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Gundelsdorf bei Kronach, Oberfranken
(Nachrichten Gerätelager - Wehrmacht)

Dr. Ilse Freund
Born: 1902 in Wroclaw Married: 1929
Current residence (1945): Krakow, ul. Wrzesinska 8

On 11 September 1944 we arrived in Gundelsdorf after 3 days travel, hungry, exhausted. On arrival, all us women were forced at once without rest or food, to work. The work consisted of moving railway tracks and telegraph poles. Four women were assigned to carry one pole. This work lasted for four hours after which, we each received a half liter of soup without bread, We were put into completely bare barracks with a little straw on the floor. Between the boards were such wide spaces that it was possible to look through and see the outside.
Hygienic conditions were terrible. At the beginning, the Germans allowed us to bring water from distance of 300 meters. Generally conditions were, at the beginning, better. Later, however, they worsened. We received minimal food. Half of liter of soup two times per day and half pound of bread or 1 liter of the soup and one pound of bread. The soup was of tea consistency, in the soup were some potatoes peels.

The 12 women who were assigned to the kitchen and laundry were in different conditions. They were given better clothes and shoes, lived better and were little better treated. For the rest of us women the work was unbearable. We continually carried weights heavier than our ability in terrible mud and during great frost.
For the theft of some pieces of wood for (fuel) heat we were beaten mercilessly. For taking a potato, not only were we beaten to the loss of life, but our hair was shaved across middle of our head. We all had frostbitten hands, feet and ears. I, as a doctor, Lagerarzt and Lagerälteste, often released from work those seriously ill women. Several times for only recommending such release I was forced to go to hard work as a penalty. After two weeks, the head of the camp, Hauptman Fischer from Nüremberg, asked me to reveal the names of women who gave money to guards and supervisors in Krakow before being sent to Gundelsdorf. Because I declined to do so, I was demoted from the position of "Lageralteste" and camp doctor. From this time began for me harder times.

I took ill and was threatened with being sent to the gas. The same threat was made to women who still had money by the non-commissioned officer Willy San, a room painter from Essen a/Ruhr. He was a degenerate character, who as Lagerführer, abused women in terrible, merciless ways.

After hard work he ordered us to lie in the snow, to perform rapid knee-bend exercises and to run around the barracks 20 times. In some places it was requested to jump, lie in the snow and when we ran past him, he beat us merciless. In November there were added to the camp 50 men, Jews from Flossenburg camp. During two weeks six died because of hunger and exhaustion. Some of them were killed by beating. Those who beat the most were Hauptmann Fischer, non-commissioned officer San, and non-commissioned officer Malik. These Germans kicked, trampled and killed people by beating and later required the woman doctor to state before a committee that the victims had died of heart attack. If she refused they threatened to send her to the gas chambers.

Civilians, who saw some of the scenes from near the camp’s fence couldn't tolerate this abuse and tortures. They filed a report to the SS in Flossenburg. As a result of this complaint, six SS women guards were sent who oversaw the women prisoners. These women guards behaved relatively decently. They were horrified by conditions in which we lived. The Head Women’s Guard, Erna Schwarz from Bernburg (near by Berlin), went to the main camp in Flossenburg and requested a commission investigate whether prisoners could survive in such conditions. In the meantime, most of the male prisoners died. We women were more resistant, but were moving like shadows and staggered on our legs when we walked.

In the second half of January 1945 there arrived an SS commission from Flossenburg. It found that, in these conditions, prisoners couldn’t live long. They took the rest of the men with them and required the liquidation of the women’s camp within two weeks. The 12 privileged women began to weep and asked Hauptmann (Captain) Fischer to keep them. The SS allowed him to keep those women and add to them yet another three.

These women weren’t heard from again and nothing is known of them. The remaining 66 women were taken to Ravensbrück. This journey should have taken six days, but we were told in advance that food for us will be only for 4 days, so for two whole days we were without food or water.

As a result of this journey and the work in Gundelsdorf more than half those who first arrived had died.