Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I

Name of the camp
Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I
Commandant of the camp
SS-Hauptscharführer Otto Moll: March 1944 to May 1944 and then after returning from Auschwitz II-Birkenau in late summer/autumn 1944.
SS-Oberscharführer Friedrich Jansen: sometime between May 1944 and late summer/autumn 1944.
SS-Oberscharführer Richard Stolten: sometime between May 1944 and late summer/autumn 1944.
Number of SS Guards
Approximately 50 guards from the 6th Wachkompanie Monowitz and former Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe men from the 8th Sentry Company Auschwitz.
Sub camp buildings
The sub camp was built by the Auschwitz prisoners.
Work type
Steel Works: Repair of railroad rolling stock and tanks.
Employer
Reichsbahnausbesserungswerkes in Gleiwitz  (RAW)
Number of prisoners
1336 male prisoners on 17 January 1945.
Nationality of prisoners
90% of the prisoners were Jews. The Jewish prisoners were from Poland, Czechoslovakia, France, Denmark, Greece, Hungary and the Netherlands. Non-Jewish prisoners were from Poland and the Soviet Union. There was possibly also a group of 295 Jews (prisoner numbers 184349 – 184643) transferred from Organization Schmelt.
Period of camp existence
March 1944 – 18 January 1945
Dissolution / Evacuation of the sub camp
18 January 1945
Dates of site visits by Tiergartenstrasse4 Association
September 2006, March 2007 and July 2007
Memorialisation
On ul Przewozowa at the Instytut Spawalnictwa outside the area of the former sub camp there is a plaque with an inscription in Polish erected in 1979.
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The History

The history of the companies and the places prisoners worked, the sub camps, the SS guards and memorialisation of the sites.

The History of the Reichsbahnausbesserungswerkes in Gleiwitz

At the end of the nineteenth century as heavy industry in Upper Silesia rapidly expanded so did the requirement for an extensive rail network to bring raw materials and transport the finished goods. As the rail network rapidly developed, so did the need for facilities to repair the rolling stock. In 1893, Gleiwitz (Polish Gliwice) was chosen as a site for a railway repair workshop (Ausbesserungswerk). The reason for the location of the workshops in Gliwice was its central location in Upper Silesia. The basic facilities the repair workshops and halls were built between 1893 and 1895, and on 1 October 1895, the workshops opened.

The heart of a repair station is usually a large, multi-track, main workshop building, which enables several railway vehicles to be worked on simultaneously at a number of work-stations. These stations are equipped with lifting gear in order to be able to jack vehicles up and separate the wagon bodies from their undercarriages. Adjoining the main workshop are mechanical and electrical workshops for the refurbishment and repair of individual components such as undercarriages, brake equipment and motors. Work on the external livery of railway vehicles is carried out in a paint shed, separate from the main workshop.

Originally, the Gliwice plant employed about 300 repair workers, but by 1903 had 1,000 employees. Just before the outbreak of World War I, the workshops had 1,800 employees and by 1919 nearly 3,000.

Gliwice remained part of Germany after the creation of the Second Polish Republic in 1918.

The Ausbesserungswerk in Gliwice existed up to and throughout the Second World War. Just prior to the outbreak of the war 2,300 people worked there. By the end of 1944 2,700 people were employed, including the prisoners from the sub camp Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I. [1]


[1] The pre-war history of the Reichsbahnausbesserungswerk in Gliwice is based on Zakłady Naprawcze Taboru Kolejowego im. Gen. Aleksandra Zawadzkiego w Gliwicach, Gliwice 1985.

The History of the Sub Camp Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I

The initiator of Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I was, according to the former Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss, the company Reichsbahnausbesserungswerkes in Gleiwitz  (RAW), which financed the whole enterprise.[1] The exact date of the establishment of the sub camp is unknown but Irena Strzelecka from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in her research on Gleiwitz I has estimated it was fully established by March 1944.[2] The subcamp Gleiwitz I was under the administrative authority of Auschwitz III-Monowitz.

