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Blechhammer Labor Camp (Auschwitz IV)

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  • František Skalla (1913 - 2009)
    Last Name Skalla First Name František Date of Birth 21. 2. 1913 Fate Přežil / Survived Designation of Transport to Ujazdów (1942) and to the Ghettos Łódž (1941), Minsk (1941) and Terezín (1...
  • Marek Vonchovský (1894 - d.)
  • Julius Zinner (1923 - d.)
    During the Holocaust, Julius was with his parents in Lodz. His parents died there but Julius survived: Last Name Zinner First Name Julius Date of Birth 5. 2. 1923 Fate Přežil / Survived Des...
  • Paul Zinner (1898 - d.)
    Birth: Holocaust survivor: Last Name Zinner First Name Pavel Date of Birth 10. 4. 1898 Fate Přežil / Survived Designation of Transport to Ujazdów (1942) and to the Ghettos Łódž (1941), Mi...
  • Samuel Spiegel (1923 - 2016)

Blechhammer was established in April 1942 near Kozle, a town 18.5 miles (30 km) west of Gliwice, Poland. Blechhammer was initally a labor camp for Jews. The original 350 prisoners built a synthetic gasoline plant.for the Oberschlesische Hydriewerke (Upper Silesia Hydrogenation Works). When 120 prisoners contracted typhus, they were transferred to Auschwitz, where they were killed. That June the remaining prisoners were transferred to a new and larger camp that had been built nearby.

The camp was populated primarily by Jews from Upper Silesia, however, among the 5,500 prisoners were people from 15 different countries. They were housed in wooden barracks under appalling conditions, with no toilet or washing facilities. Some 200 female Jewish prisoners were put into a separate section of the camp. Hunger and disease were rife, especially diarrhea and tuberculosis. A crematorium was built, in which were cremated the bodies of 1,500 prisoners who had died from "natural" causes or had been killed.

List of the industries established in Blechhammer

Camp no. 2: Beton- + Monierbau Camp no. 6 Fa. (firm) Krause Camp no. 9 Fa. Uhde Camp no. 14 Isolierbetrieb Camp no. 15 Fa. Roesner Camp no. 21 Kraftwerk Camp no. 22 Fa. Niederdruck Camp no. 24 Schwelerei Camp no. 25 AEG Gleiwitz Camp no. 28 Betriebskontrolle Camp no. 30 OHW Holzlagerung Camp no. 36 Fa. Dyckerhoff + Widmann Camp no. 40 Fa. Peters Camp no. 49 Fa. Pook + Gruen

  • The firms Uhde, AEG, Dyckerhoff + Widmann are widely known and still in existence.

On April 1, 1944, administration of the camp was transferred to Auschwitz, and it became the satellite camp Auschwitz IV. Hauptsturmfuhrer Otto Brossmann was the camp commandant until November 1944, when he was replaced by Untersturmfuhrer Kurt Klipp.

The first 3,056 male prisoners of Blechhammer had tattoos from Auschwitz — numbers 176,512-179,567 — and 132 female prisoners — numbers 76,330-76,461. Prisoners declared “unable to work” were sent by the camp administration to Auschwitz II (Birkenau) to be murdered, other “healthy” workers were sent from Auschwitz to Blechhammer instead.

On September 9, 1944, American bombers destroyed large parts of the plants of the "Oberschlesische Hydrierwerke AG" in Blechhammer and of the oil refinery in nearby Trzebinia.

On January 21, 1945, 4,000 prisoners, including 150 women, were taken out of the camp and put on a death march lasting 13 days. Several dozen prisoners who tried to hide in Blechhammer during the evacuation were discovered and killed on the spot.

The prisoners each got 800 grams of bread, a small portion of margarine, and artificial honey for their march. Some 800 prisoners were killed en route. On February 2, the survivors reached the Gross-Rosen camp, where they remained for five days before being put on a train to Buchenwald. The prisoners stayed in Gross-Rosen for 5 days. Then they boarded a train to Buchenwald (Feb. 6 or 7). On the way the train, was attacked several times by Allied planes, which caused many deaths.

