Mauthausen-Studien 11: Elmer Luchterhand

In early 2018, the eleventh volume to appear in the series "Mauthausen-Studien" will be the book "Einsame Wölfe und stabile Paare. Verhalten und Sozialforschung in den Häftlingsgesellschaften nationalsozialistischer Konzentrationslager" by Elmer Luchterhand.

Elmer Luchterhand (1911–1996) took part in the liberation of the Hersbruck concentration camp, a subcamp of Flossenbürg concentration camp, as the Public Relations Writer of the 65th Infantry Division of the US Army. From April to November 1945, Luchterhand visited eight liberated concentration camps, including Mauthausen and Gusen, and interviewed dozens of liberated prisoners and eye-witnesses. Having returned to the USA in 1946, he continued to interview concentration camp survivors. For his PhD thesis "Prisoner Behavior and Social System in Nazi Concentration Camps" (1992), he used sociological interview techniques with 52 survivors, including Paul Neurath, Ernst Federn and Vrastislav Bušek. It was not the egotistical behaviour of "lone wolf" that made survival in the concentration camps possible, he concluded from his interviews, but the solidarity of small groups and pairs that was literally essential for survival.

As a political activist, US Army officer and, finally, as Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College in New York, Elmer Luchterhand dedicated decades of his life to researching National Socialism and in particular the concentration camps. However, the majority of his work remained unpublished. With the publication of Luchterhand's PhD thesis, editors Andreas Kranebitter (Mauthausen Memorial Research Centre) and Christian Fleck (Professor of Sociology, Karl-Franzens University Graz) present a major component of his comprehensive body of work.