Sunday, April 5, 2015

IX - Stalags and Arbeitskommandos Labor Camps

The handbook and patch signifying you were a Polish Arbeitskommando
My Dad, Zygmunt Frackiewicz Age 26
Rare photo early in his imprisonment  at Stalag XXA in Thorn, (Torun) Poland

Zygmunt Frackiewicz Prisoner # 1006

Stalag is from the German "Stammerlager", a German POW camp for non-commissioned officers and enlisted men
Arbeitskommando were labor sub-camps under POW camps for holding prisoners under the rank of sergeant and permitted under the 3rd Geneva Convention.

Though I have dates and general locations spanning 6 years, it is frustrating not having more details especially about his labor camps but I am finding this is common as forced labor was so extensive.There is also the vast number of these camps, or example Buchenwald had over 100 sub-camps, Auschwitz had 44 sub-camps and so on.

Briefly the German Reich had 17 Military Districts. The main camp or Stalag was named for a specific district and the order of camps by a Capitol letter, ie. VI-A

An unexpected bit of information came up in 2015 on a Google search by my sister Susanna. It shows a newspaper article that shows dad spent time in a Chemical plant in Blachownia/Blechhammer from June 1944 to January 1945. While an interesting new found addition to the record, this adds more complexity to the story that is not part of the POW record shown below.

The new evidence (May 2016) from the Russian Record card proved accurate data regarding the Soviet capture timeline.

  • Captured in  Lipica Dolna, Sept.19,1939 by the Soviet Red Army
  • Held by Soviets in  2 Lagiers, Starobielsk, then Putivlski on Oct, 21, 1939
  • Stalag XXA Thorn, Poland , entered sometime in the last 10 days of Oct. 1939
  • Stalag VI-A Hemer, entered March 28, 1940
  • Assigned as Arbeitkommando to Kapellen-Moers 117 entered April 2, 1940, site of synthetic oil plant, a target of Allied bombings
  • Stalag VI-J Krefeld-Fichtenhain, entered July 2, 1940 through August 1, 1944
  • Assigned as Arbeitcommando unit 110P,  entered April 7, 1941              
  • Stalag VI-K Senne entered Sept 23, 1944.                    
  • Assigned as Arbeitcommando unit WC 51,  entered October 10, 1944.       
.So while records show him being at Stalag VI-J through August 1,1944 and entering Stalag VI-K on September 23, 1944, This time frame also encompasses the June 1944 to January 1945 record of being at the Blechhammer North O/S Hydrierwerke AG chemical plant construction and operation in Slawiecice near Blachownia Slaska. This was a sub-camp of Auschwitz.

Another censor stamp on
family photo from VI-J.
Work Camp 27? Note
 Swan icon on lower right.
"Gepruft"  =  Checked /Censored
stamp on back of a family photo sent 
to Camp  VI-J. Does it refer to Work 
Camp 44 ?  Note the icon of 
"Turbaned Headon  lower  right.
I discovered these odd "stamps" on back of  old photos of Dad's family. These are the most legible, from later on in his captivity. The oldest one, a pic of his mom, has a faint XXA on it, worn out from looking at it, handling it.  Do the numbers refer to an Arbeitkommando camp?

There is also a record of being in Stalag VIIA, Moosburg, but this may have been a pass through camp enroute to work details.

The explanation must be that these were his Arbeitskommando assignments under the specific home Stalag listed but in the sub-camps. The slave labor going from more rural type labor to something more demanding for the desperate Nazi war effort, making synthetic fuel from coal.

A minimum of 11 Soviet Lagiers, Stalags and Labor Camps recorded, escaping death sometimes by days, by circumstance and by the grace of God.

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