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Natzweiler-Struthof

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Natzweiler-Struthof was a Nazi concentration camp located close to the Alsatian village of Natzwiller (German Natzweiler) in France about 50 km SW from the city of Strasbourg.

Natzweiler-Struthof was the only concentration camp established by the Nazis on French territory. (At the time, the Alsace-Lorraine area in which it was established had been annexed by Germany as an integral part of the German Reich, contrary to other parts of France.)

Operations

It was operational between May 21, 1941 until the beginning of September 1944 when the SS evacuated the camp. The camp was liberated by the Americans on November 23, 1944. Its system of subcamps is listed in List of subcamps of Natzweiler-Struthof.

The total number of prisoners reached estimated 40,000 originating from various countries including Poland, the Soviet Union, Netherlands, France, Germany, Norway. The camp was mainly a labour camp but it also held a gas chamber and crematorium. Strenuous work, poor nutrition and mistreatment by the SS guards resulted in an estimated 25,000 deaths. Among those who died here were four women executed together on July 6, 1944. The women were SOE agents Diana Rowden, Vera Leigh, Andrée Borrel and Sonya Olschanezky. Since the female prisoner population in the camp was very small, only seven SS women served in Natzweiler Struthof camp (compared to over 600 SS men), and fifteen in the Natzweiler complex of subcamps.

Post-war criminal trials

We know the names of all of the seven women who served in the main camp; Maria Aichele, Berta Bommer, Maria Luise Merkle, Elisabeth Peschke, Else Rueck, Kreszenzia Ruf (who served at Natzweiler and Geislingen) and Anna Zengerle, who served as an Aufseherin in Ravensbruck and Natzweiler.***

Fritz Hartjenstein died in prison before sentence could be carried out. The remaining two death sentences were carried out by hanging, on October 11, 1946. Those tried were:

  1. Franz Berg: Death sentence (Executed)
  2. Kurt Geigling: 10 Years Imprisonment
  3. Fritz Hartjenstein (commandant): Death sentence (Died before sentence was carried out)
  4. Josef Muth: 15 Years Imprisonment
  5. Peter Straub: Death sentence (Executed)
  6. Magnus Wochner: 10 Years Imprisonmentde:KZ Natzweiler-Struthof

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