Stutthof was a Nazi German concentration camp established in a secluded, wet, and wooded area near the small town of Sztutowo (German: Stutthof) 34 km (21 mi) east of the city of Danzig in the former territory of the Free City of Danzig. The camp was set up around existing structures after the invasion of Poland in World War II, used for the imprisonment of Polish leaders and intelligentsia. The actual barracks were built the following year by hundreds of prisoners.
Stutthof was the first Nazi concentration camp set up outside German borders in World War II, in operation from 2 September 1939. It was also the last camp liberated by the Allies on 9 May 1945. It is estimated that between 63,000 and 65,000 prisoners of Stutthof concentration camp and its subcamps died as a result of murder, epidemics, extreme labour conditions, evacuations, and lack of medical help. Some 28,000 of them were Jews. In total, as many as 110,000 people were deported there in the course of the camp's existence. About 24,600 were transferred from Stutthof to other locations.
Map of KL Stutthof main camp after expansion. The German armaments factory DAW to the right (black, outlined in red) by the prisoner barracks. Death gate marked with an arrow, next to the red-brick SS administration building.
Location of Stutthof within Poland
|Known for||Experimental production of soap from human fat|
|Operated by||Nazi Germany|
|Commandant||Max Pauly, September 1939 – August 1942|
Paul-Werner Hoppe, August 1942 – January 1945
|Operational||2 September 1939 – 9 May 1945|
|Inmates||Jews, political prisoners|
|Number of inmates||110,000|
|Killed||63,000 - 65,000 (including 28,000 Jews)|
|Liberated by||Red Army|
The camp was established in connection with the ethnic cleansing project that included the liquidation of Polish elites (members of the intelligentsia, religious and political leaders) in the Danzig area and Western Prussia.
Even before the war began, the German Selbstschutz in Pomerania created lists of people to be arrested, and the Nazi authorities were secretly reviewing suitable places to set up concentration camps in their area.
Originally, Stutthof was a civilian internment camp under the Danzig police chief, before its subsequent massive expansion. In November 1941, it became a "labor education" camp (like Dachau), administered by the German Security Police. Finally, in January 1942, Stutthof became a regular concentration camp.
The original camp (known as the old camp) was surrounded by the barbed-wire fence. It comprised eight barracks for the inmates and a "Kommandantur" for the SS guards, totaling 120,000 m². In 1943, the camp was enlarged and a new camp was constructed alongside the earlier one. It was also surrounded by electrified barbed-wire fence and contained thirty new barracks, raising the total area to 1.2 km² (0.5 sq mi). A crematorium and gas chamber were added in 1943, just in time to start mass executions when Stutthof was included in the "Final Solution" in June 1944. Mobile gas wagons were also used to complement the maximum capacity of the gas chamber (150 people per execution) when needed.
Among the notable female guard personnel were: Elisabeth Becker, Erna Beilhardt, Ella Bergmann, Ella Blank, Gerda Bork, Herta Bothe, Erna Boettcher, Hermine Boettcher-Brueckner, Steffi Brillowski, Charlotte Graf, Charlotte Gregor, Charlotte Klein, Gerda Steinhoff, Ewa Paradies, and Jenny-Wanda Barkmann. Thirty-four female guards including Becker, Bothe, Steinhoff, Paradies, and Barkmann were identified later as having committed crimes against humanity. The SS in Stutthof began conscripting women from Danzig and the surrounding cities in June 1944, to train as camp guards because of their severe shortage after the women's subcamp of Stutthof called Bromberg-Ost (Konzentrationslager Bromberg-Ost) was set up in the city of Bydgoszcz.
Several Norwegian Waffen SS volunteers worked as guards or as instructors for prisoners from Nordic countries, according to senior researcher at the Norwegian Center for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities, Terje Emberland.
The first 150 inmates, imprisoned on 2 September 1939, were selected among Poles and Jews arrested in Danzig right after the outbreak of war. The inmate population rose to 6,000 in the following two weeks, on 15 September 1939. Until 1942, nearly all of the prisoners were Polish. The number of inmates increased considerably in 1944, with Jews being a prominent group among the newcomers. The first contingent of 2,500 Jewish prisoners arrived from Auschwitz in July 1944. In total, 23,566 Jews (including 21,817 women) were transferred to Stutthof from Auschwitz, and 25,053 (including 16,123 women) from camps in the Baltic states. When the Soviet army began its advance through German-occupied Estonia in July and August 1944, the camp staff of Klooga concentration camp evacuated the majority of the inmates by sea and sent them to Stutthof.
