PRISONERS AT WORK PLACES PART 6/10
One of many forms of extermination in most of the concentration camps was next to hunger, disease, constant harassment, mainly hard and difficult labour. The slave-work often had the goal to destroy the prisoners physically and psychologically. The first inmates at Stutthof worked in the levelling commando (Planierung), in the forest column (Wald Kommando), in the transport column (also called the railway or trolley pushers) for the construction of the camp. The first barracks built by the prisoners who initially worked to erect a kit-set type of dormitory rooms on piles, driven into the ground, and in the carpenter's workshop. Most were craftsman. One of them, the Jewish carpenter and woodcarver Julius Schwarzbart was since September 1939 Kapo in the carpenter's workshop. He had previously fought as a soldier in the Polish army. He managed to hide his Jewish origins until the last day in the camp.[This is surprising as the SS had the habit telling (POW's) to pull their pants down, if they were circumcised,HKS] In addition to doors, frames, barracks facilities and coffins, craftsmen also made items for personal use for the SS men like pieces of furniture with inlays, floor lamps, skis and jewellery boxes. In return, the prisoners were given extra food rations. Scharzbart's wood carvings were known far beyond Stutthof. He had received numerous orders from NS-officials in Berlin and from other German cities, which he created in the camp's workshop. In the course of constructing the camp they also firmly established a Masonry and a Lock Smith Workshop.
In November 1939, a cobbler's shop was opened, which until January 1945, was led by Jakub Wartzki from the start. There was also Icek Krymalowski, who came like Wartzki from Wejherow and worked together. They were among the few Jewish prisoners who were detained during the entire existence of the life of the concentration camp and survived. As a specialized shaft-leather-cutters they made boots for SS and SA Officers and were in a way convenient to keep them alive and foremost they were indispensable. The electrical commando, also emerged in the autumn of 1939, in 1942 they put the high voltage power line to the fence which was connected to the new camp. An oven-set commando built the stoves in the barracks, in the hospital and in painting, glazing, plumbing and roofing repair shops. In late 1939 came onto the camp grounds a tailor shop with 15- and a shoemaker-saddlery with 20 prisoners into being. More than a dozen prisoners worked in a brick factory, located about one km south from the camp, which belonged to the district of Gross Werder. Since 1940, a work detail had to work there because of the camp's expansion and the establishment the Kommandantur, which meant, more prisoners would be needed. The bricks were transported by the narrow gauge railway, which had a branch-off, that led directly to the camp. In April 1942, the SS-company took over the Brickworks from the German Earth and Stone Works (DEst).
In Stutthof there were since the fall of 1939 agricultural commandos that were used on farms in the area of Werder on both sides of the Vistula, or sent to satellite camps to their workplaces, which originated in the nearby towns of West Pomerania. [I believe this is incorrect, it should read East Pomerania, the researcher is in error, West Pomeranian is hundreds of miles away from Danzig, on the west side of the river Oder,HKS] 1939-1941 the camp commandant, business leaders and the SS commando leader decided on the classification of prisoners for suitable labour services, in January 1942 the work assignment office (Arbeitsbüro) took over this function, which was under the control of the protective custody camp leader. The basis for the classifications and labour input came from the personnel files of the prisoners, in addition to registering, apart from the categorized information a certificate by the camp doctor containing the health of the inmate was included. The Block Elders, were obliged to keep the books, in which they entered for each prisoner his/her qualification in order to assign a prisoners to a fitting work commando. They also had the task on behalf of the SS-labour employment administrator to seek out and locate prisoners with special skills and assign them to appropriate commandos.
With the introduction of the central inmate files in all concentration camps a Hollerith card index was established in Stutthof during August 1944, which had about 80,000 prisoners and more than 800 professions and functions registered that were able to be performed by prisoners. This index was the basis for the applied centralized guidelines in October 1944 for the use of labour requirements in the armaments industry and construction projects. [Ibid, pages 116-129, sic]
IBM AND THE HOLLERITH CONTROVERSY
[In both the United States and Germany concentration or internment camps were established during World War II and both countries utilized the available IBM punched card technology for some parts of their camps operation and record keeping. In Germany, during World War II, IBM engaged in business practices which have been the source of controversy. Much attention focuses on the role of IBM's German subsidiary, known as Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen Gesellschaft, or Dehomag. Topics in this regard include:
Documenting operations by Dehomag which may have aided the German war effort, and in particular the Holocaust.
