Friday, December 20, 2013



During the nearly six years of its existence, a total of 110,000
prisoners were registered in the concentration camp. They came from 28
states, occupied not only by the German Reich of European countries, but
also from Switzerland and Turkey [both countries were neutral, sic] also
13 prisoners with U.S. citizenship, six of them were Jewish and seven
were of Polish descent , were in Stutthof. The prisoners came from all
social classes and occupations, and they belonged to different
religions, which was crucial for their survival. They formed a specific,
for a concentration camp a characteristic prisoner community. As in any
closed Humane Society under extreme conditions of existence, in fear for
their own life and that of family members and the daily struggle for
survival, there was next to those who, despite all the humiliation who
were able to maintain their humanity compared to others who wanted to
save only their own life.Such possibilities applied mostly to those
prisoners that acted as a functionaries. Those who took the highest
posts in the prisoner hierarchy, were the camp elders to the block
managers and finally the hated Kapos, which were considered the
'Prominenten', and also called by the inmates as 'Speck Jäger'. [A
German colloquial expression 'Chasing after the Bacon' HKS] Among them,
predominated until 1942 were the criminal prisoners, mostly Germans, who
had been admitted in 1941 and 1942. The 'criminals' as a rule, marked
with the green triangle arrived July 1942 from the Mauthausen
concentration camp and from Flossenbürg. Of the 123 prisoners from
Mauthausen, who came to Stutthof on 2 July, 59 were 'professional
criminals'. They were those prisoners that received functions as block
leaders and overseers of work details, mainly due to their inherent
brutality within any society."Criminal'' prisoners had been chosen
deliberately from other concentration camps by the director of labour
deployment Bruner. This also applied to ten men, who arrived from the
concentration camp Flossenbürg on 23 March 1943. One of them was Karl
Kliefoth, who was appointed the very next day to foreman of the the
forest commando. Another, Hermann Büche, was foreman of the construction
of the villa of the camp commandant, and August Sauter foreman in the
Headquarters of the building - its construction claimed hundreds of
On-site construction was the Headquarters Building. Completion lasted
from 6 May 1940 to October 1941. To build the headquarters a special
commando (Baukommando), with about 200 prisoners were employed. The
newly built complexes housed the offices of the camp, casino, kitchen,
crew and staff quarters for the SS. Since mid-1941, the SS-building
training courses were organized here for the SS from Pomerania. At the
same time the prisoners built an SS guard house, garages and a villa for
the camp commander. The latter was erected beside an old lodge, which
was demolished in 1942.

The main features were the Camp Elders and their Deputies. These
positions were set up in Stutthof in 1941, when the IKL took over the
camp. First Camp Elder was the German Arno Lehmann, a 'criminal'
prisoner. The Lithuanian prisoner Balis Sruoga wrote about Lehmann's
function in the camp, in which he had practically unlimited power
over other prisoners'. Lehmann came for a 'revision' into a block, went
over to an extremely emaciated prisoner, that could hardly stay on his
feet, and made ​​sure that all the buttons were in the right places or
whether he had in his pockets a small rag (Lappen) as a handkerchief, a
bandage or a small scrap of bread crust concealed. A cane was always to
be found handy, when he wanted to use it. So it was with Lehmann and his
control over fellow inmates, that he invented and always made up'new'
camp rules. '. [Bali Sruoga, Las Bogow 'Gods Forest', Gdingia 1965, page
extract in German,sic] Former prisoner Zdzislaw Ostrowski reported: 'In
the block he lived inside the camp,(Lehmann) as a feudal lord among his
vassals, where the word of the Camp Elder was law . Often he was himself
the executor of convicts'. (It was a well known fact that the SS could
only control KZ Camps through Trustees, HKS) The last Camp Elder in the
Stutthof concentration camp, as previously mentioned was Friedrich
Selonke. In March 1943, the former camp II leader was appointed to the
position to Section I, and retained this position with a break from the
6th of March the 30th April 1944, while he was in Buchenwald until the
dissolution of the concentration camp. The report leader on the side of
the SS reported to the prisoner administration orderly with the camp
clerk who had to prepare the daily reports on the number of employees of
the camp in collaboration with the Office of a Rapport Leader. In a
supervisory position, this included in addition to the block elders, the
room elders and block clerk. The most well-known for his cruelty to his
fellow prisoners, was the Polish block elder Waclaw Kozlowski of Block
VIII: 'Kozlowski was a professional 'henchmen' and amateur executioners.
