Thursday, December 19, 2013


The established Old Camp (Altes Lager) (1939-1942) was protected by a high barbed-wire fence and four guard towers, from which strong reflectors (search lights) at night lit the camp terrain. The guard towers were manned by armed guards.  the main gate, also called the 'Gate of Death' led Into the prisoner area of the camp. In the centre part, a second fence with a gate separated the prisoners accommodation from the camp hospital and workshops. The site of the 'New Camp' (Neues Lager) built from 1942 until 1945 was surrounded by two rows of barbed wire fences. The outer fence was electrified with 360 volts. To fully isolate the Jewish prisoners further, their camp area was surrounded by another barbed wire enclosure, connected to a high voltage electrical system. The on duty SS Totenkopf-Sturmbann of Stutthof concentration camp consisted of three companies, which in turn made up of two Platoons. From 1942 to 1943 each company had about 150 men, that is, theoretically every tenth inmate was guarded by one SS man. In practice, however, the ratio was one to 20 or 30. In early 1942, the authorized strength was three officers, and 432 SS men, but in fact there were only 140 SS men on the camp premises.
Guard Tower, Stutthof
After Stutthof had become a concentration camp, there were constant changes and fluctuation in the make-up of the guard contingent. By the end of 1942, it consisted solely of former Polish citizens of German ancestry (ethnic German) German citizen of the Free City of Danzig and some Reich Germans. During 1943 ethnic German from Romania, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania and Slovakia, as well as German nationals originally from Germany and Austria came to Stutthof. Also, Ukrainians, reassigned from the Buchenwald concentration camp, did service by 1943 in Stutthof. They were trained in the SS Trawniki training camp and had previously been used mostly in the extermination camps of Treblinka and Sobibor. There were also former Latvian policemen who came to escort inmate transports into the camp, but often returned to their original assignments.
On 15 June 1944, the first of 500 Wehrmacht soldiers of the Army Section Stettin arrived in the Stutthof concentration camp to reinforce the guards, because now transports of Jews from the Baltic countries and the Auschwitz concentration camp were expected to arrive in Stutthof.  On 29 June 1944, the Wehrmacht training battalion under command of SS-Hauptsturmführer Richard Reddig was responsible for re-forming the newcomers into four companies with 431 non-commissioned officers and soldiers. On July 6, 1944 it was renamed 'SS Guard Battalion II-KL Stutthof'. The soldiers were transferred into the Waffen-SS and fitted out with SS uniforms. With this transformation another four security companies had thus been established. The maximum Staff Complement of the Stutthof concentration camp hereby consisted of 1,100 SS men, of whom were 590-900 to be guards.
 On 27 September 1942 in accordance with Himmler's order of 15 May 1942 the use of service dogs (Diensthunde) in concentration camps was raised., the first eight shepherd dogs with their handlers arrived in Stutthof. In June 1943, the canine unit consisted of 20 and on January 12, 1945 of 18 dogs. The animals were used as detection dogs in the hunt for fugitive prisoners.

Himmler during the visit Stutthof. After this visit the decision was made, on renaming the camp for Prisoners as civilian concentration camp under SS control'. 
The final decision on the approval of Stutthof as Konzentrazionlager Himmler's visit was made after November 23, 1941, the official creation of KL issued on February 20, 1942, when it ordered the camp belonging to the Gdansk police facility. In practice, the dependence of the camp authorities has not changed almost at all, because the camp is still subject to SS-Gruppenführerowi Richard Hildebrandt, the Higher SS and Police Leader in the District of the Gdańsk-West Prussia.

