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Lager V: Tannenwald

Camp for: German and Polish civilian workers, forced laborers from Croatia
Camp population: around 1,700
Camp Lagerführer: Theodor Pillich

Tannenwald was located the furthest east of all the camps attached to IG Farben, just as the road to the south point of the factory turns abruptly south east. In early 1942, 2,000 civilian workers from Germany and Poland were earmarked to be housed here however that changed a few months later only to be changed back to its original plans by the end of the year. By this time, only 3 wooden barracks had been built. The camps original intention to house 2,000 civilian workers only reached around 1,700 in 1944, but according to the testimony of Piotr Stachura, around 3,000 workers may have been eventually housed here. The barracks had their own heating installations; there were pipes running underground to each barrack, and they were delivering hot water from Buna. The barracks were equipped with wooden bunk beds, wardrobes and a couple of tables. Around 60 workers lived in one barrack. The only guard tower was at the front of the main gate Policed by Ukrainian guards, however, a little further to the west of the main gate, one of the large IG Farben perimeter brick watch towers had already been built which would have overshadowed the area to the west. The camp was surrounded by concrete posts typical of those at other camps including Auschwitz and were topped up with barbed wire. There were no watchtowers around the perimeter and the fence was not electrified.

The camp Lagerführer, Theodor Pillich, was an evil man who often beat the prisoners. Although several complaints were filed against him, no charges were ever made. The food issued under his command was hardly edible according to several testimonies. The soup was more or less water with sawdust bread and there was never enough to eat. The canteen only sold beer or cigarettes.

The workers who lived in Lager V were employed by the companies who were constructing different buildings in Buna. Some prisoners worked at the freight station of the chemical plant. The Gorgas Company was working on the concrete bridge that you can see there even today. The shifts were 12 hours every day, and until 1 o’clock in the afternoon on Saturdays. Every other Sunday was taken off.

Only 1 blanket was issued to each worker and punishments were given to those who managed to smuggle extra sheets inside the camps. Infact, the primary task of the guards was to ensure nothing was smuggled into the camp. The blankets that were issued were sent from the main camp of Auschwitz confiscated from prisoners who were sent to the gas chambers.

Some of the prisoners were paid between 20-60RM by 1944. The German overseers could earn up to 200RM and were also allowed to visit the brothel in Leonhard Haag.

Despite the camp being the furthest away from Birkenau, some workers claimed that the smell of the crematoriums would sometimes pass into the camp if the wind was in the direction.

As of 2016, the camp has not been commemorated.

 

Prisoner Testimonies of Tannenwald

Read the testimony of Jan Synal

Read the testimony of Józef Wrona

Read the testimony of Piotr Stachura

 

Existing Camp Relics

Some of the fences still existed until the 1970s but have all disappeared today. A large brick watchtower to the west of the camp is still largely intact, as are 2 single SS bomb shelters on the camps perimeter. Some of the wooden barrack material may have been used to construct the farm buildings that now occupy the site, but we are yet to verify this. A large SS underground bomb shelter can be found underneath the overgrown sidings opposite the former camps entrance.

Map showing the barracks and camp buildings of Tannenwald
Map showing the barracks and camp buildings of Tannenwald
Map designed by Michael Challoner ©

 

A large IG Farben watch tower to the west of Tannenwald
           
An SS Bomb shelter on the west perimeter of Tannenwald
           
The entrance to Tannenwald
            Image 1
A large IG Farben watch tower to the west of Tannenwald
Photo by Michael Challoner ©

Image 2
An SS Bomb shelter on the west perimeter of Tannenwald
Photo by Michael Challoner ©

Image 3
The entrance to Tannenwald
Photo by Michael Challoner ©

 

Sources

Information about sources we used while researching the werk kamp you can find here.