The first transport of Auschwitz prisoners was sent to Gleiwitz I in March 1944 to prepare the sub camp for the subsequent transports. Among the prisoners was Leon Trześniower, who in his post-war testimony recalled the establishment of the sub camp: “At the main gate one of the SS read out several prisoners numbers, among them my number. He immediately put us on a truck, which had a trailer with 4 beds, mattresses and bedding for the SS guards. We were taken to Gliwice. The specialist prisoners brought with me to Gliwice were mostly carpenters. I remember at the moment only the names of James Ackerman, Miklosz from Nowy Targ, Sies from Tarnow, Bernard Mine. At the site we discovered that our small group was the first Gliwice transport. Our task was to prepare the camp for the next transport of prisoners. At the time of our arrival in Gliwice, in the meadows near the railway embankment there was only one small barrack for a horse. A bunker stood next to this barrack. First, we led the horse out, and then washed out and cleared the barrack. Then we put in beds for the SS men, we had to sleep on the floor (also in the same barrack). For about a week and a half we didn’t work. It was a very hard time for us because we got nothing to eat. We collected and smoked the (cigarette butts) thrown away by the SS. Only a few days later were we taken to the canteen of the Wagenwerke, where they gave us some soup. A week later came the camp leader with four of the SS. Soon wagons loaded with narrow-gauge railway tracks and sleepers arrived. At night, we unloaded them. Then we worked on the construction of a railway siding, which led into our camp.”[3]

Trains loaded with the wooden barracks and building material for the sub camp were brought into the sub camp area using the narrow-gauge railway. One of the barracks had come from the concentration camp Plaszow near Krakow. [4]

One of the barracks, erected just outside the gate (which was built later), temporarily housed the SS and a temporary wall created space for an office and workshop. Then more barracks and the camp fence were constructed. [5]

Soon the next transport arrived at the sub camp, one of the former prisoners on this transport Ryszard Wojtasik testified: “In May 1944, during the roll call, the SS read out about 70 numbers, including mine. We were told to remain on the square. About half of us were Poles and the other half Russians. We realized that the prisoners selected were all professionals such as locksmiths and welders. For about a week, we didn’t leave for work. We did not know what they would do with us, we guessed only that they would transport us to another camp. At the end of May or early June 1944 we were told to prepare for the road. Then we were loaded onto three trucks, and were taken to Gliwice, where we realized that we 70 were the first transport brought to this camp. In Gliwice, we found already prepared barracks, but the camp was not yet finished. Half of us were employed directly in the further construction of the camp, i.e. the construction of fences, gates, connecting the water supply and sewerage installations (at first there was no water at all).” [6]

As the number of transports increased the Gleiwitz I sub camp grew. The sub camp was of a rectangular shape measuring 150 m by 50 m. The side facing what is now ul Przewózowa, and the railway embankment was surrounded by a high concrete wall, over which was hung barbed wire. The other sides of the camp were enclosed by a fence constructed with concrete posts and stretched between the posts was electrified barbed wire. Outside the fence were wooden guard towers. The guard towers were equipped with floodlights. Alongside ul Przewozowa, where the narrow gauge railway track ran, there was also a concrete bunker for air raid protection (Splitterschutzzelle). The main entrance to the sub camp was located on the north-east side. The gate was two winged and was constructed from an iron frame filled with wire mesh. Over the gate was the inscription “Arbeit Macht Frei.” Just outside the gate stood an SS guardhouse (Map reference 13). Nearby were the barracks of the SS guards. Within the sub camp were several wooden barracks, about half of them were used as living quarters for the prisoners (Map reference 4). In each of them slept over 200 prisoners, depending on the number of prisoners in the sub camp. The prisoners slept on three-storey, wooden bunk beds with mattresses and pillows stuffed with straw and they had blankets. In the remaining barracks were a kitchen for the prisoners (Map Reference 1) and SS men (Map reference 2), washrooms (Map reference 5), latrines (Map reference 6), camp office (Map reference 12), workshops (Map reference 11) and warehouses. [7]

The washroom, which was in one of the prisoner barracks could only be used after returning from work before evening roll call. In the washroom was a long trough with taps; mostly there was only cold water. Exhausted from work the prisoners had to hurry using a form of “soap” to clean themselves, and to try to wash their clothes. [8] Once a week the prisoners were shaved there by a barber. [9]

Meals were prepared for the prisoners in the kitchen barracks of the camp. Probably most of the prisoners employed in the kitchen, also belonged to the camp orchestra. Meals were provided three times a day: for breakfast, each prisoner received approximately ½ litre herbal tea or black, bitter coffee, for lunch (about 12 pm to 13pm) each prisoner was given 1 litre of turnip soup, made from rye, sugar beet or potatoes; in the evening prisoners received the tea and coffee and several ounces of bread and a little margarine. The evening meal also had to suffice for breakfast, the hungry prisoners ate everything immediately. Relative luxuries, such as a slice of sausage were rarely provided.

