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page 2:
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 Robinson information about the author

Kramsta-Methner-Frahme AG   (FAL Bolkenhain)

t Teschnerstrasse 296, in the once-lovely provincial town of Bielitz, there is a beautifully - maintained Jewish cemetery. Its somber Leichenhalle and elegant marble monuments testify to a bourgeois, dignified past. The town of 22,000 had, like similar provincial towns in Polish Teschen, mixed populations of German - and Polish-speaking populations. The Jewish populations in each community comprised about a fourth of the total. Granted civic equality during the reign of Franz Josef, the Jewish citizens had responded by becoming "more Austrian than the Austrians" in their language, dress, and commitment to Austrian culture.

n a setting of honor within the cemetery are 61 identical graves set before a granite triptych. On the center of the monument, below the inscription "Fallen for the Fatherland", are inscribed the names of 61 Jewish men, listed in the order of their WW 1 deaths on "the fields of honor". Less than 21 years after the end of World War I,  the Fatherland's military, now united with Germany and led by a former Austrian, returned to dispossess, enslave and murder every family member and descendant of the 61 who had "Fallen for the Fatherland".  Proficiency in the Austrian (German) language of the Polish Teschen Jewish population was a life-saving accident for fifty young Jewish women. Their families had been despoiled in the period Sept. 1, 1939 to mid-June 1942; their property confiscated, their means of livelihood denied, many of their brothers and male cousins taken from home in October 1939 [13] , never to be seen again.

n 25 June 1942, in Bielitz as in other surrounding Polish Teschen communities, the final deportation of Jewish men to forced labor occurred; four days later, all remaining Jewish women and children were marched through the city to its rail station. There, in a summer rain, girls selected as fit for labor were separated forever from their families. By a quick glance of inspection, those deemed unfit for labor were segregated and then trucked 32 km to the "pink house" experimental gassing site at Birkenau. The "unfit for labor" Jewish women and children of Bielitz were murdered that day. In the other German-speaking communities such as Auschwitz, Dzeiedzice, Inwald a similar destruction of Jewish families took place. At the Sosnowitz Durchganglager, Jewish operations chief, Oskar Schanzer, was apprised that the firm Kramsta-Methner-Frahme AG ("KMF") had contracted with the Schmelt Organization for 50 German-speaking Jewish women slaves to labor in its Bolkenhain textile factory. Schanzer's efficient secretary-assistant, Bubiriener, quickly drafted the requisite papers. The Organization's Heinrich Lindner reviewed the human material in the Du-Lager slave pen and made his selections. On 2 July 1942, the fifty young women were taken, under guard, by rail 220 km westerly to Bolkenhain. They were to be slaves until deemed no longer fit for labor; they would then be "liquidated".

he disposition of the 50 slaves was a routine daily assignment in the Schmelt Organization's 1942 world; for the 17 to 25-year old women it was the beginning of a life of servitude. The KMF weaving mill at Bolkenhain lies 300 meters from the town's central square, reached by a walk down a pleasant, cobblestoned street. In 1995, the factory had been somewhat extended, but it's main outline and even the barrack in which the first group of slaves was housed was still as they were in 1942. The camp was small; the first fifty Jewish prisoners worked as an augment to the local German labor force for a year beginning in early July 1942. A second group of fifty Jewish women prisoners was added to the camp at the end of June 1943. The camp's leader was a 50-ish German woman, Frau Kügler, recently widowed by the death of her soldier-husband. From among the prisoners, she appointed a Czech woman, Malvi Berger, 43, as leader of the women (Judinnälteste), three women prisoners to be cook and kitchen helpers and one to be nurse. The conditions within the barrack were clean and remained so. Army blankets were furnished for the multi-tiered bunks. Food was skimpy, but none of the prisoners experienced debilitating hunger. There were no beatings, the prisoners wore their own clothing, the low number of prisoners minimized camp politics so prevalent in larger prisoner aggregates.

