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Hindenburg

Testimony of Anna Pieczonkowa (nee Polankowa)

The testimony was given on given on 16th August 2000 in Karwina. The number of the testimony is 3373. She was born on 9th July 1922 in Karwino-Frysztat. She was deported to the Hindenburg sub-camp at the end of October 1944.

I was living in a big wooden barrack in the sub-camp. That barrack looked like some kind of hall. There were small windows on the roof. There were more than 100 women in this barrack. They came from different countries. I remember women from France. I don’t remember any names of the fellow prisoners, except for Stanisława Martynek. We slept on three level bunk beds. The food was very bad. Sometimes we would get a piece of bread (it was smaller than 30 decagrams). It wasn’t even bread, it was more of mud. I think the bread was made from powdered chestnuts and acorns. Sometimes with bread we would get some marmalade (around 3 to 5 decagrams) or artificial honey. Sometimes instead of marmalade or honey we would get Blutwurst (bloody sausage) – one slice of it (around 2 centimeters wide) or a cube of margarine (5 decagrams). We would get ¾ liter of coffee made from acorns or smoked herbs. In the mornings we would get some kind of herbal drink. It wasn’t the rule though that we got the coffee in the evenings and herbal tea in the mornings. Sometimes it was the other way round. We had to use the same bowl for dinner, which usually consisted of ¾ liter of soup made from rutabaga. Sometimes there were bits of red meat in the soup. I think it was horse meat. One day (it was at the very first moment when I was brought to Hindenburg), we got some cabbage with pieces of that red meat. When I ate it, I was very sick. I think the meat was bad.

We were wearing stripped uniforms, very dirty and stinky. There were a lot of insects on them, especially lice. My shoes were leather shoes, but very tough and very worn-off. On my stripped uniform I had a red triangle attached with letter P on it. There were 3 more letters on it: JGP – Justizgefangenpolitisch. I did not receive a prisoner number.  

I worked with feathers – I had to put it in special bags. The feathers were dirty and stinky. It was supposed to be used by the army, to make their coats warmer. The female SS guards were watching over us. They were wearing uniforms. I also had to count the bolts and put them in special paper bags that we had to make too. For some time I was assigned to work at the preparation of the buttons for underwear or clothes. 

My place of work was located within the camp. In the very same building where I lived. Some of the women had to walk outside the camp to their workplaces. 

I don’t know how many barracks could be in the camp. I wasn’t even leaving my barrack, so I can’t tell. When I was put in the barrack, I was just there – sleeping and working. I didn’t even have to leave the barrack to use the toilet. Inside the barrack there was a barrel where we could do it. 

We were washing ourselves in the bowls that were standing on the stools. We did it every other day, sometimes just once a week. The water was always cold. I never bathed when I was in the shower. 

I caught scabies. We were treating it with sulfur that we dissolved in water and then used some hay to put on our bodies. It was stinking, and it itched but it worked.

I was in this sub-camp until 19th January 1945, when the evacuation of the camp started.