Companies & Prisoner Labour

How did the Labour System in Auschwitz Operate? What were the conditions in the Sub Camps? How were the Prisoners Treated by their Employers? For which Companies and Entities and in which Industries did the Auschwitz Sub Camp Prisoners Work? 

Berghütte steel plant in Silesia celebratory day. 1940-1945. Archivum Panstwowe w Katowicach Land
A Berghütte steel plant in Silesia – celebratory day. 1940-1945. Archivum Panstwowe w Katowicach Land

Which Companies & Entities Exploited Prisoner Labour?

The Prisoner Labour System in the Auschwitz Camp Complex

Labour in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp Complex

Labour had always been an essential element of the life of the concentration camp prisoner; “Arbeit macht Frei” (Work Makes You Free) became the symbol of the concentration camp system. However, in the first years of the concentration camp system, and also later at Auschwitz, the available prisoner labour resource was appropriated by the SS for their own purposes in both “re-educating” prisoners and working for private and SS enterprises. Many of the concentration camp prisoners worked at expanding the concentration camp infrastructure. Little thought was given to utilising prisoner labour for the benefit of the Germany economy and subsequent general war effort. By 1942 however, the Third Reich was desperate for labour for the armaments industry, coal mines, steel works, chemical plants and other businesses to keep the war going. Up until 1943 the SS jealously guarded the labour potential of their prisoners, even after SS-Reichsführer Himmler had been ordered by Hitler to allow concentration camp prisoners to be employed in the war economy. Prisoners worked for SS enterprises or for a few selected companies such as I.G. Farben. By 1943 however, private and state-owned companies lacking sufficient civilian workers, forced labourers and prisoners of war were pleading with SS-Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler to allow them to utilise concentration camp prisoners, and the number of Auschwitz prisoners assigned to work for external companies began to increase. In 1944, Germany lost most of the occupied Soviet lands and much of its source of forced labour. Head of the SS-Wirtschafts-und Verwaltungshauptamt (SS Economic and Administration Main Office) (SS-WVHA), Oswald Pohl testified after the war, “Nearly all armament factories applied to my office for concentration camp labour, while the majority of those which already employed such labour, were constantly asking for more.11 By the time Auschwitz and its sub camps were evacuated in January 1945 more than half the prisoners in the Auschwitz complex of camps were housed in sub camps working for the SS, state and external private companies. The sub camps were but one element of the slave labour system in the concentration camps: thousands of prisoners in Auschwitz were assigned to Aussenkommandos. These Aussenkommandos were also assigned to work for the SS and state and external companies but returned to the main Auschwitz camps at the end of the working day.

The Organisation of Labour in the Nazi Concentration Camp System

The SS-WVHA, headed by Oswald Pohl was directly responsible for the organisation and deployment of prisoner labour in the Nazi concentration camp system. In the Spring of 1942, the Inspektion der Konzentrationslager (Concentration Camps Inspectorate) was incorporated into the newly established SS-WVHA as Office Group D. Within the Inspektion der Konzentrationslager, Office DII, headed by Gerhard Maurer, was responsible for labour affairs in the camps. 7

On April 30, 1942 Oswald Pohl, after a meeting of the commandants of the concentration camps, issued regulations formalising the organisation of the labour system in the concentration camps:

1. The management of a concentration camp and all of the economic enterprises of the SS within its sphere of organisation is in the hands of the camp commandant. He alone is therefore responsible for the maximum productivity of the economic enterprises.

4. The camp commandant alone is responsible for the employment of the labour available. This employment must be, in the true meaning of the word, exhaustive, in order to obtain the greatest measure of performance. Work is assigned by the head of Department D and by him alone. The camp commandants themselves may not accept on their own initiative work offered by third parties and may not negotiate in such matters. 

5. There is no limit to working hours. Their duration depends on the kind of labour establishments in the camps and the kind of labour to be done. They are fixed by the camp commandants alone. 

6. Any circumstances which may result in a shortening of working hours (e.g. meals or roll calls) and which cannot be condensed any more, have therefore to be restricted to the absolute minimum. It is forbidden to allow long walks to the place of work and noon intervals (if not for eating purposes). 

8. Much more is required than previously, from each and every camp commandant, in order to carry out this order correctly. Few of the camps are similar to any other one, therefore no uniform instructions shall be issued. But complete responsibility is shifted to the initiative of the camp commandant. He requires a clear professional knowledge of military and economic matters and he must be an intelligent and wise leader of the men which he has to weld  together to achieve a high level of performance. 7

In reality as a result of these regulations, Office DII of the WVHA took direct control over allocation of all labour to third party entities in the concentration camps.  Office DII periodically issued further regulations on labour via the camp commandants to the Arbeitseinsatzführer (Labour Department Director) in the camps.

From April 1942, Office D of the SS-WVHA was solely responsibility for approving applications for prisoner labour and negotiated the subsequent contract with the employer. If the employer was not an SS firm the decision required prior consultation with the Ministry for Armaments and Production. Head of the SS-WVHA, Oswald Pohl also had to personally approve each application. From October 1944 the sole authority for approval of labour applications resided with the Ministry of Armaments and Munitions under Albert Speer, the role of the SS-WVHA was restricted to the practicalities of housing the prisoners and application of the labour regulations. 9

The Labour Department in Auschwitz Concentration Camp

Subsequent to the creation of the SS-WVHA and the incorporation of labour responsibilities into Office Group D, Rudolf Höss, commandant of Auschwitz, reorganised the prisoner labour department in the Auschwitz camp; the labour section became the autonomous Abteilung Arbeitseinsatz-IIIa (Department of Labour), headed by SS-Hauptsturmführer Heinrich Schwarz. In his role as Arbeitseinsatzführer, Schwarz reported directly to the Auschwitz camp commandant. However, the Arbeitseinsatzführer also had a reporting line to the Office DII in the SS-WVHA. It was Office DII that wielded the power over prisoner labour allocation in the Auschwitz concentration camp excluding matters dealing with the Auschwitz camp itself. 7

On August 16, 1943, Schwarz was succeeded by has deputy Max Sell. On November 22, 1943 after the reorganisation of Auschwitz and the creation of Auschwitz III-Monowitz as an independent concentration camp, Schwarz became commandant of Auschwitz III-Monowitz which was also given responsibility for the industrial sub camps of Auschwitz. As an independent concentration camp, Auschwitz III- Monowitz  created its own Labour Department with responsibility for the industrial sub camps. Labour supervision in the individual sub camps was the responsibility of the Lagerführer in the smaller camps and a Arbeitsdienstführer in the larger camps such as: Arbeitslager Golleschau, Neu-Dachs  and Arbeitslager Fürstengrube. 8

An excellent overview of the labour system in the Auschwitz concentration camp was given by former Polish prisoner Józef Paweł Ludwig who worked in the Arbeitseinsatz of Auschwitz I: “I arrived in the camp on 6 December 1941 as part of a transport of 64 people. We were brought from the Lubliniec prison in chains. We were offloaded from the car chained in groups of three. As a result, it was very hard for us to jump out of the car as fast as the SS men demanded us to. We were then kicked and beaten. I noticed an inscription on the gate: Arbeit macht Frei. I was so naive I thought maybe I could get my freedom through work. In the first part of our stay in the camp we saw very many such inscriptions. In the earliest days we had to learn, among other things, the Meilensteins: several phrases about the ways in which the Germans could give us freedom, how we may earn it. It said: through conscientiousness, sacrifice, truthfulness – one stood out particularly, namely, Liebe zum Vaterland – love for the homeland. It struck us as singular, as it was because of the love for our homeland that we had lost our freedom. It seems they were embarrassed by that love later on, because the later transports had to skip that last phrase.

I mentioned the phrase Arbeit macht Frei. After a while I was assigned to an office called the Arbeitseinsatz, and then I understood that phrase and what they demanded of us, and what they expected. I would like to speak in detail about the work system in that office, the organization of work, the manner of work and benefits that the camp gained from it, and what the prisoners got for it. I worked in that office until the end of 1944. It typically employed 10 men, and later women……

The office ran a file of prisoners by name, by number and by profession. We received data for those files directly from the prisoners brought to Auschwitz. My colleagues who managed the file would go to the blocks and obtain the information on the professions directly from the prisoners who were brought in. All the professional groups were sorted and upon any request from the camp authorities we assigned an appropriate number of professionals. Then we also had a numbers book, which only contained numbers and two columns: one to put a cross in, or a letter ü (the cross meant the prisoner is dead, a letter ü meant they had been transferred to another camp). The second column denoted professional groups with a Roman numeral. I personally made reports for Oranienburg every day. They were sent to an institution called the SS-Wirtschafstverwaltung Hauptamt Gruppe D II. We sent those reports every day. They included the number of prisoners on a given day, the total number of prisoners, then how many of those were capable of work, how many were incapable, how many were employed, then which kommando employed them, what were their professions, how many worked on that day and what other professionals were available. These reports were sent every day in 1942 and until mid-1943. Afterwards we only sent them twice a week: on Tuesdays and Thursdays….

Prisoner labour was classified as follows: one, prisoners employed at work for camp needs; on average, regardless of whether there were more or fewer prisoners in the camp, these “Lagerzweck” utilised 15 percent of prisoners capable of work, more or less (they included jobs in the kitchen, in the warehouses, block writers, potato peelers, supply work, that is, all those that usually were performed within the camp grounds outside of the wire). The second group was the Lagerwirtschaft. About 9–10 percent of prisoners capable of work worked in this group. It included kommandos employed at farm work, like Landwirtschaft, the forge, gardening etc. The Bauleitung usually employed 30 to 33 percent of the total number of prisoners – I always speak in terms of those capable of work. This kommando usually worked on expanding the camp. Next was the SS-Dienststelle, which employed between 5 and 13 percent of the prisoners. It included kommandos such as SS warehouses, SS-Siedlung (prisoners working the private gardens of the SS men). The women were employed as servants in the private houses of the SS men. There were businesses, the so-called Rüstungsbetriebes, Privatbetriebes and Bauleitung. Privatbetriebes originally employed 45 percent of the prisoners. They acted according to their own agenda and under their own administration, and were assigned prisoners from the camp to work for them.

