* World War II concentration camps -- individual camps M-Z

NAZI Concentration Camps: Individual Camps (M-Z)

NAZI concentration camps
Figure 1.--

From the beginning, German concentration camps were administered by the SS. The first concentration camps set up in Germany were followed after the start of World War II by a myriad of camps throughout Western Euope run by the SS as a state within a state. The SS eventually opened over 9,000 camps across the NAZI-occupied Europe. [Berenbaum, p. 9.] They were filled with unfortunate people from every occupied country. The number of people in the camps rose steadily from 100,000 in 1942, to 524,000 in 1944, and 724,000 by January 1945 [Berenbaum, p. 122.] The camps were established for a variety of purposes and thus the regime, organization, and conditions varied from camp to camp. Not all the camps were even administered by the NAZIs. There were camps set up an run by NAZI allies such as Vichy France, Italain Fascists as well as the regimes in Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. The NAZIs also took camps over in France, the Netherlands, and other countries that had been set up for refugees. The initial purpose of the camps in Germany was the political repression of the anti-NAZI elements. The NAZIs also use them in the process of stripping Jews of their property. After World War II began, the camps became increasingly important to hold workers from occupied countries forced to labor for Germany. Unlike the Allies, the NAZIs were reluctant to use women in the economy, even to support the war. While many camps were work camps, there were also punishment and death camps. The camps of course played a major role in the Holocaust. There wre also numerous prisonor of war (POW) camps, but these were adminnistered by the military and not the SS and we have not included them in this list.

Majdnek / Majdanek (Poland)

Majdanek is sometimes referred to as a death camp, but that is not precisely correct. There certainly was killing at the camp, but it was not a camp created for the sole purpose of killing Jews. Scholars disagree as to the exact purpose of the camp. It was a POW/work camp located on the outskirts of Lublin (October 1941). Himmler ordered the camp set up after visiting Lublin (October 1941). This late opening was the result of the NAZI invasion of the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa) and the conquest of preciously Soviet occupied eastern Poland. The NAZIs at the time had huge numbers of Soviet POWs after launching Operation Barbarossa. The original purpose may have been to serve as a POW camp. The location near Lublin suggests that it was not established as a death camp. These camps were all located in remote locations. The SS commander was Karl Otto Koch. Tghhe camp was built to hold 50,000 people. Plans were developed to significantly expand the camp, but were never carried out--presumably because of the changes in the military situation on the Eastern Front. Majdanek was used for slave laborors used in Lublin munitions works and the Steyr-Daimler-Puch weapons factory. Conditions were so terrible that large numbers of people died from malnutrition, abuse, and exposure. Majdanek does appear to be used as a concentration camps for Jews to be murdered as part of Operation Reinhard, the NAZI plan to kill Jews in operatrion Reinhard. While at Majdanek they were used for slave labor. Jews killed at Majdanek seem to have been primarly those who could no longer work or for various reasons could not be passed on to the major death camps (Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka). Majdanek was equipped with gas chambers for the industrial slaughter of Jews. Majdanek was one of the camps that used Zyklon B for its gas chambers, but carbon-monoxide was also used. Estimates vary as to the numbers of people killed at Majdanek. Current estimates are about 78,000, including 59,000 Jews. We have seen estimates as high as 120,000 people, Majdanek was one of the first NAZI camps liberated. The Red Army reached it (July 24, 1944). Unlike the five death camps, Majdnek was still largey intact when the Soviets liberated it. Operation Bagration unfolded so rapidly that the SS did not have time to desmantle the camp. Only te crematoria was destroyed. The NAZIs suceeded in destroying much of the death camps. I am not sure to what extent the Soviets publicized what they found at Majdnek because the Allies were shocked when they entered NAZI concentration camps about a year later. The Soviet NKVD of course had its own camp system. They used the SS camp for fighters of the Polish underground Armia Krajowa and NSZ which they arrested.

