Thursday, December 19, 2013


'Memorial at Stutthof'   
Stutthof as a concentration camp was established on January 7, 1942 , but it was already in operation for more than two years prior.  During the first months of the war the camp had left a bloody trail in the history of the Polish population of West Prussia. The emergence of this camp, known after the nearby village of Stutthof (Sztutowa) , was closely connected with the history of the city of Danzig, which was one of their administrative areas and the village in 1920 was assumed to be part of the 'Free City' (Frei-Stadt Danzig) under the mandate of the League of Nations. In Hitler's plans, Danzig played an important political role for the future, which should be accomplished after the German invasion of Poland. In the mid-thirties plans were already designed under 'the resolution of the Polish question'(Lösung der polnischen Frage), which provided for the incorporation of the former Prussian partition area into the German Reich and its complete Germanization. This should be achieved through mass deportation or extermination of the Polish population, which should be either shot by the Einsatzgruppen or imprisoned in concentration camps. Since July 1939, a camp was planned for the internment of Polish citizen, and set in place for this purpose. In August 1939, preparations began for the future camp for Poles who should be arrested in the first days of the war. SS officers were commissioned under the leadership of Max Pauly, who later became commandant of Stutthof. Pauly was a member of SS-Wachsturmbann Eimann, a unit of the SS Security Service (SD), headed by SS Lieutenant Colonel Kurt Eimann, established as the XXVI-SS section on 3 July 1939. Task of the' SS-Wach-Sturmbann Eimann' was the implementation of the 'Action Tannenberg', that meant, they should liquidate jointly with other police forces on the territory of the 'Free City of Danzig', the 'Polish elements'.
Dark grey: German territory after WWI.Light grey: German territory, annexed by Poland after WWI.
The area of Danzig (dashed line) was formally ruled by the League of Nations. The village Stutthof (West Prussia) is located at the “Frisches Haff”, a fresh water lake separated from the Baltic Sea by a slender peninsula (“Frische Nehrung”). The entire German territory shown here was annexed by Poland after WWII, its almost entirely German population either killed or expelled.

Driving force of the Germanization was Albert Forster, Gauleiter of Danzig-West Prussia, which was incorporated on 26 October 1939 into the German Reich. Forster assured Hitler that his Gau will be completely Germanized, within ten years. In Bromberg (Bydgoszcz) Forster announced on 11 October 1939 that it was the duty of every German in the future, 'to clean the Gau completely, especially of riff-raff, bandits, Poles and Jews'.
One of the first places in West Prussia, where the SS Guards-Sturmbann Eimann unleashed their terror was, after Forsters's announcement at the opening of camp Stutthof on September 2nd 1939. Here, those Poles and Jews were interned since the initial days of the war after the Wehrmacht swept through  and they had escaped the pogroms, but were apprehended by the Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police and the Security Services.  Designated as 'politically unreliable Poles' they were arrested on the basis of search lists (Fahndungslisten), the local German National Self-Protection Organisation had created before the war. This was followed by the so-called 'Intelligencia  Action', the systematic murder of Polish leadership in Danzig-West Prussia, especially the Clergy, Teachers, Officials of National pre-war Clubs, as well as representatives of Political Groups, members of Parties and Trade Unions were mainly the victims. Some members of the Polish clergy, the mentally handicapped were taken and killed in Pomerania, in the forests of Spengawsken near Stargard, others were deported to the Euthanasia Centre Sonnenstein in Pirna near Dresden. Jews who did not fall victim to pogroms, shared the same fate as Poles and were admitted as a 'precautionary measure' to the Stutthof Camp whose first prisoners thus, were Poles, Jews and a small group of Germans from Danzig. Above all, Stutthof was first and foremost the internment centre of the Danzig-Polish population of West Prussia.

