Theodor Eicke became the second commander of Dachau in June of 1933 and Inspektor General of all concentration camps in May of 1934. Eicke had set the standards for all German concentration camps in 1933 including the disciplinary and punishment measures. Many concentration camp guards had learned their training in Dachau under Eicke, including many of the Muehldorf camp guards.
Officially, all concentration camps were known as Schutzhaftlager (protective custody camp) and were sent there if arrested by the Gestapo. These were mostly Jews and other racially undesirable individuals. Later, common criminals arrested by the German police were also sent to Dachau. The extermination camps in the east were hugely different from their western counterparts, despite many inmates in western camps dying as well. Most people died from being overworked and underfed, also so in the Muehldorf camps.
The Muehldorf camp was officially known as Waffen-SS-K.L. Dachau-K.L. Muehldorf Fp Nr. 27451. SS SS-Sturmbahnfuehrer W.A. Langleist was in October of 1944 given the task of commanding the Muehldorf camp. Smaller Unterkommandos were usually led by SS-Hauptscharfuehrers. Camps with female prisoners had female SS guards. All Muehldorf camps were run from an office in the camp in Mettenheim. A courier delivered messages once a week and a phone call to Mettenheim from Muehldorf let gave feedback on inmate strength, deaths etc.
The SS camp guards had nothing to do with the organization of the camp and inmates. They were simply there to ensure order and guard the prisoners and camp. Guards were prohibited from talking to the inmates and were simply told to escort the inmates out of camp and guard them when they were working. The guard unit took the name of 12/SS-T.Stuba KL-Dachau and in the Muehldorf region numbered around 250 men. At Organization Todt construction sites, inmates were guarded by Organization Todt personnel.
Commander of the SS guards unit was Hauptmann (captain) A. Ostermann. A portion of the SS guards ad come directly from Auschwitz. Almost all guards were former members of the regular German Army, the Wehrmacht, that had been wounded or were considered unfit for frontline combat duty. They were drafted into the SS beginning of 1944. The reason behind this is possibly due to Heinrich Himmler himself. After the failed July 20, 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler, Himmler became the commander in chief of the Ersatzheer, which was a reserve of the regular German Army. The Muehldorf guards soon took on SS ranks, except for Hauptmann Ostermann, who kept his Wehrmacht rank.
The treatment of prisoners varied immensely. Ostermann relied on the discipline principle of the Wehrmacht and did not tolerate mistreatment of prisoners. Despite this, there were many instances of guards abusing prisoners verbally, with the butt of their guns (beatings) or shooting those who tried to flee.
There were also some sympathetic guards who turned a blind eye when a prisoner took an extra loaf of bread or a potato from a farm field. Other sentries lost control and brutalized inmates if caught in such situations. Often cited as a “nice guy” was G. Ammer, a former Wehrmacht Feldwebel and at that time the camp commander of the Waldlager.
The most brutal and fanatical Nazis were the SS men of Volksdeutsche descent. Campfuehrer Eberl for example was described by SS men and survivors as somewhat of an enigma. Before the war, Eberl had already joined the SS and his motto of, “Mehr tun als die Pflicht befiehlt!” (Do more than your duty expects) was well known. Eberl was said to roam around camp screaming and slapping people at random. He favored Kapos and camp elders who brutalized their fellow prisoners and rewarded them with extra food rations and cigarettes. On the other hand, Eberl had an empathetic side to him and he ensured that camp conditions remained bearable by allowing heating installations to be installed and expanding the number of barracks. Sometimes, when the disruption of supplies meant that inmates couldn’t work, he’d prevent them from leaving the camp. Incredibly, he allowed a pregnant Jewish woman to obtain milk for herself from a nearby farm. Eberl also prevented an ailing inmate (who’s brother had pleaded with him) to be shipped off to an extermination camp.
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