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Memory sites


Category: Places of memory

Many factories of the defense indsutry, to protect their production line, moved them out of range of Allied bombers. It happened also in case of Siemens – Schuckertwerke concern. The  management chose safe vicinity of KL Auschwitz camp – Bobrek village. Localization was also chosen because it was possible to use prisoners for work. Siemens cocncern was already using the prisoners from Buchenwald at the time. Before the war, there was also a factory of synthetic fertilizers in Bobrek. During 1941 -1943 a small forced labor camp for Jews was constructed there.

It consisted of severeal dozen of men and over a dozen of women. They were employed by the City Council of Chrzanów to regulate the Wisła river, build roads and reloading shipments. The camp was liquidated in February 1943, and the prisoners were moved to unknown direction.

In December 1943, Siemens concern took control over the factory area. At the same time, at KL Auschwitz a special group of prisoners was  selected to build a new facility. Around 50 professionals, mostly locksmiths, turners and electricians. Additionaly, around 70 construction workers were added to the group.

In Bobrek, they  had to rebuild the factory hall, extend the living barracks, medical and aministrative facilities and to fence the whole area with electrified barbed wire. The work started in December 1943. It was performed by both male and female commandos. The work lasted till April 1944.

The prisoners were transported to the sub camp area at May 1944. They have been enquartered at a barrack near the factory hall. They slept in pairs on bunk beds. Though the barrack was overpopulated, they rated the living conditions positively, and that was thanks to the heating and ability to use the bath house in a connected building. Women resided in a room inside the factory hall.

The food wasnt different from standards that were used by the whole KL Auschwitz complex. The situtation improved, when prisoners got permission to eat vegetables from the garden worked by the female prisoners. Small injuries and illneses were cured at place, worse cases were sent to Monowitz.

Every day started with rouse, morning toilet and muster. After they were given coffe, prisoners went to the factory. There they acquired tools and material, and under the surveillance of civilian foremans performed their chores. Prisoners operated lathes, grinders and milling machines equipped with magnifying glass, thanks to that they could produce very precise elements. Mostly, they made parts for electric engines, switch matrixes, and elements of the electric installations for aeroplanes and submarines. Female prisoners were also employed to operate the machines, but they mostly operated screw taps and packed ready products into boxes. Some of the female prisoners worked at the factory garden, the camp kitchen, some served as maids in SS soldiers offices and rooms, and the rest took care of laundry and dish washing.

Due to the character of work, the prisoners were treated different than those in other parts of KL Auschwitz complex. Beating and harrassment were not the main method of keeping discipline and pace of work. The prisoners confirmed it in their relations after the war. Staff of the sub camp  did not bully the workers, and the latter tried to do their work properly. The authorities cared about good professionals, and the prisoners cared about keeping  a work in not so bad conditions. During the whole time when sub camp operated, there was no case of a priosner death.

Precise number of the prisoners is a mystery. Most of them, about 90% were Jewish, the rest were Polish and Russian. In October 1944 quantity of workers presented 220 male, and 37 female prisoners.

During the evacuation on 17th January 1945 number of male prisoners was 213, and female around 30. They have been led to Monowitz, and there the track of the female group vanishes. Male group was connected to a column marching to Gliwice. There, they have been loaded into coal carts and moved to KL Buchenwald.


Auschwitz 1940 – 1945. Węzłowe zagadnienia z dziejów obozu. Tom 1 Założenie i organizacja obozu., pod red. W. Długoborskiego, F. Pipera, Oświęcim 1995. 

Der Ort des Terrors. Geschichte der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager, Band 5 pod red. W.Benz, B. Distel, München 2007.

Setkiewicz P., Podobóz Bobrek, Zeszyty Oświęcimskie nr 23, Oświęcim 2002.