Soldau concentration camp
|KL Soldau (Działdowo)|
Nazi concentration camps in occupied Poland (marked with black squares)
|Known for||Forced labor camp|
|Location||Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany|
|Number of inmates||Around 30,000|
The Soldau concentration camp established by Nazi Germany during World War II was a concentration camp for Polish and Jewish prisoners in Działdowo (German: Soldau), a town in north-eastern Poland, which after the Nazi-Soviet invasion of Poland in September 1939 was annexed into the Province of East Prussia.
The camp was founded in the former Polish Army barracks by SS-Brigadeführer Otto Rasch with the approval of Reinhard Heydrich, in the winter of 1939–40. It was first classified by ITS as an Vernichtungslager (extermination camp), because the Polish intelligentsia (political prisoners) were secretly executed there. Sectioned off by a high fence the camp areas served various purposes, as an Umsiedlungslager, and the Durchgangslager (DuLag) transit center for relocations as well as deportations from East Prussia to the semi-colonial General Government district. Intended as temporary – for the initial 1,000 inmates – the camp soon became permanent and rezoned as a forced labour camp (Arbeitserziehungslager) for the civilians brought in from across the new German Zichenau (region). Some 10,000–13,000 prisoners died there, out of the total number of 30,000.
Działdowo was part of occupied Poland which was "incorporated" to the Third Reich. The first prisoners arrived in trucks and in trains from the towns on the Polish–East Prussian border, in an attempt to ethnically cleanse the area of non-Germans entirely. Also, the camp conducted early experiments in gassing. In accordance with Action T4, mental patients at sanatoria in East Prussia and Regierungsbezirk Zichenau were taken to the Soldau camp; 1,558 patients were murdered by the Lange Commando in a gas van from May 21 to June 8, 1940. Lange used his experience with exhaust gasses acquired at Soldau in setting up the Chelmno extermination camp thereafter.
There were no toilet barracks, only two holes in the ground with boards put across each, out in the open. An epidemic of typhus broke out killing six German guards among countless prisoners. During the summer of 1941, the Soldau camp was reorganized as an Arbeitserziehungslager (literally "work education camp"). The labor camp's prisoners, who were divided into separate camps based on gender, were engaged in forced agricultural labor. This camp was closed in January 1945. Some 13,000 prisoners out of 30,000 were murdered.
Known victims of Soldau include:
- Antoni Julian Nowowiejski, Roman Catholic bishop (1858-1941)
- Leon Wetmański, Catholic bishop (1886-1941)
- Mieczysława Kowalska, nun (1902-1941)
- Władysław Skierkowski, priest (1886-1941)
- Marek Przybyszewski, IBH Opracowania - Działdowo jako centrum administracyjne ziemi sasińskiej (Działdowo as centre of local administration). Internet Archive, 22 October 2010.
- Stefan M. (War Relics, 23 October 2013). "Brief Chronology Of The Konzentrationslager System". Source: Das nationalsozialistische Lagersystem by Martin Weinmann, Anne Kaiser, Ursula Krause-Schmitt. International Tracing Service (1949). Retrieved 28 July 2014.
- Henry Friedlander (1995). The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution, p. 139. The University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-4675-9.
- Browning, p. 34
- Christopher R. Browning (2011). Remembering Survival: Inside a Nazi Slave-Labor Camp. W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 53–54. ISBN 0393338878.
- The Simon Wiesenthal Center. "Responses to Revisionist Arguments". Accessed November 28, 2006.
- Jewish Virtual Library. "The Development of the Gas-Van in the Murdering of the Jews". Accessed November 28, 2006.
- Christopher R. Browning (2011). Remembering Survival. Ibidem. p. 54.
- Keom.de. "Deutschland – ein Denkmal – ein Forschungsauftrag 1996 bis...". Accessed November 28, 2006.
- Document 3264-PS. Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume V. US Government Printing Office, Washington DC: 1946, pp. 1018-1029.
- Christopher Browning (2004). The Origins of the Final Solution : The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939 – March 1942 (With contributions by Jürgen Matthäus), Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press.