Friday, February 14, 2014


The concentration camp Gross-Rosen was not only a place of arbitrariness, violence and the 'extermination through work', but also of murder and execution. Thousands of people were shot, hanged or killed by lethal injection. Many Soviet POWs were executed on schedule. In the winter of 1941/42 they commenced to shoot or killed soldiers of the Red Army by injections, this began since October in major or minor relapses mainly from the prisoner of war camps 'Stammlager' (Stalag) in Silesia, which were sent from places like Neukamm,  Lamsdorf, and Wollstein near Posen . The basis for these killings as to Russian Political Commissars was already announced by Hitler in March 1941, then at the 6th of June (that was before the attack on the Soviet Union), adopted, and repealed, but in May of the following year the 'Commissar' command was again enforced, stating clearly that the communist commissars 'of any type and position' to be eliminated. Smaller groups of prisoners, emaciated and weak arrived mostly from the POW camps, and were usually shot immediately after their arrival by selected people of the SS guards or killed by SS doctors and their medical support staff by injections. As larger transports arrived, a separate encampment  was set up for them, the so called 'Russian camp'(Russen-Lager). When in October 1941 between 2.500 to 3.000 prisoners arrived from the camp of Lamsdorf, only very few were singled out as labourers, most, however, were killed during the winter.  Of this transport at the end of January only 89 prisoners were still alive. The existing collected personal data of 413 murdered Russian prisoners in April 1942 shows that most of them were young men aged 21 to 24 years. After the abolition of the Commissar Order in May 1942, the few who remained of the resolved 'Russian camp'  were in part integrated into the general camp, often subjected to the 'special treatment' (Sonderbehandlung) which meant death. The exact number of people killed in Gross-Rosen of Soviet prisoners of war is not known, but it must have been from 4,000 to 5,000.
How many died?
 These executions, and often under gruelling conditions in the prison camps, contrary to all law and all agreements of martial law, during the 'special treatment' the SS and SD circumvented the German justice system which was completely ignored.  Since the war began Jews, Poles, Gypsies and Soviet Russians were no longer tried in criminal matters by civilian courts, but were handed over to the Reich Leader of the SS, that meant, Himmler took over a certain 'law enforcement' of the population in the occupied territories. With the instrument of the concentration camps he had the staff and locations to enforce summary proceedings precipitated death sentences in a relatively unobtrusive manner from the population. The camps were the execution sites of the Gestapo.  Gross-Rosen received from the State Police Offices of Breslau, Posen and Reichenberg individuals referred to as 'Special Treatment'(Sonderbehandlung). They were taken over as protective custody prisoners until the necessary 'decrees for special treatment' requested by the Gestapo Offices arrived, issued and endorsed by the Reich Security Main Office . In Gross-Rosen in the first years only two verifiable executions took place, but then in 1944 375 recorded death penalties took place, it were probably much more. 244 were led by SS-courts (Standgericht), the rest by the RSHA and the WVHA. 48 of the victims were hanged, the others almost always killed by injections. The reason or accusations advanced by the SS for the 'special treatment' were varied, in the main they were: sabotage, theft, attempted escape, refusal to work, sexual relationships with German women, in single cases even within the Gross-Rosen camp there were 40 cases of unauthorized sexual conduct, one for arson and even cruelty to animals. Prisoners from the camp were hanged, always in the presence of the other inmates, and the execution had to be enforced as the rule by prisoners.
Any of the Gross-Rosen Labour Camps were not noted for organized uprisings. In general, this option was of only marginal concern in the camp experience. Prisoners in these camps, unlike those in concentration camps, could entertain some reasonable hope that the Germans were in need of their labour and thus would be in no hurry to kill them. This gave them good reason to consider such decision very carefully. Uprisings in labour camps were really a personal choice based mainly on efforts to stay alive.
Hans Bonarewitz being taken to his execution after escaping and being recaptured 7 July 1942.' Note: He is pulled by inmates on a trolly, accopanied by musicians to the gallows
 In small Gross-Rosen camps, organizing an active uprising was almost impossible. Any untoward action immediately attracted attention and was difficult to conceal. Those who wanted to survive and fight for their lives were cautious and frowned on any action that might harm them or put their lives at risk. The authorities' collective punishment policies also created a deterrent. Nevertheless, a few prisoners did attempt to revolt. One prisoner who was interned in the Fünfteichen camp November 1944 approached a German overseer who had beaten a boy and asked fearlessly whether he was familiar with the injunction against beating prisoners The Meister surprised, pushed him away. Instead of backing down, the prisoner seized the Meister by the neck and began to strangle him. A Wehrmacht Officer on the scene offered to settle the matter then and there and not report to headquarters. The Meister agreed to consider 100 lashes a fitting punishment. The sentence was carried out immediately. As he lay in the Reviere, beaten and bruised, the prisoner was surprised when the Officer visited him to express an interest in his well-being: "How are you doing, brave young guy"?
In the Wolfsberg camp, three young male prisoners were flogged in front of the inmate population for pilfering potatoes. When it came to the third convict's turn, he stood up  and knocked the Kapo to the ground. The camp commander, thoroughly enraged, seized the whip and continued the flogging  personally. When he was finished, he flung the whip away and left another dead body behind him.
The few surviving cables and reports about implementing of the directives indicate how intolerably easy it was to decide to put prisoners to death. For Gross-Rosen prisoners to be publicly executed , even the commander of the main camp needed authorization from the WVHA head office. Höss confirms that with regard to prisoners who had been sentenced to death, the RSHA sent a cable with instructions as to how the killing should be carried out. A directive from th WVHA, dated 11 September 1944, authorized Hassebroek not only to seek the death penalty for prisoners who attempted to escape but also to impose it at his discretion on a case by case basis. At his trial Hassebroek explained that the directive was handed down in order to deter further escape attempts. On the basis of the WVHA decision, Hassbroek issued the following order on 11 October: "By directive of SS-WVHA, Department D1, of 11 September 1944, I order the execution by hanging of the prisoner Ludwig Fischer, who escaped from the Riese camp on 19 August 1944. The members of the guards unit were exonerated".
Ludwig Fischer, aged 28, a prisone from Hungary, number 33,815 (a "recycled" number) escaped in August 1944 from Märzbachtal, one of the Riese camps, as was recaptured on 12 October. To the authorities enraged astonishment, Fischer had managed to get all the way to Vienna. The hanging took place at Märzbachtal, in accordance with Hassbroek's directive that "the execution shall be performed by Jews from the same camp whence the Jew escaped.
An SS car came from Wüstegiersdorf with Fischer in it. After the evining roll call and after the commander ruled firmly that "civilian workers shall not attend the execution", Fischer was led to the gallows. The Lagerälteste was ordered to tie a noose around Fischer's neck and pull the stool from under his legs. After this was done, Lütkemeyer ceremoniously informed the prisoners: "Any bird that wants to escape from the camp will meet a similar fate'. The chief physician of the Riese complex, Dr. Rindfleisch, approached Fischer's body, examined it perfunctorily, and announced:" The dog is dead'. The corpse was undressed and sent to Gross-Rosen for incineration the next day.
Report on the hanging of a Jewish inmate after escape from the Hirschberg camp, October 1944'

The regime propagated and operated since 1939 'a weeding out of unworthy life', a convenient expression meaning ' euthanasia', which was since the spring of 1941 performed within all the concentration camps under the secret code '14f13 to 'liberate' concentration camps of unnecessary and 'existing human ballast' (Ballastexistenzen). The organization responsible for Department T-4 in Berlin sent in December 1941 the euthanasia doctor Friedrich Mennecke reporting for selection to Gross-Rosen. However, he did not limit himself in agreement with the camp authorities to the terminally ill, but also took into account previous offences of inmates and the 'race' of the prisoners. Of the 293 originally listed prisoners by the Protective Custody Commander Thumann, of which only 70 came out of the infirmary, on the other hand, he, the doctor took 119 Jews, a total of 214 were chosen, about one-sixth of the camp inmates at that time. Thumann had more specified than required, because he anticipated as a rule the death of prisoners until the final Term of Disposal (Abschiebetermin), furthermore the camp commander Rödl still asked to be allowed to include an additional 100 now certainly incapacitated prisoners, previously destined for Dachau, to have them included on the list to the Euthanasia Institution at Bernburg. Finally, Rödl reported in March 1942, to the Inspector of Concentration Camps, that of the 214 detainees provided on 17 March, 70 of them had been transferred on that day, followed by 57 the next day. 36 inmates had died in the past two months and the rest, including 42 Jews were able to work, and he had them retained. (zurückbehalten). [Nbg. Doc PS Doc. 1151-P. Quoted in ibid, page 218f, sic]
Notice from commander Gross-Rosen about completion of the 'euthanasia' operation, 3 April 1942