In the first part of 1942, most of the companies were private, fewer were Rüstungsbetriebes. In the first period 15 percent of prisoners worked for Privatbetriebes and in the last period – in 1943 and 1944 – only 1 percent. By then the prisoners worked in Rüstungsbetriebes and in the so-called KriegswichtigeZwecke. This group included the cement factory in Goleszów. On average 10 to 14 percent were unable to work, 80 percent were employed…..

The women ran a similar census, but those reports came to me, I used them to make the relevant reports for Berlin. The women worked in roughly the same kommandos as the men did. As for the percentage breakdown of employment, it was approximately as follows: For camp needs 30 percent, camp farming 25 percent, for Bauleitung 6 percent, for SS-Dienststelle 30 percent (gardens, private homes), for Rüstungsbetriebes 7 percent, for Privatbetriebes 3 percent….

I want to stress once more that all camps and sub camps sent reports to us and we made an overall report based on these. Initially the reports were signed by the Lagerverwaltung – the commandant, defendant Möckel. They were first signed by Höß, then Liebenhenschel, and if neither Höß nor Liebenhenschel were there, Aumeier signed them.

As for prisoner labour, the bills for this were sent out by the Lagerverwaltung. The kommandos working for camp needs, for the SD and for the SS-Siedlung were not liquidated, but they did not pay for the prisoners’ work. The Bauleitung and Privatbetriebe paid. The bills went to the Verwaltung and it was this office that collected on them.

The Lagerverwaltung also set the going rates for work when signing deals with the companies. The Arbeitseinsatz merely assigned the appropriate number of prisoners for work.

I shall bring up the prices paid for the labour. The private companies paid 3 Reichsmarks for a non-professional, 4 Reichsmarks for a professional. The mines paid 6 Reichsmarks for a professional, 4 Reichsmarks for a non-professional. The Bunawerke paid 4 Reichsmarks for a professional, 3 Reichsmarks for a non-professional. The DAW (Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke, armament factories) paid 50 pfennigs for a non-professional, 1.5 Reichsmarks for a professional. Later on they increased the rates there: 1.5 Reichsmarks for a non-professional, 4 Reichsmarks for a professional. The Bauleitung paid 30 pfennigs, then 3 Reichsmarks. The SS men paid for the labour in their private gardens, 30 groszy per day, both for professionals and assistants; for the women, the so-called Bibelforscher, they paid a lump sum of 25 Reichsmarks a month. The companies employing the most prisoners were: Bunawerke, with 5,500, the Neuman kommando with 2,000, the Jawiszowice mine, 2,000, Goleszów, 400, Bauleitung, 10,000. As for the bills, they had to be paid within 30 days. Their collection was the job of the Verwaltung. I know of documents sent to Oranienburg that spoke about how some companies had not paid for prisoner labour until January 1945. It concerned seven enterprises and a total sum of roughly 300,000 Reichsmarks. In the first period, when the prisoners were employed by private companies, the amount due for labour was 350,000 to 400,000 Reichsmarks. Later, after several industrial businesses appeared, it increased to up to 2,000,000 Reichsmarks a month. It often happened that a prisoner did not work for the entire day. This happened particularly in the case of the Birkenau camp.

We had to have precise reports to calculate the amount due for half a day or for whatever number of hours had been worked. I always had notes on those reports that kommandos had to be taken to the camp for selection. The Auschwitz kommandos where “Muslims” – i.e. the old, completely exhausted people – worked were liquidated very frequently. Most of them did not come back from work at all, for SS men drove in cars to the work area and took them directly to Birkenau, to the crematorium. This happened first and foremost to the numbered prisoners, like the ones we had in our files……

I remember our bosses, Kapper and Sehl, receiving memoranda from command about how they must employ as many people as possible and make it so there would be as few unbeschäftigte as possible. That meant prisoners in quarantine, under arrest, or sent to the doctor. The camp commandant and the camp Verwalter both required the Arbeitsführer to keep the number of unbeschäftigte as low as could be, that is, they demanded employment to be as high as possible.” 1

Auschwitz –  Simultaneously a Vernichtungslager and Konzentrationslager

The Auschwitz complex was unique in the Nazi concentration camp system in that it was simultaneously a Konzentrationslager and a Vernichtungslager. From 1942 the main source of new prisoners in Auschwitz was the remaining Jewish population of Europe. Due to its role as a Vernichtungslager, Auschwitz therefore had a vastly larger source of prisoners for labour than any other concentration camp. As the war progressed central SS management attempted to preserve the prisoner labour force in the concentration camps which resulted in some circumstances in better conditions and treatment. In Auschwitz, which was also subject to these policies, there was less pressure to implement them given the constant replenishment of the prisoner labour force from transports of Jews. All Jewish prisoners were destined for death, however, those Jews selected for work upon arrival in Auschwitz-Birkenau were to be given a temporary reprieve. Jewish prisoners selected for labour would work until they died or were too ill or sick to work or until they became Muselmänner. They would then be killed. This was the policy of “Vernichtung durch Arbeit” (extermination through labour).

Most of the Jewish prisoners arriving in Auschwitz-Birkenau lacked the occupational skills needed by the employers of concentration camp prisoners. Those prisoners selected on arrival in Auschwitz for work could either be used as general labourers or be trained for the roles required by employers. The rotation of prisoners inherent in the policy “Vernichtung durch Arbeit” caused obvious productivity problems for employers. Many complaints by employers were made to the SS and the issue was recognised by the commandant of Auschwitz III-Monowitz who on September 6, 1944 issued an order, “various directors have complained with reason, that prisoners who have been trained over the course of a month to operate various machines of importance to the war effort are taken away or replaced. Let me point out that in the future, all removal of prisoners will require my approval.Albert Speer also commented on this situation in his memoirs, “The directors of factories complained that prisoners came to work exhausted and had to be sent back to the main camps after several months. This was highly burdensome, since it took several weeks to train new prisoners for their jobs.” 5

The contradiction inherent in the policy of “Vernichtung durch Arbeit” and maintenance of a productive labour force were never resolved in the Auschwitz complex of camps.

Sub-Contracting Prisoner Labour

Many primary employers of Auschwitz sub camp labour, sub-contracted some of their prisoners to other companies, especially building firms. This was particularly prevelant where the primary employer was constructing or adapting or extending: power plants, mines, chemical plants. The terms of supplying prisoners to sub-contractors was solely agreed between the primary employer and the sub contractor. In the Buna-Werke in early 1944, 50% of the prisoners from the sub camp Monowitz, worked for  construction and installation firms, sub-contracted to I.G. Farbenindustrie. 1Significant numbers of prisoners were also sub-contracted by their primary employers to building firms, from the Auschwitz sub camps of: Neu-Dachs, Lagischa, Günthergrube, Arbeitslager Fürstengrube, Arbeitslager Blechhammer.

Prisoners With Occupational Skills

Prisoners with occupational skills such as bricklayers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, lathe operators, metalworkers, miners were were in short supply in the concentration camps. The requirement for specialist workers increased as the war progressed as prisoners increasingly worked in the war industries. Many of the prisoners arriving in Auschwitz had no such skills, especially Jewish prisoners. Our analysis of the Jews transferred from the Warthegau labour camps to Auschwitz in 1943, and who survived the war, shows these prisoners were in the main tailors, butchers, shoemakers, weavers, students, labourers; only a few were mechanics, lathe operators, carpenters and builders.

Prisoners with occupational skills in theory received better treatment and food in Auschwitz. As with all matters in the Auschwitz concentration camp such policies were inconsistently applied; maltreatment, hunger, punishments and death – “Vernichtung durch Arbeit”, were still the order of the day. Gregoire Afrine an Auschwitz prisoner working in a work detail of electricians testifed, “Our detail of electricians was left in peace, since we were needed as experts…. but away from the job, we were treated just as badly as everybody else. For instance, when I stepped out of the ranks on December 26, 1944, to tie my shoe, an SS man… shot me in the foot.2

Transfers of Prisoners With Occupational Skills from other Concentration Camps

Office DII in the SS-WVHA maintained a record of concentration camp prisoner occupations, independent of the individual concentration camp´s own records. This allowed, in theory, specialist prisoner workers to be identified and transferred to labour assignments in particular concentration camps, which could best utilise the particular skills. Auschwitz was the only concentration camp where prisoners worked in the mines. It was thus logical that prisoners with those skills be transferred to the Auschwitz concentration camp. There were several transports to Auschwitz of prisoners with a background in mining including: 12 prisoners from Gross-Rosen on February 26, 1943, 32 prisoners from Flossenbürg on March 4, 1943 and 15 from Ravensbrück on March 5, 1943. 3

In reality, individual concentration camps had little interest in transferring their healthy prisoners to other concentration camps. Even when prisoners were transferred, the threat of disease and epidemic required lengthy periods of quarantine in the receiving camp. In many cases individual concentration camps used the transfer system to rid themselves of the ill, sick and Muselmänner. A transport of 499 prisoners from Dachau designated for work in the newly formed Buna-Werke sub camp in Monowice arrived in Auschwitz on October 29, 1942. On inspection in Auschwitz the transport was found to include only 50 prisoners with trades suitable for work in the Buna plant. Worse, none of the arriving prisoners were fit for work on arrival; the majority were Muselmänner and the others required two weeks of rest before they could  begin work. 4

Prisoner Productivity

The work efficiency of the prisoners from Auschwitz was significantly lower than that of civilian workers, prisoners of war and forced labourers. This was due to the use of prisoners with no appropriate occupational skills, over long working hours, maltreatment by the SS guards, Kapos and employing entities, a starvation diet, and generally poor living conditions. The SS view of productivity did not always match that of the employing entity. The SS were satisfied as long as a prisoner could work the required number of hours. Lesser attention was paid by the SS to whether the prisoner was actually productive in his work as long as he laboured the full allotted time. Once a prisoner could not work the allotted hours he was replaced with a fresh prisoner. This prisoner replacement policy of the SS caused significant problems for employers as they had to continually train new prisoners for the particular work. For the SS this was the policy of Vernichting durch Arbeit; literally extermination through labour especially for Jewish prisoners.

