Guide to the Concentration Camps Collection
1933-2004
(bulk 1933-1945)

AR 971

Processed by Leanora Lange

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305

Email: lbaeck@lbi.cjh.org

URL: http://www.lbi.org

© 2013  Leo Baeck Institute
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Leanora Lange in March 2013. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Leo Baeck Institute
Title: Concentration Camps Collection
Dates:1933-2004
Abstract: This constructed collection contains very limited traces of several concentration camps established and run by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945. The concentration camps covered are Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Buna-Monowitz, Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Schatzlar, and Stutthof. Limited materials from the Łódź ghetto are also included, and other concentration camps may be mentioned. The scant materials in the collection include correspondence, creative or religious writings, photographs, money, lists of prisoners, materials on Josef Mengele, calls to action to assist prisoners, military reports by liberators, a copy of a Totenbuch from Dachau, an original death certificate from Auschwitz, and an original certificate of discharge from Sachsenhausen. The one exception to the relative scarcity of materials on each camp is the extensive interrogation report from Buchenwald.
Languages: The collection is in English and German with a few items in Yiddish.
Quantity: 0.5 linear feet
Identification: AR 971
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Historical Note

While the term “concentration camp” is sometimes used refer to any type of camp created and run by the Nazi party in Germany between 1933 and 1945, the term refers specifically to camps where prisoners were held in harsh living conditions without regard to juridical process and usually forced to work. In addition to concentration camps in the limited sense, the Nazis also established transit camps and extermination camps. Some concentration camps, such as Auschwitz, also functioned as extermination camps.

After the Nazi party came to power in Germany in 1933, they began detaining political prisoners and dissidents as a means of ensuring and consolidating their power. In 1934, Adolf Hitler named Heinrich Himmler the head of the SS and transferred control of these prisoners to him, circumventing any due process of law for those arrested by the SS and brought to the camps.

As Germany prepared for war in the late 1930s, the number of concentration camps rose as well as the number of prisoners. Directly following Kristallnacht, thousands of Jews were sent to concentration camps, and the number of Jewish prisoners increased dramatically thereafter. In addition to Jews and political opponents such as communists, other concentration camp prisoners included Roma and Sinti, homosexuals, religious conscientious objectors, criminals, and so-called “asocials” such as beggars or any other person deemed undesirable by the Nazi party. During this time, prisoners were exploited for labor that supported Nazi Germany’s war efforts such as construction and mining. In the later years of World War II, prisoners were also forced to build underground armament facilities, such as those at Dora-Mittelbau.

The extremely harsh living conditions at concentration camps led many prisoners to die of starvation or overwork. Many were also shot or hung. In 1941, the first camps dedicated to mass killing were established. The Wannsee Conference was held in 1942, a meeting at which Nazi officials agreed upon plans to systematically exterminate of the Jews of Europe. Prisoners were transported from concentration camps to these extermination camps in large numbers from 1942-1945.

The concentration camps run by the Nazis were liberated by the Allied or Soviet forces either before or shortly after the Nazis officially surrendered in early May 1945.

References

Pingel, Falk. “Concentration camps.” Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. Israel Gutman, ed. New York: MacMillan, 1990.

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Scope and Content Note

This collection contains traces of several concentration camps established and run by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945. The materials do not share provenance; the collection was constructed over a number of decades from donated items relating to concentration camps in some way.

The concentration camps covered in this collection include the concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz as well as the concentration and forced labor camps Buchenwald, Buna-Monowitz (alternatively Auschwitz III), Dachau, Schatzlar, and Stutthof. Materials on the ghetto at Łódź (alternatively Litzmannstadt) are also included. Other concentration camps may be mentioned in folders containing items that relate to several camps at once.

Only a few limited items related to each camp are held in this collection. These materials include correspondence to and from prisoners, creative or religious writings by or about prisoners, photographs, money, lists of prisoners, personal background materials on Nazi surgeon Josef Mengele, calls to action to assist prisoners, military reports by liberators, a copy of a Totenbuch (Death Book) from Dachau, an original death certificate from Auschwitz, and an original certificate of discharge from Sachsenhausen. The one exception to the relative scarcity of materials on each camp is the extensive interrogation report from Buchenwald, a copy of the first of such reports conducted by the Allied forces after liberating the camp.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged alphabetically by the name of the concentration camp to which the materials relate. Where materials concern more than one camp, they were placed in a folder titled “various.”

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

Access Information

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Request" button.

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Related Material

The LBI Archives holds extensive materials from survivors of concentration camps, including memoirs and personal papers.

The LBI and YIVO libraries also hold several published works on Nazi concentration camps.

