One of the larger sub-camps of KZ-Flossenbürg in Bavaria, was the camp and metalworks facilities located at Holleischen (Holyov), situated near the city of Pilsen (Plzen) in what was the south west of occupied Czechoslovakia.
The camp mostly held female prisoners of various nationalities, including French, Dutch and Czech, most of whom worked as slave labour in the nearby MWH (Metalwerke Holleischen munitions factory complex). The prisoners who were held at Holleischen gave varying testimonies post war. Some, who like many thousands of other concentration camp prisoners had endured more than one camp during the Third Reich period, stated that the treatment at KL-Holleischen was better than at any of the other camps during their incarceration, although it must be remembered that conditions were still deplorable. Prisoner accounts also vary regarding the staff at KZ-Holleischen. Some reports stated that more than dozens of SS guards were captured when the camp was liberated, whilst others claim that by that time, most of the staff were Luftwaffe personnel. A large complement of SS-Aufseherinnen were certainly present. By war's end, over 1,000 female prisoners were at the camp.
During March 1945, two transports totalling around 400 women arrived at AL-Holleischen from a camp in Nuremberg (SSW - Siemens-Schuckert Werke), after it was destroyed by aliied bombers. Throughout the existence of the camp, approximately half of the prisoners were of Jewish origin, the remainder being political prisoners. They were divided into separate barracks, with Jews being kept in a different barrack to the rest. The women slept two to a bunk, without mattresses.
The camp was finally liberated early in May 1945, initially by Polish Partizans, and later by US troops, who together freed approximately 700 women. A few days earlier, the partizans had reportedly overheard a transmitter message stating that drunken KL staff in a Holyov bar nearby, had been overheard telling the barman that the camp was to be burnt down the following day at 12.30pm. On hearing this information, the partizans rushed to the area, and surprised the guards who reportedly hid in their rooms. One officer was arrested whilst attempting to change into civilian clothes, whilst another was shot whilst trying to make his escape on a motorbike. Many cans of fuel were found outside and around the locked barracks in preparation for the mass slaughter that was averted by the partizans. The prisoners were invited to join the partizans if they so wished, and indeed many did, although the French women reportedly declined, as they had heard that other allied forces, including fellow French, were already approaching.
The factory complex was large, and grand enough to even command the introduction of a camp monetary system for the prisoners. The scrip was not discovered until more than 20 years after the liberation of the camp, likely due to the state of the former buildings, which were mostly destroyed or damaged during late war air raids, and the misunderstanding of what the tokens actually were used for. The tokens, some of which are shown below, resemble theatre tickets rather than typical camp or ghetto banknotes. No explanation is known for why they were produced in such numerous denominations (seventeen variants from 1Rpf to 5RM). MWH logos adorn not only the paper tokens, but also the metal bottle tokens that enabled prisoners to acquire drinks.
Today, the site of the former camp is not accessible, due to it having been bought in a private sale and currently being renovated. Most of the original structures remain, but are being altered to serve a new purpose. A small row of homes lies before the walls of the former main barracks building, which is intact, save for a new roof. Many structures in the surrounding area however are also still present, as shown in the images below. Down the road lies the former metalworks facility, MWH, which comprised many, many buildings and transportation systems for moving the metal products up from the factory to the other premises located in the nearby woods. Traces of the transportation system used are still to be found in a field not far from the factory area.