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Instructions on Letter Cards Used by Camp Inmates

Inmates at Auschwitz could write letters on a limited basis from the concentration camp. On the left is an example, in German, of the instructions given to those who would receive these letters.

It should be noted that such instructions were standard, as I have similar or the same exact instructions imprinted on cards from other camps such as Buchenwald, Dachau, Mauthausen, Ravensbrück, Sachsenburg, Sachsenhausen et al. 

Sachsenburg concentration camp was the first concentration camp to provide printed lettercards for prisoner correspondence, beginning in 1935. Of course, letters that came into and out of the various camps had to pass through censors. Often times the actual stamps on the cards were removed by the censors to see if there were any secret messages hidden under the stamps.

Here is the text (in German) that was imprinted on the Sachsenburg mail:

The translation of the Sachsenburg instructions is:

Every prisoner is allowed to receive once a week, a letter or a postcard from his relatives. Post which is not according these instructions will not be handed over. Twice a month the prisoner may receive a parcel with clothes. If the parcels contain food, alcoholics, tobacco or other objects they will be confiscated. The sender has a claim for indemnification. National-socialist newspapers are allowed, if these are sent under tape directly to the camp commander with the aim of delivering.

The Camp Commandant.

Below is a translation from the Auschwitz letter card shown above left, though as stated, the instructions are similar or the same for other camps.

The following orders must be observed at letter exchanges with prisoners:

1) Each preventive detention prisoner is allowed to receive and send each month two letters or (post)cards from his relatives. The letter to the prisoners must be readable, written with ink, and can contain only fifteen lines per sheet. Only normal sized letter sheets are permitted. Envelopes must not be lined but simple. A single letter can contain only five stamps of 12 Pfg (= Pfennig). All others are forbidden and will be seized. Postcards can have only 10 lines.

2) The sending of money is not allowed.

3) It is important that in the sending of post or the transferring of money, the exact address must consist of the name, the date of birth, and prisoner's number. If the address is not exact it will be returned or destroyed.

4) Newspapers are allowed but must be ordered at the post office of the K.L Auschwitz only. ( K.L = Konzentrations Lager).

5) Sending of parcels is not allowed since prisoners can buy anything in the camp.

6) Requests to the direction of the camp to free from preventive detention (i.e. imprisonment) are pointless.

7) Permission to speak or to meet with prisoners in the Concentration Camp is absolutely not allowed.

The Camp Commandant.








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