Yad Vashem maintains a database of Shoah victims' names, an online photo archive, and many other resources related to concentration camps and the Holocaust.

Yale University's Furtunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies contains videotapes of survivors speaking about their experiences in concentration camps.

Further resources can be found by searching the National Archives' Archival Research Catalog and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collections.

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Separated Material

Clippings from 1946 and after were removed to the Concentration Camps Clippings Collection, AR 971 C. Also included in this clippings collection are brochures of exhibitions and other events held in memory of those who perished in concentration camps.

About 700 pages of photocopied Gestapo and concentration camp records on various individuals sent to camps including Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald were removed to the LBI Manuscript Collection: MS 962. A report entitled “Übersicht über die größten faschistischen Konzentrationslager in Hitlerdeutschland und den von den Faschisten okkupierten Gebieten" was also removed to the LBI Manuscript Collection: MS 965.

Copies of the following items were removed because they are available as published documents, and many are held by the LBI and YIVO libraries:

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Concentration Camps Collection; AR 971; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

Administrative correspondence with LBI was removed. Materials were rehoused into a new archival manuscript box and acid-free folders where necessary.

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Container List

 

Concentration Camps Collection, 1933-2004

In English and German with a few items in Yiddish.
0.5 linear feet
Arrangement:

The collection is arranged alphabetically by the name of the concentration camp to which the materials relate. Where materials concern more than one camp, they were placed in a folder titled “various.”

Scope and Content:

This collection contains traces of several concentration camps established and run by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945. The materials do not share provenance; the collection was constructed over a number of decades from donated items relating to concentration camps in some way.

The concentration camps covered in this collection include the concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz as well as the concentration and forced labor camps Buchenwald, Buna-Monowitz (alternatively Auschwitz III), Dachau, Schatzlar, and Stutthof. Materials on the ghetto at Łódź (alternatively Litzmannstadt). Other concentration camps may be mentioned in folders containing items that relate to several camps at once.

Only a few limited items related to each camp are held in this collection. These materials include correspondence to and from prisoners, creative or religious writings by or about prisoners, photographs, money, lists of prisoners, personal background materials on Nazi surgeon Josef Mengele, calls to action to assist prisoners, military reports by liberators, a copy of a Totenbuch (Death Book) from Dachau, an original death certificate from Auschwitz, and an original certificate of discharge from Sachsenhausen. The one exception to the relative scarcity of materials on each camp is the extensive interrogation report from Buchenwald, a copy of the first of such reports conducted by the Allied forces after liberating the camp.

The folders on Auschwitz include photocopied items on the personal history of Josef Mengele, a notorious Nazi SS surgeon who conducted experiments on prisoners in the Auschwitz camps. Also included are an original death certificate dated 1942, excerpts of writings by children and others prisoners held at Auschwitz, and a written tribute to the memory of Nathan Weissmann, Janek Gressfeld, and Leo-Jehuda Diament written by Freddy E. Diament in 1965.

Materials related to Buchenwald include money in the form of paper notes and coins from Buchenwald and Mittelbau, a labor camp in the Buchenwald system that eventually became its own distinct camp later in the war. A short military report is included alongside the approximately 700-page copy of the first interrogation report regarding the camp. This interrogation report consists of a large number of smaller reports ranging from one to eight pages in length. The titles of these smaller reports are listed in the table of contents included in folder 5. Folders 6-9 contain the smaller reports listed on pages 1-4 of the table of contents, respectively. While the majority of the smaller reports are neither numbered nor in the same exact order as they appear in the table of contents, researchers can use the table of contents to identify the folder location of a desired smaller report. The following topics are covered in this report according to the titles on the table of contents:

  • Table of contents page 1
  • I. Statistik und Allgemeines (Statistics and general information)
  • II. Schlemmerleben und Korruption der SS (Gluttony and corruption of the SS)
  • III. Allgemeines Lagerleben (General life in the camp)
  • Table of contents page 2
  • IV. Die Arbeitskommandos (Work commandos)
  • V. Lagerstrafen (Punishment in the camp)
  • VI. Sanitäre Fragen (Sanitary questions)
  • VII. Sonderaktionen und Sondereinrichtungen (Special operations and establishments)
  • Table of contents page 3
  • Continuation of VII. Sonderaktionen und Sondereinrichtungen (Special operations and establishments)
  • VIII. Antifaschistischer Kampf gegen die SS (Anti-faschist struggle against the SS)
  • IX. Verhältnisse während des Krieges (Conditions during the war)
  • Table of contents page 4
  • Continuation of IX. Verhältnisse während des Krieges (Conditions during the war)
  • X. Die Befreiung des Lagers (The liberation of the camp)
  • XI. Der Fall Koch (The case of Koch)
  • XII. Berichte aus andern Lagern (Reports from other camps)
In addition to the interrogation report made up of these smaller reports, there is also a 116-page report entitled "Bericht über das Konzentrationslager Buchenwald bei Weimar." This report is numbered, in correct order, and has a table of contents.