Given the increasing reliance on concentration camp prisoner workers as the war progressed by some employers of Auschwitz prisoners, these employers looked at ways of improving their productivity.

The SS and employers used both “carrot and stick” methods and improvements in the treatment of prisoners to increase prisoner productivity. The incentives for prisoners who achieved above average results at work were such schemes as a reduction of punishment, additional food, monetary prizes, tobacco and visits to the camp bordello. In general, employers were not favour of cash benefits as this increased their labour costs. Inevitably in most cases resort was made to negative measures such as using Kapos of a different nationality to that of the working prisoners to sow division amongst the prisoners.

Some attempts were also made by the SS to reduce the loss of valuable workers through maltreatment by civilian employees and supervisors.

The management of the oil refinery in Trzebinia complained about the poor efficiency of Auschwitz prisoners’ work, almost 50% less than that of the civilian workers. Attempts were made to remedy this with bonus vouchers, which were handed out to the most productive prisoners. These could be redeemed in the camp canteen. However, the vouchers had little value to the prisoners as they could not use them to buy good, high calorie food. Therefore, the management of the refinery gradually withdrew this incentive, relying more on increasing discipline and strengthening supervision by the German criminal Kapos. For the first few weeks, Jews performed the functions of Kapo in the sub camp, but in August 1944 they were exchanged for German Kapos. 11 The strict discipline, adopted by the Kapos did not produce the expected improvement in work efficiency. There was a slight increase in productivity to an estimated 50 – 55% of the standard productivity of the civilian employees, but not the intended increase to 60 – 70%. The low productivity of the prisoners of the Arbeitslager Trzebinia resulted not only from the brutal behaviour of the Kapos, but also poor health due to malnutrition, exhausting work, and inadequate rest. This led to the increasing numbers of prisoners unable to work. Research conducted by Dr. Piper  shows that in October and November 1944, 13 to 16% of prisoners on average couldn’t work, but by January 1945 about 170 of the approximately 650 prisoners (29%) couldn’t work. 6

The Profits Earned From Prisoner Labour

The Nazi State Treasury through the concentration camps, earned huge profits from prisoner labour. Auschwitz concentration camp charged the employing entities between 4.00 and 6.00 RM per day of labour for a qualified prisoner and between 3.00 and 4.00 RM per day for an unskilled prisoner. SS entities were charged less.  Dr. Piper in his research on prisoner labour in Auschwitz, estimates that in 1944 the income from Auschwitz prisoner labour was between 30,000,000 and 40,000,000 RM.

The direct costs of the prisoners to the SS and therefore the Nazi State Treasury were estimated for male prisoners as 1.34 RM per day: 0.65 RM for food, 0.39 RM for clothing and 0.30 RM for housing. For female prisoners the equivalent costs were 1.22 RM per day: 0.65 RM for food, 0.27 RM for clothing and 0.30 RM for housing.

The employing entities, paid the Auschwitz concentration camp and hence the Nazi State Treasury around 55% of an equivalent German civilian workers wage. The productivity of an Auschwitz prisoner was significantly lower than a German civilian worker,  However, there were compensatory benefits for the employer: the available labour resource in Germany by 1942 was already in short supply, prisoners could be forced to work a much longer working day than civilians, there were few if any requirements for health and safety measures for prisoners, and contracts negotiated with the SS allowed automatic replacement of dead, ill, and unfit prisoners.  10


1 https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3939/edition/3919/content. Testimony of Józef Paweł Ludwig. Viewed 10 August 2019.2
Piper, Franciszek, Auschwitz Prisoner Labor, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2002, p. 328
Piper, Franciszek, Auschwitz Prisoner Labor, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2002, p. 321-322
Piper, Franciszek, Auschwitz Prisoner Labor, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2002, p. 323.
Piper, Franciszek, Auschwitz Prisoner Labor, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2002, p. 326.
6 Piper, Franciszek, Podobóz Trzebinia, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1975] Nr 16, p. 178.
7 Piper, Franciszek, Auschwitz Prisoner Labor, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2002, p. 84-87. 
8 Piper, Franciszek, Auschwitz Prisoner Labor, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2002, p. 85, 88. 
9 Piper, Franciszek, Auschwitz Prisoner Labor, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2002, p. 97-98. 
10 Piper, Franciszek, Auschwitz Prisoner Labor, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2002, p. 342-350. 
11 Piper, Franciszek, Auschwitz Prisoner Labor, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2002, p. 222. 
12 Piper, Franciszek, Auschwitz Prisoner Labor, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2002, p. 262-263. 
Literature:
Piper, Franciszek, Auschwitz Prisoner Labor, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, 2002, 

The Conditions in the Sub Camps & Treatment of the Auschwitz Sub Camp Prisoners by their Employers

Prisoner Accommodation

The employing company or entity was generally responsible for providing the infrastructure of the sub camp in which the employed prisoners would be housed. This included living accommodation, cooking facilities, fencing etc. Auschwitz was administratively responsible for the sub camp and assigned a Lagerführer, SS guards and SS-Ausfeherinnen when there were female prisoners, as the camp staff. Auschwitz was generally responsible for feeding and clothing the prisoners, their medical needs, and discipline.

For the smaller sub camps, generally, existing buildings were used to accomodate prisoners: in Radostowitz prisoners slept in a barn of the local forestry office, in Bobrek existing buildings of the plant were adapted as living accomodation for the prisoners.

Some sub camps utilised buildings previously occupied by Jewish labourers, forced labourers, POWs, and military internees such as in Arbeitslager Blechhammer, Trzebinia and Althammer. For other sub camps the complete infrastructure of the sub camp was built by the Auschwitz prisoners, for example in Arbeitslager Jawischowitz, Neu-Dachs and the Buna-Werke.

In some cases the accomodation in the sub camps was of better quality than in Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau. The buildings of the sub camp Arbeitslager Althammer had previously been occupied by Italian military internees, “Our barracks were new, clean, and were luxurious compared to the blocks in Birkenau.” 21  In the sub camp Freudenthal, “The accommodation…..was less primitive than Auschwitz-Birkenau stable-block wooden billets. The buildings were of stone, the bathrooms were tiled and prisoners were allowed to heat water for washing. Each slave had a bunk with a straw mattress and blanket.” 10

In almost all of the sub camps, the prisoners faced the same problems as in Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau: overcrowding, lack of heating, lack of washing and toilet facilities and lack of bedding. Generally, prisoner accomodation was infested with lice.

The Quality & Quantity of Prisoner Food

Undoubtedly, the main reason for the number of illnesses and diseases suffered by prisoners and subsequently their poor work performance was the catastrophic quality of food, provided in meagre amounts. Lack of nutritional food soon turned prisoners into Muselmänner.

A description of camp food by former Eintrachthütte prisoner Zygmunt Gajda, “The food was very bad. In the morning we received tea or rather a concoction of herbs, and we had received bread the previous day for that day. Of course, this bread we had usually eaten the previous day for fear of it being stolen at night, and of course from hunger. If the SS noticed in the morning that we did not have bread, because we had eaten it the previous day, they beat us. The soup was brought in at noon and served to us during the lunch break. We should have received 1 litre of soup and in fact we were poured a quarter of a litre or half a litre. In addition, the blockleader stole the soup, e.g. in the presence of an SS man a margarine cube was thrown into the cauldron. When the formalities were done, the SS man left, then the blockleader took the cube for his own use. In addition, when distributing soup to his colleagues he gave some thick soup from the bottom of the cauldron to some and to others basically water. Sometimes, 3-4 potatoes still in their skins were given to us for dinner. These potatoes were usually rotten and were only suitable for a distillery. On Sunday, the unemployed did not receive bread and the patients only got half of their rations.16

Józef Kołodziejak a prisoner in the Brünn  sub camp, “After a few days stay in Brno I began to feel hungry and so it was until my departure. The civilian workers working with us did not provide any help and it was not possible to acquire food in any other way (…). One day the foreman from Czechoslovakia, watching us work at the cement mixer, brought a few loaves of bread and each of us took one. We started to move the bread to our living accommodation. When I carried my bread, (Lagerführer) Palitzsch met me in the hallway, near which on the floor lay a few loaves of bread, which had been taken away from my friends. Palitzsch stopped me and asked where I got the bread. I replied that everyone working on the cement mixer got bread from the supervisor. He let me keep the bread because I had told the truth. The rest of the prisoners lied as to where they had got the bread from and their bread was taken.” 25

At the oil refinery in Trzebinia, “The food in the camp was very meagre and insufficient, so the Jews tried to save themselves in such a way that whenever they came into contact with the locals at the refinery, they bought foodstuffs from them and in this way provided themselves with additional nourishment. In the morning, the Jews received coffee and, every two days, bread was distributed. I don’t know how much bread they received. I know, however, that they received bread only once every two days. In the beginning, for about two months, at noon or 13.00 hrs, they would all return to the camp for dinner. Later on, only a few would come and take soup for the rest to their workplace. This soup was made of swede, cabbage or potatoes. In the evenings, after returning from work, the Jews would receive coffee. Special ladles were used to distribute food. Each prisoner received one ladle of coffee or soup. I don’t know how much liquid one ladle contained.” 13

The food for the prisoners in Arbeistlager Gleiwitz IV usually consisted of waste products such as potato peelings and was brought in special containers from the town of Gliwice. The diet was so poor that many of the prisoners soon became Muselmänner. 19

Prisoners were robbed even of the meagre rations they received, by the SS guards and Kapos: “Because there were no controls – prisoners were robbed even of their starvation food rations that they were officially to receive. For example, if margarine was issued – the prisoner received only 1/16 of the cube.24

The hunger that prevailed among prisoners led to some extreme situations. Zeev Factor, a former Auschwitz prisoner, testified after the war that once the SS shot a dog at Wirtschaftshof Birkenau. They gave the dead dog to the prisoners, saying that’s “something for you, some dinner”. The starved prisoners after the preparation of the slaughtered dog ate the meat with some delight. 18

From November 14, 1942 prisoners were entitled to receive food parcels from home.32  This did not benefit Jewish prisoners, whose relatives were also subject to starvation diets in the ghettos, labour, transit and concentration camps or already murdered.

