Some Consequences of the Schmelt Organization as
experienced by affected individuals
written by Amalie Mary Reichmann-Robinson - (KL Gross
Rosen #47746, KL Flossenbürg #63905) and Bernard
measures and administrative structure by which the German
occupiers of southwest pre-war Poland, united to the Reich
as East Upper Silesia (OOS), systematically impoverished,
enslaved and ultimately murdered the Jewish population is
well understood by virtue of a number of general Holocaust
among such research, and specific to this subject, is Prof.
A. Konieczny's masterful work: "Jewish Forced Labor
in Silesia Within the Framework of the Schmelt Organization".
Prof. Konieczny's study sets forth clearly the initial varied
approaches to the "Jewish Problem" in annexed
East Upper Silesia during the first year of German occupation.
RFSS Himmler's resolution of the administrative confusion
was accomplished by the appointment of SS-Oberführer
Albrecht Schmelt, on 31 October 1940, as "Special Emissary
of the RFSS & Chief of German Police for the Employment
of Foreign Nationals in Upper Silesia (Sosnowitz)".
In a rapid series of decrees, (now) SS-Brigadeführer
Schmelt ended the unpermitted employment of Jewish individuals
in all private and public enterprises, registered all Jewish
citizens by work ability and strengthened the authority
of the Central Jewish Council of Elders through which his
orders were henceforth to be communicated and enforced.
number of forced labor camps was to be greatly increased;
the purpose of Jewish labor was henceforth to be unpaid
service for the German military. Within weeks of assuming
control of the assigned area, the Schmelt Organization had
impoverished, terrorized and demoralized the annexed region's
100,000 Jewish population. Post-war investigations 
by Bundesrepublik authorities indicate that Schmelt's Organization
consisted of fewer than twenty persons. Schmelt had coordinated
the police-terror powers of the Gestapo, SA, Staatspolizei,
Jewish police and, in final readiness, military authorities
to enforce complete obedience to his orders. Now began a
modern-day equivalent of open slave marketing. In the annexed
East Upper Silesia area, inquiries to existing defense-related
factories and plans for new military-related production
requirements were centralized in the Schmelt Organization.
Employee requirements for these undertakings were categorized.
Simultaneously, a ruthless conscription for slave labor
of the entire able-bodied Jewish population began. Movement
from the area of those not capable of labor (children, sick,
infirm) was forbidden. Unknown to them, a Final Solution
of mass murder awaited.
1941, levies of young Jewish persons were sent to an evolving
system of work camps in Silesia. However, the majority
of Jewish Labor was first employed in local (Trustee) work
sites. In these sites German "Trustees" were appointed
as work managers for confiscated Jewish properties in charge
of Jewish employees. Among the work sites most clearly remembered
by Jewish survivors were the Wehrmacht uniform and shoe
operation headed by Alfred Rossner in Bedzin (Bendzin),
a smaller facility in the same city headed by Loicz (with
Jewish technician Silberschatz in actual charge) and, in
Sosnowitz, the Wehrmacht uniform factory headed by the German
Trustee, Held. Rossner was a memorable individual according
to Jewish survivors. He had been wounded while serving the
Wehrmacht in WWI, had likely been a Communist in the 1920's,
but had managed to be appointed Trustee of expropriated
Jewish property in Bedzin (Bendzin). At considerable personal
risk, he displayed a sense of humanity to his Jewish employees
in a world seemingly gone mad. In late 1944, he was executed
after having been found hiding several Jewish individuals.
Another major "Treuhandler" activity within the
OOS was the "Werkstätte für Verarbeitung
von Filz- und Lederabfälle", run by a German named
Braun from Breslau .
enterprise employed 2,000-2,500 in three locations: Sosnowiec
(Sosnowitz) (largest), the headquarters factory in Bedzin
(Bendzin) (5-600) and Dombrowa (smallest). The shops utilized
waste leather and felt to repair military boots and to manufacture
children's fleece slippers, shoes, sandals. Jewish
persons who secured a Permit for near-slavery employment
at Trustee facilities believed they had secured exemption
for themselves and families from "Aktions", that
euphemism for the periodic murder of the non-productive
Jewish population. Until the August 1943 liquidation of
the last OOS Ghetto at Sosnowitz-Srudula, their belief was
justified. However, they had not considered the implacable
commitment of individuals of authority within the NSDAP
such as Heinrich Himmler, Adolph Eichmann or even Rudolph
Höss to have the Wannsee's "Final Solution"
carried forward without exception. During the final evacuation
of Jewish persons in the summer of 1943, all OSS permit
holders were sent to other labor camps or perished in near-by
Birkenau's gas chambers. An exception was made for a few
hundred able-bodied Jewish men who were assigned, from August
1943 to early 1944 to search and clean the former Ghetto
areas. They, too, were then sent to other slave labor sites
or murdered at Birkenau.
in the summer of 1941, there arose administrative wrangles
between Höss, Commandant of the extermination camp
at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Schmelt. Höss put forward
 the posture that
the Organization consistently violated the RSHA order for
"complete liquidation" of all Jews, while he (Höss)
diligently carried forward the Final Solution's mass murders.