ach of the Bolkenhain survivors speaks with respect and gratitude of Frau Kügler. Despite an initial gruff appearance, she manifested consistent and numerous acts of compassion and kindness toward the women for whom she was responsible. From 1942 to mid-1943, correspondence and even small mail packages were permitted the prisoners. A system of Death Notices was still in effect in mid-1942 so that several survivors have described Frau Kügler's compassion when notification of the death (i.e. murder) of a parent or family member was received. The women were taught spinning by Meister Windler and weaving by Meister Zimmermann. Work shifts were 12 hours, six days weekly. Sundays were generally free of the harassment common in other work camps. Approximately each two months, a member of the Schmelt Organization or of the SS would visit the factory to select for extermination any slave who appeared unable to meet production norms. There is no known victim of such removal-for-murder from Bolkenhain, largely due to Frau Kügler's behavior. No other death or injury is reported.

n short, even within the context of a dreadful slave system, mitigation was afforded because of the decency of a single German widow. The period of humane treatment ended Monday, 30 August 1943. The 100 Jewish women slaves were abruptly divided into two groups; the better workers sent, with Judinnälteste Malvi Berger, to KMF's affiliate at Landeshut, the others to general work at FAL Märzdorf. Landeshut production was fine parachute silk. The Jewish prisoners worked a 12-hour night shift. The strong glare from the glistening threads under artificial light caused strain, the thin threads were fragile, broke often. A compensation was that Frau Kügler had remained with the Jewish women prisoners to mitigate some of the difficulties. From other prisoners, the women learned the changing status of the war. They learned, too, that in each community of the OOS, no Jewish person remained alive and/or outside a labor camp. The knowledge was complete, accurate and devastating to the prisoners. On 8 May 1944, the Jewish women slaves were transferred to the larger, stricter, more impersonal forced labor camp at Deutsche Wollenwaren Manufaktur, Breslauerstrasse 33, Grünberg. Now began the descent into the maelstrom of deep hunger, brutal beatings, death.

Deutsche Wollenwaren Manufaktur AG, ("DWM') Grünberg, n.s.

extile weaving and viniculture had been the economic basis of Grünberg for several hundred years [14] . The city's largest weaving mill was the Deutsche Wollenwaren Manufaktur AG. The company's large red-brick factory had been built at 33 Breslauerstrasse in the 1890's, but in 1921 a massive multi-story replacement factory was built behind the original. The new mill extended over 300 meters in length and over 100 meters in width. It was the most modern mill in Europe, integrated to convert raw material into finished product within its facility. The original factory was used as the mill's warehouse and, beginning in February 1942, to house Jewish slave laborers. Both buildings are in limited use today. Both the textile factory, being technologically obsolete, and the empty warehouse, have been subdivided in an effort to attract smaller enterprises. DWM's administration consisted of a Herr Noack, Director of DWM, Heinrich Neukirchner,  Betriebsleiter and commander of prisoners, Arthur Grätz, assistant to Neukirchner, Anna Jahn and Hela Milefski, overseers of the women prisoners. Noack, Neukirchner and Grätz were high-ranking SA members.

fter 1 July 1944, there were approximately 50 SS women guards under Anna Viebeg. Most cruel among these guards were Anna Hempel, Hildegard Kühn, Waltraud Schirmer and Hela Siebert. Schmelt's Organization had contracted with DWM to supply Jewish slaves in the autumn of 1941. In February 1942, Grätz returned from Sosnowitz with the first 200 Jewish women from the Sosnowitz Du-lager. Some had been kidnapped from the streets of their Ghettos and arrived with only the clothing they had been wearing. One, Adela Kestenberg, was kidnapped from her wedding engagement gathering and spent 35 months in DWM. Blueprints on hand, completed on 22 Nov. 1941, depict first plans for the conversion of a part of the warehouse to a "Camp for Jewish Women". Existing blueprints of 3 June 1942 and 12 April 1943 each for an "Expansion of the Jewish Camp" demonstrate the increased reliance of DWM on Jewish labor. As late as April 1943, DWM employed 1,389 German and 493 Jewish women. But by November 1944, German employees had dropped to 750; Jewish women employed rose to 971. [15] DWM departments to which the Jewish women were originally assigned were: shredding (Kremperei), spinning (Spinnerei), weaving (Weberei).

