Kin Liability

On 3 March 1945, 40 inmates arrived at Buchenwald. Referred to as “Sippe” (“kin”), they were lodged in an isolation barrack near the SS caserns. By order of the Nazi leadership, they were to atone for the participation of their family members in the 20 July 1944 attempt on Hitler’s life.

Isa Vermehren, one of the last to be committed to the barrack at the end of March, later recalled: “It took us several days to find our bearings among those large families – there were ten persons by the name of Stauffenberg alone […] – and eight Goerdelers, Mrs von Hofacker and her two oldest children, Baroness von Hammerstein and her two youngest children, Pastor Schröder’s wife with her three underage children, aged ten, seven and four.”

Further prominent names followed. Many had been in custody for months. Nothing happened to them during the four weeks of their stay in Buchenwald. But none of them knew what was in store for them.

(Harry Stein)

Source: Isa Vermehren, Reise durch den letzten Akt – Ravensbrück, Buchenwald, Dachau: Eine Frau berichtet, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1998.

Reference: Ulrike Hett and Johannes Tuchel, “Die Reaktionen des NS-Staates auf den Umsturzversuch vom 20. Juli 1944”, in Peter Steinbach and Johannes Tuchel (eds.), Widerstand gegen den Nationalsozialismus, Berlin 1994, pp. 383–88.

Hans Günther Richardi, SS Hostages on Pragser Wildsee: The Ordeal Suffered by Prominent Concentration Camp Inmates from Seventeen European Countries on Their Way to South Tyrol, Prags 2006.