Disease and death

During 1944, Stutthof (near Danzig) became a reception camp for prisoners from other concentration camps. Inmate numbers quickly rose from around 7,500 (spring 1944) to over 60,000 (late summer 1944). The effects of overcrowding were devastating, as the young Polish Jew Ludwika Lady (who survived the later evacuation of Stutthof) described in her 1947 testimony.

109 – The Polish teenager Ludwika Lady on Stutthof in 1944–5

We were brought to Stutthof [in summer 1944]. When we climbed out of the carriages we saw the sign “Forest Camp”; the camp was surrounded with barbed wire. We were taken to a block. There weren’t any bunks. We lay on the floor. 150 people in one room. The camp elder was a Czech Jewess and two Czechs were block elders: they beat us. During the first three days we got nothing to eat or drink.

The Poles and Jews in the male blocks opposite threw us food packets. That happened quite often. We didn’t work in Stutthof. […] We sat on the floor for days on end. We got 150g of bread each day and soup once a day. There was a huge death rate from hunger. I was saved because I knew the person responsible for sharing out the soup. She gave me extra soup, which I swapped for bread. […]

​ Nothing to eat or drink

In October typhus broke out. I too got typhus. Nobody looked after the sick. Those who were very sick were transferred to Block 30 [the infirmary], from where the only way out was to the gas chamber. Many people died of typhus. There were piles of corpses in front of every block. The corpses were taken away in a cart.

Stutthof was evacuated in January 1945. We were marched towards Danzig on foot. Only the sick were left behind. On the way I couldn’t go any further (I had been ill). They left me and a group behind 4 km from Stutthof and a Gestapo man phoned the camp to say that a few Jewesses had been left behind in the village of Steegen and that they would have to be brought back to the camp to be dealt with (i.e. to be killed). I managed to get to the house of a German and she brought me to her sister, who took me in with two Jewesses. The German women knew that we were Jewesses from Stutthof. We stayed with these Germans until liberation on 9 May when Soviet units arrived. The Germans looked after us very well. […]

The German woman asked me to stay with her. She also asked me to put in a good word for her with the Soviet authorities.

Source: F. Tych et al. (eds), Kinder über den Holocaust (Berlin, 2008), pp. 183–4

Translation: Lesley Sharpe and Jeremy Noakes