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Name of the camp
Other Name of the camp
Konzentrationslager Auschwitz III-Monowitz which from 22 November 1943 oversaw the industrial sub camps of Auschwitz including the Monowitz sub camp.
Commandant of the camp
SS-Obersturmführer Vinzenz Schöttl: Lagerführer of Buna/Monowitz sub camp from October 1942 to 18 January 1945
SS-Hauptsturmführer Heinrich Schwarz: Kommandant of Auschwitz III-Monowitz including the industrial sub camps from 22 November 1943 to 25 November 1944
Number of SS Guards
In September 1944, 439 SS men from the Auschwitz III-Monowitz guard company served in Monowitz.
Work type
Oil and Chemicals: Construction of a synthetic rubber plant.
I.G. Farbenindustrie AG
Sub camp buildings
Specifically built for the Auschwitz sub camp.
Number of prisoners
Male prisoners.
November 1942: 2,000
December 1942: 4,000
February 1943: less than 2,000
May 1943: 4,000
August 1943 6,000
From August 1943 to the middle of 1944
the number of prisoners grew to 10,000 and then stayed fairly constant until evacuation.
On 17 January 1945: 10,224 prisoners.
Nationality of prisoners
In 1943 Poles made up 90% of the prisoners with the vast majority being Polish Jews.
By 1944 Jews made up 80% of the prisoners but now there were many Hungarian Jews.
Period of camp existence
October 1942 – 18 January 1945
Dissolution / Evacuation of the sub camp
18 January 1945. The prisoners marched in the direction of Gliwice via Oświęcim, Mikołów and Bieruń. January 20, 1945 the Monowitz prisoners arrived in Gliwice. There, they spent two nights at the former subcamps of Gleiwitz I and II and were then loaded onto freight wagons, and transported to the concentration camps of Mittelbau-Dora, Buchenwald and Mauthausen.
Dates of site visits by Tiergartenstrasse4 Association
June 2006, November 2006, June 2008, September 2008.
The main monument to the former prisoners erected in 1966 is located at ul Chemików near the former Dwory chemical plant. The second monument is situated directly in the former Auschwitz III-Monowitz camp. This monument takes the form of a symbolic tombstone with a Christian cross over it and the image of Jesus Christ.

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 I.G. Farbenindustrie AG Synthetic Rubber Plant in Monowice near Oświęcim

The creation of the Buna sub camp, later renamed Monowitz, is inextricably linked to the plans to build a synthetic rubber plant in Monowice. These plans had their origins in 1937 when the Third Reich considered in the Four-Year Plan the construction of synthetic rubber plants in the eastern areas of Germany. [1]

In October 1939 it was decided that a new synthetic rubber plant would be built in Ratowice in Lower Silesia. In the Spring of 1940 work began measuring, levelling, and building accommodation for future employees. But soon the work was abandoned, as the I.G. Farben executives were convinced that with the end of the war approaching, Great Britain would soon be occupied along with its colonies. These colonies would provide the Reich with unlimited access to sources of natural rubber. [2]

After the German defeat in the Battle of Britain, I.G. Farben quickly reviewed their policy for a synthetic rubber plant, and now turned their attention to Upper Silesia; the area had the advantage of huge coal resources.

The final decision to build a plant named Buna Monowitz VI was taken in January 1941. The additional benefits of building the plant in Monowice: the land on which the plant would be built was flat and there were no forests, it was close to the railway line and located near three rivers: the Vistula, Sola and Przemsza, which would guarantee the supply of water. The calculations on the production capabilities of the local coal mines also confirmed the suitability of the location of the plant.

But the difficulties facing the board of I.G. Farben were significant: insufficient manpower and a lack of housing units for the employees of IG Farben, who had been transferred to Oświęcim. The first problem in particular was acute. Therefore, amongst the board members of I.G. Farben an idea began to circulate that perhaps they could employ prisoners from the Auschwitz concentration camp.

In 1940, the Auschwitz concentration camp housed more than 7,000 prisoners, some of whom could be employed in the construction of the I.G. Farben plant. The board of I.G. Farben were also cognizant that using slave labour would bring huge cost savings over employing civilian workers. Plans were presented to SS-Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, who on 1 March 1941, visited Oświęcim. After an inspection of Oświęcim and the area comprising the Interresengebiet, Himmler ordered the Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss to expand the Auschwitz concentration camp, to accommodate 30,000 inmates, of whom 10,000 would work at the Buna-Werke site. [3]

[1] Setkiewicz, Piotr, Z dziejów obozów IG Farben Werk Auschwitz 1941-1945, Oświęcim 2006, p. 41.
[2] Setkiewicz, Piotr, Z dziejów obozów IG Farben Werk Auschwitz 1941-1945, Oświęcim 2006, p. 41.
[3] APMAB. Zespół Proces Hössa, vol 21, p. 32, 33; Autobiografia Rudolfa Hössa, komendanta obozu oświęcimskiego, Warszawa 1989, p. 276.

The Post War History of the Former I.G. Farbenindustrie AG Synthetic Rubber Plant in Monowice near Oświęcim

In 1945 Synthos PLC took over the synthetic rubber plant in Dwory. It first, secured the land, employed experts, supervised the reorganization of the factory facilities and developed the production technologies.

In 1948 the first chemicals were produced: trichloroethylene and chlorobenzene. The first production was preceded by the starting up the steam boiler and turbine in the power plant.

From January 2, 1951, the plant was subordinated to the Centralne Administrowanie Syntezą Chemiczną (Central Administration for the Chemical Synthesis), and from 1959, to the Stowarzyszenie Przemysłu Syntezy Chemicznej w Gliwicach (Association of Chemical Synthesis Industry of Gliwice).

Between 1971 and 1980 the production output was increased. The styrene derivates and rubber plants were refurbished. This resulted in a considerable increase of production. The 1970’s were the time of full productivity and the highest employment levels. The oxygen and nitrogen plant was modernized. Mainly for economic reasons, the ehtylbenzene, chlorobenzene, synthetic phenol and acetic anhydride plants were shut down.

