deteriorated dramatically due to the disruption
in transportation and general chaos in the
shrinking territory of the Nazi Third Reich. There
was essentially a famine in the concentration
camps, which worsened the already dire
situation of the prisoners. The Nazi command,
which wanted to keep the situation in the camps
secret, made no effort to stabilize or improve
the supply of prisoners. The consequences of
the last months are known from film footage
and photographs of malnourished prisoners
or their remains, taken by Allied soldiers and
reporters in the liberated camps.
At the beginning of April 1945, the Flossenbürg
concentration camp and its sub-camps began
to be closed down. The SS took 40,000 people
from the main camp and the branch camps to
cover their tracks. Unfortunately, April 1945
was accompanied by harsh winter weather in
this part of Europe. Just before the end of the
war, therefore, thousands of prisoners died
needlessly in transports, death marches and
executions. In the last weeks of the war, Jewish
and Christian clergymen, and the former head
of the Abwehr, Wilhelm Canaris, also lost their
lives in Flossenbürg.
When members of the 3rd Battalion, 358th
Infantry Regiment, U.S. 90th Infantry Division
arrived at Flossenbürg on April 23, 1945, they
found 1,160 prisoners in this horrible place.
The unit's diary also mentions the seizure of
the Messerschmitt 109 aircraft factory. Of the
approximately 100,000 people imprisoned at
Flossenbürg and its sub-camps, more than
70,000 did not live to see the end of the war.
More than 21,000 prisoners lost their lives at
Only fifty-one guards and camp staff were
indicted after the war, fifteen were sentenced
to death and eleven received life imprisonment.
Thirteen of the convicts were executed. In other
cases, shorter sentences were given, but by
1957 all the convicts were released.
In 2007, the first of several sections of
a memorial commemorating the victims of this
terrible period of history was opened on the site
of the former concentration camp.
Association des Déporté.e.s et Familles
de Disparus du Camp de Concentration de
Flossenbürg & Kommandos
JewishGen, The Forgotten Camps
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Photo: US Army Signal Corps
the production process at Flossenbürg and its
subsidiary camps, and work in the quarry was
then minimised. At Flossenbürg, Messerschmitt
produced fuselages and wings for the Bf 109
G and K. Production ran continuously in three
eight-hour shifts. The final assembly of subdeliveries from this concentration camp was
carried out in an assembly plant hidden in the
woods (Waldwerk) in Vilseck, with test flights
and handovers carried out at Amberg-Schafhof
In mid-1944 due to the Allied advance, the
SS began to clear the concentration camps
, leading to an increase in mass murders and
huge prisoner transports. At Flossenbürg, the
number of prisoners gradually increased from
3,300 at the end of 1943 to 8,000 a year later.
By the end of the war, nearly 15,000 people were
The largest number of prisoners at
Flossenbürg died in the last year of the war,
especially from the winter of 1944 onwards. The
prisoners were crammed into quarantine blocks
of 1,500 people each, and those who were unable
to work for Messerschmitt or other companies
in the subsidiary camps were sent to the dying
By the spring of 1945, the supply situation had
Photo: Yad Vashem
Photo: US Army Signal Corps
The fuselages of Bf 109 K-4 aircraft photographed by American soldiers at the
When the first American soldiers arrived in snow-covered Flossenbürg camp on April 23,
Flossenbürg train station in April 1945. In the rear right, part of the village behind
1945, they were greeted by this banner.
which the concentration camp was located can be seen, and the ruins of the castle
that has dominated the local landscape for centuries can be seen on the horizon.
A picture of inmates who were lucky enough to live to see the liberation of Flossenbürg.
A photograph taken on May 3, 1945, showing local German civilians exiting the main gate
of Flossenbürg concentration camp with the bodies of deceased inmates for burial.