Sister Camp

Landeshut, Germany

Landeshut was a work camp under the Gross-Rosen concentration camp system that was liberated in May of 1945 by the Soviet 21st Army. (USHMM, 759)

There was no exact record detailing when Gerda was taken out of the horrendous work camp of Merzdorf and transported by truck to Landeshut. Gerda and ten other girls boarded the trucks, which drove up the mountains to their new work camp, Landeshut. (Klein, 152)

Landeshut was a subcamp of the larger concentration camp system of Gross-Rosen. The camp was located in the state of Prussia in the province of the lower Silesia. (Klein, USC Shoah) When entering the camp, there were four brick barracks consisting of two levels and a fifth barrack that was located on the opposite side of the camp. (USHMM, 758) There were only the basics at Landeshut, which included a kitchen, laundry and an infirmary. The US Holocaust Museum describes the camp as a horrific experience because of the lack of basic camp support, “The labor in the factory quickly exhausted the prisoners’ strength, also aided by the starvation food rations. They soon became emaciated and fell ill with various diseases. The infirmary did not have the medicine it needed, and many of the prisoners died.” (USHMM, 758) Landeshut was surrounded by a barbed-wire fence and was guarded by SS men of the Gross-Rosen Guard Battalion 11th Company. (USHMM, 758) The camp was led by SS-Hauptscharführer Alfons Gross and the weaving plant that Gerda worked at was led by Herr Betriebsführer. (Klein, 154) The male prisoners would work at the ball bearing plant that was operated by Arado-Werke Gmbh. (USHMM, 758)

Gerda was picked to come to this location by the former director of Bolkenhain because Landeshut was its sister camp. When Gerda and the other girls arrived at the work camp they were greeted by a familiar face in Frau Kügler. (Klein, 153) The girls were put to work managing four weaving looms that were used to make parachutes for the German military. The white silk that was being used to make the parachutes was more fragile than what Gerda had originally worked on when she was at Bolkenhain. (Klein, 154)

The weaving factory at Landeshut was owned by Kramsta-Methner-Frahne. There was a system in place that the German workers would work the looms during the day and the camp prisoners would maintain the looms during the night shift. (Klein, 154) Gerda would start her shift at 6pm and would not finish until 7am in the morning. (Klein, 154) The one positive at the camp is that the prisoners would get Sunday off as a day of leisure from their daily work.

In May of 1944, the Germans were being forced back by the Allied powers and Landeshut was forced to close its doors. Gerda and the rest of the female prisoners were loaded onto a train and sent to Grünberg in Schlesien. May 8th would be the last time that Gerda would see Frau Krüger ever again. (Klein, 165)

After Gerda left Landeshut, it would remain open less than a year when it was officially evacuated in February of 1945. (USHMM, 759) The sick and exhausted prisoners were left at Landeshut, while the rest of the prisoners were led on a march. It did not last very long because they were taken back to Landeshut and the prisoners that had remained were executed because the Nazis thought that they had conspired with the Communist Party. (USHMM, 759). After returning to Landeshut the prisoners were again put back to work, but this time they built ditches. In May of 1945 the SS men left the camp and the next morning it was liberated by the Soviet 21st Army. (USHMM, 759) On September 16, 1946, several of the guards at Landeshut were put on trial for their crimes against the prisoners. (USHMM, 759)