The majority of the prisoners in sub camp Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I were Jewish “Apart from Polish Jews, Poles, and Soviets, prisoners in the camp in Gliwice included French, Dutch, Belgian, Hungarian, and Czechoslovakian Jews, as well as one American and one Turkish Jew. 90 percent of the prisoners were Jewish.” [10] A group of 295 Jews (prisoner numbers 184349 – 184643) from Organization Schmelt were probably also sent to the sub camp. [11]

The prisoners wore standard striped prison uniforms. On their breast they wore the standard concentration camp badge and a prisoner number. On the back and the legs of the trousers were sown red stripes. [12] The basic footwear of prisoners were clogs, but these were only worn during working hours. The prisoners went to work barefoot, holding their clogs, a measure probably implemented to prevent escapes. On their heads the prisoners wore striped caps. [13] The clothing of the prisoners was supplied from the warehouses at the main camp in Auschwitz. [14]

The working day of the prisoners was long “Prisoners would start their working day by waking up at 4.00 hrs. At 5.00 hrs we would leave for work and start working at our workplace at 6.00 hrs. The labour lasted until 17.00 hrs. with a half-hour break from 12.30 to 1.00 hrs. About 15 minutes of this break was used up by a dinner-time roll call.” [15] Not even Sundays was a rest day for the prisoners,“On Sundays and holidays we didn’t work at the repair shops. However, prisoners couldn’t rest on these days, because they had to carry stones to the camp from a place located about one and a half kilometres away. These stones were used for levelling the camp terrain. Physically weak prisoners cleaned the toilet holes during that time. They carried buckets with excrement from the latrines to the local meadows. The naked corpses of the prisoners shot during an alleged escape attempt were placed in the roll call square on top of a specially prepared table. Next to it was a sign stating that the man on the table had been shot while he was trying to escape, and that the same fate awaited all prisoners who tried to escape.” [16]

The prisoners went to work to the sounds of an orchestra. It consisted of around 25 prisoners who during the day were employed in the kitchen. They also gave concerts at the behest of the SS and on Sunday afternoons after work. [17] The march to work is mentioned by one of the former prisoners, Józef Szymczak: “After the morning roll call at approx. 05.00 hrs, we were marched out of the makeshift camp through the gate (…). We walked five abreast, under the supervision of the SS and a Kapo. We had to sing different songs (we were allowed to sing in Polish). As already mentioned we walked barefoot to work carrying our clogs in our hands. Some prisoners tried to put cardboard under their feet, but the SS men beat them. On the way we encountered towns people (we walked through the city) who looked on us with curiosity, some with compassion. The SS explained to them that we were dangerous bandits.” [18]

After passing through the main gate of the Wagenwerke the prisoners were allowed to put their clogs back on and were sent to their work assignments in the various production halls. The largest detachment (Kommando Werkhalle) worked in the main production hall repairing railway rolling stock: “We laboured to repair freight cars and…. The wagon was directed to a specific track using a railroad switch and all of the works associated with their repair were carried out there (straightening, welding, riveting, using a steam hammer, etc.). Several groups of prisoners were assigned to the foreman and civilian workers were assigned to particular groups of prisoners and had direct control over them and monitored the efficiency of their work.” [19] In addition to the Kommando Werkhalle, prisoners of Gleiwitz I were also employed in the locksmith’s shop (Kommando Schlosserei), the boiler house, the blacksmith shop, construction of roads (Kommando Strassenbau) and at the airport near the brickyard. [20]

There were also smaller working Kommandos, where prisoners worked at more general tasks, e.g. cleaning, scrap reclamation. [21] In addition those prisoners unfit for work remained in the camp and carried out various tasks. [22]

Prisoners received on the job training from the skilled civilian workers they were assigned to as helpers. [23]

One of the civilian workers remembered their contact with the Auschwitz prisoners, “I met with six Auschwitz prisoners directly, because in 1944 they were assigned to be trained (by me) and help me. For the same purpose, a group of Jews was assigned to my colleagues who were employed in other work positions.”[24]

