> Adler­wer­ke His­to­ri­cal Site (Foy­er)
> Geschichts­ort Adler­wer­ke (Foy­er)

> A crime that beca­me a part of ever­y­day life
> Zwangs­ar­beit – ein Ver­bre­chen mit­ten im Alltag

> The for­ced labour system
> Sys­tem Zwangsarbeit

> The con­cen­tra­ti­on camp in the factory
> Das Kon­zen­tra­ti­ons­la­ger in der Fabrik

> Clearan­ce and death march
> Räu­mung und Todesmarsch

> Con­flicts over labour, remem­bran­ce, compensation
> Kon­flik­te um Arbeit, Erin­ne­rung, Entschädigung

 The con­cen­tra­ti­on camp 

 in the factory 

In the sum­mer of 1944, a con­cen­tra­ti­on camp was set up in the Frank­furt Adler­wer­ke. Its code name was “Katz­bach”. It was one of more than 50 sub­camps in the Natz­wei­ler-Strut­hof con­cen­tra­ti­on camp complex.

1,616 men were con­fi­ned in the Katz­bach con­cen­tra­ti­on camp. By the time of the camp’s clearan­ce in late March 1945, 692 of the­se inma­tes had lost their lives. The high pro­por­ti­on of vic­tims was unusu­al for a fac­to­ry con­cen­tra­ti­on camp. Camps of this kind were sup­po­sed to pro­vi­de man­power for the fac­to­ry. Katz­bach, howe­ver, was a place whe­re the inma­tes’ lives were con­stant­ly in danger.

The inmates 

The first 200 inma­tes came to Frank­furt on 22 August 1944 as a “con­struc­tion crew”. They had been taken pri­so­ner during the War­saw Upri­sing. From the Pruszków tran­sit camp in Poland they were trans­por­ted to the Buchen­wald con­cen­tra­ti­on camp. From the­re the SS sent them to the Adlerwerke.

On 29 Sep­tem­ber 1944, 1,000 Polish men arri­ved in Frank­furt from the Dach­au con­cen­tra­ti­on camp. They had like­wi­se initi­al­ly been held in the Pruszków camp. Two fur­ther trans­ports from Buchen­wald arri­ved on 26 Janu­a­ry and 1 Febru­a­ry 1945. The num­ber of con­cen­tra­ti­on camp inma­tes reques­ted by the Adler­wer­ke manage­ment had thus once again been reached. Apart from the­se four trans­ports, the­re were also trans­ferals of smal­ler inma­te groups.

The last trans­port took place on 1 Febru­a­ry 1945 and brought inma­tes from ele­ven dif­fe­rent coun­tries. Many of them had pre­vious­ly been in cus­to­dy in various camps and pri­sons in the East. The grounds for their per­se­cu­ti­on dif­fe­red wide­ly. The majo­ri­ty of them were for­mer civi­li­an for­ced labou­rers and pri­so­ners of war who had been com­mit­ted to the con­cen­tra­ti­on camp sys­tem by regio­nal Gesta­po offices for various “offen­ces”.

The SS camp administration 

Initi­al­ly the Katz­bach con­cen­tra­ti­on camp guard detail con­sis­ted of an SS camp com­man­dant, 2 non-com­mis­sio­ned offi­cers, and 11 guards. Later a total of some 35 men were respon­si­ble for guar­ding the con­cen­tra­ti­on camp inma­tes. Near­ly all of them had been sta­tio­ned at the front befo­re their con­cen­tra­ti­on camp ser­vice. Only few mem­bers of the camp admi­nis­tra­ti­on and the guard details had pre­vious expe­ri­ence with con­cen­tra­ti­on camp ser­vice. Many had been assi­gned to camp ser­vice by the Luft­waf­fe (Ger­man air for­ce) in the sum­mer of 1944. Several belon­ged to the “eth­nic Ger­man SS vol­un­te­ers”. They came from Roma­nia and Lithuania.

The camp command 

The camp com­man­dant SS Haupt­schar­füh­rer Erich Franz (1914–1985) was the hig­hest-ran­king SS func­tion­a­ry in the camp. He was in char­ge of the camp admi­nis­tra­ti­on. He also took care of assigning the workers in kee­ping with the employ­ers’ wis­hes and orde­ring disci­pli­na­ry mea­su­res for inma­tes. He had only very litt­le con­ta­ct to the inmates.

