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Gemeinschaftslager was located close to the railway station in Oświęcim, on the top of the street going to Auschwitz. The civil workers of the German companies were living there. The companies were employed at the construction of the camp. The civil workers were forced to come there.

The Gemeinschaftslager was opened in 1942. There were three pre-war buildings located there (they were one storey buildings which were being rent before the war to various people). 6 new wooden barracks for the civil workers were built, a canteen and a bath house. There was also a doctor ward in the perimeter of that camp. 200 civil workers were housed there.

The buildings were surrounded with a barbed wire fence. One of the SS-men was always standing by the entrance. Every person entering or leaving the perimeter of the Gemeinschaftslager was thoroughly searched. This was done to prevent the civil workers from escaping.

SS-Hauptsturmführer Fritz Engelbrecht was the head of the Gemeinschaftslager. He was also in charge of the SS bakery, the slaughterhouse, the dairy and Haus 7.

20 prisoners of Auschwitz were assigned to work there. They had to clean the buildings, do the laundry for the civil workers and work in the canteen. This work unit was not obliged to go back to the camp to take part in the evening roll-call, and had to work on Sundays. Because of that many prisoners were able to escape with the help of the civil workers.

The workers would often complain about the bad conditions in the camp. There were fleas in the building, there was never enough food and even though there was an iron oven in each of the room, the rooms were very cold.

In August 1942 some of the civil workers were moved to Birkenau, where they lived in two wooden barracks. They stayed there until the construction of that camp was over. Then they returned to Gemeinschaftslager.

There are private flats in the buildings now. In 2005 a plaque commemorating the history of Gemeinschatfslager was installed there due to the initiative of the residents. 

Map showing the location of the Gemeinschaftslager
Map showing the location of the Gemeinschaftslager
Map designed by Michael Challoner ©
A view of the Gemeinschaftslager facing the east
A view of the Gemeinschaftslager facing the east
Photo by Michael Challoner ©


Information about sources we used while researching the industrial zones of Auschwitz you can find here.