Natzweiler-Struthof sub-camps

Like all the Nazi concentration camps, Natzweiler-Struthof had a system of sub-camps. There were around 55 sub-camps and kommandos surrounding the main camp at Natzweiler; some were located in the German states of Baden and Württemberg, which are adjacent to Alsace. A book which I purchased at the Memorial Site says that in 1944, "On the whole, 7000 to 8000 persons were living in the camp, and 14,000 deportees worked in 18 exterior kommandos."

Because of the Allied bombing of Germany, factories were being built underground, and prisoners at Natzweiler-Struthof were forced to work in the construction of underground manufacturing facilities, as shown in the photo above.

The photo above shows the barracks buildings in one of the sub-camps of the main Natzweiler camp.

According to testimony at the military tribunal held at Radstadt on March 25, 1949, the kommandos of Natzweiler were created, starting in March 1944, for the purpose of building underground factories for the German Air Force, called the Luftwaffe. Huge underground works were started in the Neckar valley where former mining tunnels already existed. The camps in the Neckar valley were Neckarelz 1 and 2, Neckargerach, Bischofsheim, Mossbach, Bad-Oppenau, Ansbach, etc. There were between 2,500 and 3,500 prisoners working on this project during the period of March 1944 to March 1945.

Aime Spitz, one of the survivors of Natzweiler, wrote the following regarding the sub-camp at Vaihingen:

Kommando in Vaihingen: it was a former extermination camp for Jews, that was used after November 1944 for sick people; it was a camp in which the S.S. let the ill people die when they did not murder them, similar to the camp at Belsen. It was composed of six blocks, out of which number 2 and 3 were affected to the Revier; on March 3, 1945, out of 1,281 ill people who had arrived since January 9, 1944, 1,250 were dead (33 on March 3, 1945). At the camp's liberation, 1,500 corpses were found buried in common graves, as it had been prescribed in the circular letter of February 20, 1945.

(For all the kommandos in Binau, Kochendorf, Loenberg, Hasbach, Vaihingen, the French delegation of the Ministere des Anciens Combatants was able to exhume 2,500 bodies, 500 of which were French.)

The following is quoted from a book which I purchased at the Memorial Site, which was written jointly by several of the survivors, including Dr. Ragot:

Among the exterior kommandos, the one at Kochem was one of the most terrible. A canal was to be dug in the middle of the tunnel, and materials were to be discharged and carried to the station. Very few people survived from Kochem, except a few N.N. among whom doctor Ragot who miraculously escaped because the camp's administration realized that the N.N. were not allowed to work on exterior kommandos, so that he was brought back to Natzweiler. Out of 150 French people, 40 of them died in one month.

The term N.N. is a reference to the Nacht und Nebel (Night and Fog) prisoners who were Resistance fighters sent to concentration camps without informing their relatives about what had happened to them. They were made to disappear into the night and fog. This was done to discourage civilians from fighting illegally as insurgents.

During the time that the Natzweiler-Struthof camp and its sub-camps were in operation, between May 1941 and March 1945, an estimated 17,000 prisoners died in the main camp and all the sub-camps, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. If this estimate is accurate, it means that Natzweiler-Struthof had a death rate of about 66% which is far higher than the other comparable camps in the Greater German Reich.

Jewish Survivors of Dautmergen sub-camp, April 1946