A particularly bitter point between the two NSDAP officials
was Schmelt's success in receiving permission from Himmler,
at the insistence of the Munitions Ministry to "extract"
10,000 able-bodied Jewish persons enroute to "liquidation"
in Birkenau from assembly points in West Europe (Drancy,
Mechelen, Westerbork). Höss complained that the interruption
of the death transports at Cosel in Silesia, where the Organization
enjoyed authority, and removal of able-bodied Jewish persons
from the transports delayed the orderly schedule of murder
at Birkenau. He complained to higher RSHA authorities that
the Organization's actions "caused further interruptions
and distractions". He was particularly indignant that
the Organization secured additional able-bodied Jewish individuals
from the transports by replacing them with dying or dead
substitutes from the Organization's existing work camps.
focal point of the Organization's East Upper Silesian slave
system was the unfinished Jewish Trade School on Skladowa
St. 2 in Sosnowitz. Young Jewish men and women were
assembled from the OOS and held there for a period of several
days to some weeks. The means to secure their presence varied
from volunteers who had been convinced their unpaid labor
for Germany would alleviate the dreadful plight of their
families, to individuals ordered by their local Council
of Elders to report for forced labor under threat of severe
penalties to themselves and their families, to young persons
forcibly kidnapped from their homes or the streets. Within
the closed Du-lager, a Jewish administration was established
headed by Oskar Schanzer and a female assistant, Herta Goldfinger.
Goldfinger, an attractive native of Prague, had earlier
converted to Catholicism on a Jewish High Holiday. She bitterly
resented her identification as Jewish; her strong anti-Jewish
sentiments led her to be named "Judinnälteste"
at FAL DWM/Grünberg as well during the first 500-km
Death March in the winter of 1945. Both Schanzer and Goldfinger
survived the war. Silesian enterprises directed their requirements
for Jewish slaves to the Organization's Sosnowitz office.
industrial officials were allowed to visit the Du-lager
and select from among the assembled prisoners those whom
they wished as slave-employees. Financial arrangements concerning
the slaves were concluded with Schmelt's Organization, acting
as Trustee for the RFSS. Working conditions, rates of compensation
etc. were negotiated by the industrialists with Schmelt's
group which acted as owners of the property involved; viz.
the human beings/slaves dragooned by the Organization. In
Sosnowitz, too, was located the Central Council of Elders,
under the direction of Moses Merin. Thus, the Organization
was tightly controlled with few personnel and close proximity
of its assisting sections. This report concerns itself with
some of the individuals affected by the Organization's activities.
the number of labor camps under the Organization's control
at the beginning of 1943 is reported 
to have exceeded 100 and the number of those forced to labor
within them to have exceeded 50,570, only four locations
and the fates of 2,100 young Jewish workers (mainly women)
are studied here. These are (1) Gruschwitz Spinnerei/Grünberg,
(2) Gruschwitz Weberei/Neusalz, (3) Kramsta-Methner-Frahme
Weberei/ Bolkenhain and Landeshut and (4) Deutsche Wollenwaren
Manufaktur/Grünberg . The eyewitness accounts 
are likely typical of the events which befell the entire
roll of Schmelt Organization's victims. A major aim of this
study is to discover the names of Schmelt's victims; to
reduce the use of impersonal words "victims",
"prisoners", "Jews" and replace these
with personal names, anecdotes and, if possible, with photos.
An additional effort has been made to identify those perpetrators
who carried forward the unparalleled system of impoverishment,
slavery and mass murder on a helpless society. An unsettling
discovery (for the author) of this latter effort has been
the banal, seemingly normal, personal life and appearance
of completely evil persons.
Gruschwitz Spinnerei/Grünberg n.s.
provincial town of Grünberg, 120 km southeast of Berlin,
was the most northerly Silesian location of the Organization's
slave system. Early in February 1942, one hundred young
Jewish women were transported by rail from the Sosnowitz
Du-lager to the cotton yarn spinning mill at Grünberg.
The prisoners were housed in a shed across from the factory.
