CHAPTER I:
An Overview of the
History of Stutthof Camp

1. The Period from September 1939 to February 1942

As described in an earlier book,[9] wartime National Socialist concentration camps served primarily two purposes: they performed a security police function through the internment of actual or potential opponents of National Socialism, and they acquired increasing significance for the war effort at a time when increasing numbers of Germans were being called up for military service, causing a serious manpower shortage in the Reich.

Stutthof camp was created, at least initially, for the first of the two factors mentioned. The present study is intended to provide a brief description of the camp. It is based, in particular, on a paper by the Polish historian Miroslaw Glinski and published in the official history of the camp.[10]

On July 3, 1939, SS Brigadeführer Johannes Schäfer, the plenipotentiary of the Free City of Danzig for political affairs, founded the so-called "SS Wachmannsturmbann" under the leadership of SS Obersturmbannführer Kurt Eimann. Its duties included the creation of temporary internment camps for all Poles known to be actively anti-German, who were to be arrested immediately in the event of the outbreak of war.

Construction of the camp-northwest of the village of Stutthof (in Polish, Sztutowo)-began in the same month, using prisoners from Danzig prison under the leadership of SS Obersturmführer Erich Gust.

On the afternoon of September 2, i.e., the day after the outbreak of war, a contingent of approximately 200 Poles arrived at Stutthof after being arrested in the area of Danzig.

All the internment camps in the region were under the command of SS Sturmbannführer Max Pauly. The central command post was initially located in the Neufahrwasser camp, which became an auxiliary camp of Stutthof in April 1940. This auxiliary camp was first officially referred to as a "Civilian Prison Camp", but was also referred to in correspondence as a "Prisoner camp" and "Prisoner Assembly Camp". The population of the adjacent area usually referred to it as the "Waldlager" (Forest Camp).

Following the visit of SS Sturmbannführer Arthur Liebehenschel to Neufahrwasser-as well as to a third internment camp, Grenzdorf-on behalf of the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps in January 1940, Glücks drew up a report of his impressions. Glücks then proposed to Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler that the status of Stutthof be changed to that of an official concentration camp, as it was favorably situated and offered good possibilities for the use of inmate labor; Himmler, however, initially rejected this proposal.[11]

Stutthof had approximately 4,500 inmates at the end of January 1940.[12] These inmates consisted almost entirely of Polish men, including numerous priests, teachers, and other members of the intelligentsia considered politically unreliable. A small number of women detainees also arrived at Stutthof after the middle of the same year. They were housed in Barracks I, which received the designation "Women's Block".

At this point, a few remarks on the expansion of the camp are in order; our source of information in this regard is the newsletter published by Polish historian Ewa Ferenc.[13]

When the first prisoners entered the camp in the beginning of September 1939, there were already a number of tents, a kitchen, a washroom and a latrine. The prisoners were first set to work exclusively on the construction of the internment camp: clearing the forest, land-planning arrangements, etc. As in other camps, the construction phase was particularly arduous for the detainees-the forest commando, occupied with the felling of trees, was considered the hardest job.

The construction office, referred to as the "SS Neubauleitung Stutthof" in early 1942-later referred to merely as the "Bauleitung"-was responsible for the construction of the buildings. The first head of the Bauleitung was SS Untersturmführer Otto Neubauer. The Bauleitung was subordinate to the Zentralbauleitung (Central Construction Administration) of the Waffen SS and Police in Danzig, which in turn was subordinate to the Bauinspektion Reich Ost (Construction Inspection of the Reich East), with headquarters in Posen. The latter was in turn subordinate to the Chief of Office C (Amtsgruppe Haushalt und Bauten) (Budget and Construction Office Group) of the Wirtschaftsverwaltungshauptamt (Economic Administration Main Office, WVHA) under SS Gruppenführer Hans Kammler.[14]

Until October 1941, there were only three inmate barracks in Stutthof. At approximately the same time, the sewer installations were completed, and washrooms were installed in the barracks; previous to that time, the inmates had washed in troughs in the open air.

Another barracks was used as an inmate infirmary, containing, among other things, a surgical division, a first aid room, and a pharmacy. There was also a kitchen barracks and a laundry. A former old people's home on the terrain of the camp was used as the post headquarters.

Barracks for camp workshops were built after the beginning of 1940; when completed, there was a paint shop, a furniture workshop, a joinery, an electrotechnical workshop, and a forge. Outside the camp, the inmates built stables for livestock and a slaughterhouse.[15]

Between the beginning of April and the end of September 1941, for reasons which are not readily apparent, Stutthof was referred to in the concentration camp nomenclature as a "transit camp", although its function had not changed as against the preceding period.[16] Very few documents from this period have survived.

In addition to the inmates from 1941 were the so-called "Erziehungshäftlinge" (educational inmates). These were nationals of occupied territories-and, to a lesser extent, Germans-who had violated their labor contracts or neglected to comply with the call-up to the labor service. On May 28, 1941, Himmler, in a circular letter to all offices of the Sipo (Security Police), ordered the construction of labor education camps; the Sipo Chief of Danzig, Heinrich Willich, in a letter to Reinhard Heydrich, the Chief of the RSHA (Reichssicherheitshauptamt) of the SS, proposed that Stutthof be converted into a labor education camp. Heydrich indicated his agreement on August 9.[17]

The "educational inmates" had an easy time of it compared to the political inmates, and were usually freed after 56 days and assigned to a job. With the conversion of the camp, non-Polish detainees entered Stutthof for the first time in bigger numbers. French citizens arrived after September 1941; the first of these was Jean Maurisse, who had been a foreign worker in Elbing (Polish Elblag) for the E. Schichau company, and who returned there after his release from Stutthof.[18] There is also evidence of the presence of Italian educational inmates, but only in 1943 at the earliest.[19]

