Archive/File: pub/camps/stutthof/danish-report.122944 Last-Modified: 1996/02/05 Transcription Source: Fifty Years Ago: Darkness Before Dawn. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024- 2150. p. 184-5. Camps in Eastern Europe Danes in Stutthof Concentration Camp The following document describes conditions for Danish prisoners in Stutthof concentration camp. The original of this document is located in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Enclosure no. 1 to dispatch no. 4797, dated December 29, 1944, from the American Legation, Stockholm, Sweden, entitled: "German Concentration Camps Where Danes Are Confined." Source: Danish Press Service release, December 12, 1944 TRANSLATION Title: The Concentration Camp at Stutthof (DPT)_The opposition in Denmark has received authentic reports from one of the most famous concentration camps in Germany, the Stutthof camp in the vicinity of Danzig, where 40,000 to 50,000 people of all European nationalities are kept as prisoners of the Gestapo. There are only a few people against whom accusations can be made. Most of them are there only because they are suspected. Among the Danish prisoners are the communists whom the Germans "took over" in the Ho"rserd camp on August 29, 1943, when the Danish authorities did not dare to take the responsibility and release them, something which would have saved them. Later, a number of prisoners were transferred to the camp from the Fro"slev camp, especially people who have been engaged in illegal newspaper work in Denmark. From the report it appears that the Danes are the prisoners who fare best in the camp, mainly because they are allowed to receive parcels of food, the contents of which they share as much as possible with the other prisoners. They are further considered to be the prisoners who at their arrival were in the best psychical and physical condition. The Russians were treated most rudely. The day is long in a concentration camp. The prisoners are turned out already at 3:30. After the morning parade in searchlights' flare, the cleaning up of barracks and eating breakfast, the work starts at 6:30. In the summer, it goes on for twelve hours, in the winter until it becomes dark. The work is performed exclusively within the camp territory and comprises digging, sawing wood and the like, and also the loading and unloading of trucks. In the vicinity of other concentration camps, for instance the Buchenwald and Oranienburg camps, gardens have been laid out and factories built where the prisoners are employed as slaves, but there seem to be no such arrangements at Stutthof. The work is, on the whole, to no purpose. At present, the Danish prisoners seem to have a comparatively "good work", but the first four months are said to have been terrible. As everywhere in German camps and prisons, the food is insufficient. For dinner, such meals as cabbage soup, soup of common beets, etc. are served. There is meat only once a week and the portions are very small. When the working day is over, there is a parade again, and it is said to be both severe and long. The prisoners are then free, but they have not much use for their leisure. Most of them are so tired and hungry that they sleep most of the time. They also work half Sundays. The prisoners read a little and have founded a small library of the books which have been sent to them. The sanitary conditions are said to have improved lately so that the prisoners now have the opportunity to take a bath. In all the concentration camps, even in the Stutthof camp, the lice are a dangerous and very perceptible plague, and the Germans do not do enough to combat this danger. The prisoners do not have enough clothes. Most of them still only have the clothes which they had on when they were arrested or a special kind of prisoner's garb, a kind of overall. In many cases, they were allowed to choose between underwear and shirt when leaving Denmark. They are all machine cut, except three of them who have a V-sign on the sleeve. This is said to be a special favor. The climate is almost Russian, and they therefore have good use for warm socks, sweaters, etc. As the work is carried on in all kinds of weather, most of the prisoners long for rain coats, and it is difficult to get the clothes dry again. This seems in many cases to have been the cause of the pneumonias which have claimed so many human lives. The mortality percentage in the Stutthof camp is, however, rather low, but the danger of epidemics is very great as the Germans have stowed in up to 450 men in dormitories intended for 200 men. The prisoners sleep together two and two. Only the oldest ones have "beds" to themselves! What this means in the case of the appearance of a contagious disease need not be emphasized. The mutual relations between the prisoners is good, but the depression may, of course, now and then cause conflicts. The prisoners have a canteen of their own where they can buy carrots and some kind of soft drink. Also in this respect, the Danes are better off, as, with their better physique they are able to manage the work and obtain the "wages" which are paid. As the drinking water is very bad, the Danish prisoners drink almost exclusively soft drinks. This probably also contributes to the low mortality percentage. Maltreatment also occurs in these dreary prison camps, but the impression is that it is for the most part an outlet for the brutality of the wardens.
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