The storage shed had been converted for use as a barrack
for prisoner-workers. The fellow workers at the Gruschwitz
Spinnerei included local Germans and forced laborers from
Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria. Housing was in
separate barracks for the various ethnic groups. The camp's
administration was: SS-man Tanzer (Commandant of the facility);
a 50-ish German spinster, Helene Obuch (Prison Camp Commandant);
Master Hoffmann (works foreman); Nurse Lene and her three
assistants, Lidia (a Volkdeutsch) and two young Grünberg
girls, Gertrude and Lilli. The latter four offered clinic-type
health care for the entire facility, including Jewish women
upon the arrival of the first one hundred Jewish women prisoners,
Frau Obuch designated Anni Kampner, an attractive 30-year
old Jewish prisoner from the Teschen area, as Jüdinnälteste,
Jadzia Weinstock and Jadzia Altmann to work the kitchen
(the camp's best position). All other female prisoners were
assigned to work at the cotton-yarn spinning machines. There
were wash facilities and single-occupant bunks within the
barrack. Work was performed in three 8-hour shifts beginning
at 6, 2 and 10 (evening). Food was meager 
, being 3/4 liter watery coffee and a sandwich of margarine
in the morning, two slices of bread/margarine and potato
soup at midday, two slices of bread/margarine or marmalade
and further thin vegetable soup in the evening. After roll
call on Sundays, a heavier soup was served for dinner. Lucky
prisoners found small pieces of horse meat within. The prisoners
were soon ravenously hungry...continually. In a few cases,
fellow-working German employees would arrange a bit of food
for the increasingly-emaciated Jewish girls, always at great
risk of punishment to themselves as well as to the recipient
Jewish prisoner. Censored postcards home and incoming mail,
even packages, were allowed the prisoners at specified intervals.
The withholding of this privilege was a dreaded form of
21 June and 26 August, 1942, transports of 50 and of 100
additional Jewish slave-women from the OOS arrived. Each
group brought to the inmates news of the murder and deportation
programs then underway. Among the 16-25 year-old women,
friendships formed. The concept of "Camp Sisters"
arose. In these deep, platonic friendships, the prisoners
substituted the loss of murdered parents and families with
commitments to fellow prisoners which lasted to the sharing
of life and death. The young women, mainly from traditional,
religious, apolitical families, deeply felt the loss of
families, even beyond the recognition, beginning in the
Spring of 1943, that they, too, were destined to labor until
deemed medically unfit. They knew they would then be murdered.
The pervasive sense of emotional grief, the constant fear,
meager intake of food and increasing caloric output demanded
by the imposition of "norms" induced a physical
condition among the women-slaves equivalent to anorexia.
An estimated 90% of these healthy young women lost the ability
to menstruate during their incarceration. Among the
women survivors interviewed, almost all have commented on
post-liberation reproductive abnormalities. A characteristic,
universal among the women prisoners in the four camps studied,
was the maintenance of religious practice. Largely by memory,
the prisoners knew the dates of Jewish holidays and the
practices enjoined thereby. A number of survivors commented
that the religious belief helped maintain a sense of humanity
which the camp system sought to destroy.
t Gruschwitz, as at each of the camps studied, there were
periodic "selections" of those prisoners whom
the administration deemed physically unable to continue
the work level required, or who were deemed (without substantiation
required) inept at their work, defiant or uncooperative
in demeanor. The selection procedure was administrative
perfection. Each 6 to 8 weeks, either Heinrich Lindner or
Alfred Ludwig of the Schmelt Organization or SS-men Müller
or Krause, representing the section of the NSDAP wishing
to reach an immediate "final resolution" of the
Jewish Problem, visited each of the Organization's forced
labor camps. Their purpose was to purge the labor camps
of those slaves whose production potential was arbitrarily
minimize disturbance among fellow slaves and preclude knowledge
among non-Jewish workers, the young Jewish women marked
for murder were unmolested at the camp or work site. The
selectees were not examined or subjected to untoward behavior;
they were simply told, on the day following their (unknown
to them) selection for extermination, they need not again
report for work. At first, the selectees were told they
were being sent home to recuperate; later they would be
required to rejoin forced labor. There had been precedent
for this subterfuge since, in 1940-41, there had been returnees
from Wehrmacht labor camps and knowledge of this practice
had been widespread. Great was the joy of the first selectees
at the prospect of family reunions. The prisoners soon learned
that the first selectees never arrived in the OOS, but simply
disappeared. From later arrivals, they learned of Birkenau
and its gas chamber/crematorium system. The selectees were
at leisure within the barracks for one to four days until
transportation arrived to remove them for their journey
to death. When the true purpose of their removal became
known to the prisoners, the days of waiting, of seeming
normality, were excruciating. Perhaps the reader of this
will picture her/his 20-year old daughter sitting quietly,
sentenced to death, alone..... Each "deportee",
was the flower of some family, the 'light of the life' of
some parent. Soon she would be destroyed in the bloom of
her womanhood......Nelly Ebbe, whose family had been deported
from Wiesbaden to Poland in 1937 and then taken to slave
labor at DWM/Grünberg with her three sisters, worked as
one of two Jewish girls in DWM camp's administration. One
of her tasks was to type and file the lists of "deportees"
from the Gruschwitz, DWM and Neusalz forced labor camps.
a charming and alert lady of impressive recall, she remembers
that, every two months, she compiled lists of deportees
to Birkenau. The death lists normally held 40 to 60 names.