Of the Polish political prisoners interned after the outbreak of the war, approximately 2,000 were released in 1940 and 1941.[20] The considerable reduction in the camp manpower after the spring of 1940 must be attributed partly to these releases and partly to transfers. In this regard, two large transports which left for Sachsenhausen as early as April 1940 are of considerable significance: 1,000 Stutthof inmates were transferred to Sachsenhausen on April 9, 1940, and another 800 inmates on April 19, 1940.[21] In contrast, however, there were no transports from officially recognized concentration camps to internment camps, transit camps, or work camps. On December 10, 1940, Stutthof, therefore, had only 1,024 inmates (including 100 women) over a third of who were inmates of the auxiliary camps of Elbing and Grenzdorf.[22]

Himmler visited Stutthof on November 23, 1941,[23] and finally decided to change the status of the camp to that of a regular concentration camp. The decisive factor in this decision was economic; this is proven by the following letter sent by Heinrich Himmler to the chief of the SS Wirtschaftsverwaltungshauptamt Oswald Pohl on December 19, 1941:[24]

"Dear Pohl!

I recently visited Stutthof camp during my visit to the district of Danzig-West Prussia. I have become convinced that Stutthof is of great significance to the subsequent settlement of the district of Danzig-West Prussia. Stutthof has all the possibilities for workshops, joineries, metalworking shops, etc. I believe that we must further expand and utilize Stutthof. In my opinion, the expansion must strive at the following:

1) The installation of building joineries and metal workshops for settlement activity in West Prussia.

2) The fullest use of the tailor shop, joinery, and other workshops for us. A great quantity of orders for the armed forces is being carried out.

3) Installation of an auto repair workshop for the local SS top section.

4) Purchase of a brickyard on the bay, which is very favorable and which has a narrow-gauge railway and canal, and which is being offered to us there now.

5) Stutthof must also be expanded to accept 20,000 Russian prisoners of war at a later time, which can be used to build a settlement in the district of Danzig-West Prussia.

I enclose a statement on the preparation of the terrain, drawn up in Danzig. Some of the sludge could be of interest for the fertilization of the meadows if it is worth mining it at a depth of 10-12 m, as well as the white, soft, medium hard and hard limestone lying at a depth of 100 meters on the other hand. If I am not mistaken, there is a great lack of cement and limestone in the district of Danzig-West Prussia. Both can be derived from limestone.

Stutthof is now to be taken over by yourself and SS Brigadeführer Glücks as a recognized concentration camp with economic operation.

Heil Hitler!

Your H. Himmler"

Inspector of Concentration Camps Richard Glücks announced on January 7, 1942 that Stutthof would now be considered a state concentration camp.[25]

This decision was reflected in a circular letter of February 20, 1942 from the Chief of the Security Police and the SD:[26]

"Former SS special camp Stutthof, by order of the Reichsführer SS and Chief of the German Police, effective immediately, is to be taken over as a state concentration camp with the designation 'Concentration Camp Stutthof'. Former commander of Special Camp Stutthof, SS Hauptsturmführer of the Waffen SS Pauly, is to be assigned camp commander by the Inspector of Concentration Camps."

With its promotion to the rank of "state concentration camp", Stutthof became subordinate to the Inspectorate of Concentration Camps in Oranienburg.[27] The camp commandant, as stated in the circular letter, was still Max Pauly. At the end of August 1942, Pauly was recalled from Stutthof to Neuengamme concentration camp, which he commanded until the end of the war. For his activities in this latter camp, he was sentenced to death and hanged after trial by the British occupation government in Hamburg.[28] Pauly's successor in Stutthof was SS Sturmbannführer Paul Werner Hoppe. Hoppe was no longer fit for service due to a wound on the Eastern front, and was therefore recalled into the concentration camp service, to which he had already belonged as a member of Dachau camp staff from 1937 to 1941. He commanded Stutthof until the end of the war, but left the camp at the beginning of April 1945, whereupon it was unofficially commanded by SS Hauptsturmführer Paul Ehle. Hoppe was sentenced to nine years imprisonment after trial in Bochum in 1957; he was released after serving seven and half years.[28] We have no information as to Ehle's fate in the post-war period.

Stutthof was organized as follows:[29]

Camp Commandant-Division I-VI-SS Death's-Head Sturmbann

The six departments were as follows:

Department I-Command Post: This consisted of the staff of the camp commandant, and was subordinate to the adjutant of the latter. The following services were subordinate to Department I: The Security Service supervised order in the camp; the Information Service was responsible for relations between the camp and the higher offices; Transport Preparedness supervised transport; the Weapons Warehouse, Canteens (there were two, one for the camp personnel and one for the inmates); the SS Court sentenced minor violations against the camp regulations (serious cases were referred to the SS Court in Danzig).

Department II-Political Department: This drew up camp personnel files based on the transport lists, including an indication of the category of inmate concerned (political prisoner, protective custody prisoner, criminal, etc.). In the event of death, it informed the relatives of the deceased person, as well as the office that had ordered the transfer of the deceased person to Stuffhof camp. The political division also performed the interrogations of inmates.

Department III-Protective Custody Camp: The various departments of the camp were subordinate to the protective custody camp leader: the men's camp, women's camp, and the camp complexes set up later (special camp, Germanic camp, and Jewish camp, which will be discussed in detail below). The protective custody camp leader was accompanied by an officer responsible for drawing up lists, and who performed twice-daily role calls to determine camp manpower. The Labor Service, which was subordinate to the Labor Service Leader, was a sub-department. The Labor Service Leader drew up an inmate card file based on vocation, to ensure the most efficient employment of camp inmates.