Stutthof's registered inmates included citizens of 28 countries, and besides Jews and Poles - Germans, Czechs, Dutch, Belgians, French, Norwegians, Finns, Danes, Lithuanians, Latvians, Belarusians, Russians and others. Among 110,000 prisoners were Jews from all of Europe, members of the Polish underground, Polish civilians deported from Warsaw during the Warsaw Uprising, Lithuanian and Latvian intelligentsia, Latvian resistance fighters, psychiatric patients, Soviet prisoners of war, and communists (as an example of communist deportations to Stutthof, see the Danish Horserød camp). It is believed that inmates sent for immediate execution were not registered.
Conditions in the camp were extremely harsh. The first executions were carried out on 11 January and 22 March 1940 - 89 Polish activists and government officials were shot. Many prisoners died in typhus epidemics that swept the camp in the winter of 1942 and again in 1944. Those whom the SS guards judged too weak or sick to work were gassed in the camp's small gas chamber. Gassing with Zyklon B began in June 1944. 4,000 prisoners, including Jewish women and children, were killed in a gas chamber before the evacuation of the camp. Another method of execution practiced in Stutthof was lethal injection of phenol into the heart. Between 63,000 and 65,000 people died in the camp.
Germans used Stutthof prisoners as forced laborers. Many prisoners worked in SS-owned businesses such as DAW (Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke), the heavily guarded armaments factory meaning literally the German Equipment Works which was located inside the camp (see map) next to prisoner barracks. Other inmates labored in local brickyards, in private industrial enterprises, in agriculture, or in the camp's own workshops. In 1944, as forced labor by concentration camp prisoners became increasingly important in armaments production, a Focke-Wulf aircraft factory was constructed at Stutthof. Eventually, the Stutthof camp system became a network of forced-labor camps. The Holocaust Encyclopedia estimates that (less officially) some 105 Stutthof subcamps were established throughout northern and central Poland. The major subcamps were in Toruń (Thorn) and in Elbląg (Elbing).
Evidence exists of a small-scale experimental production of soap made from human corpses obtained from the Stutthof concentration camp. Stutthof has been confirmed as one of three sources for human remains that Nazi Dr. Rudolf Spanner used to make a limited quantity of soap from human fat, with the intention of product development.
In his book, Russia at War 1941 to 1945, Alexander Werth reported that while visiting Gdańsk (Danzig) in 1945 shortly after its liberation by the Red Army, he saw an experimental factory outside the city for making soap from human corpses. According to Werth it had been run by "a German professor called Spanner" and "was a nightmarish sight, with its vats full of human heads and torsos pickled in some liquid, and its pails full of a flakey substance – human soap". The scale of production alleged by Werth is disputed by Polish researchers. In 2006, researchers from the Gdańsk University of Technology published a press release by the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum which stated that the total amount of soap produced, from all three sources, was somewhere between 10 and 100 kilograms. Since Stutthof was only one of three sources for human remains, production would have been on a laboratory, rather than "factory", scale. Professor Andrzej Stołyhwo from SGGW in Warsaw analyzed a soap sample obtained from the Anatomy Institute of the Medical Academy in Gdańsk, and found that its chemical properties were similar to those of the sample from the International Court of Justice in The Hague used as evidence of Nazi war crimes between November 1945 and October 1946.
The main German concentration camp in Stutthof had as many as 40 sub-camps during World War II. In total, the sub-camps held 110,000 prisoners from 25 countries according to the Jewish Virtual Library. The sub-camps of Stutthof included:
The evacuation of prisoners from the Stutthof camp system began on 25 January 1945. When the final evacuation began, there were nearly 50,000 prisoners, the majority of them Jews, in the Stutthof camp system. About 5,000 prisoners from Stutthof subcamps were marched to the Baltic Sea coast, forced into the water, and machine-gunned. The rest of the prisoners were marched in the direction of Lauenburg in eastern Germany. Cut off by advancing Soviet forces the Germans forced the surviving prisoners back to Stutthof. Marching in severe winter conditions and brutal treatment by SS guards led to thousands of deaths.
In late April 1945, the remaining prisoners were removed from Stutthof by sea, since the camp was completely encircled by Soviet forces. Again, hundreds of prisoners were forced into the sea and shot. Over 4,000 were sent by small boat to Germany, some to the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg, and some to camps along the Baltic coast. Many drowned along the way.
On 5 May 1945, a barge full of starving prisoners was towed into harbour at Klintholm Havn in Denmark where 351 of the 370 on board were saved. Shortly before the German surrender, some prisoners were transferred to Malmö, Sweden, and released into the care of that neutral country. It has been estimated that over 25,000 prisoners, one in two, died during the evacuation from Stutthof and its subcamps.