In November 1942, the first three wardresses (Aufseherinnen) from the Ravensbrück concentration camp, arrived at Stutthof, who came were: Herta Bothe, Anna Kopp and Hidegard Ziegler. At this time there were about 100 female inmates present who were housed without their own security guards in a block of the old camp. The supervisory responsibility was led by SS Unterscharführer Franz Mielenz. During 1942 the Management of the Stutthof concentration camp was obliged to ask for further wardresses, as more and more female prisoners were taken in, as in mid-1944 transports with Jewish women arrived, the Headquarters recruited with the help of the Danzig Labour Office (Arbeitsamt) young women from Danzig as wardresses in the women's camps of Stutthof as well as in the Jewish satellite camps. 150 candidates were trained among others in Ravensbrück. 60 of them remained in the main camp (Stammlager), the rest were used in sub-camps.
When the war started, right in the first months of the German occupation there were mass arrests and executions of Polish civilians on the territory of the Free City of Danzig and throughout West Prussia. Who escaped the executions, was placed into camps and prisons. Victims were primarily employees of Polish institutions in Danzig. It effected the Polish Postal System, the Railways, the General Commissariat of the Republic of Poland, the Council for the Port and Waterways, the Branch of the Customs Office, as well as teachers, priests and functionaries of Polish Organizations. In Danzig, the new rulers imprisoned in the first days of the war about 1,500 people and put them into the Victoria School, of which one-tenth was taken on September 2nd,1939 into the newly established camp at Stutthof. After September 10th there followed anther prisoner transports from the Victoria School, and in November 1939 Polish officials from the regions of Marienwerder and Stuhmdorf were deported directly to Stutthof, in December, teachers and students of the high school in Marienwerder came from the camp of Hohenbruch.
The arrested people of Gdynia - 1939 years.'
At the same time transports were sent straight to the civilian prison camp in Danzig- Neufahrwasser. On 14/15 September 1939 there arrived about 3000 inhabitants from Gdynia. Beginning in October 1939 this was followed by 100 Polish Navy soldiers, prisoners of war from the island of Hela. Another transport with several prisoners, inhabitants of Bromberg, Thorn and the surrounding area, were taken in January 1940 from Fort VII in Thorn to Neufahrwasser, among them about 100 priests. They were all transferred in late March 1940 after the closure of the camp at Neufahrwasser to Stutthof. Late January / beginning of February 1940 there were in the camps of Neufahrwasser, Grenzdorf and Stutthof a total of 5,150 prisoners, of which 2,000 were in Neufahrwasser, 350 in Grenzdorf and 1,100 in Stutthof.  As all three camps were jointly controlled and inmate registrations maintained, more than 9,000 people were there imprisoned from 2nd September 1939 to the end March 1940.  Among the prisoners had also been Jews of Polish citizenship from Danzig and other cities and towns of West Prussia. Part of the Jews, as the cantor of the Danzig synagogue , Leopold Schufftan, the Danzig Social Democrat Jakob Lange and others were later murdered in the camps of Neufahrwasser, Grenzdorf and Stutthof. [Drywa, Zagłada, Zydow, page 20f sic]. Most of the prisoners who were deported during the first months of the war into the Stutthof camp, had originally been arrested as part of a 'purge' by the Wehrmacht. The special interests of both,[Wehrmacht and Security Police, sic] especially  the Gestapo was aimed at in particular against teachers, civil servants, priests and officers of the Polish pre-war defence forces and veterans in September 1939 conflict. They were tracked down in the prison camps and handed over to the Gestapo, and after interrogations deported to the Stutthof camp. From mid-1940 the members of the resistance movement were isolated in West Prussia and killed at Stutthof. In June, the first resistance fighters who came from Gdynia and the surrounding area came into the camp. In the fall of 1941, members of the 'Association of Armed Struggle', as well as the organizations 'Grunwald' and 'Wolnosc' (freedom) were in the camp. These inmates consigned to Stutthof were referred to during the completion of the investigation by the police as 'civilian' detainees. The concentration camp acted also as a Detention and Interrogation Centre for the Danzig Gestapo. Since December 1942 [polish,sic] members of the Sub-District of the Home Army Command North from Thorn, Kulm, Blomberg, Gdynia etc and were interned at Stutthof.
Throughout the year of 1943 transports with members of the secret military organization (TOW) 'Gryf Pomorski' and the Pomeranian District commands, the defender of Poland (LAD) from the environment of Leipe and Rypin arrived at the Stutthof concentration camp. In the second half of the year, members of the Polish insurrection army were present at Stutthof. Members of these organizations were also admitted during the year 1944 into the camp, also members of other conspiratorial groups such as the right-wing 'Miecz i Plug' (sword and plough), the 'Tajny Hufiec Harcerzy' (Secret Scout group), 'Mlody Las' (Young Forest), 'Legia Orla Bialego' (White Eagle Legion) as well as members and sympathizers of the communist Polish Workers Party (PPR).
A Polish flag with an "anchor" device was used as an emblem by the Polish resistance.'
Prisoners who had been associated with the underground movement, were held in the concentration camp Stutthof under the term 'hostages' (Geiseln). These were family members and people who were supportive in  Partisan activities. By the end of 1944, whole families were deported to Stutthof and held there including children, because according to the file and record  entries, of favouring 'Bandit Association' (Banditenbegünstigung). An example of how the occupiers in West Prussia fought against all that was Polish in culture, civilians were deported from 1942 into the concentration camps, as they had refused to sign the 'German People List' (Deutsche Volksliste) (DVL). This meant the signature for young men from Polish families could and would be drafted into the German Wehrmacht. In Western Pomerania, therefore, the enrolment was forcibly obtained. At the first opportunity for the enlisted Poles, they deserted, or ran over to the other side, for winch their families had to pay, with incarceration of some kind. In West Prussia, it was also forbidden to speak Polish, transgressions were punished with detention and in most cases it was a concentration camp.
Although Stutthof was mainly a camp for the Polish population from Danzig-West Prussia until the end of 1942, some German Nationals were already there between 1939 to 1941, among the first camp prisoners was a native of Danzig, a 'Bibelforscher'(Jehovah Witness), who was admitted on 6 September 1939. There were also German opponents of the NS-Regime, but also Belarusians and Ukrainians. In December 1941, Germans from Danzig were finally admitted by the local criminal police (Kripo) into the camp, among them, one, who later became Camp Elder, Fritz Selonke. In 1941 there were also some Jews from the Lodz ghetto in Stutthof. They performed forced labour during the final construction phase of the highway (Autobahn) Berlin-Danzig- Königsberg which had to be previously stopped at the German/Polish border. After the attack on the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, the first Soviet prisoners appeared in the camp. Crews of the anchored vessels 'Magnitogorsk' and 'Aleksander Sybiriakow' in Danzig and Gdynia harbours were also interned at Stutthof.