Department IV-Economy and Administration: This department was responsible for the cash desk, paying out wages to camp personnel, purchasing necessary food and clothing, etc.

Department V-Camp Doctor: The head camp doctor was responsible for medical care. The camp and military "Revier" (military jargon for hospital), pharmacy, and crematorium were under his care. The head camp doctor had to be present at executions, as well as during the infliction of corporal punishment.

Department VI-Training: This department was responsible for the political and vocational training of camp personnel as well as for cultural events.[30]

The SS Death's Head Sturmbann KL Stutthof consisted of camp guard personnel. In addition to Reich Germans, the guards consisted of a large percentage of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe, as well as non-Germans (Ukrainians, Latvians, Lithuanians). Approximately 2,500 guards, including a number of women, did service during the sixty-eight months of the camp's existence.[31]

2. The Period from March 1942 to June 1944

On December 19, 1941, Heinrich Himmler ordered the expansion of Stutthof camp to enable it to accept 20,000 Russians (i.e., Soviet prisoners or war). As a result of this decision, SS Unterscharführer Johann Pauls delivered a plan for the camp expansion to the Reichsführer SS, which was approved by Himmler on March 3, 1942. Among other things, it provided for the construction of housing for 20,000 inmates west and north of the already existing structures, now known as the "old camp". To enable the planned expansion, the brickyard that was mentioned in Himmler's letter of April 1942, as well as the Werdershof estate (also located south-east of the camp), were leased by Department II of the SS WVHA (Budget and Construction),[32] where the "Germanic camp" was to be built the following year.

North of the old camp, 30 barracks were now built as the first part of the "new camp"; of these, 20, designated with numbers I to XX, were intended for the inmates, and consisted of the camp canteen, the kitchen, and the quarantine barracks for inmates suffering from contagious diseases. The DAW (Deutsche Ausrüstungs-Werke) factories were housed in the other barracks, including a furrier's workshop, tailor's workshop, weaving workshop, shoemaker's workshop, and a bicycle repair workshop.

The first inmates were transferred to the new camp in July 1943. The women remained in the old camp.

Following completion of the barracks, construction began on the streets, sewerage, and water mains for the new camp. At the same time, construction began on a barracks for guard personnel west of the old camp; the guard personnel in question moved in on March 28, 1943.

Northeast of the new camp, work began on the construction of two factory hangars for the DAW in October 1943; these were put into operation one year later. The Focke-Wulf Company manufactured airplane parts in the first factory hangar, while motors and machine parts were manufactured in the second, the "DAW Maschinenhalle".

Basically, inmate work fell into two categories: the construction and maintenance of the camp itself, and labor for industrial enterprises. Inmates were made available to the latter against payment. As stated above, a few companies, such as the DAW or Focke-Wulf, founded subsidiaries in the camp itself. Otherwise, inmates assigned to companies were put to work in the "adjacent camps" or "exterior commandos", in which case the distinction between the first and the second naturally tended to disappear. Polish historiography assumes a total of 60 auxiliary camps and exterior agencies.[33] These included, for example, the "Elbing exterior office", where between 200 and 500 inmates were active for various undertakings "including work done for the Holzmann company: in building the wharf, in the plywood factory, in cleaning the city, in the sewers of the city, and in some smaller enterprises", as well as in building houses.[34]

Other inmates were rented out to farmers living in the vicinity of Stutthof.[35]

Stutthof protective custody leader SS Hauptsturmführer Theodor Traugott Meyer, in his notes written in August 1947 while in a Polish prison, explains that 3,000 Jewish women were transferred to help during the harvest upon the personal intervention of camp commandant Hoppe.[36]

All the above mentioned factors prove the great significance of Stutthof camp from an economic point of view.[37]

Many inmates were released from the camp. According to camp reports, the total number of released inmates amounted to 5,000.[38] During certain periods, at least until the end of August 1944, releases took place almost daily (for example, more than 40 inmates were released on August 29).[39] It was no exception for more than 50 inmates to be released on one day; for example, 58 inmates were released on August 28, 1942, and 51 on December 18, 1942.[40]

Many of the inmates released on a given day were "educational inmates". The list of May 6, 1943 provides an example of this: 30 educational inmates were released, in addition to two inmates to be transferred to Auschwitz or Sachsenhausen (one stateless asocial and one Polish protective custody inmate).[41] On the other hand, the inmates released on August 28, 1942 consisted of 23 "shirkers" (which was certainly a synonym for "educational inmates") as well as 21 protective custody inmates, i.e., political prisoners. The majority of released inmates were Poles.

It should be noted that two of these releases-those of July and August 1944-took place at a time when, according to the official version of history, large numbers of inmates were being murdered in the gas chamber. According to the official version of history, therefore, the Germans released witnesses to their alleged mass extermination program to enable them to tattle about what they had seen! Since the alleged gas chamber was located immediately at the edge of the old camp and was easily visible from the old camp,[42] there would have been no way to conceal any homicidal mass gassings.

The increase in camp manpower after the decision to expand the camp is revealed in the following statistics:

With the designation of Stutthof as a regular concentration camp, transports not only departed for other concentration camps-transports from other concentration camps entered the camp as well. A Polish study written in 1990 estimated the total number of persons transferred from Stutthof at 24,624.[44] We will discuss the extent of transports to Stutthof from other camps in another chapter.

The transports to Stutthof beginning in 1942-the first, with 114 inmates from Buchenwald, arrived on April 14, 1942[44]-implied an internationalization of Stutthof camp. Of course, Poles remained the most numerous group of camp inmates until mid-1944, but the numbers of inmates from other countries, especially the Soviet Union and Germany, were constantly increasing. Resistance fighters or persons suspected of supporting resistance, in addition to prisoners of war, also arrived from the USSR.

