Did concentration camps return a profit?

I mean on the one hand they got free work force on the other holocaust was rather an expensive operation also work of malnourished prisoners wasn’t probably worth much, so…?

Some used slave labour to build the Saturn V errrrrr V2 but otherwise generally no.

Concentration camps are basically prisons: Link

If you are talking about the Nazi Concentration Camps, you need to specify what type: Death Camp, Work Camp or Prison Camp.

Forced labour is almost never as profitable as “willing” (paid) labour per head. But it’s somewhat “free”, you can read up about Penal labour here.

Even outside the camps Nazi slave labour was notoriously inefficient. Unlike the Soviets who at least tried to keep their slaves alive, the Nazis didn’t care if they died and the fruits of the labour reflected it.

One suspects the most profitable aspect of the Holocaust lay not in the dubious value of labour, but rather in outright theft. Not only were Jewish assets seized, but the SS eventually took the clothes from their backs. After they’d been murdered gold teeth were pried out by the luckless Sonderkommando.

“I could go into the vault area alone and open up some of the valises to show the eyeglass frames, wedding rings and the melted down pieces of gold from the gold fillings (gold teeth) and so on.” Bernstein estimated that the total amount of SS loot was worth $14,500,000. Some of what was discovered in gold bar form may have originated from personal gold possessions. "

Interesting link on the economics of the Holocaust and how the SS tried to spin a profit out of anything they could steal from the prisoners. Auschwitz had an entire area of the camp, nicknamed ‘Canada’, for sorting through loot.

Auschwitz was originally set up as a labor camp, to make “Buna” synthetic rubber. that operation never worked out. As was mentioned, the prisoners paid for their own extermination, with goods and gold stolen from them. But in the end, the camps consumed more resources than they generated-and the transport of prisoners interfered with rail shipments to the Srmy in Russia.

I wonder if that was because all the gold/possession were stolen by the officers themselves, instead of being reported as profit to the army/party/etc. It seems plausible.

Apparently, yes, huge amounts of the loot “vanished” into the pockets of the SS guards. This was one of the reasons working as a concentration camp guard (at least at the higher tiers), was so sought after.

I seem to recall a rather gruesome discussion about this in the movie Wannseekonferenz, which was based on the verbatim minutes from the actual convference discussing the “final solution”, and there I seem to recall that they actually made a profit when one figure the loot plus the workforce hired out to comanies (cheaply prized though they were).

At places like Auschwitch most of the new arrivals would, after all, go straight to the gas chambers, meaning one had little cost associated with them apart from a few canisters of zyklon-b and some fuel for the ovens, whereas the loot could be substantial. (That was one of the grimmer sentences I’ve typed…)

However, as noted upthread, it was a waste of precious logistical resources and put a strain on the already overburdened train system.

The SS, which was in charge of the concentration camps, also leased forced labourers to private companies. I found a website (in German only) with a lot of cynical details on this sort of “business”. According to that site, companies were charged 5 or 6 marks a day for a skilled worker, 3 or 4 marks for untrained workers, and 2 marks for women. Exceptionaly skilled workers would be up to 10 marks a day. A typical wage for an employed free worker at the time would have been 0.81 - 1.05 marks per hour. Apparently there were also calculations on the part of the SS based on an average life expectancy of an inmate of nine months, yielding revenues of 1,631 marks including 200 marks from exploiting the dead body. Quite cynical indeed.

Karl-Otto Koch and his wife Ilsa were notorious for embezzling from the concentration camp operations. Karl was shot by the Germans for his crimes. At Ilsa’s trial in Nuremberg, some observers suggested, not entirely in jest, that the Allies should give her a medal, because they had embezzled on such a massive scale that it might have damaged the German war effort.