Survivors

Who Were the Survivors of the Auschwitz Sub Camps, the Death Marches, and the Camps in the Altreich?

This section of the website is dedicated to the survivors of the Auschwitz sub camps and subsequent death marches west. We publish here short biographies of 127 survivors of the Auschwitz sub camps.

As part of a separate research project on the death camp Kulmhof 1, Tiergarten4Association have investigated the fate of individual Jewish prisoners from the labour camps of the Warthegau. 2 These Polish Jews had been enlisted for slave labour as early as February 1940, even before the Warthegau ghettos had been established. Many continued to work in the labour camps until 1943, when SS-Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler took the decision to close the remaining Jewish labour camps in Silesia, Warthegau and Government General and transport the prisoners to Auschwitz. Between March and September 1943 approximately 14,000 3 Jews from the Warthegau labour camps were transported to Auschwitz and 7,000 survived the selection on arrival. Many of those selected ended up in the sub camps of Auschwitz. Our analysis does not include Jews from the Litzmannstadt ghetto who had not previously passed through a Warthegau labour camp.

This research work on the Warthegau Jews is based on the records of displaced persons held by the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen in Germany. The information in these records was collected at the end of the war and in the post war period. The records provide details of individual survivors, their families but also more importantly for our research, their biographies including which ghettos, labour camps and concentration camps they passed through between September 1939 and May 1945. These records were also utilised after the war by the German Government for pension and compensation claims by surviving slave labourers.

Tiergarten4Association´s original research was aimed at survivors of the labour camps in the Warthegau4; approximately 500 separate survivor files. The following information was recorded from the file of each survivor:

  1. Name

  2. Date of Birth

  3. Profession

  4. Ghetto(s)

  5. Labour camp(s)

  6. Date transported to Auschwitz

  7. Auschwitz sub camp(s)

  8. Concentration and other camp(s) transferred to after the closure of Auschwitz in January 1945.

The analysis of these records has not been fully completed but we have created approximately 250 short biographies so far. Analysis shows nearly 100% passed through Auschwitz and 127 surviving former prisoners definitely passed through one or more of the Auschwitz sub camps. Some of the 250 biographies are not detailed enough and give no information on the camp history of the former prisoner in Auschwitz. Some of these prisoners may also have been assigned to the Auschwitz sub camps. We include on the website only the biographies of the 127 former prisoners who specifically gave information on having been assigned to one of the Auschwitz sub camps including Monowitz.

We have not completed our analysis of the 127 biographies of former Auschwitz sub camp prisoners but are still able to make some preliminary conclusions. Approximately 95% of the survivors were born between 1910 (35 years old in 1945) and 1925 (20 years old in 1945). The oldest survivor was born in 1897 (48 years old by 1945), the youngest born in 1930 (15 years old by 1945). Many of the survivors were tailors by profession but there were also metal workers, office workers, butchers, schoolchildren and many other professions and trades. There were few women amongst the survivors.

Many of the surviving Warthegau Jews had been forced into labour camps from the beginning of 1940. Some had been in as many as six labour camps before they were transported to Auschwitz. Many had also worked on building the Reichsautobahn between Frankfurt an der Oder and Poznań; hard physical labour.

A large number of Jews from the Warthegau arriving in Auschwitz in 1943 were assigned to the sub camps of Monowitz, Neu-Dachs, Janinagrube, Eintrachthütte, Fürstengrube, Jawischowitz and Lagischa. Work in these sub camps was some of the most physically demanding of any in the Auschwitz complex of camps. Many of the prisoners remained in these sub camps until January 1945 when the camps were closed and they were sent on death marches to the west. The routes of the death marches described in the survivors´ biographies provide additional information to that provided in the individual sub camp section of the website. Many of the prisoners from the Auschwitz sub camps ended up in the concentration camps of Gross-Rosen, Buchenwald, Mittelbau-Dora, Flossenbürg, Sachsenhausen, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen and Mauthausen. But this was not the end of the journey nor the torment of the prisoners. From these concentration camps, many prisoners were directed to sub camps of these concentration camps, and later, many were evacuated to other concentration camps and their sub camps including Neuengamme and Bergen-Belsen and also to the Theresienstadt ghetto. Some of the Warthegau Jews ended up in Neustadt in Schleswig and survived the sinking of the Cap Arcona in the Bay of Lübeck on 3 May 1945. The Cap Arcona was being used as a prison ship when it was attacked and sunk by the British Air Force. There were approximately 5,000 former concentration camp prisoners on board the Cap Arcona and it is estimated only 350 survived.

How many of the approximately 7,000 Jews transported and selected for work in Auschwitz in 1943 from the Jewish labour camps of the Warthegau survived the war ? It is extremely difficult to even make an estimate. Based on our unfinished research only approximately 500 of the 7,000 survived the war. This must be heavily caveated by the fact our research to date has concentrated only on the files held by the ITS in Arolsen. It may be that not all survivors were recorded or made claims for pensions or compensation after the war. The files on survivors are patchy. Possibly some survivors did not register they had been incarcerated in Auschwitz concentration camp.