ater, as German women workers were shifted to other war-related work, Jewish women were used in the dyeing and cutting departments. Prior to the early 1942 introduction of slave labor at DWM, there were some 21 French war prisoners who worked in an "open arrest" condition about the factory. These men displayed such compassion and assistance to the Jewish women as was possible. They remained until the Russian Army's arrival in the early days of February 1945. Neukirchner, as operational head of DWM, established the following prisoner administration: Judinnälteste: Eva Messer, an attractive blonde in her early 20's (replaced later by Herta Goldfinger and finally Minna Singer): kitchen Anja Goldmintz  (later with Chava Praver, Ruchla Saks, Sala Wasser, Hinda Hanciska as assistants); office: Ruschka  Wischnitzer (later with Nelly Ebbe); Shoe repair: Bascia Rosmarin (later with Sala Herzberg, Sala Rosenbaum, Fela Stiller, Topka Szernska); sewing room: Bluma Rosen, (later with Lipka Lauber, Genia  ?? and two other women.) On 1 August 1942, a group of approximately 100 Jewish men slave laborers was sent to the camp at DWM. Their living quarters were in a walled-off portion of the same warehouse-prison of the original DWM facility as the women.  The men wore civilian clothing, worked within and outside the factory in various capacities. Concurrent with the planned SS take-over of the administration of all slave labor camps, they were shifted to AL Kittlitzstreben on 1 April 1944. There, they performed much more difficult slave labor for the Luftwaffe. In January 1945, they were sent to KL Buchenwald. In February 1945, they were sent on a Death March to KL Theresienstadt, from where they were liberated by Russian forces on 11 May 1945, three days after the war's end.

s the German war effort intensified in 1943-44, local women were shifted from DWM to work at nearby Optika Radio, to be SS guards (48 were sent to KL Ravensbrück in April 1944), and to sensitive work in other Grünberg factories, the number of Jewish women slaves at DWM increased as follows [16] :


hese numbers are net of the selections for death of those deemed unable to meet norms. In a portion of a 19 June 1944 letter to the Grünberg Employment Office, complaining about insufficient workers, DMW Director Noack [17] pointed out that, of 465 Jewish slaves recently received, he was forced to "send five to FAL Ludwigsdorf as being incapable of textile work, 174 transported farther on (author's note: to Birkenau) because of their inability to work. 15 of these Jewish women were ordered to be camp personnel. This allowed our factory administration to provide only 271 German citizens for other production." It is poignant to read, in the dry administrative whining, the large number of young Jewish women sent, in a brief time, to be murdered The increase in Jewish slaves at DWM during 1944 was mainly possible by the transfer of Polishwomen from other (discontinued) labor camps and use of  Hungarian women selected at Birkenau. Indeed, after the August 1943 final murder or dispersal of all Jewish persons in the OOS, the Sosnowitz Du-Lager was disbanded. In October 1944, its Jewish administration appeared as laborers at DWM in Grünberg ! There is an indication that the Schmelt Organization, too, was disbanded shortly after August 1943. Schmelt was appointed thereafter to be Police President in Breslau; only Alfred Ludwig continued to be known thereafter to Jewish survivors. 

t the beginning of the Jewish workers imprisonment in February, 1942, there was interaction between the prisoners and German fellow workers. Some of the Germans displayed courage and compassion, others were openly cruel. However, from the outset the Camp Commandant (Neukirchner) revealed himself to be a sadist. He wore a heavy jeweled ring, which he turned palm-inward and used as weapon in tearing the faces of young women for the slightest infraction. He made a practice of entering the work areas at any time of day of night and silently observe the Jewish women. He invoked strenuous punishments for the slightest infractions such as four additional work hours daily, beyond the standard twelve hours, for a month. He beat, kicked, slapped the young women for the seeming pleasure of inflicting pain. Grätz, too, emulated the sadism of his superior. Anna Jahn and Hela Milefski, the female overseers of the women, were without mercy in their relationships with the prisoners. There were several instances of overt psychotic behavior on the part of several foremen toward the women prisoners. Food at DWM was meager, work norms steadily increased. The women worked 12-hour shifts, six days weekly. The damp atmosphere, thought to be necessary in working woolens, together with low food intake and heavy work loads, produced a major loss of slaves to tuberculosis. The identical deep depression caused by knowledge of certain death pervaded the women at DWM as at Gruschwitz-Neusalz.

y mid-1943, each prisoner was aware, from eyewitness accounts from new arrivals, of the murder or deportation to slave labor of their families. A further source of both consolation and concern to the prisoners was the number of relatives among them. There were a number of sisters, cousins, brothers (in the men's camp) and  even a brother/sister at DWM. In the final (August 1943) transports from the OOS, there were at least three mother / daughter prisoner sets [18] .  A heartwarming anecdote is that of prisoners Natan Rosenzweig and Mitzi Tiberger. Attracted to one another during fleeting moments of work contact, they committed to seek the other if he or she survived; each survived without knowledge of the other. In the chaos of post-war, Europe they found the other. They have been married 52 years.

