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Thread: Blechhammer camp complex

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Kutno, Poland
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    Default Blechhammer camp complex

    I believe this picture is one of the most famous picture taken during WW2.


    "853" is a Douglas-Tulsa B-24H-15-DT Liberator, s/n [serial number] 41-28853, attached to the 783rd Bomb Squadron, 465th Bomb Group, 15th Air Force.
    Aircraft was flying lead for the 55th Bomb Wing on the 20 November 1944 mission to bomb Blechhammer, Germany with the 781st Bomb Squadron's commanding officer at the controls and the Group navigator in the plane. The plane was hit by AAA [anti-aircraft artillery] between the #2 engine and the fuselage while over the target and the wing started to come apart as the crew bailed out. Five of the crew managed to parachute safely but six were trapped and killed.

    Crew:
    Lt Col. Clarence J. Lokker - pilot (KIA) [killed in action]
    Capt. Milton H. Duckworth - copilot (POW) [prisoner of war]
    1st Lt. Joseph P. Kutger - navigator (POW)
    1st Lt. Robert M. Hockman - bombardier (POW)
    1st Lt. Grosvenor W. Rice - bombardier (KIA)
    2nd Lt. Joseph S. Whalen - radar bombardier (POW)
    T/Sgt. Lee R. Billings - engineer/top turret (POW)
    S/Sgt. Edmund J. Miosky - radio operator (KIA)
    Sgt. James A. Bourne - gunner (POW)
    Sgt. Jack Rabkin - gunner (KIA)
    Sgt. Paul H. Flynn,Jr. - gunner (KIA)

    As stated above, the picture was taken during the raid to Blechhammer on 20 Novemeber 1944. Today Blenhammer is know as Blachownia Slaska, Southern Poland. It is a village (in fact a part of the city now) where a huge chemical plant is located, the same which was targeted by the American bombers. Some time ago I was studing some WW2 arieal photos, merging them with the images from google maps. While doing some online research about the Blechhammer chemical plant, I came across an information about a concentration camp located near the chemical plant. It had been organized by the Germans in 1940. In the beginning, first slaveworkers were brought from General Government (Poland), Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (Czech Republic), Italy and France. Also some 2500 British and French POWs were transferred there and served in construction battalions (Bau und Arbeitsbataillonen).
    Overall, around 45000 people were imprisoned in camp complex around Blechhammer. The complex was divided in two sections: Blechhammer North and Blechhammer South. The prisoners from the Blechhammer North worked at the construction site of synthetic fuel factory (Oberschlesische Hydrierwerke AG). The synthetic fuel factory belonging to I.G. Farbenindustrie A.G was constructed by the prisoners from Blechhammer South. The whole camp complex consisted of numerous sub-camps.

    Blechhammer North (Oberschlesische Hydrierwerke AG Blechhammer):
    1.Firmenlager (for the Germans and technical managers of other nationalities);
    2.Mädchenlager (for women)
    3.Blechhammerlager (slavework camp for Poles and Russians);
    4.Kanallager BAB-21 (for the Commonwealth POWs from New Zealand, Palestine and India - those prisoners came from Stalag VIII-B w Lambinowice);
    5.Wiesenlager X/1573/M (Russian, Polish, British, Belgian, Yugoslavian and Bulgarian POWs);
    6.Bordel Barake 987 (brothel with Polish and Ukrainian women forced to serve the British prisoners)
    7.Waldlager (Italian camp; Russians, Poles, French, Bulgarians and Czechs were also kept there);
    8.Strafgefangenenlager XVI/1579/M (Russians, Poles and French);
    9.Lagerehrenforst (Polish, Czech and Yugoslavian POWs);
    10.Meisterlager (managemant staff camp);
    11.Justizstrafgefangenenlager XV/1578/M (Russians, Poles, Czechs, French and others);
    12.AEL Arbeitserziehungslager;
    13.Dorflagerwest (Ukrainians, Poles and Yugoslavians);
    14.Unruhelager ;
    15.Dorflager (mostly for the Germans, but also for Jews, Poles, Russians and Czechs);
    16.Ehrenforstlager (Poles, Czech and Yugoslavians)
    17.Bahnhofslager (all nationalities, mostly Polish);
    18.Judenlager (jewish prisoners); on the 1st of April 1944 become a part Of Auschwitz camp complex;
    19.Mädchenlager (for women);
    20.Schleusenlager (French prisoners);
    21.Krankenhaus (hospital for Polish and German prisoners).

    I couldn't find the camp list of Blechhammer South complex, but all together there was around 40 sub-camps in the area.

    The Judenlager (Jewish camp) was established in July 1942. First group of 400-500 Jews was brought from Terezin Ghetto. Soon it become a largest camp in the area with 4000 prisoners (200 women). It consisted of 25 barracks surrounded by 4 m high conrete wall with barbed wire on the top. 9 guard towers with MGs manned by the SS were build along the wall. The prisoners worked at the Oberschlesische Hydrierwerke AG factory.
    The commanders of the camp were:
    SS-Lagerführer Heidrich Schwarz;
    Erich Hoffmann – executed the 26th of May 1948.