Comparing these efforts to operations by other IBM subsidiaries which aided other nations' war efforts,
and in particular the Holocaust; and ultimately, assessing the degree to which IBM should be held culpable for atrocities which were made possible by its actions.
In February 2001, an Alien Tort Claims Act claim was filed in U.S. federal court against IBM for allegedly providing the punched card technology that facilitated the Holocaust, and for covering up Dehomag's activities. In April 2001, the lawsuit was dropped. Lawyers said they feared proceeding with the suit would slow down payments from a special German Holocaust fund created to compensate forced labourers and others who had suffered due to the Nazi persecution. IBM's German division paid $3 million into the fund, although IBM denied admitting liability with its contribution. In 2004, GIRCA filed suit against IBM in Switzerland. The case was dismissed in 2006.[sic]
The scope of work for prisoners was regulated by decrees of the Main SS Economic-Administrative Office. The length of working hours, the time for the departure of the commandos, the duration of breaks and the time for the return to the camp was, however, laid down by the individual camp commander. He could also extend the working week of a commando as needed. On Sundays, the prisoners worked only until noon. 1942/43, the daily maximal working duration was ten hours. The commandos employed in factories and workshops worked from seven to 1800 hour with an hour for lunch. Since the 2nd of May 1944, the eleven-hour workday from 6.30 to 11.30 noon and then again from 1300 to 1900 hour was introduced and adhered to, by orders of the commander as from the 26th April 1944. On Sundays prisoners worked from 6:30 am to noon. Since 1942, most of the prisoners worked in the existing offices on the camp grounds of the Internal factories (Wirtschaftsbetriebe) under forced labour conditions, mainly in the DAW and the Construction Office of the Waffen-SS and Police of Stutthof-Danzig. In the new camp the following DAW workshops were housed in ten barracks:
1. The rifle squad worked up to 250 prisoners repairing damaged and used carbines. Among them were armourer of the arms factories in Radom, from a French company and the Krupp-works in Germany.
2. In bicycle command about 80 prisoners repaired bicycles.
3. In the tailor shop about 80 male and 50 to 70 female inmates sewed uniforms and improved them.
4. In the belt weaving the 'invalids' were present, prisoners with the category I, who made military belts and so forth. Most of them had just been released from the hospital, or they needed special care because they were important to the inmate self-government. Average 300 people worked here.
5. In shoemaking, saddlery about 300 prisoners worked there. They established under other items, horse tack and saddles and repaired shoes and boots for the Wehrmacht. In this plant there was a paper hanging Department.
6. In the women's section of the shoe-making about 100 prisoners repaired small leather goods for the Wehrmacht as telescope covers, pouches, belts, backpacks, etc.
7. In the skinning or fur chamber set 100 to 150 women, making winter clothing made from lamb and rabbit fur for the Wehrmacht.
8. In the locksmith, plumbing and blacksmiths section, metal fittings, locks, keys, small machine parts, tools and pliers were made and brass cut out from Soviet cartridge belts of machine guns. In the locksmith section, an average of 200 prisoners were employed and in the other two shops 100 to 200 by June 1944. A total of 1,950 people were thus working in the DAW sheltered workshop.
Some DAW workshops: Carpentry, brick and painting workshops with about 250 prisoners were in the old camp. In addition, there were tailors with exclusively female prisoners and shoemakers and auto repair shops that worked only for the needs of the Stutthof concentration camp. In January 1943, they opened a 'straw-shoemakers room' in the old camp, where Polish women who had been arrested for their involvement in the resistance movement were working. Around 1,400 prisoners in the concentration camp of Stutthof were employed by the construction section of the Waffen-SS and by the Police of Stutthof-Danzig, which were former inmates of the forest commando. The farm of Werderhof, managed by the SS-company German Research Institute for Food and Catering GmbH (DAV), employed 20-40 prisoners. Mid-1944 the Army Clothing Command was moved from the Riga concentration camp as a branch of the SS enterprises to Stutthof. In the autumn of that year 'Delta Hall' moved as a branch of the company Schichau GmbH - Elbing its operation into the camp. It produced and repaired engines and engine parts of submarines for the Navy and missile parts for the V2 on behalf of the Wehrmacht. In a branch office of the aircraft factory Focke-Wulf GmbH-Bremen at the end of 1944 were 1,210 prisoners employed in the production of aircraft parts for the fighter plane Ta-152, which was then assembled in the Focke-Wulf plants at Marienburg. Prisoners had also work for about twelve other private companies in Gdansk (Danzig) or near Stutthof who carried out construction work for either the camp itself or recondition weapons for the armed forces.
