Prisoners in Nazi Concentration Camps

List of Prisoners in Concentration Camps


The Schutzstaffel (SS) classified prisoners into nationality, »race«, political affiliation and reason for arrest. German and Austrian prisoners ranged highest according to the order of Nazi ideology. They were followed by prisoners from Nordic countries, and these eventually by prisoners from Western Europe. Ranging at the very lowest level of this hierarchy were the prisoners stigmatized as Jews, gypsies and homosexual together with the Soviet prisoners of war. These groups of internees were mostly assigned to the worst Arbeitskommandos and threatened more than others to be killed.


Categories set up by the SS:

Schutzhäftlinge(»Protective Custody«)

This category contained rather diverse groups of people, who not only activists in political terms: resistance fighters and political opponents of the regime as well as members of the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers' Party), interned for some party offence, foreign legionnaires or people listening to forbidden radio stations, and after the outbreak of war almost all non-Germans.


Bible Students (Jehovah's Witnesses)


Paragraph 175 (provision of the German Criminal Code) (»Homosexuals«)


»Red Spaniards« (Spanish Republicans)

At the end of the Spanish Civil War between 400,000 and 500,000 Spanish Republicans emigrated to France [where they were put into internment camps by the French government]. After the German Wehrmacht conquered Northern France Heinrich Himmler ordered all anti-Fascist Spaniards to be taken into concentration camps (Schutzhaft) in Germany and Austria. The majority of the Spanish Republicans was interned in Dachau and Mauthausen.


»Civilian Worker« (Zivilarbeiter)

The Nazis tried to set off the war-induced labour shortage in the German Reich with deporting foreign workers from the occupied territories. Numerous offences committed by forced labourers, like e.g. political activities, sabotage or sexual encounters with Germans (»Rassenschande« racial defilement) were punished with internment in a concentration camp.





»Anti-social« was a term used in the camps referring to the categories of prisoners that were officially denominated »AZR« (Arbeitszwang Reich) or »ASR" (Arbeitsscheu Reich). »Anti-social« or »work-shy« prisoners were interned in concentration camps based upon the Grunderlass zur Vorbeugenden Verbrechensbekämpfung from December 14th 1937, because they were allegedly a hindrance to national social life«. In fact »anti-social« was used as an umbrella term for people regarded inferior for social reasons.



"BV" ("Befristete Vorbeugehaft")

Die Einweisung von Vorbeugehäftlingen geschah unter Ausschaltung der Gerichte durch die Kriminalpolizei. Vorbeugehaft wurde – in der Sprache der Nationalsozialisten - gegen "Berufs"- und "Gewohnheitsverbrecher" sowie "Gemeingefährliche" verhängt.

»Preventive detention« (Sicherheitsverwahrung)

Based upon an agreement between RFSS (Reichsführer of the SS) [Heinrich] Himmler and Reichs Minister of Justice [Otto Georg] Thierack in September 1942 judicial prisoners were also send to concentration camps.


»Gypsies« (Romani people)

With his decree issued on December 16t 1942 (»Auschwitz-Erlass«) Himmler ordered »all part-Gypsies, Rom-Gypsies and non-German-blooded members of Gypsy families of Balkan origin […] should be committed to a concentration camp.«


»Soviet POW« (Soviet prisoners of war)