Civilian workers were severely punished for assisting prisoners, “One girl (I do not remember her name) was caught by a Kapo handing food to a prisoner. She was taken to the camp and threatened there that if it happened again, she would go to the camp herself. The prisoner who received breakfast – he did not come to work anymore.” [25]

The prisoners were constantly abused at the workplace by the SS guards, “We carried out our tasks under direct supervision of the SS men from the camp crew. They abused prisoners at work, beating them for the most trivial reasons, usually for no reason at all. If a prisoner was late for an assembly, fell asleep during work, or left the factory hall to relieve himself, this was treated as an attempt to escape, and such a person was shot by the SS men on the spot. I remember an incident when the SS men found a prisoner who had fallen asleep earlier because he was tired. They beat him up in a very brutal manner, then dragged him out of the front of the column of prisoners who were walking back from work, and shot him. He was a young Hungarian man. We had to carry his corpse to the camp and bathe it in the washroom.” [26]

Many German civilian supervisors were unsympathetic to the plight of the prisoners, “German foremen who supervised our work in the repair shops would report us to the camp authorities for the most trivial offences committed during work, such as trying to get warm by the radiator or eating some scraps found somewhere. Based on these reports, Moll organized the “payment”, the punishment of flogging, every Sunday at noon. It was administered on two sawbuck tables built specially for this purpose. The floggings were carried out by the designated prisoner functionaries or SS men. The usual punishment was 50 lashes. Moll personally passed sentences, while in more serious cases the central office at Auschwitz issued a written verdict.” [27] 

Prisoners unable to work were, with the bodies of dead prisoners, periodically transported by truck back to Auschwitz II-Birkenau and probably murdered. Selections took place outside of the hospital barrack, during roll calls or in the baths or accommodation barracks. The prisoners had to parade in front of the Lagerführer and a doctor from Auschwitz. At a selection in October 1944 approximately 40 of the prisoners were identified as Musselmänner and transported to Auschwitz II-Birkenau. [28]

There were escapes from Gleiwitz I. On 22 June 1944, two prisoners escaped, a German, Ludwig Ligotzki (sent to Auschwitz on March 3, 1944 by the Gestapo Kattowitz) and the Soviet Andrei Dryhajlo (Prisoner Nunber 175131). Ligotzki was recaptured on August 20, 1944 and sent back to Auschwitz. Dryhajlo was recaptured on September 6 1944 and sent to the penal company in Auschwitz II-Birkenau. On 16 August 1944, 11 prisoners escaped through a tunnel dug under the floor of their barrack. [29] Samuel Stoeger a prisoner testified, “During my detention, nine Soviets and two Poles escaped from the Gliwice I camp. They got beyond the camp fence through a passage which they had dug underground in a very laborious and resourceful manner, and ran away. A few days later two Russians were caught. They were marched around the camp with the following signs hung on their person: “Hurra, hurra, wir sind wieder da” (Hooray, hooray, we are back). Several days later, two trucks drove up to the camp. A platoon of SS men in helmets got out of the first truck, and two sets of portable gallows were unloaded from the second. They were set up in front of the roll call square and the two Russian escapees who had been captured were hanged. They both behaved very bravely. The execution took place during the evening roll call, and all prisoners assembled at roll call had to watch. For better visibility, prisoners in the first line were sitting down, those behind them were on their knees and those at the back were standing.”[30]

The death toll in the sub camp Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I was catastrophic, “During my stay in the camp, so in the span of less than half a year, the camp claimed about 1,500 lives due to selections and “natural” deaths. It follows that within that time almost the entire camp population was replaced. At the end of my stay in the camp, very few people from the transport in which I had arrived were still alive.” [31]


