Location: Gliwice, Poland
Camp Commandant: SS-Hauptscharführer Karl Speiker
The organisation of the Gleiwitz III sub-camp started in the spring of 1944. At the end of 1944, the first prisoner transport was bought to a section of the Gleiwitzer Hütte and placed in the barracks built by the old foundry building. SS Hauptscharführer Karl Spieker was the commandant until the camp was closed down. He was assisted by SS-Unterscharführer Moritz and SS-Rottenführer Zahorodny. He had several dozen SS men under him from the Auschwitz 3 Monowitz 6th Guard company.
Gleiwitz III like the other sub-camps in Gleiwitz, was inspected by SS Officers, Auschwitz representatives, on several occasions and by Monowitz commander SS Hauptsturmführer Heinrich Schwarz on September 16th 1944. The prisoner government was mainly composed of German criminals who treated their fellow prisoners brutally.
At least 3 prisoner transports arrived in Gleiwitz III from late July 1944. The first consisted mainly of Polish Jews who arrived in Auschwitz on July 27th 1944 from the Pustkow labour camp. Prisoners from Lublin, Majdanek, who arrived in Auschwitz on July 28th or August 6th 1944, made up the second transport. Several dozen Polish prisoners from Monowitz arrived in the sub-camp on August 15th as did several prisoners from the Terezin ghetto in the autumn. There were approximately 600 prisoners in the sub-camp at the end of October and 609 just before evacuation.
The prisoners lived in a brick barrack with a basement and central heating. Living conditions at Gleiwitz III were better than those at Auschwitz-Birkenau but the food rations were the same if not worse. Those who died of starvation were sent to Birkenau to be cremated.
The SS men's behaviour towards the prisoners was characterised by brutality and sadism. They would beat prisoners or make them do pointless exercises for the smallest of offenses or for no reason at all. The prisoner foreman generally treated the prisoners as badly as the SS men did.
Camp conditions drove some prisoners to total nervous breakdown or apathy. For example, Libelt, a prisoner from Lvov, who had lost hope of living to see freedom, did not observe the basic rules of caution in assembling machines whilst at work. When a Polish worker pointed this out to him, he replied: 'What are you worried about, there will be one Jew less'.
On January 19th 1945, Gleiwitz III was evacuated. SS men escorted the prisoners westward in a column. The march lasted several days. When the prisoners got to the left bank of the Oder River, they were turned back and sent back east via Koźle (now Kędzierzyn-Koźle) to the Blechhammer Sub-Camp. Most were then sent to Gross Rosen whilst others stayed behind.
Information about sources we used while researching the sub-camp you can find here.