Vaivaran keskitysleiri Vaivara


Vaivaran keskitysleiri Vaivara





Vaivara concentration camp was the largest of the 22 concentration and labor camps established in Estonia by the Nazi regime during World War II. It had 20,000 Jewish prisoners pass through its gates, mostly from the Vilna and Kovno Ghettos, but also from Latvia, Poland, Hungary and the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Vaivara concentration camp was one of the last camps to be established. It existed from August 1943 to February 1944.
On 21 June 1943, Heinrich Himmler ordered the liquidation of the remaining ghettos in the Baltic states. Subsequently, German occupation authorities met under the auspices of the Commander of the Security Police and SD in Reval (the German name for the Estonian capital Tallinn) in order to plan the establishment of forced labor camps for the oil-shale extraction operations of Baltöl, a IG Farben subsidiary. Beginning in August 1943, a series of concentration camps was established all over Estonia by the Organisation Todt. In September 1943, took over from the OT The administrative center of the camp complex was located in Vaivara with Hans Aumeier, a former camp commander in Auschwitz in charge. The administrative staff was headed by Otto Brenneis. He was assisted by Hstf. Max Dahlmann, Hstf. Kurt Pannicke and Helmut Schnabel. Franz von Bodmann was the camp's surgeon. Altogether only 15 Germans served in the camp, most of the guards were provided by Estonian and Russian auxiliaries of the 287th and 290th Security Battalions (Schutzmannschaftsbataillone).
The camp was established in the beginning of August 1943 near the Vaivara train station. It served as the main camp (Hauptlager) of 20 forced labor camps located throughout Estonia, some of which existed for brief times, and all together being commonly referred to as the Vaivara [concentration] camp complex.
At first the camp was run by the OT, but after a few weeks Kurt Pannicke took over. When Pannicke took over the Narva subcamp at the end of September, Helmut Schnabel became commander. In autumn 1944, some of the inmates were evacuated by sea to the Stutthof concentration camp. From there they were distributed to the satellite camps of Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp.

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