Arbeitslager Gleiwitz III

Name of the camp
Arbeitslager Gleiwitz III
Other Name of the camp
Häftlingslager Gleiwitzer Hütte
Commandant of the camp
SS-Hauptscharführer Karl Spieker:  July 1944 to October 1944
SS-Oberscharführer Josef Grobert:  October 1944 to January 1945
Number of SS Guards
Approximately 50 SS guards from the 6th Wachkompanie Auschwitz III-Monowitz.
Work type
Steel Works: Renovation of the Gleiwitzer Hütte factory building, followed by production of arms, ammunition, and railroad wheels.
Employer
Zieleniewski-Maschinen und Waggonbau GmbH part of the Vereinigten Oberschlesischen Hüttenwerke A.G
Sub camp buildings
The prisoners occupied existing buildings of the steel works. There were also some barracks built by the Auschwitz prisoners.
Number of prisoners
450-600 male prisoners. On 17 January 1945 609 prisoners.
Nationality of prisoners
Polish Jews brought to Auschwitz from the labour camp in Pustkowie.
Polish prisoners from Monowitz and prisoners from the Majdanek concentration camp.
Period of camp existence
July 1944 – 19 January 1945
Dissolution / Evacuation of the sub camp
19 January 1945, all prisoners were transported to Gross-Rosen concentration camp.
Dates of site visits by Tiergartenstrasse4 Association
June 2006, September 2006 and March 2007
Memorialisation
The memorial is located near the former sub camp commandant building of the sub camp. The monument erected in 1972 consists of two concrete fence posts with barbed wire stretched on insulators, between which a cast-iron plaque is attached with an inscription in Polish.
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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 Gleiwitzer Steel Works

The development of the steel industry in Upper Silesia is closely related to the implementation of Prussian King Frederick Wilhelm II’s wartime plans. Already in 1791, he allocated 28 000 thalers [1] for the construction of the ironworks in Gleiwitz (Polish: Gliwice). The location of a large coke-fired furnace in Gliwice was not accidental. At the end of the 18th century, a coking coal mine was opened in nearby Zabrze, the products of which could be floated along the Kłodnica river. Also the finished products were transported along the Oder river. The local Silesian population was a source of cheap labour for the steel works.

The construction of the large furnace was modelled on British metallurgy which at that time was the most modern and of the best quality. The project was designed by English engineer John Baildon.[2] The whole construction project was managed by Frederick von Reden, who for over 30 years worked on the development of Upper Silesian mining and metallurgy. Construction of the steelworks in Gliwice began in 1794, and two years later the first successful pig iron was produced. The steelworks continued to expand until 1804.

At the same time, along with the construction of the smelter, a foundry was built [3], where processing commenced in 1798. The first products were cannons and ammunition. In addition to production for the needs of the war, the Gliwice plant became famous for production of kitchenware and industrial products. In 1813, the production of enamelled cookware began. The foundry made bridges of cast iron, domestic stoves, cast-iron plates and pipes for water and gas pipes. A great sensation at the time were the cast-iron windows used in the construction of the Potsdam gardens.[4] In the second half of the 19th century, the Royal Iron Foundry started to produce more and more castings for machine parts, mainly for mining and metallurgy. In spite of this, the foundry business started to deteriorate, as did the entire Upper-Silesian industry. The appeals of the steel and coal magnates to the Prussian government for help did not bring any positive results. The Prussian government was more interested in the development of the industrial districts in Rhineland and Westphalia, rather than Silesia, located in the eastern, uncertain borderlands. The import of cheap iron products from Sweden and Norway only deepened the crisis.[5]

The revival and rapid development of production at the Gliwice foundry occurred during World War I, when production was entirely given over to armaments. However, the interwar period was again a time of stagnation and financial problems until the Nazis began preparations for a new war. Gliwice remained part of Germany after the 1st World War.

In the summer of 1944, the Red Army reached the line of the Vistula and San. Krakow found itself threatened by the Soviet advance. The management of many industrial plants decided that it was time to move production further west of the front-line. One of those plants was Zieleniewski (Zieleniewski-Maschinen und Waggonbau GmbH). It began to organise the transport of its factory from Krakow to the Gleiwitzer Hütte in Łabędach near Gliwice. The machines and other equipment were transported from Krakow and installed in the southern part of the Gleiwitzer Hütte next to the Kłodnicki canal. The canal runs along the Kłodnicka river in Upper Silesia between the Oder river and Gliwice. Constructed when the territory was part of Prussia it was originally known as the Klodnitzkanal.