    On 1st of April 1944 the Judenlager become a sub-camp of Auschwitz complex known as Arbeitslager Blechhammer.

    It consisted of four parts:
    1.Judenlager (Jews from all over Europe) – central and southern part of the camp;
    2.Judenlager (Jewish women) – south-west part of the camp;
    3.Bahnhofslager (concentration camp for all other nationalities, mostly Polish) – northern part of the camp;
    4.SS Lager (for the SS personnel) – central part of the camp, between Judenlager i Bahnhofslager.


    The whole camp covered the area of 230m x 290m. The crematorium where 1500 bodies were burnt was in the south-east part of the camp. The camp was commanded by SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Otto Brossmann. During winter 1944/45, as the Red Army was closing fast, the Germans decided to evacute the camp (which become a transfer point for the prisoners from Auschwitz and other camps) and forced the prisoners into columns of 500 men each. They were ordered to march to the West. During the "Death March" people who were suffering from cold (marched barefoot, without proper winter clothing) soon started to die of exaustion. Those who were unable to march were killed with the butts of the guns by the so-called Nachkommando which followed the columns. The camp was liberated by the Red Army on the 26th of January 1945. There were less than 200 survivors found.

    Below are the pics of the remainings of the camp. Coordinates: 50.361397,18.321805









    Sources:

    http://www.awesomestories.com/assets...-explosion-b24
    http://www.obozy-blechhammer.eu/
    http://alfsoft.net/blechhammer1944/s...php?page_id=23
    http://eksploratorzy.com.pl/viewtopic.php?t=474
    http://www.kurys.pl/thumbnails.php?album=100

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Southern Russia , Krasnodar
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    Default Re: Blechhammer camp complex

    Quote Originally Posted by Kovalski View Post
    I believe this picture is one of the most famous picture taken during WW2.
    I see this "famouse" image first time in my life. Very dramatic i have to say.
    Also is absolutly new for me the fact that the USAF really attemped to bomb aushwitz industrial complex.

    As stated above, the picture was taken during the raid to Blechhammer on 20 Novemeber 1944. Today Blenhammer is know as Blachownia Slaska, Southern Poland. It is a village (in fact a part of the city now) where a huge chemical plant is located, the same which was targeted by the American bombers. Some time ago I was studing some WW2 arieal photos, merging them with the images from google maps. While doing some online research about the Blechhammer chemical plant, I came across an information about a concentration camp located near the chemical plant. It had been organized by the Germans in 1940. In the beginning, first slaveworkers were brought from General Government (Poland), Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (Czech Republic), Italy and France. Also some 2500 British and French POWs were transferred there and served in construction battalions (Bau und Arbeitsbataillonen).
    Overall, around 45000 people were imprisoned in camp complex around Blechhammer. The complex was divided in two sections: Blechhammer North and Blechhammer South. The prisoners from the Blechhammer North worked at the construction site of synthetic fuel factory (Oberschlesische Hydrierwerke AG). The synthetic fuel factory belonging to I.G. Farbenindustrie A.G was constructed by the prisoners from Blechhammer South. The whole camp complex consisted of numerous sub-camps.

    Blechhammer North (Oberschlesische Hydrierwerke AG Blechhammer):
    1.Firmenlager (for the Germans and technical managers of other nationalities);
    2.Mädchenlager (for women)
    3.Blechhammerlager (slavework camp for Poles and Russians);
    4.Kanallager BAB-21 (for the Commonwealth POWs from New Zealand, Palestine and India - those prisoners came from Stalag VIII-B w Lambinowice);
    5.Wiesenlager X/1573/M (Russian, Polish, British, Belgian, Yugoslavian and Bulgarian POWs);
    6.Bordel Barake 987 (brothel with Polish and Ukrainian women forced to serve the British prisoners)
    7.Waldlager (Italian camp; Russians, Poles, French, Bulgarians and Czechs were also kept there);
    8.Strafgefangenenlager XVI/1579/M (Russians, Poles and French);
    9.Lagerehrenforst (Polish, Czech and Yugoslavian POWs);
    10.Meisterlager (managemant staff camp);
    11.Justizstrafgefangenenlager XV/1578/M (Russians, Poles, Czechs, French and others);
    12.AEL Arbeitserziehungslager;
    13.Dorflagerwest (Ukrainians, Poles and Yugoslavians);
    14.Unruhelager ;
    15.Dorflager (mostly for the Germans, but also for Jews, Poles, Russians and Czechs);
    16.Ehrenforstlager (Poles, Czech and Yugoslavians)
    17.Bahnhofslager (all nationalities, mostly Polish);
    18.Judenlager (jewish prisoners); on the 1st of April 1944 become a part Of Auschwitz camp complex;
    19.Mädchenlager (for women);
    20.Schleusenlager (French prisoners);
    21.Krankenhaus (hospital for Polish and German prisoners).

