NATZWEILER-STRUTHOF , Nazi concentration camp in Alsace, southwest of Strasbourg, that operated from May 1941 to Aug. 31, 1944. The site was mainly chosen because of its proximity to vast quarries where prison labor could be exploited. The camp became known as Natzweiler-Struthof because until the Natzweiler camp was completed, prisoners were housed in the nearby former Hotel Struthof. The camp was in the third or harshest category of concentration camps, and served as a concentration and redistribution center for political prisoners. Beginning in the summer of 1943, it was used to intern "Night and Fog" (Nacht und Nebel) prisoners from France and southwest Germany. In 1944, the camp was used to produce arms and to construct underground manufacturing facilities. The commandants were Hans Huettig, Egon Zill, Josef Kramer (the "Beast of Belsen," who served at Bergen Belsen), and Fritz Hartjenstein, who was in charge from April 1944 until the camp inmates and staff were evacuated and sent to *Dachau with the approach of the Allies. Natzweiler-Struthof provided the Reich University at Strasbourg with inmates to be used for various pseudo-medical (including lethal) experiments. The scientists at Strasbourg experimented with combat gases and infectious diseases (hepatitis and others), with Roma (gypsies) being the primary victims. In August 1943, a gas chamber was constructed. Kramer gassed about 100 Jewish prisoners specially brought from *Auschwitz to supply August Hirt at the Reich University with specimens for his anthropological and racial skeleton collection in the anatomical institute. Among those especially brought for execution at Natzweiller were female agents of the French Resistance. Altogether, it is estimated that 25,000 prisoners died in the camp.
Bibliothèque du Centre de Documentation Juive Contemporaine. For further reference see Catalogue no. 1, La France de l'Affaire Dreyfus à nos jours (1964), 77–78; Catalogue no. 2 (1968) 40. add. bibliography: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website, article 10005337.
[Yehuda Reshef /
David Weinberg (2nd ed.)]