Gross-Rosen concentration camp (German: Konzentrationslager Groß-Rosen) was a German network of Nazi concentration camps built and operated during World War II. The main camp was located in the German village of Gross-Rosen, now the modern-day Rogoźnica in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, Poland; directly on the rail-line between the towns of Jawor (Jauer) and Strzegom (Striegau).
At its peak activity in 1944, the Gross-Rosen complex had up to 100 subcamps located in eastern Germany, Czechoslovakia, and on the territory of occupied Poland. The population of all Gross-Rosen camps at that time accounted for 11% of the total number of inmates incarcerated in the Nazi concentration camp system.
|Nazi concentration camp|
Gross-Rosen entrance gate with the phrase Arbeit Macht Frei
Location of Gross-Rosen in present-day Poland
|Operational||Summer of 1940 – 14 February 1945|
|Number of inmates||125,000 (in estimated 100 subcamps)|
|Notable inmates||Boris Braun, Adam Dulęba, Franciszek Duszeńko, Heda Margolius Kovály, Władysław Ślebodziński, Simon Wiesenthal|
KZ Gross-Rosen was set up in the summer of 1940 as a satellite camp of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp from Oranienburg. Initially, the slave labour was carried out in a huge stone quarry owned by the SS-Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke GmbH (SS German Earth and Stone Works). In the fall of 1940 the use of labour in Upper Silesia was taken over by the new Organization Schmelt formed on the orders of Heinrich Himmler. It was named after its leader SS-Oberführer Albrecht Schmelt. The company was put in charge of employment from the camps with Jews intended to work for food only.
The Gross-Rosen location close to occupied Poland was of considerable advantage. Prisoners were put to work in the construction of a system of subcamps for expelees from the annexed territories. Gross Rosen became an independent camp on 1 May 1941. As the complex grew, the majority of inmates were put to work in the new Nazi enterprises attached to these subcamps.
In October 1941 the SS transferred about 3,000 Soviet POWs to Gross-Rosen for execution by shooting. Gross-Rosen was known for its brutal treatment of the so-called Nacht und Nebel prisoners vanishing without a trace from targeted communities. Most died in the granite quarry. The brutal treatment of the political and Jewish prisoners was not only in the hands of guards and German criminal prisoners brought in by the SS, but to a lesser extent also fuelled by the German administration of the stone quarry responsible for starvation rations and denial of medical help. In 1942, for political prisoners, the average survival time-span was less than two months.
Due to a change of policy in August 1942, prisoners were likely to survive longer because they were needed as slave workers in German war industries. Among the companies that benefited from the slave labour of the concentration camp inmates were German electronics manufacturers such as Blaupunkt, Siemens, as well as Krupp, IG Farben, and Daimler-Benz, among others. Some prisoners who were not able to work but not yet dying were sent to the Dachau concentration camp in so-called invalid transports.
The largest population of inmates, however, were Jews, initially from the Dachau and Sachsenhausen camps, and later from Buchenwald. During the camp's existence, the Jewish inmate population came mainly from Poland and Hungary; others were from Belgium, France, Netherlands, Greece, Yugoslavia, Slovakia, and Italy.
At its peak activity in 1944, the Gross-Rosen complex had up to 100 subcamps, located in eastern Germany, Czechoslovakia, and occupied Poland. In its final stage, the population of the Gross-Rosen camps accounted for 11% of the total inmates in Nazi concentration camps at that time. A total of 125,000 inmates of various nationalities passed through the complex during its existence, of whom an estimated 40,000 died on site, on death marches and in evacuation transports. The camp was liberated on 14 February 1945 by the Red Army. A total of over 500 female camp guards were trained and served in the Gross-Rosen complex. Female SS staffed the women's subcamps of Brünnlitz, Graeben, Gruenberg, Gruschwitz Neusalz, Hundsfeld, Kratzau II, Oberaltstadt, Reichenbach, and Schlesiersee Schanzenbau.
The Gabersdorf labour camp had been part of a network of forced labor camps for Jewish prisoners that had operated under Organization Schmelt since 1941. The spinning mill where the female Jewish prisoners worked had been "Aryanized" in 1939 by a Vienna-based company called Vereinigte Textilwerke K. H. Barthel & Co. The prisoners also worked in factories operated by the companies Aloys Haase and J. A. Kluge und Etrich. By 18 March 1944 Gabersdorf had become a subcamp of Gross-Rosen.