Soviet forces liberated Stutthof on 9 May 1945, rescuing about 100 prisoners who had managed to hide during the final evacuation of the camp.
The well known Nuremberg Trials were only concerned with concentration camps as evidence for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Third Reich leadership. Several lesser known trials followed against the staff of various concentration camps. Poland held four trials in Gdańsk against former guards and kapos of Stutthof, charging them with crimes of war and crimes against humanity.
The first trial was held from April 25 to May 31, 1946 against 30 ex-officials and prisoner-guards of the camp. The Soviet/Polish Special Criminal Court found all of them guilty of the charges. Eleven defendants including the former commander, Johann Pauls, were sentenced to death. The rest were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment.
The second trial was held from October 8 to October 31, 1947, before a Polish Special Criminal Court. Arraigned 24 ex-officials and guards of the Stutthof concentration camp were judged and found guilty. Ten were sentenced to death.
The third trial was held from November 5 to November 10, 1947, before a Polish Special Criminal Court. Arraigned 20 ex-officials and guards were judged; 19 were found guilty, and one was acquitted.
The fourth and final trial was also held before a Polish Special Criminal Court, from November 19 to November 29, 1947. Twenty-seven ex-officials and guards were arraigned and judged; 26 were found guilty, and one was acquitted.
An additional trial was attempted in November 2018, when Johann Rehbogen was accused of being an accessory to murder. There was no evidence to link him to specific killings, and though he admitted to serving at the camp, he said that he was unaware that people were being murdered there. He was charged as a juvenile, as he was under 21 at the time of the offense. Images in the news broadcasts concealed his face for legal reasons. Being tried at the age of 94, court proceedings were limited to no more than two hours per day and two non-consecutive days per week. In February 2019 the trial of a defendant matching this description (whom Reuters reported could not be named for legal reasons) was halted after a medical report, having been suspended since the previous December.
Source: Atlas of the Holocaust by Martin Gilbert (1982)
Außenarbeitslager Gerdauen was a subcamp of the Stutthof concentration camp in nowaday's Zheleznodorozhny, Kaliningrad Oblast. Most of the prisoners in the subcamps of the Stutthoff camp contained Jewish women from Hungary and from the Łódź Ghetto, and there were also some Jewish men from Lithuania. While a labor camp rather than a death camp, many people died - of 100 Jewish girls at the camp only three survived the war.In 1994, Riva Chirurg published an autobiography which discussed her time at Gerdauen, as well as in the Łódź Ghetto, in Auschwitz and in Stutthoff.Balys Sruoga
Balys Sruoga (February 2, 1896, in Baibokai, Kovno Governorate – October 16, 1947, Vilnius) was a Lithuanian poet, playwright, critic, and literary theorist.Bromberg-Ost
Bromberg-Ost (German: Konzentrationslager Bromberg-Ost) was the female subcamp of the German Nazi concentration camp KL Stutthof between 1944-1945, set up in the city of Bydgoszcz during the later stages of World War II. The mostly Jewish women prisoners dispatched from the main camp in Sztutowo worked as slave-labour for the German railways; loading cargo, clearing and repairing tracks, and digging ditches. The commandant of the camp was SS-Scharführer Anton Kniffke. No warm clothing was provided before mid-December. Women who managed to survive were taken on a death march to Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg.Elisabeth Becker
Elisabeth Becker (20 July 1923 – 4 July 1946) was a concentration camp guard in World War II.Ewa Paradies
Ewa Paradies (17 December 1920 – 4 July 1946) was a Nazi concentration camp overseer.
In August 1944 she went to Stutthof SK-III camp for training as an Aufseherin. She soon finished training and became a wardress. In October 1944 she was reassigned to the Bromberg-Ost subcamp of Stutthof, and in January 1945, back to Stutthof main camp.
In April 1945 she accompanied one of the last transports of women prisoners to the Lauenburg subcamp and fled. After she was captured, she was a defendant in the Stutthof trial. One witness testified:She ordered a group of female prisoners to undress in the freezing cold of winter, and then doused them with ice cold water. When the women moved, Paradies beat them.Franciszek Rogaczewski
Franciszek Rogaczewski (23 December 1892 – 11 January 1940) was a Polish Catholic priest who was arrested by the Nazis and killed at Stutthof concentration camp. He is considered a martyr, and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 13 June 1999.Gerda Steinhoff
Gerda Steinhoff (January 29, 1922 – July 4, 1946) born in Danzig-Langfuhr, was a Nazi SS concentration camp overseer following the 1939 German invasion of Poland.Hermine Boettcher-Brueckner
Hermine Böttcher (born 26 April 1918) was a female SS auxiliary guard at several concentration camps between 1942 and 1945.