Prisoner Working Hours

The working day of the prisoners was both long and unregulated; largely dictated by the working hours of the entity employing the prisoners. Not even Sunday was a day of rest. On Sundays and after finishing work, prisoners usually had to perform various tasks in the sub camps.

In the mines, prisoners typically worked in 3 shifts, of 8 hours each. However, in many cases, prisoners worked longer to achieve targets set for individuals or groups of prisoners. In the steel works prisoners generally worked in 2, 12 hour shifts. In construction prisoners worked for 8 to 12 hours per day. In agriculture prisoners worked during daylight hours.

Auschwitz prisoners working in Gliwice at the Reichsbahnausbesserungswerkes, “… would start their working day by waking up at 4.00 hrs. At 5.00 hrs we would leave for work and start working at our workplace at 6.00 hrs. The labour lasted until 17.00 hrs. with a half-hour break from 12.30 to 1.00 hrs. About 15 minutes of this break was used up by a dinner-time roll call.” 17 

Samuel Stoeger a prisoner in Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I, “On Sundays and holidays we didn’t work at the repair shops. However, prisoners couldn’t rest on these days, because they had to carry stones to the camp from a place located about one and a half kilometres away. These stones were used for levelling the camp terrain. Physically weak prisoners cleaned the toilet holes during that time. They carried buckets with excrement from the latrines to the local meadows.27

Prisoner Camp and Special Work Clothing

Prisoners were required to wear “official” striped prisoner clothing, but this was always in short supply. Given the lack of “official” camp clothing the SS- WVHA issued orders on February 5, 1943 for camp commandants to use the civilian clothes of Polish and Soviet prisoners 33 and Jews transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Such clothing issued to prisoners, would be marked with a strip of “official” camp striped cloth sewn on the back of the jacket and other parts of the prisoner clothing.

Many of the jobs undertaken by Auschwitz prisoners, for example in the coal mines, required specialist clothing and equipment. In many cases the prisoners were not issued with such equipment and clothing and had to labour in their normal camp uniforms.

In the Aussenkommando Kobior prisoners worked at unloading wagons of lime and scattering the lime in the surrounding meadows; “Prisoners, without protective clothing or face masks, worked in clouds of limestone dust. From head to foot they were covered with a thick layer of biting powder that burned their skin, and irritated the mucous membranes and eyes. The tears flowing from their red eyes, which, they wiped stealthily with a dirty sleeve, caused dermatitis to form in the wounds.20

In Arbeitslager Golleschau prisoners worked in the quarry or cement plant, “We had absolutely insufficient clothing. In winter we worked in light clothing and almost barefoot.22

In the Deutsche Gasrußwerke in Gliwice female Auschwitz prisoners worked in the packing room where lampblack flooded through large pipes to the production floor. The women on the production floor packed the lampblack into bags. Without overalls they were covered with the lampblack, sticky and very difficult to wash off. The lampblack which was easily inhaled caused respiratory problems.

In the mines in Jaworzno where prisoners from the Neu-Dachs sub camp worked alongside civilians; “When doing similar wet works, sinking shafts, transition works, civilian workers received protective clothing: waterproof clothing, rubber boots. The prisoners did not receive any protective clothing; they wore wooden clogs that didn’t protect their legs at all. Sometimes miners gave them their so-called skins.” 5

Supervision of the Prisoners by SS Guards

As the war progressed and labour resource became scarce, the focus of the SS turned to maintaining the prisoner labour force for use by the SS and the war industries. This did not prevent the Lagerführer and SS guards treating the prisoners brutally, with little thought to the maintenance of the workforce.

Former prisoner Gejza Rinder a prisoner in Arbeitslager Golleschau, “I remember hearing in the camp about the workers in the quarry who had their hands broken or other wounds inflicted by the dogs set on them by the SS personnel. I myself only saw the covered bodies of such workers being brought back from the quarry.12

Samuel Stoeger a prisoner in Arbeitslager Gleiwitz I, “We carried out our tasks under direct supervision of the SS men from the camp crew. They abused prisoners at work, beating them for the most trivial reasons, usually for no reason at all. If a prisoner was late for an assembly, fell asleep during work, or left the factory hall to relieve himself, this was treated as an attempt to escape, and such a person was shot by the SS men on the spot. I remember an incident when the SS men found a prisoner who had fallen asleep earlier because he was tired. They beat him up in a very brutal manner, then dragged him out of the front of the column of prisoners who were walking back from work, and shot him. He was a young Hungarian man. We had to carry his corpse to the camp and bathe it in the washroom.” 27

Some of the Lagerführer and SS guards were notorious for their sadism and brutality even amongst the general babaric behaviour of SS guards. One of those was SS-Unterscharführer Otto Arthur Lätsch, Lagerführer of Arbeitslager Gleiwitz IV; “I witnessed him (Lätsch) murder a Jewish musician from Łódź. What is more, he would also visit kommandos to see how the prisoners worked. One day, he also came to my kommando. He told me to fill a big wheelbarrow with concrete, and when I couldn’t lift it, he started beating and tormenting me, saying that I didn’t want to work. I explained to him that I wanted to work, but I couldn’t lift the wheelbarrow. Then, he wrote down my number and when I came back from work to the camp, he started tormenting me again, asking why I didn’t want to work. I repeated my explanation that I wasn’t avoiding work, but I was not able to lift the wheelbarrow. He started beating and kicking me so badly that I fell down. I was very weak. Lätsch made us exercise which always ended with a few casualties. They were taken to the Krankenbau (prisoner hospital) where they would usually die.28

Supervision of the Prisoners by Prisoner Functionaries (Kapos)

The prisoners were supervised in the camp and in many cases at work by prisoner functionaries. Depending on the size of the sub camp there was a Lagerältester (camp senior prisoner) and a deputy. Each prisoner accomodation block was supervised by a Blockältester. Depending on the number of prisoners in the sub camp there was a hierarchy of prisoner functionaries for labour: Oberkapo (head Kapo), Kapo, Unterkapo (deputy Kapo), Vorarbeiter (supervisor), and Schreiber (camp scribe). The Kapos were in the main German criminal prisoners, Poles, Soviets but also later Jewish prisoners. Auschwitz concentration camp management and the employing entities had a general policy that identifiable prisoners groups should be supervised by Kapos of a different nationaility in order to foster division amongst the prisoners. The Kapos in many cases were even more brutal than the SS guards.

Bruno Brodniewicz, a German criminal prisoner with the prisoner number 1, had been Lagerältester in Auschwitz from 1940 to 1942. Subsequently, he had been Lagerältester in the Auschwitz-Birkenau Gypsy camp and in succession the Auschwitz sub camps of Neu-Dachs, Eintrachthütte and Bismarckhütte. One former Auschwitz prisoner described him as: “Bruno was a sadist who showed off for the SS. He beat people with a club and kicked them whenever he had a chance. He intimidated the prisoners to such an extent that they had to remove their caps and snap to attention before him. Grovellingly devoted to the SS, he was devoid of scruples even in relations with the other Kapos. He was a plotter and an informer. Like the others, he hoarded gold and dollars, held searches, administered floggings and strung prisoners up. He killed many. We infected him with typhoid fever but unfortunately, he survived.” 31

Prisoner Working Conditions and the Treatment of Prisoners by the Employing Entities and their Employees

The SS guards escorted the prisoners from the sub camp to their place of work. Depending on the type of work and the employer, the prisoners were either supervised during the work-day by the SS guards or by the civilian overseers and workers and or by workplace guards provided by the employer. In many cases, for example in coal mining, prisoners were assigned to work teams together with civilian workers and prisoners of war and supervised by a civilian overseer.

Based on research work to date the work conditions and treatment of the Auschwitz sub camp prisoners by the management and employees of the companies and entities was mixed. By far the worst working conditions and treatment of prisoners was reserved for those Auschwitz prisoners assigned to the coal mines. Dr. Franciszek Piper in his research on the Auschwitz labour system identified approximately 40 supervisors in the mines who were particularly guilty of brutality and abuse towards, and murder of Auschwitz prisoners. The seniority of persons responsible for the maltreatment of prisoners ranged from the pit bosses themselves all the way down to low ranking supervisors. According to Dr. Piper those guilty of the worst crimes were the middle ranking supervisors. 14 The conditions and treatment of prisoners in the mines were so bad that there were numerous cases of prisoners committing suicide by jumping into mine shafts or throwing themselves under the wheels of rail trucks. In all of the sub camps food was scarce.