When in January 1945 the Red Army approached the river Oder, the evacuation of the main camp (Stammlager) and its satellite camps had commenced on orders of Himmler. But first there were large columns of prisoners that arrived in Gross-Rosen from Auschwitz and brought into the unfinished barracks of the 'Auschwitz camp '. From the outset, the 14 satellite camps on the right side of the Oder (which is the east ) were abandoned and their occupants had been driven in part by forced marches to Gross- Rosen. Prisoners of further east located satellite camps were transported into central Germany and finally got among others to Sachsenhausen and Bergen-Belsen. In February, the main camp Gross-Rosen itself  was vacated together with their 23 satellite camps . The actual evacuation took place on the 8th and 9th of February 1945. The overcrowded trains of freight cars, reached after several days the Buchenwald concentration camp, Flossenburg, the sub-camps of Hersbruck and Leitmeritz, Mauthausen, Dora, Nordhausen and the the main camp itself of Mittelbau-Dora. During the journeys hundreds suffered from hunger, cold and exhaustion had come to their deaths, others barely alive had to immediately be admitted into camp hospitals. The commandant of the concentration camp Gross-Rosen moved to Reichenau and tried from there to manage the remaining sub-camps.  Initially 120 SS men and 60 to 70 functionary prisoners stayed behind in the camp, who recovered and buried corpses, burned files and eliminated other traces of atrocities. Shortly before the departure of the commando, they still discovered 20 to 30 hidden prisoners who were shot on the orders of protective custody camp leader Ernstberger. In another case two other sub-camps were hastily closed. The last camps, however, were liberated by Soviet troops in May and overtook some evacuation transports and freed the prisoners. At this time, the camp administration for Gross-Rosen at  Reichenau was dissolved, and the remaining camp records were destroyed.
The final evacuation took place on 7 February and lasted for four days. Each prisoner received a loaf of bread and one tin of food, a ration that forced a bitter decision. Should the whole portion be eaten then and there or divided up. As experienced inmates who knew that each day might be their last, they hurriedly ate all the precious food for the little energy it might offer their weakened bodies. The evacuation of veteran prisoners in Gross-Rosen camp began on 9 February. As it was under way, some of these prisoners made tragic attempts to arrange hideouts. When they were discovered, they were not placed in the convoy but were summarily shot. The prisoners marched through the camp gate to the strains of a band that actually stood there and played. The first to be evacuated were women who had been brought over from Auschwitz-Birkenau. They wee followed by men who had been interned on the grounds of the new "Auschwitz". The last to leave were veteran prisoners of the camp.
The Transport destined for Flossenburg, Mauthausen, and Mittelbau spent more than a week on the road. Even a shorter march, however, was a horrific ordeal. Prisoners in a transport to Dachau left on 28 January and spent two days in open railway cars in ghastly congestion. Without food and water, they could not endure the physical and physiological strain. "they bit the noses and ears of the weak prisoners and even sucked their blood. I witnessed it. Of the 1,800 prisoners, only 800-900 arrived, most of them skeletons". [Czernik, "Filie Obozu Konzentracyjnego", 224, sic]
The largest number of evacuees from the main camp 9,571, was sent in seven transports to Dora-Mittelbau and its satellite camps. Three transports reached Flossenburg with 9,465 persons om board. Buchenwald took two transports totalling 3,290 prisoners. A third transport pulled up to the gates of Buchenwald but was turned away, all 2,783 prisoners were taken to Mauthausen. Transports of women prisoners from Weisswasser set out for Bergen-Belsen, and a small group was sent to Ravensbrück. All together, twenty-four of the Gross-Rosen Labour Camps were deactivated at this phase.
A Transport that was readied for evacuation on 10 February may be indicative of the evacuation transports in general. The prisoners spent eight hours standing motionlessly on the snow-covered roll-call grounds. The weak and exhausted among them died then and there. Later, the surviving prisoners were led to the rail-road station, only to find that the track had been damaged and the cars that were to transport them had not arrived. Thus they were led uphill back to the camp. At 9.00 pm, as the booming of nearby artillery reverberated around the camp, headquarters decided to attempt again to set the transport into motion . The cars had arrived by then, and about 150 persons were crammed into each. The train made slow progress, stopped frequently, veered onto sidings, and finally reached Leitmeritz, a satellite camp of Flossenburg, Where the inmates spent some time digging in tunnels.
Since the SS-team also left the the camps when the transport set out, the remaining population was made up solely of sick prisoners and a special detail of German prisoners who obfuscated evidence. The prevailing estimate is that some 30,000 prisoners were evacuated from the main campp, including many who had never actually been prisoners there. Only 25,000 of the evcuees reached camps in the Reich.
The first Soviet soldiers to enter Gross-Rosen were members of Ivan Ivanov's motorized Infantry Brigade, part of the third Army. The date was 13 February. They found chard prisoner cards, armbands, and mounds of clothing. Thus, Gross-Rosen becamr the filth concentration camp that the Reich had lost.
The balance sheet of the evacuation is the following according to Konieczny - and these figures give again an idea of ​​the magnitude of what has happened: Bergen-Belsen took over five transports with about 4,000 prisoners, to Buchenwald went 19 transports with 9,559, to Dachau in four transports with 2,514, to Flossenburg in 17 transports 11,583, to Mauthausen in five transports 4,839, to Mittelbau-Dora in eight transports 11,369, a woman transport went to Neuengamme  and  Ravensbruck with 45 and 60 prisoners. In total, there are at least 44,000 prisoners, those that had perished and the escapees can not be accounted for. There is no reliable information about  36,000 prisoners in satellite camps that had been liberated by Soviet troops.

Order to evacuate Gross-Rosen, 7 February 1945'

List of Jewish Prisoners reached Buchenwald concentration camp from Gross-Rosen on a death march, 7 March 1945

The concentration camp did not exist hidden and apart in an inaccessible country, but was in close proximity to a larger village. It could be seen from the nearby hills by anyone in the quarry and granite works, were many civilian workers and apprentices were employed in addition to the prisoners. There were suppliers and customers for the camp and factory In the early years. Before a camp's own registry office and a crematorium were set up, the registry office and the cemetery staff in Liegnitz knew the unusual high number of deaths in the camp, later you noticed by sight in many places, the prisoners from numerous satellite camps , and not all laid-off workers or released inmates adhered to the obligatory rule of silence (Schweigegebot), and finally, there have been in the Gross-Rosen over the years a few thousand guards who no doubt would have talked. The existence of the camp was not able to be concealed, what remained unknown to many was the real aims and its real character and purpose.
The main camp was taken over on the 13th February 1945 by the 70th motorized Infantry Brigade of the 3rd Soviet Guards Tank Army. The summary report of Alfred Komieczny concludes with these words: "In the postwar years the camp grounds were gradually cleared and converted into a memorial. From the camp facilities only very little has been preserved. Today only the gateway to the prisoner camp with the main guard barracks remain. The portable crematorium still exists, but today it is located next to the Wall of Death, the site of numerous executions. Parts of the old camp fence are still there, of the prisoner barracks only the foundations remain. The upper terrace of the camp is crowned by a mausoleum in memory of the victims of the Nazi regime , after a design by Adam Procki. The niches in the granite wall hold urns, filled with the soil from the labour camps. In the converted former SS canteen now contains the exhibition and the administration of the 'State Museum Gross-Rosen' which was built in 1983 in Rogoznica".
Picture taken by the Sicherheitspolizei, the original caption states that the two women show signs of rape'

Yet liberation had also another face, one of the most stunning scenes, as described in the memoirs of one women survivor, was the arrival of the Soviet soldiers at the camp gate. Two tanks led a column made up of a peasant wagon towed by tow horses and laden with rugs. Women soldiers sat on the rugs, tossing candies in every direction. Following them were the soldiers. Similar accounts recur in most testimonies. 'I got a shock when I saw this army. They rode bicycles and their rifles were suspended on strings instead of belts. I said to myself, 'So this is the victorious conquering army'. The amazement and joy of liberation quickly abated. To their dismay, the women prisoners realized that now they were faced with a new plight and that their ordeal was not yet over. 'The Russian soldiers 'needed' women, and our war with them began'. From the first day, according to the 'liberated' women, not a night passed without drunken soldiers entering the camps or the quarters in nearby villages and towns in search for women. 'I gave you your freedom. Aren't you willing to give me anything?' a women heard one of the more moderate soldiers complain. The soldiers could not understand why Jewish women prisoners refused to pay for their liberation in the coin of kindness. Some were unwilling to accept any resistance, resulting in many instances of rape during the first days of liberation. Some liberated prisoners were even shot for attempting to resist. The Langenbielau camp was visited by savage Soviet soldiers who were drunk with victory and alcohol. 'There were two Jewish sisters, they raped one and shot the other'.[Testimony of Chaya Konsans, YVA, 03.5145. sic] Robbery was also rampant. The liberated people, as well as the local population, were stripped of any sense of personal security. Those who stepped out of their homes were at mortal risk, as Russian soldiers arrested anyone they pleased and dispossessed them even of trivial items. Arrest of women ended in rape. It is not difficult to imagine the impact of this perpetual threat on the fragile psychological condition of the former female prisoners. A former inmate at the Görlitz camp described the feeling well: "As I think about it today, I am filled with disgust about that fateful moment. To be a defenceless women in such a cruel world". After she mustered her courage and took her first steps outside the camp, Soviet soldiers assaulted and attempted to rape her in the street of Görlitz. She fled back to the camp, which had suddenly become the safest available haven, and asked the men prisoners to protect her and her comrades.
A survivor who had been imprisoned in Bernsdorf remarked  that in the Protectorate area, too, the Soviet soldiers behaved in a way that left liberated women stunned. "The Russians didn't behave very decently. They were aggressive with the girls. Things went so far that my sister and I, and another twenty girls or so, barricaded ourselves in one room,  blocked the door with a cupboard, and did not let them in. When they broke down the door, we told them there was a epidemic there and they mustn't enter". [Testimony of Chaya Berkowitz, Moreshet Archives at Givat Haviva, A,519, sic]
'Kłodzko (Glatz) Fortress, with the city in the background'

The Glatz (Klodzko) fortress, near the border of the Sudetenland, was the last German fortification that the Soviets had to surmount in the battle for Lower Silesia. The Jews who were liberated from the Gross-Rosen camps in this area, the sense of deliverance and the intoxicating freedom that the remnants of humanity in the Gross-Rosen Labour Camps experienced at this time were quickly overshadowed by new depredations on the part of the Red Army soldiers. The celebrated and magnanimous liberator often turned into demanding, merciless rapists, who added new victims to the list of the dead.

