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Guard Details

The guard detail of the Buna/Monowitz concentration camp, established in October 1942, was recruited from the Buna Guard Battalion, posted in April 1941 to guard the Buna external work detachment. Its company commander, as of June 1942, was SS-Untersturmführer Otto Ludwig Schulz, who was replaced by SS-Obersturmführer Max Otto Ehser in November 1942. In May 1943, Otto Ludwig Schulz returned and briefly resumed the position of company commander. From May 1943 to October 1943, SS-Obersturmführer Hans Karl Möser served as his successor, and from November 1944 to January 1945 the job was held by SS-Hauptsturmführer Otto Broßmann. On November 22, 1943, SS senior post officer Arthur Liebehenschel ordered the Buna Guard Company and the 5th Guard Company to be assigned to the camp commandant of Auschwitz III, Heinrich Schwarz. The “SS Death’s-Head Assault Battalion” (SS-Totenkopfsturmbataillon) of KL Auschwitz III,” which was subdivided into seven companies, was formed on May 28, 1944. The 1st Company, under company commander SS-Obersturmführer Paul Heinrich Theodor Müller, was detailed to guard the Buna/Monowitz  concentration camp. The remaining six companies, as well as the 8th Company, which was formed later, guarded the subcamps that were under the control of the Auschwitz III-Monowitz concentration camp.


In the early days, the work detachments deployed at the I.G. Auschwitz construction site were guarded directly by members of the SS guard details. In mid-1943, the SS secured the construction site of the I.G. Farben plant, which in the meantime had been fenced in, with a cordon and patrols inside the plant grounds. The members of the SS guard details held the power of life and death over the prisoners. They could subject prisoners to brutal bullying and kill them at will. They used the Kapos for that purpose, but also did the job themselves. One dreaded practice was the “cap toss.” SS guards would remove the caps of newly arrived prisoners, throw them far away, and direct the men to go pick up their caps. Since stepping outside the cordon was always considered an “escape attempt,” SS men would shoot the inmates when they tried to retrieve their caps. In return, they were awarded extra days of leave.

(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.



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.

Piper, Franciszek: Mass Murder. In: Długoborski, Wacław / Piper, Franciszek, eds.: Auschwitz, 1940–1945: Central Issues in the History of the Camp. 5 Vols. Oświęcim: Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2000, Vol. 3.

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