The Evacuation of the Natzweiler-Struthof camp

The following account of the evacuation of the camp was written by Aime Spitz, one of the survivors of Natzweiler-Struthof:

In August 1944 the camp was declared zone of war. We hoped to be liberated before the year would end. Some talked of the evacuation of the camp, then they said it would not happen. Yet we were impressed by the many trains of prisoners coming from the jails of Epinal, Nancy, Belfort, and even Rennes that arrived at the camp. The last ones arriving told us of the military situation. The S.S. were nervous and in a bad mood. The camp was overcrowded, where could all these deportees be put? The camp was organized for 4,000 prisoners and we were 7,000 at the end of August 1944. We slept three in the same bed, there were two different services of distribution of the soup in the kitchen. Those who did not work ate their soup at around 4 p.m. Life was no longer possible., We lacked clothes and linen. Lice appeared. At last, on August 31, the evacuation was decided. We were to be transferred to the camp at Dachau.

The day and the night that preceded our evacuation, the trucks of the S.S,. were constantly plying between the camp and the Schirmeck valley, pouring out men and women near the prison. As these convoys arrived, people were murdered by a bullet in the nape; then immediately sent to the crematorium. The chimney was red and this was a dismal sight in the night.

On August 31, 1944 around ten at night, the first evacuation convoy started. I belonged to it; we were 2,000 prisoners. We went down the mountain on foot, accompanied by an important escort of S.S. and of soldiers of the Wehrmacht with many police hounds. Most of us did not have shoes. I myself wore clogs. When we arrived at the bottom of the mountain, a car drew near us and stopped. The camp's commandant got out of it and gave us the order to turn back; the train was in Rothau station but it did not have any engine. We went back to the camp where we arrived at around one o'clock in the morning. We went to sleep in the block. At 5 a.m. we suddenly heard the sound of a whistle; we had to go to Rothau station; cattle vans were waiting for us.

65 of us were put in each one of them, and we had neither straw nor water. Around ten in the morning, the train moved off, we went through Strasburg, Radstadt, Stuttgart, Augsberg and we arrived in Dachau on the next morning. Our convoy was particularly favoured from all points of view, first because of its rapidity, as it took two days for the other convoys, and then because only two of us died.

From Dachau, I was transferred to the camp at Allach, near Munich, then after a few weeks, I went back to Dachau and we were liberated on April 29, 1945 by the 7th American Army.

Medical Experiments

Life in the Camp