Maly Trostenets (Soviet Union)

Maly Trostenets was located near Minsk in the Soviet Union, the only one of the death camps that the NAZIs did not locate in Poland. The camp was used in 1941 to murder thousands of Soviet POWs during the initial successful phase of Operarion Barbarosa. Beginning May 10, 1942 transports of Jews began to reach the camp. Many Reich Jews were murdered here. More than 0.3 million Jews, many from Austria, Czecheslovakia, and Germany and were murdered upon arrival. The killing process was especially efficient. There are no known survivors of the transports to Maly Trostenets. [Gilbert, p. 421.] The reason was in large part due to its location so far east.

Mauthausen (Austria)

The most imporant NAZI concentration camp in Austria was Mauthausen, located about 20 km from Linz. The SS began construction of the Mauthausen concentration camp on August August 8 1938, only a few months after the Anschluss. Prisionors were sent from Dacha to construct the camp. The site was closen by the SS in part because it included a quarry, which was to figure prominently in the operation of the camp. The objective was to use sklave labor to operate the quarry. The first prisoners were political, but later Jews and Gypsies were also sent to the camp. Mauthausen developed an especially ominous reputation, in part because it was better known than the death camps which were operated with greater secrecy. The NAZIs categoirized Mauthausen as a "category three camp". This before the construction of the death camps was the severest category. It mean that that coincerning the inmates assigned there: "Rûckkehr unerwünscht" (return not desired) and "Vernichtung durch arbeit" (extermination by work). After the War began, large numbers of POWs from Poland and Russia were sent to the camp. (Russian and Polish POWs were treated differently than POWs from Western Europe and America.) There were no facilities for them so Commandant Ziereis ordered that open fields to the north and west of the camp be surrounded initially by barbed wire. It was here that Hungarian Jews and Russian soldiers were kept. They lived out in the open, all year around, even in the winter. Mortalities were horendous. About 150,000 people are believed to have died at Mauthausen.

Neuengamme (Germany)

The Neuengamme concentration camp was opened as a work camp (December 1038). It was built by 100 inmates detailed from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin. The core of the camp was an abandoned brickworks. Iy was situated close to Hamburg on the Elbe River. The plan was to produce bricks for the Fuehrer buildings, a NAZI redevelopment plan. Despite the distance, Neuengamme began as a Sachsenhausen sub-camp. The first projects were the construction of the camp itself and reopening the brickworks. The inmates were also used on projcts to regulate the flow of the Dove-Elbe river and the construction of a branch canal. Some mined clay for the brick works. The camp was gradually expanded. The camp by the time of the War had 2,000 inmates (1940) and was significantly expanded as the War progressed. Most of the inmates at first were Germans. During the War about 95,000 inmates were at some time incarcerated there. As the Allies approached Hamburg the camp had about 13,500 inmates (April 10). Most were women. While it was a work camp, incarceration there became a death sentence. Food rations were very small, but the inmates were forced to perform hard labor in even the most severe weather. Hygiene and medical care was virtually non-existant. This and the abuse from the SS guards resulted in a horendous mortality rate. The experimental medical facility at Ayschwitz as the Red Army approached was transferred to Neuengamme (November 1944). The experiments were continued. Two of the victims were Georges Andre Kohn and Jacqueline Morganstern.

Noé (France)

German Jews in Western Landen (Baden, the Saar, and the Palatinate), including some of the oldest German Jewish families, were deported in October 1940 to camps in the French Pyrenees (Gurs, Noé, Récébédou, and Rivesaltes). The death rate was very high because there were not even the most basic facilities. The camps were run by Vichy authorities.