                                           Villa of Stutthofs Commander

The next turning point in the history of the camp Stutthof was on October 1, 1941, when the Inspector of the Security Police in Danzig Henry Willich, according to the decree of Heinrich Himmler dated May 28, 1941, who ordered the creation of labour education camps, and Stutthof would be one of four labour education camps in Danzig-West Prussia . So it was called 'special camp (Sonderlager) Stutthof' and was under the supervision of the state police office in Danzig.
Albert Forster was a German politician. Under his administration as the Gauleiter of Danzig-West Prussia during the Second World War, the local non-German population suffered ethnic cleansing. Forster was sentenced to death for his crimes after Germany was defeated'. He was hanged on February 28, 1952 in Poland.
On January 7, 1942, Stutthof eventually became a concentration camp . Richard Hildebrandt had tried already at the end of 1939 to sub-ordinate the camp into the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps(IKL). In January 1940, the Chief of Staff in the IKL, SS-Sturmbannführer Liebehenschel, made a ​​revision of all prison camps in the Gau Danzig-West Prussia and had shown that both, Stutthof as well as the rest of the camps already met the requirements of a concentration camp. But then it came between HSSPF Hildebrandt and the head of the IKL, SS Brigade Leader Richard Glücks to a conflict of interest as to the competence for membership of the guards at Stutthof. Hildebrandt, who came out of the ranks of SS-Wachsturmmbann Eimann and had recruited the first members of the guard force out of this Unit, insisted that he would continue to exert control over the camp team. Glücks and as well as the Chief of the SS Main Office and Buildings, SS-Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl, did not agree. Therefore Glücks rejected the subordination of Stutthof into the IKL. That Stutthof was already subject to the IKL in 1940, was probably because the police forces of the Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia, and Pomerania, should not be distracted by internal conflicts of its primary mission of the extermination of the Polish and Jewish population in Pomerania. But by the end of 1941 this task had already been met; almost the entire Polish Leadership had been wiped out. Those who escaped the mass executions were initially interned in Stutthof, where the SS deported them later into the concentration camps Mauthausen, Sachsenhausen and Dachau.
The final decision was made on 23 November 1941 during the visit of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler in the camp. In a letter of 19 December 1941, from Hitler's headquarters the Wolfsschanze (Ketrzyn) he told Oswald Pohl, of the state of affairs. Sturmbannführer Gerhard Maurer had already as a representative of the IKL on December 10, 1941 visited the camp, and  in 1941 had submitted plans for the expansion in his report of 11 December regarding Stutthof. The camp was after its enlargement to hold 25,000 prisoners, including 20,000 Soviet prisoners of war.
Himmler speaks with senior staff on a visit to Stutthof
During a meeting with Oswald Pohl in Berlin which took place on December 17, 1941, in addition to Maurer and Max Pauly, who was camp commandant of Stutthof, Hermann Dethof as representative of the HSSPF in Danzig-West Prussia and SS-Sturmbannführer Joseph Schilling who represented the Vistula-Danzig Section, the decision was taken that the camp workshops should become part of the German armaments plants GmbH (DAW) (Deutsche Ausrüstungswwerke GmbH) as from January 1st 1942. On January 7, 1942 Glücks informed  the HSSPF in Danzig that the camp Stutthof as from January 7th 1942 is a Concentration Camp. On January 8, 1942 Hildebrandt sent this letter to the Chief of the Security Police in Danzig Henry Willich. He asked him to hand over the camp to the IKL=(Inspektion der Konzentrations-Lager) in consultation with the camp commander Pauly and the Main-SS Economic-Administration.

Situated on the River Vistula (Weichsel) Sand-spit, a narrow strip of land between the Bay of Danzig and the Vistula Lagoon, in the catchment area of Danzig with its predominantly German population, Stutthof offered the ideal location, as a place of internment, first for Poles from Danzig and Pomerania,(Pommern) and later people from other European countries under German occupation. The camp was located between the two villages of Stutthof and Steegen. On the side of the Bay of Danzig, dense forest ensured a natural screen, in the other direction, it was a swamp area, with a network of canals and waterways that  connected to the Vistula Lagoon. This terrain  made ​​it difficult on the one hand, of discovery from  prying eyes, on the other, escape attempts by prisoners would be hampered. However, the humid climate prevailing in the area and the extreme living conditions in the camp were reason for numerous diseases, especially of the lungs. The unhealthy lime-free water from shallow sand layers also often caused oedema (dropsy) in the legs. Despite this, both the natural environment and the proximity to the cities of Danzig and Elbing spoke for the construction of the concentration camp Stutthof, more so, it was the availability of a reservoir of a cheap labour force for the defence industry, which was mostly established in these cities. A certain drawback was the lack of infrastructure links. This was one of the reasons that Stutthof, perhaps late, until the second half of 1944 was the site of the extermination of Jewish prisoners.
Between the Stutthof camp and Danzig existed a narrow gauge railway, which brought, among other things, prisoner from Tiegendorf (Novy Dvor Gdanski), where there was a train station. From the shipping pier of the village of Stutthof both products and prisoners were transported, and divided up in Elbing and sent to other satellite camps. Even in the Gulf of Danzig vessels moored there and unloaded apart from general cargo, Jews from Latvia.

