Accounts of Nazi forced labour at Monowitz (1942-43)

The following accounts of Nazi forced labour at Monowitz (Auschwitz III) were offered at the Nuremberg war crimes tribunals:

“At the end of 1941, a proposal was made to the Executive Board of IG-Farben by the IG-Buna Werk [factory at] Auschwitz (through Ambros and Buetefisch) that on practical grounds the Monowitz concentration camp should be built on the IG Auschwitz site. The estimate for building the Monowitz camp was submitted to the Technical Board, and passed on to the Executive Board, who accepted it. The IG-Bunawerk Auschwitz was responsible not only for the accommodation, but also for the feeding and guarding of the concentration-camp prisoners at their place of work.”

Karl Krauch, IG-Farben executive

“We were accommodated at the Monowitz special concentration camp. The conditions were intolerable… On our first day of work (Christmas Eve 1942) we had to work through without food until three o’clock on the morning of December 25th. Our work consisted of unloading wagons of iron bars and sacks of cement and heavy ovens… On January 5th 1943 my father was so weakened that he collapsed before my eyes while having to haul along such a 50 kilogram sack of cement at a running pace. I wanted to help him but was hit and beaten back by an SS man with a stick…

One of my father’s brothers injured himself in the arm while at work and was gassed. My father’s second brother died from weakness while at work in Buna, one or two weeks after the death of my father. I myself withstood the work until January 15th 1943. Then I got pneumonia and worked again from February 15th until the end of February. Then I was declared unfit for work because I could no longer walk and I was due to be gassed. As it happened, no lorry going to the gas chambers came to the Buna Werk that day so I was taken back to the Auschwitz concentration camp.”

Kai Feinberg, former prisoner

“Selections, apart from those in the hospital building of Monowitz, took place every 3-6 weeks in the roll-call yard and at the gates of Monowitz when the prisoners were marching out. The prisoners selected were thrown into open lorries, without shoes or underclothes (this in winter as well) and driven away. These prisoners frequently struggled against this and shrieked. Such lorries had to drive through part of the grounds of the IG-Werk…

Leon Staischak, former prisoner

“Buna (Monowitz) itself had about 10,000 prisoners. In the orderly room at Monowitz there was a card-index of all the prisoners who had passed through Monowitz or its subsidiary camps in the period from October 1942 until the liberation of the camp. The card-index of those who had died was a great deal larger than that of the living. I was in charge of the orderly room for a long time. I estimate that at the end the position in Buna (Monowitz) was about 10,000 live prisoners as against about 120,000 dead – and in the subsidiary camps taken together, about 35,000 live prisoners as against 250,000 dead.”

Dr. Gustav Herzog, former prisoner