Operation Musketoon; the Grand Prix motor racing champion, William Grover-Williams; and John Godwin RNVR, a British Naval Sub-Lieutenant who managed to shoot dead the commander of his execution party, for which he was mentioned in despatches posthumously.
On September 15, 1939, August Dickman, a German Jehovah's Witness, was publicly shot because of his conscientious objection to joining the armed forces. The SS had expected his death to persuade fellow Witnesses to abandon their own refusals and to show respect for camp rules and authorities. The effort failed, however. Other Witnesses emphatically refused to back down and begged to be martyred also.
Heinrich Koenen, a communist spy captured in Berlin, was executed in Sachsenhausen in 1945.
Bl. Innocent Guz of Lviv [Innocenty] [baptized Józef Wojciech (Joseph Adalbert)] (Polish born in Ukraine, Franciscan priest, martyred by Nazis at Sachsenhausen [Germany] at age 50 in 1940 [beatified 1999])
Friedrich Weißler, German lawyer active in resistance movement against the National Socialism
Albert Willimsky, German Roman Catholic priest active in resistance movement against the National Socialism
Bernhard Liebster Born: 1882, Owiecim, Poland
Bernhard, who was from a religious Jewish family in the Polish town of Oswiecim, emigrated as a young man to Frankfurt, Germany. There he married Bertha Oppenheimer from the nearby town of Reichenbach. They settled in Reichenbach where they were one of 13 Jewish families. Bernhard worked as a shoemaker, and the couple raised three children.
1933-39: In a corner of his living room, Bernhard ran a small shop specializing in orthopedic shoes. Antisemitism was growing in Germany, but the townspeople of Reichenbach lived contentedly with their Jewish neighbors, even after nationwide pogroms [Kristallnacht, Night of Broken Glass] in November 1938. But when Germany went to war in September 1939, Bernhard's son, Max was arrested while on an outing in Baden.
1940: The Gestapo arrested Bernhard in the winter of 1940 during a campaign to "cleanse" Reichenbach of its Jewish inhabitants. Bernhard was sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin in northern Germany. By chance, his son, Max, was sent there as a prisoner a few weeks later. Max found Bernhard in the barracks lying behind a pile of straw. With swollen and infected legs and fluid in his lungs, Bernhard was close to death.
Bernhard died in Sachsenhausen in March 1940. He was 58 years old.
Edward Adler Born: 1910, Hamburg, Germany
Edward was born to a Jewish family in Hamburg. In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws prohibited marriage or sexual relations between German non-Jews and Jews. Edward was then in his mid-twenties.
Edward was arrested for dating a non-Jewish woman. Classified as a habitual offender, he was later deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, near Berlin. He was forced to perform hard labor in construction projects.
Edward had married shortly before his imprisonment, and his wife made arrangements for their emigration from Germany. Edward was released from custody in September 1938 and left Germany. He stayed with relatives in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and later emigrated to the United States.
"One particular incident I recall like it was yesterday. An old gentleman with the name of Solomon, I'll never forget. He must have been well in his seventies, he simply couldn't run. He couldn't run, he had to walk. He couldn't run and he collapsed, and he laid in the road, and one of the Storm Troopers, a tall, young fellow, very slender, very tall, stepped on his throat.
This is true. Unbelievable, but true, 'til the man was dead. We had to pick up his body and throw him to the side of the road, and we continued on into the camp, where we was assembled in a courtyard, and a strange incident happened at that time. We faced a barrack, a door on the right, a door on the left.
People went in the left door, came out the right door, entirely different people. Their hair was shaven off, they had a prisoner's uniform on, a very wide, striped uniform. My number was 6199."
Siegfried Halbreich Born: 1909, Poland
After Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, Siegfried fled with a friend. They attempted to get papers allowing them to go to France, but were turned over to the Germans.
Siegfried was jailed, taken to Berlin, and then transported to the Sachsenhausen camp near Berlin in October 1939. He was among the first Polish Jews imprisoned in Sachsenhausen. Inmates were mistreated and made to carry out forced labor.