From the 2nd September 1939 to March 30th 1940, Stutthof was subordinate to the Civilian Prison Camp Danzig-Neufahrwasser. Camp commandant was SS-Obersturmbannführer Max Pauly. Stutthof, and also Grenzdorf were under his control. Subordinate to him was SS First Lieutenant Erich Gust, who was the first Camp Leader of Stutthof,  but was replaced on December 1st 1939, by SS-Hauptsturmführer Franz Christoffel. The commandant of the three camps was initially housed in Neufahrwasser, where the central file of all prisoners was also maintained. In addition, there were the Economic and Financial Department, the Personal Effects, the kitchen and the camp hospital for staff and inmates. In the camps of Stutthof and Grenzdorf there were only the Management Services as well the kitchen with its food magazine and material and supplies necessary for further expansion of the camp. [Pauly was tried by the British for war crimes with thirteen others in the Curio Haus in Hamburg which was located in the British occupied sector of Germany. The trial lasted from March 18, 1946 to May 13, 1946. He was found guilty and sentenced to death with 11 other defendants. He was executed by hanging (Tod durch den Strang) by Albert Pierrepoint in Hamelin prison on October 8, 1946.sic]
Prisoners involved in the construction of the camp queue up for food.
From September 1939 to the end of February 1940, the majority of prisoners were brought from detention centres of the entire Gau Danzig-West Prussia, to Neufahrwasser. The first, in late 1939, accommodation built  for the Stutthof inmates, known as rooms, were marked with numbers from one to three and seven to eleven. During this time, kitchens and an administrative block were built. In the first half of 1940, the management of the central part of the camp and the construction of barracks and offices for quarters of the the guards began. 1940-1941 the expansion of the camp was continued mainly for the SS crew as well as the Economic Department. Now the works to house the headquarters building began in a former Rest Homes for the Aged. [This does not tally with the previous statement, the fact that the climate was bad, if a Rest Home for the Elder had been located there, HKS]. Here the premises of the camp commander and the heads of departments, various offices and the casino were established for the guards, also quarters for SS men as well as a kitchen, pantries and laundry facilities for the camp team. In the SS area, a guard room and garages were erected. At the walkway entrance, the camp commanders villa,  also very close,  a particular dog unit building was built. One of the last buildings in this part of the  camp at the end of 1942 were the barracks for the Political Department. On the south side of the camp area, although outside of it, farm buildings, such as magazines and stables for horses, pigs, cattle and rabbits were built. [There was also a slaughter house in this area, as we will see later,sic]
The Old Camp' autumn 1939, Inmates living in tents during building of barracks.