German new arrivals included significantly more criminals than politicals. Many such criminals arrived from Mauthausen, a camp designated for incorrigible serious criminals. The bad habit, stubbornly indulged in by the SS, of assigning common criminals to positions as Kapos, and therefore in a position of authority over other inmates, may have been the main reason for the brutality and mistreatment described at great length-as well as with dramatic embellishment in most cases-in the testimonies of former Stutthof inmates.[45]

Two smaller groups of prisoners also received privileged treatment in Stutthof. The first group consisted of the so-called "honorary prisoners", which was understood to mean intellectuals interned for their political unreliability, or diplomats from the Baltic States of Latvia and Lithuania. These inmates lived separately from the other prisoners, and did not have to work.[46] The same was true of a group of 282 (or, according to other sources, 273) Norwegian policemen transferred to Stutthof in December 1943 or January 1944 for refusing to sign a loyalty oath to Vidkun Quisling's National Socialist government. In 1943, the Norwegians were quartered in the so-called German camp south-east of the old camp originally intended for SS men liable to punishment.[47] Some of them voluntarily performed light work as gardeners or postmen. The approximately 150 Danish communists, having previously entered the camp in October 1943, were required to work on a regular basis, but also appear to have received preferential treatment on the basis of their Nordic descent.[48]

As in other camps, disease was the principal danger and chief cause of the high mortality. Typhus-which broke out in the spring of 1942 for the first time-was especially devastating. Another epidemic broke out in April 1943, and lasted until June.[49] Of the more than 1,100 inmates who died in that period, the majority doubtlessly died of typhus.[50]

3. The Period from June 1944 to January 1945

Conditions in Stutthof changed drastically starting in mid-1944. In addition to a few transports of non-Jews, numerous mass transports of Jews-the vast majority of whom were women-arrived between 29 June and 28 October. The details are shown in the following table:[51]

Date

Origin

Number

29.June 1944

CC Auschwitz

2,502

12. July 1944

Sipo Kowno (Kaunas)

282

13. July 1944

Sipo Kowno

3,098

13. July 1944

Sipo Kowno

233

16. July 1944

Sipo Kowno

1,172

17. July 1944

Sipo Kowno

1,208

19. July 1944

Sipo Kowno

1,097

19. July 1944

Sipo Kowno

1,072

20. July 1944

CC Auschwitz

2,500

25. July 1944

Sipo Kowno

182

25. July 1944

Sipo Kowno

1,321

04. Aug. 1944

Sipo Kowno

793

09. Aug. 1944

Sipo Riga

6,382

09. Aug. 1944

Sipo Riga

450

14. Aug. 1944

CC Auschwitz

2,800

16. Aug. 1944

CC Auschwitz

2,800

23. Aug. 1944

Sipo Riga

2,079

23. Aug. 1944

Sipo Riga

2,329

28. Aug. 1944

CC Auschwitz

2,800

31. Aug. 1944

CC Auschwitz

8

03. Sept. 1944

CC Auschwitz

2,405

10. Sept. 1944

CC Auschwitz

668

10. Sept. 1944

CC Auschwitz

1,082

27. Sept. 1944

CC Auschwitz

4,501

01. Oct. 1944

Sipo Riga

3,155

14. Oct. 1944

Sipo Riga

190

28. Oct. 1944

CC Auschwitz

1,500

 

Total:

48,609

The accumulated monthly influx was as follows:

June: 2,502

August: 20,441

October: 4,845

July: 12,165

September: 8,656

 

The transports from Riga in Latvia, as well as Kaunas in Lithuania-Kowno is the Polish name for Kaunas-were the results of the evacuation of the Baltic camps due to the advance of the Red Army. Among the inmates transferred from the Baltic to Stutthof were German Jews. An anthology containing numerous reports by former inmates[52] contains statements by the following German-Jewish men and women transferred from the Baltic to Stutthof:

The same anthology furthermore reproduces the reports of two Lithuanian Jewish women. Maria Rolnikaite and Schoschana Rabinovici-who was 12 years old at the time-were both deported to Latvia, an adjacent country located to the north, after the liquidation of the Vilna ghetto; in Latvia, they were lodged in the Kaiserwald camp and then transferred to Stutthof in the summer of 1944.

What is surprising, and not easily explained, is the fact that the Jewish women deported from the two Baltic States to Stutthof included Hungarian Jewish women. 90% of the 793 Jewish women in the August 4 transport from Kaunas were from Hungary; the transports which arrived in Stutthof on August 9 and October 1 from Riga also included a number of Jewish women from Hungary. Significantly, this fact is not mentioned in either the western or Polish official version of history. We assume that these Hungarian Jewish women were first deported to Auschwitz in spring or early summer 1944, were then sent to the Baltic and put to work for the war effort, probably for the Organization Todt, before the advance of the Soviet Army led to the transfer of inmates from the Baltics to Stutthof.