Böttcher was born in Friedland, in the Sudetenland (today Frýdlant) on April 26, 1918 as an ethnic German. On October 16, 1942 she was conscripted into camp service and indoctrinated at the Ravensbrück concentration camp. On January 27, 1943, Böttcher arrived at the Majdanek extermination and concentration camp in Lublin as an Aufseherin. There she married an SS man and became Hermine Bruckner. In April 1944, she was moved to Auschwitz-Birkenau and in the summer of 1944 to the Kauen concentration camp, followed by a stint at the Stutthof concentration camp in July 1944. During August 1944 Böttcher was once again assigned to Ravensbrück, and then to Sachsenhausen, and finally in the Neu Rohlau satellite camp of Flossenbürg in January 1945. At the closing of the war, April–May 1945, she participated in a death march from Neu Rohlau.
Captured by the Czechs after the war, Böttcher was found guilty of vicious war crimes and sentenced to a term of imprisonment by a Czech court during 1948. In November 1975, Bottcher was once again placed on trial during the Third Majdanek Trial but acquitted due to lack of evidence. Her fate remains unknown after the trial proceedings.Herta Bothe
Herta Bothe (born 3 January 1921) was a German concentration camp guard during World War II. She was imprisoned for war crimes after the capitulation of Nazi Germany, and was subsequently released early from prison on 22 December 1951 as an act of leniency by the British government.Jenny-Wanda Barkmann
Jenny-Wanda Barkmann (c. 1922 – 4 July 1946) was a German concentration camp guard during World War II.
She is believed to have spent her childhood in Hamburg. In 1944, she became an Aufseherin in the Stutthof SK-III women's camp, where she brutalized prisoners, some to death. She also selected women and children for the gas chambers. She was so severe the women prisoners nicknamed her the Beautiful Specter.Barkmann fled Stutthof as the Soviets approached. She was arrested in May 1945 while trying to leave a train station in Gdańsk. She became a defendant in the Stutthof Trial, where she and other defendants were convicted for their crimes at the camp. She is said to have giggled through the trial, flirted with her prison guards and was apparently seen arranging her hair while hearing testimony. She was found guilty, after which she declared, "Life is indeed a pleasure, and pleasures are usually short."Barkmann was publicly executed by short-drop hanging along with 10 other defendants from the trial on Biskupia Górka Hill near Gdańsk on 4 July 1946. She was around 24 years old, and the first to be hanged.Johann Pauls
Johann Pauls (born 9 February 1908 in Danzig – died 4 July 1946 in Gdańsk) was a German SS-Oberscharführer in Stutthof concentration camp. He was executed for war crimes.Martin Nielsen (politician)
Martin Nielsen (12 December 1900 in Gødvad – 1962), was a Danish politician, managing editor, member of parliament for the Communist Party of Denmark and Holocaust survivor.Before his election to the Danish parliament (Rigsdag) he was a dairyman and farmworker.Martin Nielsen had a wife and a son.
Later in life he became a member of the Folketing and managing editor.Paul-Werner Hoppe
Paul-Werner Hoppe (28 February 1910 – 15 July 1974) was an SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel) and was the commandant of Stutthof concentration camp from September 1942 until April 1945.
Hoppe joined the Nazi Party with membership number 1,596,491. He joined the SS in 1933 (membership number: 116,695). In 1936, he married Charlotte Baranowski, the daughter of Hermann Baranowski, a concentration camp commandant.Hoppe was assigned to the Concentration Camps Inspectorate (Inspektion der Konzentrationslager) under SS-Obergruppenführer Theodor Eicke. He was instrumental in helping Eicke form the Totenkopf Division of the SS in the fall of 1939 and served as Eicke's adjutant. In April 1941, he was given command of an infantry company. In the spring of 1942, he received a severe leg wound in fighting the Red Army near Lake Ilmen in the Demyansk Pocket in Novgorod Oblast, U.S.S.R.After convalescing he was assigned to the SS-Totenkopfverbände and sent to Auschwitz as head of a guard detachment in July 1942. He was recommended for the position of camp commandant of Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig by SS-Gruppenführer Richard Glücks, Eicke's successor as Inspector of Concentration Camps. A promotion to SS-Sturmbannführer and Commandant of Stutthof were approved and he arrived at Stutthof in September 1942 to take up his new position.As the Soviets advanced westward it was decided by Albert Forster, Gauleiter of Danzig and the SS Higher and Police Leader Fritz Katzmann of military district XX, headquartered in Danzig to evacuate Stutthof. The formal evacuation order "Einsatzbefehl No 3" was signed by Hoppe on 25 January 1945 at 0500. The evacuation began an hour later under the command of SS-Hauptsturmführer Teodor Meyer. The destination of the “death march” was a sub-camp of Stutthof near Lauenburg in Pomerania about 87 miles (140 km) west-southwest of Stutthof.
