MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

FORMER GERMAN NAZI
CONCENTRATION AND EXTERMINATION CAMP

The SS garrison

Various estimates indicate that the Auschwitz Concentration Camp SS garrison numbered 700 in 1941, about 2 thousand in June 1942, about 3 thousand in April 1944, and about 3,300 SS men and female overseers in August 1944. The peak figure came in mid-January 1945, in connection with the final evacuation of the camp, when there were 4,480 SS men and 71 female SS supervisors there. Throughout the entire period that the camp was in existence, a total of some 8,000 to 8,200 SS men and some 200 female guards served in the garrison.

THE DATABASE OF KL AUSCHWITZ SS GARRISON

Education

Available data on the education of 1,209 Auschwitz SS men indicates that they had received relatively little schooling. 70% of them had elementary education, 21,5% secondary, and 5.5% higher education. Among those with higher education, the majority were doctors or architects working in the SS construction offices.

Religious denomination

The religious affiliation of 556 garrison members is known; Catholics accounted for the highest number, followed by Lutherans. Atheists (the Gottgläubig category) made up the third largest group. Among the SS men who belonged to the NSDAP, the Nazi party, the greatest number were Lutherans.

Nationality

The majority of the Auschwitz garrison was made up of Germans who held German citizenship (Reichsdeutsche). There were also ethnically German SS men there (Volksdeutsche) who had previously held citizenship in occupied countries or in Third Reich satellite countries like Romania, Slovakia, and Hungary. The percentage of such soldiers in the Auschwitz garrison rose steadily, and then declined in 1944 as older Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe soldiers were stationed there.

Female SS supervisors

Women began to be posted to Auschwitz in 1942. This was connected primarily with the creation of the women’s camp, but also because of personnel shortfalls caused by the assignment of SS men to the eastern front. The female camp supervisors did not belong to the SS, an all-male formation. Applicants signed employment contracts with the SS-Totenkopf unit stationed at a given camp. Once the contracts came into force, they were counted among the members of the SS retinue (SS-Gefolge), on duty and under the disciplinary oversight of the camp commandant.

Women also served in Auschwitz as radio operators in the camp communications office. They were referred to as “SS auxiliaries” (SS-Hilferinnen). This was a relatively small group. The German Red Cross nurses working in the medical service for the SS men made up a third category.