chapter  2
14 Pages

The concentration camp personnel


For many years there was little research on National Socialism’s perpetrators. Concentration camp guards were therefore also overlooked, with no studies of the SS in individual camps or in the overall system. Public perceptions of the camp SS were determined instead by survivors’ accounts and sensationalist reports of concentration camp trials. In these, SS men and female guards appeared as monsters, pathological sadists remote from the mainstream of German society. Their conduct seemed inexplicable or at most explicable only in psychopathological terms,1 and as such for many years it was not deemed a topic for historical inquiry.