After the Armistice of 22 June 1940, Alsace and Moselle were annexed de facto by the 3rd Reich, German civil servants were appointed to run the administrations, the German currency and common law were imposed, the factories and mines "Germanised" and the use of French was banned. Starting in1942, Alsacian and Mosellan men were conscripted into the army, the Wehrmacht.
Himmler, head of the Gestapo and the police, and Oswald Pohl, head of the principal administrative and economic section of the SS (WVHA), wanted to build camps close to quarries in order to exploit the deportees, as in Mauthausen and Flossenbürg, as part of the Deutsche Erd und Steinwerke (DEST), the SS mining firm set up by Himmler in 1938.
The small village of Struthof, on Mont-Louise, was a tourist resort much appreciated since the early 20th century, in particular by holidaymakers from Strasbourg who came for its hotel and ski slopes. But it was picked for its seam of pink granite discovered by the SS geologist Colonel Blumberg in September 1940. The first deportees arrived here in two convoys from Sachsenhausen camp on 21 and 23 May 1941. They built the first huts of KL Natzweiler. Declared a forbidden area, the camp was completed in October 1943.