Location: Prudnik, Poland
Camp Commandant: SS-Oberscharführer Paul Heinrich Theodor Müller
The Neustadt Sub-Camp was established in September 1944 in the town of Neustadt (Prudnik) on the old premises of a textile factory. It had been previously owned by a Jewish man, Samuel Frankl, before the war, and was renamed Schlesische Feinweberei AG Neustadt O/S after the war broke out.
Like many other III Reich industrial plants, during the war Schlesische Feinweberei used the labour of foreign workers, prisoners of war (POWs), and in 1944 it accessed the reserves of cheap slave labour of Auschwitz concentration camp prisoners. Negotiations in the business or putting prisoners to work were finalised in September 1944. A surviving order of Auschwitz III Monowitz commandant SS-Hauptsturmführer Heinrich Schwarz, dated September 6th, 1944, proves this: it assigned SS guard staff to the newly forming Neustadt Sub-Camp from the Lagischa Sub-Camp, which was actually closed down on the same day. The first and last transport of 400 female Hungarian Jewish prisoners were brought to Schlesische Feinweberei on September 26th, 1944.
The women brought from Auschwitz II Birkenau were placed on the second floor of one of the factory buildings, in space that had previously housed a forced labour camp for Polish Jews. Bars were put on the windows of the rooms allocated for the prisoners, and the building and yard were fenced.
The commandant of Neustadt was SS-Oberscharführer Paul Heinrich Theodor Müller, who had earlier been commandant of the women's camp at Birkenau and had also been the commander of the Monowitz staff prior to his assignment to Neustadt. Max Krause, the Neustadt area Gestapo chief, conducted random inspections on the factory premises. his chief characteristic was his particular sadism. Neustadt residents called him the 'devil of Prudnik county'.
Even when they arrived at Neustadt, the women were haggard and mentally broken. Hunger, hours of work in the factory, and anxiety over the plight of the loved ones with whom they had been brought to Auschwitz devastated them even more. Dead prisoners were buried in the Jewish cemetery in Neustadt which is was only one of two sub-camps to dispose of their dead in this way, with the other camp Charlottegrube.
The prisoners learned to weave as soon as they arrived at Neustadt, for about 2 to 3 weeks. They were then put to work in the weaving plant. Accounts of people who were employed there with the prisoners show that they were so physically exhausted and mentally broken that they simply did not have an ounce of strength to work. The SS men forced them to do so by beating them.
The sub-camp was shut down on January 19th, 1945 and the women there were evacuated on foot to the Gross Rosen concentration camp, from where they were then taken to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Information about sources we used while researching the sub-camp you can find here.