In 1996 the company became a wholly owned company of the National Treasury and was renamed Dwory PLC. In 2004 Dwory PLC was listed on the Warsaw stock exchange. In 2007 Dwory PLC changes its name to Synthos PLC. [1]

[1] Viewed 16 August 2019

The History of the Sub Camp Monowitz (Buna-Werke)

The origins of the future sub camp in Monowice was the Aussenkommando Buna. In mid-April 1941 in the main camp of Auschwitz a group of nearly 200 prisoners were selected who were transported by truck to the intersection of the roads leading to the villages of Monowice and Dwory. These prisoners dug drainage ditches, built roads and erected fence posts. The work in the Kommando Buna was recalled by former prisoner Konrad Lemańczyk: “The Kommando worked for I.G. Farben and lasted from 6.00 hrs to 18.00 hrs in the evening, with an hour break for lunch from 12.00 hrs  till 13.00 hrs. Dinner was brought to us in 50-litre tin pots from the camp kitchen. The SS men from our Kommando also received dinner on-site in one of the barracks in Dwory.” [1]

Soon the Buna Kommando numbered several hundred prisoners. The Auschwitz concentration camp could not provide enough trucks to transport the prisoners to work and so the prisoners had to walk the 6-7 kilometres from the Auschwitz concentration camp to the site of the Buna plant. The sight of emaciated prisoners marching through Oświęcim raised protests among the local authorities and Germans civilians.

At the end of July 1941 it was agreed that the Buna Kommando would be transported to work by freight train. The transport consisted of 10 – 12 wagons which left at dawn from the siding at the Auschwitz concentration camp and stopped at the train stop at Kruki and Dwory station. In the nearby meadows the prisoners were formed into working columns, counted and marched to work. This work still mainly consisted of digging trenches, laying cables and building roads. The exhausting nature of the work, as well as malnutrition resulted in a high mortality rate in the Buna Kommando.

The prisoners employed at the Buna plant halted work in December 1941, as strong frosts prevented further excavation works. In the Spring of 1942, works restarted on a larger scale and the prisoners began construction of a train station, power station, barracks, carbide station and workshops.[2]

As a result of talks between I.G. Farben and the Auschwitz commandant it was finally agreed that the prisoners who worked at the Buna plant would be housed in an existing camp No IV – Dorfrand. Originally it was intended for prisoners transported from Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps, but as the the camp was not ready to accept the prisoners, these transports were redirected to Auschwitz.[3]

On 26 October 1942 a roll call was held in Auschwitz during which 500 prisoners were selected – mostly Jews, Germans, non-Jewish Poles and criminal prisoners, who, together with other prisoners who were selected on 30 and 31 October were transferred to Monowice.[4]

Buna was a sub camp of Auschwitz from October 1942 to November 1943. At this time SS-Obersturmbannführer Arthur Liebehenschel reorganised the Auschwitz camp complex into three separate independent concentration camps.[5] In this way, Konzentrationslager Auschwitz III-Monowitz was created with the former Auschwitz industrial sub camps subordinated to it, including the former Buna-Werke sub camp now named Monowitz.

Buna sub camp was surrounded by a double fence: a) the inner fence consisting of barbed wire hung on concrete posts and b) external – wire mesh stretched on simple poles. The inner fence was connected to the mains electricity. The camp was surrounded by 11 guard towers made of wood with a height of about 8 meters. There were also small basic shelters made of a half circle of concrete planted in the ground – the same as in the main Auschwitz camp and at Auschwitz-Birkenau and used to shelter in the case of an air raid.

At the main gate leading to the camp were two, more sophisticated concrete air raid shelters, following the same design as those which surrounded the sub camp near Blechhammer in Sławięcice near Kędzierzyn Koźle. Originally, in the fenced off area there were 25 barracks, latrines, two brick and two wooden barracks washrooms and a work barrack. However, as the Buna sub camp expanded so did the number of barracks. By the end of 1944 at the camp in Monowice there were 60 barracks, and the total area occupied by the camp amounted to some 13.3 hectares.[6]

Barracks for the prisoners in the Buna sub camp were smaller than the barracks in Auschwitz-Birkenau. These were simple wooden structures with dimensions of 26 x 6 m. Each barrack consisted of two parts: a small living room, which adjoined two rooms one for the Kapos and a long dormitory, where there were 56 three-story, wooden bunks for sleeping. The hygiene and sanitary conditions in the Buna subcamp were terrible. The camp lacked sufficient latrines, baths, and a disinfection chamber for prisoners clothing.[7]

In November 1942 there were more than 2,000 prisoners in the camp, and a month later nearly 4,000. As a result of two selections conducted in early 1943 and the high mortality rate, in February the number of inmates fell below 2,000. To prevent such a sharp reduction in the number of prisoners available for labour to build the plant, I.G. Farben intervened at the highest SS levels to obtain additional prisoners.[8]

As a result, the number of prisoners began to rise gradually, reaching in May 1943 4,000, and in August of the same year 6,000. This trend continued in subsequent months and by the middle of 1944 the camp housed some 10,000 prisoners and the numbers remained at more or less this level until the evacuation of the camp in January 1945.[9]

There were so many prisoners arriving in Monowitz and space to house them so limited that in 1943, 800 men and in the Autumn of 1944, 1,600 men slept in tents. [10]

According to prisoner Zygfryd Halbreich, “In 1943, the average number of prisoners in the camp was 7,000-8,000. Around 80 percent of them were Jews, most of whom were Jews from Poland. The Poles were the largest group besides the Jews. In 1944, the Jews also made up 80 percent of the prisoners. However, the number of Jews from Poland relative to the number of Jews from other countries decreased as a result of the arrival of transports from Hungary.” [11]

There was also a so called Erziehungslager in the Monowitz camp, “From June 1943, I was the Lagerältester in the so-called Erziehungslager. The prisoners only came to this camp for a short time, from four weeks to six months, or exceptionally for a year, and the reason for their detention was that they had been avoiding work, or had enjoyed an arbitrarily prolonged period of leave. They were Germans, Czechs, Poles and representatives of all nationalities who were sent to Germany to work. The Kapos treated these prisoners well—beating was officially banned. There were occasions when the Kapos did beat and mistreat prisoners but when they were reported to the SS, they were transferred to a new camp as punishment. The SS men behaved relatively well.” [12]

