The SS Guards

The close guarding of prisoners was the task/job (?) of the SS ("Schutzstaffel", German; "Protective Echelon") strictly speaking the "Death's-Head Battalions" ("Totenkopf-verbände"). For their support members of a dissolved air force unit were assigned to the task of guarding. A total of 40-50 warders were available in order to guard the prisoners at the camp and at Daimler-Benz.


The Management of the Camp

Commando leaders ("Kommandoführer") were in charge of the auxiliary camps. In the Friedrichschule in Mannheim-Sandhofen it was the SS Hauptsturmführer ("Captain") Bernhard Waldmann, Commander of the 3rd Company of the lst Wachsturmbann (Ist Battalion) of the Natzweiler concentration camp.
In Dec. 1944 he was replaced by the SS-Untersturmführer (Lieutenant) Heinrich Wicker. Next to the commando leader {"Kommandoführer ") there was also a "Protective Custody Camp Leader" ("Schutzhaftlagerführer") who was responsible for the camp routine. This was the SS-Oberscharführer ("Sergeant") Christian Ahrens, called "Faja" (Polish; "Pipe") because of his habit of smoking a pipe.

The commandant of the auxiliary camp was under the commandant of the Natzweiler concentration camp in Alsace. Important organisational work was carried out in the main camp. The administration of the branch in Mannheim had to report daily to Natzweiler how many prisoners were kept at the camp, how many of these prisoners worked at Daimler-Benz and how many hours they worked there.


Prisoner's Self-Administration

In Sandhofen a "Prisoner's Self-Administration" was established which consisted of a camp senior, a camp orderly room where prisoners worked, a room senior and Kapos. Allegedly so-called "professional criminals" who came from the main camp Natzweiler were made camp seniors and Kapos who participated in this System of oppression. The camp senior chose, together with the camp commandant, the block senior, the room senior and their assistants who did not have to work but stayed at the camp. These "assistants" were assigned Special functions. The so-called "Funktionshäftlinge''' ("prisoner functionaries") worked in the kitchen, in the orderly room, in the prisoner' s hospital; they repaired the shoes or clothes of

the guards and helped putting together Stocks. They were in a privileged position because they did not have to work at Daimler-Benz and had other advantages over the ordinary prisoners.

About 15 men worked in the so-called "camp commando ": the camp senior, three clerks, three cooks, first-aid men and prisoners who cleaned the rooms and mended the clothes of the SS men. I myself was 2"d clerk.

(A. Voellnagel, former prisoner on "25th Nov. 1989)