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Duderstadt, Lager Steinhoff (Polte-Werke)

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  • Klara Meskova (c.1911 - c.1979)
    Qualified pharmacist. Worked in family pharmacy in Lucenec as one of the two professionals there, the other being her brother-in-law, Laszlo Diamant. In the late 1940s/early 50s, she became the pharmac...
  • Maria de Diamant (c.1905 - c.1985)
    Deported in 1944 to Auschwitz with her husband, Laszlo Diamant, her sister Klari and her parents. Assigned with Klari to a labor camp, Duderstadt; transported in early 1945 to Theresienstadt, weeks bef...

Duderstadt, Lager Steinhoff

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Zunächst hatte es beim Duderstädter Polte-Werk ein Zwangsarbeiterlager „Am Euzenberg“ gegeben. Wegen der Zunahme an zwangsverpflichteten Arbeitern wurde ab 1942 ein mit Stacheldraht umgebendes Lager für Zwangsarbeiter und Kriegsgefangene auf dem ehemaligen Fußballplatz „Am Westerborn“ errichtet, dass 1943 in Betrieb genommen wurde.

Ab November 1944 wurden auch rund 750 vorwiegend ungarische Jüdinnen aus dem KZ Bergen-Belsen (vorher bereits vom KZ Auschwitz für den Arbeitseinsatz im Reich selektiert) im Polte-Werke eingesetzt.

Deren mit Stacheldraht und Elektrozaun abgesichertes Barackenlager („Lager Steinhoff“ befand sich in unmittelbarer Nähe des Werkes auf dem Gelände der ehemaligen Möbelfabrik Steinhoff. Bewacht wurden die Frauen von Aufseherinnen aus der Region des Eichsfeldes, die im KZ Ravensbrück ausgebildet worden waren.

Das Lager wurde verhältnismassig ordentlich geführt, die Lagerkommandanten waren SS-Oberscharführer Arno Reißig und SS-Hauptscharführer Eduard Jansen. Es gab etwa 15 SS-Wachposten und 18 Aufseherinnen aus der Belegschaft. Vier oder fünf Frauen verstarben während der knapp sechsmonatigen Lagernutzung. Als alliierte Truppen am 9. April 1945 Duderstadt besetzten, wurde das Lager evakuiert. Ein dreiwöchiger Marsch (per LKW, Bahn und zu Fuß) der Häftlinge endete am 26. April 1945 im KZ Theresienstadt.

Nach dem Krieg wurden die Baracken kurzfristig als Lager genutzt, danach abgerissen. Heute befindet sich dort ein Gewerbegebiet. Gedenksteine erinnern an das Außenlager.

Duderstadt, Polte-Werke Forced Slave Labor Camp

Duderstadt Polte-Werke a Bergen Belsen sub camp surrounded with barbed wire camp for forced laborers and prisoners of war. Labor camp life was brutal, a constant nightmare of grueling work.

As of November 1944 about 750 mostly Hungarian Jews from the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen and selected for labor from Auschwitz concentration camp were used as slave labor in Polte ammunitions plants.

Barbed wire and electric fence hedged their barracks ("Steinhoff camp") which was located in the immediate vicinity of the work on the site of the former furniture factory Steinhoff. The women were guarded by guards from the Ravensbruck concentration camp. The camp commander was SS Sergeant Arno Reissig and SS Master Sergeant Edward Jansen. There were about 15 SS guards and 18 guards from the workforce.

As Allied troops on 9 closed in, the camp was evacuated. A three-week forced march (by truck, train and on foot) of the prisoners ended on 26 April 1945 in the Theresienstadt concentration camp.

After the war, the barracks were used as short-term storage, then demolished. Today there is a commercial zone. Memorials remind us of the central warehouse.

Testimony

Many Hungarian women were sent to work at Duderstadt slave labor camp and the 700 or so who were left by about March 1945, were deemed a potential embarrassment and were therefore shipped out to Theresienstadt in a transport without food or water, taking three weeks to arrive.

The silver lining is that my husband's two aunts (sisters of his father) who were on this transport and half dead on arrival were found by another aunt (a sister of his mother) who was interned at Theresienstadt herself. A pharmacist like her husband (who was not interned), she managed to get medicine and food into the camp through him and thus saved the lives of her sister's sisters-in-law!

Shortly afterwards, the Red Cross arrived followed by the Russian army and some semblance of civilization resumed. It's a bit complicated but well worth the telling, with a wonderful outcome from such grim circumstances. But I gather I must have permission to add profiles to any of the Holocaust locations... ie. Maria de Diamant , Klara Meskova, and Eva Ulrichova

- Testimony by Alyson Breuer

The book describes the fate of women in the Duderstadt concentration camp, one of the 174 sub-camps and external kommandos of Buchenwald. It was located just outside the central German town of Duderstadt dar which provided slave labor for the Polte-Werke munitions factory. In April 1945 the camp was evacuated and the women sent on a forced three week march to Theresienstadt.

The book also deals with how this little camp was forgotten after 1945 for decades

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El Moley Rachamim Holocaust Prayer