Location: Sosnowiec, Poland
Camp Commandant: SS-Hauptscharführer Albin Vaupe
Number of Prisoners: around 900
Employer in Charge: Berghütte-Ost-Maschinenbau GmbH
Dates of Camps Existence: May 1944 to January 1945
In May 1944, the Sosnowitz II sub-camp was established following the closure of the Sosnowitz I camp in the February prior. The Berghütte-Ost-Maschinenbau GmbH company who had a factory close to the Sosnowiec freight station had approached the employment office of the SS about supplying labour to the factory. Negotiations began in the March to discuss prisoner roles, accommodation and payment for skilled/non-skilled labour.
At the beginning of May 1944, 600 prisoners from Auschwitz were sent by train to the newly built sub-camp that was constructed opposite the Berghütte-Ost-Maschinenbau factory, just across the rail lines that separated the two areas. The factory management requested that 1,400 prisoners be sent to work, but the population never surpassed 900 in that camps existence.
According to the testimony of Eugeniusz Podlasko, a civilian prisoner, he stated that the prisoners lived in 6 barracks, however, only 3 were allocated as living quarters. The SS were paid 6RM for a skilled labourer and 4RM for non-skilled, however most of the prisoner tasks were menial and as support workers for the civilians working on the machines. Skilled prisoners had less taxing duties that did not require hard labour. In general, the work carried out was not as tough as other industrial camps. The SS insisted that they would guard the factory during working hours which meant they treated the prisoners how they wanted. Every action they made was treated with scrutiny but very rarely would the prisoners be mistreated at work. This would happen on the way back to the sub-camp or after their shifts had ended.
Prisoners would eat the same rations of soup and bread that was standard at the main camp of Auschwitz, however in addition, they had access to leftover food from the factories canteen. Despite this, many prisoners died or were killed at the camp. The trains that bought in provisions such as food and clothing would often return to Auschwitz with dead prisoners on board.
The Commandant of the camp was SS-Hauptscharführer Albin Vaupe. Under his control, the camp population levelled at around 850-900 and if prisoners died, more prisoners from the main camp at Auschwitz were sent to replace them. The majority of prisoners at the camp were Jews from all over Europe. The mix of nationalities would also go some way to prevent resistance in the camp.
Most escape attempts were thwarted and resulted in shooting whilst trying to escape or death by hanging in the courtyard of the sub-camp. Around 4 or 5 attempts were made to escape, some with the help of civilian workers who provided clothing. Civilians who worked at the factory were told that they would end up in the camp if they helped prisoners even in the smallest way.
The camp was evacuated in 2 stages. In December 1944, non-Jews were sent back to Auschwitz and later in January 1945, the remaining prisoners were sent on foot to the Gleiwitz II sub-camp where they were sent on trains to Mauthausen.
Information about sources we used while researching the sub-camp you can find here.