Concentration Camp Kaiserwald

»Deported to their Death« – panel 9 – Deportation and Death

In June 1943, the chief SS leader Heinrich Himmler ordered the closure of all ghettos in the East and the transfer of all residents to concentration camps. Between July and November 1943, the majority of the inmates were moved in stages to the concentration camp Kaiserwald. This camp had been built by ghetto inmates in the affluent garden suburb of Mežaparks.

The concentration camp Kaiserwald became the distribution camp for all Jewish prisoners in the Baltic region. It could only accommodate about 2000 people. Consequently, the majority of the prisoners were registered here and were subsequently transferred to the labour camps of the Wehrmacht (German armed forces), the SS, or the electrical company AEG.

In Kaiserwald and its outlying camps, living conditions further deteriorated. Striped clothing with prisoner numbers and shaved heads robbed the inmates of their last remnants of individuality. Families were torn apart and men and women separated from each other. In addition to the hard work, there were hours of roll calls and abuse by brutal overseers. Women had to strip down and endure degrading “delousing” procedures in front of SS men and Latvian workers. The fear of the so-called “selections” of prisoners, that were deemed unfit for forced labour and earmarked for execution, weighed heavily on all prisoners. Children had a high risk of falling victim to this selection process.

Picture credits

Jüdisches Museum Riga


Exhibition: Deported to their Deaths
Duration: December 15th, 2011 to January 27th, 2012
Location: Neues Rathaus Hannover, Bürgersaal
Panel: 9 from 39 – Deportation and Death
Size: 650 x 2050 mm
Technique: Digital print on Alu-Dibond