Klooga concentration camp
:"This article deals with the Klooga concentration camp. For other meanings of the word Klooga see
, Otto Brennais, and Franz von Bodman) and consisted of some 20 field camps, some of which existed only for short periods. During the German occupation, Estonia was part of the
Reichskommissariat Ostland, a German civilian administration that governed the Baltic statesand western Belorussia. Klooga held up to 3,000 male and female prisoners at any given time during its operation; the overwhelming majority were Jews who were forcibly relocated in August and September 1943 from the ghettos of Kovno and Vilna in Lithuaniaand Salaspilsin Latvia; smaller numbers were from Estonia, Russiaand Romania. Small numbers of political prisoners, criminals, homosexuals, and Soviet POWs (about 100) were also imprisoned in the camp.
in peat harvesting as well as in the camp cement works, sawmills, brickworks, and factory, which manufactured clogs for camp prisoners.
Conditions were extremely harsh. In the early years of the camp's operation, a group of some 75 prisoners began to organize resistance within Klooga; however, the frequent transfer of prisoners from camp to camp—both within Estonia and throughout Nazi-occupied territories—stymied the underground movement's ability to mount effective resistance.
When the Soviet army began its advance through Nazi-occupied Estonia in July and August 1944, the SS started to evacuate the camp. Many prisoners were sent west by sea to the
Stutthof concentration campnear Danzigand to Freiburg in Schlesien, present day Świebodzice, then in Germany, now Poland. From September 19to 23, 1944, guards surrounded the camp and began systematically slaughtering the remaining prisoners in a nearby forest. Approximately 2,000 were shot, then their bodies were stacked onto wooden pyres and burned. On September 28, 1944, when Soviet troops reached the Klooga camp, only 85 of the 2,400 prisoners remaining post-evacuation had managed to survive by hiding inside the camp or escaping into the surrounding forests. The liberation forces found numerous pyres of stacked corpses left unburned by the camp's guards when they fled.
Hauptsturmführer Hans Aumeier, a German, who was "Lagerkommandant" (camp commander) for all Estonia, as well as having served at Auschwitz, Dachau, and Buchenwald, was subsequently arrested and put on trial for crimes against humanity. He was sentenced to death in Kraków, Poland, and executed on December 22, 1947.
On September 1, 1994, a memorial dedicated to Jews killed in the Second World War was opened in Klooga, on the territory of the former concentration camp. This memorial stone was erected at the initiative of the Jewish Cultural Society and with the support of the Estonian Government. [Gurin-Loov, E. and Gramberg, G. (2001) [http://eja.pri.ee/Community/Community_eng.pdf Eesti Juudi Kogukond = The Jewish Community of Estonia = Evreiskaia obshchina Estonii] , Tallinn: Eesti Juudi Kogukond. ISBN 9985781619, p. 14]
In May 2005,
Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansipgave a speech while visiting Klooga in which he both condemned the Holocaustand expressed sorrow that some Estonian citizens were complicit in committing war crimes during WWII:
"Although these murderers must answer for their crimes as individuals, the Estonian Government continues to do everything possible to expose these crimes.
I apologise for the fact that Estonian citizens could be found among those who participated in the murdering of people or assisted in the perpetration of these crimes". [ [http://www.vm.ee/eng/kat_140/5402.html?arhiiv_kuup=arhiiv Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Address by Prime Minister Andrus Ansip in Klooga, Estonia. May 8, 2005] ]
In July 2005, Estonian President
Arnold Rüütel, Israeli Ambassador Shemi Zur, and Holocaust survivors took part in an unveiling ceremony for the gray marble memorial stone, inscribed with with following words: "Between 1941 and 1944, the German occupying powers established 20 labour and concentration camps in Estonia. Thousands of people from a number of countries were killed in these camps because they were Jewish. This is the site of the Klooga concentration camp". [ [http://www.kul.ee/avalik/marker2007/holocaust_sites_est.ppt www.kul.ee] , Estonian Ministry of Culture. Retrieved on 2008-02-28] Later in the year Israeli President Moshe Katsavlaid a wreath at the site of the camp deep in the Estonian forest while on a diplomatic tour of the Baltic countries.
References and sources
*Arad, Yitzhak, in "
Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust," vol. 2, pp. 806–807.
*"The Holocaust Chronicle" by various contributing authors. Publications International, Ltd., 2003. ISBN 0-7853-2963-3
List of Nazi-German concentration camps
* [http://www.historycommission.ee/temp/conclusions.htm#crimiger1 Max Jakobson Commission Report: "Conclusions of the Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity"]
* [http://www.vm.ee/eng/kat_140/5402.html?arhiiv_kuup=arhiiv Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Address by Prime Minister Andrus Ansip in Klooga, Estonia]
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