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Stutthof

STUTTHOF

STUTTHOF (Pol. Sztutowo ), German concentration camp established in a secluded area 22½ mi. (36 km.) E. of Danzig, which existed from Sept. 2, 1939, until May 9, 1945. Surrounded by water on three sides, the land was wet and almost at sea level. It was situated along the Danzig-Elbing highway. Initially a civilian camp, it became a concentration camp in January 1942. Jewish prisoners (several hundred men, mostly residents of Danzig) were brought there as early as Sept. 17, 1939. Among them were the writer and journalist Jacob Lange and the cantor of the Danzig synagogue, Leopold Schufftan. Almost all of these prisoners died within a few weeks. The initial population of prisoners were Poles; it also housed Soviet prisoners of war as well as Norwegians and Danes. Jews were a distinct minority. As it appeared that the war would last longer than planned and labor shortages would be prolonged, the work of these slaves became more valuable and thus conditions were slightly improved for the non-Jewish prisoner population precisely as the conditions of Jews became more lethal throughout German-occupied territory. The camp was expanded in 1943 and wooden barracks were replaced by concrete ones. Stutthof was a site of forced labor. Inmates worked at private industrial enterprises, foremost among them was the airplane factory of Focke-Wulff. They also worked in farming and in camp workshops. The camp staff were SS men and Ukrainian auxiliary police.

Until 1943 only small numbers of Jews from Warsaw, Bialystok, and some other places were deported to Stutthof. In the autumn of 1943, several hundred Jews found in hiding in Bialystok after the Bialystok ghetto uprising were brought there. Early in 1944 all the surviving Jewish prisoners were deported to the *Auschwitz concentration camp.

Besides the central camp 105 subcamps were built, notably in Stolp, Heiligenbeil, Gerdauen, Jesau, Schippenbeil, Seerappen, Praust, Burggraben, Thorn, and Elbing. About 20,000 Jewish prisoners, mostly women, were imprisoned there. In spring 1944 several thousand Jews from concentration camps in Ostland (in Latvia and Lithuania) were deported to Stutthof, and in the early summer thousands of Jewish women arrived from Hungary. The greatest increase of Jewish prisoners occurred in June–October 1944, when over 20,000 Jews were shipped to Stutthof from Auschwitz. These were mostly women from Hungary and the Lodz ghetto. Most of these people died in the first weeks from hunger and lack of water, or were gassed in the gas chamber, where, as in Auschwitz, Zyklon b rather than carbon monoxide was used. In the last months of 1944 about 12,000 Jewish prisoners (including almost 4,000 women) were deported from Stutthof to concentration camps in Germany: *Dachau, *Buchenwald, Neuengamme, and Flossenbuerg. In January 1945 forced evacuation – death marches – from Stutthof and its satellite camps began. At that time about 29,000 Jewish prisoners (including almost 26,000 women) were still alive in these camps. Five thousand marched to the Baltic sea coast and were executed by machine gun fire. The remaining prisoners were marched toward Lauenberg but were stopped by Soviet advances and returned to Stuthoff. In April 1945, with the front collapsing, the prisoners were again moved. Some were shot in the sea; others were transported by boat to Neuengamme. En route many died. When the camp was liberated on May 9 there were some 100 prisoners still alive at Stutthof.

About 26,000 Jews were killed or drowned during the evacuation. It is estimated that altogether over 52,000 Jewish prisoners passed through Stutthof and its satellite camps. Only about 3,000 of them survived.

bibliography:

K. Dumin-Wasowicz, Obóz koncentracyjny Stutthof (Pol. with Eng. summary, 1966); O.M. Picholz-Barnitsch, in: Yad Vashem Bulletin, no. 17 (1965) 34–41; K. Dunin-Wasowics in: bzih, no. 63 (1967) 3–37. add. bibliography: Y. Gutman and A. Saf (eds.), The Nazi Concentration Camps: Structure and Aims; the Image of the Prisoner: The Jews in the Camps. Proceedings of the Fourth Yad Vashem International Historical Conference (1984).

[Stefan Krakowski /

Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]

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