The day in the Buna sub camp began after wake-up, by folding mattresses and blankets and washing in cold water in the washrooms. Then the prisoners were driven out of the barracks for morning roll call, where they were counted and the work Kommandos formed.[13] Groups of prisoners left the camp to the sound of the camp orchestra. Usually the first to leave the camp were the external Kommandos working outside the factory. Then the Sammelkommando – working in the Buna-Werke. At the work place the prisoners were supervised by Kapos and civilian workers from IG Farben.[14]

The work Kommandos ranged from several hundred prisoners to a handful. Each Kommando had its own reference number and a name specifying the location or type of work. According to analysis conducted by Dr. Piotr Setkiewicz we know that the highest recorded number of Kommandos was 239. Dr. Setkiewicz notes however, that such a high number of Kommandos could exist only temporarily, during hectic times of work or when work was being reorganized. Most likely, the average number of Kommandos working fluctuated between 150 and 160.[15]

The toughest work for prisoners was for those employed in the transfer of construction materials, earthworks, transport of narrow-gauge railway wagons filled with earth and the laying of power cables. The Kommandos, whose working conditions were less exhausting were for those prisoners who worked as carpenters, roofers, painters, electricians.[16]

During working hours, there was only one break, during which prisoners were given soup (so-called “Buna-Suppe”), prepared in a plant soup kitchen, and later brought to the workplace.

Even at work prisoners could be killed, “As a prisoner of the Monowitz camp, I met the defendant Aumeier, who then served in the Main Auschwitz camp as a Lagerführer [camp leader], because he often came for inspections to the Monowitz camp. At the time, Aumeier would come about two times a week in a car. In the entire camp, among all prisoners, but especially among older prisoners who had met Aumeier in other concentration camps, he was known as “the Scourge” (der Schreck). His criminal activities can be best illustrated by the following incident which I myself witnessed. It happened in the autumn of 1943 on the premises of the rubber factory IGF (I.G. Farben) in Monowitz. At the time, my working team was tearing up the road in order to lay a cable. Aumeier came in his car and kicked up a row with the working men because he was unable to pass. In the meantime, he took out his revolver and, together with four people who accompanied him, shot two people dead, probably Poles. Next he ordered that the ditch be bridged with joists and beams which were to be used on the roof of the factory, and when they proved too long, he ordered them to be cut, and in this way made useless. He also beat me badly about the face, knocking out a few of my teeth.” [17]

After work the prisoners returned to the camp in the columns. There, on the parade ground they were lined up in block order, counted, and if there were no exceptional circumstances, they would be dismissed to the barracks. By 1944 there were so many prisoners in the camp that standard roll calls were abandoned, “At the beginning of 1944, the morning roll calls were abandoned. The prisoners went out into the square and then immediately off to work, with the counting only taking place at the gate. In May 1944, the evening roll calls were also abandoned. Only once every two weeks was there a roll call, on Sunday at lunchtime. Exceptionally, an evening roll call only happened when someone had escaped or someone was missing. We worked six days a week and before noon on Sunday. Every other week there was no work on Saturday afternoon and the whole of Sunday was free.” [18]

In general the Kapos treated the prisoners more harshly than the SS guards, “While I was in the camp, eight people were hanged; all the prisoners had to be present and watch the execution. We were punished in various ways, amongst others by being forced to stand for up to four hours in the worst weather. We also were forced to lie on specially constructed appliances, whereupon we would be beaten with rubber truncheons. At night they would herd people outdoors, into the cold and the rain, making them bathe and then running them back to the blocks, and this caused a great many people to fall ill. Indeed, the whole camp was intended for the direct extermination of people. During work prisoners were maltreated, hit in the face and kicked…. The greatest crimes were committed by the so-called Kapos…, who were in fact prisoners who had been placed in charge of other inmates.” [19]

The prisoners were given an evening meal consisting of murky soup, bread and small portions of margarine, cottage cheese or marmalade. These provisions were also supposed to cover breakfast, but most prisoners ate everything at once. According to former prisoner Zygfryd Halbreich, “In the morning, we were given coffee and 350 g of bread (three times a week 700 g of bread was handed out), 25 g of margarine and additional cheese, marmalade or sausage. There was 40-50 g of sausage, 80-100 g of marmalade, about 50 g of cheese. For lunch we received a litre of thin soup. There was around one litre of thick soup for dinner. The quantity of food didn’t diminish, although the nutritional value of the food we received underwent a major change.” [20]

Lights out in the barracks was around 21.00 hrs.[21]

The harsh work, poor nutrition and the general conditions in the sub camp resulted in thousands of prisoners being sent to Auschwitz II-Birkenau to be gassed, “The working conditions were difficult. As a result of insufficient food, and in the winter because of insufficient clothing and the poor state of their shoes, prisoners lost their strength and fell ill. The weak and sick were sent to the camp hospital, where every two or three weeks the camp doctor carried out selections and those in worse physical condition were sent to KZ Auschwitz II – Birkenau, where most underwent re-selection and ended up in the gas chambers. The longest serving doctor in the camp was SS-Hauptsturmführer Dr. Fischer. He was about 28 years old, 1.82 m in height, with blond hair, a long face, a dark complexion, blue eyes, wore glasses, and was of average build. I can’t give a description of Obersturmführer Dr. Thilo. Mortality in the winter of 1942/1943 was high—about 30 prisoners died per day. The reasons for this were frostbite, emaciation and dysentery. In the middle of November 1942, I went to the hospital as a paramedic, and at the beginning of January 1943 I became block senior in a special block for patients with frostbite. Since the frostbite wounds healed very badly, in March 1943 Dr. Thilo carried out a selection and about one hundred prisoners with second and third degree frostbite were sent to KZ Auschwitz II – Birkenau. In this way, the station with frostbite patients was liquidated, and I became a block senior in the quarantine (block) for the Erziehungshäftlinge, which lasted four weeks. In the summer of 1943, mortality decreased, but increased again in the winter season of 1943/1944. During my stay in Monowitz, 4,000 prisoners were sent to Birkenau following a selection. The selection was always carried out by the camp physicians. Conditions in the hospital were fairly reasonable, although there was a shortage of medication at times. The patients received milk soup and white bread to eat.” [22]

In the Monowitz camp, as in other Nazi cocnentration camps, there was an extensive system of penalties imposed for various offenses recorded by the SS. The basic sentences were: standing cell (from 4 to 10 nights), penal labour for 10 consecutive Sundays, exercises and flogging with sticks. The offences committed in the camp or at work were the result of the terrible conditions in which prisoners lived and worked.