The Gleiwitzer Hütte[6] in the years 1931-1944 was part of the Vereinigte Oberschlesische Hüttenwerke AG group (VOH), which owned dozens of mills, mines, quarries and other businesses in Upper Silesia. The factories of Zieleniewski were also part the VOH.

During World War II, the plant again produced almost exclusively weapons and ammunition using forced labourers and Auschwitz prisoners.


[1] Bożek, Zbigniew, Od starej huty do Gliwickich Zakładów Urządzeń Technicznych, Zeszyty Gliwickie IV, Gliwice 1966, p. 137.
[2] The historic hall was demolished in August 2005. He was the owner of, among other things Helena and Pax hard coal mine in Bełk, where he also owned land. He was buried at the Cmentarzu Hutniczym in Gliwice.
[3] Full name: Królewska Odlewnia Żeliwa (Royal Iron Foundry).
[4] Bożek, Zbigniew, op. cit. p. 141.
[5] Bożek, Zbigniew, op. cit. p. 142.
[6] The steelworks in Gliwice was also called Stara Huta.

The Post War History of the GZUT (Formerly Gleiwitzer) Steel Works

Gliwice Zakłady Urządzeń Technicznych (GZUT) was established almost immediately after the city was liberated. In the years 1946-1949, GZUT was one of the leading plants of the Unification of Machinery Industry. The plant specialized in the production of machinery and constructions (e.g. port cranes, gantry cranes, pumps). [1]

It is worth noting that the production of the foundry in Gliwice from the very beginning did not only include industrial products, but also artistic ones. Some of the most famous monuments cast after the war in GZUT: the monument of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznań (1960), Monument to the Heroes of Warsaw – Nike (1965), Monument to Greater Poland Insurgents in Poznań (1965) and the statue of Frédéric Chopin in Shanghai (2007).


[1] Bożek, Zbigniew, Od starej huty do Gliwickich Zakładów Urządzeń Technicznych, Zeszyty Gliwickie IV, Gliwice 1966.

The History of the Sub Camp Arbeitslager Gleiwitz III

The opening of the sub camp Gleiwitz III was planned long before Polish prisoners from Auschwitz arrived to install the transported machinery in Gleiwitzer Hütte. Based on the research of Andrzej Strzelecki from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, we know that the Arbeitslager Gleiwitz III was planned from the spring of 1944. Two orders of the commandant of Auschwitz III SS-Hauptsturmführer Heinrich Schwarz: The first dated 22 April 1994 concerning the allocation of the telephone number 3301/3311, and another signed on 22 May 1944 in which Schwarz ordered the selection of an SS guard unit for the Gleiwitz III sub camp from the 6th Guard Company at Auschwitz III-Monowitz.[1]

The first transport of prisoners from Auschwitz to the newly created sub camp in Gliwice, arrived in late July 1944. The prisoners were accommodated in one of the barracks built on the site occupied by Zieleniewski near the hall of the former foundry (Stahlgiesserei). The next transport of prisoners arrived in Gleiwitz III in mid-August 1944. In one of them were Polish Jews brought to Auschwitz from the labour camp in Pustkowie. [2] The next transport of prisoners which arrived on the 28 July or 6 August came from the Majdanek concentration camp. Finally, on August 15, 1944 in Arbeitslager Gleiwitz III arrived a transport of dozens of Polish prisoners from Monowitz. Initially, the number of prisoners in Gleiwitz III was around 450, and by October 1944 was approximately 600. There remained approximately 600 prisoners in Gleiwitz III until the evacuation of the camp.[3]

The sub camp Gleiwitz III was one of the bigger of the Auschwitz sub camps. It was located in the southern part of the Gleiwitzer Hütte. From the southern side, an existing high brick wall running along the Kłodnicki Canal was used as the sub camp fence. The wall ran along the western part of the camp, just next to the canal, to the guard tower standing near the SS guardhouse and the main gate. The remaining part of the sub camp not enclosed by the wall was surrounded with concrete posts hung with electrified barbed wire.

Two gates led into the camp. The first of these, the main gate was located in the centre, inside the plant. On the right side of the main gate there was an SS guard house located in a small one-story building, while on the left side the one-story building housed the offices and the office of the camp commandant. The second entrance was basic in nature and provided for the entry of railway trucks loaded with materials and machines. This was located in the north-western part of the sub camp. There also stood a small building used for switching the railway lines, where there was also an SS guard.

Throughout the area were several large factory buildings that were to be transformed into  mechanical and assembly workshops; they required a thorough overhaul and modernization and the prisoners began work almost immediately.