After two years, Siegfried was deported to the Gross-Rosen concentration camp, where he was forced to work in the stone quarry. In October 1942, Siegfried was deported from Gross-Rosen to the Auschwitz camp in occupied Poland. While there, Siegfried tried to use his experience as a pharmacist to save ill prisoners. As Soviet forces approached the Auschwitz camp in January 1945, Siegfried was forced on a death march from the camp. Those prisoners who could not continue or keep up were killed. Siegfried survived.
When I came to Sachsenhausen, I was taken by an SS man to the barracks, to the Jewish barracks. There were four, consisting of four barracks, a Jewish camp, which was in the main camp, but separated. And, uh, then, naturally, when I came in, people surrounded me, prisoners, uh, asking question from where, and, uh, what did I do, and I told them, I am a Polish Jew, and I was caught on the border and brought in.
All other inmates who were there already, about, I would say, twelve, twelve hundred, they were Polish Jews mostly, but living in Germany. So I , when I came there, was the first, not only Jew from Poland, but the first Pole. There was no other Pole yet in Sachenhausen. I was the first one. Uh, I got friendly with the, naturally with, uh, my inmates, and, uh, they told me where I am and on what conditions we live, and how they treat us, and they slowly prepared me for all those misdeeds which were done to us, and, uh, I remember at night, we spread out the straw sacks in the room in order to, to rest.
There were two, sometimes three, on one straw sack, together, and we were so crowded, we didn't dare even at night, say, to use, uh, this, the toilet. Because we were afraid when we came, we come back, we would have nowhere to, to lay down. Once this happened, you had to sit on the side somewhere in the corner, and to wait till the morning comes and to get up.
Johannes M. Lublink
Born: Amsterdam, Netherlands
March 10, 1912
Johannes was born to Christian parents and had three brothers and three sisters. His father sold coal for heating systems. By 1933 Johannes was also a coal distributor. Like many other Dutch citizens, Johannes did not approve of Hitler's policies. He especially objected to Hitler's persecution of Jews and Jehovah's Witnesses.
1933-39: Hitler's coming to power in Germany was a threat to all of us. In 1936 I became a Jehovah's Witness. My mother was also a Witness and by 1938, one brother and one sister became Witnesses as well. Even in the Netherlands we faced adversity. In 1937 the police protected us from Catholic priests who preached hatred against us during our Bible meetings in Tilburg.
1940-44: The Germans occupied the Netherlands in May 1940. I was arrested by the Dutch police on June 15, 1941. After being detained for several months, I was deported with 50 other Witnesses to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Required to do heavy labor, we Witnesses were the only prisoners trusted by the Germans because we never tried to escape. Each morning one of us read aloud a Bible passage, which we'd discuss while working during the day. Sometimes, I'd secretly read from my own Bible that I'd managed to smuggle in.
While being force-marched from Sachsenhausen, Johannes was liberated by U.S. troops near Schwerin, Germany, on May 5, 1945. He then returned to Amsterdam.
- March 10, 1912
Johann Stossier Born: Techelsberg, Austria May 29, 1909
Johann was born to Catholic parents in the part of Austria known as Carinthia, where he was raised on the family farm. Johann enjoyed acting and belonged to a theater group in nearby Sankt Martin, which also happened to have a Jehovah's Witness congregation. He became a Jehovah's Witness during the late 1920s, actively preaching in the district around Sankt Martin.
1933-39: Johann continued to do missionary work for the Jehovah's Witnesses even after this was banned by the Austrian government in 1936. The situation for Jehovah's Witnesses worsened after Germany annexed Austria in March 1938. Like other Witnesses, Johann refused to give the Hitler salute, to swear an oath of loyalty to Hitler, or to enlist in the army.
1940-44: In April 1940 Johann was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in Klagenfurt. The Nazis deported him to the Neuengamme concentration camp, and then to the Sachsenhausen camp. In Sachsenhausen, the Germans tried to force Johann to repudiate his faith as a Jehovah's Witness, but Johann refused. Though it was forbidden, he had secretly hidden a tiny Bible, and reading Scripture enabled him to fortify his belief that the power of God was stronger than the power of the Nazi regime.
Johann was executed on May 7, 1944, in Sachsenhausen. He was 34 years old.
