Polenlager

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Remnants of Polenlager 10 at Donnersmarck manor in Siemianowice Śląskie, with over 700 prisoners.[1]

The Polenlager was a system of labor and concentration camps for Poles in Silesia during the Nazi German occupation of Poland in World War II. The prisoners, originally destined for deportations across the border to the new semi-colonial district of the General Government, were sent there between 1942 and 1945, once the other locations became too overcrowded to accommodate them. There were over 30 Polenlager camps in existence, mostly in Silesia.

History[edit]

Expulsion Warrant from Sosnowiec 1942 with stamp Pole

All Polenlager camps were classified by the Germans as "labour reformatories". They were built near major military work-sites for the steady supply of slave labor. The camps had permanent German staff, augmented by captives and volunteers from other Eastern European countries (known as Hiwis). The Poles were delivered to Polenlagers by trainloads from German temporary transit camps, after they had been evicted from their homes to make way for new settlers (see: Action Saybusch). Some of the Silesians who were imprisoned there, refused to sign the Volksliste (DVL) or claim German nationality.[2][3]

The Polenlager idea was part of Adolf Hitler's plan, known as Lebensraum, which involved Germanization of all Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany with the help of settlers from Bukovina, Eastern Galicia and Volhynia. The main purpose of the forcible displacement of Poles was to create a German-only enclave known as Reichsgau Wartheland across the formerly Polish territories.[4][5][6]

A letter postcard sent by an inmate of Polenlager HASAG, Leipzig, Germany, 1941

Camp distribution[edit]

There were over 30 Polenlager camps identified in research – mostly in Silesia (26),[7] but also in other locations across the Third Reich and in the present day Czech Republic.[8] Historians estimate their number to have been even higher. In some camps, such as Polenlager 92 in Kietrz (Katscher), the living accommodations were set up in the factory where prisoners worked; they were given about 1 square metre (11 sq ft) per person to live on, at a redesigned floor of the Schaeffler textile factory.[9] – In 1943, they processed into yarn 3 tons of human hair delivered from Auschwitz in two railroad cars.[10]

At the Polenlager 75 in Racibórz (Ratibor) – with 142 prisoners as of January 14, 1943 according to records – 22,1% were below the age of 14 years old.[11] At the Polenlager 10 in Siemianowice Śląskie (pictured),[1] children as young as eight were forced to work at a stone quarry.[12] The extant documentation indicates that plans for further expansion of the Polenlager camp system had also been made. All of them were designated within the general numbering framework of the of Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle camps. They were not numbered successively.