                         A Polish POW stands to attention at a roll call at Stutthof 

In 1942, there were organizational changes due to the affiliation of the camp and its involvement in the extermination policies and the system of exploitation of the labour force of the prisoners in concentration camps, resulting in a radical change in the national composition of the Stutthof camp. From 1942 to mid-1944, the SS sent prisoners from concentration camps Buchenwald, Dachau, Neuengamme, Mauthausen,  Sachsenhausen and Flossenbürg to Stutthof. Among them were at the beginning  craftsmen such as carpenters, roofers and carpenters, who were initially employed in the construction of the new camp. The prisoners were of Polish, German, Czech, Dutch, Belgians, French, Norwegian origin, and also Jews. Among the Germans, the 'criminal' prisoners (BV), predominated, which immediately took over auxiliary functions in the guarding functions. In addition ten nurses arrived from the Dachau in two transports on 22 April and on 23 September 1942.
The transports that came from Denmark, Norway and Finland, and Lithuania and Latvia from 1942 to 1944, bear witness to the brutal fight against the Resistance in occupied countries. In April 1943, so-called Honour Prisoners were deported to the Stutthof concentration camp. Representatives of the Lithuanian and Latvian intelligentsia, university professors, members of parliament, engineers, priests,and doctors. More and more members of the Latvian resistance movement came in the second half of 1944 into the camp. In the camp records 3,000 Latvians are listed. Among the prisoners that were detained on 14 September in the concentration camp, was among others the son of the President of Latvia, Professer Konstantin Cakste.
Himmler's visit in Stutthof. The commandant Max Pauly shows Himmler SS officers. From left to right standing: SS-Obersturmführer: A. Schwartz, A. Dittmann, Dr. Otto, Oertli, Polizeiinspektor Niemann
and SS-Hauptsturmführer: K. Mathesius, von Bonin. A. Neubauer.