'Der Ort des Terrors' Vol 6 'Groß-Rosen-Stammlager' C.H.Beck oHG, München 2007, Researcher/Author: Isabell Sprenger/Walter Kumpmann. Vetted by: Institute for Research on Anti-Semitism-Berlin. Translated from German by: Herbert Stolpmann, February 2014. HKS: My Initials, when expressing my own opinion or other sources, [sic]:transcribed exactly as found in other original source. Sponsors: a)Cultural Department of the Federal Republic of Germany. b)The Foreign Office of Germany, c)Alfred Krupp Foundation. Short passages from: 'A narrow Bridge to Life', by Bella Gutterman, translated from Hebrew. Wikipedia, Metapedia

Between 1881 and 1885 fifteen thousand Chinese males, virtual slaves, were brought over from China by the Central Government of Canada to build a railway so that the renegade province of British Columbia wouldn't join the United States. Ironically an American railway engineer, Andrew Onderdonk, was put in charge of the project. He wanted Chinese workers because they were cheap and "If they could build the Great Wall of China they could build a railway".  The Ching dynasty permitted Onderdonk to venture up to the Zhuijiang River delta and take the poor villagers from there.
The Chinese were shipped to Canada in such tight quarters that they had to intertwine legs to find a place to sit. Four hundred grams of rice were served up to sustain ten men. Many starved to death on the long voyage. When they finally arrived in British Columbia they were divided into groups of thirty men and put through a long forced march over mountains, with heavy packs on their backs, to get to the site of work. It was winter and few had anything more than the clothing they wore in the sub-tropical villages from which they came. Waking to frozen bodies was part of the coolie's life. The Chinese workers carved thirteen tunnels through the mountains with only pick and shovel as tools. They moved over 11 million square metres of rock and gravel. From Yale to Lytton they built six hundred bridges, hauled a thousand tons of steel and 40 million boards. Scurvy took many. Starvation took more. Over a thousand Chinese workers died in the Fraser canyon section of the railway alone. In total over six thousand Chinese died in the building of the railway - more than one per mile. The workers were charged fifteen dollars to ship their dead home to the waiting burial grounds in Xinhui.
The Chinese workers were never supplied with gloves, coats, helmets or shoes and they received less than seventy-five cents a day for their efforts. When the railway was finally completed no transportation was supplied to the Chinese workers. Wherever the Chinese workers were  when "the golden spike" joined the tracks from the east with the tracks from the west they were simply left - to fend for themselves - and by the way, to get out of Canada. In 1885 Canada increased the incentive to go by introducing a head tax for any Chinese man who wanted to bring in his wife and children - fifty dollars a Chinese soul. In 1900 the Canadian Government got annoyed with the head tax and raised it first to one hundred dollars a Chinese head, then three years later to five hundred dollars. To put that figure in context: in 1903, five hundred dollars in Canada could buy two hundred acres of prime form land. By the end of 1923 it is estimated that the Chinese had paid $26 million in head tax. The cost to build the railway was only $25 million. In 1923 Canada had had enough of the Chinese altogether and passed the CHINESE EXCLUSION ACT that stated, "With the exception of diplomatic personnel, business people and students, no Chinese may enter Canada. This ruling applies to Chinese only". (Nice of them to clarify that).
But still the hatred lingered. In 1907 riots broke out in Vancouver's Chinatown. In 1908 Vancouver and Victoria passed laws excluding Chinese students from attending the same school as white children.
Finally, in 1947 the CHINESE EXCLUSION ACT was repealed. The act was in place for just under twenty-four years. For that time Chinese people living in Canada had virtually no legal status. Yet many fought - and some died - for Canada in the Second World War.
Things have changed. In 1957 the first Chinese man was elected to Parliament. In 1965 a Chinese man was elected mayor of a major city. And now they have a Governor General who is Chinese. But there is still something missing. An apology - an official apology  from the Government of Canada to the Chinese people of that country who had a lot to do with making this a great nation.
Every sin the Canadians committed against the Black Haired People, let alone the Black Slave Trade in the United States is well documented, but conveniently overlooked, but not forgotten.


Organisation Schmelt established its forced-labour camps for Jews (ZALfJ)  (Zwangsarbeitslager für Juden) far from Jewish population centres in Silesia and embarked on a ceaseless process of construction, even though the SS authorities had initially intended to dismantle the camps within a short time. The organisation found it difficult to maintain close supervision in so vast an area, to maximize output, and concurrently to hunt for labour forces that could fulfil the dwindling quotas of labourers in old camps. Lacking a police force of its own, it had to ask local police for assistance. Thus, Special Plenipotentiary Albrecht Schmelt ordered the Zentrale to prepare lists, identify candidates for transport to the camps, and round them up. By means of the Zentrale,(Central Control), Schmelt controlled the use of the Judenräte for this purpose. He left no room for doubt: "The local Judenräte shall be answerable to me for the comprehensive registration of Jewish men and women.... If unregistered Jews are found in their localities, the Judenräte shall be dissolved and their members shall be transported to labour camps".
When they arrived at  the assembly points that were established in each area, the inductees were placed aboard Zentrale trains or trucks and taken to Sonowiec or to the transit camp (Durchgangslager, referred to as Dulag, or Judensammellager). In the transit camp they were handed over to the Schmelt people. The Organisation Schmelt rarely meddled in the process of preparing the lists. Only if they became impatient and believed that the quota might not be filled did the more zealous among them, usually Lindner and Kutczynski, head for the street in order to abduct Jews. Apart from that Schmelt's officials did not go into action until the Jews had reached the assembly point in Sosnowiec. Schmelt himself did not visit the assembly point, the prisoner encountered his senior staff only. The transport headed from there to the camps.
As soon as they entered the Dulag, the young inductees became "Schmelt Jews" and were subordinated to the organizations administrative system. Within a sort time the Dulag became a passage of horror tat augured what the inductees would face in the camps. Most camps were established next to or on the premises of enterprises of value to the armaments industry. In the camps where members of other peoples were interned, mainly Poles and Czechs, the Jews were kept totally separate and were not allowed to communicate with them in any way.
Jews in Zawierce on their way to forced labour work'

