Concentration Camps Collection
Scope and Content Note
This collection contains traces of several concentration camps established and run by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945. The materials do not share provenance; the collection was constructed over a number of decades from donated items relating to concentration camps in some way.
The concentration camps covered in this collection include the concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz as well as the concentration and forced labor camps Buchenwald, Buna-Monowitz (alternatively Auschwitz III), Dachau, Schatzlar, and Stutthof. Materials on the ghetto at Łódź (alternatively Litzmannstadt) are also included. Other concentration camps may be mentioned in folders containing items that relate to several camps at once.
Only a few limited items related to each camp are held in this collection. These materials include correspondence to and from prisoners, creative or religious writings by or about prisoners, photographs, money, lists of prisoners, personal background materials on Nazi surgeon Josef Mengele, calls to action to assist prisoners, military reports by liberators, a copy of a Totenbuch (Death Book) from Dachau, an original death certificate from Auschwitz, and an original certificate of discharge from Sachsenhausen. The one exception to the relative scarcity of materials on each camp is the extensive interrogation report from Buchenwald, a copy of the first of such reports conducted by the Allied forces after liberating the camp.
- Majority of material found within 1933-1945
Language of Materials
The collection is in English and German with a few items in Yiddish.
This collection is open to researchers.
Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Request" button.
While the term “concentration camp” is sometimes used refer to any type of camp created and run by the Nazi party in Germany between 1933 and 1945, the term refers specifically to camps where prisoners were held in harsh living conditions without regard to juridical process and usually forced to work. In addition to concentration camps in the limited sense, the Nazis also established transit camps and extermination camps. Some concentration camps, such as Auschwitz, also functioned as extermination camps.
After the Nazi party came to power in Germany in 1933, they began detaining political prisoners and dissidents as a means of ensuring and consolidating their power. In 1934, Adolf Hitler named Heinrich Himmler the head of the SS and transferred control of these prisoners to him, circumventing any due process of law for those arrested by the SS and brought to the camps.
As Germany prepared for war in the late 1930s, the number of concentration camps rose as well as the number of prisoners. Directly following Kristallnacht, thousands of Jews were sent to concentration camps, and the number of Jewish prisoners increased dramatically thereafter. In addition to Jews and political opponents such as communists, other concentration camp prisoners included Roma and Sinti, homosexuals, religious conscientious objectors, criminals, and so-called “asocials” such as beggars or any other person deemed undesirable by the Nazi party. During this time, prisoners were exploited for labor that supported Nazi Germany’s war efforts such as construction and mining. In the later years of World War II, prisoners were also forced to build underground armament facilities, such as those at Dora-Mittelbau.
The extremely harsh living conditions at concentration camps led many prisoners to die of starvation or overwork. Many were also shot or hung. In 1941, the first camps dedicated to mass killing were established. The Wannsee Conference was held in 1942, a meeting at which Nazi officials agreed upon plans to systematically exterminate of the Jews of Europe. Prisoners were transported from concentration camps to these extermination camps in large numbers from 1942-1945.
The concentration camps run by the Nazis were liberated by the Allied or Soviet forces either before or shortly after the Nazis officially surrendered in early May 1945.
Pingel, Falk. “Concentration camps.” Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. Israel Gutman, ed. New York: MacMillan, 1990.
0.5 Linear Feet
This constructed collection contains very limited traces of several concentration camps established and run by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945. The concentration camps covered are Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Buna-Monowitz, Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Schatzlar, and Stutthof. Limited materials from the Łódź ghetto are also included, and other concentration camps may be mentioned. The scant materials in the collection include correspondence, creative or religious writings, photographs, money, lists of prisoners, materials on Josef Mengele, calls to action to assist prisoners, military reports by liberators, a copy of a Totenbuch from Dachau, an original death certificate from Auschwitz, and an original certificate of discharge from Sachsenhausen. The one exception to the relative scarcity of materials on each camp is the extensive interrogation report from Buchenwald.
The collection is arranged alphabetically by the name of the concentration camp to which the materials relate. Where materials concern more than one camp, they were placed in a folder titled “various.”
The collection was digitized and made accessible in its entirety.
Clippings from 1946 and after were removed to the Concentration Camps Clippings Collection, AR 971 C. Also included in this clippings collection are brochures of exhibitions and other events held in memory of those who perished in concentration camps.
About 700 pages of photocopied Gestapo and concentration camp records on various individuals sent to camps including Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald were removed to the LBI Manuscript Collection: MS 962. A report entitled “Übersicht über die größten faschistischen Konzentrationslager in Hitlerdeutschland und den von den Faschisten okkupierten Gebieten" was also removed to the LBI Manuscript Collection: MS 965.
Copies of the following items were removed because they are available as published documents, and many are held by the LBI and YIVO libraries:
- Buchenwald Camp: The Report of a Parliamentary Delegation. London: His Majesty’s Stationary Office, 1945.
- Piluk, Piotr. “Łódź Bałuty. Memory of the Shoah in an Urban Landscape.” Kultura Wspoteresna. 38.4 (2003).
- Ryback, Timothy W. “Report from Dachau.” The New Yorker, 3 August 1992: 43.
- Frank, Abraham. “Von Weimar nach Buchenwald.” MB: Mittelungsblatt des Irgun Olei Merkas Europa. 69 (2001).
- Fondation Auschwitz, Centre d’Etudes et de Documentation. Bulletin trimestriel de la Fondation Auschwitz. 25-26 (October-December 1990).
- Beckert, Werner A. Die Wahrheit über das Konzentrationslager Buchenwald. Weimar: Verlag antifaschistischen Schrifttums, 1945.
- KZ: Bildbericht aus fünf Konzentrationslagern. Amerikanisches Kriegsinformationsamt im Auftrag des Oberbefehlshabers der Alliierten Streitkraefte, 1945.
- Bundesministerium der Justiz. "Zweite Verordnung zur Änderung der Sechsten Verordnung zur Durchführung des Bundesentschädigungsgesetzes" (2. ÄndV - 6. DV-BEG)
Administrative correspondence with LBI was removed. Materials were rehoused into a new archival manuscript box and acid-free folders where necessary.
- Auschwitz (Concentration camp)
- Buchenwald (Concentration camp)
- Coins (money)
- Concentration camps
- Dachau (Concentration camp)
- Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
- Lists (document genres)
- Litzmannstadt-Getto (Łódź, Poland)
- Monowitz (Concentration camp)
- Paper money
- Prayers (compositions)
- Sachsenhausen (Concentration camp)
- Schatzlar (Concentration camp)
- Stutthof (Concentration camp)
- Guide to the Concentration Camps Collection 1933-2004 (bulk 1933-1945) AR 971
- Processed by Leanora Lange
- © 2013
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Description is in English.
- Described, encoded, and digitized as part of the CJH Holocaust Resource Initiative, made possible by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.
Part of the Leo Baeck Institute Repository
15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States