n 1 July 1944, the administration of DWM passed to the SS. As at FAL Neusalz, Schmelt Organization's Alfred Ludwig, together with four SS officers, appeared. The young women were required to walk, nude and with arms upraised, around a chalked circle before the men. Those who were passed the degrading test were required to wear a disc with their assigned KL Gross Rosen number. Neusalz prisoners bore numbers from 48001 to 48999, DWM prisoners bore numbers ranging from 47001 to 47999. An anecdote of this selection concerns DWM prisoner, Amalie Mary Reichmann, who was judged unfit for further work at DWM because of a festering leg wound, the result of a severe clubbing by Hela Milewski. As the condemned young women were being gathered, Malvi Berger, former Judinnälteste of Amalie at FAL Bolkenhain fell to her knees before Ludwig and pleaded "Give this one, please". Ludwig hesitated as though considering whether to add Mrs. Berger to the condemned list and then assented with the admonition: "If she (Amalie Mary) isn't working when next I come, its deportation for her". Both Berger and Reichmann, survived the war. In late January 1945,  as preparations began for evacuation of DWM, a traumatic event occurred.

Kommando Schlesiersee Schanzenbau (Aussenlager KL Gross Rosen)

n 10 October 1944, 2,000 Jewish women prisoners held at the human inventory warehouse known as Block C in the Birkenau complex were assembled for transportation. The women were mainly from Hungary's eastern territories (Ruthenia and Transylvania), though others had been brought from KL Theresienstadt and the Lodz Ghetto's August 1944 emptying. They had survived Mengele's selection process and been held for assignment to slave labor as required. They heads were shorn, they wore striped light-weight canvas "pashanki". On their feet were one-piece wooden "hollanderki". They were emaciated. The 2,000 women were taken in open freight wagons past Glogau to the lake-side city Slawa. From there, they were formed into two 1,000 prisoner groups and marched to two farmsteads on the property of the Sudenten Graf Haugewitz'  property. The westerly farm was located 1.5 km south of  the village of Pürschkau (Przybyszow) and was called Bänisch Vorwerk. The guards there were Schutzpolizei from Breslau under the command of Oberwachmeister Karl Hermann Jäschke. The second farmstead (Neu Vorwerk) was located 3 km to the east. The guard formation at Neu Vorwerk is believed [19] to have been SS under the leadership of SS Oberscharführer Kurt Hielscher. Each farm consisted of an enclosed courtyard with a large animal barn, a smaller implement barn and the farmhouse; each building being on a side of the courtyard. A well was located in the center of the complex. The two groups were kept separate from each other. Each 1,000 women were assigned to live in the Vorwerk's large barn. The work sites were located 3 km south of each Vorwerk. The women were set to work digging, by hand, separate east-west anti-tank ditches, trapezoidal in cross section,  3.5 meters deep, 4 meters at the bottom, 6 meters at the top. All excavated earth had to be strewn evenly at the top so as to be unseen by approaching vehicles.

he enormous ditches were kilometers in length. By mid-December, the earth was frozen solid. The women were driven unceasingly to lengthen the Panzergruben. Because of exhaustion, malnutrition, cold, beatings, work accidents the number of prisoners at each Vorwerk shrank. At 10 P.M., 21 January 1945, each Vorwerk commander was telephoned to immediately evacuate. Everyone, including all those ill, was ordered to leave. The treks marched all that night and into late in the afternoon of the 22nd. The Bänisch group removed its sick prisoners in a farm wagon and in several wheelbarrows. These vehicles were dragged by already-exhausted fellow prisoners. At 3:00 P.M. the 22nd, Jäschke told the exhausted women at the trek's rear, that all who felt unable to continue marching should wait by the roadside between the villages of  Friedendorf and Lache. He promised that they would be taken to a hospital in the vicinity. Over 40 exhausted women took him at his word. All but one, Valarie Straussova, were murdered.. Mrs. Straussova, badly wounded, survived the massacre. She wandered the countryside for two nights and one day. On the morning of 24 January she was given shelter, at great risk to her husband and children, by Mrs. Maria Wojciech of Wijewo. Mrs. Straussova's deposition of the massacre and the Wojciech rescue was entered as evidence in the Nüremberg Trials. The Neu- and Banisch-Vorwerk treks plodded on with daily killings of those unable to maintain the pace.