The prisoners were quartered in a long, brick building with central heating, which was in the southern part of the sub camp, next to the wall that stretched along the Kłodnicki canal. In the barracks there were three large rooms. The two largest were filled with two storey wooden bunk beds for the prisoners. The third room between the two sleeping rooms was where the prisoners ate and spent any free time. This room was equipped with crude tables and benches. The warehouses for food and clothing for the prisoners were located in the basement of this brick barrack. Clothing for prisoners, clogs, pants, shirts and caps were imported directly from the Häftlingsbekleidungskammer at Auschwitz. [4]

Roll calls in the camp were conducted in the courtyard in front of the prisoner barracks.[5] In one of the nearby barracks female prisoners were to be housed.[6]

Initially, most prisoners in the sub camp were employed on a variety of chores outside Gleiwitzer Hütte.[7] Only some of them worked in the plant on the deposition and commissioning of industrial equipment. Former prisoner Ignacy Sobczak remembered, “I participated in the start-up of the plant. When we unloaded the machines, we began to bring them to the halls. For this purpose, first we made the appropriate holes on which we raised concrete pedestals to hold the machines. It was on these pedestals we set up the machines.” [8]

By the autumn all of the inmates in Gleiwitz III were employed in the steelworks. Day after day the prisoners worked 10-12 hours. As the equipment was still being transported from Krakow and was not yet ready for use, the prisoners worked on removing weeds from between the buildings, the expansion of the barbed wire fences, at the railway sidings, where the unloaded machines transported from Krakow arrived and on various other jobs – for example production of parts for naval mines. [9]

Finally, in the autumn of 1944 the plant began part production and the prisoners worked on the manufacture of railway wheels, tow trucks for anti-aircraft guns, mines and various other kinds of shells. However, by the time of the evacuation of the sub camp the plant had failed to reach full production capacity.

The prisoners were divided into different Arbeitskommandos. Most of them worked in the mechanical workshop and assembly plant. Prisoners employed there, operated lathes, drilling machines, boring machines, milling machines, planers and pneumatic hammers. The departments were headed by German craftsmen brought from Krakow. Many Arbeitskommandos worked in the smithy, in magazines, and in the electrical and sewage parts of the plant. One of the Kommandos built sewers. Several of them were employed in the office and in the design studio and on technical drawing. [10]


[1] Strzelecki, Andrzej, Arbeitslager Gleiwitz III, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1972] Nr 14, p. 122.
[2] In the Autumn 1940, the Nazis opened in Pustkowo a forced labour camp for Jews. For the construction of the camp since the summer of 1940, the Nazis brought Jews from Debica, Mielec, Ropczyce and Sędziszowa. They were accommodated there permanently. Initially, there were about 800 in the camp, and later in 1941, up to 2500. And periodically over 4,000 Jews were imprisoned there: from Rzeszow, Tarnow, Krakow, Warsaw, Wieliczka, Żywiec, and even Biala Podlaska. The Lagerälteste was in in turn: Laser, Bienenstock and Blutmach. Between the years 1940-1942 there passed through the camp about 14 thousand people of Jewish origin, of which half died from exhaustion or were murdered. The corpses of prisoners were burned in a crematorium. In the summer of 1942, approximately two thousand Jews were moved to another camp in Pustków, the rest were deported to the Belzec death camp on 16 Sep 1942, leaving only 216 craftsmen, whose number was increased later to 600. On 8 July 1943, about 300 Jews were taken away. The last group of 460 prisoners, on 26 Jul 1944, the Nazis evacuated to Mauthausen and Gusen, where most of them survived until liberation. In the camp of Pustkowo were killed about 15 thousand Poles, Soviets and Jews. After the liberation of the camp a monument dedicated to the extermination of Jews was erected there.
[3] Strzelecki Andrzej, Arbeitslager Gleiwitz III, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1972] Nr 14, p. 124.
[4] APMAB. Zespół Fahrbefehl, Nr 22 from 22 October 1943.
[5] The plan of the camp was recreated on the basis of the testimonies of witnesses and prisoners and handwritten drawings of the sub camp Gleiwitz III held in the Archives of the Auschwitz-Birkenau, III. used The main testimonies used: L. Zygadło, M. Górski, K. Grot and I. Sobczak.
[6] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Klemens Szufa, Vol. 66, p. 123
[7] One of the Kommandos was sent to the work in the nearby cemetery on earthworks and drainage; other Kommandos were responsible for loading and unloading of construction materials in different parts of the city – on construction sites, in sidings, a small group of prisoners worked at the Gliwice airport.
[8] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Ignacy Sobczak, Vol. 55, p. 46.
[9] Strzelecki Andrzej, Arbeitslager Gleiwitz III, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1972] Nr 14, p. 130.
[10] Strzelecki Andrzej, Arbeitslager Gleiwitz III, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1972] Nr 14, p. 131.
Literature:
Strzelecki Andrzej, Arbeitslager Gleiwitz III, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1972] Nr 14, p 115-135.

