Arbeitslager Sosnowitz II

Name of the camp
Arbeitslager Sosnowitz II
Other Name of the camp
Konzentrationslager Sosnowitz
Commandant of the camp
SS-Hauptscharführer Albin Vaupel
Number of SS Guards
Unknown. Estimated total 50 guards from the 5th Wachkompanie Monowitz and former Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe men from the 8th Sentry Company Auschwitz.
Work type
Steel Works: Labouring in a steel mill, casting barrels for anti-aircraft cannons and producing shells.
Employer
Bergwerksgesellschaft des Graffen Renard owned by Berghütte-Ost-Maschinenbau GmbH (OSMAG) part of Berg- und Hüttenwerksgesellschaft Teschen (Berghütte)
Sub camp buildings
Built by the first prisoners from Auschwitz.
Number of prisoners
Around 900 male prisoners. 17 January 1945 863.
Nationality of prisoners
Mostly Jews from France, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Yugoslavia, the General Government and many Jews from the Litzmannstadt (Łódź) ghetto. Non-Jews about 80 from Poland, the Soviet Union, Germany and France.
Period of camp existence
4 May 1944 – 17 January 1945
Dissolution / Evacuation of the sub camp
17 January 1945
Dates of site visits by Tiergartenstrasse4 Association
September 2005, June 2006, March 2007, November 2007
Memorialisation
There is a memorial plaque at the entrance gate of the steel plant which was erected in 1985.
Explore more

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 Graf Renard Steel Works

The roll mill Graf Renard was built in Dębowa Góra between 1901 – 1905 by the German-French entity Gewerkschaft Graf Renard. After the purchase of the German shares by the French, the steel plant belonged to the Société Anonyme Forges et Aciéries á Paris group. The plant had two departments, one producing non-welded and welded pipes, and a rolling mill for wire and iron. The production capacity was about 8 thousand tons per month, and the number of employees approximately 1,000. The plant increased production, and by 1914 there were 1,700 employees. The Soviet Union was the main market for the pipe production of the plant. [1]

After the outbreak of World War I, and the occupation of Sosnowiec by the Germans the steel mill Graf Renard was shut down and the machinery dismantled and taken to Germany. At the turn of 1915/1916 the foundry partially restarted operations with around 114 employees.

After the First World War, Sosnowiec belonged to Poland. In 1922, the steel mill regained the machinery, equipment and cables etc which had been exported to Germany. The Graf (now renamed Hrabia) Renard rolling mill was restarted in 1924, initially producing pipes and rolled products in limited quantities but steadily increased production until 1928, when it reached its highest level in the interwar period. From 1929 with the onset of the economic crisis, both production and the number of employees fell dramatically.

By 1932 at the height of the economic crisis, the pipe production mill and the works directly related to it (the iron foundry, design department and others) had been shut down. Several hundred employees were made redundant. In 1935, attempts were made to restart production, but without success. The main production departments remaining were the wire and iron mill. In 1938, the company employed some 814 people. From 1935, the plant was leased by the Huta Bankowa Joint Stock Company.

When the Germans occupied Sosnowiec in 1939, the steel rolling mill Graf Renard was taken over by the German company, Berghütte-Ost-Maschinenbau Gesellschaft GmbH. The plant was adapted for the production of reinforced steel and barrels for anti-tank guns. At the beginning of 1943, 789 people were employed in the steel works, and by the end of that year 3,200, including French workers and other prisoners.

From 1944, prisoners of the Auschwitz concentration camp were also employed at the steel plant, for which purpose a sub camp Arbeitslagcr Sosnowitz II was established in Walcownia.


[1] The pre-war history of the Graf Renard Steel Works is based on Małgorzata Śmiałek: Sosnowieckie ABC, Vol II. Muzeum w Sosnowcu, 2003, p. 51-52.

The Post War History of the Edmund Cedler (Formerly Graf Renard) Steel Works

After the liberation of Poland in 1945, the steel plant was rebuilt and nationalized. In June 1945, a new wire mill was opened, in 1947 a foundry, and in 1957 a cold-rolled strip steel department. From September 1949, the plant was renamed the Huta Edmund Cedler in Sosnowiec. In 1951, the steelworks employed some 1,500 people. During the period of the People´s Republic of Poland, the plant was modernized, and new departments opened. Built in 1973, the quality steel rolling mill became the main department. [1]

After 1989, the Cedler as it was known was one of the few steel mills in Poland to undergo modernisation. On September 1, 1998, the steel mill became a sole shareholder company of the Treasury called Huta Cedler S.A.

