Location: Brno, Czech Republic
Camp Commandants: SS-Hauptscharführer Gerhard Palitzsch, SS-Unterscharführer Rieger, SS-Oberscharführer Walterh
Number of prisoners: 251
Employer in charge: SS-WVHA bureau C-Beauleitung Brünn
Dates of camp's existence: from October 1943 until May 1944
In October 1943, the sub-camp of Brünn was set up in the town of Brno in Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic), around 250km from Auschwitz.
251 prisoners were selected for the work and sent by train from Oświęcim arriving on the 2nd October 1943. The transport was made up of Poles from Kraków, Katowice and Lublin whilst others were sent from Gross Rosen and Ravensbrück. On arrival, the prisoners were taken immediately to the building of the SS and Police Technical Academy. The academy building was equipped to house prisoners on the second floor at night.
The windows were secured, and an SS guard patrolled the door outside with several more guards outside the building. Before the first prisoners arrived, forced labourers from the area were made to build watch towers and electrified fences. Security of the camp was paramount as the presence of SS soldiers outside the perimeter was relatively low and recapture would have been much harder than at Auschwitz.
The hard work and poor food rations meant that prisoners could no longer work after just a few weeks, regular transports were made to send those unfit for labour back to Auschwitz with new prisoners selected to replace them. One prisoner who was unfit for any type of labour on his return, was shot in Auschwitz.
Due to the proximity of services provided by the prison to the sub-camp, inmates of the Spilberk prison would often share their rations with the starving prisoners. This kindness was also extended by many Czech civilians who came in contact with the prisoners, either through the hospital in the prison or at the factory grounds.
SS-Hauptscharführer Gerhard Palitzsch was appointed commandant of the sub-camp when it was formed. He transferred from the main camp at Auschwitz where he had built up a reputation of the banality of evil. Palitzsch only last a few months and in January 1944, he was finally arrested by the SS after being caught stealing plundered items from the incoming transports of prisoners at Auschwitz.
Prisoner numbers decreased steadily from its inception until the SS evacuated the camp as the work duties became less and less. From the 251 prisoners sent originally, only 36 remained who were then sent by train to Austria. The Americans finally liberated them on May 3rd, 1945. Some prisoners were selected to sort out type fonts that had come apart in transit from Germany. The damaged boxes caused the enclosed printing machines’ boxes to spill the type font sets. The print shop in Brünn could not start until the many sets were put back in order.
Information about sources we used while researching the sub-camp you can find here.