|'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.|
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.
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|
THE GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION
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.
ORGANIZATION AND CONSTRUCTION OF THE CAMP
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.|
|The Old Camp' autumn 1939, Inmates living in tents during building of barracks.|
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'|
|The two coke-fuelled crematory ovens built by H. Kori, viewed after the liberation of the camp (1945). AMS, shelfmark 6804.'|
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|
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|