On May 21, 1941, the first prisoner transport from the Sachsenhausen KZ arrived at the Struthof hotel in the annexed Alsace. The prisoners had to begin immediately with the construction of the actual camp; it was not finished before 1943. Simultaneously, pink granite was mined in the quarry. Also, war-relevant medical experiments were conducted on prisoners. At the turn of the war, more than 50 satellite camps were developed on both sides of the Rhine near the locations of war relevant industries, starting in 1943. Of the 52,000 prisoners, only 17,000 were imprisoned in the main camp, with approximately 35,000 being imprisoned in the satellite camps.
In September of 1944, the main camp and the satellite camps on the right-hand side of the Rhine were evacuated – the “first end” of the camp complex. Still, the number of prisoners increased by another 20,000; twenty satellite camps were added on the right-hand side of the Rhine. The “Natzweiler camp” continued to exist under its old name in the form of the satellite camps on the right-hand side of the Rhine. This is a unique case in the history of the concentration camps.
During the “second end” of the camp complex in the spring of 1945, the prisoners had to march toward the East to the Dachau KZ. Many people died during these death marches.