The first Labour Camps to which young Jews from Eastern Upper Silesia were sent were referred to in German documents as Reichsautobahnlager, or RAB Lager. Established along roads that were being rebuilt or repaved, they were administratered  by the German Roads and Railways  Administration, which was making a special effort to complete the Berlin-Breslau-Katowice highway. The Administration "leased" its workers from Organisation Schmelt. The first group of camps established for work on the Breslau-Gleiwitz segment of the highway, included Otthmuth, Sakrau, Gogolin, and Anneberg camps, the last being the main camp in the group. In the second phase, the Brande, Eichtal,  and Gepersdorf camps were established. In 1940, about ten camps of this type were operating in Upper and Lower Silesia.
Another group of camps was established in July 1942 in (German) Upper Silesia. This region was considered an appropriate place to situate labour camps because it had good transport connections and was close to mines and agricultural areas. The largest in this group, which included Gleiwitz, Oberlasik, Ratibor, and Mectel, was Blechhammer. In all, ninety-three Schmelt camps were established in this location.
In Lower Silesia, Schmelt established dense concentration of camps near Breslau, because the area was far from the targets of Allied aerial attacks. The main camp in this district was Kletendorf, five additional camps, Markstädt, Fünfteichen, Faulbück, Graiditz and Wiesau, were nearby set up. At a later phase, separate labour  camps for women were established, mainly near textile plants or in existing camps such as Bolkenhein, Gellenau, Gräben, Grünberg and Peterswalde. In all, there were fifty-two camps of that type in this region.
Schmelt established seventeen camps in the Sudetenland, the largest being Parschnitz in Trautenau. In 1942, Organization Schmelt had forty-two active camps with 6,500 prisoners. Six additional camps were under construction, and headquarters was planning the construction of yet others. By early 1943, Schmelt employed 50,570 Jews in 140 camps, about eighty which were for women.
The Schmelt camps were of different sizes, depending on the requirements of the factories that requested allocations of prisoner-labourers. There is no confirmed information about the considerations that determined the size of the camps. The norm was several hundred, but some camps had only a few dozen prisoners. Even camps that employed relatively few workers had to meet cumbersome and detailed reporting requirements. Larger camps established for the armament industry held 1,000-6,000 prisoners, and the organization had Ideas about expanding them further. [Krupp Trial, IMT, vol. 9, sic]
"Moniek Merin, the leader of the Jews in all of Eastern Upper Silesia, invited us to a meeting and proposed that we send a few people as instructors to the large labour camps that had just been established... He promised decent wages and housing". This was the first impression of the young people who were summoned to labour in Schmelt camps. Thus, the process of staffing the large camps began with a decision by many young Jews in Bedzin and Sosnowiec to join the first transports willingly. After the recruitment activities spread throughout Eastern Upper Silesia. Merin continued to deal personally with organizing the transports and prodded local Judenräte to mobilize workers more energetically.
A second wave of transports to labour camps began 1941, as did the liquidation of small communities. In June-July 1942, 2,500 young people were transported to the camps while those left behind were transferred to large towns and put to labour in the "shops".  In August 1942, some 50,000 Jews were rounded up, and, after selection, 10,000 were sent to Auschwitz for extermination. The selection was administered by staff members of Organisation Schmelt, which was at its pinnacle then. Schmelt was busy establishing mare camps and searching for skilled workers whom he could lease out to the factories.
To prepare for the exploitation of the Jewish labour force, Organization Schmelt drew up a special set of statues and prepared a specimen contract that the enterprises applying for workers were to sign. An edifying example of this business relationship is the contract concluded, in 1942, between Organization Schmelt and a subsidiary of IG Farben, Luranil, which established a large factory in Dyhernfurth for the production of toxic gases.
Letters from the Jews in the camps and reports from the few prisoners who were able to obtain their release spread the grim news through the ghettos about the real situation in the camp. In order to fill the quotas in the second wave of mobilization, Schmelt had to put the Zentrale and its executive agency, the Jewish police, to work and even threaten to abduct Jews. In a letter of 15 January 1942, Schmelt presented Merin with a new set of rules and regulations:
a. The Judenrat administration shall deliver the requisite quota within five days.
b. The Jews shall be equipped with clothing suitable for work outdoors and with enough food for one full day.
c.In the event of failure to report, the following punitive measures shall be taken:
   1. The ration card for the family shall be confiscated and transferred within twenty-four hours to the Department J [Jews] administration of the Organization.
   2. The ration card shall be confiscated until [the worker] reports as required.
   3. The ration cards of candidates for transport shall be submitted in accordance with a list that the Judenrat shall prepare, on which all details of inductees and their families shall be recorded.
d. Those who refuse to report and are caught shall be handed over to the concentration camp punitive police.
e. The Judenrat shall be responsible for ensuring that the person selected will report.]

Himmlers visit to Eastern Upper Silesia on 1 March 1941 and his impression of the work being done in the camps elevated the importance of Organization Schmelt. Himmler decided to make greater use of prisoners in construction projects for the armament industry that Speers ministry oversaw. Consequently, Eastern Upper Silesia experienced a swift economic efflorescence, mines were reactivated, production increased, and other larger concerns flocked in. Apart from Krupp, enterprises such as Flick, IG Farben, Siemens, and Telefunken invested massively in the construction of new plants. The Wehrmacht also focused its attention on this area. In addition, Schmelt had to exert himself to meet a demand that suggested that further reinforcement and expansion of Organization Schmelt were on the way, he received a special request from Krupp, in July 1943, for 4,000 young men to build a new artillery plant near Merkstädt. Hitler and Speer had given the project their blessing.
'Gross-Rosen Labour Camp Network'
 In the aftermath of this first round of development in Silesia, the SS attempted to branch into new economic pursuits and establish industrial plants of its own. Private developers soon discovered that their business fate was in the hands of Himmler, who controlled hundreds and thousands of forced-labourers, war prisoners and ordinary prisoners. Thus, they offered the SS a considerable percentage of future profits. Himmler elected to lease out prisoners in the Silesia camps by means of Organisation Schmelt. Their greed was insatiable. There are documents describing the labour of women and girls in the sewing factories of Lower Silesia and the Sudetenland. The textile industry at its various phases , harvesting cotton and flax, ginning and cleaning the cotton, knitting and producing finished clothing, exploited girls sixteen to eighteen, if not younger. Schmelts decision to establish special camps for them resulted in the development of a comprehensive system of separate forced-labour camps, for men, for women, and for mixed populations.
Employers who applied for prisoners found strict taskmaster in Organisation Schmelt, which demanded regular reporting and reams of paperwork. The organisations rigid regulations, printed on the back of the factory report forms, served as rare evidence of its modus operandi:
> The Judenälteste shall report to the camp commander and the prisoner guard supervisor, and after the report is examined both shall guarantee its accuracy sis-a-vis the administration and vis-à-vis the placer of the job order.
> The reports shall include all Jewish prisoners, sorted by the employing firms, including the team of guards, using the following markings: A-camp staff, B-Jews already placed in work, C- Jews not yet placed in any factory.
> If workers at more than one factory are concentrated in one camp, each factory shall report on a separate form. The occupation of those in charge shall be recorded in an abbreviated manner in a special column.
> For reporting purposes, a Jewish artisan employed in the construction zone as a builder, a construction carpenter, a concrete worker, a metal-worker, a smith, a bulldozer operator, or an agricultural worker shall be                considered a skilled worker.
> A Jewish prisoner who has been placed in skilled work may be transferred to the post of a menial a worker if the enterprise that employs him so decides.
> Jewish prisoners who do not work for reason of illness shall be marked with the letter K [krank] Prisoners so defined as persons whom the camp commander or the guard commander confirms as being ill. Both shall answerable to the Dienststelle in Sosnowiec and the employer for the provision of a precise and diagnosis in this matter.
    The  workday of a Jewish prisoner who has worked less than five hours shall be tagged in the category as sick days. More than five hours' work shall be considered a full workday.....

