23 November 1933
Certificate confirming Hans Wilk’s release from the Lichtenburg concentration camp
“We hereby certify that the prisoner Hans Wilk has been released today from the Lichtenburg concentration camp”—this terse statement, found in the discharge certificate issued to the salesman Hans Wilk (1909–1970) on 23 November 1933, ended the more than four months he had spent in prison. The Lichtenburg camp was housed in a rundown castle that had been built by a prince-elector in the Saxon town of Prettin in the sixteenth century and used as a prison for more than one hundred years. In June 1933 the Nazis converted it into one of the first concentration camps in the German Reich.
Like all the inmates in these early camps, Hans Wilk was referred to as a Schutzhäftling, or a prisoner in protective custody. This Nazi euphemism had been in use since the “Reichstag Fire Decree” of 28 February 1933 and was associated with the practice of arresting and detaining people arbitrarily and without legal counsel. Hans Wilk had probably been transferred to Lichtenburg from one of the so-called Emsland camps—Esterwegen, Börgermoor or Neusustrum. In the fall of 1933, it was not uncommon for prisoners to be moved from camp to camp
The reason for Hans Wilk’s release is unknown. Over the following years, he lived with his mother in Potsdam and for a time worked at a large dry cleaning firm. But he was not spared further persecution.