Millions of people suffered and died in camps, ghettos, and other sites during the Holocaust. The Nazis and their allies oversaw more than 44,000 camps, ghettos, and other sites of detention, persecution, forced labor, and murder. Among them was the early camp Hainichen. 



On April 4, 1933, Amtshauptmann Döbeln ordered the formation of a labor camp in a community and sports center located at Öderanstrasse in Hainichen, Sachsen. Ortsgruppenleiter Georg “Zuff” Ziegler was the commandant and Friedrich Zill served as his deputy. The guards consisted of SA-Sturm 5/139, later supplemented by SA-Sturmbann II/148 from Colditz. Despite the nomenclature, Hainichen was an early concentration camp for leftist detainees. Its population fluctuated from an initial 50 prisoners to 144 by April 12, then to nearly three hundred before its dissolution on June 13, 1933.

Hainichen prisoners were divided into three arrest categories. These categories depended upon the degree of suspected involvement with leftist political parties. They ranged from non-members, who were supposed to be immediately released, party members, who faced detention for an indefinite period, to party officials, who were considered to be the most serious cases. Although the SA occupied a community center, the prisoners were made to sleep on a garbage heap. After Hainichen's closure, the detainees were dispatched to early concentration camps at Colditz Castle and Sachsenburg. No additional information has emerged so far about Hainichen, for which further research is needed.


This entry follows the standard study of the early Nazi concentration camps, Klaus Drobisch and Günther Wieland, System der NS-Konzentrationslager, 1933 - 1939 (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1993). See also Mike Schmeitzner, “Ausschaltung - Verfolgung - Widerstand: Die politischen Gegner des NS-Systems in Sachsen 1933 - 1945,” in Sachsen in der NS-Zeit, ed. Clemens Vollnhals (Leipzig: Gustav Kiepenhauer Verlag, 2002).

Primary documentation for this camp, as cited by Drobisch and Wieland, consists of file no. 551 in Stadtarchiv Leisnig. The camp is also listed in the German Social Democratic exile newspaper, Neuer Vorwärts, August 27, 1933.

Joseph Robert White


Critical Thinking Questions

  • What was the purpose of the early camps?
  • To what degree was the local population aware of this camp, its purpose, and the conditions within? How would you begin to research this question?
  • To what degree was the local population aware of this camp, its purpose, and the conditions within? How would you begin to research this question?

Further Reading

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945. Vol 1, Early Camps, Youth Camps, and Concentration Camps and Subcamps under the SS-Business Administration Main Office (WVHA), ed. Geoffrey Megargee. Bloomington: Indiana University Press in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2009.

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