With relation to the large transports from Auschwitz, more or less complete lists of names of deported Jews with corresponding nationalities are available in three cases (August 14, 16, and 28).[54] More than 99% of the members of the two transports were Hungarian Jews. The rest consisted of individual German, Slovakian, Czech, Rumanian women, and members of other nationalities; an American citizen by the name of Magdalena Huppert also arrived on August 16 bearing inmate number 67,852. On the other hand, the transport on August 8 consisted 98% of Poles, the majority from Lodz, who had been deported from Lodz to Auschwitz. According to D. Drywa, the persons transferred from Auschwitz to Stutthof in 1944 consisted of 10,602 Hungarian Jews and 11,464 Jews from Lodz.[55]

It is remarkable that Danuta Czech's Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, considers only two of the transports from Auschwitz to Stutthof worthy of mention. Mrs. Czech cannot have been ignorant of the other transports, since, with one single exception, K. Dunin-Wąsowicz meticulously recorded all transfers as early as 1967, i.e., 22 years before the publication of the second edition of the Kalendarium. Furthermore, D. Czech deliberately makes false statements concerning the two transports that she does record.[56]

The manner in which the camp administration reacted to the continuous arrival of mass transports is described by SS Hauptsturmbannführer Theodor Meyer, protective custody camp commander in Stutthof, in his notes written in a Polish prison while awaiting execution:[57]

"When the Lublin and Riga camps and outer camps in the East were evacuated, Stutthof was designated a reception camp. Transports with thousands of Jewish women arrived, even from Auschwitz. These transports were mostly in a condition that exceeded anything ever seen before. They were sent on the transports without sufficient clothing and food. Now they were supposed to be accepted in a camp that was itself on subsistence level. Telexes, radio messages, went back and forth between Berlin and Stutthof to make the gentlemen in Berlin realize that this was impossible; that Stutthof could no longer accept any more inmates. The camp commandant himself traveled to Berlin for a conference intended to prevent any more inmates from being sent to Stutthof, but without success. Berlin only promised to ensure that the inmates would be detailed off in workers.[[58]] A representative appeared and made contacts with industry. Commandos were detailed off to Königsberg, Elbing, Danzig, Gotenhafen, Stolp, Bromberg, Stettin, and to the nearer or more distant surroundings. New masses arrived. The various offices of the Gestapo emptied their camps and ghettos and sent the inmates to Stutthof, without making any inquiry at any time. Typhus-infected inmates spread the disease in the camp, and this epidemic caused many victims among the masses tightly packed together in the camp. Where, and how, could an improvement be made? More and more transports arrived. Could one refuse to accept them? No! When the transports arrived with their inmates, they had to be accepted."

We see not the slightest grounds for doubting the truthfulness of the content of this testimony.[59]

In order to provide at least some housing for the many new arrivals, a "Special Camp" was created ex nihilo in the western part of the camp in July 1944; this camp consisted of a kitchen barracks in addition to several inmate barracks. This camp was used, for example, to quarter Germans who had been taken hostage because relatives of theirs belonged to anti-National Socialist resistance movements; one of them was Fey von Hassell, daughter of diplomat Ulrich von Hassell.[60] Parallel to this area, 10 barracks numbered with XXI and XXX were built north of the new camp and designated, as a whole, the "Jewish camp", although only six of the ten barracks were intended for Jews; another two were used to house women deported to Stutthof after the crushing of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, and the other two were used as warehouses for personal effects.[61]

At the end of August 1944, the camp manpower, including the outer camps, was approximately 60,000;[62] it had therefore multiplied tenfold in eight months! The last large transport arrived from Auschwitz on October 29. In the following month, only individual groups of inmates arrived at Stutthof; the last inmate, the Pole Jan Zielina, no.105,302, arrived from Auschwitz on January 17, 1945.[63] The fact that transports Stutthof departed after October 1944 was one reason for the renewed decline in camp manpower. A second reason was the typhus epidemic that broke out in late summer 1944 for the second time, and took on devastating proportions by the end of the year. The poor hygienic conditions in the further overcrowded housing naturally contributed to propagation of the lethal epidemic. The deficiency of the disinfestation facilities is shown, among other things, by the certification of a transfer to Flossenbürg dated November 24, 1944:[64]

"The following inmates are to be transferred from Stutthof concentration camp to Flossenbürg concentration camp on 11.24.1944:

216 men (Jews)

284 women (Jews).

It should be noted that these inmates come from a camp in which typhus, paratyphus, diphtheria, and scarlet fever are rampant at the present time. Quarantine is therefore to be imposed, and these inmates are to be put to work in closed groups.

These inmates were bathed and deloused prior to departure on the transport. Due to insufficient delousing facilities at this camp, we cannot guarantee that these prisoners are free from lice.

The SS garrison doctor."

On December 29, 1944, Hoppe found himself compelled to decree a partial camp quarantine by special order:[65]

"In the course of the struggle against typhus, entry and leaving of the new women's camps I, II, and III is blocked, effective immediately, due to danger of contagion by typhus."

The raging epidemic and the generally deteriorating conditions against the background of the German collapse led to the final, and worst, phase in the existence of Stutthof camp-exactly as in Bergen-Belsen, Dachau, and other camps.

As of January 24, 1945, the day before the first waves of evacuation, the camp manpower report indicated a manpower of 28,390 female and 18,115 male inmates (including the subsidiary camps). This number included 25,775 Jewish women and 2,898 Jewish men.[66]

4. Evacuation and the End

Documentation on the tragic last months of Stutthof camp is very fragmentary; in Polish literature on the subject, commonplace facts and atrocity propaganda are churned together in a sort of stew.[67] For this reason, it seems to us impossible to offer even an approximate estimate of the number of victims caused by the evacuation of the camp, and we will refrain from putting forth any estimates.

The fate of Stutthof inmates at that time was very little different from-or even identical to-the fate of the millions of German civilians who fled before the advancing Red Army during that harshest winter of the war, under almost inconceivable circumstances and who therefore suffered horribly high losses. The U.S. historian Mark Weber hit the nail on the head when he wrote:[68]

"Stutthof's prisoners were not the only ones to endure this terrible calamity. During this same period, hundreds of thousands of German civilians, most of them women and children, as well [as] civilians of other nationalities, were slowly making their way westward in the snow and freezing weather. Many of these people also died during the winter trek."

