Fürstengrube

The photos on this page are of the Fürstengrube sub camp of Lager Süd. This was where Sam was barracked after he left Auschwitz II (Birkenau) to work at the Fürstengrube mine, which was a short walk up the road from Lager Süd. The Nazis established this complex in the summer of 1942 at the Fürstengrube hard coal mine in the town of Wesola (Wessolla) near Myslowice (Myslowitz), approximately 30 kilometers (19 mi) from Auschwitz concentration camp. The mine, which IG Farbenindustrie AG acquired in February 1941, was to supply hard coal for the IG Farben factory at Monowitz concentration camp which was close by.

 

Mainly Jews, including Sam, rebuilt the mine at Fürstengrube and they also built the barracks at Lager Süd which was initially just plotted out with barbed wire. Even though the camp's Commandant, Max Schmidt (who took over from Hauptscharführer Moll) was officially in charge of the camp, the real man in charge was in fact Oberkapo Hermann Joseph (see below). Recent examination of testimonies found in the Auschwitz archive by Philip Appleby, Dr. David Fligg and Dr. Adrian Holt have exposed Joseph as being an astoundingly brutal Oberkapo. There are many testimonies to Hermann's merciless and ruthless actions that Appleby, Fligg and Holt have only just rediscovered after over 60 years of gathering dust in the Auschwitz archive, they have never been seen in recent times.

 

The source for most of the photos below are from the collection of a local miner named Jacek Zajac who currently (2013) works in the mine at Fürstengrube and is also a keen amateur historian.

Lager Sud at Fürstengrube. This picture was taken shortly after the war and shows one of the walls of the camp that has since been demolished. Sam was one of the brick layers that built this wall.

This is a contemporary photo of Lager Süd near the Fürstengrube mine, taken in 1944.

This photo was taken by Philip Appleby on April 10 2013 and is taken from exactly the same position as photo 2 (above). It shows that the front wall of Lager Süd which is parallel with the rail line still stands today. Trees have now grown along the side of this wall, which is the only wall of the complex that still exists.

 

Here is a clearer photo of the outer side of existing wall of Lager Süd (parallel with the rail line) taken by Philip Appleby.

The inner side of the existing wall of Lager Süd. Photo taken by Philip Appleby.

This photo was taken shortly after the war and shows part of the long wooden barracks housing the camp office, Hermann Joseph's office, the dental station, theatre and penalty room. This wooden building was situated by the front entrance.

This is the front entrance of Lager Süd. This picture was taken shortly after the war.

This is a drawing of what the entrance of Lager Süd was like during the time of it's operation.

This picture is of the large brick built barracks in Lager Süd. This was where Sam slept. This picture was taken in the mid 1960s on the day of it's demolition, so it is very lucky that we have a picture of this building.

The front wall at Lager Süd facing the rail line. The entrance gate is not seen in this picture, but it would have been the next feature just outside the frame of this photo on the left. Notice the two grates in the wall at the centre of this photo.

This is a recent picture taken by Philip Appleby of the two grates in the front wall at Lager Süd which are clearly still there.

This is the only partially surviving watch tower that still stands at Lager Süd. It is the same tower in picture 2 (above). Notice that the first storey has been demolished.

Another view of the only surviving watch tower at Lager Süd.

It is still possible to venture inside the watch tower at Lager Süd.

This is a photo of the same watchtower taken in the 1960s before the upper storey was demolished.

The inside of the watch tower.

This is an original Nazi metal entry pass clearance into the camps and mines of Fürstengrube. This was found by local historian Jacek Zajac with his metal detector.

Original buildings at the coalface of the Fürstengrube mine. Lager Süd is situated just down the road from here.

The original bath house where prisoners cleaned up after they surfaced from the mine.

Another photo of the wall of Lager Süd that faces the rail line. This clearly shows the two grates in the wall. Picture taken by Dr. Adrian Holt.

Another view of Lager Süd's partially surviving watch tower as seen from the outside of the camp. Picture taken by Dr. Adrian Holt.

                                                       Furstengrube Fire Pool.

 

This is a very rare contemporary photograph of the pool that Sam helped to build in the Furstengrube mining camp for the storage of water to put out fires. This was the pool where Otto Moll shot a prisoner, as described in Sam's book. In the photo are various SS officers including Oberscharfuhrer Max Schmidt sitting on the edge of the pool with his legs in the water.

 

This picture was taken shortly after our liberation in 1945. Henry Bawnik (Herzko) Left, Kapo Hersh Goldberg (Seated). The other two fellows in the picture are familiar to me from the Furstengrube camp but I can't remember their names. This picture has only recently been discovered.

This is a rare photograph of Hermann Joseph before the District Court in Ansbach 1947. This photo came to light after I had written my book, else it would have been included.