Nordhausen (Germany

Nordhausen is a town in central Germany near the Harz Mountains. The nearby Nordhausen concentration camp was a sub-camp of Dora-Mittelbau labor camp which was openbed after thge Allied air attack on the rocket complex at Peenbemunde (about August 1943). Dora mushroomed into a major camp complex. And as a result of the errible conditions in the camp, the SS was soon confronted with large numbers od weak abd sick prosoners unable to work. The SS created Nordhausen as a place for those prisoners too weak or ill to work in the Dora tunnels on the V1 and V2 weapons. The SS classified Nordhausen as a 'Vernichtungslager'. This meant an extermination camp for the sick prisoners. They used the Boelcke Kaserne, a forner barracks. The SS did not want to feed sick prosoners tht could not work or incur the expense of medical treatment. These were not extermination camps where Jews were gassed or shot like the death camps in Poland. The methods here were more crude. There was no question of recoivery. Here the prisoners were starved or died from the denial of basic medical care. The few survivirs said, "If Dora was the hell of Buchenwald, Nordhausen was the hell of Dora." Nordhausen was a large complex of different installations and hangers. Unlike most camps, the buildings were very substantial, constructed of concrete. There were no sanitary installations. Inmates were assigned to the hangers and had to remain inside without food until they died. Even healthy men would have died within a few weeks. The week or ill died much faster in wreched conditions. The U.S, Airfiorce spotted the concrete buildings and concluded that it was a munitions dump. The camp was bombed (April 3, 1945). Many inmates were killed in the bombing or afterwards when the SS guards refused to let the inmtes escpec from the burning buildings. The U.S. 104th Infantry Division reached Nordhausen a few days lster (April 12). It was a horific scene. Some 3,000 decying corpses were scattered, all over the camp. Everyone was dead in some hangers. There were afew survivors in others laying among corpses. The medic unit request urgent medical reinforcments and supplies. The Army forced about 400 German civilians living in the areas to bury the corpses. Despite medical care, many survivors died soon after liberation.

Piasnica (Poland)

Piasnica was not a camp. It was one of the first facilities set up for killing. There were six others. Like the death camps, Piasnica was located in what had been Poland. It was here that the NAZIs began killing the mentally ill. The order had been given at a hotel in Zoppot, a resort town. Poles and Jews from Danzig as well as German mental health clinics were sent here and killed. The killings were part of the NAZI eugenics effort. It was called the T4 program because the headquaters was located at No. 4 Tiergartenstrasse in Berlin. [Gilbert, pp. 273-274.]

Récébédou (France)

German Jews in Western Landen (Baden, the Saar, and the Palatinate), including some of the oldest German Jewish families, were deported in October 1940 to camps in the French Pyrenees (Gurs, Noé, Récébédou, and Rivesaltes). The death rate was very high because there were not even the most basic facilities. The camps were run by Vichy authorities. br>

Rivesaltes (France)

The Camp de Rivesaltes was also known as Camp Joffre. It was opened as a French military camp in the commune of Rivesaltes in the department of Pyrénées-Orientales in the South of France. The camp was also used to detain civil populations several times between 1939 and 2007. It was to accomodate Catalan refufees from Franco's victory in Spain, but only a few Spanish refufgees were housed here. After the German invasion (May-June 1940). the Germans began deporting Jews to France. The decesion to murder Jews had not yet been taken. German Jews in Western Landen (Baden, the Saar, and the Palatinate), including some of the oldest German Jewish families, were deported in October 1940 to camps in the French Pyrenees (Gurs, Noé, Récébédou, and Rivesaltes). The death rate was very high because there were not even the most basic facilities. The camps were run by Vichy not German authorities. Once the German deat camps in Polabd were operational, the GErmans began deporting Jews from Western Europe. The Vichy authorities complied with German instructions. The first target was foreign Jews. The French transferred 2,251 Jews, including 110 children, from Rivesaltes via the Drancy internment camp to Auschwitz, where most were gassed upon arrival (August-October 1942).

Sachenhausen (Germay)

Sachenhuasen was opened just north of Berlin (July 12, 1936). The Jews arrested in Berlin on Kristallnacht were brought here (November 1938). Theodor Eicke, commander of the SS Death's Head regiment met with his officers at Sachenhausen as the Wheremacht was pouring into Poland (September 1, 1939). He told them that it was their duty to "incarcerate or anniihilate" the enemies of the NAZIs . He reinterated that the task would test the "absolute and inflexible severity" that they had exercised in the German concentration camps. He told them that "It is he duty of every SS man to identify himself body and soul with the cause. Every order must be sacred to him and he must carry out even the most difficult and the hardest of them without hesitation". Their task was the eradication of Polish nationhood and this would begin Polish citizens like Government officials, teachers, and priests in towns and villages all over Poland. Jews were also killed at random. [Gilbert, p. 265.] Sytematic killing on an industrial scale, however, was not yet organized.