The Brieg subcamp, located near the village of Pampitz, had originally been the location of a Jewish forced labor camp until August 1944, when the Jewish prisoners were replaced by the first transport of prisoners from the Gross-Rosen main camp. The camp was mostly staffed by soldiers from the Luftwaffe and a few SS members. Most of the prisoners were Polish, with smaller numbers of Russian and Czech prisoners. Most of the Poles had been evacuated from the Pawiak prison in Warsaw; others had been arrested within the territory controlled by the Reich or had been transported from Kraków and Radom.
Brieg's camp kitchen was run by Czech prisoners. The three daily meals included 1 pint of mehlzupa (a soup made from water and meal), 150 grams of bread, 1 quart of soup made with rutabaga, beets, cabbage, kale or sometimes nettles, 1 pint of black "coffee" and a spoonful of molasses. Sometimes "hard workers" called zulaga would be rewarded with a piece of blood sausage or raw horsemeat sausage, jam and margarine. Prisoners also received 1 cup of Knorr soup per week.
During the Gross-Rosen initial period of operation as a formal subcamp of Sachsenhausen, the following two SS Lagerführer officers served as the camp commandants, the SS-Untersturmführer Anton Thumann, and SS-Untersturmführer Georg Gussregen. From May 1941 until liberation, the following officials served as commandants of a fully independent concentration camp at Gross-Rosen:
On 12 August 1948 the trial of three Gross Rosen camp officials, Johannes Hasselbröck, Helmut Eschner and Eduard Drazdauskas, began before a Soviet Military Court. On 7 October 1948 all were found guilty of war crimes. Eschner and Drazdauskas were sentenced to life imprisonment and Hasselbröck was sentenced to death, but this was later commuted also to life imprisonment. 
The most far-reaching expansion of the Gross-Rosen system of labour camps took place in 1944 due to accelerated demand for support behind the advancing front. The character and purpose of new camps shifted toward defense infrastructure. In some cities, as in Wrocław (Breslau) camps were established in every other district. It is estimated that their total number reached 100 at that point according to list of their official destinations. The biggest sub-camps included AL Fünfteichen in Jelcz-Laskowice, four camps in Wrocław, Dyhernfurth in Brzeg Dolny, Landeshut in Kamienna Góra, and the entire Project Riese along the Owl Mountains.
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Florian Marciniak (codenames: Jerzy Nowak, Nowak, J.Krzemień, Szary, Flo; born 4 May 1915, Gorzyce, Kościan County – died 20/21 February 1944, Gross-Rosen) was a Polish scoutmaster (harcmistrz), and the first Naczelnik (Chief Scout) of the paramilitary scouting resistance organization, the Szare Szeregi, during the Second World War.
Marciniak was a graduate of St. John Cantius High School in Poznań. He was arrested by the Gestapo on 6 May 1943 and murdered in February 1944 at the Gross-Rosen concentration camp.Friedrich Entress
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It lies approximately 11 kilometres (7 mi) south-west of Milicz, and 40 kilometres (25 mi) north of the regional capital Wrocław.Heinrich Schmidt (SS doctor)
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Wilhelm Gideon (15 November 1898, in Oldenburg – 23 February 1977) was a Schutzstaffel officer and Nazi concentration camp commandant.
A native of Oldenburg in the state of Lower Saxony, Gideon began work as a trainee engineer but had his studied ended by the outbreak of World War I when he volunteered for service in the German Imperial Army.Gideon enlisted in the SS in 1933 (member number 88,657) and the Nazi Party in 1937 (member 4,432,258). He had various posts in the SS, initially being stationed with the 9th SS-Reiterstandarte (cavalry) from 1934 to 1939. Following this he was moved to the 3rd SS Division Totenkopf until 1942, after which he was briefly attached to the SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt. He also served for a short period at Neuengamme concentration camp and as administrator of the 88th SS-Standarte in Hamburg.Gideon had been identified by Oswald Pohl as a reliable SS officer and was promoted to Hauptsturmführer by the concentration camp chief. He was appointed commandant of Gross-Rosen concentration camp on 16 September 1942 in succession to Arthur Rödl and held the post until 10 October 1943 when Johannes Hassebroek succeeded him. His final post was on staff of the SS and Police Leader in occupied Denmark until the surrender in 1945.Gideon was found in 1975 when Israeli historian Tom Segev interviewed him for his book Soldiers of Evil, a study of the concentration camp commandants. However, after initially cooperating with Segev, Gideon terminated the interview when he suddenly claimed that he was a different person who happened to be named Wilhelm Gideon rather than the former commandant of Gross-Rosen.