Sheldon, Joseph (fl 1944-2001): Account of the liberation of Esterwege concentration camp

Scope and Content

Papers of Joseph Sheldon, 1944, comprise an account by Joseph Sheldon, formerly Jozef Szwarcman, a medical officer holding the rank of Lieutenant in the 1st Polish Armoured Division, of his experiences shortly after the liberation of Esterwege concentration camp, Lower Saxony,and a page torn from a volume which listed details of inmates of that camp.

Administrative / Biographical History

Esterwege prison camp was first established along with two others (Boergemoor and Neusustrum) in the Emsland region of Lower Saxony in June 1933 by the Prussian Interior Ministry. In April 1934, Esterwege became a concentration camp. Heinrich Himmler, as Reichsfuehrer SS and head of the Gestapo, reorganised the Prussian concentration camp sytem and installed a new commandant and guards from the SA and SS. Throughout the 1930s it served as a camp for political prisoners, Jehovah Witnesses, Jews and intellectuals. In 1936 many of the prisoners were transferred to Sachsenhausen and from January 1937 the camp was taken over by the Reichsjustizministerium and became the 7th prison camp in Emsland.

From 1940 it became increasingly used for army deserters and the like. Conditions deteriorated throughout the war, many prisoners dying from illnesses and overwork. From May 1943 it started to take in resistance fighters from foriegn lands. By the end of the war it was first used temporarily by the British occupying forces as a Displaced Persons Camp for Russians and later as an internment camp for war criminals.


Arranged in original order.

Conditions Governing Access


Acquisition Information

Deposited by Joseph Sheldon.

Other Finding Aids

Description exists to this archive on the Wiener Library's online catalogue

Archivist's Note

Entry compiled by Howard Falksohn.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies can be made for personal use. Permission must be sought for publication.