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Natzweiler Medical Experiments

A Small List with a Big Lesson

On July 30, 1943, Ahnenerbe, a SS organization, arranged for the shipment of 86 Jews, men and women, from Auschwitz to Natzweiler-Struthof in Alsace, France. After arrival there on August 2, 1943 these Jews were then murdered in the gas chamber and their still warm bodies given to the university in Strasbourg for the “research purposes” of the Nazi doctor, August Hirt. With the approach of the Allied troops these bodies, preserved in formalin, were hidden deep in the basement of the Anatomy Institute, where they were discovered. The fact that their numbers were still visible enabled the years of research to give them back their identity and names.

The Natzweiler-Struthof (called Natzweiler for short) concentration camp, the only camp built by the Nazis on French soil, is one of the least known camps. Located initially in Schirmeck near Natzweiler, about 50 kilometers south of Strasbourg in Alsace, it was established in 1940 as a forced labor camp, primarily for local opponents of the German occupation. Late in 1941 the SS moved in and established a camp in Natzweiler to mine a nearby granite quarry. Gradually other sub-camps were established, but the total number of prisoners remained small until late 1942. However, by 1943 the scope of the camp was expanded into southwest Germany and dozens of small sub-camps were established. At its peak it probably held 19,000 prisoners and a total of 46,000 prisoners were registered as prisoners at some time or other until its evacuation in September 1944. As Allied troops approached, many of the prisoners were forced on marches eastward, during which many died.

Initially Natzweiler held few Jews, but in 1944 larger numbers arrived there, transferred from Auschwitz and other East European camps.

This collection of names, totaling 86, was taken from a collection held at the United States National Archives in College Park, Maryland. The extent of information on individual prisoners varies, but generally includes prisoner number, nationality, family and given name. In many cases a notation is included giving a date of death or other camp to which the prisoner was transferred.

Hans-Joachim Lang spent years of research chronicling this event and identifying the 86 victims. In his book, Die Namen der Nummern (The Names of the Numbers), Hoffmann and Campe, 2004, ISBN 3-455-09464-3, he describes how he was successful in this endeavor, and he provides brief biographical sketches of each of the victims.

While the number of victims is small, they illustrate a significant problem faced by researchers seeking to compile Holocaust victim lists. Many, perhaps most, simply take deportation/transport lists and assume that, since the persons on these lists did not return, they must have perished in the destination camp. For example, all the Germans included among the 86 whose names appear in the German Government's Gedenkbuch are listed as “verschollen” (vanished, assumed dead) Auschwitz. Yet none died in Auschwitz. Similarly, none of the Dutch, Greek, Belgian or French Jews in this collection is listed in relevant reference books or on the Yad Vashem, USHMM or JewishGen websites as having died in Natzweiler. The moral of this story –never stop looking.

Between 1945 and 1951 there were two series of burials in both the Robertsau Cemetery and the Cronenbourg Jewish Cemetery of Strasbourg, initiated by the Communauté Israëlite of Strasbourg and the Consitoire of the Bas-Rhin under the supervision of Rabbi Abraham Deutsch z”l, beginning with one at the Robertsau on Oct. 23 1945. Rabbi Deutsch supervised all official and religious burials until his retirement about 1969. He passed away in 1992. In 1951 all of the remains were moved together and reinterred in one location in the Cronenbourg-Strasbourg Jewish Cemetery.

At a ceremony on Dec. 11, 2005, under the aupices of the Communauté Israélite of Strasbourg, the Consistoire of the Bas-Rhin, and in the presence of officials of the French government, local authorities and relatives of the martyrs, two austere, dark memorial stones engraved with the names of the 86 victims was placed there. One is at the site of the mass grave, the other along the wall of the cemetery. An additional memorial plaque honoring the victims was place outside the Anatomy Institute at Strasbourg's University Hospital.

Those readers who do not have access to this book may look at the author's website, www.Die-Namen-der-Nummern.de for information on the victims, in both German and English, as well as a contact point were any reader to be able to provide additional information on the victims.

We wish to offer our thanks and appreciation to Peter Landé of the USHMM for his assistance in obtaining the permission for us to place this data online, and to Dr. Pierre Kogan, of Strasbourg for his assistance in the translation of some of the material. Also our thanks to the photographer, Henri Gallin, of Strasbourg, who took the pictures of the Memorial stones, which he has kindly donated to the Yizkor book project. And our deep gratitude goes to Hans-Joachim Lang both for his persistence in the research to identify these remains, and his generosity in permitting us to place this online on JewishGen.

