Natzweiler-Struthof Ash Pit

The two photos above show the "ash pit" behind the crematorium where the ashes of the cremated prisoners at Natzweiler-Struthof were ignominiously thrown. A wall with plaques in honor of the victims is shown behind the pit. Note the two large Christian crosses: Natzweiler was not a camp for the extermination of the Jews, but rather a prison camp for insurgents who were captured while fighting to free Europe from the Nazi occupation.

In a book which I purchased at the Memorial site, the following words by Gaston Charlet are quoted:

As the memorial for deportation stands on the soil of France at the Struthof, as the camp at Natzweiler Struthof was one of the most terrible and one of the most radically exterminating ones, as it must also be a mausoleum for thousands of unidentified corpses, it must represent a little comfort for the families of those who died and who cannot even be located in the ground.

No, their corpses did not have the traditional sepulture the earth usually gives to those who inhabited it.

The rock was too hard for time to be lost in order to dig in it. The skeletons it would have kept would have been numerable proofs of these inexcusable murders.

They preferred to transform your bodies into smoke, my friends, and they scattered your ashes in the alpine valley.

As if they had wanted, sadistically determined as they were, to keep your families from the tribute they would have payed later on to your graves.

The photo below shows the Lantern of the Dead which is located up the hill from the Ash Pit in an area that was formerly the garden of the Commandant. The cross of the Ash Pit is visible in the background, behind a building which was used for a prison within the Natzweiler prison camp. The Lantern for the Dead is outside the barbed wire enclosure, which is shown on the right in the middle of the photograph.

The tradition of erecting a Lantern for the Dead comes from the Roman times when the territory that is now France was part of the Roman Empire.

The photo below shows a Cross of Lorraine, which was the symbol of the Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur (FFI), one of the French resistance groups. This cross is located between two of the terraces where the Natzweiler barracks formerly stood. Lorraine is a province in northern France that was annexed into the Greater German Reich after the surrender of France in June 1940.

In the words of Aime Spitz, one of the survivors of the camp:

The camp of the Struthof now peacefully overlooks the Bruche valley. It has been classified a historical monument. The kennel is empty, the crematorium is cold forever. But this Alsacian mountain still keeps the memory of all the patriots murdered because they loved their country.

The gallows


Camp Prison



The Camp