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Jawischowitz sub-camp

In 1942 the KL Auschwitz authorities set up a sub-camp in the northern part of the village of Jawiszowice and called it Jawischowitz. Its inmates were made to carry out slave labour in the Brzeszcze coalmine, which was then owned by the German concern, Herman Göring Werke. The sub-camp’s average inmate population was approximately two thousand. The majority were Jews from various countries in German occupied Europe as well as Poles, Czechs, Russians, Yugoslavs, the French, Germans and Austrians.

The prisoners rarely had any previous experience of working in a mine and thus accidents often occurred. Their condition was made even worse on account of beatings by functionary prisoners and the SS guards. There were not infrequent cases of prisoners being beaten to death as well as attempted suicides resulting from persecution and the extremely difficult living and work conditions. Prisoners deemed unfit for work were sent to Birkenau, where they were usually put to death in the gas chambers. According to fragmentary data, from October 1942 to December 1944 at least 1,800 prisoners suffered such a fate.

Despite the threat of being put in a concentration camp, some inhabitants of Brzeszcze and Jawiszowice as well as civilian workers at the mine helped the prisoners, comforted them, brought them food, mediated in their secret correspondence and sometimes even carried out the hard work for them or helped them to escape.

On 19th January 1945, as part of the general evacuation of KL Auschwitz, the SS led 1,900 inmates out of the Jawischowitz sub-camp and forced them to march for over 50 kilometres to Wodzisław Śląski. Some of them were unable endure this and died of exhaustion or were shot dead the SS escorts. Dozens of sick and exhausted inmates were left behind in the sub-camp and these were taken care of by the inhabitants of Brzeszcze and Jawiszowice.