t Alt Hauland (Stary Jaromierz) on the 26th, forty-one exhausted women were killed in another massacre. The participants in each of the two known mass killings were the Schutzpolizei-men Karl Hermann Jäschke, Erich Kurt Kowatsch, Arthur Grätz, Willi Krause. Survivors of the two treks arrived in DWM in the evening of 28 January. The disheveled, emaciated, shoeless, filthy Schlesiersee women shocked the DMW Jewish women prisoners. Whatever the emotional strain, the paucity of food, the beatings endured by the Grünberg women, the sight and behavior of the ravenously hungry, poorly-clothed newcomers stunned them. Fifty years later, many of the Grünberg women still refer to the Schlesiersee arrivals as "wild animals". Yet, as one perceptive survivor told this writer: " We didn't know ...then....that in a month we would look and act in the same manner as the Schlesiersee girls".

The Grünberg Prisoners' First Death March

n the courtyard of the Grünberg warehouse-prison on the morning of 29 January 1945, three columns of Jewish women prisoners were assembled. Chaos reigned. One half the DWM women were ordered to join the Neu Vorwerk trek; the remaining Grünberg women were required to join the Bänisch trek. There being approximately 1,700 Schlesiersee survivors and perhaps 900 Grünberg [20] prisoners, the two marches set forth in treks of some 1,300 each. The Neu Vorwerk group, joined with about 450 Grünberg prisoners, proceeded toward AL Guben. There, they rested two days and then proceeded west toward Juteborg. There, they were jammed into freight cars for four hellish nights and days. They arrived in the Gehenna of KL Bergen Belsen toward the end of February 1945. In the next six weeks until the British Second Army's arrival on 15 April 1945, almost most of the Schlesiersee group and the majority of the Grünberg prisoners died. The goal of the Bänisch trek was KL Dachau. The trek route was first to FAL Christianstadt which was reached on 31 January, 5 days after the Neusalz trek had left. By this point the number of prisoners, particularly from the Schlesiersee trek, who were unable to continue the march was at least fifty.  A number of seriously-ill FAL Christianstadt and Neusalz girls were still alive in the camp. While prisoners at DWM, several members of the trek had been assigned extra duty as Fire Fighters. They were given coveralls and several tools to be kept for immediate action. On the trek they wore the coverall for warmth; two women had kept their issued wire cutters in their backpacks.

n the bitterly-cold night of 1-2 February, the camp's wire fence was cut through and at least 25 women escaped [21] . The following day, according to survivors [22] , trek leader Jäschke assembled at least fifty women who were unable to proceed. All were executed. A few of the Christianstadt and Neusalz prisoners who had been left behind volunteered to continue with the march group. The trek moved in the direction of Bad Muskau and Weiswasser. At a rest pause in a wooded section of the road, the guards noticed five young women seeming to move into the woods. Dogs and guards rushed after and the escapees were returned. The march column was ordered to assemble in regular files-of-five. Then, in view of the assembled prisoners, the five escapees were savagely beaten by Jäschke, Kowatsch, Krause and Grätz. Dazed and bloody, the girls were forced to their knees facing the assembled prisoners and each was executed with a shot to the head. Every interviewed survivor referred to this scene; it was the first time they had seen fellow prisoners murdered. The standing order for murder of hundreds of other women was to drag the victim from the line of march into a wooded area and there commit the execution. As a result, there are almost no eyewitnesses to these killings. Jäshcke had demonstrated his punishment for any escape effort. The trek moved on to Weisswasser....interviewees remembered the scrubbed streets, immaculate houses contrasting with their filth, their degradation.

