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Golleschau

Location: Goleszów, Poland
Camp Commandants: SS-Oberscharführer Hans Picklapp, SS- Oberscharführer Hans Mirbeth, SS-Unterscharführer Horst Czerwiński

The village of Goleszów (Golleschau) is near the Polish-Czech border, over 60 kilometres south-west of Oświęcim. Before the war broke out, a cement plant was located there.

The first Auschwitz prisoners arrived at the Golleschau Sub-Camp in early August 1942. They were mainly skilled workers, brick layers and carpenters whose job it was to change the building adjoining the factory production hall into living quarters for the prisoners. It was a three story building with the kitchen and infirmary on the ground floor, the washrooms and toilets were on the second floor. The prisoners slept on three-decker bunk beds set up in the remaining rooms on the second and third floors.

Several dozen more prisoners were brought to Golleschau in mid August 1942 and numbered 2,141 by the end of the month (160 were already working in the cement plant's quarry). Several small transports followed: from May 1943 to the spring of 1944, the camp had an average of 450 to 500 prisoners. In the summer and autumn of 1944, yet more transports arrived including Hungarian Jews and 298 Jews from the Theresienstadt ghetto and from Łódź. As a result, in late summer the total camp population exceeded 1,000 prisoners (up to 1,059 in October 1944) and it stayed at a similar level until the evacuation.


Read testimony of Issak Grinberg about living and working in Golleschau sub-camp.


The prisoners were put to work at the cement plant doing different types of auxiliary work requiring a great deal of physical effort, laying railroad tracks, crushing stone, sifting coal, packing cement in paper sacks, (where the air was filed with dust), doing carpentry wok, operating the lime burning furnaces, building a cable railway, and making barrels .

A few prisoners were put to work on the sub-camp premises in the kitchen, laundry, and warehouse. the most difficult situation was in the commandos working in the cement plant's four quarries where prisoners were used to load crushed stone on to freight cars. As the factory management estimated: 'five Jews ought to load three freight cars during one shift'. In those commandos, an especially great number of accidents occurred as a result of which many injured prisoners were sent back to the camp at Birkenau.

The prisoners were guarded at work by several dozen or so SS men who initially belonged to the Auschwitz Guard Battalion Second Company. besides the SS men, over a dozen armed members of the plant security staff also guarded the prisoners.

The sub-camp commandants were Erich Picklapp followed by SS-Oberscharführer Hans Mirbeth and SS-Oberscharführer Horst Czerwiński. Former prisoners remember all three and most of their subordinates as brutal and ruthless.

Due to the hard labour, accidents, beatings, malnutrition and diseases meant prisoners quickly lost strength and were sent to the camp infirmary as a result of being unfit to work. The infirmary directors were SDG Herbert Scherpe, succeeded by Hans Nierzwicki, Franz Woyciechowski, Herbert Jorss and Hans Kaufmann, who however were not very interested in the fate of the patients.

The most seriously ill patients successfully taken to the camp hospital at Monowitz or the BIIf hospital camp at Birkenau, where a significant percentage of them fell victim to selections to the gas chambers.

The Golleschau Sub-Camp's prisoners were evacuated in three groups on January 18th and 21st, 1945. The first two of them were assorted on foot to Wodzisław Śląski where two transports were formed. One was sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, whilst the other was sent to the Flossenburg concentration camp. The last group of 100 prisoners were escorted to the Golleschau train station. The transport that followed lasted for 9 days eventually ending up at the Oscar Schindler factory in Brussen-Brunnlitz on January 29th. Schindler ordered the freight train opened and took everyone who survived into his factory. Unfortunately, half the prisoners had already died on the journey.

Golleschau the sub-camp of Auschwitz
The former sub-camp and factory where the prisoners of Goleszów lived and worked
Photo by Michael Challoner ©

 

Sources

Information about sources we used while researching the sub-camp you can find here.

For further contemporary pictures or additional information on this sub-camp, please email us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.