The beating and general maltreatment of prisoners by civilian employers had become so extreme by the end of 1943, even in the view of the SS, that Heinrich Schwarz commandant of Auschwitz III-Monowitz, issued an order to the Lagerführer of the sub camps that they must inform him of any such cases. This order was issued not for humanitarian reasons but out of a need to maintain scarce labour resources. 30

Former Auschwitz prisoner Jan Ławnicki who worked in the Fürsten mine recalled, “ After a year, namely at the end of April 1944, [as punishment] for the escape of two Poles, I was placed in the bunker along with nine other prisoners, and after three days we were deported to Fürstengrube, where prisoners were usually transferred for crimes allegedly committed in the camp. Although the Monowitz camp was among the harshest, it seemed a paradise to us compared to Fürstengrube. We worked in an IG Farben coal mine – in terrible conditions when it came to safety…… After arriving in Auschwitz from Fürstengrube (7 September 1944) I felt as though I had been set free. From my conversations with prisoners from the main Auschwitz camp I gathered that they had no idea about what was happening in the small Auschwitz subcamps like the penal camps of Fürstengrube and Janinagrube, which were regular places of extermination (Vernichtungslager), although they were called work camps (Arbeitslager).  ……..Working conditions cannot be compared with others, especially when it came to safety and effort. Workplaces were often under water in which you had to wade up to your ankles, and as well there were places where you constantly had to bend over – because of the low ceilings. The work was done on a piecework basis and each of us had to prove the correct number of extracted coal carts. Our nervousness at work was compounded by the atmosphere in which it took place. Pushing, and beating on the face was constantly used by Kapos and Vorarbeiters, as well as by some professional miners who did not want to admit to being of Polish descent. Working conditions may be evidenced by the fact that when I worked in the coal mine (for 5 weeks), one of the prisoners committed suicide and two others went insane. There were also injuries caused by wall collapses.” 1

In the Gute Hoffnung mine in Libiąż the Auschwitz prisoners were treated brutally by the SS guards, but also by some of the civilian mine workers. A former Jewish prisoner testified: “I believe in the winter of 1943/1944 that the Obersteiger (mine supervisor) Balcarek beat a prisoner so badly that he died. After work as we came back from the mine Balcarek attacked a young Dutch prisoner. The Obersteiger hit the young Dutchman with his stick, the blow was so hard that he fell on the floor. I was only a few meters from the Dutchman and afterwards he didn’t move anymore. 2 Another prisoner testified that, “Much worse than the SS guards were the supervisors of the mine. The head supervisor, who went from workplace to workplace and who had oversight of the whole operation was an especially brutal man. As soon as he appeared, every prisoner tried to work faster, and occasionally there were accidents. As far as I remember a prisoner was run over by a dump truck and had to be carried away. He was still not dead but so badly injured that he must have subsequently died from the injuries.” 3

In some cases mine management did step in to improve the conditions of the prisoners not for altruistic reasons but to improve productivity and maintenance of the workforce. Hygienic conditions for prisoners in the Arbeitslager Janinagrube sub camp were originally catastrophic. There was no hot water in the camp and no heating until the Autumn of 1944. Prisoners after a hard days physical labour underground in the mine had to wash in cold water. It was only after the intervention of the mine management that a shower with warm water was installed in the camp washroom and central heating in the prisoner accommodation. 4

Prisoners from the Neu-Dachs sub camp worked in the Jaworzno coal mines of Dachsgrube, Rudolfgrube and Richardgrube, and in construction of the Kraftwerk Wilhelm and expansion of the Kraftwerk Friedrich-August power plants. After the war, Antoni Kucharz, a former civilian employee at one of the mineshafts, testified to the appalling conditions in which the Auschwitz prisoners worked and their treatment by civilian supervisors but also the help the prisoners received from some civilian workers, “One cage had a capacity to transport 6 people. As a result of the orders of the mine management, for which it is difficult to find any technical justification, they (the prisoners) did not go down, like miners to level 165, where works were carried out, but lower to the new level 177. Only then did they return to level 166 (165) with three ladders, climbing a height of 12 m so one change (of shift) went down those stairs and the other went out. Driven from below and above by German guards, who wanted to reduce the time to leave, people were knocked off the ladders. All this took place in the dark, because the lamps were ordered to be turned off because of the danger of fire. There were shouts and cries from there. The prisoners worked essentially in the same positions as civilian workers,(….) in mining and stone works. Prisoners of better physical condition were employed here. They worked together with Polish miners. They had certain standards to comply with. If they did, they were given peace. It was worse…….when transporting carts, transporting wood and other materials. These prisoners worked mostly alone. Each contact with the supervisor ended with a beating. Work in a mine requires proper physical condition. Civilian workers were given special, additional food stamps (…). The prisoners, however, did not receive any extras apart from camp food. They generally looked bad. All the more that because they came to Jaworzno straight from the Auschwitz camp. They were emaciated and could not cope with this hard work and endured the effects of underground work very badly. Working conditions were very hard. (….) moisture and cold prevailed on the transport routes where most of the prisoners worked. Prisoners were soaked and cold due to constant soaking of their legs. When doing similar wet works, sinking shafts, transition works, civilian workers received protective clothing: waterproof clothing, rubber boots. The prisoners did not receive any protective clothing; they wore wooden clogs that didn’t protect their legs at all. Sometimes miners gave them their so-called skins. Diarrhoea was widespread among prisoners. We worked in three shifts. The day lasted 8 hours and 45 minutes. We worked almost all Sundays, except those during which major repairs were carried out in the shaft, (servicing) winding machines, etc. On Sundays, people working on stone works were moved to coal works. For our company (Rode), a larger group of prisoners worked at 300 m. Although their work was wet, they were doing better. We worked near a shaft where they could always be provided with some food from the canteen for civilian workers. Over time, this became the rule. Often, workers did not use their lunches so that some of the soup could be delivered to prisoners. In addition, it was customary throughout the mine that the workers gave their food supplement to the prisoners as soon as they went underground. Each of the workers had his own prisoner. Especially those prisoners who worked alone were exposed to constant harassment from the supervisors, who were almost exclusively Germans.” 5

In the testimonies of former prisoners and civilian employees there are many comments on the behaviour of the German employees supervising the working prisoners of the Neu-Dachs sub camp. The German supervisors misused their privileged position and often cruelly tormented prisoners, beating them and abusing them, even leading to the deaths of prisoners. Former civilian worker Jan Broniowski testified, “One of the biggest sadists was Knopp. Many prisoners suffered from diarrhoea. If the prisoner relieved himself somewhere, Knopp grabbed the prisoner by the neck and wiped the faeces on his face. He ordered the prisoners to carry faeces in their hands, regardless of whether this or that prisoner did it, while beating and abusing the prisoner. Other sadist supervisors were: Biskup, Podkowa, not to mention Rempe, who was the chief in the Kościuszko shaft….I heard about another incident from the miners. Once two Germans came to the detachment, a foreman and a master in charge. One of the prisoners – a Jew, who allegedly failed to fulfil his duties, was beaten badly and they threw his body into the coal trolley. The workers who received the coal, when they saw that a trolley was coming, pulled him out of the trolley and put him on a bench. However, the Germans, coming back (….), saw him and drowned him in the sewer.” 6

The poor conditions and harsh treatment of Auschwitz prisoners by civilian workers were not restricted to the coal mines. Many civilian supervisors at the Reichsbahnausbesserungswerkes in Gleiwitz, where Auschwitz prisoners from the Gleiwitz I sub camp were employed, were unsympathetic to the plight of the prisoners, “German foremen who supervised our work in the repair shops would report us to the camp authorities for the most trivial offences committed during work, such as trying to get warm by the radiator or eating some scraps found somewhere. Based on these reports, Moll organized the “payment”, the punishment of flogging, every Sunday at noon. It was administered on two sawbuck tables built specially for this purpose. The floggings were carried out by the designated prisoner functionaries or SS men. The usual punishment was 50 lashes. Moll personally passed sentences, while in more serious cases the central office at Auschwitz issued a written verdict.” 7

Some supervisors and even the management of the employing entity went out of their way to help the prisoners and even turned a blind eye to sabotage. Former prisoner Franciszka Zajdman who worked at the Deutsche Gasrußwerke GmbH lamp black plant in Gliwice testifed: “I note that it was possible to conduct sabotage in this way because there was always some oily waste during production which poured into the finished tank. The Technical Director of the factory – Schenk – when he came to review the production, and reviewed the results often looked at me and smiled slightly. Schenk was a man who for us inmates was a big support. He addressed us in a very friendly way. He always tried to defend us, especially the older women. We were never denounced by the foremen. To give older women lighter work he organized small garden plots… At first he spoke directly to us. Later, when our labour camp was transformed into a branch of the Auschwitz concentration camp, the SS told him only to speak to us through them .” 8

In one case, SS guards who treated the prisoners brutally were removed from the workplace. Stanisław Wierciochowitz a civilian worker at the former Huta Graf Renard in Sosnowiec testified, “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.” 9

In some of the sub camps, conditions were significantly better and treatment by management and supervisors more sympathetic. “ Emmerich Machold son of the company´s founder was a relatively enlightened exploiter of slave labour. Turning fifty in 1944 and ´quite a handsome man´ with a French wife, Machold provided some comforts, according to Judith Angell (and Auschwitz prisoner) who came from Romania. He let his slaves have a little library and a radio and gave them waste wool to knit pullovers. Angell knitted socks, mittens and a hat for Machold´s daughter who lived with her parents in a house near the factory. Another Romanian, 28 year old Ileana, later described the factory as heaven after Auschwitz.” 10

Sub Camp Facilities for Sick and Ill Prisoners

Many prisoners suffered from phlegmon, ulcers, limb fractures, stomach disease, rheumatism, kidney disease, starvation, typhus and other communicable diseases and myriad of other ailments and diseases. The largest sub camps had primitive hospitals, medium sized camps sickbays and the smallest camps no facilities at all. In general major surgical operations were not perfomed in the sub camps.