The reprisals against prisoners were remembered by former prisoner Józef Kubik: “Many Polish prisoners escaped from Monowitz. The SS authorities tried to counteract this using different methods. After an escape, the date of this event, unfortunately I do not remember, after work, all the prisoners were gathered in the square…. Every tenth prisoner was pulled out of the line. These prisoners were separated and then transported on trucks to the camp at Birkenau. It was said that these prisoners were taken there to be exterminated. A few times I witnessed the spectacle of public executions by hanging. During my stay at the camp Monowitz there were about eight such executions. Unfortunately, I do not remember the exact date nor the names of the prisoners (…) these executions took place in the square, in the presence of all of the prisoners.” [23]

In the Monowitz camp there was no crematorium. Dead prisoners or the sickest and weakest prisoners were transported to Auschwitz I or Auschwitz II-Birkenau to be killed and cremated. In the summer of 1944 on the square located at the rear of the camp hospital a portable crematory oven was set up. This event was remembered by the former prisoner Jan Czekaj: “Of the other interesting events of my stay in Monowitz, I remember the case concerning the installation of the oven in the camp crematorium. This detail is stuck firmly in my mind because as an employee of the smithy, I was involved in the transportation of the furnace on rollers from the gate area to the area of the sickbay barracks. The transport of this was very hard. Of course, the news of the arrival of the crematorium oven spread through the camp. Moreover, this was not surprising, because the connotation with the crematorium furnace was not the most pleasing. The existence of the furnace started to cause a furore and therefore we began to speak to the block leaders – German (prisoners). In conversations with the SS men it was explained that it would be better to get rid of the furnace from the site of the camp,(…) it was located next to the sickbay barracks, for maybe months – but it was not active. Finally came the command to move the oven from outside the (sickbay) back outside the gate of the camp (…) After it was removed the whole camp felt generally more relaxed.” [24]

In addition to the Monowitz concentration camp there existed a myriad of labour camps around the I.G. Farben plant. These included camps for civilians, slave labourers and a camp for British prisoners of war. All worked at the IG Farben plant. In September 1943 a Working Party of British prisoners of war designated E715 from Stalag VIIIB in Lamsdorf were brought to Monowice and housed at Camp VIII. The number of British prisoners of war reached 1,200. In May 1944 E715 was transferred to Camp VI half a kilometre from Monowitz. The British prisoners of war worked with the prisoners from the Monowitz in the I.G. Farben plant and witnessed their condition and the brutal treatment they received from the SS guards and civilian overseers. John Pascoe a British prisoner of war from Manchester testified after the war that he saw them, “collapse from sheer weakness every day. One could hardly walk through the different parts of the factory without witnessing some inmate dropping to the ground. Those that did were often beaten and kicked and told to get back to work. It was pitiful to see them struggle to their feet and try to stand up straight because of the fear that they would be declared unfit for work.”[25]

[1] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, Vol. 87a, p. 6, testimony of former prisoner Konrad Lemańczyk.
[2] Setkiewicz, Piotr, Z dziejów obozów IG Farben Werk Auschwitz 1941-1945, Oświęcim 2006, p. 108-110.
[3] Employment Division (Abteilung III) informed the Office of DII WVHA that the Dachau prisoners numbering 499, were in very poor physical condition, and not fit to work in the Buna-Werke; see: Danuta Czech, Kalendarz wydarzeń w KL Auschwitz, Oświęcim 1992, p. 274.
[4] Setkiewicz, Piotr, Z dziejów obozów IG Farben Werk Auschwitz 1941-1945, Oświęcim 2006. p. 113-114.
[5] APMAB. D-AuI-1/Standortbefehl No 53/43; Proces Hössa, Vol. 12 p. 36-40. In this way it identifies three units in the complex of Auschwitz: a) KL Auschwitz I – Stammlager (main camp), 2) KL Auschwitz II – Birkenau, and 3), KL Auschwitz III – Monowitz. However, due to the fact that the commandant of Auschwitz I was the senior commander, in a formal sense he held control over the entire Auschwitz camp complex. Therefore, the administration oversight of the camps was maintained by the main camp, which also emphasizes its authority over Birkenau and Monowitz.
[6] Setkiewicz, Piotr, Z dziejów obozów IG Farben Werk Auschwitz 1941-1945, Oświęcim 2006, p. 114-117.
[7] Setkiewicz, Piotr, Z dziejów obozów IG Farben Werk Auschwitz 1941-1945, Oświęcim 2006, p. 116.
[8] On March 3, 1943, the IG Farben directors requested these prisoners from the head of the WVHA – Oswald Pohl.
[9] APMAB. D-Au III – 3a. graph of the number of prisoners in the camp, Auschwitz III – Monowitz. See also the analysis of the number of prisoners in: Piotr Setkiewicz, op. cit. p. 117-120.
[10] Testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Zygfryd Halbreich from 9 October 1945 and viewed 10 August 2019.
[11] Testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Zygfryd Halbreich from 9 October 1945 and viewed 10 August 2019.
[12] Testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Zygfryd Halbreich from 9 October 1945 and viewed 10 August 2019.
[13] Kommandos in the camp in Monowice were divided into four categories: I) Kommandos operating in the camp (block, writers, Stubendiensts, prisoners working in the camp hospital, prisoners working in the kitchen, male nurses, prisoners were employed in workshops at the camp and Lagerkommando, prisoners who did the reporting to the hospital and clinic and those employed on light work within the camp); II) Kommando pools (Sammelkommado), which consisted of a group of prisoners building the IG Farben plant; III) Kommandos operating outside the factory employed in the construction of anti-aircraft positions and IV) Kommandos employed outside the factory in order to build barracks for civilian workers; za: Piotr Setkiewicz, Z dziejów obozów IG Farben Werk Auschwitz 1941-1945, Oświęcim 2006, p. 167-168.
[14] Setkiewicz, Piotr, Z dziejów obozów IG Farben Werk Auschwitz 1941-1945, Oświęcim 2006.
[15] Setkiewicz, Piotr, Z dziejów obozów IG Farben Werk Auschwitz 1941-1945, Oświęcim 2006. p. 167-168, and there – Lista komand więźniarskich zatrudnionych przy budowie fabryki IG Farben w Oświęcimiu, p. 355 – 364.
[16] Setkiewicz, Piotr, Z dziejów obozów IG Farben Werk Auschwitz 1941-1945, Oświęcim 2006, p. 169-170.
[17] Testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Josef Martin Franz Alscher from 3 December 1947 and viewed 10 August 2019.
[18] Testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Zygfryd Halbreich from 9 October 1945 and viewed 10 August 2019.
[19] Testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Martin Sztern viewed on 10 August 2019.
[20] Testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Zygfryd Halbreich from 9 October 1945 viewed 10 August 2019.
[21] Setkiewicz, Piotr, Z dziejów obozów IG Farben Werk Auschwitz 1941-1945, Oświęcim 2006, p. 125-126.
[22] Testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Zygfryd Halbreich from 9 October 1945 viewed 10 August 2019.
[23] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, Vol. 87a, p. 71, testimony of former prisoner Józef Kubik.
[24] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, Vol. 87a, p 30-31, testimony of former prisoner Jan Czekaj.
[25] Wallis, Russell, British POWs and the Holocaust. Witnessing the Nazi Atrocities. I.B Taurus. 2017, p. 102-103.  
Setkiewicz, Piotr, Z dziejów obozów IG Farben Werk Auschwitz 1941-1945, Oświęcim 2006.

