Facts about the camp
Początek treści

Facts about the camp

1.The Polen-Jugendverwahrlager der Sicherheitspolizei in Litzmannstadt was established by the German occupation authorities on the 1st of December 1942 and the first child prisoners were transported to it a few days later – on the 11th of December

2.Originally, the Germans considered the Franciscan monastery in Łagiewniki next to Łódź and the farm estate in Dzierżązna village next to Zgierz as potential sites for the camp. The final choice of the area carved out from the Łódź Ghetto was supported by the supreme mayor of Litzmannstadt, Werner Ventzky, and the local Head of German criminal police, SS-Sturmbannführer Friedrich Camillo Ehrlich.

3.For the purposes of the camp, an area was carved out within the ghetto, between the following streets: Górnicza (Tristanstraβe), Emilii Plater (Gunterstraβe), Przemysłowa (Fauststraβe) and Bracka (König-Marke-Straβe).

4.The camp area was secured against presumptive escape attempts through surrounding it by tall wooden fencing with watchtowers, finished on top with barbed wire stretched along it. The eastern limit of the camp was the wall of a Jewish cemetery.

5.The organisation of Polen-Jugendverwahrlager was based upon the camp [for boys] created in Moringen in Germany.

6.The official reason behind the creation of a camp for Polish children was the "issue" of them being left without care and reportedly having a negative influence on German children. The children concerned with regard to that "issue" were those who lost one or both parents as a result of their execution, apprehension, or resettlement in order to provide forced labour.


7.Children were also sent to the camp in relation to their parents' participation in the resistance, their religious affiliation (children of Jehovah's Witnesses) or refusal to sign a volkslist (a document in which a non-German citizen declared that he had some German ancestry by signing it; refusal to sign this document could lead to deportation to a concentration camp). Also imprisoned there were orphaned children forced to commit minor offences due to their complex life circumstances, children with disabilities or children who had simply been apprehended on the street for "vagrancy".

8.The function of the camp commander was performed by the Head of the Criminal Police in Łódź, SS-Sturmbannführer Friedrich Camillo Ehrlich. The acting heads authorised by him were, in order of appointment: Hans Heinrich Fuge, Arno Wruck and Karl Enders. The camp staff consisted of SS members, policemen and civilian workers.

9.The camp was divided into two parts – for girls and for boys. The latter took about three-quarters of the whole surface area of Polen-Jugendverwahrlager.

10.The camp prisoners included both infants and older children up to 16 years old. After reaching the upper age limit, youths were taken to concentration camps for adults or assigned to forced labour.

11.The children were issued starvation-level food rations. Breakfast consisted of a piece of bread with a low nutritional value and a cup of acorn coffee. Dinner was a soup made from vegetable peel and refuse from plants such as turnip, cabbage, beetroot, spinach or kale. Supper was the same as breakfast, although sometimes by that time there was no more bread left for the prisoners. Some children whose families were free could expect to receive food parcels from home. Unfortunately, these parcels were very often stolen by the camp staff.

12.The living conditions of the children at Polen-Jugendverwahrlager were practically the same as those of adult prisoners of concentration camps. Filth and insects were commonplace in the camp. The children were forced to sleep in rooms without heating and the majority of them were in barracks with bunk-beds. The child prisoners often fell ill with diseases such as typhoid, pneumonia, bronchitis, bladder infection, nephritis, tuberculosis, scabies, scurvy or trachoma.

13.Children were forced to work from early morning until evening every day. The child prisoners worked in workshops located within the camp or performed work related to maintaining it. Some girls were forced to do farming work at the sub-camp of Polen-Jugendverwahrlager (established in Dzierżązna near Zgierz).

14.The camp had a system of punishments implemented. They were administered for offences against the camp rigour or "improper" performance of work. The children were punished by beating, reducing their food rations (which already were at starvation level) or locking them up in solitary confinement. The camp also featured the so-called 'penal company' for children who were forced to perform the most onerous work with simultaneous reduction in food rations.

15.It is most likely that the first child who died in the camp on Przemysłowa Street was the 13-year-old Urszula Kaczmarek from Poznań (she died on the 9th of May 1943).

16.The epidemics, corporal punishment and starvation-level meals all led to children dying. Their bodies were buried in the St. Wojciech Roman Catholic Cemetery in Łódź on Kurczaki Street (No. 81), often without even notifying the family of the burial date.

17.Due to the fact that much of the evidence of these crimes was destroyed by the Germans, it has not been possible to establish the precise number of children who went through Polen-Jugendverwahrlager or the number of victims of this camp. Some earlier estimations mentioned about a dozen thousands of prisoners. According to the most recent findings, the camp claimed the life of nearly 200 victims and 2,000-3,000 children were held prisoner there in total. It might never become possible to precisely determine the actual extent of atrocities committed in Polen-Jugendverwahrlager.

18.The camp functioned until the 18th of January 1945, when its personnel left the premises, left the gates open and ran away.