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Oswald Pohl’s Report to Heinrich Himmler on the Expansion of the Concentration Camps (April 30, 1942)

After the outbreak of war, camp inmates were increasingly deployed in armaments production and mercilessly exploited in the process. With the integration of prisoners into wartime production, the camps assumed far greater economic importance than ever before. On March 3, 1942, the camps were placed under the control of the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office [SS-Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungshauptamt or WVHA], which was led by SS-Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl. His report of April 30, 1942, already announces the shift from a penal- to work-camp structure, a move that introduced certain improvements in camp conditions, at least on a short-term basis, since prisoners were now regarded as an important labor source in the war effort. On the whole, however, the massive, long-term deployment of forced laborers from the camps also entailed the ruthless exploitation of human life.

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RE: Attachment of the Inspectorate of the Concentration Camps to SS Main Office of Economics and Administration



Today I report on the current situation of the concentration camps and on measures I have taken in order to implement your order of March 3, 1942.

I. 1. At the outbreak of war the following concentration camps existed:

a) Dachau
4,000 prisoners,
8,000 prisoners
b) Sachsenhausen
6,500 prisoners,
10,000 prisoners
c) Buchenwald
5,300 prisoners,
9,000 prisoners
d) Mauthausen
1,500 prisoners,
5,500 prisoners
e) Flossenbürg
1,600 prisoners,
4,700 prisoners
f) Ravensbrück
2,500 prisoners,
7,500 prisoners

2. In the years 1940 to 1942 nine additional camps were erected, namely:

(a) Auschwitz (d) Natzweiler (g) Niederhagen
(b) Neuengamme (e) Gross-Rosen (h) Stutthof
(c) Gusen (f) Lublin (i) Arbeitsdorf

3. These 15 camps conformed to the organization of the old concentration camps with respect to their function and operation, the composition of their commanding staffs, and their role as protective custody camps. Apart from these camps, special tasks have been assigned to the following:

(a) to SS-Special Camp Hinzert: Commanding staff and guards are under my orders. The camp for protective custody is subordinate to the Reich Security Main Office. No factories, no opportunity for work.

(b) Camp for the protection of youth – Moringen: No factories.

(c) Camp for the protection of youth – Uckermarck: Is being erected.

(d) Camp for the protection of youth – Litzmannstadt: Is planned.

4. In the past weeks the Reich Security Main Office and the Command Authority of the Waffen SS have requested SS-Commanders for the camps planned by these authorities in Riga, Kiev, and Bobriusk.

I think it right to submit such plans to the SS Main Office of Economics and Administration, so that they may be planned and implemented uniformly by one authority for the SS and the Police. Otherwise, there could easily be a lack of coordination and ensuing confusion.

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