Location: Bruntál, Czech Republic
Camp Commandant: SS-Hauptscharführer Paul Ulbort
Freudenthal was one of only 3 Auschwitz sub-camps in the former Czechoslovakia borders that also included the camps of Lichtewerden and Brünn. Freudenthal was situated in the Czech town of Bruntal approximately 160 kilometres from the main camp of Auschwitz, and did not fall to the Red Army until May 6th 1945. Around October 1944, Auschwitz archival records show the first mention of the camp through prisoner work details from Auschwitz III Monowitz, although an exact date of the establishment has not survived and therefore cannot be verified.
Around 300 Jewish women were selected from sector BIIc at Birkenau, mainly of Hungarian and Czech nationality and sent to the Emmerich Machold factory in Bruntál. Before the war, the textile factory made general clothing but saw an opportunity to customise their output to suit the need of the German military. The primary production of the factory eventually became dressing Wehrmacht uniforms.
The prisoners sent from Auschwitz would be mainly concerned with fruit processing labour for the creation of vitamin juices for soldiers stationed in Norway. This was confirmed by Rudolf Höss in his testimony during his trial in 1946. The fruit processing labour came about as the German company Freudenthaler Gentranke GmbH sub contracted prisoners for their own use in agreement with the SS Business Administrations office.
The factory was one of several in an industrial area adjacent to the Bruntál railway station. The building overlooked the main station as did the prisoners living quarters which were situated on the boundaries of the main road that ran parallel to the train line. Security fences were erected outside the factory and on the opposite side of the road. 21 guards including 3 female staff were appointed to look after the prisoners under the command of SS-Hauptscharführer Paul Ulbort who became chief of the guard detachment (part of the 8th Guard Company of Monowitz).
Erna Bodem was one of the female guards who was the only known person to be sentenced after the war from the camp. She received a 4 years prison sentence for her crimes, and was known to be brutal with her treatment of prisoners using her whip quite frequently. This was something she had picked up whilst at Birkenau before her transfer to Freudenthal. Older guards who had retired from active service mainly due to injury would escort the prisoners to work and to other areas where they were required to perform manual labour such as demolishing buildings and levelling the ground. The ground levelling mostly took place over the winter time which contributed to the increase of sick prisoners who had to work in only their thin camp pyjamas in the cold winter weather.
The food rations were similar to other sub-camps with coffee and soup twice daily and although the work was not as strenuous as other camps (relatively speaking), the weekly sick figures for those unable to work rose from around 5 to 35 from October to December mainly due to starvation.
The SS ensured the prisoner population remained constant for the duration of the camps existence and despite the extra duties and sub contracting between companies, there was never an increase of prisoners.
A few days before the liberation by the Red Army, the SS left the camp and burned down the Emmerich Machold factory destroying many of the records.
Information about sources we used while researching the sub-camp you can find here.