Columbia concentration camp

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KZ Columbia Memorial, diagonally opposite to its former site now covered by the airport building

Columbia concentration camp (also known as Columbia-Haus) was a Nazi concentration camp situated in the Tempelhof area of Berlin. It was one of the first such institutions established by the regime.

Development[edit]

Originally called Strafgefängnis Tempelhofer Feld the building, which contained 134 cells, 10 interrogation rooms and a guardroom, had been built as a military police station but fell empty in 1929.[1] However as soon as the Nazi Party came to power the building, which by then was known as Columbia-Haus, was made into a prison, with 400 inmates held by September 1933.[1]

The prison, initially staffed by both Schutzstaffel and Sturmabteilung members,[2] was largely unregulated until 1934 when it was placed under the command of Walter Gerlach[1] and his adjutant Arthur Liebehenschel. Run as a prison by the Gestapo, it was notorious in the city for the torture meted out to its detainees, most of whom were Communists, Social Democrats, or Jews.[3] Alongside these however the rightist Max Naumann also spent time as an inmate.[4]

From 27 December 1934 the prison was administrated by the Concentration Camps Inspectorate. On 8 January 1935 Reinhard Heydrich announced that Konzentrationslager Columbia was to be adopted as the official name, in preference to Columbia-Haus.[1]

Personnel[edit]

Many leading perpetrators of the Holocaust saw service in Columbia early in their careers. Notable amongst these was Karl Otto Koch, who was appointed commandant in 1935.[5] At lower levels camp guards included Richard Baer, Max Kögel[6] and Theodor Dannecker.[7]

Closure and legacy[edit]

The camp was closed in 1936 to make way for the expansion of Berlin Tempelhof Airport.[8] After its August closure the remaining prisoners were moved to the new facility established at Sachsenhausen.[9]

A motion was passed by Tempelhof district city council to lay a plaque on the site of the camp.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d David Pascoe, Airspaces, Reaktion Books, 2001, p. 177
  2. ^ John Michael Steiner, Power Politics and Social Change in National Socialist Germany: A Process of Escalation into Mass Destruction, Walter de Gruyter, 1976, p. 60
  3. ^ Klaus P. Fischer, Nazi Germany: A New History, Constable, 1996, p. 274
  4. ^ Robert S. Wistrich, Who's Who in Nazi Germany, Routledge, 2001, p. 177
  5. ^ Tom Segev, Soldiers of Evil, Berkley Books, 1991, p. 152
  6. ^ Tom Segev, Soldiers of Evil, Berkley Books, 1991, pp. 72; 191
  7. ^ Yaacov Lozowick, Hitler's Bureaucrats: The Nazi Security Police And The Banality Of Evil, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005, p. 30
  8. ^ Pascoe, Airspaces, p. 176
  9. ^ Charles W. Sydnor, Soldiers of Destruction: The SS Death's Head Division, 1933-1945, Princeton University Press, 1990, p. 19
  10. ^ Jennifer A. Jordan, Structures of Memory: Understanding Urban Change in Berlin and Beyond, Stanford University Press, 2006, p. 159

Coordinates: 52°29′1″N 13°23′57″E / 52.48361°N 13.39917°E / 52.48361; 13.39917