Scope for Discretion

On 10 April 1945, shortly before the arrival of the Americans, SS Untersturmführer Erich Scholz ordered the clearance of the IVth SS construction brigade camps in Ellrich-Bürgergarten and Günzerode. He had already rid himself of 200 Jewish and 150 sick concentration camp inmates four days earlier by sending them off on a clearance transport that ended in a massacre in Gardelegen.

Now the SS drove the remaining 1,000 inmates on foot across the Harz Mountains, passing through the towns of Sülzhayn, Benneckenstein and Stiege. This clearance march differed from others in that the inmates were not subjected to extreme acts of violence along the way. There are no known cases of beating and murder by the SS. Some 50 inmates managed to escape on the first night alone. In the days that followed, other men also fled without any attempt made to hunt them down.

Scholz finally released the inmates in the Harz town of Güntersberge on 14 April 1945. The next day, he turned himself in to the American troops along with other members of the SS and several kapos.

(Anett Dremel)


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

Joachim Neander, Das Konzentrationslager Mittelbau in der Endphase der NS-Diktatur, Clausthal-Zellerfeld 1999.