In their interesting book Rejs Śmierci (The Sea Voyage of Death) the Polish historian Elżbieta Grot quotes a Norwegian inmate, not mentioned by name, who gives us the following general atmosphere of the conditions prevailing in West Prussia at that time:[69]

"A line of refugees from East Prussia, several miles long, consisting of terror-stricken families who had abandoned their homeland and their property in panic was, to us, the visible image of a people in a state of complete dissolution. Dead horses lying by the edge of the road, desperation-filled old people, weeping women, and-the worst experience for us-starving infants, often running barefooted through the snow looking for mothers or fathers who had attempted to break through to the other side of the Weichsel [...] By midday, a sexton approached requesting us to help him bury the bodies of the dead, excusing himself by saying that no auxiliary labor was available to him."

The tragedy of the Stutthof refugees who died during the evacuation must be viewed in the context of this tragedy extending over an immense territory. The decision to evacuate the camp appears to have been made by Fritz Katzmann, the Higher SS and Police Chief of Danzig, after the onset of the large-scale winter offensive of the Red Army on January 12, 1945. After January 20, all work in the camp was directed at the forthcoming evacuation, and approximately 11,000 inmates were led out of Stutthof on January 25 and 26. They were supposed to march on foot to Lauenberg, 140 km further west, for internment in a non-commissioned officers' school for the Waffen SS. The distance was to be covered in seven days, exclusively on back roads, because the main roads were filled with German refugee columns and German troops. At night, the inmates were supposed to be lodged in villages.

The evacuation did not run according to plan, particularly because of the heavy snow drifts and poor road conditions. Many inmates died on the road, others escaped, and considerable numbers were overtaken by the advancing Soviet troops and liberated. The majority of the evacuees were halted by the Wehrmacht before they reached Lauenberg, and put to work building anti-tank ditches. In early March, following the onset of another Soviet offensive, those who were able to march were led in the direction of Gotenhafen and Putzig, where they were supposed to be transported to Germany by ship. They did not get there, because the columns were captured on the way by the Soviets.[70] According to Polish sources based on estimates that cannot be verified, approximately 5,000 died out of the 11,500 evacuated on January 25 and 26.[71]

Stutthof still had 33,948 inmates on January 30, approximately one third of them in the main camp.[72] At approximately the same time, the camp began to fill with German refugees who took up temporary lodgings there, taking over the new camp and part of the old camp. Many of these German civilians were later evacuated to the west by sea. The camp was attacked by Soviet bombers on March 25 and on several occasions afterwards; several of the women's barracks in the old camp burnt down.[73]

At this time, a large proportion of the inmates in Danzig and Gotenhafen-the name for Gdingen at that time-were put to work on the shipyard or in various factories. Beginning in March, these cities were severely bombed by the Soviet air force, killing many inmates and German civilians.[74]

Instead of simply leaving the remaining inmates behind for the Soviets, as reason would have indicated, since the Soviet arrival was now only a question of time, even more panicky evacuation actions were carried out by sea during the last weeks of the war, ending tragically for a great many of the persons involved. On March 25, a ship transport with over 600 refugees from the Gotenhafen subsidiary camp sailed for Kiel, where the inmates were interned in auxiliary camps of Neuengamme concentration camp. Two large sea transports with a total of approximately 4,400 inmates departed on April 25 and 27. The first traveled by way of Hela to Neustadt, where the inmates were lodged in a hospital following the arrival of British troops; a few were later transferred to Sweden by the Swedish Red Cross for medical care. The second transport arrived at Flensburg after a long period of wandering; there, the inmates were embarked onto the ship Rheinfels. On May 9, the ship was boarded by representatives of the Swedish Red Cross, who decided to take the totally exhausted inmates to Sweden for treatment. A large number of the persons evacuated by sea died from hunger, exhaustion, or disease before the end of the war; an unknown number were killed during British bombing attacks on the evacuation ships.[75]

The Red Army entered Stutthof on May 9, 1945, but found only approximately 150 inmates-most of who were sick-in addition to approximately 20,000 German civilians. Paul Ehle, acting unofficially as the last concentration camp commander, had fled a few days before. The existence of Stutthof concentration camp coincided almost precisely with the duration of war: it opened the day after the war began, and was captured by Soviet troops the day after it ended.

In 1946 and 1947, four trials were held in Poland against a total of 80 members of Stutthof camp guard personnel. After trial, 21 death sentences were handed down and executed, with one exception. Another five camp commandants, including the second commander, P.W. Hoppe, were brought to court in three trials in the FRG (1955, 1957, and 1964); four of them received sentences of imprisonment of up to nine years.[76] Reliable documentation on these trials is unavailable to us; therefore, we cannot discuss them in detail.

The joy of liberation was of short duration for many inmates captured by the Red Army. Accused of collaboration with the Germans or of membership in Polish nationalist movements such as the Armija Krajowa (Homeland Army), or the Boy Scout-type organization Szare Szeregi (Gray Ranks), they were promptly arrested again and disappeared into Soviet concentration camps, some of them for many years. Three examples were Marian Pawlaczyk, Jan Będzińsky and Mieczysław Goncarzewski, who were only released from the Gulag archipelago after Stalin's death in 1953. Their crime: During interrogations held after their liberation by the Soviet secret service NKVD, they were found to be too well informed about the structure of the camp. This sealed their fate: in the eyes of the NKVD, this proved that they had collaborated with the Germans.[77]