A description of the Fürstengrube “hospital” was given after the war by Karl Bara, a former SS paramedic in the sub camp, “There were several hundred prisoners in Fürstengrube at that time, how many – I don’t remember exactly – there was only me covering the prisoner hospital and the SS sick room….  A Jew, Dr. Seidel, worked in the prisoner hospital, he spoke Polish, I don’t remember his nationality. The second doctor was Dr. Lubicz, a short man with glasses, he also spoke Polish. They worked as doctors. There were also a few nurses (Pfleger) but I don’t remember their names. There were several dozen sick prisoners, I do not remember exactly (…). we received medicines in the prisoner hospital partly from the SS pharmacy of the main camp (Stammlager), partly also illegally sourced medicines from outside. There was also a dentist in the same barrack where the patients were treated. Unfortunately, I don’t remember his name. The prisoner’s hospital was equipped with wooden two-story beds with straw mattresses. The interior of the barrack made a good impression, because I painted the interiors with paints (…). The prisoner hospital did not undertake any major surgical operations, but only procedures, dressings, etc. The entire hospital in Fürstengrube was supervised by Lagerarzt Dr. Fischer, who visited the sub camp more than twice a week… 23

Prisoner Selections, Deaths & Disposal of the Dead

Auschwitz was responsible for removing the sick and prisoners unfit for work and replacing them with fresh prisoners. There were frequent selections of the ill, sick and Muselmänner by doctors sent from Auschwitz, by SS orderlies and SS guards in the sub camps and even by the management and supervisors of the employing entity. Sometimes, at for example Buna, a foreman would simply tell the Kapo he didn’t want to see a certain prisoner at work tommorrow.  The prisoner would then be sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau to be gassed. 15

Zenek Baron a prisoner in Arbeitslager Gleiwitz IV was subject to a selection, “In addition, I would like to testify that in 1944, a camp physician (a member of the SS) conducted selections among those prisoners who were unfit for work and who did not look promising. He sent them to the crematorium at the Auschwitz concentration camp. The first group was transported but the second, the one I belonged to, was stopped. Some said that this happened because the ovens were destroyed on account of the Soviets getting closer. This is why I survived. I know that the sick from [illegible] who suffered from dysentery were sent to these ovens earlier.26

Only two sub camps, Arbeitslager Blechhammer and Arbeitslager Trzebinia had their own crematorium for disposing of the bodies of the dead. In Gliwice dead prisoners from the four sub camps located there were cremated in the Gliwice civilian crematorium. In the largest Auschwitz sub camp Monowitz there were no gas chambers and no operational crematorium. The dead, ill and unfit prisoners destined for the gas chambers and crematoria were trucked to Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

Prisoner Escapes

There were many attempted and successful escapes of prisoners from the sub camps. Most of the escapees were non-Jewish Poles and Soviets; few Jewish prisoners attempted to escape. Attempted escapees who were caught were always sentenced to death.

Stanisław Łapiński a prisoner in Arbeitslager Fürstengrube witnessed the aftermath of an escape attempt, “The most important event I remember from my time in Fürstengrube was the escape of 5 prisoners….. Unfortunately, the preparations for the escape were discovered by the Pipel of the Lagerältesten, a young Jew. This was his supervisor so he betrayed everything. He did it more out of dumbness than with the intention of betrayal. Hermann (the Lagerältester) reported it to the SS. The prisoners were immediately brought to Auschwitz for interrogation. Naturally in the camp other interrogations were carried out. This happened at approximately the end of August. Some days later 5 prisoners were brought back to Fürstengrube in a car. These were the escapees. Also on this day the commandant of Monowitz, Schwarz came to the camp with some SS men. All the prisoners had to appear on the roll call square in rows and were greeted by the sight of a gallows. The gallows was set up with a bar from which hung ropes. Under the (bar) were stools. One of the SS men read the judgement. The convicted were led to the gallows. Two of them cried as they already stood on the stools, long live Poland. One moment later they were hung, and after the shout there was a great silence. We stood a long time. The whole camp was guarded by the guards who were armed with machine pistols. They were afraid the prisoners might rebel. The machine guns were also ready. The execution I have described had the character of a deterrence. The SS authorities gave us an example of what awaited us when we tried to escape. This was also said when the judgement was read out. After the execution the bodies were loaded onto a truck and taken away…..I am convinced there were two Poles and other nationalities. I believe that after the attempted escape the Poles were then evacuated from Fürstengrube. Some days later some prisoners, all Poles were together transported to Auschwitz.” 29


1 APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Jan Ławnicki, Vol. 60, p. 104. 
2StA Hannover, Nds 721 Hannover Acc 2007/082 Nr 5, p. 258-259. 
3 StA Hannover, Nds 721 Hannover Acc 2007/082 Nr 8, p. 54-55.
4 Iwaszko, Emeryka, Das Nebenlager Janinagrube, [in:] Hefte von Auschwitz [1967] Nr 10, p. 54.
5 APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Antoni Kucharz, Vol. 51, p. 147 – 149.
6 APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Jan Broniowski, Vol. 51, p. 153 – 154.
7 Testimony of Samuel Stoeger of 21 February 1947. Viewed 9 August 2019. https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3587/edition/3568/content.
8 APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, testimony of Franciszka Zajdman, Vol. 39, p. 42-45.
9 StA Hannover, Ha_nds_721_Hannover_acc_90_99_nr_175_3 testimony of Stanislaw Wierciochowitz, 19 September 1967.
10 Jay, John, Facing Fearful Odds, Pen & Sword Military 2014, p. 237-238.
11 Piper, Franciszek, Podobóz Trzebinia, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie [1975] Nr 16, p. 175.
1BA Ludwigsburg, B162/8949 p. 333.
13 Testimony of Józef Woch 27 June 1945. Testimony viewed 8 August 2019. https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3096/edition/3077/content.
14  Piper, Franciszek, Auschwitz Prisoner Labour, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum 2002, p. 277.
15  Piper, Franciszek, Auschwitz Prisoner Labour, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum 2002, p. 281.
16 APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, Vol. 75, p. 69 – 70.Testimony of Zygmunt Gajda.
17 Testimony of Samuel Stoeger from 21 February 1947. Viewed 9 August 2019. https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3587/edition/3568/content.
18 APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, Vol. 134, p. 168. Testimony of former prisoner Zeew Factor.
19 Strzelecki, Andrzej, Arbeitslager Gleiwitz IV, [in:] Hefte von Auschwitz [1973] Nr 14, p. 161.
20 APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, Vol. 54, p. 26. Testimony of Wincenty Jaromin,
21 Drożdżyński, Aleksander, Mały spokojny obóz, [in:] Zeszyty Oświęcimskie 1964 Nr 8, p. 38.
22 BA Ludwigsburg, B162/8949, p. 326.
23 APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, Vol. 60, p. 86-87. Testimony of Karl Bara,
24 APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, Vol. 44, p. 43. Testimony of Zbigniewa Mroczkowskiego,
25 APMAB. Zespół Oświadczenia, Vol. 47, p. 73-74. Testimony of Józef Kołodziejak,
26 Testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Zenek Baron, Viewed 9 August 2019. https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3952/edition/3932/content.
27 Testimony of Samuel Stoeger of 21 February 1947. Viewed 9 August 2019. https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3587/edition/3568/content.
28 Testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Izaak Herschenbaum. Viewed 16 August 2019. https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3952/edition/3932/content.
29 StA Hannover. Ha_Nds._721_Hannover_acc._90_99_nr._175_2, p.69-78. Testimony of Stanisław Łapiński dated 14 October 1964.
30 Piper, Franciszek, Auschwitz Prisoner Labour, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum 2002, p. 334.
31 Piper, Franciszek, Auschwitz Prisoner Labour, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum 2002, p. 116.
32 Piper, Franciszek, Auschwitz Prisoner Labour, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum 2002, p. 299-300.
33 Piper, Franciszek, Auschwitz Prisoner Labour, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum 2002, p. 302.
Literature:
Piper, Franciszek, Auschwitz Prisoner Labour, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum 2002,

 

 

The Companies and Entities Who Employed the Auschwitz Sub Camp Prisoners

The vast majority of Auschwitz sub camp prisoners employed by external companies and entities were utilized by huge conglomerates both private and public and other state owned entities. I.G. Farbenindustrie was the single largest employer of Auschwitz concentration camp prisoners. In 1941, work began on building a synthetic rubber plant at Monowice near Oświęcim and in October 1942, the Buna-Werke (Monowitz) sub camp was founded to house the prisoners that worked there. In order to secure coal supplies for its synthetic rubber plant, I.G. Farben bought controlling interests in the nearby Fürsten and Janina coal mines and entered into contracts to secure coal from the Günther mine. By January 1945, the sub camps associated with the synthetic rubber plant in Monowice and the coal mines supplying its coal employed 12,946 prisoners, some 37% of all prisoners housed in the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps.

The Reichswerke Hermann Göring which controlled the Brzeszcze-Jawischowitz and Charlotte mines in Rydułtowy and the Laura steel works by 1945 employed 3,758 prisoners, some 11% of the January 1945 total in the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps.

The Berghütte concern which controlled the steel plants of Eintrachthütte, Bismarkhütte and Hubertushütte and the armaments plant in Sosnowiec, by January 1945 employed some 2,554 prisoners from the Auschwitz sub camps, some 7% of the total.

Energie Versorgung Oberschlesien AG utilised Auschwitz prisoner labour to build the power plants in Jaworzno and Łagisza. The Łagisza power plant project was cancelled in 1944 but the power plant and coal mine in Jaworzno still employed some 3,664 prisoners by 1945. Some 10.5 % of the prisoner total.

