The Natzweiler Concentration Camp Natzweiler-Struthof in Alsace

The camp in Mannheim was an auxiliary camp of the Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp in Alsace. It had been established in May 1941 and designed to accommodate 1,500 prisoners. In September 1944, however, 7,000 to 8,000 people were kept there. The inmates had to work in a granite quarry under the hardest and most primitive conditions. Many of them did not survive it.

In Natzweiler there were different groups of prisoners from 18 European countries. Most of them were arrested in the occupied regions and deported to concentration camps, according to the "Night and Fog Decree" (a secret order Hitler had issued on 7th Dec. 1941 to seize "persons endangering German security" who were to vanish without a trace into night and fog). Not even their relatives knew where they had gone. The Nazis tried to deter people with this measure from joining resistance groups, which opposed Nazi rule.

Many "Night and Fog prisoners" became subject to so-called "racial studies" which were conducted by the professors Haagen, Birkenbach and Hirt of the University of Strasbourg which comprised for example epidemiology, experiments on inmates to discover means of increasing fertility and testing chemical warfare agents on camp prisoners.

When in September 1944 the prisoners from Warsaw arrived in Sandhofen, the Natzweiler concentration camp had already been evacuated to Baden. At the beginning of 1945 the camp commandant fled with his staff to Stuttgart and then further into the Reich, which still existed in parts of southeastern Germany.