Nazis working in concentration camps who did anything heroic?

Probably not, but I was wondering if there are any stories out there at all (true ones, I mean) involving a nazi assigned to work at a concentration camp and who took steps as a result that could rightly be called heroic.

You mean “army heroic” like saving other Germans from a fire or an explosion at the price of his life?
Or heroic in the sense of helping the prisonners on a big scale?

Or even saving just a single prisoner’s life really… on something more than a whim of course…

I recently finished the book Holocaust by Martin Gilbert, not a pleasant book to read but eye-opening. I’m trying to recall any incidents mentioned where concentration camp guards could be described as doing something heroic and running a blank.

It’s all relative though, I do recall one person describing his own and other Jews admiration for one of the armed guards because he never raised his voice or struck them. He didn’t do anything to help them and by his very presence facilitated the running of the camp but he wasn’t needlessly cruel and vindictive so they admired him, “Now there’s a man”

Some of the guards began treating the prisoners better when it became clear that Nazi Germany was finished but that was merely self-preservation on their part.

edited to add I do recall reading about one incident where a German soldier, who by all accounts had fought bravely up to that point, refused an order to shoot civilians (something he most likely had done before) and on being given the choice of carrying out his orders or being executed alongside them chose to join the prisoners and was shot with the rest.

I can’t imagine that one can do much to save others once they’re actually at the camps, but one who did (slave labor camp and not a concentration camp, apparently, though) is Karl Plagge.

Would Oskar Schlindler qualify? Not a prison guard, but a Nazi industrialist who saved, at some risk to his life, thousands of Jews from death at Auschwitz. See the film “Schlinder’s List”.

Yes. At the end of the war the Germans told the head of the camp my mom was in to blow it up with everyone in it. Most of the upper nazi guards had fled and this guy was left.

He refused to blow it up.

When the camp was liberated the Russians wanted to execute this guy on the spot but my mom and fellow inmates encircled him and refused to let him be shot as he had refused to kill them.

I think what you have to remember that the concentration camps were run and staffed by the Death’s Head units of the SS i.e. not conscirpted soldiers, but hardline, fanatical, Nazi party memebrs who had been specifically trained to carry out this sort of work (i.e. killing defenceless civilians) and who delibrately cultivated a fearsome reputation.

The Wikipedia article does state that despite this though there were members who refused to carry out orders or whom were deemed to soft for showing compassion towards concentration camp inmates. Those members of the SS deemed unsuitable to work in concentration camps were quickly transferred in to SS combat units.

IvoryTowerDenizen, the article mentions that towards the end of the war that the running of the concentration camps was put more in the hand of conscipted memebrs of the Auxillary SS to allow the Death’s Head members to escape.

A friend of mine made an animated short about that.

The ‘heroic’ ones refused the assignments to these camps in the first place.

There are a few stories (not very well documented) of soldiers being disciplined for this, but most were just assigned elsewhere.

I don’t know further details, all I know is my mom’s story as she told it. As you can imagine, I don’t press her with the technical issues of Upper SS, Nazi and lower SS. They were there to slaughter them and most did without hesitation. This one stood out for his act of bravery and my mom remembers him as a point of light in the blackness.

Both my parents participated in the Shoah project, but I have been unable to watch the tape. There may be more details there. There was also the story of my mother breaking her arm in the munitions plant she was slave labor in. The floor supervisor had to make the decision to kill her or treat her. He decided to have someone slap a crude cast on her arm instead of killing her on the spot. She felt the bones shift but didn’t dare say anything. To this day you can feel the mis-set bones. But at least he chose to not kill her.

This reminds me of Wilhelm Hosenfeld. He wasn’t a concentration camp guard but he was a Nazi officer who helped many Polish Jews escape or hide. When captured by the Soviets numerous Jewish and Polish citizens petitioned on his behalf. Unfortunately he was sentenced to 25 years hard labor for war crimes anyway, and died in Soviet custody from injuries likely sustained during torture.

I think this might be the greatest thing I’ve ever seen on the internet. Good God.

That’s possibly the same incident but its not how it was described to me, rather the soldier was part of a firing squad and on refusing to fire he was told to walk across and join the victims, which he did so.

I imagine that incidents like that occurred on more than one occassion, there are many stories from that period that have never been told simply because no-one who witnessed it survived to tell them…

Not a concentration camp guard, but another Nazi who tried to do the right thing: John Rabe - Wikipedia

The Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara is also worth remembering: Chiune Sugihara - Wikipedia

What a great story, and I also like the memorial and statue, understated, dignified and moving all at the same time.

This can’t be true—or at least, if it is true, it is only true of the camp officers. Guards in at least some camps were ordinary soldiers or even POWs. The guards at Sobibor, for example, were drawn exclusively from Ukrainian Volksdeutsche and Soviet POWs.

Kurt Gerstein. Definitely a hero and although he wasn’t “working” in a camp, he did visit one (Belzec) and tried, in his own way, to intervene.

This documentary, mentioned in the Wiki article, is definitely worth a look: Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness | PBS

Further to my earlier post, here is more about the Gerstein report.