# Camp designation City or town (in Polish and German) Notes
1   Polenlager 4   Dąbrówka Mała (Eichenau)   in Katowice neighborhood
2   Polenlager 7   Ruda Śląska (Ruda-Kochlowitz, Aug 20, 1942 – Jan 1945)   in school at Młodzieżowa 26 Street [13]
3   Polenlager 10   Siemianowice Śląskie (Laurahutte)   at Donnersmarck manor, for ethnic Poles
4   Polenlager 11   Siemianowice Śląskie   forced labor camp for Jews [14]
5   Polenlager 28   Orzesze (Orzesche)   at hospital buildings in Kolonia Marii [15]
6   Polenlager 32   Bogumin (Polenlager Oderberg), Czechia   Jun 1942 – May 1945, with 104 Poles confirmed dead [16]
7   Polenlager 40   Frysztat, pow. cieszyński, Czechia   Jun 1942 – Apr 1945, district of Karviná
8   Polenlager 41   Piotrowice, pow. cieszyński, Czechia   Jun 1942 – Apr 1945
9   Polenlager 56   Lyski (Lissek) [17]   Jun 1942 – Nov 1943
10   Polenlager 58   Pszów (Pschow),[18] pow. rybnicki   set up September 10, 1942 at a presbytery
11   Polenlager 63   Czechowice-Dziedzice (Tschechowitz-Dzieditz) [19]   Jul 1942 – Jan 1945
12   Polenlager 75   Racibórz Strzelnica (Polenlager Ratibor) [20]   closed Nov 1943, prisoners moved to Kietrz [9]
13   Polenlager 82   Pogrzebień, pow. raciborski   with children captured in Aktion Oderberg [9]
14   Polenlager 83   Dolní Benešov, Beneszów, pow. raciborski, Czechia   Jun 1942 – Apr 1945
15   Polenlager 86   Otmuchów (Ottmachau),[21] pow. grodkowski   until 1945
16   Polenlager 92   Kietrz (Polenlager Katscher)   from August 1942, at the Schaeffler textile factory [10]
17   Polenlager 93   Gliwice Sobieszowice, pow. gliwicki   Aug 1942 – Apr 1944
18   Polenlager 95   Żory (Sohrau), pow. rybnicki [22]   from August 1942
19   Polenlager 97   Rybnik, pow. rybnicki [23]   in barracks by glider airstrip [24]
20   Polenlager 168   Gorzyce (Polenlager Groß Gorschütz) [25]   located at Lower Castle (Mały Zamek)
21   Polenlager 169   Kolonia Fryderyk, pow. raciborski   possibly Klein Gorschütz (?)
22   Polenlager 188   Piekary Śląskie (Deutsch Piekar) [26]   from 1942
23   Polenlager 189   Zawiść (Zawisch), pow. pszczyński   Orzesze-Zawiść, at old Thiele-Winkler manor [24]
24   Polenlager 209   Chorzów (Polenlager Königshütte) [27]   in Królewska Huta neighborhood [24]
25   Polenlager Tichau   Tychy [28]   possibly Zawisch (?)
26   Polenlager Friedland   Mieroszów [29]   until 1945
27   Polenlager Friedland 0/S   Korfantów [8]   mid 1942 – Oct 1943
29   Polenlager Kattowitz   Katowice [8] (Kattowitz-Eichenau 15, & Kattowitz-Idaweiche) [30]   from July 1943
28   Polenlager Klein Gorschütz   Gorzyczki (Klein Gorschütz) [8]   Jun 1942 – Nov 1943, in old coal-mine buildings [24]
30   Polenlager Ost   München, Germany [8]   Außenkommando
31   Polenlager Süd   München, Germany [8]   Außenkommando
32   Polenlager HASAG   Leipzig, Germany   Bautzner Straße
33   Gefangenlager Skrochowitz   Skrochovice (Skrochowitz), pow. opawski, Czechia (Sudetenland)   from September 1939; in former sugar refinery [31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Polenlager 10 at Siemianowice Śląskie". Zapomniane obozy. Fotohistoria.pl. Retrieved May 11, 2012. 
  2. ^ Irene Tomaszewski, Tecia Werbowski (2010). Labor camps – Polenlager. Code Name Żegota: Rescuing Jews in Occupied Poland, 1942–1945 : the Most Dangerous Conspiracy in Wartime Europe (ABC-CLIO). pp. 10–. ISBN 9780313383915. Retrieved May 10, 2012. 
  3. ^ Norman Davies (1982). Polenlager. God's Playground, a History of Poland: 1795 to the present (Columbia University Press). pp. 456–. ISBN 0231053533. Retrieved May 10, 2012. 
  4. ^ Richard C. Lukas (2001). "Chapter IV. Germanization". Did the Children Cry? Hitler's War against Jewish and Polish Children, 1939–1945. Hippocrene Books. Retrieved May16 8,16 2012. Project InPosterum. Preserving the Past for the Future  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  5. ^ Malwina Palińska (August 15, 2002). "Pokrzywdzeni...". Trybuna, C/D/N. Nad Sołą i Koszarawą No. 16 (95), year 5. Retrieved May 5, 2012. 
  6. ^ Anna Machcewicz (February 16, 2010). "Mama wzięła ino chleb". Historia. Tygodnik Powszechny. Retrieved May 5, 2012. 
  7. ^ FPNP database. "Lista Polenlagrów" (PDF 251 KB). Obozy przesiedleńcze i przejściowe na terenach wcielonych do III Rzeszy. Demart. p. 6. Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Das Bundesarchiv. "Directory of Places of Detention". Federal Archives. Retrieved May 11, 2012. Search keyword: Polenlager 
  9. ^ a b c Barbara Kruczkowska, Józefa Posch-Kotyrba. "Kietrz, Polenlager 92". Zapomniane obozy nazistowskie. Fotohistoria.pl. Retrieved May 11, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Von Hans Georg (April 8, 2009). "Kriegsgeschäfte der Familie Schaeffler aus den frühen 40er Jahren". Vom Ursprung deutschen Reichtums – Teil III. NRhZ Online - Neue Rheinische Zeitung. Retrieved May 18, 2012. 
  11. ^ Beno Benczew (February 27, 2006). "Obozy dla Polaków w powiecie raciborskim". Raciborski Portal Internetowy. Retrieved May 11, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Świadkowie: Jacek Kisielewski". Zapomniane obozy nazistowskie. Dom Spotkań z Historią DSH. Retrieved May 11, 2012. 
  13. ^ Polenlager nr 7 w Kochłowicach. ''Fotohistoria.pl.''. Hm.fotohistoria.pl.
  14. ^ Zwangsarbeitslager für Juden, Laurahütte. ''Das Bundesarchiv.''. Bundesarchiv.de (March 27, 2001).
  15. ^ Polenlager Nr. 28 Orzesze. German Federal Archives (March 27, 2001).
  16. ^ Bogumin (Bohumín) Polenlager by Jiří Král. ''Syrena'' č. 141/2004. Syrenacz.webpark.cz.
  17. ^ Polenlager Nr. 56 Lissek. German Federal Archives (March 27, 2001).
  18. ^ Polenlager 58 in Pszów (Pschow, pow. rybnicki), ''Zapomniane obozy nazistowskie. Hm.fotohistoria.pl.
  19. ^ Polenlager Tschechowitz-Dzieditz. German Federal Archives (March 27, 2001).
  20. ^ Polenlager Ratibor. German Federal Archives (March 27, 2001).
  21. ^ Polenlager Ottmachau. German Federal Archives (March 27, 2001).
  22. ^ Polenlager Sohrau. German Federal Archives (March 27, 2001).
  23. ^ Polenlager Nr. 97 Rybnik. German Federal Archives (March 27, 2001).
  24. ^ a b c d Polenlager nr 189, ''Zapomniany Rybnik.''. Forum.zapomniany.rybnik.pl.
  25. ^ Polenlager Groß Gorschütz. German Federal Archives (March 27, 2001).
  26. ^ Polenlager Nr. 188 Deutsch Piekar. German Federal Archives (March 27, 2001).
  27. ^ Polenlager Königshütte. German Federal Archives (March 27, 2001).
  28. ^ Polenlager Tichau. German Federal Archives (March 27, 2001).
  29. ^ Polenlager Friedland. German Federal Archives (March 27, 2001).
  30. ^ Polenlager Kattowitz-Eichenau and Kattowitz-Idaweiche, Das Bundesarchiv.
  31. ^ "Před šedesáti pěti lety začala druhá světová válka (Sixty five years ago began World War II)". KZ Skrochowitz. Bruntal.net. 2006. Retrieved February 3, 2013. 

External links[edit]