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KZ Außenlager Genthin-Wald

Article about: Forced labourer camp of the Henkel-Persil-Werke Genthin and Düsseldorf. The shareholders of the Henkel-Persil-Werke, Genthin branch, established a forced labour camp during the early months

  1. #1

    Default KZ Außenlager Genthin-Wald

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    Forced labourer camp of the Henkel-Persil-Werke Genthin and Düsseldorf.


    The shareholders of the Henkel-Persil-Werke, Genthin branch, established a forced labour camp during the early months of 1940. As documented by correspondence with the Trade Supervisory Office, more than 1000 male and female forced labourers from many European nations were employed there between 1940 and 1945 and including Polish children, aged between six and fourteen years old. In 1944 approximately 30 Polish children between six and twelve years fell ill with phlegmon and similar inflammations, because these children were mainly used in the acid department of the company—the department most hazardous to health. In a letter, dated 15 March 1944, the management of the Genthin works requested more Polish children for use in their factories - the letter was addressed to the Nazi Reichskommissar for labour procurement, the infamous NS-Gauleiter Fritz Sauckel in Thuringia. On 8 April 1944, female prisoners of KZ Ravensbrück were also commandeered for labour, as had been requested by the Genthin NS-managers.

    The Silva-Metallwerke GmbH (Metal Works Ltd), Genthin works in the Liesenwald

    Silva-Metallwerke GmbH was the front company for an ammunition factory manufacturing infantry and artillery projectiles. The German army had also stationed its pyrotechnical specialists of all ranks in this factory. The shareholders of the company established a camp for forced labourers as early as 30 May 1940. To start with, 198 Croatians, 136 Poles, 40 Ukrainians were held and exploited. During the following years, the system of exploiting forced labour was intensified, on 2 March 1940, apart from the German civil and shift workers, there were 206 Polish, 127 Croatian, 46 Czech, 3 Belgian and 102 French nationals doing shift work as forced labour.

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    Above: Map of Silva-Metallwerke GmbH / KZ Außenlager Genthin

    Between 1943 and April 1945 about 700 KZ Ravensbrück prisoners at a time worked in Silva-Metallwerke. Female concentration camp inmates were the cheapest source of labour that could be procured from the SS excluding Jewish slave labourers. There is no record of Jewish slave labourers working at the Silva-Metallwerke factory site or at KZ Genthin.

    The 700 female prisoners had to survive the most physically hard labour having to carry and load the ammunition baskets, weighing between 40 and 50kg at a time day in day out without respite. They were also given a minimal amount of food. The average life expectancy for women carrying out this kind of work was estimated at 9 months, which means that the turnover of female prisoners was three times during the two years of the factories existence with few surviving the entire period.

    Official Report on use of Silva-Metallwerke GmbH Genthin Prisoners for the Aircraft Industry for the month of January 1944

    Camp
    Number of Prisoners Used
    Number of Prisoners Planned
    Man-Hrs
    January Production
    Production of AA Ammunition
    Silva-metallwerke GmbH
    Genthin


    600


    596


    154,224
    Production result Jan:
    518 200 2-cm shells,
    927 500 2-cm shells (various styles),
    965 000 13-mm shells

    The Reich Minister for Armament and War Production
    TAE-No. 475/44 top secret
    (Signed) Pohl
    [Initialled] HH
    Berlin, Pariser Platz 3, 17 April 1944.
    Phone: 11 00 52
    Pohl


    Below: List of inmates from KZ Ravensbrück transported to KZ Sachsenhausen and subamp KZ Außenlager Genthin-Wald on 29 October 1944. The list includes my grandmother. Source USHMM archive.

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    Below: Memorial to the prisoners of KZ Außenlager Genthin-Wald

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    In May 1944 Ravensbrück prisoners were also transported to work at:

    - Eberswalde, Ardelt-Werke (800)
    - Finow, Geschoss-Fabrik (150)
    - Fuerstenhagen, Munitionsfabrik (3.000)
    - Genthin, "Silvia" GmbH ( 2.000)
    - Grueneberg, Munitionsfabrik (1.800)
    - Lippstadt, Metall- und Eisenwerke (750)
    - Malchow, Sprengstoff-Chemie (4.000)
    - Neubrandenburg, Mech. Werkstaetten (6.000)
    - Oranienburg, Auer-Werke AG (1.200)
    - Peenemuende, Raketenversuchsstation (300)
    - Rechlin, Flugplatz (1.500)
    - Schlieben, HASAG Hugo Schneider AG (1.000)
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  2. #2

    Default Re: KZ Außenlager Genthin-Wald

    what can one say.

  3. #3
    ?

    Default Re: KZ Außenlager Genthin-Wald

    A fine, informative thread. Having the family connection is indeed, quite moving.

    Regards,

    Carl
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

  4. #4

    Default Re: KZ Außenlager Genthin-Wald

    The Henkel-Persil-Werke, Genthin

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    and today....


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    The corporate history of Henkel, like so many German companies and organisations, fail to mention or acknowledge their Nazi era past...like it never existed or the forced labourers who wore the "P" or "OST" badge and worked in many of these concerns
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  5. #5

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    Dear Sir 4thskorpion,

    Monday I went to the Belgian Ministry of war Victims and in the archives I discovered that my grandfather was one of the three belgians performing forced labour at Ghentin. today I found my way to this forum. I have a police report of his testimonial and of the two other Belgians on how they ended up there. I took pictures of these documents (in Dutch). By the way, a press article learns that the statue of the memorial to commemorate the forced labourers has been stolen early in 2013.

