Sunday, December 22, 2013


The prisoners suffered under the extreme primitive accommodation, constant hunger, slave labour, the camp penalties and lack of medical care. The omnipresent in the daily running for each inmate of fear and terror humiliated the individual deeply, morally weakened him, robbing him of his individuality. This also led, in addition to a will to live and survive, direct to a gradual physical extinction. The years 1939 to 1941, when Stutthof was still under construction, this was for the detainees the most difficult period of the history of the camp. The first prisoners who arrived in September 1939, had to spend the nights in crowded tents. When barracks were built on piles in the marshy terrain they were not inhabitable until October, they were windowless and offered little protection from the cold. In winter, the interior walls were covered with hoar frost, which melted from the evaporation of the occupants and the floor covered straw on which they slept become wet and soggy. Added to this was the lice infestation. These conditions led to numerous diseases such as diarrhoea and typhoid fever, for which there was only one remedy, a piece of charcoal from the oven. Since sanitary facilities were still missing diseases spread fast. Wash-rooms emerged as late as June 1940. The latrine consisted of a large pit between the barracks, with two boards installed across to squat in ranks. Those who wanted to use the latrine at night, had by acclamation at the barrack door, get the attention of the guard at the nearest guard tower, for permission to leave the property. This could, however, end tragically, as the guard could pretend, he had not heard the call, and have him shot, under the pretext of 'thwarting an escape' of the prisoner.
The hunger in the camp was omnipresent. Lunch consisted mainly of steamed fodder beet leaves. For eight people there was 1 kg of bread and a small cube of margarine. Since the bread was meant to be distributed as fairly as possible inmates had constructed a primitive, self-made scale, and under the watchful gaze of hungry eight pairs of eyes, it was evenly divided.
The prisoners were exposed at every turn to all kinds of harassment by the SS guards. Jews suffered under special tortures: they were immersed (untergetaucht) for no reason at all into ditches filled with water, suspended or even forced to commit suicide by hanging themselves, which happened often, the SS men tended to reduce a prisoner functionary or foreman of the group, which meant a death sentence for many Jews and Poles. These sadistic atrocities of executions were then usually carried out, either in the forest, on a tree-filled space or in the carpenters shop. This is suggested by the conflicting entries as to the cause of death in the camp records: According to official information about an inmate who died of heart failure, while in the cemetery book of Zaspa, which was kept by the local gravedigger, the cause of death was noted as 'shooting' (Erschießungen) . [Drywa, Stracemi, page 153, sic]

Old Camp: Construction of the first barracks, Fall 1939
Since 1939, corporal punishment was 'officially' applied, which was approved as a rule by the commandant or camp leader on the basis of a report by SS men, and usually amounted from 25 to 100 blows. The punishment was mostly carried out by the Camp Elder Fritz Selonke or the foreman of the Waldkommando, Karl Kliefoth. From the beginning, even harsher penalties were imposed, by staying as a punishment in a dark prison cell up to  six days without food, often in combination with 'punitive marchings', and 'Hard Labour'.
From 1939 to April 1940, there was only one sick room in the camp. For more severe diseases, the prisoners were taken to the camp hospital at Neufahrwasser. The ambulance had only bandages made ​​of paper and iodine available. Then the entire hospital from Neufahrwasser including the staff of Neufahrwasser was relocated and the Hospital was expanded at Stutthof in April 1940. After establishing a suitable barrack, the camp hospital had 120 beds. As a diarrhoea epidemic broke out, an own quarantine area was created. There were also accommodation for SS and hospital staff, a reception room, a clinic, a treatment room, a small pharmacy as well as sanitary and utility rooms. Physicians up to the October 31, 1941 was SS Technical Sergeant Werner von Schenk, Medical SS Master Sergeant Otto Haupt. Among the inmate doctors who distinguished himself was Dr. Stefan Mirau, head of the interior department, and Dr. Aleksander Witkowski, head of the surgical department. By his unusual commitment to combat the typhus epidemic in the spring of 1942, Dr Mirau paid with his life. [Miron Klusdak, Incidence of disease of prisoners and medical care in Stutthof. Zeszyty Muzeum I (1976) page 64, sic]
With the expansion of the camp, it gradually improved the living conditions of the prisoners, especially the completion of the Block in the new camp, with an additional area of ​​60 x 12.5 meters bigger and warmer than the ones built 1939-1941, which brought a great relief. The new barracks were divided into "A" and "B" sections. In between were the wash-rooms and lavatory facilities. The areas were divided into day and sleeping rooms. Wooden beds  stood one above the other as triple beds.  Each dormitory was equipped with straw mattress, straw or sawdust-filled pillows and two thin woollen blankets for each inmate. The day room areas had tables and benches and prisoner could take their meals there. In a Block about 500 prisoners were housed. In the new camp, with the construction of a deep water well the prisoners were given better quality water, as the existing groundwater contaminated by bacteria that caused diarrhoea diseases.