[...] He had always a heavy hand, with one strike he was able to floor
any inmate. He was never stingy with his blows either. Also, he never
used his damn shoes sparingly, he would hit out, in a wild frenzy until the
inmate was bloody. He ruled especially masterfully with his oak cudgel '.
[Sruoga, Las Bogow, page 71 sic]. His own fate: [Between the 25th April
and 31th May before the Special Law Court at Danzig a trial was held
against guards of the Stutthof Concentration Camp, Kapo Waclaw Kozlowski
was sentenced to death by hanging. HKS] A major role in the prisoner
administration, Kapos played an important role in the monitoring of work
commandos. In a larger complex productions, a Kapo or the first foreman
monitored the work deployment, most of which were appointed by the
officer in charge at the direction of a Rapport leader and Labour
Employment Administrator or the Political Department. The functionary
positions would be in every work detail controlled and occupied by a
German, usually a criminal individual. The function prisoners should
ensure (and demanded) unconditional obedience and unquestioning
execution of orders of the Camp Administration. This also included
execution of death sentences on prisoners who had been sentenced by the
RSHA. Often neither nationality nor category of prisoners cared about the
attitude of the function prisoners against other prisoners about their
particular conditions in the camp. Balis Sruoga writes: 'In this cruel
struggle for survival of the strong they will destroy the weak, just to
stay up and live like a robber without any feeling of compassion, he
knows no boundaries, gathers more what he needs in order to keep himself
alive. The weakling who has no power to stem the blows that has come
over him, if you lose in this fight, you will not receive a helping
hand from anyone, no one will help you to extricate yourself from a
struggle you did not want. Ba, they still push you further, push you
down, kick you into the ground, beaten and exhausted. So you are no
longer standing in the way, they walk over you, crawl over you without
the slightest pity, without the slightest remorse '. [Sruoga, Las Bogow,
page 214f, sic] In addition to the German 'criminals', there were also
Polish prisoner functionaries who were trying to win the favour of the
camp administration. The worst reputation in the camp enjoyed the
mentioned Waclaw Kozlowski. As block leader, the Polish 'Criminal' Maks
Musolf did stand out particularly in the torture of Jewish women. He
took part in selections and often arranged arbitrarily roll-calls to
track children and young people who were hiding in the camp grounds.
Cruel to their fellow prisoners were also the Jewish block elders that
controlled in the Jewish camp in 1944. In reports of survivors they were
mentioned only by their given name: Katia, Elzinka and Baska: 'Their
family names I did not know. They were Czech Jewesses. They said that
they had came from Auschwitz, with a letter of recommendation from
Oberscharführer [...]. In this block, XXI, XXII, XXIII, we were exposed
to the mercy of the block elders. They beat us with their whips, let us
kneel with our hands raised. As lovers of SS men they had limitless
power over us,and it was completely impossible to complain about it to
anyone '. [Testimony of Eugenia Kacowna, in: AK-IPN, SO Gd, Sign 81a
page 4. Testimony of Malka Salwe, a Jewish woman from the Lodz ghetto,
in: AMS, Mirk. No. 215, page 7 sic]
The admission of a larger group of Poles as political prisoners in 1943
and 1944 led to a change in the prisoner-self-government. They gradually
took over more and more positions as a function of prisoners. The most
coherent and most active group were the prisoners of Block V, who came
to the Stutthof concentration camp 1942/43. They took up the struggle
against the German 'criminals' to obtain the occupation of the key
functional parts in camp. In the battle of the 'Green's' against the
'Red's' reckless methods were mostly used. Polish doctors succeeded in
the camp hospital, to neutralize the 'criminals' and get some influence
there.The Polish political prisoners gradually took over the management
functions in various camp workshops and administration. What was of
great importance that the Pole Leszek Zdrojewski could take over the
work allocation of work deployment. He therefore had direct oversight of
the allocation of prisoners about individual commandos and thus
influence their fate. With far-reaching powers with little control of
the Labour Employment Administrator, rules were being circumvented,
personal data falsified and professions entered in the register, which a
prisoner had never pursued, in order to save him/her from hard work, and
often from certain death.
