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By supporting the Foundation, You help us to save memory places and artifacts that are left over by the activity of KL Auschwitz – Birkenau concentration camp from being forgotten. Our shared cooperation will help to save those silent witnessess of the tragic events for future generations.

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Memory sites


Category: Places of memory

GPS N 49.97283 E 19.13755 (PARKING N 49.97297 E 19.13992)

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Together with the start of the war, all the german industry switched to defense policy. One of the most important elements of this machine, were the people. The ones who got drafted, could not work any longer for the sake of industry. The authorities of the Reich, to fill those shortages, started a forced labor, then using of prisoners from concentration camps started.

Brzeszcze – Jawischowitz mine since 1940 belonged to Upper Silesian Council of Mines from Herman Goering Concern in Katowice (HGW). HGW, as a state sector potentate, was privileged in deliveries of materials, worktools and manpower. Brzeszcze – Jawischowitz mine, considered by the authorities as essential for the war effort, was also privileged. Thanks to that, it was systematically expanded. In August 1942, to meet the requirements for coal production, the HGW concern signed a contract with German Main Office of Economy and Administration SS, on which behalf  KL Auschwitz was supposed to deliver 6, 000 prisoners to work at the mine.

Barracks that were previously built for foreign workers, were redestined for camp in Jawischowitz. First prisoners were sent to Jawischowitz on 15th of August 1942, there were 150 of them, assigned to work underground. It was the first case like that in the istory of the concentration camps.

On the camp ground, facilities such as hospital, guard house, office, workshops, laundry, baths and kitchen were built. The camp was surrounded by electrified barbed wire and guard posts. Up to November 1943 the subcamp was under the orders of KL Auschwitz headquarters. After dividing the Auschwitz camp to 3 units, the Jawischowitz sub camp became a part of Auschwitz III – Monowitz.

In September 1942, Jawischowitz consisted of 500 prisoners. In July 1944, there were more than 2,500 of them. At the evacuation, the camp was occupied by 1948 prisoners. By the nationality view, most of them were Jewish. There were also some Polish, Russian and German prisoners.

Sub camp in Jawischowitz was considered one of the toughest, and ending there was treated as a punishment. Prisoners sent here worked in hard conditions, and were treated unhumanely by the SS soldiers. They were severly beaten and sent to the carcer. One of the punishments was also a public whipping, and the worst offenses were punished by hanging, witnessed by all the prisoners. The barrack were massively overpopulated, in some cases even five times more than the expected quantity of people that could fit. The only thing that slightly improved the hygiene, was obligatory bath after the work and changing of the clothes used to work to those that were used at the camp.

Particulary hard period for the prisoners was the winter. Penetrating cold in the barracks, and nothing to keep the heating up, forced prisoners to smuggle coal in their clothes. Some of the prisoners working above the ground, trying to warm themselves up, used so called „shirts” made of torn cement bags.

The food rations were more than insufficient for the need of prisoners doing so hard work. Jawischowitz had a camp orchestra, same like in Auschwitz. It's roleup to 1943 was to assist with music prisoners leaving for work, and those coming back. Later, the concerts were limited only to Sundays and celebrations. The orchestra played in a specifical place, so the music could be heard by the prisoners, people walking by the camp and the SS soldiers sipping a beer in the near cantina.

The existence of hospital in Jawischowitz, that was called „The district”, was an illusion. Injuries, suffered by prisoners at work in the mine, were almost always serious. Offered medical help had no possible way to treat them, and the injured workers died. Medics were also prisoners. In the hospital, the number of injured and ill could not exceed 6% of the whole personage, with convalescence not longer than 2 weeks. Hospital staff tried to help the most serious injured by using administrative tricks.

The camp held instant selections of prisoners. Ill and exhausted, not fit for work, ended in gas chambers. Sometimes it happened, that few of them were transported still breathing, with corpses of other inmates. Deceased and outselected were replaced with new prisoners.

Fate of the Jews in Jawischowitz, mostly the same as in other camps, was limited to living till next day. Tho they were the biggest part of workforce, the authorities of the  camp used antisemitic administrative rigors on them. If possible, they were located in separated barracks, and one of the latrines was signed „ Nur für Arier”(Only for Arians; Germans) . In hospital they were treated only by medics, that were also Jewish.

Evacuation of the camp happened on he night from 18th to 19th of January 1945. Only the one, who could not march, were left at the camp. All the rest was rerouted to Wodzislav of Silesia, while the temperature oustside oscillated around -20 degrees. For many of them, it was the last march. Those that survived, boarded open coal carts and went to KL Matthausen, KL Buchenwald and it's sub camps.

On the pictures are visible the original objects of the former camp infrastructure ie bath building and a lamppost. They are in their original locations from the period of activity of the camp. In the vicinity of the lamppost there are located two replicas of figures of miners, the originals of which are in the Auschwitz-Birkenau. These originals were made by prisoner from subcamp of Jewish origin Markiel Jacob (Jacques Markiel). Markiel was born in Lodz in 1911 after graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow he continued further education in Paris, where the war got to him. In 1943, after the arrest he is transported to Auschwitz, and then sent to work in the mines subcamp Jawischowitz. With plastic abilities fired from his job at the mine, to the works of an artistic nature. He did a variety of decorative elements of the camp including the aforementioned sculptures and decorative items for the SS and prisoners.

Bibliography:

Auschwitz 1940 – 1945. Węzłowe zagadnienia z dziejów obozu. Tom 1 Założenie i organizacja obozu., pod red. W. Długoborskiego, F. Pipera, Oświęcim 1995. 

Der Ort des Terrors. Geschichte der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager., Band 5., pod red. W.Benz, B. Distel, München 2007.

Strzelecki A., Podobóz Jawischowitz, Zeszyty Oświęcimskie nr 15, Oświęcim 1974. 

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