After the mass evacuation, Hoppe became commandant of Wöbbelin concentration camp, a temporary camp set up to take prisoners evacuated from camps about to be overrun by the Red Army. Wöbbelin was only in existence from 12 February 1945 to 2 May 1945 when it was liberated by the American army.Hoppe was captured by the British in April 1946 in Holstein. He was sent to Camp 165 in Watten, Scotland in August 1947 until January 1948 when he was sent to an internment camp in Fallingbostel which was in the British zone of occupation in West Germany.
While awaiting extradition to Poland Hoppe escaped and made his way to Switzerland where he worked as a landscape gardener under a false identity for 3 years before returning to West Germany. He was arrested by the West German authorities on 17 April 1953 in Witten, West Germany.
He was tried and convicted as an accessory to murder in 1955. On 4 June 1957 the district court in Bochum re-sentenced Hoppe to nine years and he was released in 1966.Reidar Kvammen
Reidar Kvammen (23 July 1914 – 27 October 1998) was a Norwegian footballer. Kvammen was an inside-forward who played his entire career for Viking, and is regarded as one of Norway's greatest footballers of all time. Kvammen was the first Norwegian footballer to reach 50 caps. Overall, he played 51 internationals and scored 17 goals for Norway.Kvammen was a prominent member of the Norwegian bronze-medal winning team in the 1936 Olympics, and also played in the World Cup two years later. At club level, he scored 202 goals, which to this date is still a Viking club record.After his career as player, Kvammen had spells as coach at Molde, Bryne and Viking.Rescue of Stutthof victims in Denmark
The rescue of Stutthof victims in Denmark took place on 5 May 1945 at Klintholm Havn, a small fishing village on the south coast of the island of Møn, when a barge full of famished Nazi concentration camp prisoners was towed into harbour.Schoschana Rabinovici
Schoschana Rabinovici (née Suzanne Weksler; born in 1932) is a Holocaust survivor and the author of the memoir Dank meiner Mutter (1994) which was published in the United States in 1998 under the title Thanks to My Mother. Of Lithuanian-Jewish heritage, she survived Vilnius Ghetto and the Kaiserwald and Stutthof Nazi concentration camps as a young girl (ages 8 to 12).Stutthof trials
Stutthof trials were a series of war crime tribunals held in postwar Poland for the prosecution of Stutthof concentration camp staff and officials, responsible for the murder of up to 85,000 prisoners during the occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany in World War II. None of the Stutthof commandants were ever tried in Poland. SS-Sturmbannführer Max Pauly was sentenced to death in Germany but not for the crimes committed at Stutthof; only as the commandant of the Neuengamme concentration camp in Hamburg.The first Polish war crimes tribunal was convened at Gdańsk, Poland, from April 25, 1946 to May 31, 1946. The next three trials took place at the same court in 8–31 October 1947, 5–10 November, and in 19–29 November of that year. The fifth trial was held before the court in Toruń in 1949. The sixth and the last Stutthof trial in Poland took place in 1953 also in Gdańsk. In total, of the approximately 2,000 SS men and women who ran the entire camp complex, 72 SS officers and 6 female overseers were brought to justice.Sztutowo
Sztutowo pronounced [ʂtuˈtɔvɔ] (German: Stutthof) is a village in Nowy Dwór Gdański County, part of the Pomeranian Voivodeship of Poland. It is located about 38 km (24 mi) east of Gdańsk on the northeastern edge of the Vistula Delta, at the base of the Vistula Spit on the Baltic coast.
At the beginning of World War II, the Nazi Germans established the Stutthof concentration camp in the town, which soon developed into a huge complex of 40 subcamps across numerous locations, with as many as 100,000 people incarcerated there from all of Europe, and more than 85,000 victims.Wanda Klaff
Wanda Klaff (6 March 1922 – 4 July 1946) was a Nazi camp overseer. Klaff was born in Danzig to German parents as Wanda Kalacinski. She was executed for war crimes.