In the years 1942 to 1944 Poles were deported to Stutthof from other regions. On May 22, 1942 for the first time 51 prisoners came from the Warsaw Pawiak-Prison, among them eleven Jews from the Warsaw ghetto. Further 859 prisoners from Pawiak arrived on the 25th of May 1944. Most were political prisoners, members of underground organizations that operated in Warsaw. Late August and September 1944 arrived the largest group of prisoners from Warsaw. These were from the transit camp of Pruszkow, where the Warsaw insurgents had been kept after the capitulation in October 1944. The SS transferred a total of 4,432 civilians of them, as well as a group of female couriers of the Home Army. Also from the area around ​ ​Bialystok in the course of anti-partisan operations one transports with Polish citizens arrived. Due to their affiliation or assistance towards partisan units or for sympathies for them about 2,500 Polish peasants and Belarusian's mainly farmers and residents in rural areas in the eastern  Polish territories during 1943 to 1944 were imprisoned in the concentration camp Stutthof.
Soviet partisan fighters behind German front lines in Belarus, 1943.'
Since the end of 1943 a major transport arrived with Jewish women. In November, 300 Jews were registered from the ghetto of Bialstysok. A new capital in the history of the camp of Stutthof began with the arrival of a transport of 2,502 Hungarian Jews from the Auschwitz concentration camp on 29 June 1944. A total of 23,566 prisoners came from late June to the 28th October 1944 in eleven transports from the Auschwitz camp complex, of which 21,817 were women. In addition to the Jewish women from Hungary also Jewesses from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, the Netherlands, Latvia, Luxembourg, Italy and Romania were among them. Most of the prisoners who were deported from the camp of Auschwitz to Stutthof, were Polish Jews from the ghettos of the General Government had been kept, and the last occupants at the end of August 1944 came from the liquidated ghetto of the Lodz ghetto. But even Jews from the Baltic countries were deported to Stutthof. The retreat of the eastern front in the second half of 1944 forced the Germans to dissolve the ghettos and camps in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and to send the prisoners on evacuation transports. The obvious closest camp was Stutthof. The number of these transports began with 4,785 Lithuanian Jews, mainly women with young children. Their arrival was registered on 12th and 16th of July 1944. The security police in Kaunas and Riga sent a total of 16 transports with 25,043 Jewish prisoners to Stutthof. Here, too, were 16,123 women with them, female prisoners in the camp were now in the majority. In addition to Lithuanian and Latvian Jews as well as other Jews from Poland, Germany, Hungary, Czech, Slovakia, Austria, Romania, Russia and Italy arrived with these transports, which consisted also of prisoners of other nationalities, such as 34 French Jews from Drancy, which were included by the security police in Reval onto a transport of Polish prisoners on the 1st September 1944 that arrived at Stutthof. Despite the gaps in the camp documentation for the second half of 1944, it is to assume that there were at that time about 49,000 Jewish prisoners in the concentration camp. These admission of numerous Jews led to changes in the mix of the existing inmate population.

Non-employable inmates rest with their belongings in the forest near the crematorium IV. An old man climbs down the slight bank at the edge of the fire pond in order to fill some water into a metal container
In June 1940, it had been for the first time that women were in the majority of the total camp inmates.  Many women were among the relatives of the Pomeranian resistance movement including some transports from Warsaw who were arrested between 1941 and 1944 and sent to Stutthof.  Even with transports from Denmark, Norway and the Baltic countries, women came for one reason or other into this camp. Russians, Poles, Ukrainians  and Frenchwomen were also deported to the labour education camp  [Arbeitserziehungslager, which in fact was hard labour to show them what physical work was really like. HKS] in October 1941. To this category of prisoners were also many forced labourers (Zwangsarbeiter) from different nations from the Gau Danzig-West Prussia, who allegedly refused to work for the Third Reich, had been away from their jobs, had performed their work badly, or were under  suspiciousion of sabotage. After 56 days, this category of detainees were released. Many, however, died before that.[Forced  labour played an important role in the Nazi regime’s Jewish policy as well as for the economy of the concentration camps. Forced labour became particularly important following the outbreak of World War II, when the Nazi war economy demanded an enormous effort. In connection with the ’Final Solution’, the Jews’ role as workers diminished as the extermination process was escalated. This was particularly apparent as far as the Polish Jews were concerned. A morbid form of forced labour was instituted in 1941, according to which Jews should be “worked to death.sic]

Former Execution Range Paneriai - Ponary

From 1942 until January 1945 decommissioned Soviet prisoners, especially political commissars, party officials, Communists and Jews were transported to Stutthof as well from other prisoner of war camps. Often after the acceptance of these prisoners, executions in the camp grounds, mostly on prisoners of Jewish origin took place.  On October 13, 1944, 109 men from the French SS Volunteer Assault Brigade Charlemagne, which was re-named at the turn of 1944/45, into the SS Division Charlemagne, and taken to Stutthof. They wore the SS uniform with the tricolour armband. To the other prisoners they maintained they came into the camp because they had refused to fight on the side of Germany on the Western Front.  In fact, they had committed criminal offences, but only in a few cases had they been convicted of desertion by the SS and sentenced during court martial of SS and Police Courts in Danzig.


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