- May 29, 1909~May 7, 1944
Walther Hamann Born: Greiz, Germany March 9, 1904
March 9, 1904
Walther was born in the state of Thuringia in east central Germany. Though his parents were Lutheran, Walther became a Jehovah's Witness in 1923. After becoming a master baker and confectioner in 1924, Walther worked in various coffeehouses in Plauen, Magdeburg and Duesseldorf. In 1928 he graduated from a professional school. He married and had two sons.
1933-39: In 1933 I became a pastry-making manager at the Cafe Weitz on Duesseldorf's Koenigsallee. The Gestapo arrested me at the cafe in 1937 because I was an active member of a banned organization, the Jehovah's Witnesses. The Special Court in Duesseldorf gave me a 27-month sentence because of my preaching. Imprisoned in Duesseldorf and Wuppertal-Elberfeld, I was then moved to penal camps in Walchum and Neusustrum in northwest Germany.
1940-44: When I completed my prison term in February 1940, I was given another chance to repudiate my faith. I refused, was beaten and then sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp where I was kicked and beaten upon arrival--I saved myself by hiding in a latrine. A month later, my brother-in-law Dietrich, who had been there four years, died at my side. With Jehovah's help I endured hard labor and repeated beatings; when I could, I smuggled food out of the SS kitchen and scraps from garbage cans.
During a forced march towards the Baltic Sea, Walther was liberated on May 3, 1945, after his SS guards fled. He remained in Germany after the war.
- March 9, 1904~
Robert T. Odeman Born: Hamburg, Germany November 30, 1904
Born Martin Hoyer, Robert took Robert T. Odeman as his stage name when he began a professional career as an actor and musician. A classical pianist, Robert gave concerts throughout Europe, but a hand injury tragically ended his concert career.
1933-39: In 1935 Robert opened a cabaret in Hamburg. One year later the Nazis shut it down, charging that it was politically subversive. Robert then moved to Berlin where he developed a close relationship with a male friend who was pressured to denounce Robert to the Gestapo. In November 1937 Robert was arrested under paragraph 175 of the Nazi-revised criminal code, which outlawed homosexuality. He was sentenced to 27 months in prison.
1940-44: Robert was released from prison in 1940 but remained under police surveillance. They monitored his correspondence with a half-Jewish friend in Munich and with friends abroad. In 1942 Robert was arrested again under paragraph 175 and deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. There he was assigned an office job. On a forced march from the camp towards the Baltic in April 1945, 40-year-old Robert escaped with two other "175ers."
After the war, Robert returned to Berlin, where he worked as a writer and composer. He died in 1985.
- November 30, 1904
Jews arrested during Kristallnacht stand under guard before being deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Zeven, Germany, November 10, 1938.
An official order incarcerating the accused in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp for committing homosexual acts.
Bible Found at Liberation
Soviet forces liberated the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in April 1945. In the camp, Soviet soldiers found this German edition of the Old and New Testaments on a dead prisoner, a Jehovah's Witness. The bible was sent to the prisoner's surviving family members.
Dutch Plaque in Sachenhausen Concentration Camp
Plaque to honour Dutch resistancefighters executed at Sachsenhausen ("Between 1940-1945 over 100 Dutch resistance fighters have been shot here")
Dutch resistance to the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during World War II can be mainly characterized by its prominent non-violence, summitting in over 300,000 people in hiding in the autumn of 1944, tended to by some 60,000 to 200.000 illegal landlords and caretakers and tolerated knowingly by some 1 million people, including German occupiers and military.
Dutch resistance developed relatively slowly, but the event of the February strike and its cause, the random razzia and deportation of over 400 Jews, stimulated resistance greatly. The first to organise themselves were the Dutch communists, who set up a cell-system immediately. Some other very amateurish groups also emerged, notably De Geuzen set up by Bernard IJzerdraat and also some military-styled groups started, such as the Ordedienst ('order service'). Most had great trouble surviving betrayal in the first two years of the war.
Dutch counterintelligence, domestic sabotage, and communications networks eventually provided key support to Allied forces beginning in 1944 and continuing until the Netherlands was fully liberated. Some 75% (105,000 out of 140,000) of the Jewish population perished in the Holocaust, most of them murdered in Nazi death camps. A number of resistance groups specialized in saving Jewish children.