Sajmište (Yugoslavia/Serbia)

The NAZIs after invading Yugoslavia set up Sajmište on the outskirts of Belgrade on the left bank of the Sava River (December 1941). It was initially used primarily for Serbian Jews. The NAZIs alo intered Gypseys there. Much of the country's Jews and Gypseys were killed here. Many Jewish men had already been killed when the NAZIs began transporting Jews to Sajmište. Here the NAZIs used gas van to kill thousands of Jewish women and children. The number of both Jews and Gypseys in Serbia was relatively small. Much larger numbers of Serbs resiting the NAZI occupation were interned and killed at the camp. The camp operated until (September 1944). At that time the Germans were retreating north from the Balkans and the Partisans were closing in on Belgrade.

Sorbibor (Poland)

Sobibor was located in an isolated location near Poland's current border with Belarus. Sorbibor was another death camp, located close to Belzec. The vast majority of those sent to Sorbibor to be killed were Jews. Most were murdered within hours of their arrival by gas. About 0.25 million Jews were killed at Sorbior, many from the surrounding area. Some Dutch Jews were also killed at the camp. There was no significant forced labor work at Sorbibor. The sole purpose was to kill Jes as soon as they arrived. As in all the death camps, Jews were forced to participate in the killing by the SS. The Jews and Soviet POWs stage a sucessful rising (October 14, 1943). They managed to kill a few SS and Ukranian guards. A few of the priosoners managed to escape, most of those who broke out were tracked down and killed by the SS as were all prisinors who did not participate in the uorising. The camp was subsequently closed, in part because of the advancing Red Army and in part because the number of avaible Jews in NAZIs has been significantloy reduced by the killings in 1942-43.

Starachowice (Poland)

Starachowice waa a slave labor camp in central Poland. Among the operations there was munitions productionj. Among the internees foeced to work there were thousands of Jews. Jews from Wierzbnik and others gettoses liquidated as part of Operation Heydrich were transported there for slave labor. As munitions production was so important, Jews at Starachowice had some chance of survival. They were not safe there and rations were inadequate, but it was noit a death camp like Treblinka. The guards included Germans and Ukranians. There was a particulat heinous guard at Starachowice--Ralf Alois "Willi" Athoff. He was aprimadonna who wore white gloves and a long leather coat trim with whire fur. When killing actions were plannedhe wore rubber gloves, coat, and boots so as not to soil his good clothes. He shot Jews on a whim begiining immediately upon their arrival in the camp. He particularly prowled the kitchen and shot any one not assigned there and sometimes individuals who were assigned. He organized 'deterrent' killongs after escapes. He left the camp in 1943, but only about 300-400 of the Wierzbnik Jews survived. [Browning]

Stutthof (Poland)

Stutthof ( Sztutowonear ) 24 km from Danzig was the first NAZI concentration camp in what was once Poland. It was establidshed only 1 day after the German invasion (September 2, 1939). The first prisoners arrived on September 2. They were 250 Poles, both civilians and POWs. Within 2 weeks there were 6,000 prisoners in the camp: POWs, teachers, government officials, scientists, etc. Quickly dispatched and killed there were the Poles at the Stralsund mental hospital in East Prussia. Most were executed by the SS. The camp was expanded in 1942 and in 1943 a crematory and a gas chamber was added. The gas chamber was much smaller than the ones at Aschwitz, accomodating about 150 people. When the SS needed to kill more, they also used wagons as gas chambers. One of the most repellant crimes committed at Stutthof was developed by Professor Rudolf Spanner, an SS officer and "scientist". He owned a small soap factory in nearby Danzig. SpannerHe invented a process in 1940 to produce soap from human fat, an invention that he was especially proud of. The "product" was called R.J.S. - " Reines Judische Fett " - which means "Pure Jewish Fat". There is no accurate account of the people killed at Stutthof. Some estimate 85,000 people, but this is almost certainly a low estimate.