By the end of 1944, the area of camp of Stutthof enlarged gradually. It comprised in mid-September 1939, of about 0.8 of a hectare, it extended in February 1942 after the extension of the Old Camp (Altes Lager) for over 12. By mid-1943 there were 36, and at the end of 1944 it covered an area of 120 hectare. On March 3rd 1942, the camp commander received the approved plans from Himmler for the expansion of the Main Camp, prepared by the Office 'C' of the SS Economic-Department. The Camp should accommodate 150,000-200,000 prisoners. There were plans for accommodations at that stage for 20,000 inmates, workshops for the German Equipment Works (Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke) (DAW), magazines, wash rooms, a central kitchen, a crematorium and barracks for the SS Units. From 1942 to 1943, the first section of the 'new camp',  was completed, in which 10,000 prisoners would have to live.  North of the old camp thirty barracks were erected in three rows. In ten of these barracks furriers, shoemakers, tailors, weavers, saddler's and bicycle repair shops were housed and was  part of the DAW. These buildings were separated from the new camp complex by an electrified barbed wire fence, they were not numbered. The other barracks were given numbers from I to XX. In Barrack XI, there was the inmate canteen, No. XIV was the quarantine station and the No. XVI the camp kitchen with pantry.
The first prisoners occupied the barrack V, on June 1st 1943, at the end of the year the last of the new camp barracks were all occupied. The camp hospital and joinery works of the DAW took some huts vacated in the old camp, another part was used for storing of supplies in the old camp and remained there only provisionally with the laundry and personal effects of prisoners. In the old camp kitchen, the laundry was installed. Barracks in the first part of the old camp that bordered directly onto the administrative wing were occupied by female prisoners who were interned at the Stutthof since 1941. Along with the new camp, barracks for the guards were erected in the west, close to the village of Steegen. From mid-1943 until the end of 1944, a storeroom, a new laundry room and the kitchen were built, but could not be put into use, because the necessary appliances were missing or not available.

View of the New Camp from the headquarters building towards nursery' 
During summer of 1942, the Berlin Firm Kori installed on the east side of the hospital in a secure camp area with an electric fence, an oil-fired furnace, which for minimal protection from the weather, had only a wooden roof. This crematorium was taken in late August / early September 1942 into operation. Previously, the bodies of the prisoners were transported to Danzig and buried in the cemetery of Zaspe. [Reports by Zbigniew Ostrowski, in: AMS, Reports and memoirs, Vol XII, page 282, and Bernard Mrozek, Vol I, page 211 sic] At the end of 1942/Beginning 1943 the company Kori expanded the crematorium with two coke heated stone ovens and an eight-meter-high chimney. About ten meters away from the crematorium a gas chamber was built with the dimensions of 8.5 m x 3.5 m x 2.5 m, in which stood a small, heated with charcoal brick kiln. The ceiling was made of steel reinforced concrete. The existing since 1940 nursery was expanded in the spring of 1943. It was located between the Old and the New Camp. In 1943 it consisted of three large greenhouses and a garden area of approximately 7-8 acres.