SS Ober­schar­füh­rer Emil Lend­zi­an (1902–1956) was the depu­ty camp com­man­dant and “report offi­cer” (Rap­port­füh­rer). He was great­ly fea­red by the inma­tes. Lend­zi­an deman­ded that they immedia­te­ly stand at atten­ti­on when he appeared and beat them at every oppor­tu­ni­ty. The guards were also afraid of him. He was respon­si­ble for the roll calls and assemb­ling the work crews. He deci­ded on the duties of the guards and inma­te func­tio­n­a­ries. During his fre­quent inspec­tions of the infir­ma­ry he ter­ro­ri­zed the inma­tes, accu­sing them of merely pre­ten­ding to be ill.

Mar­tin Weiss (1916–1995) over­saw the kit­chen. He pro­cu­red the food sup­plies and super­vi­sed the inma­te cooks at their work. He was respon­si­ble for kee­ping a lar­ge pro­por­ti­on of the food from ever reaching the inma­tes. Weiss was often vio­lent. He was respon­si­ble for shoo­ting two escapees to death.

Erich Franz, 1944
Wie­ner Stadt- und Landesarchiv,
Lan­des­ge­richt für Straf­sa­chen, A11:5949/1964

The guard units 

The SS guards worked in twel­ve-hour day and night shifts. Crews of three to four SS men accom­pa­nied groups of bet­ween 20 and 80 inma­tes to their work­pla­ces. The­re they tur­ned them over to the civi­li­an employ­ers. At the end of the inma­tes’ work shift they accom­pa­nied them back to the camp. While the inma­tes were working, the SS guards remai­ned near­by, guar­ding the doors and the over­all situa­ti­on. Others guar­ded the inma­tes in the camp. The SS guards also wat­ched over trans­ports lea­ving the camp.

The guards had their living quar­ters in the same sec­tion of the fac­to­ry buil­ding as the inma­tes. Whe­re­as the two camp com­man­dants had sin­gle rooms on the third floor, the guards stay­ed in mul­ti-bed rooms on the fourth floor in the direct vicini­ty of the inma­tes’ dormitory.

SS Unter­schar­füh­rer Artur Malzkeit
Hes­si­sches Haupt­staats­ar­chiv Wiesbaden,
544, Ord­ner 130, L‑M (unre­gis­tered)

The Adlerwerke 

It was in the spring of 1944 that the Adler­wer­ke com­pa­ny manage­ment began com­p­lai­ning to the arma­ment aut­ho­ri­ties about the lack of man­power. Due to this shor­ta­ge, the com­pa­ny was unab­le to ful­fil the state’s arma­ments orders. Con­cen­tra­ti­on camp inma­tes were sent in to work in the pro­duc­tion of trac­tion vehi­cles for the Wehr­macht. The first group, a “con­struc­tion crew”, arri­ved in August 1944 and set up the con­cen­tra­ti­on camp in the fac­to­ry buil­ding. The SS and an auxi­li­a­ry guard unit made up of 20 to 30 fac­to­ry employees tog­e­ther over­saw the inma­tes. The auxi­li­a­ry guards wore white arm­bands, and some were armed. A num­ber of them were extre­me­ly vio­lent and enjoy­ed their new posi­ti­on of power. Others were restrai­ned and tried to help the con­cen­tra­ti­on camp inma­tes. Some inter­ven­ed in their col­leagues’ vio­lent acts.

Vik­tor Heit­lin­ger was the Adlerwerke’s “labour deploy­ment engi­neer”. In Sep­tem­ber 1944 he selec­ted 1,000 inma­tes for the Adler­wer­ke in the Dach­au con­cen­tra­ti­on camp. After their arri­val in Frank­furt the com­pa­ny com­p­lai­ned to the con­cen­tra­ti­on camp admi­nis­tra­ti­on: The men were sick and not fit for work.

The com­pa­ny manage­ment was in regu­lar con­ta­ct with the Natz­wei­ler-Strut­hof con­cen­tra­ti­on camp admi­nis­tra­ti­on. Dr Franz Engel­mann, the Adlerwerke’s defence offi­cer, coope­ra­ted with the Frank­furt Gesta­po. He kept watch over the com­pa­ny employees, who were not to enga­ge in any form of con­ta­ct with the con­cen­tra­ti­on camp inmates.

The com­pa­ny manage­ment had no inte­rest in the inma­tes’ health. The living quar­ters in the camp were con­fi­ned, the hygie­nic con­di­ti­ons poor, the hea­ting insuf­fi­ci­ent. The­re was too litt­le to eat and a lack of sani­ta­ry facilities.