Terezin (Czechoslovakia)

The Terezin Concentration Camp was actually a smal ghetto as families were allowed to say together. It was located in what is now the Czech Republic. Terezinstadt, a former fortress near Prague turned into a concentration for Jewish families. It was a so-called show camp that the NAZIs used for propaganda purposes. Conditions at Terezinstadt were somewhat better than at other camps. The NAZIs used the camp to show the world how well they were treating the Jews. Terezinstadt was a rare ghetto/concentration camp that foreign obsevers were allowed to see. A Swiss Commission wrote a glowing report. Camp authorities carefully briefed the Jewish inmates as to howthey were to behave beffore these visits. Terezin played a key role in the Czech holocaust. The Terezin Jews were gradually transported to the death camps once they became operational in 1942. Most were murdered at Auschwitz. Drawings from some of the children survived. Gabi Freiova painted a colorful pictures of butterflys fluttering free over the countryside as she no doubt wished to do. Gabi and the other was transported to Auschwitz in 1944 where they were murdered. One little boy who miraculously survived asking his mother for a pet that he saw. She was horrified when she saw the animmal--a large rat rummaging for food. [Joel Fabien] One of the best descriptions was written by a girl, Jana Renee Friesova, who did not even know she was Jewish until the NAZIs occupied Czechoslovakia. She was a rare survivor. A handful of Danish Jewish children survived at Terezin, in part because the NAZIs were not sure they were Jewish.

Topovske Supe (Yugoslavia/Serbia)

Topovske Supe was the first depotation camp the NAZIs set in Serbia (August 1941). It was situated in a former weapons depot located in the center of Belgrade. The purpose was to hold Belgrade Jews collected inroundups. Here they were concentrated while authorities decided what to do with them. The NAZIs imprisoned and murdered thousands of Jews and Roma here. The NAZIs in one day murdered nearly 2,200 Jewish men in the camp. Topovske Supe was only a temprary camp. It was closed (December 1941). The surviving prisoners were transferred to various more permanent camps that had been established throughout the country. NAZI authorities prefered more isolated areas with fewer wtnesses. Topovske Supe was primarily useful to collect Belgrade Jews. The most infamous camps that Belgrade and other Serbian Jews were sent was the infamous Sajmiste camp located nearby. As a resut, the German military commander in Belgrade declared the city to be “free of Jews” (May 1942).

Transnistria (Romania)

Romanian Jews were sent to concentration camps in Transnistria. I'm not sure of the specific names of the camps. These camps were apparently run by the Romanian Iron Guard rather than the German SS.

Trawniki (Poland)

The NAZI camp system was extrenely diverse. Trawnniki was not a labor camp or a death camp, but it was an important cog in the German camp system and the Holocaust killing process. It is probably best dscribed as a training camp. When the Wehrmcht smashed into the Soviet Union (June 1941), they found many people oposed to the Soviet regime. This was especialy the case in the Ukrine which had been brutalized by Stalin's NKVD. The Germans could have recruited large numbers of Ukranians to fight the Red Army. Hitler refused to do so. He wanted the Ukraine, but not the Ukranians who were Slavs. Generalplan Post called for killing large numbers of Ukranians, driving many beyond the Urals, and using the survivors as slave labor for German colonists. This was hardly a people to arm. The German POW camps where more than a million men wee shuttled to were hell holes with out basic facilities or adequate food. Most POWS would not survive the winter. There was an out for those deperate people--work for the Germans. Hitler had prohibited forming combat units, but the SS needed camp guards. We are not sure what the SS screening process was. The overiding concern of the men who volunteered was to get out of the POW camps. Probbly most were anti-Soviet to various degrees. To what extent they hated Jews we are not sure. Anti-Semitism was prevalent in the Ukraine, but varied greatly among individuls. While the bulk of the Trawnikie men were Ukranians, there weee other natinalities involved, including Russians. Individuakls wuth Asiatic features were not accepted. The SS was especially interested in finding ethnic Germans among the POWs, but there were not vey many. Himmler protege SS-Obergruppenführer Odilo Globocnik ws in charge ofthe cmps in the Lublin District of the General Government. He at first invisioned the Trawniki men as police fot the occupied Soviet Union. When Barbarossa failed, he saw that the Trawniki men would be useful as guards at the death camps and in other killing operations in Poland. Tghere ws animosity between the Poles and Ukranians so a Ukrabnian guard force was an elegant sollution for Globocnik.

