Study of Deaths by Suicide in the Soviet Special Camp Number 7 (Sachsenhausen), 1945-1950

The Psychiatric Quarterly
Francisco López-MuñozMatthis Krischel

Abstract

After World War II, Sachsenhausen Nazi concentration camp (Oranienburg) was administered until the spring of 1950 by Soviet occupation forces (Special Camp Number 7) and used mainly for political prisoners. Our study analyzes suicides in this camp during the Soviet period. Data was collected from the archives of Sachsenhausen Memorial, Special Camp Collection. Original documents containing certificates or autopsy reports of prisoners who committing suicide were reviewed. In this period, authorities registered 17 suicides. The age of suicides was between 19 and 64 years. The most frequent cause of imprisonment was Blockleiter (Kapo in Nazi period, n = 4), Mitarbeiter Gestapo (member of the Gestapo, n = 3) and Wehrmacht (military, n = 3). Hanging was the most frequent method of suicide. The average time spent in the camp until suicide was 715 days. The number of recorded suicides under Soviet control is considerably lower (calculated rate 2.8/10,000 per year) than under Nazi control (calculated rate 11/10,000 per year). This could be due to comparably more favorable conditions for prisoners and the abolishment of the death penalty during this period. Possible motives for suicides include feelings of guilt for crimes committed, fe...Continue Reading

References

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