The SS Guard Unit

During the existence of Kommando Buna the Kommandoführer was SS-Rottenführer Richard Stolten. At the time of the creation of the sub camp in Monowice the Lagerführer became SS-Obersturmführer Vinzenz Schöttle. A seperate Political Department was created, where SS-Unterscharführer Josef Hofer, SS-Unterscharführer Josef Wieczorek, and several other SS men worked.

Because of the size and nature of the Buna camp, later designated Monowitz and which also housed the independent concentration camp Auschwitz III which controlled the industrial sub camps, the bureaucracy required to control it was extensive.

At the end of 1942, the Buna sub camp organised separate administrative sections: a clothing section headed by SS-Unterscharführer Josef Götz and SS-Rottenführer Josef Stachorski, and a supply section, headed by SS-Rottenführer Max Illing and SS-Rottenführer Reinhold Schmidt. [1]

On 11 November 1943 when SS-Obersturmbannführer Arthur Liebehenschel became the commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp he divided Auschwitz into three separate units and forthwith separate concentration camps:

  1. Auschwitz I,
  2. Auschwitz II-Birkenau, which took over control of the agricultural sub camps,
  3. Auschwitz III-Monowitz which took over control of the industrial sub camps existing in Upper Silesia including the former Buna camp now named Monowitz.

Kommandant of Auschwitz III-Monowitz including the industrial sub camps and the Monowitz camp was from 22 November 1943 SS-Hauptsturmführer Heinrich Schwarz.

Originally, with the building of the Buna-Werke in Monowice and after the formation of the new Buna sub camp, a new sub camp guard unit, was established in 1942, named Wachkompanie Monowitz (Monowitz Guard Company). So during the time Buna was a sub camp, as well as in the first stage of the existence of Auschwitz III-Monowitz, guards were assigned from Monowitz to the sub camps, subordinated to Auschwitz II-Monowitz. The commander of the guard unit assigned to each sub camp was the Postenführer. Only on 27 May 1944, did the commandant of Auschwitz III, SS-Hauptsturmführer Heinrich Schwarz reorganise the Wachkompanie Monowitz into 8 smaller companies to guard the  sub camps of Auschwitz III-Monowitz including Monowitz. As a result of the reorganization the following guard companies were created which were assigned to Monowitz and the other Auschwitz III-Monowitz  sub camps:

1st Company – Monowitz

2nd Company – Golleschau, Jawischowitz

3rd Company – Bobrek, Fürstengrube, Günthergube, Janinagrube

4th Company – Neu-Dachs

5th Company – Eintrachthütte, Lagischa, Laurahütte, Sosnowitz II

6th Company – Gleiwitz I, II and III

7th Company – Blechhammer

8th Company – Freudenthal [2]

In September 1944, there were 1,315 SS men in these guard companies, of which 439 served in the Monowitz sub camp. [3]

The SS guards serving in the sub camp Monowitz were initially accommodated in barracks (map references 53, 55 and 56). The commandant’s office was in barrack (map reference 54). At the main gate a small barrack was erected for the Blockführerstube (map reference BF). In March 1943, during the visits of the WVHA to the camp it was suggested SS accommodation be built outside of the prisoner camp.[4]

In the summer of 1943 the SS moved to two new barracks, where there were rooms with sanitary facilities and rooms for patients. In the third barrack the camp commandant’s office was located and bedrooms and a room for the SS. In the second half of 1943, two more barracks were built, and in the Autumn of 1944 at the southern corner of the camp a large 100 man concrete air raid shelter was erected.[5]

[1] Setkiewicz, Piotr, Z dziejów obozów IG Farben Werk Auschwitz 1941-1945, Oświęcim 2006, p. 270-271.
[2] LasikAleksander, Załoga SS w KL Auschwitz [in:] Auschwitz 1940-1945. Węzłowe zagadnienia z dziejów obozu, vol. I: Założenie i organizacja obozu, Edit. Wacław Długoborski, Franciszek Piper, Oświęcim 1995, p. 242-243.
[3] Setkiewicz, Piotr. op. cit. p. 273
[4] Setkiewicz, Piotr. op. cit. p. 273.
[5] Setkiewicz, Piotr. op. cit. p. 274.
Setkiewicz, Piotr, Z dziejów obozów IG Farben Werk Auschwitz 1941-1945, Oświęcim 2006.