In 1944, the Oberschlesische Hydrierwerke AG began employing Auschwitz concentration camp prisoners to expand the chemical plant. The Auschwitz sub camp Arbeitslager Blechhammer nearby the chemical plant, by January 1945, housed 4,116 prisoners, some 12% of the total.

In summary, the large conglomerates, both private and public employed some 77.5% of the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camp prisoners in January 1945.

A sub camp was created in Stara Kuźnica near Halemba in late 1944, where the prisoners worked at building a thermal power plant.

A range of other companies employed Auschwitz sub camp prisoners including, the Deutsche Gasrußwerke GmbH part of Degussa AG, in Gliwice, the Reichsbahnausbesserungswerkes Gleiwitz, Zieleniewski-Maschinen und Waggonbau GmbH in Gliwice, Siemens-Schuckertwerke in Bobrek near Oświęcim.

Female Auschwitz prisoners were also assigned to textile and other less physically demanding work at companies such as Schlesische Feinweberei AG in Prudnik, Emmerich Machold/Freudenthaler Getränke GmbH in Bruntál and Gustav Adolf Buhl und Sohn in Světlá Hora.

The Auschwitz concentration camp and the SS generally, utilised Auschwitz sub camp prisoners for building works and in SS enterprises such as the SS controlled cement factory in Goleszów.

The Auschwitz concentration camp farms in the Interessengebiet employed a large number of prisoners: in 1943, an average of 3,900 prisoners were employed there and in 1944, over 4,200. The vast majority of these prisoners were formed into “day” Kommandos which marched daily from Auschwitz II-Birkenau to the farms. A small proportion of the prisoners were housed permanently at the six sub camps set up at the farms. The Auschwitz farms were the largest employer of female prisoners.

In late 1942 and 1943, prisoners from Auschwitz were assigned to forestry work in the local Oświęcim area. A bi-product of the forestry work of the prisoners was fuel to burn the bodies of murdered victims buried near Auschwitz-Birkenau being dug up and cremated as part of the Sonderkommando 1005 action in Auschwitz.

As the war reached its conclusion, and the destruction of the German war industries by Allied air raids accelerated, Auschwitz prisoners were increasingly used in both bomb disposal, clearance work and repair work of damaged buildings and plants.

Oil and Chemicals

The industry which employed by far the largest number of Auschwitz sub camp prisoners, more than twice as many as in the coal mines, was oil and chemicals. This is not surprising given the critical fuel and natural resources shortages suffered by Germany during the 2nd World War. The largest sub camp of Auschwitz, Monowitz produced synthetic rubber and the second largest sub camp Arbeitslager Blechhammer produced synthetic oil.

The I.G. Farben plant at Monowice was deemed so important to German hopes of success in the 2nd World War that from 1940 a significant proportion of prisoners in Auschwitz were allocated to the plant.


Table Structure:
The prisoner numbers for 1945 are as at January, 17 1945. The prisoner numbers for the previous years are as at the end of the particular year. The  exceptions to this, for illustrative purposes, are the sub camps which only existed intra calender year: Aussenkommando Chelmek, Aussenkommando Sosnitz, 2 SS Bauzug and Tschechowitz-Bombensucherkommando.
Sources:
The prisoner numbers at January 17,1945 are sourced  from the testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Otto Wolken, 22nd June 1945. Viewed 10 August 2019 https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3755/edition/3736/. Wolken discovered the final prisoner count for the Auschwitz complex at January 17, 1945. Wolken provides the number of male  prisoners in the Auschwitz complex including exact numbers for the male prisoners in the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps and the agricultural sub camps of Auschwitz II-Birkenau on January 17, 1945. The female prisoner numbers for the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps are sourced from the Auschwitz III-Monowitz female prisoner strength reports at 30 December 1944. The female prisoner count in the agricultural sub camps at Janaury 17, 1945 are estimates. 
The prisoner numbers in the years before January 17,1945 are sourced from a combination of  Auschwitz 1940-1945 Vol. I-V, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Oświęcim 2000 and the individual histories of the Auschwitz sub camps in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum journal, Zeszyty Oświęcimskie.

Coal Mining

This was the second largest industry sector in terms of the number of Auschwitz prisoners employed.   For the prisoners, these were the most feared of work allocations due to the physical labour involved and the subsequent high prisoner death rates. In many cases assignment to the coal mining sub camps was used as a form of punishment.

I.G. Farben purchased controlling interests in the Janina and Fürsten mines and entered into contracts to secure coal from the Günther mine. These mines were purchased and expanded with the sole purpose of supplying coal to the I.G. Farben synthetic rubber plant in Monowice.

The Neu-Dachs and Arbeitslager Jawischowitz sub camps were created specifically to provide labour for building and expanding the power plants located nearby but also to work the mines that were to provide the fuel for these power plants.


Table Structure:
The prisoner numbers for 1945 are as at January, 17 1945. The prisoner numbers for the previous years are as at the end of the particular year. The  exceptions to this, for illustrative purposes, are the sub camps which only existed intra calender year: Aussenkommando Chelmek, Aussenkommando Sosnitz, 2 SS Bauzug and Tschechowitz-Bombensucherkommando.
Sources:
The prisoners numbers at January 17,1945 are sourced  from the testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Otto Wolken, 22nd June 1945. Viewed 10 August 2019 https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3755/edition/3736/. Wolken discovered the final prisoner count for the Auschwitz complex at January 17, 1945. Wolken provides the number of male  prisoners in the Auschwitz complex including exact numbers for the male prisoners in the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps and the agricultural sub camps of Auschwitz II-Birkenau on January 17, 1945. The female prisoner numbers for the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps are sourced from the Auschwitz III-Monowitz female prisoner strength reports at 30 December 1944. The female prisoner count in the agricultural sub camps at Janaury 17, 1945 are estimates. 
The prisoner numbers in the years before January 17,1945 are sourced from a combination of  Auschwitz 1940-1945 Vol. I-V, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Oświęcim 2000 and the individual histories of the Auschwitz sub camps in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum journal, Zeszyty Oświęcimskie.

Steel Works

The prisoners allocated to the steel work sub camps primarily worked at the production of anti-aircraft guns, tank guns, armored vehicles and trucks, shells and ordinance.

We have included two companies in this section which were not strictly steel works: Reichsbahnausbesserungswerkes in Gleiwitz (RAW) which repaired railroad rolling stock and tanks and Siemens-Schuckertwerke GmbH which produced electrical equipment for aircraft and submarines.


Table Structure:
The prisoner numbers for 1945 are as at January, 17 1945. The prisoner numbers for the previous years are as at the end of the particular year. The  exceptions to this, for illustrative purposes, are the sub camps which only existed intra calender year: Aussenkommando Chelmek, Aussenkommando Sosnitz, 2 SS Bauzug and Tschechowitz-Bombensucherkommando.
Sources:
The prisoners numbers at January 17,1945 are sourced  from the testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Otto Wolken, 22nd June 1945. Viewed 10 August 2019 https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3755/edition/3736/. Wolken discovered the final prisoner count for the Auschwitz complex at January 17, 1945. Wolken provides the number of male  prisoners in the Auschwitz complex including exact numbers for the male prisoners in the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps and the agricultural sub camps of Auschwitz II-Birkenau on January 17, 1945. The female prisoner numbers for the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps are sourced from the Auschwitz III-Monowitz female prisoner strength reports at 30 December 1944. The female prisoner count in the agricultural sub camps at Janaury 17, 1945 are estimates. 
The prisoner numbers in the years before January 17,1945 are sourced from a combination of  Auschwitz 1940-1945 Vol. I-V, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Oświęcim 2000 and the individual histories of the Auschwitz sub camps in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum journal, Zeszyty Oświęcimskie.

Power Plants

The criticality of energy supplies for German industry in Upper Silesia resulted in plans to build three new power plants and expand an existing power plant. It is interesting to note that none of the new power plants at Łagisza, at Stara Kuźnica near Halemba and at Brzeszcze were completed or operational at the wars end.

As with work in the mines, allocation to one of these sub camps involved hard physical labour for the Auschwitz prisoners resulting in high death rates.


Table Structure:
The prisoner numbers for 1945 are as at January, 17 1945. The prisoner numbers for the previous years are as at the end of the particular year. The  exceptions to this, for illustrative purposes, are the sub camps which only existed intra calender year: Aussenkommando Chelmek, Aussenkommando Sosnitz, 2 SS Bauzug and Tschechowitz-Bombensucherkommando.
Sources:
The prisoners numbers at January 17,1945 are sourced  from the testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Otto Wolken, 22nd June 1945. Viewed 10 August 2019 https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3755/edition/3736/. Wolken discovered the final prisoner count for the Auschwitz complex at January 17, 1945. Wolken provides the number of male  prisoners in the Auschwitz complex including exact numbers for the male prisoners in the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps and the agricultural sub camps of Auschwitz II-Birkenau on January 17, 1945. The female prisoner numbers for the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps are sourced from the Auschwitz III-Monowitz female prisoner strength reports at 30 December 1944. The female prisoner count in the agricultural sub camps at Janaury 17, 1945 are estimates. 
The prisoner numbers in the years before January 17,1945 are sourced from a combination of  Auschwitz 1940-1945 Vol. I-V, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Oświęcim 2000 and the individual histories of the Auschwitz sub camps in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum journal, Zeszyty Oświęcimskie.

Bomb Disposal and Bomb Damage Clearance

As the Allied air raids on the industrial areas of Upper Silesia and more generally Germany increased in 1944, Auschwitz prisoners were used in both bomb disposal and clearance of bomb damage. There is also evidence that prisoners from other sub camps were used for bomb disposal and clearance of bomb damage at their work places or in the local area.


