Location: Sosnowiec, Poland
Camp Commandants: SS-Rottenführer Lehman, SS-Unterscharführer Horst Czerwiński
In August 1943, a sub-camp was established by the entrance to the former Jewish district in Sosnowiec that became Sosnowitz I. A building that was previously owned by a Rabbi and used as Jewish community building was confiscated by the Nazis and converted into offices for the SS. The primary function of the sub-camp was the complete renovation of the offices so the prisoners sent from Auschwitz were mostly skilled tradesmen such as builders, painters and electricians. Around 100 prisoners worked on the renovation, with the number made up from 50% Jews, many from France and 50% Poles. According to the testimony of Edward Spurtacz, the Poles were more qualified and worked as bricklayers, carpenters, electricians and potters.
The former Jewish community building where over 1,000 people once worked, encompassed the entire corner of the complex and was further extended either side of its address at 12 Targowa Street.
The work day, that lasted up to 12 hours was all undertaken within the confines of the internal structure. Prisoners had no need to leave the building, nevertheless, an SS guard unit of around 15 men were present everywhere, inside and out of the building. Prisoners were counted several times a day, therefore escape was impossible. There are no recorded deaths therefore we can assume no one was killed here and no selection took place in the 6 months the camp was operational. However, survivors have stated that due to the lack of medical care in the sub-camp, sick prisoners could have been sent back to the main camp hospital to receive treatment. According to several testimonies, the treatment of prisoners was brutal and beatings common place. The German overseers also made the daily life of prisoners hell by whipping prisoners who worked too slow. SS-Rottenführer Lehman who was the first Commandant of the camp would select a new victim each day to beat up and humiliate. SS-Unterscharführer Horst Czerwińsk replaced Lehman when he was accused of stealing prisoner rations. As a result, the already inadequate rations given to the prisoners was getting less during this time. When caught, Lehman returned back to the main camp at Auschwitz as punishment.
The Commandant, SS and prisoners all lived in the building. The Commandant had his own room, and a larger communal space was customised to house the SS. The prisoners slept in one room covered in straw with bars on the windows. The SS guarded outside the door and under the windows outside the building. Each prisoner had 1 blanket each and was allowed to change underwear once each week. The uniform was the typical striped uniforms but no coats were issued as the work was indoors.
At the beginning of 1944, the number of prisoners began to decrease as the work was near completion. Over at least 2 transports, prisoners were gradually moved to the Lagischa sub-camp. An order was placed at the Betonwerkstattenbarracken in Oświęcim for a number of camp posts and material to be delivered to form a new fence thus creating the camp.
Information about sources we used while researching the sub-camp you can find here.