'Albrecht Schmelt' The department lost its meaning from September 1943 and was soon dissolved. In March 1944 Schmelt was forced to retire. At the end of 1944 Schmelt had to answer before an SS court for enrichment in office. The verdict and outcome of the process is not known. Shortly after the war ended Schmelt committed suicide . Ernst Klee cites the date of death 8 May 1945 at a place of Warmbronn.
Organisation Schmelt charged employers 4,50 Reichsmark per day for the sweat of each Jewish prisoner. Of this sum 1,50 Reichsmark went for the workers wage, from which the organisation deducted 0,90 Reichsmark for upkeep. The workday was ten to twelve hours. Contracts with factories and reports about prisoners employment were kept at the Organization Schmelt Headquarters in Sosnowiec. [Based on the calculation that the Organisation had a minimum of 50,000 prisoners leased out to factories at a rate of 4,50 RM, and prisoners would have worked at about 280 days per year, the income would have been 63 Million Reichsmark, a considerable amount in those days.  No wonder he was eventually tried on the accusation that he had enriched himself, (although he transferred large amounts of funds to Berlin) HKS]
The trip from the transit camp in Sosnowiec to the labour camps was arduous even for young people who had reported willingly. It was frightening to be taken from home and family, sometimes without an opportunity to say farewell, and to head into the unknown. Teenagers and, in some cases, twelve-year-old girls torn from the protective bosom of parents and home. Still impressed by the promises of Merin and the local Judenrat-people, they hoped that they could establish themselves in the labour camp and even help families.
Living condition in the Schmelt camps varied and were effected by random factors that were quite important, even though the camp regime seemed orderly and well organized. The conditions were a function of the human composition of the camp staff, guards, and supervisors, the extent of their toughness, the identity of the employer and his staff, the location and structure of the camp, the nature of the work, and of course, the attitude of the prisoner-functionaries. Most Schmelt camps were built rapidly and haphazardly.
The men in the Kletendorf camp were in a desperate state. Their reports show that they were less stringent than women about personal hygiene. Many washed their ears and noses only, aware that the inspectors looked no further. Their work was gruelling and performed with primitive resources and tools. Prisoners were usually sorted into three main groups: Jewish prisoners who worked outside the camp, prisoners who held factory jobs, and those not yet placed. The last were consigned to constructing rail-roads, building roads, clearing forests, and digging trenches. They continued working in stormy weather, and in Fünfteichen, jacket pockets were sewn shut so that the prisoners could not stuff their hands in them to keep warm.
The Organization Schmelt administration subjected the system to close supervision. Schmelt operatives visited the camps often, inspecting things thoroughly and observing as prisoners toiled. They checked the prisoners appearance, reproached commanders who failed to maintain maximum output, performed selections, removed exhausted prisoners for extermination in Auschwitz, a name that by then evoked terror among prisoners.
Especially frightening was Obersturmbannführer Heinrich Lindner, the Schmelt official in charge of the camps. It was Lindners practice to make surprise visits to observe the work, to take part in beatings and shootings, and to loose his dogs on prisoners. Lindner did not want ill prisoners around, he limited the quota of sick prisoners to 2 percent and sent others to Auschwitz. No less dangerous was Hanschild, for whom the young prisoners invented many nicknames-"the Lame", "the Slave Trader", the Merchant"- that recur often in the testimonies of former Schmelt prisoners. Hanschild, a cheery dark blond whose severe limp was his trademark, was inspector of labour in the concentration department of Organisation Schmelt. In this capacity, he circulated in the ghettos of Eastern Upper Silesia, selected and organized transports, visited the camps, and moved prisoners from camp to camp in accordance with labour requirements.
One conspicuous and controversial figure was Baruch Meister of Chrzanow, who served as Judenätester in several Schmelt camps and in each location managed to work out an understanding with the German commanders. Meister, a former Polish Army Officer who had been born to a respected family, was interned together with his wife and two brothers in three camps: Markstädt, Faulbrück, and Ludwigsdorf. He moved around in these camps in a leather jacket, riding trousers, and gleaming leather boots. He surrounded himself with tough guys, obeyed every directive meticulously, demanded order, discipline, and cleanliness, and loved to quote from the camp code of rules, which he carried everywhere. Meister did not hesitate to loose his violent aides on prisoners, and the unfortunates who dared to violate the rules of cleanliness in the barracks or pilfer food were beaten with the rubber truncheons that his associates invariably carried. He gave his assistants enough power and backing to do as they wished. Although not a violent man himself, Meister took care to keep his dignity and his omnipotent image. For this reason, the arrival of potential rivals, such as Judenrat members and Jewish policemen from Sosnowiec, often upset him. Meister treated them very roughly and humiliated them at every opportunity. On the other hand, he related to rabbis, religious scholars, and intellectuals with respect, tried to better their living conditions, and placed them in easy jobs. His close and trusting relations with the commanders helped him to look out for his own future. Thus, whenever one of the camps was evacuated and dismantled, he managed to move on to another relatively plush camp. In retrospect, one of the prisoners noted: "The Jewish functionaries did their work in darkness, and those whom you'd least expect, members of the intelligentsia, proved to be the toughest and the most contemptuous of them all. They had better conditions, the man in charge chose for himself people who would be suited for his labour".
Organisation Schmelt, which derived its growing economic might from the labour of the Jews of Eastern Upper Silesia, flourished and expanded in 1942, making important changes in the area. Many officials in the complex and serpentine high echelon of the Nazi Regime in Eastern Upper Silesia, the Generalgouvernement, and Berlin, however, took a dim view of this success. (Partly envious) The champions of the "Final Solution" wished to resume and complete the extermination process and thus solve once and for all the Jewish problem in the territories that had been annexed to the Reich. The success of Organisation Schmelt obstructed their scheme. Again and again Schmelt had to deflect the complaints, show high yield, and send money to SS Headquarters. The prisoners were the continuous victims of his efforts, since their food rations were cut repeatedly and their labour hours increased.
The current complaints of the Gestapo landed on fertile ground and eventually found Himmlers attentive ear, especially after the establishment of the WVHA, because Pohl insisted that all ZAHfJ camps be transferred to  Department D II. Even though Organisation Schmelt was providing the SS with a handsome income, Speers influence and involvement in determinating the Jews fate weakened the WVHA, often leading to acrid verbal exchanges between Pohl and Schmelt. In June 1943, having made as much progress as he could toward the goals that he had set for the organization, Himmler was willing to forgo the profits he generated from this source and to sacrifice Organization Schmelt on the altar of the "Final Solution". After all, he had set June 1943 as the deadline for the annihilation of all Jews in the Generalgouvernment. The fate of the Jews who were still in the areas annexed to the Reich also seemed to be sealed. Himmler moved swiftly. On 25 May, he ordered his people to expedite the removal of the Jews who were still in the ghettos. Höss noted: "The SS-Reichsführer gave unequivocal order that the workshops be closed, that the Jews be transferred along the factories to the Auschwitz camp, and that the labour camps, or, to be more precise, of Gross-Rosen. Labour camps that did not fall into these categories were to be dispersed and their prisoners transferred to Auschwitz". Albert Speer was concerned about Himmlers decision. A periodic report from Armament Inspectorate VIIIb to Speer pressed the assessment that the "takeover of Jews camps [Organization Schmelt]  and their transfer to the concentration camps administration will cause severe problems".
This sudden reversal in German policy in Eastern Upper Silesia was related to an upturn in Pohl's strength and Himmlers comprehensive policy toward the Jews. By then Himmler noted: "It is clear that there, too, the Jews are destined to disappear one day, in accordance with the Führers will". Again Himmler was willing to prolong their existence, provided that they be transferred to concentration camps and placed under direct SS control. Many officials, however, refused to accept this decree, which would mean the death of Organization Schmelt. Himmler was lobbied from manu directions, and in December 1943, by which time the Armaments Inspectorate had been transferred to Katowice, the periodic performance reports stated that the elimination of the Jews, as ordered by Himmler, had been postponed and that "Concern about the removal of the Jews has not yet become real because a higher echelon has given directive to the contrary at this time".
The liquidation of the Schmelt camps coincided with the eradication of the last ghettos in Eastern Upper Silesia and the Lodz ghetto. The process began with the removal of the Jews of Dombrowa on 26 June 1943 and continued until the last Jews in Bedzin and Sosnowiec were transported out on 1 July. In the aftermath of the ten day Aktion, thirteen transports were sent to Auschwitz. On 26 August and 8 October, the Germans liquidated what remained of the Jewish community of Zawiercie, sending three transports to Auschwitz. In a selection among the deportees, *,479 Jews - 4,151 men and4,328 women - were removed from the transports. Those not selected were put to death. Some of these Jews, after enduring several days in quarantine and trabsit camp in Szodula were taken away in January 1944.
The prisoners in the Schmelt camps understood that this was happening,because they had stopped receiving letters from home. The camp commandes attempted to deceive them, claiming that the mail was being held up as a punishment for their negligence on the job. The prisoners, however, realized that their worst horror had materialized: their families were no longer alive. In 1943, Bedzin, Sosnowiec, and Zawiercie, like other areas, were declared judenfrei. [free of Jews]
The liquidation of the Schmelt camps also had a personal aspect - a crises in Albrecht Schmelts  career. In 1944, Schmelt was ousted from the Presidency of the Opeln District. His status in the SS declined, and in his commanders eyes, his lustre faded. Thus, an RSHA official reported on 23 March 1944, before Schmelt sank into oblivion, that Schmelt had been relieved of all his duties and was about to retire, the report was placed in Schmelts file. At the time, Schmelt was in Parzymiechy, at his farm in Opeln, which had been built be the sweat of Jewish prisoners. [The report was found in Albect Schmelts personal file, BAK; Konieczny, "Organizacja Schmelt". As the war was weindind down, Schmelt was accused of embezzlement.He had transferred 100,000 Reichsmarks to his personal account without Himmlers knowledge and was brought before the SS tribunal. (The outcome was not clarified).  In May 1945, he committed suicide. See Sybille Steinbacher, "Musterstaat" Auschwitz: Germernisierungspolitik und Judenmord in Oberschlesien (Munich, 2000), 2:305. sic]




After the establishment for the expansion of the concentration camp for an additional 3,000 prisoners until May 1942, from August 1941 until October 1941 there should should have been two additional barracks built to accommodate at least 1,200 additional prisoners. This plan could not be carried out, it was delayed by a transport of Soviet POW's into the camp, which at times had a catastrophic overcrowding as a result. In July 1942, the camp had only  1.890 prisoners, of whom 387 worked to erect barracks (Barackenbau), 69 in road construction, 60 expanding the sewage and drainage facilities, and about 700 worked in the quarry. 400 were partially unfit for work ('schonungsbedürftigt') or reported as hospitalized.
The plan for the gradual expansion of the camp foresaw a prison camp with ten barracks holding 200 prisoners each, moreover to be built were two isolation buildings, three workshops, a cell block, a crematory, a kitchen, a barrack for the laundry and bathroom, a storage shed, an office reception/admission barrack, an effect room and two barracks as hospital stations. For the SS, a garage, commercial buildings, the Kommandantur, a military exercise area and a sports field as well as barracks to accommodate the various (civilian) companies that had been planned ... The execution of these plans, however, were apparently repeatedly delayed and far-reaching changes towards the end accompanied by much-needed hasty extensions had to be provided, yet by 1944 a total of 21 prisoner barracks and four hospital enclosure areas as well as various administration blocks were completed in the camp. In October 1942, the first electrified barbed wire fence outside the camp and the eleven watchtowers were installed. For the planned development work since its beginning, and then repeatedly interrupted, more than one quarter of the inmates who took part in its construction, had to live for a long time in totally inadequate temporary accommodation. About 50-60 civilian workers, specialized in their respective field of trade to comply with local by-laws took part in the overall endeavour.