Table Structure:
The prisoner numbers for 1945 are as at January, 17 1945. The prisoner numbers for the previous years are as at the end of the particular year. The  exceptions to this, for illustrative purposes, are the sub camps which only existed intra calender year: Aussenkommando Chelmek, Aussenkommando Sosnitz, 2 SS Bauzug and Tschechowitz-Bombensucherkommando.
Sources:
The prisoners numbers at January 17,1945 are sourced  from the testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Otto Wolken, 22nd June 1945. Viewed 10 August 2019 https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3755/edition/3736/. Wolken discovered the final prisoner count for the Auschwitz complex at January 17, 1945. Wolken provides the number of male  prisoners in the Auschwitz complex including exact numbers for the male prisoners in the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps and the agricultural sub camps of Auschwitz II-Birkenau on January 17, 1945. The female prisoner numbers for the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps are sourced from the Auschwitz III-Monowitz female prisoner strength reports at 30 December 1944. The female prisoner count in the agricultural sub camps at Janaury 17, 1945 are estimates. 
The prisoner numbers in the years before January 17,1945 are sourced from a combination of  Auschwitz 1940-1945 Vol. I-V, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Oświęcim 2000 and the individual histories of the Auschwitz sub camps in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum journal, Zeszyty Oświęcimskie.

Textile Mills

Female Auschwitz prisoners were assigned to three textile mills in 1944. Compared to labouring in the oil and chemical plants, mines and steel works this work was relatively light and the living conditions were generally better.


Table Structure:
The prisoner numbers for 1945 are as at January, 17 1945. The prisoner numbers for the previous years are as at the end of the particular year. The  exceptions to this, for illustrative purposes, are the sub camps which only existed intra calender year: Aussenkommando Chelmek, Aussenkommando Sosnitz, 2 SS Bauzug and Tschechowitz-Bombensucherkommando.
Sources:
The prisoners numbers at January 17,1945 are sourced  from the testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Otto Wolken, 22nd June 1945. Viewed 10 August 2019 https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3755/edition/3736/. Wolken discovered the final prisoner count for the Auschwitz complex at January 17, 1945. Wolken provides the number of male  prisoners in the Auschwitz complex including exact numbers for the male prisoners in the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps and the agricultural sub camps of Auschwitz II-Birkenau on January 17, 1945. The female prisoner numbers for the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps are sourced from the Auschwitz III-Monowitz female prisoner strength reports at 30 December 1944. The female prisoner count in the agricultural sub camps at Janaury 17, 1945 are estimates. 
The prisoner numbers in the years before January 17,1945 are sourced from a combination of  Auschwitz 1940-1945 Vol. I-V, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Oświęcim 2000 and the individual histories of the Auschwitz sub camps in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum journal, Zeszyty Oświęcimskie.

Agriculture

The agricultural sub camps of Auschwitz were set up on the farms of the Interresengebiet that surrounded the Auschwitz concentration camp. When the farms were created in 1940 and 1941 prisoners were formed into Aussenkommandos which marched daily to work from the main Auschwitz camp and returned in the evening. It was not until 1942 and 1943 that permanent sub camps were created at the farms.

Prisoners worked at fish farming, cultivating crops, rearing cattle, pigs, hens and ducks. There was also an experimental nature to the farming in accordance with SS-Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler`s wishes to develop the Interresengebiet as a research station for the development of the newly acquired Eastern territories.


Table Structure:
The prisoner numbers for 1945 are as at January, 17 1945. The prisoner numbers for the previous years are as at the end of the particular year. The  exceptions to this, for illustrative purposes, are the sub camps which only existed intra calender year: Aussenkommando Chelmek, Aussenkommando Sosnitz, 2 SS Bauzug and Tschechowitz-Bombensucherkommando.
Sources:
The prisoners numbers at January 17,1945 are sourced  from the testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Otto Wolken, 22nd June 1945. Viewed 10 August 2019 https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3755/edition/3736/. Wolken discovered the final prisoner count for the Auschwitz complex at January 17, 1945. Wolken provides the number of male  prisoners in the Auschwitz complex including exact numbers for the male prisoners in the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps and the agricultural sub camps of Auschwitz II-Birkenau on January 17, 1945. The female prisoner numbers for the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps are sourced from the Auschwitz III-Monowitz female prisoner strength reports at 30 December 1944. The female prisoner count in the agricultural sub camps at Janaury 17, 1945 are estimates. 
The prisoner numbers in the years before January 17,1945 are sourced from a combination of  Auschwitz 1940-1945 Vol. I-V, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Oświęcim 2000 and the individual histories of the Auschwitz sub camps in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum journal, Zeszyty Oświęcimskie.

Forestry

The four forestry sub camps of Auschwitz were set up in the Autumn of 1942 at the time preparations were being made to begin Sonderkommando 1005 in Auschwitz. The prisoners worked for the Pszczyna Forestry Authority (Oberforstamt Pless) but also for the purposes of Sonderkommando 1005 gathered forestry waste products for transport to Auschwitz-Birkenau to be used as fuel to burn the bodies of the victims which had been buried there in 1941 and 1942.


Table Structure:
The prisoner numbers for 1945 are as at January, 17 1945. The prisoner numbers for the previous years are as at the end of the particular year. The  exceptions to this, for illustrative purposes, are the sub camps which only existed intra calender year: Aussenkommando Chelmek, Aussenkommando Sosnitz, 2 SS Bauzug and Tschechowitz-Bombensucherkommando.
Sources:
The prisoners numbers at January 17,1945 are sourced  from the testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Otto Wolken, 22nd June 1945. Viewed 10 August 2019 https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3755/edition/3736/. Wolken discovered the final prisoner count for the Auschwitz complex at January 17, 1945. Wolken provides the number of male  prisoners in the Auschwitz complex including exact numbers for the male prisoners in the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps and the agricultural sub camps of Auschwitz II-Birkenau on January 17, 1945. The female prisoner numbers for the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps are sourced from the Auschwitz III-Monowitz female prisoner strength reports at 30 December 1944. The female prisoner count in the agricultural sub camps at Janaury 17, 1945 are estimates. 
The prisoner numbers in the years before January 17,1945 are sourced from a combination of  Auschwitz 1940-1945 Vol. I-V, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Oświęcim 2000 and the individual histories of the Auschwitz sub camps in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum journal, Zeszyty Oświęcimskie.

SS Kommandos

Two sub camps were set up where prisoners directly worked for the Auschwitz concentration camp: SS Hütte Porombka, the holiday home for the Auschwitz concentration camp personnel and the first sub camp of Auschwitz, Aussenkommando Sosnitz. These sub camps housed relatively few prisoners.

In addition, Auschwitz prisoners were employed by the SS Main Economic and Administrative Main Office (WVHA) in renovation of the SS Technical Academy in Brünn and labouring at the cement works in Goleszów and nearby quarries. As with work in the coal mines and chemical plants the nature of the work, hard physical labour in Arbeitslager Golleschau resulted in one of the highest death rates of any Auschwitz sub camp.


Table Structure:
The prisoner numbers for 1945 are as at January, 17 1945. The prisoner numbers for the previous years are as at the end of the particular year. The  exceptions to this, for illustrative purposes, are the sub camps which only existed intra calender year: Aussenkommando Chelmek, Aussenkommando Sosnitz, 2 SS Bauzug and Tschechowitz-Bombensucherkommando.
Sources:
The prisoners numbers at January 17,1945 are sourced  from the testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Otto Wolken, 22nd June 1945. Viewed 10 August 2019 https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3755/edition/3736/. Wolken discovered the final prisoner count for the Auschwitz complex at January 17, 1945. Wolken provides the number of male  prisoners in the Auschwitz complex including exact numbers for the male prisoners in the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps and the agricultural sub camps of Auschwitz II-Birkenau on January 17, 1945. The female prisoner numbers for the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps are sourced from the Auschwitz III-Monowitz female prisoner strength reports at 30 December 1944. The female prisoner count in the agricultural sub camps at Janaury 17, 1945 are estimates. 
The prisoner numbers in the years before January 17,1945 are sourced from a combination of  Auschwitz 1940-1945 Vol. I-V, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Oświęcim 2000 and the individual histories of the Auschwitz sub camps in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum journal, Zeszyty Oświęcimskie.

Other

There are four work places which have not been allocated to specific industries. These are businesses or state organisations to which Auschwitz prisoners were allocated for building or excavation works.


Table Structure:
The prisoner numbers for 1945 are as at January, 17 1945. The prisoner numbers for the previous years are as at the end of the particular year. The  exceptions to this, for illustrative purposes, are the sub camps which only existed intra calender year: Aussenkommando Chelmek, Aussenkommando Sosnitz, 2 SS Bauzug and Tschechowitz-Bombensucherkommando.
Sources:
The prisoners numbers at January 17,1945 are sourced  from the testimony of former Auschwitz prisoner Otto Wolken, 22nd June 1945. Viewed 10 August 2019 https://www.zapisyterroru.pl/dlibra/publication/3755/edition/3736/. Wolken discovered the final prisoner count for the Auschwitz complex at January 17, 1945. Wolken provides the number of male  prisoners in the Auschwitz complex including exact numbers for the male prisoners in the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps and the agricultural sub camps of Auschwitz II-Birkenau on January 17, 1945. The female prisoner numbers for the Auschwitz III-Monowitz sub camps are sourced from the Auschwitz III-Monowitz female prisoner strength reports at 30 December 1944. The female prisoner count in the agricultural sub camps at Janaury 17, 1945 are estimates. 
The prisoner numbers in the years before January 17,1945 are sourced from a combination of  Auschwitz 1940-1945 Vol. I-V, Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Oświęcim 2000 and the individual histories of the Auschwitz sub camps in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum journal, Zeszyty Oświęcimskie.