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Stutthof

    Stutthof was built near the town of Sztutowo, Poland on September 2nd, 1939 as an internment camp for Poles, Jews and Germans marked as enemies against the Reich. By the second week the camp had gained about 6,000 inmates. The Danzig Gestapo, Guard Battalion Eimann, and Police Leader Vistual Richard Hildebrandt along with other Higher SS officials were in charge of the camp at the beginning of its inception. The SS in the camp’s early years had coined this camp as a “special camp” or a “civil internment camp.” In January of 1942, the Inspection of Concentration Camps designated the camp as a concentration camp. Reichsfuhrer- SS Heinrich Himmler viewed the system set up by the Danzig Gestapo of leasing inmates at the camp to businesses for profit as a great way to help benefit Germany from economic struggles caused by the war and loss of men at the Moscow siege in December 1941. He sought to expand the camp for this purpose and put SS Captain Max Pauli as the commandment in charge of the operation.[1] A total of 105 sub-camps were constructed for this labor. Two of the major ones included in these were Thorn and Elbing. The construction of the “new camp” by Stutthof’s “old camp” consisted of 30 barracks that were meant to hold 20,000-25,000 inmates.[2] Basic staples such as kitchen rooms and stalls were also to be constructed to accomadate the influx of inmates.[3] In addition to this, extensive labor workshops for inmates to create goods for the Deutsche Ausrustungswekre GmBH were built. During 1944, a Focke Wulff airplane factory was built for inmates to work on military goods.[4] A crematorium was built in autumn of 1942[5] and a complimentary gas chamber was built in the spring of 1944. This chamber was built to accommodate an estimated 150 people per killing and when there was not enough room wagons were used to gas inmates. The killings by use of Zyklon B gas started in June 1944.[6] Lethal injections of benzene or phenol in the camps infirmary were also used as another source of killing the camp’s sick inmates.[7]  

    Towards the end of the war in January 1945, there were about 50,000 inmates left in the Stutthof camps. An estimated 5,000 of these inmates from the sub-camps were forced on a death march to the Baltic Sea where they were murdered by machine gun fire. The other surviving inmates were forced on a death march towards Lauenburg, Germany but had to turn back to Stutthof because of the Soviets close proximity. The estimated 4,000 inmates, who survived this march and remaining evacuations, were taken by boat to Neuengamme and other labor camps in April of 1945. On May 9,1945 the Soviet army liberated the camp, which had, close to 100 inmates surviving who hid from the last evacuations. The other remaining inmates from the death marches escaped in Sweden. About one in two inmates perished in these evacuations before the liberation.[8] There were about 127,000 inmates over the course of the camp’s existence from September 1939 to May of 1945. Approximately 85,000 at minimum perished in the camp.[9]

 

 



[1] Angrick, Andrej, and Peter Klein. 2009. The “final solution” in Riga: exploitation and annihilation, 1941-1944. New York: Berghahn Books. 416

 

[2] Even though this was the projected plan by the Nazis it never came to fruition before the war ended. Ibid. , 416-417

 

 

[3] The expansion was so slow that new make shift barracks were built next to the “new camp” in order to house the inmates. A specific Jewish camp was built of ten barracks with no sewage or washrooms in order to alleviate the cramped room in the camp. Ibid. , 418

 

[4] United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Stutthof.” Holocaust Encyclopedia. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/?ModuleId=10005143. Accessed November 14, 2012.

 

[5] The crematoriums eventually did not have the capacity to burn the amount of bodies that passed from disease and starvation. Pyres were built to burn about 1,000 corpses per night according to a guard from Death’s Head Battalion Riga. Angrick, Andrej, and Peter Klein. 2009. The “final solution” in Riga: exploitation and annihilation, 1941-1944. New York: Berghahn Books.422

 

[6] When the gassings became known throughout the camp the inmates started putting up oppositions against the SS. In order to prevent this from continuing the SS used an equipped freight car on the Danzig-Steegen line to gas the deceived victims. Ibid. , 422

 

[7] This was done under Dr. Heidl and SS Technical Sergeant Otto Haupt’s supervision. It was done in a room by the crematorium and staged to look like a doctor’s visit. Ibid. , 423

[8] United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Stutthof.” Holocaust Encyclopedia. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/?ModuleId=10005143. Accessed November 14, 2012.

 

[9] This number is subject to non-recorded deaths from death marches, random executions and the amount of inmates that perished on transport to the camp. It is also a minimal estimation of the victims that perished at the Stutthof concentration camp.