 KZ Gross Rosen-Concentration Camp-Quarry'

A final extension was undertaken in the camp since the autumn of 1944, when it became a reception centre for evacuees mainly from Auschwitz, but also from several other camps, satellite camps and civil prisons during the advance of the Red Army. Because the existing detention camp (Schutzhaftlager) offered no more space for further accommodation, it was on the west side that an additional camp 'the Auschwitz camp' was installed, with probably only 16 out of 30 barracks originally envisioned, which mostly lacked doors, windows and no possibility of heating. Some of these barracks had been dismantled in Auschwitz and were re-used rather down-graded in Gross-Rosen.
The plan of the camp which is not specifically listed are the barracks or homes (Heime) for stonemason apprentices. Given the expected huge demand for granite and in spite of the unsatisfactory development of the quarry, the plan was taken up at the highest level and promoted by the plant manager Ketterer who took up the proposal, and developed it in the Gross-Rosen, as in Mauthausen and Flossenburg to train stonemasons in large numbers. For the recruitment of school-leavers this in itself was a career when counsellors, parents and school principals were invited to the camp. The apprentices were being trained at work, theoretically (weltanschaulich) informed and were given also sporting and ideological instruction. Accommodation and meals were provided free, as for leisure, a summer and a winter clothing of the Hitler Youth were issued to them. It was forbidden of the apprentices to speak with the prisoners with whom they worked closely together. Already in May 1941,  40 apprentices could begin, in the next spring  68 boys began their training/teaching time.  1943 there were already 140, and even as late as in April 1944 new apprentices arrived. Finally, there were six apprentice homes in the immediate neighbourhood of the camp provided for them.
Already in September 1940, Himmler had ordered to to train prisoners in the concentration camps to stonemasons and bricklayers, but with the old model of training and treatment this was bound to collide with the objective of economic exploitation and even the extermination through work. Who wanted to be a stonemason, which even promised anticipated freedom? In the Gross-Rosen the DESt began to train 20 prisoners as cobblestone makers and to train 200 stonemasons. But as it is said in a monthly report from January 1943, under these circumstances [...] a regular training of prisoners to stonemasons is impossible [...]. There were, for example,  200 prisoners recruited in June, to be trained as stonemasons. Of these 200 prisoners are currently still about 30 as a stonemason apprentices available, the rest went partly back to the camp, partly to Dachau, partly dead '.
Mauthausen:Selection of children and young people for the work detail stonemason apprentices (SS photo)
One of the less known secret projects was built up in August 1943, by the Reich Security Main Office in the concentration camp Dachau.  A Research Institute for High Frequency Technology, (Hochfrequenztechnik) were 30 technical professional prisoners had been gathered from several camps of various nationalities under the supervision of the political prisoner Dr. Hans-Friedrich Mayer, which was transferred and installed in the summer of 1944 at Gross-Rosen, to protect it from air raids. They formed a secret enclave under the code name 'weather site', (Wetterstelle) where they worked on various projects for the war effort. Arriving in June 1944 from Dachau the 28 prisoners were initially received as usual by the camp staff with kicks and punches, but after their protest, they received the status of privileged prisoners. They were better clothed and housed, their hair was not cropped, they lived in isolation amidst of the camp in fenced-off  barbed wired barracks. At the end of 1944, the team had increased to a total of 90 electrical engineers, physicists, precision engineers and others with the facilities set up just outside the camp, with laboratories and workshops, including three Jewish scientists. The system should have been further developed, yet in January 1945, the work was stopped, and had to be transported mainly the equipment into the inner Reich and the scientists taken separately as a bearer of secrets (Geheimnisträger) and sent  into different camps further west. [The main reason and transfer of what had so far been developed, was probably the approaching eastern front. HKS] Not only in the numerous satellite camps but also in the DESt plant in camp Gross-Rosen itself there were in 1944 efforts to cooperate with the defence industry. Siemens & Halske was already manufacturing with a few hundred prisoners in two barracks aircraft parts, also Blaupunkt had become active in a factory building on the camp grounds, cooperation with Rheinmetall-Borsing was not going beyond the planning stage.
The growing need for workers in the armament industry since 1942 brought a temporary improvement for prisoners in concentration camps, consideration and changes in policies of the SS WVHA from the usefulness of inmates was the main motivator. In Goss-Rosen this fell roughly in conjunction with other changes that were made  in the camp. After the first commander, the ponderous, extremely brutal, known from his Buchenwald days, SS-Obersturmbannführer Arthur Rödl and then following on September 16th 1942, as incompetent and as unscrupulous SS-Hauptsturmführer Wilhelm Gideon who came from the camp Neuengamme, followed on October 10, 1943 the last in the standing rank, SS-Sturmbannführer Johannes Hassebroek, who as the commander remained until the evacuation of the camp. He belonged to a new generation that had already been socialized into the SS. He seemed to be more suitable as far as his economic and administrative abilities of a camp were concerned than his predecessors, he was an 'SS moderate in attitude', 'of fresh soldierly appearance' and 'attested to be sufficient in hardness'.  All three had served highly after the First World War and in the thirties from a difficult life and career with fair contacts in Nazi groups of the NSDAP and its affiliated organizations, they saw themselves as dutiful party soldiers and were not due to their 'attitude', but probably because of their ability, thereby unchallenged by any others.
Weekly food rations for prisoners at the Markstädt men's camp in Lower Silesia
 The new commander forbade arbitrary mistreatment and commanded the observance of fixed rules as outlined in the KZ-Manual, he had occasionally an overseer or Kapo punished. 'Shootings to escape', often happened after the prisoners had been driven into the cordon of guards, were rare, brutal attacks committed by the security personnel such as kicking to death (Tottreten) and the method of water-freezing of prisoners, declined. Former prisoners reported after the war, Hassebroek was the most humane and most popular of the commanders, but that is probably just that he did not have an assaulting hand  in any punishments. He ruled the camp in a 'soldierly' way, with discipline and toughness. Instead of unbridled despotism, coercion and unrelenting order prevailed. But neither the food rations were increased, nor the working conditions or available facilitates were improved. Hassebroek also held to the established sanctions, for example, any prisoner seized after an escape would still hang, he did not disbanded the penal company, as happened to some extent in other concentration camps.
His fate:
[Hassebroek was first arrested by Czechoslovakians before ultimately passing into the hands of the British Army who put him on trial. Initially sentenced to death, this was quickly commuted to life imprisonment and finally fifteen years, with him being released from prison in 1954. He settled in Braunschweig where he worked as a sales agent until 1967 when he was arrested under German law for his involvement in the camps. He was accused of being personally responsible for the killings of nine Jews and three other inmates at Gross-Rosen, in part because of evidence arising from the testimonies given by Oskar Schindler earlier in the decade. In the case that followed he was acquitted firstly by the Braunschweig court and then again, following an appeal by the prosecution, by the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany. He continued to be under investigation until his death in 1977.
Up to his death in 1977 Hassebroek remained nostalgic for his SS days, commenting to Israeli historian Tom Segev that "our service was an overwhelming emotional experience of enormous strength. We believed not only in the same values and ideals - we believed in each other". He also claimed that he had no involvement in killings, arguing "all I know about the atrocities at Gross-Rosen I learnt during the trials against me." sic]

HSSPF Heinrich Schmauser, third from left, accompanied by Commander Rödl, at his right, during the visit of the quarry at Gross-Rosen
The camp Gross-Rosen with a total of 722 prisoners in May 1941 was guarded by about 40-50 members of the Kammandantur Staff and the strength of two companies of the SS-Totenkopf-Sturmbann, commanded by First Lieutenant Wilhelm Stötzler and Peter Brandenburg . Almost a year later, the Command Staff counted 73 and two Sturmbanne included together with 196 members of the Waffen-SS. In both groups there was an ongoing fluctuation, and especially the guards were constantly expanding. The new guards came mainly after their training from the SS-Totenkopf guard battalion in Sachsenhausen and from the local recruiting regiment, then members of the Standard (allgeneine) SS and finally even soldiers of the Wehrmacht complemented the contingents. In November 1944, Gross-Rosen had 2,430 guards and for the women-camp 813 female guards (Aufseherinnen), and on 15 January 1945, there were finally 3,222 SS men for about 52,000 male and 906 female guards (Aufseherinnen) for almost 26,000 women prisoners.
The command staff was divided in 1941 in the departments of Adjutant, Political Department, the Protective Custody Camp as the most important and powerful, the Administration, Sanitary Engineering and a Department of Political Training (Politische Weltanschauung) for the SS.
 [SS-Sturmbann ("SS-Storm Unit"): The Sturmbann commands were battalion formations within a Standarte, usually three or four in number. These units were commanded by either a Sturmbannführer or Obersturmbannführer. sic]
Guards stand at attention at a checkpoint at the Gross-Rosen concentration camp.

