“Of Natural Causes”

On 31 March 1945, as he did every three months, the Buchenwald camp physician Gerhard Schiedlausky drew up his quarterly report for submission to SS headquarters in Berlin. The numbers he presented showed how the Buchenwald concentration camp had changed since the beginning of the year.

More than 100,000 inmates, including over 23,000 women and girls, had been crowded into the parent camp and the countless subcamps. After the clearance of Auschwitz and Gross-Rosen, Buchenwald was the largest concentration camp still in existence.

The number of dead had also risen sharply. In the first 90 days of the year 1945, the camp statistics counted over 13,000 – more than in the entire preceding year. The inmates had succumbed to debilitation, hunger, disease, abuse, cold or the consequences of medical experiments, or been deliberately murdered. In the language of the perpetrators, however, they had died “of natural causes”. The dying and killing also continued after 31 March.

(Michael Löffelsender)

Source: Vierteljahresbericht des Standortarztes des KZ Buchenwald über den Sanitätsdienst, 31 March 1945 (Landesarchiv Thüringen – Hauptstaatsarchiv Weimar).