Established: 2 August 1940
Location: approximately 60 Km from Breslavia
This camp, which takes its name from the nearby village of Gross Rosen, Rogoznica in Polish, was originally instituted as a satellite camp to the Concentration Camp KZ Sachsenhausen, but became a principal and autonomous camp on the first of May 1941. The camp was constructed by an initial contingent of 98 Polish deportees. Separate from Sachsenhausen and originally designed to contain a maximum of 12,000 people, through the later enlargements, it came to house over 35,000 people.
Its location was chosen by the DEST (Deutsche Erd und Steinwerke GmbH) that had under contract the use of several stone quarries that were found in the area, and for which the company – which belonged entirely to the administration of the SS – “rented” for advantageous conditions the manpower that was handy. The business didn’t turn out to be particularly profitable, but in spite of this, thousands of Belgians, Bulgarians, Danes, Greeks, French, Poles, Romanians, Hungarians, Italians and Russians were led there to live an existence of privation, hunger, and epidemics. It has been calculated that approximately 200,000 deportees passed through Gross Rosen in the course of the years, and that 75,000 died there.
Despite its poetic name, Gross Rosen has acquired a reputation as an infernal place by those who had the misadventure to have ended up there, because survival in that camp was barely possible. In fact, the mortality rate was so high that the crematorium was judged as insufficient to “treat” the remains of the victims in a timely manner. In the contracts of the firm Topf & Sohne of Erfurt, specialized in the construction of crematoriums, it is noted the solicitation for the installation of a system of grand capacity, one with four chambers.
Nearly one hundred satellite camps depended on Gross Rosen. Groups of deportees were made to work externally, and put to service in companies of all sorts, usually dedicated to the production of chemicals and war material such as weapons.
Gross Rosen was liberated on the 14th of February 1945 by troops of the Soviet 52nd Armata of the Ukrainian front.