Location: Gliwice, Poland
Camp Commandants: SS-Oberscharführer Grobert vel Grübner, SS-Unterscharführer Otto Arthur Lätsch
In June 1944, 80 prisoners from the Auschwitz III Monowitz camp, mostly Russians and Poles, were placed in a barrack on Wehrmacht land in barracks in Gleiwitz. Under the supervision of SS men, the prisoners built a second barrack and fenced in both barracks after which they were taken back to Monowitz. The Gleiwitz sub-camps was then established.
A transport of approximately 50 prisoners, mainly Jews arrived from Auschwitz-Birkenau between August 22nd and 24th, 1944. In late August and the first half of September, several more transports of Jewish prisoners arrived and were put to work expanding the camp.
SS-Unterscharführer Orro Arthur Lätsch was the commandant of the camp until October 1944 when he became the muster officer and SS-Oberscharführer Grobert (aka Grubner) took over as commandant. By August 1944, there were 16 SS men in the sub-camp. The number later grew to several dozen.
Most prisoners in the sub-camp were put to work expanding the barracks and also in the canal area. In November or December of 1944, many prisoners cleared bombed sites in the city of Gleiwitz of rubble.
The conditions of the prisoners were similar to those in other sub-camps of Auschwitz. The prisoners often eat food that was thrown away from the towns residents. Due to the combination of hard work and poor nutrition, extreme emaciation became the rule. The SS behaved brutally towards the prisoners and Lätsch set the tone. He is known to have shot five prisoners. In one case, he shot three men for warming themselves at a fire where a barrel of tar was being heated. he also beat several others often fatally.
SS Doctors came to the sub-camp every few weeks to conduct selections among the prisoners. Overall, 200 prisoners were selected as unfit to work and were sent to Birkenau to be gassed.
On the night of 18-19 January 1945, the SS evacuated about 3,801 prisoners from the sub-camp. 57 sick prisoners stayed behind at the infirmary. At daybreak, Lätsch and other Nazis set the barrack on fire and shot the prisoners who jumped out of the windows. 2 prisoners survived by hiding under the corpses of their fellow prisoners.
The prisoners eventually reached the Blechhammer Sub-Camp after 2-3 days. Around 50 prisoners were shot along the way. Lätsch was tried for his crimes after the war, and he was sentenced to death in 1947.
Information about sources we used while researching the sub-camp you can find here.