View of the rabbit cages and livestock barns at Stutthof.
Smaller private companies, Public Offices of nearby towns employed prisoners, as well as Council Offices of Groß Werder. Prisoners throughout the County were engaged in different capacities on farms. More than a dozen inmates ran the Flour-mill in the village of Stutthof, others were employed in clearing and small repairs around the local mayor's office. The Upper Forest Office (Oberforstamt) Steegen sat prisoners to work in the forest felling trees and had them load the trunks on barges, downstream on the Vistula (Weichsel) river. From 1942 prisoners worked in the construction of dikes in the combined sub-dyke system at Steegen, and in 1943 a bricklayer-commando was formed in the village of Steegen.
Until the dissolution of the camp, the established workshops from 1939 to 1940 were still in operation in which the prisoners worked exclusively for the purpose of the camp. They also had required commandos among others, in sectors of the camp, which served both the prisoners and the SS men, such as kitchens, warehouses, canteens, laundries, in the casino, in garages, in the maintenance of the (water) pumping station and the central heating plant, in gardening and in the greenhouse.
THE BLIGHT OF THE JEWISH WOMEN
Another group consisted of prisoners in the work details assignments that had to do with the administration and camp maintenance, in the rapport department, of the Political Department and the office of labour input. There was a special commando for money management, a post office censorship, which sorted the incoming correspondence and parcels and distributed them to the Blocks. Prisoners did also service in the effect chamber (Effektenkammer) in which the possession of the prisoners were kept. End of August 1944, the camp was extremely overcrowded. While still 7.000 to 8.000 prisoners had been in the camp in the spring of that year, the utilization rate was now more than 60,000 people. Therefore, a part of the Jewish prisoners was transferred shortly after arrival to other concentration camps for labour services in the German armaments industry. In addition to the already deported Jews in July and September to Auschwitz by the end of the year, an additional 8,850 were transferred to concentration camps into the Reich. The remaining Jewesses in Stutthof often received no work. In addition to hunger and disease the constant inaction contributed to the physical and mental deterioration of women. When the camp authorities decided to use about 3,000 Jewesses on German farms in the area, the women tried to join the groups that might leave the camp for work assignments to escape in the hope that diseases and selections could be avoided. If they did get a job within the the camp, this often meant the possibility to get extra food rations. Activities in the camp kitchen were particularly sought after. Daily, only 50 women were selected, which prepared in the SS or the prisoners' kitchens the meals for them, and either prepared vegetables, or were cleaning and peeling potatoes. Others were used during the potato and beet harvest or in the laundry. About 700 Jewish women worked in the women's section of the tailoring, mending of clothes, and the straw-shoemaker's rooms. In addition, work details were divided in the Jewish camp as needed, which provided for the cleanliness of the Blocks and its surroundings. For this, some of them belonged also to the internal traffic controllers and latrine cleaner commandos. The 'dead collecting commando' had to remove the bodies of the deceased during the night from the women's Block.
In general, the Jewish prisoners were doing the most primitive and most difficult work. The men had to unload besides other demeaning jobs the building material for a hangar of the Fokke-Wulf works. About 300 men were employed in Tailoring of the DAW. In addition to Poles, Russians, Germans and Norwegians Jews were also active in the work details at the engineering works of G. Epp which was located in the village of Stutthof. There was, however, no possibility for all the Jews to be employed, nor housed, within the camps facilities or to be used within the internal workshops, this led to the point that they alone formed especially in the second half of 1944 the emerging majority of the workforce that would had to be accommodated and sent into satellite camps, which employed overall 26,251 Jews , of whom 23,649 were women.
CONTINUED UNDER PART 7/10