Dora Waga and Batshewa Elbaum are two selectees who survived
such selection-deportation. In their interviews, they related
their experiences within this human disposal system Ms.
Waga, a strikingly beautiful woman 50 years after her liberation,
told of having a spot upon her lung being detected in the
frequent X-ray examinations at DWM in the summer of 1944.
She recalled, with indignation, the withdrawal of her fellow
prisoners from contact with her once her "selection"
became known .
She expressed her resignation to death, being convinced
earlier that none of the prisoners would survive the war.
Ms. Waga described a series of journeys by truck and rail
in which other young Jewish women selectees from other camps
were added to her transport at FAL Langenbielau (the central
collection point for condemned female prisoners) until their
arrival at the train debarkation ramp at Birkenau. Apparently,
the manifest describing her transport's already-selected-for-death
status had not reached Mengele at the ramp. She, with other
young women, were selected for death or labor by Mengele's
usual glance-inspection. Her tubercular condition not being
apparent, she was selected for forced labor. In a series
of incredible happenstances, she survived the slave labor
and subsequent Death March from Birkenau to Ravensbrück.
She was denied entry to the United States because of her
tubercular status. The disease has been in remission.
Batshewa Elbaum was an undersized 15-year old when sent,
with her sister, to forced laborin DWM.
years later, a finger was cut off in an industrial accident.
She was severely beaten for her "sabotage" and
sentenced to "deportation" for her "crime".
She, too, described the series of journeys by truck to collect
small groups of other deportees. The last stop for her was
at ZAL Ludwigsdorf, near KL Gross Rosen. Here, she was held
for a short time while a final transport was assembled for
delivery to Birkenau. A German Communist Kapo told the scrawny
prisoner, "You are too young to die!" and hid
her in his labor gang. Ms. Elbaum is alive and well in an
Israeli kibbutz at this writing. In our conversation, she
reminisced about the other, less fortunate, girls of her
Gruschwitz Weberei/Neusalz n.s.
Gruschwitz Spinning mill in Grünberg was an affiliate
of the main facility at Neusalz, 22 km. south. In late September,
the consolidation of work into the main plant began. In
small groups, the Jewish women were transferred to the main
facility. At 9:00 A.M. November, 1943, the last 118 Jewish
women prisoners from the Gruschwitz spinning mill in Grünberg,
stood at attention near the front gate of the Gruschwitz
Weberei in Neusalz. Unknown to them, they were pawns in
the on-going administrative struggle between the Organization
and the RFSS over the fate of able-bodied Jewish prisoners.
The smaller, textile-related forced labor Silesian camps
(i.e., Gruschwitz-Grünberg, Sagan, Bolkenhain, Landeshut,
etc.) were being closed and the prisoners directed to larger
enterprises or to death at Birkenau. Between 15 September
and 1 November 1943, Gruschwitz-Grünberg had been closed
and the inmates sent to other forced labor sites. The words
of prisoner Alicia Lipcitz notes: "The new camp director
is a 50-year old woman with smoothly combed hair tied in
a knot called Frau Pache: we call her Pachowa. On the gate
at the entrance of the camp is written in half circle 'Welcome
to Neusalz Camp'. Under this: 'Work Makes Life Sweet.' ".
camp itself is a little town with barracks in even rows.
About 800 women from the ages of 12 to 50 live here. They
are Jewish women from different towns. Several of the girls
are beautifully dressed. Others are in rags. Over a dozen
of them stand out from the others. They have been fed like
fattened geese. They are the cooks and camp personnel (administration).
"The Judenälteste is Mitzi Mehler, a 20-some-year
old blonde Venus. Rarely is it possible to meet such a beautiful
woman. She is a Jewish woman from Kattowitz and is said
to be a good person.....". In general, the conditions
in Neusalz are poor. In a room where there are 18 to 20
girls living, there are 3 or 4 bowls and 5 or 6 spoons and
not enough beds. When the girls go to lunch at 11:45, they don't
have anything in which to collect the food. For the time
being, I work on the night shift. During the day, I sleep
in the bed of Edzi Kaszowski, but I cannot sleep because
the girls are arguing the whole time. About what do they
argue? About a pot, about a bowl, about a spoon."