[1] APMAB. Proces Hössa, Vol. 21, p. 40.
[2] Strzelecka, Irena, Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie 1972 No 14, p. 67. Confirmation of the approximate date is given by Kommandanturbefehl No. 6 / 44 of 22 April 1944 assigning to Gleiwitz I the telephone number 4967.
[3] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Leon Trześniower, Vol. 55, p. 150-151.
[4] One of the prisoners Leon Trześniower recognized on the barracks the signatures of some of his classmates from Nowy Sącz who were in the camp in Plaszow.
[5] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Leon Trześniower, Vol. 55, p. 151.
[6] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Ryszard Wojtasik, Vol. 55, p. 85-86.
[7] As there is no original plan of the subcamp Gleiwitz I, Tiergartenstrasse4Association reviewed the testimonies of former prisoners and witnesses, as well as the existing literature on this sub-camp (Irena Strzelecka, Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1972] Nr 14, p. 65-94). We have relied mainly on the former Wagenwerke employee testimony of Franciszek Bodura and the testimonies of prisoners Józef Szymczak, Mel Mermelstein, and Leon Trześniower. There are also some drawings of the sub camp made by witnesses and former prisoners held in the archive of APMAB.
[8] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Józef Szymczak, Vol. 55, p. 37.
[9] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Czesław Niżnik, Vol. 55, p. 185.
[10] Testimony of Samuel Stoeger of 21 February 1947. Viewed 9 August 2019. https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3587/edition/3568/content.
[11] Danuta Czech, Kalendarz wydarzeń w KL Auschwitz, Oświęcim 1992, p. 648, 733.
[12] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimonies of Genowefa Burecka, vol. 5, p. 628 and Franciszek Bodura, Vol. 56, p. 27.
[13] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Józef Szymczak, Vol. 55, p. 38.
[14] APMAB. Zespół Fahrbefehl, travel order No 22 dated 22 October 1943.
[15] Testimony of Samuel Stoeger of 21 February 1947. Viewed 9 August 2019. https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3587/edition/3568/content.
[16] Testimony of Samuel Stoeger of 21 February 1947. Viewed 9 August 2019. https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3587/edition/3568/content.
[17] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Franciszek Badura, Vol. 56, p. 28.
[18] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Józef Szymczak, Vol. 55, p. 39.
[19] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Czesław Niżnik, Vol. 55, p. 183.
[20] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Antoni Głogowski, Vol. 55, p. 79.
[21] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Ryszard Wojtasik, Vol. 55, p. 86.
[22] Testimony of Samuel Stoeger of 21 February 1947. Viewed 9 August 2019. https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3587/edition/3568/content
[23] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Franciszek Bodura, Vol. 56, p. 27.
[24] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Franciszka Bodury, Vol. 56, p. 27.
[25] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Genowefy Bureckiej, Vol. 5, p. 629.
[26] Testimony of Samuel Stoeger of 21 February 1947. Viewed 9 August 2019. https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3587/edition/3568/content.
[27] Testimony of Samuel Stoeger of 21 February 1947. Viewed 9 August 2019. https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3587/edition/3568/content
[28] Strzelecka, Irena Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I, [in:] Hefte von Auschwitz [1973] Nr 14, p. 91
[29] Czech, Danuta Kalendarz wydarzeń w KL Auschwitz, Oświęcim 1992, p. 693.
[30] Testimony of Samuel Stoeger of 21 February 1947. Viewed 9 August 2019. https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3587/edition/3568/content.
[31] Testimony of Samuel Stoeger of 21 February 1947. Viewed 9 August 2019. https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3587/edition/3568/content.
Literature:
Strzelecka, Irena, Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I, [in:] Hefte von Auschwitz [1973] Nr 14, p 75-106
Strzelecka Irena, Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1972] Nr 14, p. 65-94.

The SS Guard Unit

The first Lagerführer of Gleiwitz I was SS-Hauptscharführer Otto Moll, who was transferred back to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in May 1944, where he became head of the crematoria at Auschwitz II-Birkenau, and Kommandoführer of the prisoner Sonderkommando burning the corpses of Hungarian Jews in the summer of 1944.

Moll was replaced by SS-Oberscharführer Jansen and then SS-Oberscharführer Stolten. After the completion of the extermination of the Hungarian Jews, Otto Moll returned as Lagerführer and held this position until mid-December 1944. The Kompanieführer and Stabscharführer in the guard unit of Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I was SS-Oberscharführer Albert Stenzel, while the Blockführers were SS-Unterscharfiihrer Sepp and SS- Schütze Bruno Petzold.