n the vicinity of Bautzen on 5 February, a distribution of some decagrams of bread to each prisoner was to occur. A theft of several loaves was claimed by Jäschke. The trek was ordered to assemble in marching files of fives. The women were required to count themselves and every tenth person was to step forward. When fifty women had stepped forward, Jäschke announced that, unless the "thieves" were to surrender, the fifty selectees would be shot in reprisal. No one admitted the theft...if, in fact a theft had occurred. Lilli Silbiger and Sara Lewiton, each in separate interviews, described how she and five other women were given picks and shovels and ordered to march, with five guards and the fifty victims to a wooded area. There, they hacked a shallow hole in the frozen earth while the guards stood chatting and smoking. The doomed young women stood silently moments they would be dead. The scene was surreal. The diggers were ordered to stand aside. In groups of five, the victims were taken to the shallow grave and shot from behind. One, just before being led to execution, gave Lilli her watch with the words, "I won't need this any longer". The six prisoners filled the grave which seemed full with blood and bodies. The executioners returned to the camp with the six diggers; each girl was given two slices of for her digging work.

n the 14th, the trek reached the area of the firestorm at Dresden. It seemed as if the whole world was afire. An increased number of prisoners, particularly those from Schlesiersee, could no longer march. Executions were common, the murderers generally being Kowatsch or Krause. The rate of march slowed as the terrain became more hilly and the exhaustion of the trek more prevalent.  In early March, the trek reached Ölsnitz, east of Zwickau in the Vogtland. A roll call found exactly 800 prisoners [23] . Even to the murderous Jäschke it was apparent that the prisoners could not proceed. Many were dying of exhaustion. He arranged open-freight-car rail transport for the 179 women whom he deemed unmarschfähig. When these reached FAL Zwodau on 6 March, 19 had died en route and a further 33 women would die in the filth of FAL Zwodau during the next six weeks. The 621 marschfähig prisoners arrived in FAL Helmbrechts, an auxiliary camp of KL Flossenbürg, on 6 March 1945. Jäschke delivered his prisoners to the SS administration and left. The SS administration consisted of Unterscharführer Alois Dörr as Commandant, SS-woman Herta Haase, assistant to Dörr and in charge of the women prisoners and 25 male and 23 female SS guards. FAL Helmbrechts had been established on open ground in the town at 174 Kulmbacherstrasse. There, six wooden barracks were built and surrounded by an (non-electrified) barbed wire fence. Three of the buildings were occupied by the 587 women prisoners and three remained unoccupied as warehouses. The prisoners worked at a  branch of a Nüremburg ordnance-producing company, Neumeyer AG. The Neumeyer AG branch had been established in an empty textile facility owned by a leading Helmbrechts citizen, a certain Herr Witt.

he initial prisoner roster was 181 East European female prisoners sent from KL Ravensbrück on 19 July 1944. Two further transports of East European forced laborers, together with Dutch, French and German political prisoners, arrived on 17 Oct 44 (204 women) and on 19 Jan 45 (200 women). The arrival of the Jewish women's trek in Helmbrechts had been unexpected. Their trek to KL Dachau had been interrupted in view of the likelihood that few would survive another week of marching. They were locked in an unfinished warehouse barrack with little food or water, and no medical or even latrine facilities, provided. They were not required to work; they were allowed to sit and die. From 6 March to 12 April, forty of the Jewish women prisoners succumbed to exhaustion and malnutrition [24]

n 12 April, the US 26th Infantry Division was reported to be three days' march from Helmbrechts. KL Dachau was soon to be liberated [25] and was no longer a realistic goal. Orders were given to evacuate Helmbrechts and march easterly to FAL Zwodau. On the 13th, 584 slave laborers (three having been murdered) and 581 Jewish women prisoners left FAL Helmbrechts. At least a third of the Jewish women were barely able to walk. For the DWM survivors their Second, for the Schlesiersee women their Third, Death March began.

Death in the Sudetenland

he murder and death from exhaustion of the Jewish prisoners began immediately [26] . The Schlesiersee prisoners, in particular, were literally dying as they marched, but Dörr pressed them on. SS man Walter Kowaliv, a Volkdeutsch from Hermannstadt in the Siebenbürgen area of Rumania, was assigned to patrol the rear of the marching column and to execute anyone who fell behind. Survivors named him "Der Schüsser". Their estimates of the number of women whom he murdered  varies between 100 to 125. He seemed to enjoy his work. On the afternoon of 14 April, an SS Lieutenant, riding a sidecar motorcycle, intercepted the Death March. The SS officer ordered [27] Dörr, in the name of the Reich Leadership of the SS to:
1)  Immediately cease killing prisoners;
2) Immediately dispose of the clubs carried by SS women which were used to beat prisoners;
3) To destroy all documents pertaining to FAL Helmbrechts;
4) At the approach of American troops to a point from which he could not move the column away,  to give over  control of the prisoners to local Heimwehr men who would lead the prisoners to any nearby wooded area and there set them free.

