Private letter of an SS man from the KL Auschwitz staff donated to the Archives
An original letter written by an SS man from the German Auschwitz camp garrison Stefan Dilmetz has been donated to the Auschwitz Memorial Archives. It is the first result of the appeal by the Museum announced in January to the German and Austrian public regarding the transfer of documents, photos, or private letters related to the SS staff of KL Auschwitz.
‘The letter we received by a donor who asked to remain anonymous was dated to 1 April 1944. It was sent by Stefan Dilmetz, one of the SS privates from the KL Auschwitz garrison serving in the 7th guard company. The addressee of the letter is his SS colleague, Ludwig Fitterling. The letter contained a postcard showing the German tanks. On the back of the postcard, the author posted wishes for a Happy Easter,’ said Dr. Wojciech Płosa, head of the Auschwitz Museum Archives.
‘It is the first of such document in our archival collections. So far, we have not had any sample of personal correspondence sent by any member of the KL Auschwitz SS garrison to the family or friends. This document refers to daily affairs that preoccupied the 20-year old SS man. The content of this letter was influenced by the author's awareness that the correspondence was censored,’ stressed Płosa.
“Yesterday I received with great joy and gratitude your letter from holiday. I also do not want to delay in writing you a few lines. Now, again, you are on holiday. I wish you a lot of fun, because such holiday is, after all pleasant, although short. Nonetheless, it is a small change that allows one to forget about life in the military for some time,” wrote Stefan Dilmetz.
In the letter, Dilmetz informs that their meeting in the near future will not be possible, since the SS men from KL Auschwitz only received 96 hours of leave. He expressed hope that they will meet, if not now, then after the war. The letter ends with the Nazi greeting "Heil Hitler."
The original letter of Stefan Dilmetz is not the only archive material donated to the Museum due to the public appeal. ‘In addition to the letter, we received copies of documents concerning Albert Oberschmid, an SS man with the KL Sachsenhausen staff, which are of a cognitive value to us, because they present both the history of his service, as well as how, he managed to avoid criminal liability after the war,’ said Wojciech Płosa.
‘A positive surprise for us was that in response to the appeal regarding materials related to SS men, we also received documents about prisoners of KL Auschwitz. The Archive now has the original camp letter sent from Auschwitz by a prisoner Josef Lassy (camp no. 108536) and postal receipt for the prisoner Nicolaus Popovič (camp no. 18074),’ added Płosa.
TEXT OF THE APPEAL
"The history of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau is not yet fully understood.
We are familiar with the accounts and memories of former prisoners — these are from the victims’ perspective.
We are familiar with the preserved part of the camp documentation — these are administrative documents.
We are familiar with post-war court trial materials — these are written in the language of legal defence.
These are insufficient to fully understand the greatest tragedy in the history of Europe.
After the war, only a few sets of photos were found, taken by members of KL Auschwitz staff; a small number of private letters written by SS men; and very rare examples of other documents or single diaries.
Without a more comprehensive analysis and understanding of the motivation and mentality of the perpetrators, our efforts to wisely counsel future generations will only remain intuitive. Today, we ask you to help!
Whoever is in possession of any documents, photos, private letters, memoirs etc., and wishes to support our efforts to better understand the influence of populist mechanisms of hatred for human beings, please contact: . We guarantee complete anonymity to those who wish to hand over such documents.
Director of the Auschwitz Memorial
Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński"