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Archives Unbound
Correspondence from German Concentration Camps and Prisons, 1936-1944


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Gale Cengage


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This collection consists of items originating from prisoners held in German concentration camps, internment and transit camps, Gestapo prisons, and POW camps, during and just prior to World War II. Most of the materials are letters written or received by prisoners, but also included are receipts for parcels, money orders and personal effects; paper currency; and realia, including Star of David badges that Jews were forced to wear.

An intuitive platform makes it all cross-searchable by subject or collection.

Date Range: 1936-1945

Content: 4,343 pages

Source Library: McMaster University

Hitler established the first concentration camp soon after he came to power in 1933. The system grew to include about 100 camps divided into two types: concentration camps for slave labor in nearby factories and death camps for the systematic extermination of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally disabled and others.

Prisoners at Nazi concentration camps in German territory were allowed to send and receive mail on a very limited basis. Letters written to and by Nazi concentration camp prisoners were subject to the scrutiny of regulations. Generally, letters had to be written in German, censored by S.S. personnel, and sent on special preprinted stationary. Sending money was permitted but packages were not. Requests to speak to or visit prisoners were prohibited and newspapers were permitted but only if ordered through the concentration camp post office. Though inmates could, in theory, send or receive two letters or cards each month, the regulations governing correspondence could be suspended arbitrarily and without notice.

Simple but personal, these letters make tangible the ordeal of the persecuted. The anguish in the cursive writing of these letters and cards provide visceral and visual documentation of the depravity of the Nazi regime.

This collection is comprised of several subsets, including:

- Concentration Camps Correspondence

- The Internment and Transit Camps Correspondence, 1940-1944

- The Gestapo Prisons Correspondence, 1942-1943

- Prisoner of War (POW) Correspondence, 1940-1945

- Receipts for Parcels, Money Orders and Personal Effects, 1940-[ca. 1945]

- Paper Currency, 1940-1945

- Realia, [ca. 1939-1945]

Comprised of letters written and received by prisoners, receipts for parcels, money orders and more, Correspondence from German Concentration Camps and Prison Camps supports research and course work in Holocaust studies, German history, World War II studies, military history, conflict studies, and human rights.

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