The SS Guards

BA Ludwigsburg B162/2680 and B162/2679. Zwiazek Polaków Pomordowanych w Auschwitz. List of 8,500 SS men in KL Auschwitz.
IPN database of Auschwitz SS guards.,Zaloga-SS-KL-Auschwitz.html.

The Evacuation of the Sub Camp Monowitz

Despite the approaching front, work in the I.G. Farben plant continued uninterrupted until mid-January 1945. Only then, with the imminent arrival of Red Army troops there began a hasty evacuation. On the 17 January 1945 the official number of prisoners in Monowitz was 10,224.[1] On the evening of January 18, 1945 the prisoners of Monowitz able to march, some 9,000 prisoners were gathered together. Formed into nine columns of about 1,000 people each, they marched in the direction of Gliwice via Oświęcim, Mikołów and Bieruń. During the two days march the columns from Monowitz were joined by other prisoners from the sub camps of Fürstengrube, Janinagrube, Günthergube and Bobrek. Although dozens of inmates managed to escape and take refuge in the homes of local Poles, most escapes were thwarted. The SS guards killed anyone who tried to flee, as well as those exhausted prisoners no longer able to go on.

On January 20, 1945 the Monowitz prisoners arrived in Gliwice. There, they spent two nights at the former subcamps of Gleiwitz I and II. They were then loaded onto freight wagons, and transported to the concentration camps of Mittelbau-Dora, Buchenwald and Mauthausen.[2]

The transport was remembered by the former prisoner, Jan Czekaj, “We departed from Gliwice probably on 20 January 1945, I remember that we travelled past Rybnik, then the train passed through the territory of Czechoslovakia, Austria – before we entered the Reich. I recall that we were in a precarious position, open wagons, – open-topped rail (trucks). This happened during snowy, cold winter. If I remember correctly, throughout this period only once did they hand us a piece of bread. The train dragged on a few days. The situation became day by day increasingly desperate. Initially the wagons were crowded, there was no space, but with the passage of time prisoners became weaker,…. Those who lost their strength just slid helplessly to the bottom of the wagon, covered with a layer of falling snow. Apart from the terrible cold and hunger, thirst bothered us. Only two times during the journey did we get water. It happened this way, the train slowly rolled along the tracks to the projection device for filling the tanks of the locomotive and a high-pressure stream of icy water flowed. Only those prisoners who had some sort of container such as a tin can could take the blessings of collecting the water. There was obviously no question of quenching your thirst with a sip of water after dozens of hands reached out. This way we were able to provide water, unfortunately, this also had negative consequences: the prisoners were wet through and froze even quicker. Along the route every morning the train stopped and the dead were taken out, and then loaded into a separate, initially empty wagon, which was at the end of the train. This work had to be done by prisoners from each individual wagon. I had to do this two times. For the exhausted prisoners and deprived of strength it was very hard work. The frozen corpses simply dropped from the wagons and with a terrifying rumble hit the ground…..But soon the wagon was completely filled with corpses, which began to protrude over the side. This bizarre huge pile of tangled corpses looked so macabre that it shocked people at the passing train stations, especially the inhabitants of Czechoslovakia. Watching us, people wrung their hands, sometimes even crying, taking pity on our fate. To hide the contents of the wagon from the people, the corpses were covered with a tarpaulin. Soon it was necessary to devote a second wagon for this. Riding in the cars every day became more terrible, and the wagons were full of the fallen bodies of prisoners who had lost their strength. After about twelve days, finally the train went through the station of Nordhausen and stopped on the siding of the Nazi concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora.“ [3]

Zygfryd Halbreich a former prisoner recounted in detail the death march from Monowice to the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp, “On 17 January 1945, the whole camp was evacuated, with the exception of 950 people who were ill and stayed in the hospital. From our camp, around 10,000 people were evacuated to Mikołów (60 km). We walked all night during storms until 12.00 noon the next day. During the march, the SS guards killed any prisoners who couldn’t go on. I can’t say how many died, but I heard a lot of shots. We had a two-hour rest in Mikołów. Before the march from Mikołów, about 50 prisoners who couldn’t march were gathered together in a shed, and were shot there. I was involved in carrying those prisoners who couldn’t walk on their own to the shed. At around 3.00 p.m. we went on foot to Gliwice. During this march, the guards also shot many prisoners who weren’t able to march on. We arrived in Gliwice, which is more or less 20 km away, at approx. 7.00 p.m. In my opinion, about 200 prisoners were shot during this march. This took place under the command of Hauptscharführer Moll. In Mikołów, along with other paramedics, I carried sick prisoners to the shed on the orders of the camp doctor SS-Untersturmführer Dr. König. He was about 26 years old, 1.78 m tall, with fair hair, a pale complexion, a long face, he wore glasses and was thin. König had been a camp doctor in Monowitz over the previous four months. He demanded frequent selections, he was very strict and sent more of the emaciated and sick prisoners to Birkenau than the previous doctors, although he knew full well that the gas chambers awaited them there. KZ Auschwitz II – Birkenau was known as a Vernichtungslager. After arriving in Gliwice, the prisoners from our transport were separated and placed in the Gliwice I and Gliwice II camps, where we remained under the command of Hauptsturmführer Schwarz and Obersturmführer Schöttl. Around 7,000-8,000 people were in that camp. Apart from the prisoners from Monowitz, there were also prisoners from various branches of this camp, and about 700 women as well. These women came partly from the Hindenburg camp (Zabrze), which was a branch of Monowitz, and from the Bobrek camp, which was a branch of KZ Auschwitz I, and was located six kilometers from Auschwitz in the direction of Chrzanów. Our camp was in Gliwice for three days.

