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Camp Zgoda, main gate - monument

The Zgoda labour camp was a concentration camp for Germans and Silesians in Communist Poland operated in 1945 in Świętochłowice, Silesia, (nowadays Poland).

It was formerly a labour subcamp (Arbeitslager Eintrachtshütte) of the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, opened in Świętochłowice in 1943, in operation until January 1945.

Contents

Arbeitslager Eintrachthütte

The Eintrachthütte labour camp operated from 1943-May-26 to January 1945 as a subcamp of Auschwitz-Birkenau with commanders SS-Hauptscharführer Josef Remmele (from the creation to July 1944) and SS-Hauptscharführer Wilhelm Gehring (from 1944-July-18 to the end of camp operation on 1945-January-23). Both were brutal in relations to the prisoners, involved in tortures, and personally involved in executions carried out at the camp.

The camp consisted of a few wooden barracks for the prisoners (the administration building was brick). It was double fenced with high-voltage barbwire. The space between the fences was 1.5 m and covered with sand. There were 10 spotlights and four guard towers in the camp corners.

The prisoner living conditions were typical for these kind of camps. The prisoners lived in two-room barracks. The beds were three-level high, with straw-packed mattresses and blankets. Each room accommodated 60 to 80 prisoners. The food was sparse. For breakfast, coffee substitute was given; for dinner, a spinach soup or similar and occasionally a piece of sausage; for supper, coffee substitute, small portion of margarine, some cheese and 0.25 kg of bread, which was meant to be divided between the supper and the following breakfast.

The prisoners were from countries at war with Nazi Germany. The maximum number of prisoners at one time was 1374. The purpose of the camp was to provide workforce to a nearby armament factory (nowadays ZUT Zgoda SA) and the prisoners were employed by companies OSMAG (Oberschlesische Maschinen und Waggonfabrik AG) and Ost-Maschinenbau. Sick or unable to work prisoners were sent back to the mother camp. The mortality was high with a weekly toll of 10 to 15. The overall number of casualities during the period of camp operation is estimated at several hundred (the camp documents perished therefore the exact number is not known).

The Eintrachthütte camp was evacuated by Germans and taken by the Red Army on 1945-January-23. It was re-opened as Zgoda Labour Camp.

Zgoda Labour Camp

The camp was reopened in February 1945 and continued to be used until November, under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Public Security of Poland. It was one of several camps of this type in Silesia (the central camp was the one in Jaworzno).[1].

About 6,000 (including children, women and elderly people) were imprisoned at the Zgoda camp since it was re-opened.[1] Many of its prisoners were political prisoners (i.e., people considered fascists), but the majority consisted of Silesians from I and II categorie Volksliste and Germans (these two groups encompassed almost all Silesians), with some Poles and at least 38 inmates of other nationalities; often entire German villages were deported to such concentration camps. According to the Polish Institute of National Remembrance, after the World War II, "almost the entire local population (of Upper Silesia) became legally suspect of the crime of treason against the Polish state" [1] . At least 1,855 lost their lives at the Zgoda camp from February until November 1945, many because of a typhus epidemic, over 600 in August alone. This figure includes only the documented casualities,[1] the overall toll is estimated at 2,500. The inmates were systematically maltreated and tortured.[1]

The camp was considered one of the most cruel Stalinist crimes against Silesian population. Its commanders were Aleksy Krut and Salomon Morel (at first jointly, and then Morel alone). Morel was a former member of the communist underground army Armia Ludowa, and later a decorated servant within the Polish communist prison system. He left Poland for Israel in 1992. He was subsequently wanted by the Polish authorities for war crimes and crimes against humanity (Poland requested his extradition twice). Morel died in February, 2007.

The Zgoda camp was closed in November 1945 after an inspection by a commission when, according to Morel, the camp was no longer needed.[1] Almost all the remaining prisoners were released.[1] However, they first had to sign an undertaking, under the penalty of prison, to never disclose the events in the camp.[1] For years, the history of the camp lived exclusively in the memories of the former prisoners and their families, carefully hidden for fear of repressions for revealing how native people of Silesia were treated.[1]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i (in Polish) "Historia Obozu Pracy w Świętochłowicach" (History of the Labour Camp in Swietochlowice") The Institute of National Remembrance (Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, web site, accessed 2009-04-29.

Further reading

  • (German) Alfred M. de Zayas: Die Anglo-Amerikaner und die Vertreibung der Deutschen, Ullstein, 1988, ISBN 3548330991
  • (German) John Sack: Auge um Auge, Ernst Kabel Verlag, Hamburg 1995, ISBN 3822503398
  • (Polish) An online report by Institute of National Remembrance, including Overview, Chronology, Historical narrative, Camp layout, S.Morel, Statistics, Letters, and Documents.
  • (Polish) List of the victims
  • (German) Gerhard Gruschka: ZGODA. Ein Ort des Schreckens. ars una, Neuried 1997, ISBN 3893916075
  • (Polish) Gerhard Gruschka, Zgoda - miejsce grozy: obóz koncentracyjny w Świętochłowicach, Wokół Nas, Gliwice 1998, ISBN 83-85338-74-8
  • (German) Sepp Jendryschik: Zgoda : Eine Station auf dem schlesischen Leidensweg, 2000, ISBN 3-927933-67-8
  • (German) Franz W. Seidler, Alfred de Zayas (Hrsg.): Kriegsverbrechen in Europa und im Nahen Osten im 20. Jahrhundert, (darin Aufsatz von Helga Hirsch), Mittler Verlag, Hamburg Berlin Bonn 2002, ISBN 3813207021
  • (Polish) Adam Dziurok, Obóz pracy w Świętochłowicach w 1945 roku (a collection of documents), IPN, Warszawa 2003, ISBN 83-915983-6-5

External links

Coordinates: 50°16′44″N 18°54′50″E / 50.2788888889°N 18.9138888889°E / 50.2788888889; 18.9138888889

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