From 1 January 2003, the steelworks was owned by Polskie Huty Stali S.A. with its registered office in Katowice. In 2004 the company was privatised and purchased by Mittal Steel. In February 2005, with the creation of the Mittal Steel group, the company changed its name to Mittal Steel Poland SA.[2]


[1] The Post War History of the Graf Renard Steel Works is based on Małgorzata Śmiałek: Sosnowieckie ABC, Vol II. Muzeum w Sosnowcu, 2003, p. 51-52.
[2] The website of Mittal Steel Poland https://old.arcelormittal-poland.pl/en/who-we-are/our-history.html. Viewed 20 August 2019.

The History of the Sub Camp Arbeitslager Sosnowitz II

The first prisoners were transported from Auschwitz II-Birkenau to Arbeitslager Sosnowitz in May 1944. In this first transport there were about 600 prisoners. Later this number increased to approximately 900.

The sub camp Sosnowitz II had a trapezoidal shape, inside which there were eight barracks. On brick foundations were built three wooden barracks for the prisoners, a camp store for blankets and mattresses, a clothing store for prisoners, a hospital barrack and two small latrines. The camp was surrounded by a single row of electrified barbed wire mounted on concrete posts and around the fence seven wooden guard towers were built. Outside of the camp, at the main gate leading to the camp stood a large brick barracks, which contained a room and kitchen for the SS and the office.[1]

The work of the prisoners in the steel plant and the attitude of the SS guards was described by a former Polish civilian worker at the plant, Stanisław Wierciochowitz, “The prisoners of war and prisoners were involved in the manufacture of shells and anti-aircraft shells. In one department there were 175 lathes. Most of the prisoners worked in a hall producing grenades. There on a shift worked approximately 400 people. The prisoners didn’t do the most important work, only the ancillary work. The work was done in three shifts by the German and Polish workers, the prisoners however worked for 12 hours. The work in the steel plant was supervised by 18 SS men led by the man Reiss. The SS men hit the prisoners during the work time. I have personally seen an SS man hit the lathe worker Jose. He lives today in Sosnowice. That must have been in 1943. The workers reported that beatings had been going on and a few days later there appeared a high level police officer and said that all SS would be transferred to the front, including the man Reiss. From that time on there was no oversight by the SS in the steel works.” [2]

There was also a British prisoner of war Working Party E707 from Stalag VIIIB 344 Lamsdorf in Sosnowiec.[3] Whether these POWs worked alongside the Auschwitz prisoners has not been determined.

Prisoners in the sub camp Sosnowitz II were mostly Jews from France, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Yugoslavia, the General Government and many Jews from the Łódź ghetto.[4] None Jewish prisoners amounting to some 80 were from Poland, the Soviet Union (including prisoners of war), Germany and France.[5] There was also a Jewish prisoner from Tehran, “ I remember for a long time a Jewish man from Tehran in Persia worked with me, he explained to me that in Tehran he had been a piano salesman. He also explained that he and his whole family had been transported to Italy and later to Poland. I don’t know what later became of him.” [6]

There were numerous escapes and escape attempts mainly by prisoners from the Soviet Union. On 28 June 1944, 3 Soviet prisoners, Nikiszyn Andrejowicz (prisoner number 174277), Koralkov, Sasha Minski escaped. They received help from some of the Polish workers in the steel works, members of the Polish underground, in obtaining civilian clothes and directions for the escape. One of the escapees, Minski was subsequently killed fighting with the partisans, but the other two prisoners survived the war. [7]

In the autumn of 1944 two young Ukrainian prisoners escaped. They raided a guard post, took the guards´ rifles and fled. One week later however they were caught and brought back to the camp to be publicly hanged. Also the Lagerältester, a man named Norweg escaped. He was caught, brought back to the camp and shot in front of the entrance gate by an SS guard. [8]


[1] Description of the sub camp Sosnowitz II based on: APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Stefan Gubała, Vol. 54, , p. 193; see also the original plan of Sosnowitz II from Franciszek Piper, Das Nebenlager Sosnowitz (II) [in:] Hefte von Auschwitz [1970] Nr 11.
[2] StA Hannover Ha_nds_721_Hannover_acc_90_99_nr_175_3. Testimony of Stanislaw Wierciochowitz, 19 September 1967.
[3] https://www.lamsdorf.com/working-parties.html. Viewed 2 October 2019.
[4] StA Hannover Ha_nds_721_Hannover_acc_90_99_nr_175_3. Testimony of Stanislaw Wierciochowitz, 19 September 1967.
[5] Piper, Franciszek, Das Nebenlager Sosnowitz (II) [in:] Hefte von Auschwitz [1970] Nr 11, p. 114-116.
[6] StA Hannover Ha_nds_721_Hannover_acc_90_99_nr_175_3. Testimony of Antoni Lis, 24 November 1969.
[7] StA Hannover Ha_nds_721_Hannover_acc_90_99_nr_175_3. Testimony of Mieczyslaw Lydko, 10 November 1969.
[8] StA Hannover Ha_nds_721_Hannover_acc_90_99_nr_175_3. Testimony of Mieczyslaw Lydko, 10 November 1969.
Literature:
Piper, FranciszekDas Nebenlager Sosnowitz (II) [in:] Hefte von Auschwitz [1970] Nr 11, p. 97-126.
Piper, Franciszek, Podobóz Sosnowitz (II), [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1969] Nr 11, p. 91-118.

