Most of us have heard at least a little of the famous Colditz Castle, and its history during WWII. The TV series, feature length films and numerous documentaries have covered this locale for many years, yet one lesser known period of the history of the site came earlier, during 1933/34.
Colditz was actually utilised during this early period as one of the Nazis so called "Wild Camps", the early Konzentrationslagers where many unfortunate prisoners became the first to suffer within the dark web that was to expand throughout Europe. The KL was designated as a "Protective Custody Camp", and held mostly political prisoners, with homosexuals, Jews and other undesirables also incarcerated at the site. Approximately 600 prisoners were held at KL-Colditz.
The Colditz name was also attached to another concentration camp, the labour satellite camp known as Aussenlager-Colditz-HASAG, which held at least 718 prisoners from 1944 until the middle of April 1945. Most of those incarcerated were Hungarian and Polish Jews, who were forced to work in a munitions facility. This site was located in another part of the town, away from Schloss Colditz and the site of the original KL-Colditz. Nothing remains of the former Buchenwald sub-camp today and no marker is present at the actual site, although in recent years a memorial to the 72 Polish and Hungarian Jews who perished at the camp was unveiled at Colditz cemetery. Many records were destroyed at the end of the war, but at least twenty sites were utilised by the HASAG company, with thousands of forced labourers imprisoned, hundreds of whom did not survive their incarceration.
A fine, detailed collection of images relating to the 1939 onward period use of the castle can be found at the link below
1. Aerial photograph, circa 1930
2-3. Exterior of Schloss Colditz, site of the former Konzentrationslager during 1933/34