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Wersja językowa

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Memory sites

Category: Places of memory

At the beginning of April 1941, german authorities proceeded to remove the locals from Harmęże village. They had to leave all the farm hardware that later was sent to the camp in Auschwitz. A poultry farm was established in the area of the village, and local breeding ponds had been annected, previously they were property of Polish Academy of Skills in Cracow and Gustaw Zwilling, local property owner.


In the early stage of  setting up the farm and keeping the ponds, the prisoners marched to work from camp in Auschwitz. Local homesteads have been demolished, and some of the material served as parts of over a dozen henhouses which were located near the villa of former land owner Gustaw Zwilling.

In December 1941, the prisoners were moved to Harmense permanently, therefore starting a sub camp that consisted of 50 people. Their main occupation was raising the poultry: chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys and pheasants.They also kept rabbits, nutrias and fishes in the ponds.

Prisoners were located in one part of the villa, while the rest belong to SS soldiers. Living conditions were slightly better than those in Auschwitz. Prisoners slept individually and each of them had two blankets and a pillow stuffed with hay.

Building of Gustaw Zwiliing's villa

In june 1942, female prisoners were sent from the camp in Brzezinka to work at the farm. Among them there were polsih prisoners from Ravensbruck, Jews from Slovakia and some Germans. The camp had been reorganized, and some of the prisoners had been moved to the school building, which had much worse sanitary conditions. Limited water prevented morning toilet, doing any laundry and helped in develeopment of many illnessess. In March 1942 many cases of scabies started, then in 1943 typhoid and tubercolosis joined them. The situation improved in 1944 after connecting of sewerage and installation of water boiler. Thanks to that, the prisoners could wash themselves every day, and make the laundry once a month.

Prisoners worked at repairing the dike, clearing ponds, and cutting rushes. After that, the ponds were filled with fishes. Work at the farm allowed prisoners to organize the food. Fish, poultry eggs or rabbit fodder were cooked when possible and eaten at night.

Women working at the camp were taking care of chickens, developing the farm, digging a run for chickens and clearing the ponds.

Starting 1941, human ashes from crematorium number 1 were dumped into the ponds. In 1942, the amount of ashes rose drastically, they were used for upbuilding of dikes and leveling the pond bottoms.

Annually, around 100 000 chicks hatched here. Around 3 000 rabits were kept, most of them were angorian breed. Furthermore, 1 000 ducks, 300 geese, 500 turkeys. Margin consisted of nutrias, pheasant and dogs of German Shepherd breed.

Ex hatchery building, currently it serves as a store.

100 prisoners worked on camp ground in the beginning of 1944. Depending on amount of work, foot commandos were on standby. They consisted both male and female prisoners, and their numbers depend on season, so also on the amount of work. It has to be noted, that foot commandos were sent to harder labor, and prisoners were treated brutally. Death rate among the nonresident prisoners was much higher than of the ones quartered in camp.

The camp has been evacuated 18th of January 1945. Female prisoners were escorted to Wodzisła Śląski, from where they were sent to Bergen Belsen. Men were evacuated with the group from Budy.


Auschwitz 1940 – 1945. Węzłowe zagadnienia z dziejów obozu. Tom 1 Założenie i organizacja obozu., pod red. W. Długoborskiego, F. Pipera, Oświęcim 1995.
Cyra A., Podobóz KL Auschwitz w Harmężach, Oświęcim 2007.
Der Ort des Terrors. Geschichte der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager, Band 5 pod red. W.Benz, B. Distel, München 2007.
Zięba A., „Geflügelfarm Harmense”. Farma hodowlana Harmęże, Zeszyty Oświęcimskie, nr 11, Oświęcim 1969.