Arbeitslager Neustadt O/S

Name of the camp
Arbeitslager Neustadt O/S
Commandant of the camp
SS-Oberscharführer Paul Heinrich Theodor Müller
SS-Oberscharführer Bernhard Becker
Number of SS Guards
Unknown. Estimated 30 guards from the 5th Wachkompanie Monowitz.
Other information
The sub camp Neustadt O/S SS guards were transferred from the sub camp of Lagischa which had been closed.
Work type
Textile Mills: Work in a textile mill
Employer
Schlesische Feinweberei AG
Sub camp buildings
An existing building of the textile mill was used for prisoner accommodation. The other buildings of the sub camp had been built by the Schmelt organisation when the camp was used as a forced labour camp for Jews and later for British POWs. The buildings were taken over for use by the Auschwitz sub camp.
Number of prisoners
Around 400 female prisoners. 30 December 1944 430 prisoners.
Nationality of prisoners
Mainly Jewish women from Hungary.
Period of camp existence
26 September 1944 – 19 January 1945
Dissolution / Evacuation of the sub camp
On 19 January 1945 all prisoners were marched on foot towards Głuchołazów and finally arrived in  Gross-Rosen concentration camp. Later transported to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Dates of site visits by Tiergartenstrasse4 Association
June 2006
Memorialisation
On the wall of the building which accommodated the prisoners there is a commemorative plaque with an inscription in Polish. There is also a symbolic tombstone in the Jewish cemetery in Prudnik to the memory of Auschwitz prisoners, 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 Schlesische Feinweberei AG Textile Mill

Prudnik (until 1945 Neustadt in Oberschlesien[1]) is a small town located in the Opol Voivodeship, which is the administrative seat of Prudnik county and the community of Prudnik. The dynamic development of the city took place at the beginning of the 19th century with the creation of the first factories of wool, linen and silk, as well as the Fränkel factory. At that time, Prudnik had about 4,000 inhabitants. Soon, a brickyard, brewery, mills and a vinegar factory were also built.

In 1876, Prudnik was connected by rail with Nysa (German: Neisse) and Koźle (German: Kosel). The beginning of the twentieth century was associated with the development of the southern part of the city, with housing development, as well as  building: city baths, parks, a casino building and barracks. An important event in the history of Prudnik was the Upper Silesian plebiscite in 1921, which was to decide whether this area would belong to Germany or to Poland. The result turned out to be in favour of Germany. As a result, until 1945, Prudnik was located in the German Reich, being part of the so-called Opole province (Regierungsbezirk Oppeln) in the province of Upper Silesia (Provinz Oberschlesien).[2]

In 1845, Samuel Fränkel built a linen fabric factory in Prudnik. The company was named Samuel Fränkel Neustadt. Shortly thereafter, he took over a competitor´s bankrupt factory, thus gaining a monopoly on linen fabric in the whole area.

Joseph Pinkus became a partner in the firm Samuel Fränkel Neustadt when he married the daughter of the owner, Samuel Fränkel. Max Pinkus their son was a director until 1926. Max Pinkus´ son Hans managed the business until 1938. Hans Pinkus emigrated to the United Kingdom with his family in 1939 and died there in 1977. [3]

In 1938 the Samuel Fränkel Neustadt plant which employed nearly 2,000 workers was Ayranised and changed its name to Schlesische Feinweberei AG.


[1] The name was changed from Neustadt Oberschlesien to Prudnik on 7th May 1946.
[2] Sourced 2 August 2019 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prudnik
[3] Leo Baeck Institute New York, Catalog of Archival collections. Edited by Fred Grubel. J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck) Tübingen. p 114.

The Post War History of the Frotex (Formerly Schlesische Feinweberei AG) Textile Mill

After the Second World War Neustadt Oberschlesien became part of Poland and was renamed Prudnik. In 1949 the factory underwent reconstruction after having been taken over again by Zakłady Przemysłu Bawełnianego Frotex S.A.

