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Organizational Structure and Commandant’s Office

The internal organizational structure of the Buna/Monowitz concentration camp and the SS camp commandant’s office for the Auschwitz III-Monowitz concentration camp, which also managed the subcamps, conformed to the administrative configuration of German concentration camps that had developed since 1933; it had five departments.


All the subcamps of the Auschwitz concentration camp were under the control of the  Kommandantur, or commandant’s office (Department I). The Political Department (Department II) in Monowitz existed at first only as an Auschwitz concentration camp outpost, established by SS-Hauptscharführer Meister. Soon thereafter he was succeeded by SS-Unterscharführer Ernst Hofmann. Other members of the SS who worked there were SS-Unterscharführer Josef Hofer and SS-Oberscharführer Josef Erber-Houstek, who—following his transfer to Birkenau—was replaced by Josef Wieczorek. Under the leadership of SS-Oberscharführer Johann Taute, the Political Department in the Buna/Monowitz concentration camp was expanded to become a branch of the Political Department of the main camp. The Political Department included an in-processing and out-processing office, as well as sections for registration, administration, and records management. An Erkennungsdienst (photographic workshop) like that existing in Block 26 in the main camp was not set up in the Buna/Monowitz concentration camp. In close coordination with the Gestapo, the Political Department initiated search procedures following escape attempts. To combat organized resistance in the camp, it also conducted investigations and interrogations, in which torture was practiced systematically. The Political Departments maintained a system of informers in the camps, and among the inmates of the concentration camps, Department II was a dreaded instrument of the SS terror system.


By contrast, Department III—Protective Custody Camp Management (Schutzhaftlagerführung)—in Monowitz, headed by SS-Obersturmführer Vinzenz Schöttl, was independent. In November 1943, the Buna/Monowitz concentration camp, which was renamed Auschwitz III, was given, like Birkenau, an autonomous “Labor Deployment” Department (Department IIIa). It was headed by SS-Oberscharführer Richard Stolten, who was succeeded in that position by SS-Unterscharführer Rudolf Wilhelm Buchholz on September 1, 1944. The work detachment manager for the Buna/Monowitz concentration camp was SS-Hauptscharführer Bernhard Rakers, who had been transferred from Sachsenhausen for disciplinary reasons and was feared because of his brutal mistreatment of prisoners. Department IV, in charge of food, clothing, housing, and financial matters, set up branches in Auschwitz III-Monowitz for some functions, such as food warehouses and a camp kitchen. Also part of this department were the sections in charge of managing the detainees’ effects and prisoners’ wages. These sections, however, did not have their own offices in the Auschwitz III-Monowitz camp commandant’s office, which was in charge of the Buna/Monowitz concentration camp.


Department V—the SS garrison physician—acquired an independent administrative structure for the Auschwitz III-Monowitz concentration camp, owing to the appointment of an executive physician who, from his official base of operations in Monowitz, supervised all the subcamps together. In the Buna/Monowitz concentration camp itself, there was a prisoner infirmary, in which the following SS camp doctors were deployed in succession: From October 1942 to December 1942, SS-Obersturmführer Dr. Bruno Kitt; from December 1942 to January 1943 or March 1943, SS-Hauptsturmführer Dr. Hellmuth Vetter; from March 1943 to October 20, 1943, SS-Obersturmführer Dr. Friedrich Entress. From October 1943 to  November 1943, there followed SS-Obersturmführer Dr. Werner Rohde; from November 1943 to September 1944, SS-Hauptsturmführer Dr. Horst Fischer; and finally, from September 1944 to January 1945, SS-Obersturmführer Dr. Hans Wilhelm König.


The official name of the Buna/Monowitz concentration camp changed several times, as a result of administrative reorganization. One year after the establishment of the Buna/Monowitz concentration camp, a pivotal order issued by Himmler on November 22, 1943, rearranged the administrative structures. The Auschwitz concentration camp was subdivided into three admnistrative units: Auschwitz I (main camp), Auschwitz II (Birkenau), and Auschwitz III (Monowitz and subcamps). Apart from the subcamps with agricultural cultivation and production operations, which were administered by the commandant’s office of Auschwitz II (Birkenau), Himmler thereby put all the subcamps for industrial firms under the control of the SS commandant’s office in Auschwitz III (Monowitz). In December 1943, the concentration camp known as Lager Buna, the Buna camp, was given a new name: Arbeitslager Monowitz, the Monowitz labor camp. On November 25, 1944, the administrative responsibilities were rearranged once again. In a garrison order, the commandant of Auschwitz again placed the Birkenau extermination camp (Auschwitz II) under the administrative control of the main camp (Auschwitz I), while the “Monowitz labor camp” was made independent and renamed yet again: Konzentrationslager Monowitz, the Monowitz concentration camp. This adminstrative structure remained in place until the evacuation of the camp in January 1945.

(FS; transl. KL)


Frei, Norbert / Grotum, Thomas / Parcer, Jan / Steinbacher, Sybille / Wagner, Bernd C., eds.: Standort- und Kommandanturbefehle des Konzentrationslagers Auschwitz 1940–1945. Munich: Saur, 2000.

[Posener, Curt]: “Zur Geschichte des Lagers Auschwitz-Monowitz (BUNA).” Unpublished manuscript, undated, 53 pages. Archive of the Fritz Bauer Institute.



Dirks, Christian: „Die Verbrechen der anderen“. Auschwitz und der Auschwitz-Prozess der DDR: Das Verfahren gegen den KZ-Arzt Dr. Horst Fischer. Paderborn: Schöningh, 2006.

Lasik, Aleksander: “Organizational Structure of Auschwitz Concentration Camp.” In: Wacław Długoborski / Franciszek Piper, eds.: Auschwitz, 1940–1945: Central Issues in the History of the Camp. 5 Vols. Oświęcim: Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2000, Vol. 1, pp. 145–280.

Makowski, Antoni: “Organisation, Entwicklung und Tätigkeit des Häftlings-Krankenbaus in Monowitz (KL Auschwitz III).” In: Hefte von Auschwitz 15 (1975), pp. 113–181.

Wagner, Bernd C.: IG Auschwitz. Zwangsarbeit und Vernichtung von Häftlingen des Lagers Monowitz 1941–1945. Munich: Saur, 2000.