Lager II: Buchenwald
Camp for: Germans, Poles, Ukrainians, Russians, French
Camp Population: Around 5600
Camp Lagerführer – Buchenwald Ost: Fleischmann, Ambrosius Kronawetter
Camp Lagerführer – Buchenwald West: Karl Bechthold
Lager II was originally called ‘Judenfriedhof' but officially changed to ‘Buchenwald’ early on in its existence. The camp was built to the east wall of the Jewish cemetery and the town’s post war hospital and current market place. In October 1943, the camp was split into 2 clear sections, Buchenwald Ost and Buchenwald West. The road that goes from Dąbrowskiego street in the direction of Kruki divided the camp in two parts: the eastern and the western part. In the ost section, Polish forced labourers and Ukrainian forced labourers brought from the Soviet Union were housed. The French and the Belgian forced labourers lived in the west part.
Polish girls over 15 were given work assignments to by the Arbeitsamt, the employment office in Oświęcim, south of the market square to clean and perform other similar duties in the camp. The wages were generally poor, hours long and no food provided. In some case, the round journey to work would have taken 2 hours on top of a 12-hour day. In comparison, Polish girls working in the homes of SS men would have sometimes earned much more depending on the generosity of the employer.
At its peak, Buchenwald held more workers than any other IG Farben werk kamp with the exception of Lager IV, Monowitz. The Poles were treated poorly by their German overseers, and their feelings towards them were made quite clear from the start. The Poles had bunk beds, tables, chairs and wooden lockers for private belongings, however unlike the German workers, Poles had to eat outside regardless of the weather.
At its capacity, Buchenwald had 10 barracks with 9 barracks as living quarters, 2 canteens, a bathing area and 2 toilet blocks.
The whole camp was surrounded by concrete posts with barbed wire and a civilian farm existed on its north perimeter. As the camp expanded, a brothel was built for civilian workers. It is possible that German prisoners from Lager I, Leonhard Haag, could also use the brothel here.
As of 2016, the camp has not been commemorated.
Prisoner Testimonies of Buchenwald
Existing Camp Relics
It is likely that the camp was dismantled by the Red Army between 1945 and 1950. However, variants in the ground can be seen on the field by the hospital where the barracks once stood.
Lager II Buchenwald taken during the Nazi occupation. Photo courtesy of Mirosław Ganobis
Photo showing the area of that occupied the barracks. Variants in the ground are where
the barracks once stood however it is not clear these are relics of the former camp.
Photo by Michael Challoner ©
Photo facing the area of Buchenwald from the easterly direction. The prominent building can
be made out on the archival picture. Photo by Michael Challoner ©
Information about sources we used while researching the werk kamp you can find here.