On December 7, 1941, Hitler issued "Nacht und Nebel" – the Night and Fog
This decree replaced the unsuccessful Nazi policy of taking hostages
to undermine Underground activities. Suspected Underground agents and others
would now vanish without a trace into the night and fog.
SS-Reichsführer Himmler issued the following instructions to the
"After lengthy consideration, it is the will of the Führer
that the measures taken against those who are guilty of offenses against
the Reich or against the occupation forces in occupied areas should be
altered. The Führer is of the opinion that in such cases penal servitude
or even a hard labor sentence for life will be regarded as a sign of weakness.
An effective and lasting deterrent can be achieved only by the death penalty
or by taking measures which will leave the family and the population uncertain
as to the fate of the offender. Deportation to Germany serves this purpose."
Field Marshall Keitel also issued a letter stating�
"Efficient and enduring intimidation can only be achieved either
by capital punishment or by measures by which the relatives of the criminals
do not know the fate of the criminal�The prisoners are, in future, to be
transported to Germany secretly, and further treatment of the offenders
will take place here; these measures will have a deterrent effect because:
A. The prisoners will vanish without a trace. B. No information may be
given as to their whereabouts or their fate."
Victims of the Night and Fog
Decree were mostly from France, Belgium and Holland. They were
usually arrested in the middle of the night and quickly taken to prisons
hundreds of miles away for questioning and torture, eventually arriving
at the concentration camps of Natzweiler or Gross-Rosen, if they survived.