    I wonder, could you give me further information and point me to sources on the living conditions at this Lager and more information on Silva Gmbh (what they produced, etc.)

    Kind regards,

    Joris

  6. #6

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    Greetings Joris and welcome to the forum!

    I am pleased that this thread has been useful in some small way in helping you in your journey to discover more about your grandfather and his experiences as a forced labourer in Genthin.

    Below is a link to an article in German by Klaus Börner an historian living in Genthin who was very much responsible for researching the Silva camp at KZ Außenlager Genthin. He works for the city museum. The article describes the camp structures, living conditions and the German functionaries who ran the camp, it also describes the munitions that were made by Silva's forced labourers etc.

    Vor 68 Jahren trafen die ersten KZ-Häftlinge in Genthin-Wald ein: Verpflegung reichte gerade, um am Leben zu bleiben | Volksstimme.de


    From your post I also have learned something new about KZ Außenlager Genthin I did not know male forced labour was also employed there as all the references I have found mention female forced workers only, so thank you for adding new knowledge to this thread. I would be interested to see the police report by your grandfather if that were possible?

    It is sad to hear of yet another memorial stolen by metal thieves...the scourge of our times


    Best regards,

    Stefan

    update: A second article about Klaus Börner and he work researching KZ Außenlager Genthin-Wald

    Klaus Börner gibt seine ehrenamtliche Forschung auf | Volksstimme.de
    Last edited by StefanM; 09-18-2013 at 01:18 PM.
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  7. #7

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    Genthin museum contact details:

    Kreismuseum Jerichower Land
    Mützelstraße 22
    39307 Genthin
    Tel./Fax: 03933 803521
    kreismuseumjl.genthin@web.de

    On the Kreismuseum website is illustrated the remains of a wooden clog (see below) worn by forced labourers at the Silva works. It was found in 1995 on the former camp site which today is almost completely overgrown with trees after the camp was dismantled in 1946. Remains of clothing and dishes have also been found according to the museum website.

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    Last edited by StefanM; 09-18-2013 at 04:27 PM.
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

  8. #8
    ?

    Default

    A very interesting and good thread, thank you for sharing. Like mentioned having a family connection regarding this gives it a very personal touch.

    It is sad indeed that these companies fail to mention or acknowledge their past, but they will never do so.

  9. #9
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    Some further information regarding the camp during its existence as a satellite of KZ-Sachsenhausen (October 1944 onward):

    The factory was located approximately 10 minutes walk away from the prisoner barracks, which were surrounded by a wooden fence secured by electrified barbed wire. A pair of wooden watchtowers also stood at the site.

    Notable members of staff include SS-Scharführer Steffen, the initial Kommandoführer (see note below) and Lagerführerin Hermine Braunsteiner. Steffen was later followed by SS-Unterscharführer Otto Wahl as Kommandoführer in January 1945. Braunsteiner, from Vienna, supported Wahl in the role until the liberation of the camp in May 1945. Braunsteiner's story is indeed one of interest. She was known as Stute von Majdanek (the mare of Majdanek) due to the brutal manner in which she used her steel studded jackboots to stamp on women. In 1943, she was awarded the War Merit Cross, 2nd Class. She received a 3 year sentence in late 1949 from a Vienna court, for crimes during her service at Ravensbrück. After her release just six months later, she befriended U.S. soldier Russell Ryan. Together, they moved to Canada, then later, during 1958, to the United States. Extradited from New York to the Federal Republic of Germany spring 1973, she was convicted during the Third Majdanek trial, held at Düsseldorf. After the eventual conclusion of the trial in 1981, in which witnesses stated that she had "taken children by the hair and thrown them onto trucks headed to the gas chambers", she was convicted on three counts - 1) murder of 80 people, 2) abetting in the murder of 102 children and 3) collaborating in the murder of 1,000 people. After receiving a life sentence, she was released from prison in 1996, following health complications - she had diabetes and later, a leg amputated. Braunsteiner died in spring 1999, aged 79.




    Image - Hermine Braunsteiner (credit - memoiresdeguerre)

    Note - the title "Kommandoführer" is correct for the commander of a sub-camp - as is "Lagerführer", which also describes the head of such a camp. The term "Kommandant", whilst also correct, is better suited to the larger, or main camps.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture H.Braunsteiner.jpg  
    Experienced guide and published author leading detailed study trips to the former KZ sites of Nazi Germany. Contact for further details.

    www.concentrationcamptours.com

    www.concentrationcampmoney.com


    "maka akaŋl oyate maŋi pi ki le, tuweŋi wíyópeya oki hi sni"

  10. #10

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    Thank you for the additional information Carl.

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    Above: Portrait of SS Scharführer Steffen Bohne, SS Nr. 385 453,

    Did Steffen or Wahl ever stand trial?

    Below: Hermine Braunsteiner Ryan in 1975, at her trial in Germany:

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    A Nazi Past, a Queens Home Life, an Overlooked Death
    I collect, therefore I am.

    Nothing in science can explain how consciousness arose from matter.

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