he SS officer explained that negotiations were underway for a surrender of SS forces to the American military. The above four points were American conditions for negotiations. Dörr obeyed only order #3. An estimated 300 Jewish women prisoners would die subsequent to his receiving, and disobeying, this order. FAL Zwodau was now a focal point for evacuated women's prison camps from north, east and west. Upon arrival in FAL Zwodau on 17 April, the Jewish prisoners were allowed to rest two nights and one day. Dörr was ordered to march on.....officially to KL Dachau; in practice with no goal in mind. The non-Jewish women remained in FAL Zwodau. To Dörr's trek from Zwodau, were added 25 German women political prisoners and two small groups of Jewish women survivors who had preceded his arrival into Zwodau. One group consisted of 119 Hungarian women, survivors of a larger group taken from KL Ravensbrück to Freiberg i Schl., an auxiliary camp of KL Gross Rosen.

heir First Death March had proceeded through Wüstegiersdorf to Zwodau where they had been since 27 February. A second, smaller group of Jewish survivors was added to Dörr's trek. These were 34 women held first at AL Plaszow [28] , who had been enslaved at FAL Gundeldorf, near  Kronau. Survivors of Freiberg and Gundeldorf related that, in early April at FAL Zwodau, a transport of 75 exhausted Hungarian Jewish women and children had been assigned to clear bomb wreckage from nearby Falkenau's rail station. The group was utterly exhausted and had refused to work. Commandant Jordan had held regular roll call on the following morning and, while all prisoners stood at attention, the 75 prisoners, including at least one young girl of about 10 years of age, were marched out the camp's gate to a near-by wood. Gunfire was  heard and none of the 75 persons was seen again. Two weeks later, the Gundeldorf prisoners were taken to an open pit outside the camp's perimeter. They were ordered to face the pit and awaited execution by a bullet from behind. They were held in this fashion for several hours. Abruptly, they were ordered back to Zwodau's barracks. They had been reprieved, possibly by the American military's negotiating conditions.    Dörr's combined Death March of some 700 women left FAL Zwodau on 19 April in a southeasterly direction. The FAL Helmbrechts prisoners' death rate was 20 to 25 daily, some by execution, others by death from exhaustion.

n 4 May, 350 survivors reached Wallern (Volary). While a few exhausted prisoners had managed to escape, in the 15 days between 19 April and 4 May nearly 350 Jewish women had been murdered.  overwhelming majority of deaths were the Schlesiersee and Grünberg women. On 5 May, even Dörr had defined half his remaining prisoners as unmarschfähig. With American troops a half-day distant, he forced 175 prisoners to march 18 km to Prachatice on the Reich-Protektorate border. He sent a tractor-trailer to transport the unmarschfähig from Wallern to Prachatice in groups of 35. In the first of 5 scheduled round-trips for the 175 prisoners unable to move, a low-flying American plane strafed the tractor-trailer on the Wallern-Prachatice road, killing and wounding three SS women, but not striking any of the 35 prisoners. In revenge, accompanying SS guards murdered 22 of the helpless women. Nine prisoners escaped in the post-strafing confusion; four were inexplicably released. With the Americans so close, Dörr abandoned the 140 survivors and their two SS guards still in Wallern and fled to Prachatice.. On the afternoon of 6 May in Prachatice, Dörr released the 25 German women political prisoners. On the rainy night of 6-7 May, he ordered local Heimwehr men to lead the remaining 150 Jewish survivors to a hilltop on the boundary between the Reich and Protektorate and there abandon them. Czech civilians in the Protektorate villages of Heraty and Husinec took the survivors into their care. The Jewish "walking skeletons'" were then transferred to a makeshift hospital in Vodnany. Those who were dying were taken to a small hospital in Strachonice. Twelve of the liberated women died after liberation. 138 women, including a few of the Schlesiersee and DWM women had survived the 700 km, 98-day ordeal. Soldiers of the 2nd Regiment, US 5th Infantry Division found the unmarschfahig survivors late in the afternoon of 6 May. On the afternoon of the 7th, a rescue effort began, but 22 of the 140 survivors had died before they could be assisted. Despite round-the-clock US medical efforts, another 20 survivors died in the Wallern Ortslazarette. Of the 98 survivors, few of the DWM and fewer yet of the Schlesiersee women remained.

