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Documents on the 1943 Franke-Griksch report


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The Franke-Gricksch Report

A Report on the Duty Journey through POLAND from the 4th -- 16th May 1943 by SS-Sturmbannführer Alfred FRANKE-GRICKSCH



We carried on immediately and went to Auschwitz Camp.

At 13:00 hrs we arrived at Auschwitz, the leaders of the camp were assembled and introduced to the Gruppenführer. Amongst those were SS-Oberführer Caesar, who is in charge of all agricultural work as Stbf. After the Gpf [Website note: SS Gruppenführer Maxmilian von Herff, Chef des SS Personalhauptamtes] had addressed the leaders and informed them of the purpose of his visit, he joined them at dinner.

Rudolf HössIn order to get a clear picture of the camp , its structure and purpose, SS-Ostbf Hoess [Rudolf Höss, picture on right] drove us round the whole camp area. The camp itself was a old Austrian hutted camp which has been extended to a small town by the work of SS-Ostbf Hoess. Auschwitz is the biggest concentration camp in Germany. It covers about 18,000 morgens, 8,000 are arable, 4,000 are fish breeding, 3,000 are used for market gardening and greenhouses. They are breeding their own horses and keep their own poultry farms.

In 1942 the breeding measures have produced 32,000 chicks. Besides the camp has its own kennels with 500 picked animals specially trained to guard prisoners. The camp is to be gradually extended to hold 200,000 prisoners. It has got its own leather tannery, a factory for brushes, a butchers shop, bakery, cobblers shop, blacksmiths, a place for breeding pheasants, their own research institute (for diseases of plants), nurseries, plants of rubber, testing field for different kinds of corn, suitable for Eastern purposes. The best methods to get the most out of the soil are tried out in the camp in order to gain experience for the settlement. Special coal resisting fruit trees are being planted, and corn usually used in the Caucasus is being developed for the East.

click to enlargeThe actual concentration camp [see aerial view right, click for enlargement] is sub-divided into blocks for 10,000 each, and the Ustbf is to be in charge of each block. The inmates are Jews, gypsies, poles and women. The camp has its own orchestra, which is conducted by the former Warsaw Radio Orchestra conductor.

The whole Polish Intelligentsia remain in the camp for life, and will be employed in laboratories and science research institutes, according to their knowledge. The Jewish women who work in the chemical laboratories are students from the Sorbonne University.

Because of the Krupp-works in Essen having been practically destroyed, the transfer of these to Poland and the Auschwitz District has taken place. Three new factory sheds have been created in a comparatively short time in the camp, which will after a month take over two-thirds of the Krupp production of matches and will be run entirely by prisoner labour. The sheds are constructed in accordance with modern principles and give a clean and friendly impression.

In the agricultural sphere, they have succeeded in producing nice large fields by creating a large network of draining systems. This does not only enable them to work these fields very extensively, but also to work it on a profitable basis. The small Polish farms and villages have been expropriated and the Polish farmers settled in different areas.

Near the completely neglected fishponds, dykes are being built by women, and in that way thousands of morgens of swampy meadow have been drained and the foundations for a new fish breeding ground have been laid.

The guarding of the prisoners is done by a Wachkommando consisting of 13 companies each having 200 men. Each company has got a leader (an officer) and the 13 companies form a so-called Lager-Sturmbann, which is commanded by a Stbf and one assistant.

The personnel reports of the Camp Commandant are very interesting. It is very difficult task to cope with the individual groups of prisoners. The gypsies have to be treated differently from Poles, and the Poles differently from the Ukrainians. The hygiene question is a very heavy responsibility for the administration, nearly all the inmates, especially the Jews from the East and South East have to be trained in this respect for they show a particular fear of keeping themselves clean. In parts there have to be very strict measures in order to train the prisoners out of their superstition. When having a shower bath they wrap up their lice in a piece of paper and hide it in their mouth in order to have them in their new clothes, as they are of the opinion that whoever has lice will not become ill.

After the inspection of the camp we drove through Auschwitz.

It is a completely neglected small town which had at one time 11,000 of which 8,000 were Jews, who have left now. The town has changed completely under German leadership. It is typical of Polish mismanagement, the sanitary conditions at Auschwitz.

An artillery regiment was stationed there for six years. There were neither light nor water laid on, but only open wells which are dug near the latrines. Those latrines were closed up when they were full and new ones opened a few yards further on, so a rather interesting circulation, sewer, drinkwater, sewers, was a consequence. Neither the Polish Military authorities, nor the medical officers have ever drawn the attention to the danger for the health of the troops.

Not far from Auschwitz we saw a wonderful sign of the German strength in the 4th year. The HG built in a very short time, industrial works which extended over 12 km2. These works were run mainly on foreign labour with the aid of prisoners. This establishment is one of the largest chemical works in Germany and will commence production within a few months. They produce Buna (artificial rubber) petrol and a considerable amount of gases.

After a short talk with the camp commandant in his flat, we left Auschwitz and arrived in Krakow after a two hours trip.



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