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Re-Finding the Sub Camps of Auschwitz

Slave Labour in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp Complex – “Vernichtung durch Arbeit” 

The Project

The project “Re-Finding the Sub Camps of Auschwitz” had been an ambition of Cameron Munro the chairman of Tiergartenstrasse4Association (now Tiergarten4Association e.V.) since the 1980s. The original aim of the project to re-find the sub camps of the largest Nazi concentration and extermination camp, Auschwitz, was not to produce histories of the individual sub camps but simply to satisfy our interest contained in the questions – what, 60 years after the liberation of Auschwitz and its sub camps, physically remained of the former Auschwitz sub camps ? How were these sub camps memorialised if at all ? What were the former sub camps and business premises used for after the war?

The fieldwork for the project, undertaken between 2005 and 2008, literally involved re-finding the sites of the 45 former sub camps of Auschwitz and the factories, mines, steel works and other places where the prisoners laboured. At the time the Association undertook the fieldwork Google Maps did not exist in Poland. The locations of the sub camps were re-found from first principles through research in the archives of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum: from prisoner drawings, testimonies, photographs taken by Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, and local maps. Artur Hojan, Cameron Munro and other colleagues of the Association walked the areas of the likely identified locations of the former sub camps and places prisoners worked. By means of trial and error we re-found all 44 of the sub camps (the sub camp Meseritz was unknown at the time the fieldwork was undertaken). During these field trips the Association took more than 10,000 photographs, drew maps and collected photographic and other research materials.

Members of the Association subsequently spent a year in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum researching the individual sub camps. The intention was to produce a monograph incorporating the written histories, photographs, documentation and topography of the 45 Auschwitz sub camps.

One of the founding members of Tiergartenstrasse4Association, Artur Hojan died on 9 February 2014 and the monograph was never published. In 2017 having moved the Association to Berlin in 2014, Cameron Munro was showing some of his German colleagues including Reinald Purmann and Robert Parzer, material collected over the years including the Auschwitz sub camp research project. Both were impressed with the extent of the project but saddened that it lay unpublished and unseen on the Association´s computer hard drive. It was at this moment Tiergarten4Association e.V. took the decision to publish the Auschwitz sub camp project material, initially as a stand-alone website available to researchers, schools and the general public and subsequently the monograph.

This website is in effect the original monograph online. The extent of the material presented on this website is vast: the textual histories of the individual sub camps total some 800 pages and the photographic, documentary and topographical material amounts to some 3,500 individual items.

The timing of this website project is fortuitous; the 27 January 2020 is the 75 th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz; this date is now commemorated annually as Holocaust Memorial Day. The association of the name Auschwitz-Birkenau with the term  “Vernichtungslager” (extermination camp) by the general public is strong. The association of the name Auschwitz-Birkenau with the term “Vernichtung durch Arbeit” (extermination through labour) by the general public less so.  Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel´s view that  “Vernichtungslager” and  “Vernichtung durch Arbeit” are two faces of the same coin is correct: “Himmler´s policy  from 1942 through 1945 was one of extermination – extermination through the murderous labour of those who were regarded from a medical point of view as fit to work, and for the immediate extermination of those, who for reasons of age, illness, or weakness were regarded as worthless material.” 1

Tiergartenstrasse4Association dedicate this website to the prisoners who laboured in, and many who died in, the factories, mines, steel works and other businesses serviced by the the sub camps of Auschwitz, or subsequently in the gas chambers of Auschwitz II-Birkenau or on the subsequent death marches west to the Altreich. The prisoners were mainly Jews from all over Europe, but there were also many other prisoners of different nationalities, ethnicities and religions. Few survived the wars end.

They are not forgotten.

Cameron Alistair Munro

Chairman, Tiergarten4Association e.V.


1 Piper, Franciszek, Auschwitz Prisoner Labor, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2002, p. 16-17. (Manvell, Roger and Fraenkel, Heinrich, Himmler (Warsaw 1973) p. 226.)

Visit the Individual Sub Camps of Auschwitz

The Website Partners

Tiergarten4Association e.V.

tiergartenstrasse4_

The Initiators of the Re-Finding the Sub Camps of Auschwitz Project:

 

The founding purpose of the the Tiergarten4Association e.V. is to be a center of excellence for original research of Nazi war crimes in our designated topics: the Aktion Reinhardt camps, the death camp Kulmhof, Nazi Euthanasia, the Concentration Camps, Sonderkommando 1005, the Einsatzgruppen and War Crimes Trials. The Association was founded by citizens of Great Britain, Poland, Germany, Austria and the United States of America in 2014.

The Association continues the work of the former Tiergartenstrasse4Association founded in Poland in 2003 and which focused initially on research of the Vernichtungslager Kulmhof, the Warthegau, euthanasia in Nazi occupied Poland and the sub camps of Auschwitz.

We have dedicated Tiergarten4Association to the memory of Mr. Artur Hojan, journalist and researcher from Poland, inspiration and good friend, who was influential in our work.