Rosanne Leeson
Peter Landé
6 August 2006

 

nat001s.jpg [16 KB]  Memorial stone at the Anatomy Institute in Strasbourg, France
 
nat002s.jpg [14 KB] - Monument placed in the Cronenbourg-Strasbourg cemetery
 
nat003s.jpg [11 KB] - View of the stone at the Mass grave (grey gravel area)
Memorial stone at the Anatomy Institute
in Strasbourg, France
Monument placed in the
Cronenbourg-Strasbourg cemetery
View of the stone at the Mass grave
(grey gravel area)

[Click on thumbnail to view the enlarged photograph]

 

Family name Given name Year of birth Place of birth Nationality Last residence
AKOUNI David   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
ALALUF Bella 1923 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
ALBERT Israel   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
AMAR Elvira 1915 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
AMAR Emma 1925 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
ARNADES Palomba 1923 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
ARON Aron     Greek Thessalonika
ARUCH Nety 1919 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
ASCHER Martin 1910 Berlin German Berlin
ASSER Esra   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
ATTAS Allegra 1923 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
BARUCH Ernestine 1918 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
BASCH Joachim 1922 Swinemunde German Berlin
BEHRENDT Joachim 1922 Bischofswerder German Berlin
BENJAMIN Günther 1919 Berlin German Berlin
BERACHA Allegre 1922 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
BEZSMIERTNY Kalman     Polish Thessalonika
BLUOSILIO Samuel   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
BOBER Harri 1922 Berlin German Berlin
BOMBERG Sara 1904 Warsaw   Belgium
BOROSCHEK Sophie 1910 Moschin Polish Berlin
BUCHAR Nisin   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
CAMBELI Rebeca 1912 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
CAMBELI Sarica 1923 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
COHEN Elei   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
COHEN Juli 1927 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
COHN Hugo 1895 Berlin German Berlin
DANNENBERG Günter 1922 Berlin German Berlin
DEKALO Sabi   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
DRIESEN Kurt 1914 Berlin German Berlin
ESFORMES Aron   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
ESKALONI Aron   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
ESKANASY Ester 1924 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
FRANCESE Maurice   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
FRANCO Abraham   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
FRISCHLER Heinz Salo 1884 Schlesien German Berlin
GEGER Benjamin   Poland Polish Pruzany
GICHMAN Fajsch   Poland Polish  
GRUB Brandel 1922 Düsseldorf German Mechelen
HAARZOPF Hugo 1896 Grätz German Berlin
HASSAN Charles   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
HAYUM Alfred       Berlin
HERRMANN Rudolf 1924 Berlin German Berlin
HERSCHFELD Jacob 1897 Bendsburg German Berlin
ISAAK Albert   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
ISAK Israel   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
KAPON Sabetaij   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
KEMPNER Maria 1891 Pabianice   Mechelen
KHAN Levei 1922 Brunssum Dutch Geleen
KLEIN Elisabeth 1901 Wien Austrian Brüssel
KOTZ Jean 1912 Paris French Paris
KROTOSCHINER Paul 1894 Berlin German Berlin
LEIBHOLZ Else 1889 Glowitz German Berlin
LEVI Kurt 1925 Berlin German Berlin
LITCHI Ichay 1911 Thessalonika Greek Paris
MARCUS Michael   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
MATALON Maria 1923 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
MATARASSO Abraham   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
MENACHE Lasas 1903 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
MOSCHE Katerina 1928 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
NACHMAN Regina 1923 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
NACHMIAS Siniora 1926 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
NATHAN Dario   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
NISSIM Sarina 1906 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
OSEPOWITZ Heinrich     Polish Pruzany
PASSMANN Jeanette 1878 Gelsenkirchen German Mechelen
PINKUS Hermann 1903 Mrotschen German Berlin
POLAK Jacob 1911 Amsterdam Dutch Westerbork
RAFAEL Israel   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
RAFAEL Samuel   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
ROSENTHAL Siegbert 1899 Berlin German Berlin
SACHNOWITZ Frank 1925 Larvik Norwegian Gjein Gard, Stokke, Norway
SAINDERICHIN Marie 1880 Kischinew   Belgium
SALTIEL Albert   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
SALTIEL Maurice   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
SAPORTA Maurice   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
SAUL Mordochai   Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
SEELIG Gustav 1878 Bandsechow German Berlin
SIMON Alice 1887 Posen German Berlin
SONDHEIM Emil 1886 Dejwitz   Berlin
STEINBERG Sigurd 1921 Berlin German Berlin
SUSTIEL Nina 1920 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
TAFFEL Max 1900 Sedriczow German Berlin
TESTA Martha 1923 Thessalonika Greek Thessalonika
URSTEIN Maria 1892 Grzymalov   Mechelen
WOLLINSKI Walter 1925 Züllichau German Berlin

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