The mention by name of prisonr-functionaries at the Neusaltz camp and the willingness of a prisoner-functionary to testify on behalf of his commander call attention to the internal leadership of the labour camps. This echelon of leadership was composed of prisoners who received high-ranking appointments, as a result of which they treated their fellow inmates with condescension. the participation of prisoner-functionaries in routine camp management, alongside the German supervisors, is on of the agonizing issue of the Holocaust. The author Primo Levi defined the functionaries' domain as a "grey zone" of influence and arbitrary power.
In attempting to understand the survivors' dichotomous feelings, one needs to be  familiar with the world of the camps and conditions under which the inmates lived. Prisoners regarded the camps as a threatening cocoons of aliennes that were divorced from the outside world. In their continues struggle for survival, they were compelled to do things that they would never have imagined doing under ordinary circumstances. In order to sustain an ember of life, they adopted various modi operandi. Some were driven by a clear and uncompromising world-view that considered helping others the epitome of humanness and existence, while others abandoned all inhibitions and did anything that might keep them alive. Some attempted to straddle the fence. They followed the Germans' orders but exploited their status and meagre influence to ease their comrades plight as best they could. From Levi's standpoint, they became "rivals in disguise".
Rudolf Höss described the underlying logic of culling supervisors from among prisoners: "The more conflicts there were and the more fiercely the prisoners struggled for control, the easier it was to lead the camp. Not only in grand politics is 'divide and conquer' an important rule, in the concentration camps, too, it was a factor that should not be belittled". Basing their approach on this view, the camp commanders entrusted the direct administration of the camp routine and the inmates' daily lives to prisoner-functionaries who were chosen or nominated themselves for the job. The Nazi authorities found it expedient to stay out of prisoners' camp and limit their duties to policing outside the the fence. Apart from repulsion over contact with the desiccated, disease-ridden prisoners, their decision contained a psychological aspect as well - the prisoner would be all more anguished to discover that they were being punished by their own countrymen and peers. Indeed, much of the hate and fear that the prisoners felt toward the Germans was also directed at the prisoner-functionaries, and the authorities often turned them into a corrupting force.
The prisoner-functionaries rung on the hierarchy was more or less parallel to that of camp headquarters. In the guidelines for new labour camps,Gross-Rosen headquarters defined the duties of prisoners-functionaries in its sub-camps: "All persons employed in camp maintenance, such as the Lagerälteste, the Blockälteste, chefs, sanitary physicians, barbers, recorders, tailors, and shoemakers, belong to the staff of the camp'. Theirs was a thankless job.Even though it gave them opportunities to survive, the functionaries' status was very precarious and subject to the whims of the SS overseers. By and large, the functionaries were well aware of their comrades censure. "I myself was a victim os Nazism, so how can I be accused of collaborating with them"? Jakob Tenenbaum, a prisoner and Kapo at the Görlitz camp, asked in bewilderment. One survivor, whoever, testified that Tenenbaum was not a run-of-the-mill Kapo but a man who took pleasure in exploiting his status and aggravating his brethrens' suffering. The inmates felt that he had become more zealous than his masters and went to extremes that had not been demanded of him because he considered himself an integral part of the system.  Prisoner-funktionaries were not cut of one cloth. Many wee vicious criminals who exploited the overall excesses of the system to amass easy wealth, exact revenge, and satisfy a penchant for violence. Ultimately, however, they, too, were prisoners whose world stopped where the camp fences began. Their status was shaky, any slight misstep could cost them their job.
In October 1940, a camp doctor, SS Untersturmführer Dr. Herrum was appointed, and part of the kitchen barracks was converted into a hospital. But even a modest primary care of the sick and injured  prisoners was not and could not be given in the following two years. There was always a lack of medicines and bandages, often there was nothing but paper dressings, lack of ointment for scabies and delousing and disinfection agents were always short in supply or not available at all. The sick and weakened were initially sent back to a large extent to the camp at Sachsenhausen, and increasingly since 1941 prisoners, that were not expected to recover, deported to Dachau. In 1941 there were 104 of them and in 1942 almost 900, some could no longer survive the journey, the rest had no chance upon their arrival to recover in Dachau, but left to their most deadly fate.
Because of the ever-growing number of patients the infirmary at the end of 1941 received its own barrack, then soon came a second and they had to add a third in December 1942. In January 1945, when there were 3,174 patients, there were seven blocks, one alone for diarrhoea patients, another one for serious Infections. On July 15, 1942 there were 1,890 affected prisoners of which 400 were in the infirmary. Most of those admitted were suffering from fibrosis, from swollen feet and legs and pus wounds, diarrhoeal diseases, general exhaustion and malnutrition. The average food that was provided consisted of two slices of bread, a little margarine or horse sausage and twice a day a soup of indeterminate content.
In the fall of 1941 and 1942 a typhus fever (Fleckfieber) broke out, the latter caused by the end of it over 1,000 deaths. In January and February 1942 there was a raging typhus epidemic, which temporarily forced a general Camp-lock-out as a result, and in the fall of 1943, an endemic trachoma infectious disease, in which individuals were isolated into a barrack. In the treatment of this eye disease SS physicians were accused allegedly to have performed  ​​medical experiments on the sick that led in part to blindness.
The former infirmary at sub-camp Görlitz'
The doctors changed frequently, one of the last was SS-Sturmbannführer Dr. Josef Mengele, who came after the evacuation of Auschwwitz to Gross-Rosen during the winter 1944-45. Decisions on admission to the infirmary was decided at morning roll call usually by the protective custody camp leader Anton Thumann at his discretion, supervision in the infirmary was largely transferred to German prisoner Kapos, who were not medically trained.
At the beginning of 1943 with the expansion the infirmary a certain improvement of the medical care of prisoners came into effect, starting that fall there was a department of 'Convalescent' (Schonung) provided in two blocks, into which approximately 1,000 prisoners were taken, and released for a short time from work for recuperation, expected to recover. At the same time several Polish inmate doctors were first used in the infirmary, where medical records for the years 1942 to 1945 indicate that they helped many patients effectively.
But what was and remained in the history of the infirmary of Gross-Rosen was a place of dying and deliberate killings. Doctors not only killed in the Section of the Crematorium, thousands of Soviet prisoners of war with phenol and cyanide, this also took place in the infirmary, the injection of these toxins eventually became a daily tool by physicians and their assistants by means of removing the weakened and those that were no longer able to work, including the sick from  satellite camps. The prisoners knew that, and that's why they avoided as far as possible the infirmary, even if they were very ill or weak, because "here the agenda was that of murder if you needed care'.  These killings have continued in Gross-Rosen to the dissolution of the camp in February 1945. [Statement Gorzel, 18.12. 1953, in: BArch Ludwigsburg, ZStL Js 8/81, sic]

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Gross-Rosen. although located within the German Reich, was to a particular degree an 'eastern' concentration camp. While in 1941 the German prisoners still outweighed in numbers among the 1,497 inmates, which accounted for more than eight hundred, Polish and Soviet prisoners were in the majority since 1942 and this was maintained during the whole period of its existence . Insofar Gross-Rosen served, probably similar to Stutthof and as other camps as an instrument of aggressive living space policies of the Third Reich in the East. Mainly from the police stations in Silesia and almost on schedule, were constantly 'not German-like elements',(nichteindeutschbare) especially Poles, admitted in large numbers because of minor crimes and transgressions, and with the most flimsy of reasons. This practice was given still more power with the imposition of protective custody of Polish citizen, when authority was completely transferred to the Gestapo offices and the security police at their district as from  May 1943 and admissions could be routinely done in a fast-track procedure. Gross-Rosen was, however, also the concentration camp for the region: The Gestapo in Breslau took, for example, from September to November 1944 mostly because of refusal to work 1,882 people into protective custody who were sent to concentration camps, most likely to nearby the camps like Gross-Rosen.
Again and again were 'Foreign' or 'Eastern Workers', i.e. men and women, especially from the Soviet Union, who worked as recruited or abducted workers in German factories, sent for 'educational' reasons into concentration camps, but brought back to their original workplaces after some time or retained to work in the camps. Until the last months of the war, many 'Eastern Labourers' (Ostarbeiter) came to Gross-Rosen.
The Reichsführer SS - Himmler, ordered to set up in 1940 'labour education camps' (Arbeitserziehungslager) [A typical German trend, HKS] to take in civilian foreign workers for 'military and economic plants of importance' that were or otherwise unfavourably 'noticed' for sabotage and refusal to work, for a short time taken into 'political custody'. Gross-Rosen was one of five concentration camps, in which such a labour re-education camp was integrated, it was directed by the Gestapo from Breslau. From May 1941 to November 1944 a total of 4,425 prisoners were registered as such, especially Poles, Ukrainians, Czechs and French, of which 163  did not survive in spite of the brief time period of detention of not more than 56 days. At least 275 of these workers were transferred over time as protective prisoners into concentration camps in general.
Since October 1944, there were also 'Night and Fog' prisoners (Nacht und Nebel) in Gross-Rosen, that were by the Wehrmacht and the Gestapo arrested as foreign agents assisting members of 'resistance' and the underground in the occupied western European countries which were not immediately executed, but at 'Night and Fog' had been deported to Germany. In 1943, the pending operations against them were transferred by a special court to Silesia, but discontinued and in the autumn of 1944 transported the remaining prisoners to the larger concentration camps.  However, out the Silesien prisons at least 1,730 prisoners, apparently all 'Night and Fog' but probably more, came into the camp. Many of them did not survive the unaccustomed hard work in the wintry quarry. A group of Belgian and French 'Nacht und Nebel' prisoners was evacuated in 1945 from Gross-Rosen via Mittelbau-Dora to Nordhausen.
As of March 1944 arrived through the takeover of forced labour camps of the 'Organisation Schmelt' Jewish women into the camp complex Gross-Rosen. But they were only detained in satellite camps where they were used in the defence and textile industry or in the construction of entrenchments and tank traps. In the main camp within the frame work of Evacuation in 1944/45 women were temporarily housed until a Transport was ready. From the end of May 1944 Jewesses were deported from Auschwitz into sub-camps of Gross-Rosen. They came mainly from Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia. In total, about 26,000 women were imprisoned in the camp complex at this late phase.
As in other concentration camps, Jewish prisoners were also here at the lowest position of the camp hierarchy, no doubt they were to a greater extent disadvantaged compared in particular to others, often harassed and terrorized , had regularly perform the comparatively heavy labour and were almost never given the sought-after functionary positions with their  authority or other privileges, and often no medical care. According to the ideological guidelines of the regime they were despised and ostracised by their guards and often even from other groups of prisoners. They were in in 'Jews block', (Judenblock) the block 4 crammed together, and remained from other prisoners almost completely separated. 'Jews favouring' (Judenbegünstigung) by block elders or by Kapos was severely punished by the camp authorities. Often it was said after the work was finished during evening Roll-call: 'Everyone dismissed, the Jews block remains standing' for further special work to build up inventories well into the night hours. [Sprenger, Gross-Rosen, page 127, sic]
In total, nearly 60,000 Jews were held in Gross-Rosen and its satellite camps, which represents almost half of all  intakes yet recorded. The first 48 Jews came with a transport from Dachau on the 18th June 1941,  then apparently followed still several other admissions, because the death register of the civil registry of Gross-Rosen shows up and until October 1942, 218 deaths of Jewish prisoners. In a transport of prisoners in August 1941 there were 28  so called 'race defilers' (Rassenschänder) [which means a Jewish male had married a Gentile women, HKS] of which 25 died by the end of the year. When in the autumn of 1942 a '​​clearing' (Säuberung) of Jewish prisoners in concentration camps took place, as Himmler wanted the camps within the Reich to be 'Jew-free' (judenfrei), the last 37 Jews of Gross-Rosen were transported to Auschwitz on the 16th October 1942. Thus 87 percent up to this point of time, Jews incarcerated at Gross-Rosen were no longer alive.
Women's labour figured most importantly in the calculation of the Nazi leadership from the outset. As the war dragged on, the Nazis's appetite for forced-labourers mounted, and they also integrated women prisoners into the labour for the Reich. When the constellation of concentration camps developed, they included women in the occupied territories in the forced-labour scheme, posting them to camps that were newly established at the time. By early August 1944, there were 145,000 women in concentration camps, and women accounted for 38.3 percent of all inmates in camps under the WVHA. Their numbers increased gradually as the war continued. By 15 January 1945, 202,674 of the 714,211 camp inmates (28.4 percent) were women. Fourteen of the fifteen concentration camps that existed at that time housed women.
Incarceration in a Nazi concentration camp and labour camps was especially difficult ordeal for them. The constant degradation and humiliation, selections, naked inspections by SS men, yearnings for parents and for children induced distress and disquiet and undermined the women's resolve. They usually brought only the most basic items with them, and these, too, were stolen by the minders. Hungarian women who were taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau and sent to labour camps after several days or a week of internment arrived only in their frocks.
Nevertheless, the women quickly adjusted to the new situation, attempting with great endurance to cope with the daily hardships. Even when they performed arduous men's labour and lived under conditions identical to those in the men's camps, they coped better than the men.[Women who performed strenuous labour did not menstruate, the same applies to some female athletes during strenuous training prior to a main event.HKS] On frosty nights they slept next to each other and thus covered themselves with two blankets instead of one. Fewer women than men fell ill. Even their mortality rate was lower. Women prisoners who worked at looms concealed linen seeds in their pockets and slipped them into the camps. Rumour had it that the seeds contained an oil that was vital for their physical health. Maintaining cleanness was essential for the women's survival, even when they set out on death marches they took a bit of laundry detergent with them.

