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The main building of the Falstad complex.
Falstad concentration camp was a prison camp in Eknemarker in Skogn, close to Levangermarker, Norwaymarker, used mostly for political prisoners from Nazi-occupied territories.

Falstad boarding school

The boarding school for boys at Falstad was founded as part of the general movement in Europe generally and Norway in particular to reform the penal system, especially for children. Prison director Anders Daae took the initiative to founding a private institution in Trøndelag, to be modelled after similar schools in Europe. He raised funds primarily from Trondhjems Brændevinssamlag (Trondheim liquor cooperative) and Trondhjems Sparebank (Trondheim Savings Bank) and acquired the farm known as Nedre Falstad for NOK 80,000 in 1895, along with the farm buildings. It was explicitly founded to serve the needs of "misguided" (vanartede) rather than criminal youth through education, labor and a "Christian spirit."

The main building burned down the same year the institution was founded. New buildings were constructed, and in 1910, the Norwegian government took over the operations of the school. In 1921, the buildings again burned down, and the new brick buildings that followed were based on 19th century prison designs, with a courtyard in the middle of a rectangular building

Use as prison camp

Scale model of the Falstad camp
Nazi German authorities first visited Falstad in August 1941 with the hope of making it a center for the Lebensborn program in Norway, but found it unsuitable for this use. However, they quickly decided to put it to use as a prison camp in September 1941. The inhabitants of Ekne were put under severe restrictions, and the first prisoners - about 170 Danes who had volunteered and then reneged to be part of Organisation Todt. The Danish inmates spent three months in the camp, using the time to start construction of the barbed wire fence and watch towers.

Within the command structure of the German occupying authorities in Norway, Falstad sorted under the civilian authority of Reichskommissar Josef Terboven through Wilhelm Rediess, who was in charge of all German police, including SSmarker and Gestapomarker, and Heinrich Fehlis, who was "Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei und des Sicherheitsdienst," conveniently abbreviated to BdS. For reasons that remain unclear, Falstad was part of the Fifth Section, known as "Kriminalpolizei," criminal police. For all practical purposes, however, Falstad became the personal prison for Gerhard Flesch, who was the leader of regional Einsatzkommando V, with the title KdS Drontheim.

The camp inmate population steadily grew, new buildings were erected. Prison barracks were built south east of the main building, utility buildings were built around the center, and the commander's quarters were built just on the other side of the river. In all, the grounds were monitored from three watchtowers .

The camp authorities burned what documents they could before the liberation in 1945, but it is estimated that at least 4,500 prisoners passed through Falstad. Citizens of at least 13 countries were among these prisoners. Though the camp was intended for political prisoners, several thousand prisoners of war were kept there. Most of these were sent to other camps in Germany or Poland, or to Grinimarker, in Norway.

The camp also became notorious for its use as a transit camp for deportation of Norwegian Jews to Auschwitzmarker. 47 Jewish men were imprisoned at Falstad at one point or another. One, Ephraim Wolff Koritzinsky, died of cancer at Levanger hospital on May 15, 1942. At least eight were murdered at Falstad

The main characteristic of the camp was forced, hard, and largely meaningless labor. Degradations and abuse were commonplace, particularly under the administration of SS-Hauptscharführer Gogol and Hans Lambrecht, a prison guard known among the prisoners as Gråbein (Grayleg)—an appellation used in reference to wolves.

Executions in Falstadskogen

The camp commanders used the nearby forest (Falstadskogen) as a site for extrajudicial executions of prisoners of war, and executions following show trials of political and Jewish prisoners.

The first executions took place on 7 March 1942, when Olav Sverre Benjaminsen, Abel Lazar Bernstein, David Isaksen, Wulf Isaksen, and David Wolfsohn were shot. All of these, except Benjaminsen, were Jewish. In June, 1942, Ljuban Vukovic, a Yugoslavian prisoner of war, was made the first grave digger for the forest. He survived and became an important witness in the post-war trials.

On October 6, 1942, the Nazi authorities imposed martial law on sections of central Norway, and at least 170 non-Norwegian prisoners and 34 Norwegian political prisoners were executed in the forest (Falstadskogen) just south of Falstad.

On November 13, 1942 Moritz Abrahamsen, Kalman Glick and Herman Schidorsky, all Jewish, were executed. On February 16, 1943, Toralf Berg - a resistance fighter - was executed. During the summer of 1943, a change in the command of the camp led to improved conditions for the remaining prisoners.

Throughout all this, more than 150 unnamed prisoners of war were also shot in the forest. During May 4th and 5th 1945, the camp authorities sought to exhume and hide the bodies of their victims, sinking about 25 in the fjord near the camp.

Efforts to find, exhume, identify, and bury the victims are ongoing. The original estimate of 202 dead is considered low.

Much research remains to be done to uncover the specifics and nature of Nazi atrocities committed at Falstad.

Commanders and officials

  • There were six camp commanders of Falstad during the war: Paul Schöning, Paul Gogol, Scharschmidt (first name uknown), Werner Jeck, Georg Bauer and Karl Denk. None of these was prosecuted for war crimes in Norway, though Denk may have faced trial in Germany for unrelated charges.
  • Gerhard Flesch, Kommandeur der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD Trondheim 1941 to 1945 was sentenced to death during the Legal purge in Norway after World War II.
  • Walter Hollack, Gestapo officer who acted as "prosecutor" during the tribunals in 1942, was sentenced to a life term of hard labor, but was pardoned in 1953 and deported on 22 June that year.
  • Hans Roth, section leader and for a short period executive officer, noted for his proclivity for beating up prisoners, was sentenced to 15 years at hard labor, but was pardoned and deported June 16, 1950.
  • Oscar Hans, leader of the Sonderkommando and commander of the firing squads that killed prisoners, was originally sentenced to death, but this was commuted by the Norwegian supreme court. He was deported to Germany on December 10, 1947.
  • Josef Schlossmacher, Gestapo official in Trondheim, was incriminated on several aspects of the executions at Falstad, but charges against him were dropped.
  • Julius Nielson, a Gestapo official who played an active role in capturing and sending prisoners to Falstad, was sentenced to death and executed in Trondheim July 10, 1948.

See also

Literature and resources


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