Based on our research to date less than 10% of the Jews from the Warthegau labour camps who arrived in Auschwitz mainly in June, August and September 1943 and who survived initial selection survived the war. It should also be noted that for the Jews of the Warthegau the chances of surviving the war for women, children under 14 and men over the age of 35 were low to nil.

The question of how many Jews from the Warthegau labour camps survived the war? – must be extended to how many of the 36,596 prisoners in the Auschwitz sub camps on January 17, 1945 survived the war? This question we cannot answer without further research.


1 In Polish Chelmno. Approximately 150,000 mainly Jews from the Warthegau were killed in gas vans and by shooting between December 1941 and April 1943 in Kulmhof. From May 1944 to January 1945 another approximately 6,000 Jews from the Litzmannstadt ghetto were murdered in Kulmhof.
2 The Reichsgau Wartheland was created as a separate Gau in 1939 after the annexation of parts of Western Poland by the Nazis. The Warthegau was made up of three administrative districts: Posen (Poznań), Litzmannstadt (Łódź) and Hohensalza (Inowrocław).
3 Czech, Danuta, Kalendarz wydarzeń w KL Auschwitz, Oświęcim, 1992. Transports from the Warthegau Jewish labour camps to Auschwitz between January and September 1943: 6 June 1943 transport of 1,000 Jews, approximately 700 gassed on arrival; 23 August 1943 transport of 2,000 Jews, approximately 1,000 gassed on arrival; 27 August 1943 transport of 1,026 Jews, 10 gassed on arrival; 28 August 1943 transport of 800 Jews, approximately 70 gassed on arrival; 29 August 1943 transport of 2,000 Jews, approximately 600 gassed on arrival; 29 August 1943 transport of 1,600 Jews, approximately 600 gassed on arrival; 31 August 1943 transport of 3,000 Jews (possibly not all from the Warthegau), approximately 2,000 gassed on arrival; 2 September 1943 transport of 3,000 Jews (possibly not all from the Warthegau), approximately 2,000 gassed on arrival; 31 October 1943 transport of 348 Jews, 276 gassed on arrival. Also other small transports between January and September 1943. Total number of arrivals of Jews from the Warthegau labour camps in this period somewhere between 12,000 and 17,000 of which we estimate 14,000. Up to half were gassed on arrival in Auschwitz. Therefore our estimate of those registered in Auschwitz 7,000. Further research is required to determine a more exact number of Jews arriving from the Warthegau Jewish labour camps.
4 By May 1943 when Kulmhof had been closed all remaining Jews of the Warthegau were concentrated in the Jewish labour camps or in the Litzmannstadt ghetto. By the time the Warthegau labour camps were closed in September 1943 the Jews remaining in the Warthegau were concentrated in the Litzmannstadt ghetto. Our research concentrated on Jews who had passed through the Warthegau labour camps. We did not include those Jews who were residents of the Litzmannstadt ghetto who had not passed through one of the Warthegau labour camps. 
5 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. 

Further Research

Tiergarten4Association e.V. would like to complete the research and analysis of the approximately 500 files of Warthegau labour camp survivors we identified in the ITS in Arolsen. We would also extend the research to other survivor sources. Further research on the records of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum is also required in relation to the transports arriving in Auschwitz in 1943. Danuta Czech´s, “Kalendarz wydarzeń w KL Auschwitz” provides details of transports arriving and prisoner numbers allocated to those selected for work. We have confirmed the prisoner numbers allocated in Auschwitz to the Warthegau labour camp Jews match those allocated to prisoners on the specific transports we identified. However, it is not clear that these transports and the prisoner numbers allocated only relate to transports from the Warthegau.

Our research so far has concentrated on the Jews of the Warthegau. This is but one category of prisoners who were sent to the Auschwitz sub camps. Other categories of prisoners included:

  1. Jewish forced labourers from the Organisation Schmelt camps in Silesia,

  2. Jewish forced labourers from labour camps in the General Government,

  3. Jews from Hungary, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, Belgium, The Netherlands and countries from all over Europe transported with their families to Auschwitz and selected for work,

  4. Political prisoners from all over Europe including many non-Jewish Poles,

  5. Soviet civilians and former prisoners of war,

  6. German criminals,

  7. Sinti and Roma.

We would like to extend the research to all the survivors of the Auschwitz sub camps based on the records of the International Tracing Service (ITS) now called Arolsen archives in Bad Arolsen in Germany and other sources.

Jewish Prisoners From the Warthegau Who Survived the Auschwitz Sub Camps


This table and the research work on the Warthegau Jews is based on the records of displaced persons held by the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen in Germany. The information in these records was collected at the end of the war and in the post war period. The records provide details of individual survivors, their families but also more importantly for our research, their biographies including which ghettos, labour camps and concentration camps they passed through between September 1939 and May 1945. These records were also utilised after the war by the German Government for pension and compensation claims by surviving slave labourers. The table utilises the Polish names for birth places and locations and the German names for the names of the ghettos, labour camps and concentration camps.

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