The guard unit was made up of approximately 50 SS men from the 6th Wachkompanie Auschwitz III-Monowitz. [1] They came mainly from Germany, Czechoslovakia and the Ukraine. [2]

The Kapos as in many of the sub camps were German criminals, “I would like to point out that the function of Kapo was held in the camp in Gliwice by common criminals from Germany. Peter (I don’t remember his name), who had been detained for 12 years in various camps for murdering his own family was Oberkapo (senior Kapo). Kapo Neumann was his deputy – he was also a common criminal and a former circus clown.” [3]


[1] Strzelecka, Irena, Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I, [in:] Hefte von Auschwitz [1973] Nr 14, p. 79.
[2] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Genowefa Burecka, Vol. 5, p. 628.
[3] Testimony of Samuel Stoeger of 21 February 1947. Viewed 9 August 2019. https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3587/edition/3568/content
Literature:
Strzelecka Irena, Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1972] Nr 14, p. 65-94.

The SS Guards

References:
StA Ludwigsburg StAL EL 48-2 I BA.
Rudorff, Andrea, Gleiwitz I (Gliwice) [in:] Des Ort des Terrors Band 5, Geschichte der Nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager. C.H.Beck 2007.p 229 and 230.
Irena Strzelecka, Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I, [in:] Hefte von Auschwitz [1973] Nr 14, p. 79 to 82.
Zppw-auschwitz.pl Zwiazek Polaków Pomordowanych w Auschwitz. List of 8,500 SS men in KL Auschwitz.
BA Ludwigsburg B162/2680 and B162/2679. For the four Gleiwitz sub camps in most cases the listing of SS personnel does not specify which of the four camps SS guards were assigned to.
IPN database of Auschwitz SS guards. https://truthaboutcamps.eu/th/form/60,Zaloga-SS-KL-Auschwitz.html

The Evacuation of the Sub Camp Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I

In January 1945 in the Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I there were 1336 inmates.[1] The evacuation of  Gleiwitz I started on January 18, 1945. During the night the prisoners working in the Wagenwerke were subject to a roll call, and then the SS conducted a quick selection, during which they chose the extremely sick and exhausted prisoners. These prisoners were escorted by the SS to the camp, and shot. The SS then told the remaining prisoners that those who could not keep up the pace of the evacuation march would be shot. The prisoners were formed into columns and given a loaf of bread. The prisoners were led from the plant and joined by fellow prisoners from the sub camp. Soon, the column was attached to the columns of prisoners from the sub camp Gleiwitz II. The column headed for Kedzierzyn Kozle. “Everyone unable to march further was shot by the SS men on the way. The majority of the victims died when the transport was going through the forest. The SS men threw the corpses of the people who had been shot into ditches on the side of the road. We got to Blechhammer after three days of marching. Not once during these three days were we given a hot meal.” [2]

Due to the advancing Red Army offensive the Blechhammer sub camp was in complete chaos. Some of the prisoners from Gleiwitz I fled from Blechhammer, others were killed during the shelling of the barracks by the SS. Samuel Stoger on the death march from Gleiwitz I witnessed the SS guards deserting, “Shortly after we were detained in the camp in Blechhammer, the SS men scattered away, dumped their weapons, and changed into civilian clothes or even striped prison uniforms, so we realized that we were close to being liberated.” [3]

On the morning of January 21, 1945, the remaining sub camp inmates from Gleiwitz I set out on a march from Arbeitslager Blechhammer to the concentration camp Gross-Rosen in Lower Silesia. The column of prisoners arrived there in early February 1945. The prisoners from the Gleiwitz sub camps were housed in one of the barracks located near the crematorium and the SS guards told them that if they wanted to have something to eat they must work. They were ordered to work in the nearby quarry.

A few days later about 200 prisoners from the Gleiwitz sub camps were led to the railway station in Rogoźnica and transported to the concentration camps of Mittelbau-Dora, Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald. Some prisoners were sent to a sub camp of Buchenwald – Altenburg. They were then sent to Waldenburg in Thuringia. After refusing to go any further these prisoners were abandoned by the Germans and liberated by U.S. Troops. [4]

Meanwhile, in the deserted subcamp Gleiwitz I, as in other sub camps of Auschwitz in Gliwice evacuated prisoners from other sub camps, as well as from Monowitz were temporarily housed on their evacuation routes west. [5]