Mid-1944, the situation for the prisoners deteriorated again, as numerous transports arrived with Jewish prisoners in the concentration camp, the camp administration had to make room. Of the approximately 49,000 Jews who arrived in Stutthof on the 29th of June to the end of 1944, 11,106 were deported to the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Neuengamme, Natzweiler, Flossenbürg, Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen. The remaining Jewish women in Stutthof were initially housed in the quarantine block No. XVII to XX of the new camp, also in six barracks in the area of the Jewish camp and in the brick-built kitchen building. Jewish men were admitted into Blocks III (together with the Latvian Honorary Prisoners) XIII, (initially together with Danish prisoners) and in number XIV and XV. The Blocks were hopelessly overcrowded. Where before 200 to 600 prisoners were housed, now thronged 1,200 to 1,800 or 2,000 people for space. One or two sleeping bunks were pushed together taking up as many as four to six prisoners per pallet, others slept on the bare floor between the beds or even in the toilets. The worst conditions prevailed among the Jewish women who had to live in unfinished barracks in the Jewish camp. Right and left a little straw was piled up on the floor where the women slept. In some barracks there were straw mattresses. One inmate recalls: 'For four people a straw mattress was given with one blanket, that's when the fights started. The night was incredibly restless because of the constant struggle for a bit of room, so that everyone longed for the dawn, as the nights were very stressful to compete and fight for a little space. Everything was full of bugs (Ungeziefer). We rarely were allowed to wash ourselves. [Statement of Eugenia Kacownja, in: AK-IPN, SO Gd sign, 8Ia, p.2 sic] The most extreme conditions prevailed in the blocks XXIX and XXX, officially called the Jewish Hospital, but the prisoners called it the 'Stink Hall' or 'Death Block'. There were patients with Typhus and completely exhausted women who had been sent back from the satellite camps, and isolated. They were without medical assistance, without food, water or bread lying in the wet straw, which was imbued with pus and excrement. The rations for Jewish women were significantly lower than for other prisoners. In January 1944, the head of the catering division of the camp presented a table according to that, each prisoner would receive daily: 360g bread, 500g potatoes, 560g vegetables, 30g meat, 26g margarine 14g jam, turnips, coffee, sugar, sweets and curd(Quark), so the Table of Allowances states states. In reality, not a single prisoner ever received such rations, least of all the Jewish women. They received 250 to 300g of bread, about two grams of margarine and a half litre of watery soup. This starvation rations was further undermined by the block elders, who distributed them. On Saturday and Sunday there was a small allowance of jam and a jug of sweetened coffee. (g stands for 'gramm' which is a German weight measurement)
Packets received from the outside to supplement the camp rations of non-Jewish prisoners made an improvement, but until the end of 1942 these 'deliveries' with basic food and clothing arrived via an illegal route or with the consent of the Camp Commander for prisoners into the camp. Only since Himmler's circular of October 29, 1942, which expressly permitted the parcel reception into concentration camps, prisoners were allowed a package with a maximum weight of two kilograms per month. The fastest way to reach the packages for prisoners was from Pomerania as this was geographically the closes location. In a better situation were the Scandinavian and other detainees, and receipts of packages from the International Red Cross and the Danish, French and Portuguese Red Cross including the generosity of the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) when parcels were arriving. Jews and Russians were excluded from the packet receptions. Their only way to get additional food, was the bartering on the camp's black market. Barter items for a piece of bread were mostly things that had been illicitly manufactured from material at the workplace, such as logos, cigarette cases, spoons and combs, but also birth-name and festive cards as well as portraits of prisoners, as the two Russians Izaak Livshits and Piotr Woroschilin, graduates of an academy of arts, created.
The entrance gate to the so-called. Special camp'. In July and August 1944, durable construction of barracks north of the New Camp. The intention was to put there  prisoners from multiple Transports, which were coming that summer. Within one month they built 10 barracks. They were given (Roman) numbers from XXI to XXX. Fenced with high voltage wires and went  by the name of the Jewish Camp (Judenlager).
