Location: Zabrze, Poland
Camp Commandant: SS-Unterscharführer Adolf Taube
At the start of World War II, the Donnersmarchütte steel mill in the city of Hindenburg (later Zabrze) belonged to Vereinigte Oberschlesische Hüttenwerke AG as it had before the war, but by this time the steel mill had converted its output over to military needs.
As so many German workers had been called into the armed forces, the firm brought in forced labourers and prisoners of war (POW's) to work in the mill.
In early August 1944, approximately 400 female prisoners from the Auschwitz concentration camp were sent from Donnersmarchütte, 70 male prisoners joined them in the late fall of that year. The barracks allocated to them were located on the steel mill grounds near Foundaries 3 and 4.
The sub-camp commandant was SS-Unterscharführer Adolf Taube, former muster officer at the Birkenau women's camp, who was especially cruel towards female prisoners. One of the female overseers was Joanna Bormann who was previously the commandant of the Babitz Sub-Camp and who was evil and as cruel as Taube.
Over the sub-camps more than 5 month existence, the number of women living there increased to 471. The majority of them were Polish Jews selected from the female prisoners bought to Auschwitz on July 31st 1944.
The sub-camps male Jewish prisoners had been brought to the Auschwitz camp from the Theresiensdtadt Ghetto in early October 1944. Most of the female prisoners were put to work in the steel mill's foundry, manufacturing ammunition. SS men and Wehrmacht soldiers escorted the women prisoners to work in the steel mills respective departments and supervised them during work along with female prisoners serving as foreman.
Sunday was also a work day for most of the female and steel mill employees, Hindenburg sub-camps males prisoners were most probably put to work in the cooking plant and Cordia mine.
The living conditions of the Hindenburg sub-camp prisoners were similar to those existing at the other camps of the Auschwitz concentration camp system. They lived in wooden barracks, wore camp clothing (striped) and were limited to a starvation diet. Being Jews, they were not allowed to receive food packages. Sometimes, they would receive some food assistance from some of the workers employed at the Hindenburg steel mill.
Strict discipline prevailed in the camp and women prisoners were summarily punished for any small offense or for no reason at all, with punitive exercises, kneeling and beatings.
The sub-camp was shutdown on January 19th, 1945. In the evening the women prisoners were escorted on foot to the Gleiwitz II Sub-Camp where they were loaded on to coal cars and moved to the Gross Rosen concentration camp.
Information about sources we used while researching the sub-camp you can find here.