- Flossenburg Concentration Camp
- The German town of Flossenburg is located in Bavaria and borders on the Czech Republic in the east. During World War II, the Flossenburg concentration camp was located here. Built in May 1938 by the Schutzstaffel (SS) Economic-Administrative Main Office, the camp between 1938 and liberation in April 1945, held more than 96,000 prisoners, of which about 30,000 died. During World War II, most of the inmates sent to Flossenburg, or to one of about 100 subcamps, came from the German-occupied eastern territories. The inmates in Flossenburg were housed in 16 huge wooden barracks. Its crematorium was built in a valley straight outside the camp. In September 1939, the SS transferred 1,000 political prisoners to Flossenburg from Dachau. In 1941–1942, about 1,500 Polish prisoners, mostly members of the Polish resistance, were deported to Flossenburg. Between February and September 1941, the SS executed about one third of the Polish political prisoners deported to Flossenburg.During the war in the Soviet Union, the Wehrmacht turned tens of thousands of Soviet prisoners over to the SS for execution. More than 1,000 Soviet prisoners of war were executed in Flossenburg by the end of 1941. There were over 4,000 prisoners in the main camp of Flossenburg in February 1943. More than half of these prisoners were political prisoners. Almost 800 were German criminals, more than 100 were homosexuals, and seven were Jehovah’s Witnesses. With time the camp expanded, so that by war’s end approximately 94,000 prisoners, including 16,000 females, were imprisoned there or in its numerous subcamps. In addition to German prisoners, inmates included Russian, Polish, French Czech, Italian, Greek, Danish, Norwegian, British, Canadian, and American nationals, and some Allied prisoners of war (POWs), deserters from the German Armed Forces, and common criminals.Before 1944, relatively few Jews were prisoners in Flossenburg, probably no more than 100. In mid-October 1942, the SS deported the surviving 12 Jews to Auschwitz in accordance with general SS orders concerning Jews in German concentration camps. Between 4 August 1944 and the middle of January 1945, at least 10,000 Jews, mostly Hungarian and Polish Jews, arrived in Flossenburg and its subcamps. Some 13,000 more came in the winter months of 1945, as the SS evacuated other camps to the east and west.Initially, the SS staff deployed the prisoners in the construction of the concentration camp itself and in the nearby granite quarry. Until mid-1943, the quarry occupied the labor of about half of the prisoner population. In accordance with SS efforts to provide forced labor for the German armaments industry, the Messerschmidt Company established a plant in February 1943 in which prisoners produced parts for ME-109 fighter planes. After Allied bombers seriously damaged the central Messerschmidt plant in Regensburg in August 1943, the company’s managers moved surviving production facilities to various locations, among them concentration camps, including Flossenburg and its subcamps. The production of aircraft parts thus dominated labor deployment in the Flossenburg system by 1944.The conditions under which the camp authorities forced the prisoners to work and the absence of even rudimentary medical care facilitated the spread of disease, including dysentery and typhus. In addition to the dreadful living conditions, the prisoners suffered beatings and arbitrary punishments. SS overseers and prisoner functionaries (the camp and block elders and the kapos) abused and killed prisoners according to whim, in addition to the typical “official” punishments of prisoners (solitary confinement, standing at attention for hours, whipping, hanging from posts, and transfer to penal labor details).On 9 April 1945, shortly before American forces liberated Flossenburg, the SS executed Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, General Hans Oster, Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and other conspirators associated with the German resistance groups or implicated in the July 1944 attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. Jack R. Fischel. 2014.