The battle of the 'Political' against the 'Greens' ended in the spring
of 1944 so that members of the Polish resistance movement in West
Prussia took over key positions in the prisoner administration. The
members of the DAW work details Hnryk Szymanski, commander of the
underground Scout tribe in Gdynia, Kapo of the the strap weaving. Karol
Szczepanski, a member of the Jaszczurczi Association of Strasbourg, led
the shoemaking and saddlery facility. Kapo of this was the Pole
Mieczyslaw Goncarzewicz.
In 1944, camp leader Theodor Meyer in the Stutthof concentration camp,
introduced the category of 'Preferred Prisoners', these were mostly
artisans, workers in the camp offices and function prisoners that had
been marked as an award for various achievements and productive work
with the letter 'V'(most likely meaning 'Verdienst'[Achievement] on
their right sleeve. They had the right to correspondence, receive food
parcels, make purchases in the canteen, did not have their hair sheared
KZ-style. Especially the block elders, and the Kapo even often the
SS-men took notice of their status and took this into consideration. To
other groups, particularly noteworthy, were the 'Bible
Students'(Jehovah's Witnesses), marked with a lilac triangle. In
Stutthof some 100 Jehovah's Witnesses were detained, mostly from German
Pomerania and East Prussia, but also some Poles who had been admitted
solely because of their faith into the concentration camp,often with
their whole family. The most impressive person among them was Hermann
Raböse, a Pole from Lodz, whose wife was at the same time transferred to
Auschwitz. The Jehovah's Witnesses always tried to stay together as a
group and helped each other. Despite the camp conditions they would not
stop from spreading their faith. A relatively small groups of prisoners
were the 'asocial' and homosexuals. The 'antisocial' included, among
others, prostitutes and the homeless.
However, the inmate population was divided not only by official
categories, but there was a significant group by nationality. Important
were also the region of a country from which the prisoners came, and the
social status they had occupied before the war, as well as the length of
stay in the camp. In Stutthof were among the celebrities, the so-called
old numbers that were Polish prisoners, who spoke excellent German and
were there since the building of the camp. They formed a closed and
solidarity group often took 'good' positions, possessed excellent
relations with the camp administration and enjoyed certain privileges.
One of these was, that they had their own flatbeds and were given meals
before all the others awaited their turn to eat. A pitiful lot among the
Polish prisoners happened to be the farmers from the region of Bialystok
that were worst off. They were the least able to cope with the cramped
conditions. Since they did not posses a survival-professional
occupation, they were assigned to the heaviest physical labour and
formed alongside Russians and Jews, the 'common' people (pospolstwo).
There is no question, they had the greatest mortality rate. In any
concentration camp, the national affiliation did not matter according to
the theory of the camp motto: 'Solidarity among the prisoners is harmful
and undesirable, the prisoners are to tear at each other, otherwise they
can not be restrained '.
The application of this principle is also evident in Jewish prisoners who
were on the lowest rung of the camp hierarchy. Jews from almost all
European countries, who were detained in the second half of 1944 in
Stutthof, differed in religious, cultural and social terms. Significant
differences existed among Jews from Germany and Austria and those from
Hungary, Poland and eastern European countries, which Helen Leweis, an
Austrian Jewess, described in her memoirs: 'Most of them had a strict
religious upbringing, which gave them a strong sense of identity, too
bad it was not only that they behaved badly but were hostile and rejected
our group. Although they all maintained their national language​​, but
among themselves they spoke better Yiddish, a language that is not
understood by me and the others of my group. Bitterly outraged they were
about our lack of religious zeal. We, however, thought they were
uneducated and rude '. [Helen Leweis, A time to Speak, Belfast 1998,
page 75, sic]


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