The Spinnerei

Grünberg in Schlesien, Germany

Grünberg is the last work camp that Gerda would be at before being taken on a death march.

In May of 1944, Gerda and several other girls from Landeshut were onboard the train headed for their new destination of Grünberg. Before arriving at their new destination north of Landeshut, Gerda had to change trains in another city. She describes the people at the train station by stating, “People stared at us curiously.” (Klein, 166) Finally, Gerda and the rest of the girls arrived at Grünberg and one of the first descriptions that Gerda remembers about this place is, “When I think of Grünberg I grow very sad. It was cruelty set against a backdrop of beauty.” (Klein, 167)

Grünberg was located in the lower Silesia area on 33 Breslauer Street and was a sub camp of the larger concentration camp system known as Gross-Rosen. (USHMM, 742) The camp was used for forced labor and the prisoners worked in the textile and munitions factories, which were operated by Deutsche Wollwaren Manufaktur AG and for Christwerke. (Klein, USC Shoah) The textile factory would produce material that would be used for uniforms, army coats, parachutes, and blankets that the German military needed. (USHMM, 742)

The conditions at Grünberg were atrocious according to Gerda and several other survivors that worked at the factories. (Klein, 168) The US Holocaust Museum describes the conditions at Grünberg, stating, “Conditions worsened. Although officially approved by the Gross-Rosen provisions department, the food was almost a starvation diet.” (USHMM, 742) Along with the food situation or lack thereof the prisoners would be beaten for any slight discretion by the guards. Gerda describes being beaten by a guard at Grünberg over a bread situation, stating, “Thirty girls were beaten that morning. I don’t know what the blows did to the others but they shattered the wall of strength that I had built for myself.” (Klein, 174)

This was only the start of Gerda’s problems while being at Grünberg. After arriving at the work camp, she was selected to work in the spinnerei (spinning room). The work in the spinnerei was so bad that every two months the girls would be x-rayed to see if there were signs of tuberculosis. (Klein, 170) If there was any chance that one of the prisoners had tuberculosis then they would be sent right away to Auschwitz. As time went on in the camps there was one positive for Gerda when, in September, she was picked to count the bundles for the ledger at the textile factory. (Klein, 175) This work allowed her to get extra food during the day, which she would save and share with her friend, Ilse.

In January of 1945, the bombing from the Allied powers was getting closer to the camp and there was discussion from the guards that they would have to leave Grünberg. Then on January 28, 1945, there was an arrival of Jewish women from the Schlesiersee camp. (USHMM, 742) All of the female prisoners of Grünberg and the new arrivals were split into two groups and were taken on a death march. Gerda marched through Dresden, Chemnitz, Zwickau, Reichenbach, Plauen, Germany all the way to her final destination of Volary, Czech Republic on May 4, 1945. (USHMM, 743)