November 18, 1943. Here is a description of the camp. There
is a large field on which 14 barracks stand. Besides that,
there's a brick building where there is a large kitchen
and several cooking cauldrons. On the other side of the
brick building, the Grünberg "devils", as
Rywka calls us, live. The camp's personnel consists of 7
cooks. Fela Bader is the head cook. She's an 18-year old
girl who leads 900 Jewish girls by their noses. Next, Ewa
Messer, the former Judinnälteste from Deustche Wollenwaren
Manufaktur, sent here for committing some kind of crime
in the camp has potato-peeling duty; Sala, who's deaf and
dumb, was sent to the kitchen by lucky fortune and not to
Birkenau to be destroyed. Anni Grünberg, Hela, Gizela
and Tola - those 7 are the camp elite. They walk around
in 3/4 meter-high stockings with tassels. "There are
3 tailors who constantly sew in the sewing workroom, unfortunately
mainly for the camp's personnel. The three are Sala Lustiger,
Mina and Prysterowa, who is an old woman more German than
Jewish. Her daughter, Hanni Prysterowa, is the nurse in
a separate hospital barrack. She puts on bandages but there's
no lack of abscesses here. Every 2nd person suffers from
carbuncles. There are often abscesses because of pollutants
encountered at our work."
nurse, Hanni Prysterowa (a fat girl), puts on iodine or
cuts abscess with regular scissors and if the operation
is not successful, there is the camp dentist to take care
of it - the old maid Esta Bodner originally from Auschwitz
and, before that, from Germany. Sick people who get an infection,
she gives them an injection and sends them to the other
ward. She does that on her own, without Pachowa's order.
There are 2 tailors, the sisters Selinger. At least, they
are useful because they also repair torn shoes. There are
3 cleaning women. The remaining personnel who run the camp
are the Judenälteste, Mitzie Mehler; the office worker
Cyla Mirowska; the policewoman Rywka Goldbrun, a girl from
Sosnowitz whom the prisoners call "Queen Rywka".
Conditions at FAL Neusalz were more severe than at the smaller
Grünberg site. Beatings were more common, work norms
more onerous, punishments more severe, selections for "deportation"
more frequent. New arrivals brought details of the final
clearing of Jewish populations from the cities of the OOS.
Despair was prevalent when understanding spread that none
of the prisoners' families now lived.
n 8 April 1944, 120 Hungarian women prisoners arrived in
Neusalz from selections in Birkenau. Unlike the original
slave laborers from annexed OOS who still wore their civilian
clothes and retained items from their homes, the Hungarian
women arrived with striped light canvas concentration camp
uniforms; their heads shorn, with no personal belongings,
their spirits demoralized. A few weeks after arrival of
the Hungarian prisoners, the camp received a shipment of
clothing which was to be shredded so that yarn could be
spun from the re-generated material. A number of the Hungarian
women prisoners recognized items of clothing belonging to
their family members murdered at Birkenau. An emotional
scene ensued with the women clutching garments belonging
to family members.In mid-June, Camp Commandant Pach(owa)
advised Judinnälteste Mehler that, effective 19 June
1944, the camp would undergo a change of administration:
henceforth it would be a branch of KL Gross Rosen. The SS
would thereafter be in control.
fter a few days, approximately 50 German women, mostly former
unmarried workers at the Neusalz Gruschwitz Weaving Mill,
appeared wearing the uniform of SS members. They had been
absent for almost two months undergoing orientation and
a six-week training course at KL Ravensbrück, the infamous
women's concentration camp north of Berlin. These former
plant workers constituted the bulk of the SS guards. They
worked in three 8-hour shifts. On 6 July, a delegation of
four SS men arrived at the facility. Each of the 897 Jewish
women prisoners was required to disrobe and individually
enter a room in which the four SS men were seated at a table.
SS women guards stood at each end of the table. In the center
of the room, a large circle was drawn on the floor. In the
center of the circle was a chalked "X". In the
words of one of the surviving Jewish prisoners: 
"In the middle of the room, a circle had been made
on the floor....drawn with chalk. Every 10 minutes, another
girl stands in that circle dressed as was Eve. "The
girls at that age are embarrassed to even see their bodies
in a mirror. Now they have to go naked around the circle
in the presence of 4 men. "God, aren't we people too?
They buy and sell us like cattle." It is necessary
to agilely walk on the chalk circle several times and put
your arms up, get down on your knees, and display your chest,
your breasts. "One fat SS-man comes up and pats the
girl on the back. He measures the girl's chest, he looks
inside their mouths to see the state of their teeth. He
checks their muscles, their thighs and he measures them.