The materials on Buna-Monowitz (alternatively Auschwitz III) stem from a meeting of the survivors of this forced labor camp that took place from March 22-28, 2004 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany under the title "Zwangsarbeit für IG Farben: Erinnerung an Buna/Monowitz." The materials include a summary of the camp’s history, a timeline, a collection of quotes and perspectives about the camp, images of the camp, and an overview of the trials of the managers and executives of IG Farben, the rubber factory at which prisoners were forced to work under inhumane conditions. Also included are guest lists and the program of events for this meeting.

From Dachau come three photographs of the dead, a photocopy of the “Totenbuch” (Book of the Dead) listing those who perished between February 18 and November 6, 1940, copies of postcards sent from Dachau prisoners, a report on the history of the Dachau camp crematorium entitled “"Zur Geschichte des Krematoriums des Konzentrationslagers Dachau" by B. Distel, and a clipping from 1935 with the headline “Wie im Konzentrationslager gewählt wurde.”

Items from the Łódź (Litzmannstadt) ghetto consist of several pieces of paper money used in the ghetto and a letter from the mayor to “Den Ältesten der Juden” (the Elder of the Jews) concerning unpaid debts of a firm. Although his name does not appear on this letter, Chaim Rumkowski would have been the recipient.

Materials from Sachsenhausen include correspondence from prisoners, a certificate of discharge, lists of prisoners who perished at Sachsenhausen, and a list of prisoners at the Sachsenhausen sub-camp Lieberose.

The single item from the women’s labor camp Schatzlar (alternatively Žacléř) is a birthday card with colored drawings given to one prisoner, Dasha Rittenberg, by a group of her fellow prisoners. Included alongside the original item are a translation from Yiddish into English and a piece of correspondence from Dasha Rittenberg to LBI.

Only one item comes from Stutthof as well. This list of German Jews held in Stutthof and other camps was created by Peter Landé of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. An explanatory note is contained with the list.

The items related to various camps include a prayer, poems, one piece of Allied Military Authority money, clippings and other calls to action concerning prisoners held in concentration camps, particularly during the early years of the Nazi regime.

BoxFolderTitleDate
1 1 Auschwitz: Josef Mengele: Photocopies of photographs, resume, identification papers circa 1939-1943, 1985-1997
1 2 Auschwitz: Death certificate, writings by and about prisoners undated, 1942, 1965
1 3 Buchenwald: Money from Buchenwald and Mittelbau, military report and related correspondence undated, circa 1945, 1975
1 4 Buchenwald: "Bericht über das Konzentrationslager Buchenwald bei Weimar" 1945
1 5 Buchenwald: Interrogation report table of contents, related correspondence, and materials not in the table of contents 1945, 1983, 2000
1 6 Buchenwald: Interrogation report materials from table of contents page 1 1945
1 7 Buchenwald: Interrogation report materials from table of contents page 2 1945
1 8 Buchenwald: Interrogation report materials from table of contents page 3 1945
1 9 Buchenwald: Interrogation report materials from table of contents page 4 1945
1 10 Buna-Monowitz: Summary of camp's history, collection of quotes and perspectives, overview of court trials, and images 2004
1 11 Buna-Monowitz: Program of events, guest lists, and other materials for the meeting "Zwangsarbeit für IG Farben: Erinnerung an Buna/Monowitz" 2004
1 12 Dachau: Totenbuch, photographs, history of the crematorium, 1935 clipping, copy of postcards from Dachau prisoners 1935-1945, after 1979
BoxFolderTitleDate
LBI Photograph Collection Dachau: Photographs 1945
BoxFolderTitleDate
1 13 Łódź: money and a letter to the Elder of the Jews from the mayor concerning unpaid debt 1940-1941
1 14 Sachsenhausen: Correspondence from prisoners, certificate of discharge, lists of prisoners undated, 1938-1939, 1981
1 15 Schatzlar: Illuminated birthday poem to a prisoner from her fellow inmates 1944, 2000
1 16 Stutthof: Lists of German Jews held in Stutthof 1944, 2000
1 17 Various: Prayer, poems, Allied Military Authority money undated, 1944
1 18 Various: Reports, clippings, and calls to action about prisoners held in concentration camps 1933-1937, 1944
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