The SS Guard Unit

The Lagerführer of the sub camp Gleiwitz III was SS-Hauptscharführer Karl Spieker and later SS-Oberscharführer Josef Grobert. Deputies were SS-Unterscharführer Moritz and SS-Rottenführer Zahorodny. The paramedic (SDG) was SS-Oberscharführer Josef Klehr. The guard unit was made up of approximately 50 SS men from the 6th Wachkompanie Auschwitz III-Monowitz. Generally, their attitude to the prisoners was characterized by brutality and sadism. The prisoners were punished for the slightest offense – beatings, flogging or exhausting exercises. Just before the evacuation of the camp an unusual event in relation to a change in attitude of the SS towards the prisoners took place. Former Auschwitz prisoner Ignacy Sobczak recalled after the war: “I think every former prisoner of Gleiwitz III remembers the episode, which took place just before the evacuation of the camp, when the front approached Gliwice. During the lunch break the Lagerführer addressed us and gave a short speech. In the speech this SS man explained to us that the Germans were now in a situation little better than the prisoners. To prove the point he ate the rations from the camp dinner with us. In the meantime, he pointed out that we should not complain of the inevitable difficulties.” [1]

The Kapos were German criminals, Kurt Wolf, Heinz Keimling and Willi Weiss.[2]


[1] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Ignacy Sobczak, Vol. 55, p. 47.
[2] Strzelecki, Andrzej, Arbeitslager Gleiwitz III, [in:] Hefte von Auschwitz [1973] Nr 14, p. 138.
Literature:
Strzelecki Andrzej, Arbeitslager Gleiwitz III, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1972] Nr 14, p 115-135.

The SS Guards

References:
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.
Zppw-auschwitz.pl Zwiazek Polaków Pomordowanych w Auschwitz. List of 8,500 SS men in KL Auschwitz.
IPN database of Auschwitz SS guards. https://truthaboutcamps.eu/th/form/60,Zaloga-SS-KL-Auschwitz.html.
Strzelecki Andrzej, Arbeitslager Gleiwitz III, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1972] Nr 14, p 115-135.

The Evacuation of the Sub Camp Arbeitslager Gleiwitz III

As in the other sub camps in Gliwice, Gleiwitz III became the temporary location of prisoners on the evacuation marches from Auschwitz-Birkenau, Monowitz and the other sub camps of Auschwitz. Some of these prisoners were then transported by rail mainly to the Gross-Rosen, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. However, the remaining prisoners were transported by rail and ended up in the train station in Leszczyny-Rzędówka near Rybnik. There, the SS ordered all prisoners to leave the wagons to enable them to continue the march. Then, in the forest near the village of Rzędówka a group of about 250 prisoners were shot with a machine gun. There is a symbolic grave in the Rzędówka forest commemorating the events.[1]


[1] Przewodnik po upamiętnionych miejscach walk i męczeństwa, lata wojny 1939-1945, Warszawa 1980, p. 192.
Literature:
Strzelecki Andrzej, Arbeitslager Gleiwitz III, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1972] Nr 14, p 115-135.

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

The sub camp Gleiwitz III was located in what is now the Gliwickie Zakłady Urządzeń Technicznych (GZUT) on ul Robotnicza in Gliwice. GZUT took over the steel plant immediately after the war. The sub camp was located within the steel plant itself and mainly used existing buildings many of which have survived.

