From Wehrmacht Soldier to Concentration Camp Guard

In 1944, the demand for guard personnel grew as the SS founded more and more new subcamps. To fill the gap, large numbers of Wehrmacht soldiers were assigned to duty in the camps. From now on, there were more soldiers than SS in the guard units of the Mittelbau-Dora subcamps.

In isolated cases, the new concentration camp guards showed signs of a guilty conscience. In the end, however, fear of Allied revenge increased even their will to carry on. On 21 January 1945, for example, Stefan Pauler – a member of the Luftwaffe serving as a guard in the Ellrich-Juliushütte subcamp – wrote to his wife:

… but we’re prepared to suffer anything for the final victory. Dear Mama, I don’t want to get myself interned; I’d rather get myself a pass to heaven. That would be good for all of us, because I got a little taste of how we might fare, and then the interest on top, that’d be high percentage.

(Karsten Uhl)

Reference: Jens-Christian Wagner, Ellrich 1944/45: Konzentrationslager und Zwangsarbeit in einer deutschen Kleinstadt, Göttingen 2009.