From the Front to the Concentration Camp

“For assignment to heavy and dangerous labour […]” That is how an information bulletin for the German field army courts referred to the committal of convicted Wehrmacht soldiers to concentration camps in September 1944. Nearly one thousand Wehrmacht prison inmates, including many convicted deserters, suffered this fate.

On 11 January 1945, a further group arrived at Buchenwald, among them citizens of Luxembourg and Lorraine who, after forced enlistment into the Wehrmacht, had deserted and then been convicted.

The SS took them to Rehungen, a Mittelbau subcamp. An inmate later recalled the conditions there: “We had to work in a salt mine 640 metres below ground level. […] Within two days, the saltpetre would turn a small scratch in the skin into a hole as big as a fist. Then your feet would swell up with fluid. The whole thing would fester and the man would perish because there was no medical assistance.”

(Harry Stein)

Quelle: Testimony by Friedrich Flägel, 13 September 1945 (National Archives Washington).

Literatur: Jens-Christian Wagner, Produktion des Todes: Das KZ Mittelbau-Dora, 3rd ed., Göttingen 2015.