Neither male nor female Jewish prisoners received medical attention in the Stutthof concentration camp. In the ever-expanding camp hospital only 'Aryan' prisoners were treated. The infirmary for men in the second part of the old camp (barracks III, IV, and V) had from 1942 to 1943 six wards. From May 12 to September 17, 1943 these were extended to twelve stations. For female prisoners there was a sick room in the women's barracks in the old camp. In the Jewish camp, there was indeed a hospital, but whose staff had no way to offer medical help. By the end of 1942, the camp hospital in Stutthof was only there to isolate the sick with contagious diseases. After leaving the hospital, the prisoners without regard to their health status had returned to their work assignments. Often, the stay in the hospital was tantamount to a death sentence: The patient died either of exhaustion, hunger or ill-treatment by the medical corps. Only from 1943 onwards the situation did improve. In May 1942, the 'protection' procedure came into force. After leaving the hospital the sick and convalescent came into Block III, the 'Quarantärenblock' where they should get their strength back, and were then assigned to work details that were doing lighter work and in enclosed spaces such as belt weaving or the potato-peeling department.   Kartoffelschälerei. [Orski, Niewolnicza praca, page 125 and 133, sic]
Operating Room at KZ Stutthof'
The number of patients during the typhus epidemics increased dramatically, from mid-August to December 1942, and again from April to October 1943 and from November 1944 to April 1945. Most victims were in the Jewish camp. The death rate from typhoid fever sufferers was falsified by the SS, the causes of the high rate of deaths had been attributed to other causes to avoid not to trigger a panic among the local population. (Although a Typhus Epidemic did exist during the liberation of Dachau, the US Army was slow to react, and the death rate increased to give inmates their 'Freedom', ignoring vital isolation procedures, but realized the spread to their own troops and immunized not only them, but the Dachau population including children.HKS)  From 1942-1944 the medical staff consisted primarily from Poland, of which Juliusz Wegrzynowicz and Alfons Wojewski distinguished themselves. Other prisoner physicians also included the Lithuanians Anastas Starkus, the Russian Fiodor Soprunow and Latvian Artur Jakowicz. They developed under poor camp conditions, their own methods of treatment that saved the lives of many prisoners. The German Senior Physician Heidl looked at the patients only, and took care of selections. Prisoners whose health would not promise a quick recovery, were killed with phenol injections or submersed in a water bucket. Lung patients had to perform in freezing condition, clad in in drill trousers, thin shirt and clogs exercises that led to the death of many. Nevertheless, the hospital was just at this time the centre of resistance within the camp, a kind of illegal aid station. The doctors extended the stay for the sick and exhausted, thus protecting them, when SS men were looking for prisoners overstaying their time in the infirmary, they falsified medical records and organized extra food. [Owsinski, Polszy wieniowie pollityczni, page 139, sic]
For cases of corporal punishment or the death penalty the year 1942 brought a formal change in the penal system of the concentration camp. For 'minor' offences, the camp administration imposed penalties based on their own authority, in cases 'of serious' offences they had to seek the approval of the IKL, the RSHA or the Reichsführer SS Himmler in Berlin. The hardest punishment in the camp was the death penalty by hanging, imposed mainly resulting from failed escape attempts or suspected sabotage at the workplace. 1943, in addition to the prohibition of corporal punishment, which was never addressed or adhered to in practice, even the death penalty for fugitives was forbidden. 1944, if a prisoner who was caught or suspected of trying to escape, or to plan his escape, received 25 blows (Hiebe), had to wear a pinned patch on his back 'Escape Point' (Fluchtpunkt) and was assigned to work in the 'Shit Commando' (Scheisskommando). Even in the camp's practiced penal system and the harassment served in particular to deprive prisoners of their human dignity and to limit the satisfaction of basic primitive needs. But even under these conditions the prisoners resisted and took up the unequal struggle against terror. The main objectives of the resistance groups were to fight both for survival and the dignity of man and inflict damage directed at the NS-regime, which was done through various individually or collective self-defence and self-help methods. This included the various forms of cultural life, like secret teaching, forbidden artistic activities, religious life or political activity. In the camp workshops, there were acts of sabotage. Armed groups emerged, and also attempts to escape were a form of protest. Since the camp was located in an area with a predominantly German population, the prisoners could hope for no help from the outside. In addition, the SS prevented the formation of national groups in order to avoid the emergence of any organized forms of resistance. Any attempts to establish an armed underground organization, were doomed to failure. For example, 48 'special prisoners' of Stutthof were on the 1st of June 1944 sent to Mauthausen, of which 22 were Russian officers and 26 Poles, top officials of the Polish resistance movement, which the Camp Administration considered to be dangerous.
Stutthof at the peak of its expansion - the year of 1944'.
Nevertheless what developed, especially after the positions of most of the clerical positions were held by Polish Political prisoners, a sort of prisoner self-help existed. The position in the office for the Allocation of Labour was kept by a Pole who had the control over the allocation of the individual work details. He faked jobs: a teacher was about to become a carpenter or shrines champion. The weaker prisoners were given lighter work, and were given part of the larger food ration with other prisoners. When the transports with Jews arrived, those who worked in the office of the Political Department, changed in many cases, the birth dates of Jewish children and 'made' them older, to protect them that way from extermination during transportation to Auschwitz. Another time, Camp Elders would alter the entry in the camp files of a nationalities. Special care was given by Danish prisoners to those Jewish children, with whom they had shared Block XIII for a certain time. Every Dane had a child under his special care, with whom he shared his food from the Red Cross parcels they received. [Drywa, Zagłada Zydow, page 148, ,sic] In the context of self-help, mostly those prisoners were active who were employed in the camp workshops and offices, and received parcels, had access to the SS magazine (supplies), although their actions were limited to the extend of their access
                                      CONTINUED UNDER PART 6/10

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