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A paradise next to a hell. Learn about a resort for SS officers working in Auschwitz

SS Hütte Porąbka (called Solahütte) was a lake and forestry retreat around 25 kilometres from Oświęcim in a town of Międzybrodzie built by Auschwitz prisoners. It was a place visited by various SS officers, including the high ranked ones such as Rudolf Höss and Joseph Mengele.

Several small holiday retreats were opened in 1930's in Międzybrodzie and Porąbka, where a reservoir lake was created. In autumn of 1940, several dozen prisoners of Auschwitz I were sent to Międzybrodzie to work on the construction of the new camp. The work conditions were really rough. When completed, the SS officers could have go there by one of the buses departing regularly from Oświęcim market square, to rest and relax in nature. There were less than 10 women prisoners working in Solahütte until January 1945, when the SS retreat was closed.

Comparison picture from the Höcker album showing the SS posing for a photo, and the same location as itlooks today
Comparison picture from the Höcker album showing the SS posing
for a photo, and the same location as it looks today
Modern photo by Michael Challoner ©

After the war, the former Solahütte retreat was still in use for Polish holiday makers, however its history wasn't known too well until 2007. On that year, a photo album of SS-Obersturmführer Karl Höcker was donated to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. It contains photographs of the SS-men and SS-women spending their free in the wonderful environment of Międzybrodzie, along with high ranked officers: Rudolf Höss, Otto Moll, Josef Mengele, Josef Kramer. In 2011, the majority of the buildings were demolished to make way for a new retreat development.

 

Learn more about the Solahütte sub-camp's history and read the prisoner testimony here.