On the evening of 21 January 21 1945, we were divided into two transports, one directed to KZ Buchenwald under the leadership of Hauptscharführer Moll and Oberscharführer Stolten. The second transport, in which I found myself, was directed to Mauthausen, near Linz (Austria), and from there, because of overcrowding in the camp, we were directed to KZ Mittelbau (near Nordhausen) in Thuringia. The leader of this transport was an SS officer whose name I don’t know. The transport to Buchenwald left at about 10.00 a.m., and in the meantime the second one started loading up. The loading took about three to four hours. We were traveling in open freight wagons, in which there were 80-120 people. Shortly before the trip, the SS men searched the camp to find any prisoners hiding there. When I was in the wagon, I heard a lot of shots and from eyewitnesses I know that many people died there. Emile Worgul witnessed this—a former camp Kapo from Auschwitz III and from Boelcke- Kaserne in Nordhausen, who, as I know, was arrested by the American authorities as a war crimes suspect. He is a German national and was a political prisoner, [as I know] because he wore a red triangle.

We left Gliwice on 22 January 1945, at about 2.00 a.m. We travelled through Rybnik, Moravská Ostrava towards Vienna, from Vienna to Linz—that is, to KZ Mauthausen, where we arrived on 25 January 1945 in the morning hours. In Gliwice, we had received normal food, but we didn’t receive any food for the journey. We were only promised that we would receive food during the trip. Before we arrived in Mauthausen, we only got one portion of 700 g of bread per person and a one-kilogram tin of canned meat for ten people. Under these conditions, due to insufficient nutrition and temperatures that dropped to -18 degrees Celsius, many prisoners died during the first part of the journey. Their fellow prisoners threw their corpses out, because the overcrowded wagon couldn’t transport them any further. During stop-overs at larger stations, the transport leader ordered the corpses to be gathered and put into one wagon. After an hour’s stop at the train station in Mauthausen, we were sent on further because of overcrowding in this camp. We travelled through Passau, Regensburg, Hof-Plauen, Reichenbach, Merseburg, Halle to Nordhausen-Salza. We arrived on 28 January 1945, in the morning. I know that at one larger station a wagon loaded with corpses was detached and assigned to the care of the local police.

At the station in Nordhausen-Salza we were unloaded, and after a ten-minute march we arrived at KZ Mittelbau-Dora camp. From the transport of 4,000 people in Gliwice, approximately 3,500 prisoners arrived. In the second part of the trip we didn’t receive any meals, so many prisoners died during the journey. The prisoners who arrived there were in such poor physical condition that another 600 people died in the first two days. From the entire transport at most 3,000 people survived, including the transport leaders who were with us, such as SS-Oberscharführer Miebert [Mirbeth], who was a Blockführer in Auschwitz III, and shortly before the evacuation was a Lagerführer at Althammer—a branch of Monowitz. He was present during our entire transport and I know that he killed several prisoners during this time. After a short stay in KL Mittelbau-Dora, he was later a Lagerführer.”[4]

[1] Testimony of former prisoner Otto Wolken 22 June 1945. Viewed 10 August 2019.
[2] Strzelecki, Andrzej, Ewakuacja, likwidacja i wyzwolenie KL Auschwitz, Oświęcim 1982, p. 169-172.
[3] APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, Vol. 87a, p. 32-34, testimony of former prisoner Jan Czekaj.
[4] Testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Zygfryd Halbreich on 9 October 1945 and viewed 10 August 2019

The Post War History of the Former Sub Camp Monowitz

When the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum visited the site of the former camp Auschwitz III-Monowitz in 1959 many of the barracks still survived and were in use, some by workers. As time went on the former sub camp was absorbed into the village of Monowice. Some of the former camp buildings survived, other were adapted, and others were demolished and the components re-used.

The Preservation Status of the Former Sub Camp Monowitz

Numerous remains of the former Buna sub camp and the Monowitz camp can be found in the Oświęcim-Monowice district located on the main road from Oświęcim to Zator and Kraków (ul Fabryczna).

It may seem from an initial inspection of the former Buna-Monowitz camp that little remains. In the Monowice district, where the camp was located, post war buildings predominate. However, closer inspection of the buildings in the area shows many elements of the original camp buildings still existing. In order to properly recognize the original elements, a photo taken during the American bombing raid in January 1945 and a modern aerial photograph were used. Comparing these allowed us to conduct a thorough physical inspection of the site of the former camp.

It is best to start the inspection of the former Buna-Monowitz camp from the west end of ul Bartosza Głowackiego, where the main gate leading to the camp and the SS section were located. Opposite the entrance to the camp, now residential, stands a building that was used by the SS as garages. Opposite the garages stood the building of the camp administration, of which nothing has survived. However, the foundations of the headquarters are partly visible, on which a new warehouse and workshop building have been erected (map reference P). Remnants of the foundations of former camp buildings can also be seen: a hospital for SS men and on the eastern side. On the western side an SS residential building has survived; a low, one-story, longitudinal stone barrack covered with a gable roof with two entrances lead to it from the eastern side. However, Tiergartenstrasse4Association did not gain access to this building.

Ul Bartosza Głowackiego is located almost exactly where the main camp street existed, dividing the camp into two halves. The location of the main entrance gate to the camp is relatively easy to find. On the left (looking east) stands a so-called a single-person bunker (Einmannbunker), and the rebuilt Blockführerstube building on the right.

In the south-east corner of the camp has survived one of the washrooms (map reference W) and the building for the camp orchestra (map reference M). The smithy building has been partially preserved – a long stone barrack with a gable roof  (map reference KU) and the camp kitchen (a house has been erected on the foundations) (map reference K). Near the smithy there are also fragments of columns made of brick, on which hung one of the gates of the inner camp gate.

In the north-eastern section you can find the foundations of the washroom (map reference W), latrine (map reference A) disinfection chamber and foundations of the barracks of the camp hospital (map reference 19).

In addition, numerous fragments of wooden barracks can be found throughout the former camp, which are in their original location or have been moved to their current location. These barracks are used for farming and other purposes. Most of them have their original windows. Also, remnants of foundations can be found in many places.

The electrified barbed wire fence has not survived. Only in the south-eastern corner, survives an original fence post. However, throughout the whole of Monowice village low concrete posts with a height of about 1.30 m can be seen, which were connected by a single wire. A fence made of just such low concrete posts was used to create a death zone between the electrified barbed wire fence and the camp for prisoners. Some of these posts have visible ornamentation in the form of circles, rhombuses or triangles.