In 2014 the Association moved to Berlin and was re-founded according to German law on 26.6. 2014, and registered under VR 33554 by Amtsgericht Berlin-Charlottenburg. The Association is a non-profit scientific organisation with the right of funding authorised by FA Körperschaften I on 15 March 2019 Registration AZ 27/640/60260

Web: tiergartenstrasse4.org

Stiftung Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas

logo-SDEJE

What They Say About the Project Re-Finding the Sub Camps of Auschwitz:

In the aftermath of the Second World War, Auschwitz has become the main symbol for the Holocaust itself. What happened in Auschwitz – mass murder committed on an industrial scale in the gas chambers and the crematoria – had been inconceivable before. Auschwitz taught us what human beings are capable of doing.

Still, the mass murders in the gas chambers of Birkenau are but one aspect of the much more complex history of the concentration camp complex subsumed under the word Auschwitz. For instance, Poles know Auschwitz as a site where thousands of non-Jewish Poles were held prisoner, with many of them murdered. Thus, many Poles associate Auschwitz not so much with the Holocaust but with national resistance and martyrdom. Others might know that Auschwitz was also an industrial complex and might even have heard of Monowitz or the Buna-Werke. However, the fact that Auschwitz maintained a vast network of satellite camps scattered all over Silesia and even beyond is virtually unknown to the public. Even more surprisingly, there is almost no systematic research on the subject outside of the Hefte von Auschwitz publications of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum did make efforts to collect documents and made visits in the 1960s and 1970s to some of the sites, but the sub camps never really had top priority for the Museum – rather understandably, given the huge international attention and the immense challenge of maintaining the museum and preserving the historical site of the main camps.

So, it was up to private researchers such as Cameron Munro and Artur Hojan to fill the gap and gather as much information on the sub camps of Auschwitz as possible. When we were approached by the Tiergarten4Association e.V. to work together on presenting the immense material they collected over a period of one and a half decades, we immediately realized what a treasure they held in their hands. The sheer amount of information, documents and photos is overwhelming in itself, but even more importantly, they managed to put the material into context. The complementary texts explain in great detail for what purpose the different sub camps were established, which companies profited from the slave labour, who provided the guards, who the prisoners were, how they were treated and what happened to these sites after the war.

It was especially this latter approach of providing historical context with an emphasis on the perspective of the victims that convinced us of the necessity to help make this material available to the public. After all, tens of thousands of concentration camp prisoners toiled, suffered and died in these camps. All too often, the survivors or the families of the victims are confronted with the fact that because there is almost no information available on these camps, no one can fully appreciate and understand their stories. 75 years after the liberation of the camps, it was high time to finally change that.

Uwe Neumärker
Executive Director, Stiftung Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas

Internationales Auschwitz Komitee

logo-IAK-2011

What They Say About the Project Re-Finding the Sub Camps of Auschwitz:

For survivors of the German concentration and extermination camps including the survivors of Auschwitz, it is a depressing problem that the world’s attention is increasingly focused only on the name Auschwitz and the names of the other camps and camp systems complicit in the Holocaust and the crimes of the Nazis have fallen out of people’s consciousness. This problem is heart-breaking for the survivor´s families because the murder of their family members is often linked to the names of these other largely forgotten camps and camp systems. It frightens them that these camp names and camp systems have largely been overlooked and will result in their loved ones’ names and their ordeal being forgotten over time. For this reason, the survivors have been pushing for many years, for the systematics, logistics and the names of all of the concentration and extermination camps of horror and mass murder that the National Socialists developed over the years, to be fully documented and presented to the general public so that future generations have a complete picture of the omnipotence and omnipresence of the Nazi camp system.

Many Auschwitz survivors report horrific stories from their months of suffering in the Auschwitz sub camps. The living conditions in these camps were often even more dramatic, humiliating and tormenting than in Auschwitz or Birkenau itself. The responsible SS camp leaders and their guards were self-sufficient and murderous in their intent and the labour of the prisoners gruelling and deadly in itself. From the point of view of the Auschwitz survivors and their families, it is therefore an extremely important objective to document the existence and the current state of the former sub camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau: which clearly shows the true size of Auschwitz and Birkenau, and which the SS had in partnership with both smaller and larger industrial concerns turned into a spider’s web of exploitation and murder based around Auschwitz; and the perfidy of material greed, which also characterized the SS leadership, and which spread through the lower ranks of the camp guards and which makes it abundantly clear that the main purpose of the sub camps, shown on this website, was to accumulate material benefit from the labour of those already under a sentence of death as long as they could continue to work under the murderous conditions in the sub camps. The survivors of Auschwitz in the International Auschwitz Committee thank the initiators who have dedicated many years of their life to this extensive task. Your work will last. It is an important contribution to sharpening the guilt of the perpetrators and documenting Auschwitz in its terrible reality for the prisoners, especially in the 75th year after the liberation from Auschwitz.

Christoph Heubner
Executive Vice President, Internationales Auschwitz Komitee

Tiergarten4Association e.V. Partners

Stiftung Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas

Touro College Berlin

H.E.A.R.T.

Stiftung Topografie des Terrors

Internationales Auschwitz Komitee