houghout Europe, particularly in the East there exist stelae, monuments, even garish statuary announcing that "here lie (XXX,000) victims of Fascism (or Hitlerism or inhumanity). There are no names, nothing to depict the horrors experienced by ordinary, anonymous individuals. But in Volary, there is a resting place where the victims of  NSDAP programs lie in individual graves, individually marked. In the lovely Czech town of Volary, the American military required the town's local cemetery to contribute the front quarter of its property to the victims who had been murdered in the vicinity. The 22 young women who had died in a remote, filthy shed after being abandoned by the SS, the 22 helpless women murdered on the last day of the war by vengeful SS Schütze Michael Weingartner and Sebastian Kraschansky on the Wallern-Prachatice road, the 20 emaciated women who died in the Ortslazarette of Wallern despite round-the-clock American medical efforts and the 30 marchers who succumbed to starvation and exhaustion in the Death March's last two days....all 94 women lie here in individual and named graves..

o honor strangers who were murdered in their midst, Czech citizens have placed in the small Jewish cemetery a white marble monument on which are inscribed words from the Bible's  Book of Lamentations (Jeremiah), chapter 1, verse 12.......

Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there be any sorrow like unto
my sorrow wherein all that God has done unto me in the day of His fierce wrath........



[13] Prof. A. Konieczny, ibid, pp 94

[14] An authoritative history of Grünberg and DWM is to be found in Dr. Bernhard Claudé's "Lexikon Zum Stadt und Kreis Grünberg"

[15] Various correspondance found in DWM offices

[16] Correspondance as footnote #15, above

[17] Noack, who had fled to the Rhineland in late January 1945, resumed contact with DWM' s Polish adminsitration through his sons. The younger Noacks successfully sold Bayer dyestuffs to the facility, which was now re-named "Polska Welna" !

[18] Rachel and her mother Dvora Kokotek; Jadzia and her mother Dvora Nucher; Lilli and her mother Rosa Rosenzweig

[19] The two groups marched separately. The Neu Vorwerke prisoners ultimately reached KL Baergen Belsen. To date, no records of their records have been located. The Banisch Vorwerke trek arrived in FAL Helmbrechts, an Ausserlager of KL Flossenbürg. The survivors were subsequently liberated by various American and Czech authorities. Accordingly, records of many of the Bänisch prisoners exist.

[20] FAL Grünberg survivor, Paula Schwartz, indicates that a number of prisoners were sent to KL Ravensbrück in December 1944.

[21] Survivors believed that few Germans would offer assistance. A number chose to return to FAL Grünberg. "Ah, es hat Ihr hier gefällt, nicht?" was their greeting. But the SA leadership having fled, the former prisoners were allowed to stay, were fed and liberated a few days later by Russian troops.

[22] In the May 10, 1945 inquiry by Lt. Col Robert Bates, JAG, 2nd Rgt, 5th Inf Div in Wallern (Volary) CSR, survivors Luba Beilowitz and Anni Keller described the murder at Christianstadt by Jäschke's guards of approx 50 women who unable to march farther. Other interviewees substantiated this information.

[23] Research among survivors indicates that perhaps 40 prisoners had successfully escaped between Grünberg and Ölsnitz. Perhaps 20 others had joined the trek at Christianstadt. Accordingly, over 500 prisoners had died of exhaustion or been murdered in the 29 Jan - 6 March trek. Evidence is that the death rate was 4:1 among those originating at Schlesiersee, compared to those from DWM

[24] See Exhibit X for the list of women who died in FAL Helmbrechts

[25] Elements of the US 3rd Infantry Division liberated KL Dachau on 29 April 1945.

[26] Beschluss der Strafverfahren gegen Alois Dörr, Schwurgericht bei dem Landgericht Hof, 31 Juli 1969

[27] Above footnote #26, page 49

[28] Among these were the child, Janina Ast, who had hidden herself neck deep in one of Plaszow's latrine resevoirs to escape deportation to Birkenau. She and her mother were rewarded for her resourcefulness with their lives by Plaszow's Commandant, Amon Götz. (noted by a scene in the film "Schindler's List")