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- Location: Bordeaux, France
On 25 October 1942, the administration of the O.T. Lager Otto Weddigen, published the first edition of the Guia de los Españoles del Transporte en la Organización Todt [Wegweiser für den Transport-Spanier in der Organisation Todt]. And it is from these documents (three will be published in 1942, 1943 and 1944) that I learned a lot about the life of the Spanish refugees in these barracks (caserne Niel).
José Maria Otto Warncke (also known as "Papa Otto") was Lagerführer until the Liberation of Bordeaux. I had understood that he became Lagerführer in March 1942 following the death of his predecessor Otto Fritz.
However, in the first number of the Guia, it is indeed Otto Fritz who is called Lagerführer, José Maria Otto Warncke is said to be "Verbindungsmann".
In an article he signed, Otto Fritz welcomes the creation of the Guia, and claims to have been there for a year:
"Ein Jahr bin ich nun mit den Spaniern zusammen, und habe während dieser Zeit die Nöten und Sorgen des einzelnen kennen gelernt."
The only things I know about this man come from this document. A witness stated that José Maria Otto Warncke was appointed following the death of Otto Weddingen. This is impossible, as Weddingen died in the First World War. These three Otto's, in addition to the number of years that had passed, certainly disturbed him. Which is very understandable!
Only, I am convinced that Otto Fritz did not die in 1942!
His possible death is not mentioned in any of the three papers, however, there seems to be a mention (in Spanish) of what I understood to be his retirement. In issue no. 2 dated 17 June 1943, an accounting table (between March 1, 1942 and February 28, 1943) speaks of a donation made :
"Con motivo de la marcha con permiso y posteriormente de su partida en cumplimiento de sus deberes militares de nuestro Lagerführer, Herr Fritz"
which I translated into English, thanks to an online translator : "On the occasion of the departure with permission and after his departure in fulfillment of his military duties of our Lagerführer, Herr Fritz"
I have yet asked this question on a French history forum before, and when I stated that since Otto Fritz was wearing an armband with a swastika (see photo) he was an SS man, it was explained to me that wearing such an armband in no way implied that he was a Nazi. I hope you will forgive any cultural shortcomings.
This being said, in a judicial declaration, in October 1969, José Maria Otto Warncke states: "Nach einigen Monaten wurde der bisherige Lagerkommandant abgelöst und an seine Stelle trat der Otto Fritz, der ein OT-Mann war und auch der Partei angehörte, ohne dass ich heute sagen könnte, welche Rangstufe er dort bekleidete [...]", of which I propose the following translation: "After a few months, the previous camp commander was replaced by Otto Fritz, who was an OT man and also belonged to the party, but I cannot say today what rank he held there."
Can you tell me if Otto Fritz was a member of the Nazi party? Would you be able to give me any information about Otto Fritz, especially about his dates of birth and death, but I am also looking for his start and end dates as Lagerführer of the O.T. Lager Otto Weddigen.
Thank you very much for your help