[1] Czech, Danuta, Kalendarz wydarzeń w KL Auschwitz, Oświęcim 1992, p. 634.
[2] Testimony of Samuel Stoeger of 21 February 1947. Viewed 9 August 2019. https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3587/edition/3568/content.
[3] Testimony of Samuel Stoeger of 21 February 1947. Viewed 9 August 2019. https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3587/edition/3568/content.
[4] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenie, testimony of Leon Trześniower, Vol. 55, p. 157 – 158.
[5] Setkiewicz, Piotr, Z dziejów obozów IG Farben Werk Auschwitz 1941-1945, Oświęcim 2006, p. 121.
Literature:
Strzelecka, Irena, Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I, [in:] Hefte von Auschwitz [1973] Nr 14, p 75-106.
Strzelecka Irena, Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1972] Nr 14, p. 65-94.

The Post War History of the Former Sub Camp Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum visited the site on the 30 May 1962 to photograph the remnants. By the time they visited the sub camp it had been completely destroyed. The site remained in almost the same condition when visited by Tiergartenstrasse4Association. What happened to the sub camp immediately after the war is unknown. Possibly the barracks were removed for emergency housing.

The Preservation Status of the Former Sub Camp Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I

Given the few fragments that exist of the sub camp Gleiwitz I it proved extremely difficult pinpointing the exact location of the camp. On ul Przewozowa is the Instytut Spawalnictwa where there is a memorial plaque in Polish. However, the sub camp Gleiwitz I was not located there. It was located at little further down ul Przewózowa, behind the buildings of the Instytut Spawalnictwa and the embankment behind which today is the sports stadium- Stadion Kolejarz Gliwice. Here there is a small piece of land 150 m by 70 m overgrown with bushes and weeds. An inspection of the site revealed many remains of foundations and concrete structures and perhaps the bunker, from the time of the sub camp.

Along ul Przewozowa you can still find a few railway sleepers from the narrow gauge railway and an incomplete single air raid bunker, the Splitterschutzzelle.

Nearby there is also a large transformer station building, which provided electricity to the sub camp Gleiwitz I.

The former Wagenwerke, now Gliwicka Fabryka Wagonów, stretches along ul Czesław and ul Sportowa, while in the north it is bordered by the main railway line linking Gliwice and Katowice. The huge impressive main hall of the Wagenwerke, 350 m long and 80 m wide used for repairing rolling stock and where Gleiwitz I prisoners worked still exists. There are also many original buildings in the Wagenwerke from the war period.

Memorialisation

On ul Przewozowa at the Instytut Spawalnictwa there is a plaque erected in 1979 in Polish: “Na tym terenie w latach drugiej wojny światowej istniał hitlerowski obóz – filia obozu koncentracyjnego KL Auschwitz-Birkenau. Pamięci ofiar nazizmu. Towarzystwo Opieki nad Majdankiem. Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Gliwic. Gliwice 1979.” (In this area in the years of the Second World War, there was a Nazi camp – a branch of the KL Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. To the memory of Nazi victims. Society for the Care of Majdanek. Society of Friends of Gliwice. Gliwice 1979.)

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Site Visit

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum visited the site of the Gleiwitz I sub camp on 30 May 1962 to photograph the remnants. By the time they visited the sub camp it had been completely destroyed. The photographs of their visit show some surviving foundations of the barracks and guard towers and the remnants of the concrete bunker but little else. The site has not changed substantially today apart from a further 50 years of removal of the remnants and destruction of the site.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum also photographed the remnants of the pre-war civil crematorium in ul Kozielska. In this crematorium the bodies of dead prisoners from the four Gleiwitz Auschwitz sub camps were cremated. The remnants of this building still exist today.

Topography of the Sub Camp Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I

Former Auschwitz prisoner drawing of Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I. APMAB
Former Auschwitz prisoner drawing of Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I. APMAB
Former Auschwitz prisoner drawing of Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I. APMAB
Map of former Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I. T4

Location of the Sub Camp Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I

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Photographs

Taken by the SS, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Tiergartenstraße4Association and other

SS Contemporary Photographs

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Photographs from Site Visits

Tiergartenstrasse4Association Photographs from Site Visits

Other Photographs and Postcards

Deathmarch. David Freedmann
Deathmarch. David Freedmann
Roll Call Camp Gleiwitz I. David Freedmann
Roll Call Gleiwitz I. David Freedmann

Sub Camp Documents

Fahrbefehl. APMAB
PMO II 4 266