The total number of forced laborers working in all camps at Blechhammer (not only the sub-camp of Auschwitz III) and surroundings reached abou 48,000 people. This included 2,000 British Prisoners of war.

Sources: Israel Gutman, Ed. Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. Vols. 1-4. NY: Macmillan, 1995; The Forgotten Camps

Blechhammer (pol. Blachownia Slaska) was a huge industrial complex in the former county (Landkreis) Cosel (pol. Kozle) in Upper Silesia consisting of dozens of different camps with up to 50,000 slave workers of all kinds and nationalities during different periods of time. Such German industries as AEG, Uhde and Dyckerhoff + Widmann* were established there. The huge plants of Blechhammer were under construction and were bombed in allied air raids many times in the summer 1944, so they always had to be rebuilt.

A few dates in Blechhammer's history:

April 1, 1944

SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Heinrich Schwarz, commander of the independent concentration camp Auschwitz III in Monowitz takes over of the "Juden-Zwangsarbeitslager" (existing since fall 1940) of the "Oberschlesische Hydrierwerke AG" (synthetic gasoline plants) in Blechhammer (former Kreis Cosel im Upper Silesia). The new sub-camp of Auschwitz III is now called "Arbeitslager Blechhammer". SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Otto Brossmann is appointed to become the first "Lagerfuehrer" of Blechhammer.

The first 3,056 male prisoners of Blechhammer have tattoos of the Auschwitz-numbers 176,512-179,567 and 132 female prisoners of the numbers 76,330-76,461. Prisoners declared "unable to work" are sent by the camp administration to Auschwitz II (Birkenau) in order to be murdered, other "healthy" workers are sent from Auschwitz to Blechhammer instead.

September 9, 1944

American Bombers destroy large parts of the plants of the "Oberschlesische Hydrierwerke AG" in Blechhammer and of the oil refinery in nearby Trzebinia.

November 9, 1944

SS-Ustuf. Kurt Klipp is appointed as the 2nd "Leiter des Nebenlagers Blechhammer". (Kalendarium, p. 924) End of 1944, the evacuation of Blechhammer started : the prisoners will be sent to other camps, they'll have to walk during several days with only a little bit of bread and margarine to survive the walk. Many of them will die of exhaustion and hunger or shot by the SS officers.

Evacuation of Blechhammer: "The Death March"

This evacuation from Blechhammer started on January 21, 1945. The prisoners each got 800 grams of bread, a small portion of margarine, and artificial honey for their march. Approximately 4,000 Blechhammer prisoners plus another 6,000 from the sub-camps Neu-Dachs, Gleiwitz I, III, and IV began their death march. They walked from Blechhammer (Blachownia Slaska) - via Kole - Neustadt - Glucholazy - Neisse - Otmuchow - Zabkowice Slaskie - Schweidnitz - Strzegom. On February 2, 1945, survivors finally reached the concentration camp Gross-Rosen. During the march approximately 800 prisoners who were not able to walk any longer or who tried to flee were shot by the SS and the police (on these death marches they killed Jews, Poles, Russians etc. alike without making a difference). This march was lead by SS-Untersturmfuehrer Kurt Klipp, the 2nd (last) Lagerleiter of Blechhammer.

The prisoners stayed in Gross-Rosen for 5 days. Then they boarded a train to Buchenwald (Feb. 6 or 7). On the way the train was attacked several times by Allied Fighter Planes, which caused many deaths.

The total number of forced laborers working in all camps at Blechhammer (not only the sub-camp of Auschwitz III) and surroundings reached about 48,000 people (Jews being only a small part of them). This included 2,000 British Prisoners of war. - - http://www.jewishgen.org/forgottencamps/camps/blechhammereng - -

PHOTO courteous of By Jacques Lahitte - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9768310