The company was named Frotex in 1965. In 1992, Frotex modernised the spinning mill and dyeing plant and opened a purification plant. Frotex was transformed into a state owned company during that same year. In 1995, Frotex was added to the General Privatization Program and included in the Second National Investment Fund. In 2002, board members of the Second National Investment Fund decided to sell the majority (72% of shares) of their shares in the company.

Frotex ceased operations on 5 July 2014. In 2016, the American company Henniges Auto opened its manufacturing unit in the buildings previously occupied by Frotex[1]. Henniges produces highly engineered automotive and anti-vibration solutions. [2]


[1] Viewed 2 August 2019 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zakłady_Przemysłu_Bawełnianego_%22Frotex%22
[2] Sourced 2 August 2019 from http://www.hennigesautomotive.com/en/company/

The History of the Sub Camp Arbeitslager Neustadt O/S

A Polish witness Józef Kanik testified after the war: “In 1940 I was deported for forced labour to Rudziczki (prudnicki powiat). In order to purchase something I often went to Prudnik and passed by the local cotton factory (Schlesische Feinweberei). Because I am a weaver, I applied to work there, I was accepted and employed as a foreman´s assistant. About 2,000 people worked at the factory at that time. Most of the workers were women- there were about 1500. The men were sent to the front, only the foremen remained. The women were mostly German. There also worked there Polish, Russian and Ukrainian women, who had been brought for forced labour. In 1942 about 180 Jewish women aged between 17 and 23 were brought to the plant (mostly from Łódź and Bielsko). They were accommodated in a brick two-story building. They lived on the first floor; the kitchen was on the ground floor.” [1]

The Jewish female prisoners mentioned in the testimony of Józef Kanik, were the prisoners of a forced labour camp for Jews, run by the Schmelt organization. After a short training, they worked the looms on their own. In mid-1943, the Schmelt forced labour camp was closed and the Jewish women were deported to Zielona Góra. [2]

Shortly thereafter, British prisoners of war were brought to the mill to work. According to Aleksandra Neserowska a local resident, “They worked in the weaving mill until the summer of 1944 when they were transferred on trucks in an unknown direction. The British POWs did well. Once a month they received parcels from the International Red Cross.” [3] The British prisoners of war were a Working Party from the camp in Łambinowice, known as Kommando E 706 Stalag VIII B Lamsdorf. [4]

The Schlesische Feinweberei plant now desperately needed new employees. The company looked at the possibilities of sourcing cheap labour in the form of prisoners from the Auschwitz concentration camp. Due to the lack of surviving documents, it is not known who decided to establish a sub camp there. One can only assume that the initiators were the board of Schlesische Feinweberei.

It is known, based on research of surviving documents by, Jerzy Frąckiewicz and Irena Strzelecka from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, when the decision to create the Neustadt sub camp was taken. In the order of the commandant of Auschwitz III-Monowitz of September 6, 1944, the SS guards from the dissolved sub camp of Lagischa were transferred to the sub camp Neustadt. However, the transport of approximately 400 Jewish prisoners escorted by these SS guards only arrived in Prudnik on September 26, 1944. This is considered the date of the opening of the Neustadt sub camp, also known as Arbeitslager Neustadt O / S. [5]

The arrival of prisoners from the Auschwitz concentration camp was recalled after the war by Józef Karnik a local resident, “In the summer of 1944, about 400 Hungarian Jewesses were brought to the plant. They were all haggard and poorly dressed. ” [6] The poor condition of the prisoners of Auschwitz was also described by Aleksandra Nesterowska, “They had nothing on them, they were all haggard, dressed in rags.” [7]

The female Jewish prisoners from Auschwitz were accommodated in the same building where the Jewish forced labourers of Schmelt and the British POWs had been accommodated. It was a building located inside the factory, of two-stories, and partly on the yard side, surrounded by a metal grill fence over which was hung barbed wire. Metal grills were also installed at the windows.