The Preservation Status of the Former Sub Camp Arbeitslager Gleiwitz III

The sub camp Gleiwitz III was located in what is now the Gliwickie Zakłady Urządzeń Technicznych (Gliwice Technical Equipment Plant) on ul Robotnicza in Gliwice. This is one of the few sub camps, which has survived almost intact. The Arbeitslager Gleiwitz III  was located in the central and southern part of the plant. Inside the plant to secure the sub camp there was a barbed wire fence and five guard towers, while on the outer part in front of the Kłodnicki canal there were five guard towers, between which ran a few meters of brick wall with electrified barbed wire on top. The guard towers in front of the canal Kłodnicki canal have survived almost intact (see the plan of sub camp Gleiwitz III). They are of the same architectural style, although the shapes are different. The corner towers were in the shape of an irregular pentagons, while the other guard towers were in the form of regular quadrilaterals. Their height is about 6 meters and they are covered with flat, concrete roofs in the same form as the base. The roofs were built using longitudinal concrete beams closely connected to each other. Each of the guard towers surrounding the camp consisted of two separate parts. A metal door led to the interior of the guard tower from the sub camp side. At the door, there must have been a locking bolt or lock. In the bottom part there were shooting holes at chest level. The lower and upper parts were divided by concrete beams on which the guard stood during guard duty. A ladder made of metal rods sunk into the wall led to the upper part of the guard tower. In the upper part used for observing the sub camp area, there were three large windows. They were double windows, opening to the outside. Both the windows and the concrete supported viewing holes at the bottom faced out only onto the sub camp.

It is difficult today to be certain whether the wall which runs between the guard towers is from the period of the sub camp. Probably some of its components have been replaced with new ones. What we can be certain of that it follows the line of the original fence of the sub camp.

Within the existing structures of the area today, you can still see where the gates leading to the camp stood (Map reference number 2). The main gate was located near the commandant’s house (map reference number 5). The SS Guard House remains but is now a garage. This is a one-storey rectangular brick building; whose walls are still visible but most of the windows and doors are bricked up. (map reference number 6).

Outside the main gate are preserved elements of the other gates. One of them was located next to the small building which housed the control room for the rail track and / or the control point for trains entering the camp. (map reference number 13). Another entrance to the sub camp Gleiwitz III was located in the south-eastern part of the building which housed the production departments and warehouses of the former Zieleniewski factory (map reference number 9). Here still exists the brick columns between which were the metal gates.

Other buildings associated with the sub camp Gleiwitz III in the current Gliwice Technical Equipment Plant are the barracks where the prisoners lived (map reference number 3), located next to the wall adjacent to the Kłodnicki canal. Next to the former barracks there is a barrack (map reference number 7) where it was planned to house prisoners. This building is connected to an unusual building (map reference number 8), in which probably lived the SS. The windows of the building are on the first floor and it was probably used as a residence. The purpose of the lower floors in the period of the sub camp Gleiwitz III is not known.

In other surviving buildings (map reference number 9) are the production departments and warehouses, where the prisoners worked. Fragments of railway tracks have been preserved near the control room and control point (map reference number 13). Wooden railway sleepers can be observed along the building (map reference number 14) with a loading platform. It is worth mentioning the crane, which was located just behind the main entrance to the camp. Although the crane has not survived, you can still see the huge foundations on which the crane was fitted.

The house of the sub camp commandant of Gleiwitz III was located outside the fence of the sub camp in a neoclassical style building. Today, it houses the directorate of the GZUT.

Memorialisation

The former site of the sub camp has a monument commemorating the suffering and death of prisoners of the Gleiwitz III sub camp. It is located on the square next to the main factory road in front of the former camp commandant building. The monument consists of two concrete fence posts with barbed wire stretched on insulators, between which a cast-iron plaque is attached with an inscription on it: “W hołdzie ofiarom faszystowskiego barbarzyństwa dla pamięci pokoleń” and the signature: “Załoga Gliwickich Zakładów Urządzeń Technicznych; styczeń 1972. (In tribute to the victims of fascist barbarism for the memory of generations.” and the signature: “The workers of the Gliwice Zakłady Urządzeń Technicznych; January 1972”)

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Site Visit

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum visited the site of the Gleiwitz III sub camp on the 30 May 1962 and in 1969 and took 31 photographs of the camp including:

  1. “One of workshops where prisoners worked.” (photo reference 14762),
  2. “Barrack for prisoners.” (photo reference 14782),
  3. “Place where the main gate to the camp was, on the right fragment of the guardhouse.” (photo reference 14765),
  4. “Barrack for prisoners.” (photo reference 14784),
  5. “Storage.(photo reference 14789),
  6. “One of workshops where prisoners worked.” (photo reference 1479),
  7. “Guardtower.” (photo reference 14775).

Topography of the Sub Camp Arbeitslager Gleiwitz III

Location of the Sub Camp Arbeitslager Gleiwitz III

TitleCategoryAddressDescriptionLink

Photographs

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

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Photographs from Site Visits

Tiergartenstrasse4Association Photographs from Site Visits

Sub Camp Documents

Fahrbefehl. APMAB
PMO II 4 266