Notes

[9]Jürgen Graf and Carlo Mattogno, KL Majdanek, Eine Historische und technische Studie, Castle Hill Publisher, Hastings 1998. An English edition of this book will soon be published by Theses and Dissertations Press.
[10]Mirosław Glinski, "Organisation und Struktur des Lagers Stutthof", in: Stutthof: Das Konzentrationslager, op. cit. (note 2), p. 76-98.
[11]Ibid., p. 76ff.
[12]Obozy hitlerowskie na ziemiach polskich 1939-1945, Państwowe Wydawnictowo Naukowe, Warsaw 1979, p. 493.
[13]Ewa Ferenc, "Bau und Erweiterung des Konzentrationslagers Stutthof (2. September 1939 - 31. December 1944)" in: Stutthof: Das Konzentrationslager, op. cit. (note 2), p. 99-108.
[14]M. Glinski, "Organisation...", op. cit. (note 10), p. 98. On the organization of the SS Construction Administrations, see also Carlo Mattogno, La "Zentralbauleitung der Waffen SS und Polizei Auschwitz", Edizioni di Ar, Padua 1998.
[15]E. Ferenc, "Bau und Erweiterung...", op. cit. (note 13), p. 99-102.
[16]M. Glinski, "Organisation...", op. cit. (note 10), p. 79.
[17]Ibid., p. 80ff.
[18]Marek Orski, Des français a Stutthof, Muzeum Stutthof w Sztutowie, Danzig 1995, p. 9, 10.
[19]Marek Orski, Gli Italiani a Stutthof, Muzeum Stutthof w Sztutowie, Danzig 1996, p. 8.
[20]Obozy hitlerowskie..., op. cit. (note 12), p. 498.
[21]Danuta Drywa, "Ruch transportów między Kl Stutthof a innymi obozami", SZM, no. 9, 1990, p. 27.
[22]Obozy Hitlerowskie..., op. cit. (note 12), p. 498, 504.
[23]A photo album of the Himmler visit has survived, and is stored in the archive.
[24]Archivum Muzeum Stutthof (hereinafter briefly referred to as AMS), I-IA-2.
[25]M. Glinski, "Organisation...", op. cit. (note 10), p. 85.
[26]AMS, I-A-7.
[27]The Inspectorate of Concentration Camps under Richard Glücks consisted of four departments, which, as Amtsgruppe D, were subordinate to the Wirtschaftsverwaltungshauptamt (WVHA) of the SS in Berlin. Department D I (Concentration camps), which governed the administration of concentration camps; Department D II (Inmate labor), which coordinated inmate labor and ordered transfers; Department D III (camp hygiene and sanitary personnel); and Department D IV (Administration), which was responsible for the financing and equipping of the concentration camps.
[28]Janina Grabowska, "Die Verantwortung für die im KL Stutthof begangenen Verbrechen. Die Prozesse", in: Stutthof: Das Konzentrationslager, op. cit. (note 2), p. 294.
[29]M. Glinski, "Organisation...", op. cit. (note 10), p. 88ff.
[30]These included, among other things, theatrical performances. For example, the Regional Theatre of Danzig-West Prussia presented a comedy on February 16, 1944 in the Comradeship Home of the camp. AMS, 1-1B-3.
[31]In 1944, when the large Jewish transports arrived, the camp administration organized a crash course for women supervisors, the graduates of which then did service in the Jewish camp as well as in the exterior offices. M. Glinski, "Organisation...", op. cit. (note 10) p. 92.
[32]E. Ferenc, "Bau und Erweiterung...", op. cit. (note 13), p. 103f.
[33]Obozy hitlerowskie..., op. cit. (note 12), p. 502-506.
[34]Marek Orski, "Die Arbeit" in Stutthof: Das Konzentrationslager..., op. cit. (note 2), p. 207ff.
[35]In this regard, see the report by Gerda Gottschalk in: Hermann Kuhn (ed.): Stutthof. Ein Konzentrationslager vor den Toren Danzigs. Edition Temmen, Bremen 1995, p. 138ff.
[36]Ibid., p. 190.
[37]See chapter IV, section I.
[38]Janina Grabowska, "Die Häftlinge" in: Stutthof: Das Konzentrationslager, op. cit. (note 2), p. 120.
[39]AMS, I-II-6, copy only partially legible.
[40]AMS, I-II-6, p. 27ff. and 69f.
[41]See document I.
[42]See Document 2.
[43]Obozy hitlerowskie..., op. cit. (note 12), p. 498.
[44]Danuta Drywa, "Ruch transportów...", op. cit. (note 21), p. 31.
[45]The terrorization of the political prisoners by the criminal inmates was a phenomenon observable in many camps. It is described in detail in serious works of concentration camp memoirs, such as, for example, Paul Rassinier's Le Mensonge de Ulysse (reprint: La Vieille Taupe, Paris 1980), or Benedikt Kautsky's Teufel und Verdammte (Büchergilde Gutenberg, Zürich 1946).
[46]M. Orski, "Stutthof als internationales Lager", in: Stutthof: Das Konzentrationslager, op. cit. (note 2) p. 145.
[47]Ibid., p. 148; M. Glinski, "Organisation...", op. cit. (note 10), p. 93.
[48]M. Orski, "Stutthof als internationales Lager", op. cit. (note 46), p. 145.
[49]On the typhus epidemics, see Elżbieta Grot, "Indirekte Extermination", in: Stutthof: Das Konzentrationslager, op. cit. (note 2), pp. 195-196. The German term for typhus is Fleckfieber.
[50]On the mortality, see Chapter III, Section 5. E. Grot mentions only 849 deaths between 1 April and 12 June, which may possibly be attributed to the fact that they do not take account of the exterior stations and auxiliary camps. In the death register, "Typhus" is listed as the cause of death in only 12 cases, leading E. Grot to assume a falsification of mortality statistics by the camp authorities. It is, however, impossible to understand why the camp authorities would have attempted to hide the typhus epidemic-which everyone knew about-through false statistics. Presumably "heart failure" was entered as the immediate cause of death for most victims of typhus, "heart failure", "general exhaustion" and the like, being in fact results of the epidemic.
[51]AMS, I-IIB-8, p. 1. With the exception of the transport dated 28.10.1944, this table was published in 1967 by K. Dunin-Wąsowicz ("Żydowscy Więźniowie", op. cit. (note 3), p. 11f.).
