- Muzealna 4, 82-110 Sztutowo, Pologne
In June 1944, the Germans transformed Stutthof from a prison camp into a concentration camp. Over 50.000 Jews were deported to Stutthof, mostly women from Poland, Hungary and the Baltic states. The vast majority died under horrible circumstances.
When the Soviet Army reached Eastern Polish territories in July 1944, Jews from Lublin (Majdanek) concentration camp were deported to Stutthof. That summer also 23.600 Jewish prisoners from Auschwitz – mostly women from Hungary – and 10.000 Jews from the Kovno (Kaunas) ghetto arrived in Stutthof. Even larger deportations started in August 1944 from camps and ghettos in the Baltic states, especially Riga, Vilnius and Kaunas. To compare some figures: In June 1944, only 3% of the 37.600 prisoners were Jewish. At the end of that year, nearly 50.000 Jews were deported to Stutthof, 98% of them women, making them the biggest prisoners’ group of the camp…
Stutthof became overcrowded. The living conditions deteriorated quickly. Jews were separated and isolated from the other prisoners. They lived in primitive conditions in overcrowded barracks, lacking even primitive sanitary facilities. Food rations were absurdly small. A gas chamber was installed for killing groups of 25 to 30 Jews at a time. By January 1945, some 9.400 Jews were already killed. But the last months were the most horrible. After the first death march in January, about 7.000 Jewish women were left in behind in Stutthof. Only 1500 of them survived the war, partially as a result of new death marches.
In the last year of the Second World War Jenny-Wanda Barkmann was a young SS-guard in the German concentration camp Stutthof. Nicknamed ‘Beautiful Spectre’, she was infamous for her brutal treatment of the prisoners. Apprehended after the war, she was sentenced and publicly hanged in Gdansk.
The story of Petronela Brywczyńska proves that no one was safe during the war. Petronela’s father, a Polish farmer, was captured while defending his country. After many wanderings, the Brywczyńska family ended up in the Stutthof concentration camp. Yet they were lucky: they suffered, but survived.
Stella Czajkowska is one of the relatively few Jews who survived the war, despite the ghetto, the gas chambers in Auschwitz, hunger and disease in Stutthof and a gruesome death march. Her story is symbolic of the horror in which the victims of Nazi regime had landed.
The Reifeisen family was an ‘ordinary’ Jewish family, whose fate is exemplary for the destruction of European Jewry during the Second World War. Ilse Reifeisen, the daughter, luckily survived, but her parents, Simon and Gertrud Anna Reifeisen, shared the fate of many other victims of ghettos and camps. Gertrud died in Stutthof whereas Simon’s death is unknown.
The concentration camp in Stutthof was initially founded to eliminate and persecute Poles. Later in the war the role of Stutthof changed as it became an integral part of the planned extermination of European Jews. Before the Soviet Army could liberate Stutthof, the surviving prisoners were send on horrible “death marches”.