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Nazi Concentration Camp Overseers (Paperback)

Sonderkommandos, Kapos & Trawniki - Rare Photographs from Wartime Archives

WWII Photographic Books Hitler & the Third Reich WWII Photographic Books Military

By Ian Baxter
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Series: Images of War
Pages: 128
Illustrations: 147 black & white
ISBN: 9781526799951
Published: 30th April 2021

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The Nazis’ vast concentration camp network and, later, the ‘Final Solution’ programme made heavy demands on the SS whose responsibility it was. The use of ‘overseers’ minimised costs and enabled the camps to run with fewer SS personnel. As this well researched book describes, there were three principal groups of ‘helpers’: Sonderkommandos, Kapos and Trawniki.

The Sonderkommandos’ duties included unloading Jews from trains, collecting their possessions and allocating work details. Under SS supervision, they also ran the gas chambers and crematoria.

The Kapos oversaw the Sonderkommandos. Many were originally prisoner functionaries recruited from violent criminal gangs and had a well-deserved reputation for brutality.

The third group, known as Trawniki or Trawnikimänner, were Central and Eastern European collaborators recruited from Russian POW camps. While some served in a military capacity, others played an instrumental role in the Holocaust programme, rounding up and transporting Jews from the ghettos to the concentration camps.

The graphic images and text of this Images of War series work demonstrate that the ‘overseer’ system was extensive and effective as its members competed without scruple to maintain the favour of their SS masters while pitting victim against victim.

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About Ian Baxter

Ian Baxter is a much-published author and photographic collector whose books draw an increasing following. Among his many previous titles in the Images of War Series are Hitler’s Boy Soldiers, Nazi Concentration Camp Commandants, German Army on the Eastern Front – The Advance, German Army on the Eastern Front – The Retreat, The Crushing of Army Group (North) and Himmler’s Death Squads. He also wrote the SS Waffen Division series including SS Leibstandarte Division, SS Totenkopf Division At War. He lives near Chelmsford, Essex.

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