Female prisoners in 1939'
Most women were endowed with the ability to improvise and, indeed, displayed indefatigable resourcefulness. Few had winter clothing, and the tattered garments that they had received were the wrong size, as if the authorities had arranged this deliberately.Over time, the inmates learned how to obtain materials  with which they could produce warmer clothing. Those who worked at looms smuggled out leftovers yarn and used it to knit socks, gloves and sweaters. They fashioned knitting needles from metal wires that they appropriated from armament plants. They shortened their dresses and made undergarments from the surplus fabric. Typically housed in cavernous, chilly halls, they strove to treat their wretched wooden bunks as personal refuges and lend them an atmosphere of privacy. 'The bunk was the only thing they'd given us after they'd deprived us of everything. It was my private place, my home, my room, my corner. It was everything for me'. [Sara Felger-Züskind, The lost Crown: In the Lodz Ghetto, in Hebrew, Tel Aviv, 1977, 196, sic]
Most women who were taken from Poland until 1944 to work in textile and arms plants had to undergo special training with German Meisters until they learned to operate and take full responsibility for heavy machinery. Fatal accident were frequent. A prisoner in Neusalz camp was sentenced to transport to Auschwitz after her hand was crushed by a machine, since any such accident involving Jewish prisoner was perceived as attempted sabotage. Women prisoners worked six days a week in shifts of eleven to twelve hours on weekdays and seven hours on Sundays. Prisoners found the night shift the most difficult, many attempted to improvise solutions and steal away for a few moments rest. On 8 January 1945, one of the plants sent a complaint to the headquarters of the Langenbielau labour camp concerning a women prisoner,whose name they did not bother to mention, [In a KZ you had no name, only a number,HKS] considering it sufficient to note only her serial number, who had exploited the night shift to create a secret sleeping place for herself under some rolls of fabric. "there have been many cases of late'< the department manager noted in a resigned tone. "We request that those caught be punished severely".  The manager remarked that since the roster of civilian workers had been reduced, the supervisor of the night shift was unable to notice that "Jews switch off with each other and go away to rest. They camouflage themselves so well that you can't find them".
The women prisoners who worked in factories did so alongside German women workers, who, unlike them, lived in open camps. Although they were close to each other at work, the hardest jobs were given primarily to Jews. Many women felled timber, carried heavy logs, and marched through the snow in cumbersome wooden soled shoes. The distance that they had to cover to and from work was another crucial factor.
The women prisoners' plight worsened when Gross-Rosen took over the administration of the women's camps. The SS-minders, themselves former labourers, usually subjected them to rough, hostile treatment, which included frequent threats to send them to Auschwitz. Since women prisoners who had been interned in the Organisation Schmelt camps since 1940 had heard plenty about Auschwitz, many preferred to continue working even when they became ill or weak in order to avoid being placed in the Reviere. Women who had endured time in Auschwitz felt that "coming to Kratzau was the luckiest thing. Each wooden barracks had five rooms and thirty women in each room. They slept separately, they had a mattress, pillows, a blanket, a bowl, and a spoon. "Paradise". They also described their work at a gas-mask factory as tolerable.
The German women minders looked don on their wards during the day but did not hesitate to exploit their occupational skills during off-hours. They hired well-educated prisoners as tutors for their children. They made regular use of prisoner hairdressers, drafted singers to make their off-duty hours pleasurable, and had seamstresses make clothing for them at the factory sewing workshop. Most minders did not hesitate to extort the women prisoners and to misappropriate the few possessions they had brought to the camp. Others instituted a formal system of bribery for small mercies. On rare occasions, however, there were also a few who retained some sense of pity, even in this bizarre world.
Since the end of 1943 transports came again with Jewish prisoners into the camp complex Gross-Rosen, they had to be accommodated into newly established satellite camps in Lower Silesia, working in the Sudetenland and in the Lausitz for German armaments factories. The first 600 men came in October from the forced labour camp Markstädt. But again Jewish prisoners came to the main camp only due to the evacuation of Auschwitz since the fall of 1944, among other things, an essential part of the operation out of necessity was a considerable expansion of the camp, which was called the 'Auschwitz camp'. The acquisition of the 28 Jewish forced labour camps of the 'Organization Schmelt' since 1943, and especially by the following occupation of Hungary by the German Wehrmacht in March 1944, driven by Adolf Eichmann for the deportations of Hungarian Jews, the number of Jewish prisoners rose very sharply. Tens of thousands of Jewish men and women, the SS at Auschwitz put into the sub-camps of Gross-Rosen.
Like almost all concentration camps there existed in Gross-Rosen a penal company for prisoners, who had broken the rules, stolen edibles, had been guilty of taking other trifles or had been captured during an escape attempt. Simon Wiesenthal, for example, came at the last Winter was approaching  into the penal company, because he had forgotten to greet an SS man. The penal company was housed in their own block, block 19, as a block elder acted at times the sadistic 'evil beater' Kurt Vogel,  'the terror of the whole camp. He murdered if he wanted to'. [Statement Jankowski, 19.8.1974, in: BArch Ludwigsburg, B 162/19439, sic] They were kept in strict isolation from other prisoners, even during work assignments that were particularly difficult and stressful, such as the cleaning of latrines and the crematorium, they had to work longer hours than the other inmates and often suffered food deprivation. The death rate in the penal company was higher than in the rest camp. 1944, a special department was spun off, the 'Ringel-men', so called because of the grey, red striped nettle suits they wore. In this department, for the most part were prominent prisoners from politics and science and Polish nobles and journalists. After the assassination attempt (on Hitler's life) of 20 July, 1944 as part of the 'action grid' (Aktion Gitter) people from a wide area of the assassins were added, former labour leaders and parliamentarians, this included the former Reich President Paul Löbe. The former Breslauer mayor Karl Mache and his councillor Hugo Frey, both Jews, they died in this penal company. A total of 400 so-called 'Gitter"- inmates had been admitted, but during the evacuation of the camp there were only 45 who were transported to Dachau, how many have been released before that, such as Paul Löbe, and how many have come to death there, is not known.

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