Blechhammer was established in April 1942 near Kozle, a town 18.5 miles (30 km) west of Gliwice, Poland.
Blechhammer was initally a labor
camp for Jews. The original 350 prisoners built a synthetic gasoline
plant.for the Oberschlesische Hydriewerke (Upper Silesia Hydrogenation
Works). When 120 prisoners contracted typhus, they were transferred
to Auschwitz, where they
were killed. That June the remaining prisoners were transferred to a
new and larger camp that had been built nearby.
The camp was populated primarily by Jews from Upper
Silesia, however, among the 5,500 prisoners were people from 15 different
countries. They were housed in wooden barracks under appalling conditions,
with no toilet or washing facilities. Some 200 female Jewish prisoners
were put into a separate section of the camp. Hunger and disease were
rife, especially diarrhea and tuberculosis. A crematorium was built,
in which were cremated the bodies of 1,500 prisoners who had died from
"natural" causes or had been killed.
List of the industries established in Blechhammer
- Camp no. 2: Beton- + Monierbau
- Camp no. 6 Fa. (firm) Krause
- Camp no. 9 Fa. Uhde
- Camp no. 14 Isolierbetrieb
- Camp no. 15 Fa. Roesner
- Camp no. 21 Kraftwerk
- Camp no. 22 Fa. Niederdruck
- Camp no. 24 Schwelerei
- Camp no. 25 AEG Gleiwitz
- Camp no. 28 Betriebskontrolle
- Camp no. 30 OHW Holzlagerung
- Camp no. 36 Fa. Dyckerhoff + Widmann
- Camp no. 40 Fa. Peters
- Camp no. 49 Fa. Pook + Gruen
*The firms Uhde, AEG, Dyckerhoff + Widmann are widely known and still
On April 1, 1944,
administration of the camp was transferred to Auschwitz, and it became
the satellite camp Auschwitz IV. Hauptsturmfuhrer Otto Brossmann was
the camp commandant until November 1944, when he was replaced by Untersturmfuhrer
The first 3,056 male prisoners of Blechhammer had tattoos
from Auschwitz — numbers 176,512-179,567 — and 132 female
prisoners — numbers 76,330-76,461. Prisoners declared “unable
to work” were sent by the camp administration to Auschwitz II
(Birkenau) to be murdered, other “healthy” workers were
sent from Auschwitz to Blechhammer instead.
On September 9, 1944, American bombers destroyed large parts of the
plants of the "Oberschlesische Hydrierwerke AG" in Blechhammer
and of the oil refinery in nearby Trzebinia.
On January 21, 1945,
4,000 prisoners, including 150 women, were taken out of the camp and
put on a death march lasting 13 days. Several dozen prisoners who tried
to hide in Blechhammer during the evacuation were discovered and killed
on the spot.
The prisoners each got 800 grams of bread, a small
portion of margarine, and artificial honey for their march. Some 800
prisoners were killed en route. On February 2, the survivors reached
the Gross-Rosen camp, where they remained for five days before being put on a train
to Buchenwald. The prisoners
stayed in Gross-Rosen for 5 days. Then they boarded a train to Buchenwald
(Feb. 6 or 7). On the way the train, was attacked several times by Allied
planes, which caused many deaths.
The total number of forced laborers working in all camps at Blechhammer
(not only the sub-camp of Auschwitz III) and surroundings reached abou
48,000 people. This included 2,000 British Prisoners of war.