The two coke-fuelled crematory ovens built by H. Kori, viewed after the liberation of the camp (1945). AMS, shelfmark 6804.'
On October 23, 1943 south-east of the new camp began the construction of five factory buildings. In the first two, the factory halls C and D, after their completion, a branch of the Airplane Manufacturers-Fucke-Wulf in Bremen commenced their operation in the second half of 1944, which would produce parts for fighter planes in the Stutthof concentration camp. The production ran under the cover name Timber AG.
In 1943 four barracks were built between the brick-works and the village of Werder, which should serve as a Penal Prison, designated  by the SS, as the 'German camp'. At the end of 1943, 271 Norwegian policemen were sent here as prisoners [they apparently had refused the oath of the Quisling Government, sic]. In July 1944, in the westerly area of the camp, the so called Sonderlager was established, which had an Utility Building and three Prison Barracks. Behind a four-meter-high brick wall, which was also secured with a high voltage fence, 22 family members of Claus Stauffenberg were deported here after the failed assassination attempt on Hitler, July 20th 1944. Also eight Hungarians, who had refused after the German invasion of their country in March 1944, to cooperate with the authorities, as well as 150 Germans, who, after they had fallen into Soviet captivity as POW's,  were used by the Russians in the hinterland of the German front for espionage [although they went over to their own lines as soon as they could,sic].
In the spring of 1944 they began in the northern part of the camp, using the original plans from January 1943 to create a complex of further 30 barracks. Unexpectedly at the end of June 1944, the first transport of 2,500 Jewesses from Auschwitz arrived in Stutthof, the construction of the first ten barracks had not been completed, despite this, it formed the basis for the future 'Jewish camp', an independent administrative unit within the KZ Stutthof whose chief was SS-corporal Ewald Forth. In fact, only six of the ten barracks were allocated for Jewish women, namely the block XXIII, XXIV, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIV and XXX. In the block XXV and XXVI were women of the Armia Krajowa (Polish Home Army) who, after and during the Warsaw Uprising (August 1944) were interned here. The block XXI and XXII became a temporary effect chambers as a storage of personal items deposited from the inmates. Finally, that part of the new camp already completed, was divided into two areas. The area with living quarters for 'Aryan Prisoners' workshops of the DAW, an industrial area as well as sanitary and economic institutions were designated as Camp II. Camp III consisted of ten barracks for Jewish prisoners. The old camp functioned as Camp I, but the expansion plan of 31 March 1942 had not been fully realized.
Plan of Concentration Camp Stutthof as at 31st December 1944
Mid-1941 there was a camp staff of 160 SS men. In the second half, it was reinforced by another 230 members of the General SS (Allgemeine SS), recruited from the ethnic-(Volksdeutsche) or Baltic Germans. [These are Civilians that were members of the community and did belong to the SA, SS or other organizations to the NS-fraternity and had nothing to do with the military aspect in their private lives, HKS] This was done in connection with the transformation of the Stutthof camp into a work camp, the same as in Thorn (Torun), Lebrechtsdorf (Potolice) and Smukal where camps were opened for Poles in West Prussia and placed under the command of Max Pauly. On December 31, 1941 there was a staff in the camp of: nine officers and 59 non-commissioned officers, plus the guards that consisted of another 145 men. The subordination of of Stutthof under the IKL on January 7, 1942 brought the alignment of the organizational structure in line with other concentration camps. The camp was completely subordinated to the SS. In 1942 almost all higher SS officers were exchanged, including the commander. Max Pauly, who was until 31 August 1942 Commander of Stutthof, and was named as commander of the Neuengamme concentration camp and replaced by SS-Hauptsturmführer Paul Werner Hoppe. He remained at this post until May 1945. [As the Soviets advanced westward it was decided by Albert Forster, Gauleiter of Danzig and the SS Higher and Police Leader Fritz Katzmann of military district XX, head-quartered in Danzig to evacuate Stutthof. The formal evacuation order "Einsatzbefehl No 3" was signed by Hoppe on January 25, 1945 at 0500 hours. The evacuation began an hour later under the command of SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Teodor Meyer. The destination of the “death march” was a sub-camp of Stutthof near Lauenburg (my home town) in Pomerania about 87 miles (140 km) west south-west from Stutthof. After the mass evacuation, Hoppe became commandant of Wöbbelin concentration camp, a temporary camp set up to take prisoners evacuated from camps about to be overrun by the Red Army. Wöbbelin was only in existence from February 12, 1945 to May 2, 1945 when it was liberated by the American army. Hoppe was captured by the British in April 1946 in Holstein. He was sent to Camp 165 in Watten, Scotland in August 1947 until January 1948 when he was sent to a P.O.W. camp in Saxony which was in the British zone of occupation in West Germany. While awaiting extradition to Poland Hoppe escaped and made his way to Switzerland where he worked as a landscape gardener under a false identity for 3 years before returning to West Germany. He was arrested by the West German authorities on April 17, 1953 in Witten, West Germany. He was tried and convicted as an accessory to murder in 1955. On June 4, 1957 the district court in Bochum resentenced Hoppe to 9 years, he was released in 1960. He died 1974, aged 64.HKS]
Division V, the camp doctors, officially responsible for matters of health, was the Centre of extermination for the prisoners : The doctors performed the selections throughout the camp and the SS orderlies oversaw the extermination. They conducted the Gas Zyklon B into the gas chamber and wrote the death certificates of the victims. The head of this department, the first camp doctor, was subordinate regarding organizational issues in the camp to the commandant, in professional matters to the Medical Division of the SS Economic-D III. As from April 1942 to 4 April 1945 SS Captain Dr. Otto Heidl was chief physician of the Stutthof concentration camp. [According to French MacLean's "The Camp Men", SS Hstuf. Dr. Otto Heidl committed suicide (no date is given. HKS]
GATE OF DEATH 'access to the site of the Old Camp, Fall 1941
                                                        CONTINUED UNDER PART 2/10 

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