On their backs, the German writes categories A, B and C.
"Category A is for the most healthy and most beautiful
ones. Category B is for those of average health and those
who receive C are afraid that any day they will be sent
away in a transport to the ovens of Auschwitz. After the
detailed check is over, the Germans hand the women prisoners
tin numbers to be worn on their chest and orders them to
return to their rows (of waiting assembled prisoners). .............The
(KL Gross Rosen) number given me on my tin tag is 48633."
onditions at FAL Neusalz now became very difficult. Beatings
were more frequent, even for the slightest infraction. Work
norms were increased. Women SS guards were everywhere. Prisoners
now had to request any movement or the slightest need to
a SS woman guard with the military-type phrase: "I
report myself obediently to request......" The new
Camp Commandant, SS woman Gersch(owa) imposed a series of
harassing raids and regulations, the cumulative effect of
which was to exhaust the prisoners. To quote survivor Alicia
Lifscitz again: "We received imprinted numbers which
had to be sewn on the left side in front to replace the
former gold Jewish star. But on our backs, we had to cut
out a large rectangle from our garments, 25 cm wide and
15 cm high. we were given material with blue and gray stripes
which we had to sew in the cut-out rectangles in the backs
of our garments. In this manner the patches on our backs
could be seen from afar as a badge of the inferiority of
the Jewish race." The entry of the SS into the facility
ended all contact between the Jewish slaves and the local
fellow workers. There had been instances of compassion shown
individual Jewish women by German women and men of honor.
ll such contact dissolved in fear of the SS. By late January
1945, the entry of the Russian Army onto German soil was
known to the prisoners. Morale among the SS-women guards
visibly slackened. On the 15th, preparations were begun
to evacuate the camp. Clothing from Birkenau, which had
been destined to be shredded as raw material, was now distributed
to the prisoners; blankets were cut and sewn into trousers,
but shoes were lacking. Many of the prisoners possessed
only clogs. The sub-freezing January weather boded ill for
anyone without proper footwear .......and a majority of
the prisoners lacked this important item.On 16 January,
while the Neusalz prisoners (and at other prison camps,
other inmates) prepared for evacuation, Hitler had returned
to Berlin, never to leave. On the 17th, the German garrison
in Warsaw surrendered to Berling's 1st Polish Army. On the
19th, Russian soldiers entered pre-1938 Silesia while other
Russian troops entered East Prussia. Gauleiter Hahnke declared
the cities of Glogau and Breslau to be "Fortresses"
and mobilized their entire populations to defend the Fatherland.On
the January 17, the high SS- and Police Leader in Breslau,
Ernst Heinrich Schmausser, responding to Himmler's previous
"contingency plan A" ordered the immediate evacuation
of all work camps lying east of the Oder.
n Neusalz, on the morning of 22 January 1945, the order
was given to evacuate the Jewish prisoners. Each was given
2 loaves of bread, several small packets of margarine and
jam. Not knowing if they were to be murdered or would ever
survive, many of the women wrote notes of farewell on the
walls, on beds, on paper within their barracks. They identified
themselves and their families in Polish, Hungarian, German....
even in Hebrew...to unknown rescuers, hoping that somehow,
somewhere a family member would learn of their once-presence
in the Gruschwitz Weaving Mill at Neusalz. The Jewish women
prisoners, numbering 897 at the June 1944 SS take-over and
augmented to approximately 1,000 by transports of Hungarian
women from Birkenau, were divided into 3 groups. Lightly
guarded by Heimwehr draftees and SS women, the prisoners
marched forth into the unknown. Very few would survive the
next 100 days.
Journey to Hell Neusalz to KL Bergen Belsen
anuary 1945's winter was exceptionally cold. The treks set
out with no logistics; that is, without provision for food,
shelter, medical provisions en route. Within a few days,
the women SS guards left; control was now by a small group
of older Heimwehr men, as few as two to each of the three
prisoner segments.The route of march was generally on secondary,
rural roads; major roads were for military traffic. The
rate was 20 to 25 km daily. The first direction was west
through Freystadt to FAL Christianstadt. At FAL Christianstadt,
referred to as "Todtenstadt" by the prisoners,
they saw for, the first time, results of complete brutality.
Unburied bodies of women slaves lay scattered about. Near-skeleton
living former prisoners lay among the deserted buildings.
The stench of garbage and bodies was overwhelming. FAL Christianstadt
had been the site of ordnance manufacture for the Wehrmacht.
Ironically, the beneficiary firm of the slavery, hunger
and lingering death of the women prisoners was Nobel Dynamit.