The rooms in which the prisoners were living were insufficiently equipped. In the testimony of Zofia Kałwa there is a description of the prisoners’ accommodation: “After the departure of the Jews, I cleaned the building in which they lived. On the first and second floor there were two large rooms, filled with two-story bunks and ruffled straw mattresses.” [8]

The Auschwitz prisoners were trained for a few weeks on how to work the looms. Later, they were able to perform this task themselves. They worked in two shifts in three production halls, along with German, Polish and Ukrainian workers. The SS guards supervised them during the workday. Usually there were 8 SS guards on duty in the production halls.[9]

Due to physical and psychological exhaustion, the Jewish women were incapable of effective work. The guards often beat them with clubs. In addition to the SS, four supervisors reviewed the work of the prisoners. [10]

The prisoners were dressed in normal striped prisoner uniforms or grey dresses. They received black coffee and bread for breakfast, a litre of soup made from potatoes and cabbage for dinner, while the supper consisted of coffee and bread. [11]

The number of female prisoners in the Neustadt sub camp remained at approximately 370-400 from its foundation until the evacuation. [12]


[1] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Józef Kanik, Vol. 48, p. 144.
[2] The prisoners were most likely moved to another Schmelt camp, located at the “Deutsche Wollenwaren” in Zielona Góra. This camp was later transformed into one of the sub-camps of Gross-Rosen. See: Vorläufiges Verzeichnis der Konzentrationslager und deren Außenkommmandos sowie anderer Haftstätten unter dem Reichsführer-SS in Deutschland und deutsch besetzten Gebieten (1933-1945), Comité International de la Croix-Rouge, International Tracing Service, Arolsen 1969, Verzeichnis der haftstätten unter dem Reichsführer-SS. Konzentrationslager und deren Außenkommmandos sowie anderer Haftstätten unter dem Reichsführer-SS in Deutschland und deutsch besetzten Gebieten (1933-1945), Comité International de la Croix-Rouge, International Tracing Service, Arolsen 1979, APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, relationship of Józef Kanik, Vol. 48, p. 144 and Obozy hitlerowskie na ziemiach polskich 1939-1945. Informator encyklopedyczny, Warszawa 1979.
[3] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Aleksandra Neserowska, Vol. 48, p. 142.
[4] Obozy hitlerowskie na ziemiach polskich 1939-1945. Informator encyklopedyczny, Warszawa 1979, p. 405.
[5] See: APMAB. D-AuIII-1/66.Kommandanturbefehl No 9/44, APMAB. Proces Załogi, vol. 50, p. 287-288. See also: Jerzy Frąckiewicz Jerzy, Podobóz Lagischa, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie 1965 No 9, p. 67, Irena Strzelecka Irena, Podobóz Neustadt, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie 1971 No 13, p. 159-160.
[6] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Józef Kanik, Vol. 48, p. 144.
[7] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Aleksandra Nesterowska, Vol. 48, p. 143.
[8] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Zofia Kałwa, Vol. 49, p. 40.
[9] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Józef Kanik, Vol. 48, p. 145.
[10] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Józef Kanik, Vol. 48, p. 145.
[11] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Józef Kanik, Vol. 48, p. 145.
[12] APMAB. List of employment of women prisoners in concentration camp Auschwitz III, sygn. D.Au III – 3a.
Literature: 
Strzelecka Irena, Podobóz Neustadt, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1971] Nr 13, p. 155-166.

The SS Guard Unit

The first Lagerführer was SS-Oberscharführer Paul Heinrich Theodor Müller. He was succeeded by SS-Oberscharführer Bernhard Becker.


Literature:
Strzelecka Irena, Podobóz Neustadt, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1971] Nr 13, p. 155-166.

