Sunday, March 29, 2015

X - Slave Labor at Blechhammer-Slawiece Chemical Plant

The main Auschwitz camp

Wow, finding the new piece of documentation in 2015, while adding some unexpected confusion, gives the first evidence  of what some of Dad's work commando assignments were. He was reported there from almost the onset of the clearing of the land and erecting the buildings on this complex, through the operation. What were his forced tasks: agricultural, construction, breaking oil shale rock into little pieces or industrial related?

The Blechammer North chemical plant was one of the labor sub-camps. less than 100 km from the infamous main camp of Auschwitz. In Slawiecice, less than 5 minutes/3km away, was a  mobile crematorium called the "pocket furnace". The mingling of the concentration camp inmates and arbeitcommandos was a fact. It must have been horrific working in the smell of burning bodies and in the shadow of death with walking corpses.

Blechammer chemical plant became a strategic target for the allies dropping over 7,000 lbs of bombs on it. This is turn resulted in an rapid evacuation of this series of camps. Masses of POW's were moved Westward to escape the now hostile Soviet advance. In other areas of Germany, POW movement was to the North and East to avoid US and British advances. These were the infamous death marches of  January 25, 1945, These were death marchs in the dead of one of the worst winters in 20 years with temperature of -13 F. Estimates of 3,500 people died from the weather extremes, lack of clothes and food, disease (typhus was rampant) and from already being in an  emaciated state. Those that were slow, sick  or could not keep up the inhumane march were shot by side of the road, hundreds lined the many routes.

Was Zygmunt Frackiewicz in the 1945 Death March?

So the record shows he was still there in January 1945, Was he moved earlier in the month? Was he marched or transported in a covered cattle car or was it in a open coal car? How did he get back to Stalag K some 870 km away in the dead of winter from a bombed out, evacuated chemical plant under the direction of Auschwitz concentration camp?

A review of a historical document "Movements of Prisoner of War in Germany 1944-45"  show there is no direct route from Blechammer to the endpoint of the  Fallingbostel Collection Center. Whatever convoluted route he took to the northwest must have incorporated marching and rail transport, there are no other options for the 870 kilometer travel.

However he made it back to Stalag K in Fallingbostel, he never talked about any of it which is hard to believe. But there is a lot about his journey that is hard to believe.

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