[52]H. Kuhn (ed.), Stutthof. Ein Konzentrationslager..., op. cit. (note 35), p. 129ff.
[53]45 years after her liberation from Stutthof, Trudi Birger published a disgraceful collection of atrocity stories under the title of Im Angesicht des Feuers (Piper Verlag, Munich/Zürich 1990), which is among the worst works in concentration camp sub-literature, a veritable literary growth industry.
[54]The list of August 14 extends from 1 to 2,780, i.e., it contains all names right down to the last 20 persons transported in that transport. The list of August 16 extends to 2,330; in a number of cases, the names and/or nationalities cannot be determined, since the sheets involved have been damaged. The list of August 28 extends from 1 to 2,715, so that in this case, the last 85 names are missing.
[55]D. Drywa, "Ruch transportów...", op. cit. (note 21), p. 17.
[56]D. Czech, Kalendarium der Ereignisse im Konzentrationslager Auschwitz-Birkenau 1939-1945, Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1989, p. 882, 885. In this connection, we should point out that D. Czech mendaciously reports that "nearly 1000 Jewish inmates, men and women", were transferred from Stutthof to Auschwitz on January 12, 1944, of whom only 120 men and 134 men were registered in the camp; the others are said to have been "killed in the gas chambers" (ibid., p. 705). On the other hand, D. Drywa clearly states that a transport with 255 Jewish inmates departed Stutthof for Auschwitz on that date ("Ruch transportów...", op. cit. (note 21), p. 29; the difference between 254 and 255 is presumably explained by the death of an inmate en route). The 700 'gassing victims' therefore never existed. Because Danuta Czech was a fervent Communist and enthusiastic apologist for the Polish puppet regime established by Stalin after the war, it comes as no surprise that her giant book is often unreliable and highly propagandistic.
[57]Copy in the Archives of the Stutthof Museum, quoted according to H. Kuhn (ed.), Stutthof. Ein Konzentrationslager..., op. cit. (note 35), p. 189, 190.
[58]Error in original.
[59]Theodore Traugott Meyer, in his report written in Polish imprisonment, expressly disputed the accusation of tormenting the inmates and insisted that he helped them as much as he could. He said he had taken care to ensure that as many inmates as possible would receive hard work bonuses, even when many prisoners were not entitled to them. He continues: "The incorporation of the bath installations was approved for every housing block. The sanitary installations were good. The camp orchestra played Sundays. Entertainment was provided. And I am supposed to have approved all this because I wanted to torment the inmates? [...] Were the inmates mistreated at their arrival? No. When the big transports arrived, I made frequent inspections and saw no act of mistreatment". We reproduce these remarks by Meyer because we are of the opinion that both parties have a right to be heard.
[60]Fey von Hassell's report regarding her stay in Stutthof was reproduced in extract by H. Kuhn (ed.): Stutthof. Ein Konzentrationslager..., op. cit. (note 35), p. 176ff.
[61]M. Glinski, "Organisation....", op. cit. (note 10), p. 93; E. Ferenc, "Bau und Erweiterung...", op. cit. (note 13), p. 107.
[62]Obozy Hitlerowskie..., op. cit. (note 12), p. 499.
[63]Elżbieta Grot, Rejs Śmierci, Evakuacja morska Więźniów KL Stutthof, Muzeum Stutthof w Sztutowie, Danzig 1993, p. 13.
[64]AMS, I-IIC-4, p. 159.
[65]AMS, I-IB-3, p. 275.
[66]Camp strength report of 24 January 1945, AMS, with commentary by M. Orski, Ostatnie dni Obozu Stutthof, Wydawnictwo Marpress, Danzig, 1995, unnumbered page in the document section.
[67]For example, J. Grabowska reports that women who were unable to march were burnt alive in their barracks by the SS ("Die Letzten Tage des Lagerbestehens. Die Befreiung", in: Stutthof: Das Konzentrationslager, op. cit. (note 2), p. 292). As a source, the reader is referred to the testimony of Kapo Alfred Nicolaysen before the Soviet Committee for the Investigation of War Crimes. As the author informs us on the following page of the same book, Nicolaysen was sentenced to death following trial in Danzig of 25 members of the camp guard personnel; Nicolaysen was then the only person pardoned out of the 14 persons sentenced to death, presumably in consideration for services rendered in shoring up the traditional atrocity story of Jews burnt alive by the SS.
[68]Mark Weber, op. cit. (note 8), p. 3ff.
[69]E. Grot, Rejs Śmierci..., op. cit. (note 63), p. 15.
[70]M. Orski, Ostatnie dni..., op. cit. (note 66), p. 8ff.; J. Grabowska, "Die Evakuierung des Stammlagers zu Lande" in: Stutthof: Das Konzentrationslager, op. cit. (note 2), p. 267ff.
[71]J. Grabowska, "Die Evakuierung...", op. cit. (note 70), p. 275.
[72]M. Orski, Ostatnie dni..., op. cit. (note 66), p. 14.
[73]Ibid., p. 19. Many of the Jewish women later reported by the Soviet Commission to have been burnt alive by the SS presumably died during these bombing attacks. See note 67.
[74]M. Orski, Ostatnie dni..., op. cit. (note 66), p. 21.
[75]A detailed description of the evacuation by sea can be found in E. Grot, Rejs Śmierci..., op. cit. (note 63).
[76]J. Grabowska, "Die Verantwortung...", op. cit. (note 28).
[77]M. Orski, Ostatnie dni..., op. cit. (note 66), p. 36ff.

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