The prisoners had been Czech, Polish, Hungarian Jewish and
non-Jewish women. The prisoners had been forced to hurriedly
evacuate to KL Bergen Belsen shortly before the arrival
of the Neusalz trek. The chemicals involved in ordnance
production had caused severe respiratory problems among
the women slaves; as a result many had been unable to undertake
the 400-km march to Belsen. These were hurriedly shot; bodies
lay scattered about the camp. Other prisoners had scattered
to safety and then returned to the deserted facility.
Neusalz trek encountered these women, now dying of hunger
and cold in an emptied camp. The trek remained two days,
three nights, and then was pressed to move on. Left behind,
with the dying FAL Christianstadt women were Neusalz prisoners
for whom the first trek had proved exhausting.That proved
to be their death sentence when, a few days later, the FAL
DWM evacuation trek, led by the murderous Breslauer Schutzpolizei
Oberwachmeister, Karl Hermann Jäschke, arrived. The
Neusalz trek marched on to Bad Muskau, Weisswasser...past
Bautzen and Dresden. The march route intertwined that taken
by the FAL Grünberg evacuees. Corpses from that Death
March lay strewn along the road. Escapees from the Grünberg
march found their way to the Neusalz trek. A bizarre such
incident occurred in the vicinity of Dresden when Ruth Rottenberg,
an escapee from the FAL Grünberg (DWM) trek was recaptured,
together with two other girls. The captors discussed shooting
them on the spot, but decided to bring them to the local
jail. There, they were told that a new prisoner trek of
Jewish women (the Neusalz trek) was expected the following
day. The three young escapees were added to the FAL Neusalz
marching group. They had escaped from one Death March only
to be added to another. Communities en route were required
to furnish one or two barns each night as shelter, together
with potato soup for supper and breakfast to the march column.
Unlike the behavior of guards in other treks, the Heimwehr
guards of the Neusalz trek pressed few difficulties upon
the women. The cold, the lack of accommodations, the long
marches and scarce food were difficulties enough, even for
the elderly guards. A number of survivors relate that they
departed the line of march to beg sustenance from farmers,
returning always to the trek, without interference from
the few Heimwehr guards.
n this fashion, the march proceeded with a smaller number
of women who died or were shot than was the case with more
rigorous guarding in other evacuations. The final march
route, through the Vogtland hills and across the steep,
freezing Erzgeberge was slow and difficult. The total march
route was more than 450 kilometers. On 8 March 1945, the
45th day of the trek, 869 survivors 
reached FAL Zwodau in the Czech Sudetenland. FAL Zwodau,
an auxiliary women's camp of KL Flossenbürg, had been
established on 19 June 1944 with 100 eastern European slave
laborers. The work function was to serve a nearby Luftwaffe
instrument manufacturer, Hakenfeld AG. As the fighting lines
contracted from both West and East, the Zwodau prisoner
population increased greatly. The final Prisoner List to
KL Flossenbürg, dated 13 April 1945, counted 1,617
inmates. The prisoners were Jewish and non-Jewish women,
including a considerable number of German women prisoners
who carried the green KL triangle indicating recidivist
criminals.More than numbers of inmates, however, in describing
the chaos and confusion in FAL Zwodau in February-May 1945,
is its use as a woman-prisoner transit camp. Hence, the
FAL Neusalz trek remained In FAL Zwodau only 9 days. The
Jewish and German prisoners of the FAL Helmbrechts trek
(described below) remained only 2 days. The FAL Freiberg
prisoners (referenced below) remained 50 days from
their 26 Feb arrival, the FAL Gundeldorf (described below)
women prisoners remained in Zwodau for 45-55 days before
being sent away. Numerous witnesses 
have testified to the chaos, horrific conditions, typhus
and mass murders during Feb. to May 1945.
n February 1945, the camp administration consisted of SS
Oberscharführer August Jordan, who had recently been
seconded from his Luftwaffe posting, his assistant SS Oberscharführer
Streiter and approximately 15 SS men and 15 SS women guards.Indicative
of the confusion at FAL Zwodau, was the episode in which
the camp was evacuated on 27 April 1945 with AL Tachau as
goal. During a three-day trek, a large number of women prisoners
unable to maintain the march tempo, were shot. Abruptly,
Jordan learned that the US military had taken Tachau and
the diminished trek returned to Zwodau. Massacres of prisoners
there continued to the last day of the war. Zwodau was taken
by American troops on 8 May 1945. The FAL Neusalz arrivals
remained in Zwodau nine days until the 17th of March.
Four women of the trek died 
there (Chaya Mass, age 42, Maria Miordowik 16, Leontin
Steiner 45, Susie Wenger, age unknown. RIP: you are remembered.)