Treblinka II (Poland)

Treblinka was one of the most terrible death camps in terms of the number of Jews killed. It was was a camp located about 100 km northeast of Warsaw, close to the village of Małkinia Górna. Treblinks was designed and built for the sole purpose of killing people. It was a very small camp as the victims were not to be housed there--only killed. It was one of the four secret camps of Operation Reinhardt (the others were Belzec, Sobibór and Majdanek). The NAZIs killed more than 0.75 million Jews at Teblinka. Some estimates are as high as 0.85 million Jews. Almost all of the victims were Jews. A small number of Gypseys (Roma) were also killed here. The Jews killed at Treblinka were primarily Polish Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto and more than a hundred villages in the area around Warsaw. But not just Polish Jews were killed at Trblinka. Jews from as far as Greece were murdered there. Jews stage a revolt at Treblinka (August 2, 1943). They killed a few Germans and a few of the Jews managed to escape. Most were subsequently executed. The gassings at the camp, however, stopped (October 1943). Reblinka I was a forced labor camp used to support the killing operatioin at Terblinka I.

Vittel (France)

The Germans after their victory in France set up an internment camp at a spa resort near Epinal at Vittel, France. It was located in the Vogues mountains of northeastern France. This proved to be a rather privlidged camp. Vittel was one of several Internierunslager (Ilaq) administerd by the German Army rather than the SS. It was part of the POW camp system, although it was not for POWs. They were for Allied civilians (British and Dominion subjects) who had the misfortune to find themselves in areas occupied by the Germans. By far the greatest number of Allied civilians in German hands were in France. After Hitler declared war on the United States, some Americans were also held there. There ould have been more, but mny Americans lft France after the outbreak of the War. Vittel (Frontstalag 121) consisted of a few requisitioned hotels in this spa town. Most of the British families and single women were transferred from Saint-Denis and Besançon. The Germans eventually decided to release women over 60 years, men over 75 years, and children under 16 years (early-1942). This mean that they were releaved of the cist for looking after them. They were allowed to live in occupied France where they found that comditions were worse then in the camp. This reduced the camp population to about 2,400 internees. Most survived the War because conditions in the camp were rlatively good. There were also Jews at the camp, mostly German Jews, including many children. These were Jews that held foreign passports, in many cases Latin American passports. NAZI Foreign Minister Ribbentrop mananaged to convince SS Head Himmler as the mss killing begn, that these Jews could prove useful to exchange for Germans interned abriad. Irish and Vatican diplomats attempted to obtain their release, but without success. Many of these Jews were eventually deported and at Auchwitz.

Westerbock (Netherlands)

Westerbock was built by the Dutch before World War II. It was to house illegal alliens, mostly Jews fleeing NAZI supression which by the late 1930s were flooding out of Germany. After the Germany invaded and occupied the Netherlands they turned the camp into a processing camp for Jews that had been arrested and were being deported. They were told that they were to do "labor service" in Germany. In fact the transports went directly to Auschwitz and to a lesser extent sorbibor. About 107,000 Jews were transported from Westerbock all but 5,000 were killed, most within hours of reaching the camps.


Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know (Ed. Arnold Kramer. Boston: Little, Brown, & Company, 1993).

Browning, Christopher R. Remenbering Survival: Inside a Nazi Slave Labor Camp (Norton, 2009), 375p.

Gilbert, Martin. A History of the Twentieth Century Vol. 2 1933-54 (William Morrow and Company, Inc.: New York, 1998), 1050p.

Hoyt, Carolyn. "Stolen Childhood. How One Woman Survived the Holocaust." McCallÌs August 1994. pp. 100-101. 132, 134.

Liebermann, George. Mannheim

Padfield, Peter. Himmler: Reichsführer-SS (Henry Holt: New York, 1991), 656p.


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Created: April 18, 2003
Last updated: 11:26 PM 1/22/2017