The SS Guard Unit

The Lagerführer was SS-Hauptscharführer Albin Vaupel. The head of the camp kitchen was SS-Unterschaführer Theofil Dietrich and the paramedic in the camp hospital was SS-Oberscharführer Franz Wloka. The Blockführer was SS-Rottenführer Fritz Freudenreich. The SS guards were assigned from the 5th Guard Company Auschwitz.[1]


[1] Franciszek Piper, Das Nebenlager Sosnowitz (II) [in:] Hefte von Auschwitz [1970] Nr 11, p. 108-112.
Literature:
Piper, FranciszekDas Nebenlager Sosnowitz (II) [in:] Hefte von Auschwitz [1970] Nr 11, p. 97-126.
Piper, Franciszek, Podobóz Sosnowitz (II), [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1969] Nr 11, p. 91-118.

The SS Guards

References:
StA Hannover. ha_nds._721_hannover_acc._90_99_nr._175_3_aufn_087 p. 85-87.
BA Ludwigsburg B162/2679 and B162/2680.
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
Piper, FranciszekDas Nebenlager Sosnowitz (II) [in:] Hefte von Auschwitz [1970] Nr 11, p. 97-126.
Piper, Franciszek, Podobóz Sosnowitz (II), [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1969] Nr 11, p. 91-118.

The Evacuation of the Sub Camp Arbeitslager Sosnowitz II

The evacuation of the sub camp Sosnowitz II took place in two stages; in December 1944 Polish and Soviet prisoners were transported back to Auschwitz II-Birkenau. On December 4 1944 these prisoners were transported with other Auschwitz prisoners to the Mauthausen concentration camp. Some of the former prisoners of Arbeitslager Sosnowitz II were then transported to the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp.

The remaining prisoners in the Arbeitslager Sosnowitz II were ordered to leave on 16 January 1945 and were marched on foot via Gliwice and Racibórz to Ostrava. During the journey many prisoners were shot; up to one third or one half of the prisoners who had set out on the march from Sosnowice. From Ostrava the surviving prisoners were transported by train to the Mauthausen concentration camp where they arrived on 2 February 1945. [1]


[1] StA Hannover Ha_nds_721_Hannover_acc_90_99_nr_175_2. Testimony of Julius Negel, 2 November 1973.
Literature:
Piper, FranciszekDas Nebenlager Sosnowitz (II) [in:] Hefte von Auschwitz [1970] Nr 11, p. 97-126.
Piper, Franciszek, Podobóz Sosnowitz (II), [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1969] Nr 11, p. 91-118.

The Post War History of the Former Sub Camp Arbeitslager Sosnowitz II

On the date of the visit of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in 1967 the former sub camp area was occupied by Polish families. On our visit in 2006 and 2007 it appeared the remaining buildings of the former sub camp had been recently demolished.

The Preservation Status of the Former Sub Camp Arbeitslager Sosnowitz II

The remnants of Arbeitslager Sosnowitz II can be found on ul Niwecka in Sosnowiec between the rail tracks. The area is in a state of decay. At the time of the site visits of Tiergartenstrasse4Association the foundations of many of the buildings of the sub camp of the Arbeitslager Sosnowitz still existed. In addition, there existed a partially preserved, brick building, which was the sub camp kitchen and facilities for the SS (map reference 1). Also the brick bunker in which potatoes were stored also remained (map reference 10).

Many of the original buildings of the former Huta Graf Renard steel works have survived.

Memorialisation

There is no commemoration in the form of a monument or plaque at the site of the former sub camp. There is however a memorial plaque at the entrance gate of the steel plant which was erected in 1985.

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Site Visit

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum visited the site of the former Arbeitslager Sosnowitz II in 1967 and took 19 photographs including:

  1. “Two barracks built after the war on the foundations of the original barracks of the sub camp.” (photo reference 11032),
  2. “Sub camp kitchen.” (photo reference 11034),
  3. “Washroom.” (photo reference 11035),
  4. “Posts.” (photo reference 11044).

Topography of the Sub Camp Arbeitslager Sosnowitz II

Map of the former sub camp Arbeitslager Sosnowitz II. T4
Former Auschwitz prisoner drawing of sub camp Arbeitslager Sosnowitz II. APMAB

Location of the Sub Camp Arbeitslager Sosnowitz II

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