Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Instructions for sending letters, material and money to concentration camp inmates

I have received a number of translations of instructions for senders of material, money, etc. to camp inmates. These instructions were imprinted on postal cards used at concentration camps such as Auschwitz. They are instructions for those who would receive these cards from those who were incarcerated in a camp. One such translation, from an Auschwitz card, is shown below. It should be noted that such instructions were standard, as I have similar or the same exact instructions imprinted on cards from other camps such as Buchenwald, Dachau, Mauthausen, Ravensbruck, Sachsenburg, Sachsenhausen, Theresienstadt et al.

I have been informed that the Sachsenburg concentration camp was the first concentration camp to provide printed lettercards for prisoner correspondence, beginning in 1935. Of course, letters that came into and out of the various camps had to pass through censors. Often times the actual stamps on the cards were removed by the censors to see if there were any secret messages hidden under the stamps.

Below then is a translation from an Auschwitz letter card, though as I've stated, the instructions are similar or the same for other camps. By the way, I have examples of such instructions from the mid to late thirties through at least 1944. You can see other examples of such instructions at
www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/ce/cc/cc-instructions.htm . Here then is the translation from the Auschwitz letter card:

The following orders must be observed at letter exchanges with prisoners:

1) Each preventive detention prisoner is allowed to receive and send each month two letters or (post)cards from his relatives. The letter to the prisoners must be readable, written with ink, and can contain only fifteen lines per sheet. Only normal sized letter sheets are permitted. Envelopes must not be lined but simple. A single letter can contain only five stamps of 12 Pfg (= Pfennig). All others are forbidden and will be seized.

2) The sending of money is not allowed.

3) It is important that in the sending of post or the transfering of money, the exact address must consist of the name, the date of birth, and prisoner's number. If the address is not exact it will be returned or destroyed.

4) Newspapers are allowed but must be ordered at the post office of the K.L Auschwitz only. ( K.L = Konzentrations Lager).

5) Sending of parcels is not allowed since prisoners can buy anything in the camp.

6) Requests to the direction of the camp to free from preventive detention (ie. imprisonment) are pointless.

7) Permission to speak or to meet with prisoners in the Concentration Camp is absolutely not allowed.

The Commandant of the Camp.

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