The SS Guards

References:
BA Ludwigsburg B162/2680 and B162/2679.
Rudorff, Andrea, Neustadt (Prudnik) [in:] Des Ort des Terrors Band 5, Geschichte der Nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager. C.H.Beck 2007.p 290 and 291.
Zppw-auschwitz.pl Zwiazek Polaków Pomordowanych w Auschwitz. List of 8500 SS men in KL Auschwitz.
IPN database of Auschwitz SS guards. https://truthaboutcamps.eu/th/form/60,Zaloga-SS-KL-Auschwitz.html.
Strzelecka Irena, Podobóz Neustadt, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1971] Nr 13, p. 155-166.

The Evacuation of Sub Camp Arbeitslager Neustadt O/S

The evacuation of the Arbeitslager Neustadt O / S was ordered on 19 January 1945. The prisoners were escorted by SS guards on foot towards Głuchołazów. It is known that the prisoners reached Gross-Rosen concentration camp, from where they were transported by train to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. [1]


[1] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Zofia Kałwa, Vol. 49, p. 40, Strzelecki Andrzej, Ostatnie dni obozu Auschwitz, Oświęcim 1995, p. 65.
Literature:
Strzelecka Irena, Podobóz Neustadt, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1971] Nr 13, p. 155-166.

The Post War History of the Former Sub Camp Arbeitslager Neustadt O/S

The buildings of the former textile mill were taken over by Zakłady Przemysłu Bawełnianego Frotex S.A after the war. The mill buildings including those of the former sub camp remain in usage to this day.

The Preservation Status of the Former Sub Camp Arbeitslager Neustadt O/S

At the site of the Frotex factory, the building in which the sub camp prisoners were accommodated is virtually unchanged as are most of the factory buildings.

At the factory there are also preserved fragments of fencing in the form of a metal grill fence, over which barbed wire was hung.

The Jewish cemetery of Prudnik still exists and is a short walk across the road from the former Schlesische Feinweberei AG. It is partially derelict but there remain many impressive tombstones including that of the founder of the textile mill Samuel Fränkel. There are also the tombstones of the Pinkus family part owners of the textile mill by marriage.

Memorialisation

On the wall of the former building in which the prisoners were accommodated there is a commemorative plaque with the inscription in Polish: “W latach II wojny światowej mieściło się na terenie obecnych zakładów „Frotex” niemieckie komando pracy jeńców wojennych R 215 oraz filia oświęcimskiego obozu koncentracyjnego. Miejsce to uświęcone jest męczeństwem i śmiercią jeńców i więźniów wyniszczonych pracą ponad siły, katowaniem i głodem. Cześć ich pamięci.” (In the years of World War II at the Frotex factory there was a German commando of prisoners of war R 215 and a sub camp of the Auschwitz concentration. This place is sanctified by the martyrdom and death of prisoners killed by over work, torture and hunger. Honour their memory.)

Dead Jewish prisoners were buried at the Jewish cemetery in Prudnik. There is a symbolic tombstone in the cemetery, with the following inscription in Polish: “Tu spoczywają więźniowie obozu koncentracyjnego w Oświęcimiu wielu narodowości i więźniowie polityczni z Prudnika bestialsko pomordowani przez oprawców faszystowskich podczas ewakuacji obozu w styczniu 1945.” (Here rest the prisoners of the Auschwitz concentration camp, many nationalities and political prisoners from Prudnik brutally murdered by fascist perpetrators during the evacuation of the camp in January 1945).

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Site Visit

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum visited the site of the former sub camp in 1966 and took five photographs including:

  1. “Building which housed female prisoners.” (photo reference 9254),
  2. “One of the windows with grills in the building where the female prisoners were accomodated.” (photo reference 9258),
  3. “Between the trees was the guardhouse for the camp guards.” (photo reference 9255).

Topography of the Sub Camp Arbeitslager Neustadt O/S

Map of Neustadt sub camp. T4

Location of the Sub Camp Arbeitslager Neustadt O/S

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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

Other Photographs and Postcards

Sub Camp Documents