    I couldn't find the camp list of Blechhammer South complex, but all together there was around 40 sub-camps in the area.

    The Judenlager (Jewish camp) was established in July 1942. First group of 400-500 Jews was brought from Terezin Ghetto. Soon it become a largest camp in the area with 4000 prisoners (200 women). It consisted of 25 barracks surrounded by 4 m high conrete wall with barbed wire on the top. 9 guard towers with MGs manned by the SS were build along the wall. The prisoners worked at the Oberschlesische Hydrierwerke AG factory.
    The commanders of the camp were:
    SS-Lagerführer Heidrich Schwarz;
    Erich Hoffmann – executed the 26th of May 1948.

    On 1st of April 1944 the Judenlager become a sub-camp of Auschwitz complex known as Arbeitslager Blechhammer.

    It consisted of four parts:
    1.Judenlager (Jews from all over Europe) – central and southern part of the camp;
    2.Judenlager (Jewish women) – south-west part of the camp;
    3.Bahnhofslager (concentration camp for all other nationalities, mostly Polish) – northern part of the camp;
    4.SS Lager (for the SS personnel) – central part of the camp, between Judenlager i Bahnhofslager.


    The whole camp covered the area of 230m x 290m. The crematorium where 1500 bodies were burnt was in the south-east part of the camp. The camp was commanded by SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Otto Brossmann. During winter 1944/45, as the Red Army was closing fast, the Germans decided to evacute the camp (which become a transfer point for the prisoners from Auschwitz and other camps) and forced the prisoners into columns of 500 men each. They were ordered to march to the West. During the "Death March" people who were suffering from cold (marched barefoot, without proper winter clothing) soon started to die of exaustion. Those who were unable to march were killed with the butts of the guns by the so-called Nachkommando which followed the columns. The camp was liberated by the Red Army on the 26th of January 1945. There were less than 200 survivors found.
    Those are very interesting personal research with google , bravo Kovalski.
    I just find it somewhat strange the fact the most of prisoners were forcibly evacuated from a complex while the official historians of Holocaust prove the Aushwitz was a giant death-camp for mass murder of 1,2 mln of jews?!!!
    Seems the slaveworkers were considered by German leadership a valuable but cheap manpower , worthwhile the evacuation to the west for , as implies, the future use in industry.

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
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    Posts
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    Default Re: Blechhammer camp complex

    Quote Originally Posted by Chevan View Post
    I see this "famouse" image first time in my life. Very dramatic i have to say.
    Also is absolutly new for me the fact that the USAF really attemped to bomb aushwitz industrial complex.
    No, they never did. Blechhammer is around 80 km West from Auschwitz. The Blechhammer Judenlager become oficially part of Auschwitz complex in 1944, which means it was under Auschwitz's command supervision and orders. IAs far as I know Allies never targeted the camps. They probably expected to cause some loss of life among the slaveworkers when bombing the industrial targets , but as a collateral damage I suppose.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chevan View Post
    Those are very interesting personal research with google , bravo Kovalski.
    I just find it somewhat strange the fact the most of prisoners were forcibly evacuated from a complex while the official historians of Holocaust prove the Aushwitz was a giant death-camp for mass murder of 1,2 mln of jews?!!!
    Seems the slaveworkers were considered by German leadership a valuable but cheap manpower , worthwhile the evacuation to the west for , as implies, the future use in industry.
    I'm afraid that unfortunately majority of Auschwitz prisoners never got away alive. Those who were forced to walk towards the West in "death marches" were a just a tiny part of those imprisoned in the final months of the war. It was still paying off for the Germans to keep as much slaveworkers as possible. They were the main workforce in German warmachine anyway.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Blechhammer camp complex

    Fantastic work Kovalski!!

    Chevan, just to make sure everything is clear - please keep in mind that while Auschwitz was a death camp, murdering Jews (and others) was not the ONLY purpose of the camp...While many were murdered on arrival, many others were used as slave labor. This is in contrast to camps such as Chełmno or Belzec, which were solely for the purpose of murder (less than 5 people are known to have survived those camps).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    1

    Exclamation Re: Blechhammer camp complex

    You did an amazing job pulling together so much data. I've been to Blechhammer twice, and was wondering about the sources of your information, especially about all the satellite camps. I realize this isn't wikipedia, where footnotes and sourcing is expected, but I'd sure love to know where you pulled your information. Many thanks,
    Mel

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Poland
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    Default Re: Blechhammer camp complex

    I am looking for dis director chef from camp Blechhammer!

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Zrzut ekranu 2017-05-05 o 13.54.18.png 
Views:	21 
Size:	37.6 KB 
ID:	7806

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Poland
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    Default Re: Blechhammer camp complex

    I am looking for dis director/chef from camp Blechhammer!

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Zrzut ekranu 2017-05-05 o 13.54.18.png 
Views:	19 
Size:	37.6 KB 
ID:	7807

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