Typhus was rampant; many of the 865 remaining Neusalz women
were now seriously ill and/or exhausted. They were taken
by truck to KL Flossenbürg, which for ten years had
been solely a men's camp. The women's 450 km winter trek,
the lice, under nourishment, ragged clothing, lack of bathing,
shorn heads did not produce a beauty parade for the male
inmates.The prisoners were taken to an isolated large barrack
"on a high hill" within the Flossenbürg complex.
There, they were given "reasonable" food and a
chance to wash. Their lice-filled rags were taken.
In return, they were given a grotesque assortment of women's
evening wear and odds of men's clothing. To quote a participant
: "Several received blood-red dresses and even white
ones. And thus the procession of dressed, live corpses returned
to the camp, to the barracks, with (male prisoners) clapping
along the way as if it were a masquerade". The women
were locked in the single barrack for eight days. Typhus
raged as a result of the filth and exhaustion of the Death
March and the prior FAL Zwodau conditions.
n the 25th of March they were taken to a small rail station
and locked in closed freight and coal cars. Prisoners, particularly
those in the closed cars of coal dust, suffocated. Little
water was provided; the conditions were nightmarish. 70
to 100 women were packed in a wagon. Window openings were
tightly sealed. There was no room to relieve bodily functions.
The stench, crowding in the darkness, the craze for water
led to a horrific death rate. The women had no idea if they
would ever be released or if this were their final end...an
agonizing death of suffocation and thirst in the darkness.
For long periods, the train would stand silently. After
seven days (judged by the little light and darkness seen
though cracks), the doors were flung open. They had arrived
in Hell.Begging for water, the surviving women were driven
by dogs and SS men on a long march to KL Bergen Belsen.
Entering, they witnessed staring "musselmen",
heaps of corpses everywhere. They were taken through a series
of camp sections to a final barrack. Again, Alicia Lipcitz
is quoted: "They ordered us to wait. In the last camp
is a mortuary. From that mortuary, they throw out the naked
bodies onto carts. The girls from the first rows are given
the task. One takes a body by the hands and the other by
the legs and they throw it onto the cart. After the carts
are full, they drive off and they return again empty. Was
this a factory of death? The bodies of men, women and children
are heaped everywhere. Several of them are still breathing,
but the German orders that they be thrown onto the cart.
One of the Hungarian girls recognized her brother among
the bodies and she cried: "Jano". In that finally-empty
mortuary, the Neusalz transport is accommodated."
historians of 1939-45 Europe, KL Bergen Belsen's conditions
of typhus, lack of water, chaos, musselmen, heaps of dead
are well-documented. There is filmed footage for disbelievers.The
Neusalz evacuees' three weeks of imprisonment and months
of subsequent disease in Belsen led to an estimated (by
interviewed survivors) 80% death rate of those who began
the Death March.The desk-bound murderer, Albrecht Schmelt,
had called down a life of suffering and a death of torment
upon thousands of innocent men, women, children. He cheated
justice by suicide on 17 May 1945 in Schreiberhau, Kreis
Hirschberg, Silesia 
V 205 AR-Z 78/60, IV 405 AR-Z 1/64, V 205 AR 1496/67, V
205 AR 8308/67, bzw Begl. Abs 2 ARs 242/77, pages 2867-8
 Protocol by Gertrude
Goldstein, 13 June 1947, Kattowitz
 V 205 AR 1496/67.
pages 2708-9. See Exhibit A for listing of Schmelt's Organization
 Begl. Abs 2 ARs
242/77, page 2863. Bericht der Inspektors für Statistik
bei Reichsführer SS, signed by Himmer 27 March 43
 Exhibit B: List
 According to Prof.
Konieczny's study (pp 101), the Organization's food cost
allowance was 90 pfennings per slave per day.
 An identical reaction
by fellow prisoners to a re-captured escapee, Mascha Silverstein,
from DWM is related in a diary kept by Fela Sheps of Dombrowa.
The story both of Silverstein and the maintenance of Ms.
Sheps' prison thoughts and experiences are more incredible
than fiction. Ms. Silverstein died in KL Bergen Belsen in
late April 1945; Ms Sheps died 10 May 1945 in Volary, Czechoslovakia
3 days after liberation by the 5th Med Btn, US Army. Both
Ms Waga and the Scheps diary relate, in identical terms,
the aversion and fear-of-association manifested by other
prisoners toward selectees of punishment.
 Alicia Lifscitz
Part III, pp 40
 See Exhibit XX
 410AR-A 60/1967
 KL Flossenbürg
Bildung gilt als Beglaubigte Abschrift Nr.4374, Berlin den
22 April 1955. Auch Eidesstattliche Versicherung von Augenzeugner
Otto Girbig gegeben 25 Februar 1955 unter Beglaubigung in
Kapstadt, Süd Afrika.