Unfortunately, no traces of the guard towers have survived. Along ul Fabryczna, anti-aircraft shelters in the form of reinforced concrete arches are visible until today, where SS guards patrolling the camp could take shelter from air raids. Similar air raid shelters can be seen in the field stretching between ul Bartosza Głowackiego and ul Grobelna. However, a large air raid shelter of several meters length and a height of about 5 metres for the guards of the Buna-Monowitz camp is still located at the intersection of ul Iglasta and ul Grobelna.

Many elements of the former IG Farben plant built by Auschwitz prisoners, slave labourers and prisoners of war still survive. Unfortunately, Tiergatenstrasse4Association failed to obtain permission to enter the plant.

To the north of the factory is the Kraków Płaszów – Oświęcim railway line, where the Dwory station still exists. A freight train stopped every day at this station, transporting prisoners from the main Auschwitz camp to work in Buna. At the Dwory station there is the station building dating from 1938. The prisoners were counted in a meadow near the station, and were then marched to the factory.

In the area surrounding the former IG Farben plant, there also exist many remnants of the former slave labour and prisoner of war camps whose prisoners worked in the plant. These include the British prisoner of war camp E715 a Working Party of Stalag VIIIB in Lamsdorf. The camp was located next to the Monowitz camp; nothing remains of this camp.

We investigated the whole surrounding area of the former IG Farben plant with a local resident. While we took many photographs documenting these camps it was beyond the scope of the project to draw maps etc. In the whole area can be found many examples of the imposing concrete guard towers which stretched along the Oświęcim to Zator and Kraków road (ul Fabryczna). Single man concrete air raid shelters are also strewn around the area.


There are two memorials to the former Auschwitz prisoners, one in the former Buna-Monowitz camp and a second which is located at ul Chemików near the Dwory plant. This monument was constructed from granite blocks, and it consists of large stone blocks arranged in the form of camp posts. These posts are connected, with wrought iron, in a shape reminiscent of barbed wire. This monument was unveiled in January 1966 to commemorate the death of approximately 30,000 prisoners of the Buna-Werke, and later the Auschwitz III-Monowitz camp working for IG Farben.

The second monument is situated directly in the former Buna-Monowitz sub camp at ul Bartosza Głowackiego in Monowice. This monument takes the form of a symbolic tombstone with a Christian cross erected over it and the image of Jesus Christ. On the horizontal plate there is a board with an inscription in Polish: “W DOWÓD PAMIĘCI POMORDOWANYM W OBOZIE NR IV W LATACH 1941 – 1945; MIESZKANCY MONOWIC. (TO EVIDENCE THE MEMORY OF THE MURDERED IN CAMP NO. IV IN THE YEARS 1941 – 1945; MONOWICE RESIDENTS.”)

Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Site Visit

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum visited the site of the former Monowitz camp in 1959, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1979, 1993 and took 43 photographs including:

  1. “Excavations carried out in the sub camp. 1966” (photo references 10038 to 10047),
  2. “Tablets excavated in the sub camp – while drying. 1966” (photo references 10048 to 10051),
  3. “A fragment of a wooden barrack. 1959.” (photo reference 4345)
  4. “Panoramic photograph of the IG-Farben area. 1941/1942” (photo references 20 713/1 and 20713/2),
  5. “Wooden camp barrack. 1959” (photo references 4346 to 4352),
  6. “ “Faulgas” round tanks in Dwory. 1964.” (photo references 6557 to 6565, 22496/4),
  7. “Two columns of bricks, remnants of the former gate inside the camp. 1968” (photo reference 13961),
  8. “Barracks for re-education prisoners. 1968” (photo reference 13962),
  9. “The post-camp sanitary barrack. 1968” (photo reference 13963),
  10. “Remains of the former camp kitchen. 1968” (photo reference 13964),
  11. “The roof frame of the camp kitchen. 1968” (photo reference 13965),
  12. “Remains of the camp kitchen in Camp IV in Monowice. 1968” (photo reference 13966),
  13. “A stone chapel, which from 1941 was in the village of Dwory, and then in IG-Farben. 1979” (photo reference 20879/8),
  14. “Anti-aircraft bunker near the sub camp. 1993.” (photo reference 21749/3).

Contemporary SS Photographs

SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler undertook a detailed inspection tour of the IG Farben plant in Dwory between July 17 and July 18 1942. He was accompanied by the Gauleiter of Upper Silesia Fritz Bracht, SS-Obergruppenführer Ernst-Heinrich Schmauser (Höherer SS und Polizeiführer Südosten), SS-Gruppenführer Hans Kammler (Chief of Amt C (Buildings and Works) SS Main Economic and Administrative Office), SS-Obersturmbannführer Rudolf Höss (commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp), engineer Max Faust head of building operations at the IG Farben plant and other SS officers and IG Farben personnel.

Thirty photographs were taken of the inspection tour. The originals are in the archives of the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) in Poland. Copies are in the archives of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM).

In the archives of the USHMM are also two photographs presumably taken by the SS or IG Farben employees:

  1. A column of prisoners walks from the Buna camp (Auschwitz III – Monowitz) towards the I.G. Farben works. Behind them, an SS barracks (Headquarters, residential barrack for the guards, etc). A guard gave this photograph to an Auschwitz survivor, Nina Schuldenrein. (photograph reference 57718),
  2. Forced labour in a workshop in Monowitz (photograph reference 78607).

Other Photographs / Site Visits

In the archives of the USHMM are a series of aerial photographs of the Oświęcim area taken by Allied reconnaissance units under the command of the 15th U.S. Army Air Force during missions dating between April 4, 1944 and January 14, 1945. These include photographs of the IG Farben plant and the Auschwitz III-Monowitz concentration camp. The photos were used to plan bombing raids, determine the accuracy of bombing sorties, or make damage assessments.

Topography of the Sub Camp Monowitz

Location of the Sub Camp Monowitz

Fehler: Die map ID (51) existiert nicht


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

Camp Documents

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